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Out on a bail

cricket Updated: Mar 11, 2007 17:44 IST

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Men can be quite presumptuous, often to an annoying degree. For one, if there is a cricket match going on and everyone knows cricket matches go on for days - men assume it is their divine right to hog the only television in the house for the whole day (and night if need be).

Humph!

But if you have travelled roughly 14,000 km across the globe from India to the Caribbean so that the cricketcrazy spouse can see what he could see on TV back home (and at closer range), you - the cricket hater - have no reason to complain. This is the chance to experience the sights and sounds of the sunny Caribbean first hand. The best thing is that besides the beaches, there is so much to do.

Barbados - where six Super Eight matches and the final of the Cricket World Cup will be played - is an island whose raison d'etre seems to be tourism. That is not surprising since tourism accounts for 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange. In fact, Bajan children are taught the importance of tourism to the economy and the value of being friendly and courteous to tourists in school itself.

Besides the attraction of its beaches and associated sports like snorkelling, scuba diving and windsurfing, Barbados has a lively cultural scene round the year that is aimed at keeping all classes of tourists busy and ensure that they return for more. Here are some reasons to abandon the spouse and stadium, and do your own thing.

Holders season (March 13-31)
You will be rewarded for getting your butt off the beach for the events m this internationally acclaimed festival. Founded in 1993, Holders Season, a unique celebration of opera, music and theatre, is the premier cultural event in the Caribbean. Season productions have played to capacity houses and critical acclaim. Its high standards draw audiences from all over the world.

Oistins Fish Festival (April 7-9)
This festival celebrates the life and the contribution made by the fishing town of Oistins to the overall development of Barbados. Young people in Barbados party in Oistins every Friday anyway, but this festival offers much more than food and dance to sweet strains of Calypso music. Look forward to fishing, boat racing and fish de-boning competitions, road races and stalls selling art and crafts, food like sizzling flying fish, jug-jug (guinea corn and green peas) and the local Banks beer.

Harrison's Cave
Harrison's cave gives visitors the chance to view a variety of natural features unique to the geography of the island. The cave is located near the geographical centre of Barbados, in the parish of St Thomas. Electric powered carts take tourists through the caves and the commentary provides an amusing background to the different halls in the cave. Leading speleologists consider the crystal room cave with its abundance of stalactites, stalagmites, streams, lakes and waterfalls to be among the finest showcases of its type in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for Mirror Lake.

Island safari
Get a crash course on the history and geography of the island while being driven around in a modified Land Rover. The professional guides-cum-drivers will take you on a tour through the gullies, forests, remote bays and narrow roads with breathtaking coastal views exposing the hidden secrets of Barbados.

Catamaran cruise
These are not the tubs we have at the Gateway of India. As you relax on the deck of these luxurious catamarans and pass by palm-fringed beaches, you will entertain visions of giving up your tiresome job for good, selling all your worldly possessions and spending the rest of your life being a beach bum. At lunchtime, the catamaran anchors at one of the island's many beautiful coves and visitors are treated to a scrumptious lunch. Those who feel they have the energy can swim with schools of fish and friendly turtles. Scuba diving: The fringes and reefs off Barbados blossom with sponges, coral and plant life and are a treat for nature lovers. There are several types of reefs, each unique in its own way The barrier reefs contain large coral heads that form the habitat for thousands of beautiful fish. The Hawksbil1turtle can also be found on these reefs. Fringes and patching reefs are located closer to shore and have smaller coral formations but more abundant plant life. They are home to Frog fish, giant sand eels and other marine creatures. Barbados has several excellent sites for diving at the site of shipwrecks that are fascinating habitats for marine life. Carlisle Bay, which has more than 200 reported wrecks, is one of the most popular dive sites.

Nightlife
Barbados has a buzzing party scene. The most popular place to hang out is Harbour Lights, a trendy club in the parish of St Michael, where you can party under the stars. Then there is McBride's Pub and Cookhouse in St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church.

Shopping
From masks, that all time tourist obsession, in mahogany, to locally made ceramic turtles and flying fish, bags made of coconuts, tourist kitsch like earrings, bracelets and pendants, to picturesque paintings of domestic scenes in Barbados, glittering Columbian emeralds and some of the best rum in the world, cricket widows in Barbados can splurge, splurge, splurge - duty free. The good part is that the cricket crazy spouses will be too engrossed in the game to notice the bills.

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