Lungani Zama, courtesy of Daily News and Sunday Tribune
Everywhere you turn in Sri Lanka there is a cricket “match” on the go. They have an insatiable appetite for the game and the locals couldn’t wait for the opening ODI against South Africa played recently. In hindsight, I should have known better than to think that the sledging that the likes of Kumar Sangakarra and Co occasionally engage in is confined to the middle. Yours truly briefly joined an impromptu street game this week, and they certainly didn’t hold back in the slip cordon.
One bright spark told me that I used the same salon as Lasith Malinga – but shared a chef with the unmistakeable Arjuna Ranatunga! Suffice to say, he won’t be on my souvenir-receiving list.
In the media centre, there has been an intrigue about Chris Morris, who was expected to “bring the heat”, in the absence of Dale Steyn. The local hacks are fascinated by his aggression, his expressions, and his ability to take wickets. They have even likened him to Allan Donald, without the war-paint. And speaking of AD, the head-hunter formerly known as “White Lightning” may have replaced the spring in his step with a limp and a knee guard, but he is still held in the highest esteem in these parts
Rush-hour traffic: The autograph hunters tracked him like vultures (the good kind, of course) during a warm-up at a local club ground. Eventually, one chanced his arm and asked for a picture. In seconds, he was surrounded by 50 fanatics, all desperate for a moment with the legend. I ran into one of the mob, and he promised to take me to his home, for a genuine local curry (the mind boggles), and a look at his memorabilia, to justify his standing as “Sri Lanka’s number one fan”.
Naturally, I agreed. In these parts, it feels weird to say “no”. I’ve even tried to master the art of the bobbing head, which seems to mean “yes” – most of the time, anyway.
The only “no” I have had to dish out was to my first tuk-tuk driver, Pri. He seemed to be something out of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with an excuse ready for every fault.
I thought things would be alright in the end, but the conclusion came quickly, when he couldn’t find the match venue on Wednesday.
I tolerated being abandoned in the city centre, left alone with the tuk-tuk in rush-hour traffic as he ran to fetch more petrol. I even looked past being taken on the scenic route every time we went to the team hotel.
Fascinating city: But, while searching desperately for a popular cricket club, it dawned on me that I might know more of Colombo than he did, and Pri the apprentice just had to go. I’m now rollin’ with Ruwan, the coolest cat in Colombo. For one thing, no other tuk-tuk in the city has a sound system like his; two banging speakers in the back, which is enough to hear the faint jingle of banghra over the relentless traffic. He even has grapes, dangling merrily next to his side-view mirror. I know better than to sample them, of course. As the Proteas logistics manager Riaan warned me, it’s best to stay away from dogs (easy enough for a Zulu), and “fresh” produce, like salads.
So, there goes the anti-Ranatunga diet!
But, aside from a few teething problems, Colombo is a fascinating city, rich in culture, cricket and culinary experiences. They’ve even got me eating out of banana leaves.
All that’s left to do now is convince Ruwan to switch from the banghra, so we can start bouncing our heads to some hip-hop … – Sunday Tribune
Courtesy: IOL sport