Dhaka, Oct-Nov 1998

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Day 4: Mon 26 October

CricInfo multimedia manager Rohan Chandran gives
us his daily view of the Wills International Cup...

Night | Day

"You're White!" It must have shocked him to the core, but during the course of our evening around town, Alex Balfour was told bluntly that he was, well, white. Naturally, that's not something you want to deal with at the best of times. Alex took it well though. I suppose a few pints of beer flavoured water had dulled the impact somewhat. It's the next morning as I write this, and he's fallen off the bed again, but other than that, he doesn't seem much the worse for the wear.

We set out to hit the town at about half past eleven - apparently that's when all the action starts out here. An old acquaintance from the days of cricket in Hong Kong, Rizwan Farooq, was to be our guide, and did he ever do a good job.

Sir Travis declined the offer to join us, suggesting that the nightclub scene wasn't his thing. We thought of taking Simon and Badri along, but in the end it was quite a relief that we didn't find them. I won't say anything more, because Simon will come along and censor it anyway!

Our first port of call was the Sonargaon hotel, where the players and David Richards are comfortably ensconced. That's where we were originally booked in before we were downgraded to the Sheraton, but until now, we had no idea what it was like. Suffice to say that the entire Sheraton could probably be housed in the lobby of the Sonargaon!

We wandered in to the bar area and sat down alongside a surprisingly cheerful New Zealand team, who were intently watching the highlights of the Third Test from Karachi. Daniel Vettori provided much entertainment, as he keenly scrutinised every umpiring decision, pronouncing his own verdict each time. Oddly enough, he didn't seem to favour the Australians.

An ice-filled drink later (be still my beating stomach), it was up and out of there. We've been trapped in our hotels all the time, and that's not what we wanted to see. We wanted a taste of local nightlife. Neither Alex nor myself had any idea what to expect, but we were willing and keen.

The drive there was brilliant, and it was the cows we saw that made our day. This was the first time we'd seen animals on the street, and they were the most disciplined things on the road. The sweetest, most polite animals you could imagine. Take after the people I suppose. Or vice versa :-) When we approached a railway crossing, it was absolutely amazing to see the cows line up in rows of three, and actually stop in unison, waiting for the train to pass. Alex actually wanted to get out and hug them, but I was more concerned with ensuring that Rizwan didn't drive us straight into the train.

The place we went to was on the way to the airport. We turned into what was ostensibly a University campus of some sort, Queen's University I think it was called, although there was a banner for the University of Houston, Texas, hanging on the building as well.

Seven floors up the lift, and there we were. Club Tramps, and Club Atlantis. The music and dancing styles apart, we could really have been anywhere in the world. Smoky atmosphere, funky lighting systems, and loud bass dominated. Club Atlantis, on the right hand side, was the Couples Only section, with a 1000 Taka (US$ 20) cover charge for entry. Obviously not somewhere your average local party-goer could afford to go. Club Tramps, on the left, was the main lounge and disco area. A much younger clientele, and a much drunker clientele too! A rather attractive clientele as well, but we won't get into that on these pages! The only catch was that there was a 10 to 1 male to female ratio. Then again, neither the males nor the females at the club seemed to mind.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the club was the system for ordering drinks from the bar. First Rizwan would beckon the lady who appeared to be management of some sort. He gave her our order, and then asked Alex to pay her. She then took the money, and pulled out some Monopoly style money for the equivalent amount. She handed those notes to the barman, with our drinks order, and he ignored her completely after taking them. And that was about it. We did get our drinks eventually, but clearly the bartender had better things to do!

The bar owner, whom Rizwan forgot to introduce us to, was a sight to behold. This gentleman is also in charge of player security for the WIC, and to say the least, he cuts a rather imposing figure. In fact, lounged in his plush leather armchair, he very much looked the part of the quintessential Hindi movie villain.

It was actually a thoroughly brilliant experience. But the best is yet to come - Alex and I are determined to get Simon, Badri and Travis here on Thursday night - that's the big night, with Friday being the weekend. Simon will be scared to death of being poisoned by the watered down beer, Badri will be absolutely aghast that such things actually go on (whether in Dhaka or in downtown Manhattan), and Sir Travis, well, he'll just point and click his camera at anyone who'll smile for him. It's gotta be worth it!

I suppose the night made up for the day in many ways. It was probably the best day of coverage we've done, but I think there's a lot of scope for improvement. It would help greatly if Simon and Badri weren't hovering over our shoulders all the time. I know they mean well, but I think they can shoulder the blame for every single thing that goes wrong with our coverage. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Simon who pulled the plug on the stadium lights in mid-innings today - after all, he had been looking for somewhere to plug in his laptop.

Of course, at least that provided us with a moment of excitement - if the lights were out for more than an hour, we would have to make a decision on a revised target under the Duckworth/ Lewis rule. Any interested bookies (or cricketers) are welcome to contact Travis for details of potential manipulations of the system.

If that was fun, then the Tony Greig interview we did was an absolute riot. I really feel sorry for Tony. Alex has developed something of a crush on him. And unfortunately, it most definitely is a case of unrequited adoration. Tony's a top bloke, even if he does eat a bowl of prunes for breakfast every morning, but I reckon Alex is too much for him. Watch our Tony Greig interview, and observe that the voice that asks half the questions didn't even make it on camera. No sirree, it's just Alex and Tony! As I write this in fact, Alex has gone downstairs to have a drink with Tony. Being the sweet chap that he is, Alex went downstairs 15 minutes earlier, just to let Tony know that he'd be coming down in 15 minutes. They don't make guys like this anymore! You do have to wonder what his girlfriend makes of all this though. After all, he only speaks to her on the phone to England about five times a day.

The interview itself went pretty well, until Badri decided to step in and make his presence felt. There I was, typing at light speed in an attempt to transcribe an answer, when Badri decides to tap on my shoulder. Ignoring him didn't work either. He just kept on tapping, and finally decided to talk straight into my ear so that I couldn't make out what Tony was saying. As of now, we still don't have a transcript of the interview.. go figure! We don't have the stomach bug that's afflicted the ICC Chief Executive either, so I suppose there's a good side to it all as well.

I'm taking the day off tomorrow. If we can escape the watchful eye of Simon, then Travis, Alex and myself plan to Do Dhaka, as it were. The Diary will resume as normal on the 27th.

Previous diary entries:
Rohan Chandran is CricInfo's Multimedia Manager and is on site in Dhaka with four other CricInfo management for the duration of the tournament

Date-stamped : 23 Oct2002 - 19:07