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Abu Dhabi T10 (5)
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Tour Diary

Strangers in the Durban night


Sriram Veera
Unsafe? “I was shot at in Ghana and guys with Kalashinikovs jumped out of a bush in Nigeria. Now, that’s unsafe.” Flashes of Keith Miller and his famous quote on pressure come to mind. It’s a hefty German, Gerald, who dismisses my question. We are sitting in a lovely open-air pub, with a dance floor in the centre, overlooking the lovely north beach. It’s late in the evening - party time in Durban.
You ask how I got there in spite of my safety worries? Blame it on the four-channel television in my apartment. The first thing any traveller does on checking in is checking out the toilet and switching on the TV. Mine was all ghostly image and spluttering audio. Through it all I could make out a movie was being shown – Blade: Trinity, replete with screams, vampires and more gore. Stuff the safety advice that I got from my landlady, I was out of there.
So to the pub, which is slowly filling up with beautiful women and gelled metrosexual men. Then there are the dishevelled tourists like Gerald, who is here working in the port, and myself. He’s been around for a few weeks so I thought fit to ask him about the mugging stories that every new arrival is fed. That’s when I got slam-dunked.
Another thing you notice here, as you would in any big city, is how the nightlife is a celebration of er… night life. Gerald entertains me with stories of his conquests, occasionally converting Rand into Euro to emphasise the difference and the economic benefits. In response, I offer my typically Indian middle-class inhibitions.
All this happens within five minutes of our conversation. Sadly, this is what most men do when they travel. This is the way of saying hello to a stranger, how’re you doing, what’s up with life. Gerald is a 40-year-old divorcee, I have less than a decade to reach his age, if not his marital status, and mid-life crisis looms large. Gerald breaks the spell. . “Two more beers, please,” he orders. He taunts me for slowing down, I challenge him to a contest in good old Indian rum. Laughter.
Booze. The beach. Attractive people. A loud, friendly German for company. Slash horror on the telly. What do you do? Order another beer, of course.

Sriram Veera is a former staff writer at ESPNcricinfo