Fantastic conversation with AMY CHANDERPAUL
The Captain of the West Indies cricket team is arguably the most powerful person in the Caribbean. He plays a key role in the fortunes of the game and the blood pressure levels of cricket fans in this cricket-mad region. Nothing unites the West Indian people like cricket.
When the Digicel contracts controversy boiled over in March 2005, Trinidadian Brian Lara was out of the running as Captain, and the Guyanese batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul was elevated as Captain of the West Indies cricket team. At Chanders’ debut game as Captain, in Bourda, Guyana, the 1st Test vs. South Africa, he scored his highest ever Test total, 202 not out.
As his 100 approached, TV cameras focused on a beautiful, long-haired woman, ecstatically applauding every run. Belle interviews Amy Chanderpaul, the Captain’s wife. Amy tells her tale of love, adventure, and her husband’s brand of ‘never give up’ cricket.
Belle: How did you and Shiv meet ? (I’m sure everyone is dying to know!)
Amy: Shiv and I met when he purchased his home in Guyana, which was a few houses away from me. Shiv was always a humble and polite guy. He would stop and chat if he saw neighbours or my Dad and they would have their ‘cricket gaff’. One day, I was helping my dad do some work in the garden when Shiv passed by, and after that day, he was visiting us pretty often. (smiles)
Belle: How has your life changed since marriage?
Amy: Like any other marriage, there are more responsibilities and it helped me to mature faster. It was a new outlook on life; finding that someone who loves me and I love in return. Then tying the knot and turning to a new page in life.
Belle: I am eager to find out, how do you deal with being the wife of a cricketer? That must be hard at times.
Amy: Being the wife of a sportsman is quite a role, putting up with the busy schedules, hearing the critics and trying to control the anger inside (smiles). Coping with the bad patches in his career are the hardest times. Now that Shiv has been appointed Captain, it is even harder. Fortunately, I have learnt to deal with this, with the help of my Guru, friends and family.
Belle: How have you dealt with the transition from being unknown to being relatively famous?
Amy: I do not see myself as famous. The famous one is Shiv. Because I am his wife, that makes me well-known. However, I had found it to be difficult, since being with someone like Shiv means a lot of attention! I came from a family that was not famous, but relatively well-known in my country. My Dad is a businessman and a lot of people knew me as being his daughter, but then I got married to Shiv and the attention was even greater. Dealing with the attention was the hardest…everyone being so curious. Where is she from? What does she do? I’m a very private person and the fact that our life is in the public eye scares me. Other than that, I’m still the Amy that everyone knew me as.
Over the years, I have learnt how to deal with the attention and I have also learnt a lot about cricket, since I knew nothing about cricket before my marriage, and all that comes along with being who I am.
Belle: How does it feel to see Shiv score a century? That must be pretty exciting.
Amy: I am always nervous when Shiv is at the wicket, especially when he is in the 90’s. However, once he makes it, I feel at ease and I thank God that he has made it.
Belle: Tell us about some of your favourite cricketers.
Amy: My one and only favourite is Shiv Chanderpaul. I’m sure you have heard of him. (smile)
Belle: What schools did you attend in Guyana and what are you currently doing?
Amy: I attended St. Stanislaus College and at present I’m pursuing a Degree in Accounting at Florida Southern College.
Having my own career is very important to me. So I’m working on that. It’s not easy with the traveling as I sometimes have to take a semester off to be with Shiv. Nevertheless, I am determined to get on with my studies and become a successful woman.
Belle: What do you love most about your home country?
Belle: What are some of your favourite Guyanese dishes? If you and Shiv have a choice of cuisine what would it be?
Amy: I have a lot of favourites (smile)- curried shrimp, curried crab and dhall…
For Shiv and I hmmm, I would say, Indian and Chinese.
Belle: You’ve accompanied Shiv on several tours. Tell us about the country that impressed you the most.
Amy: I would have to say India. I was quite impressed when I was in India. I have been to most of the cities in India and they are all beautiful. I was impressed by the people, they were absolutely wonderful. Shiv and I visited the famous temples in each city; I was so moved by the way the people welcomed us and their kindness. Another thing I observed was their passion for the sport. I couldn’t believe how passionate they were about cricket. If it’s one thing I know for sure, they don’t take defeat very well.
Belle: Which country and cricketing ground has ‘specially great memories for you?
Amy: Just to name a few on my list, WI in St. Vincent vs. New Zealand in a One Day International.
Shiv retired hurt and if I remember clearly, we had one over left, a wicket had fallen, and Shiv came back out with his elbow injured. We needed four runs from one ball and he hit the last ball for a six and we won! Second is in Guyana at Bourda against South Africa, where Shiv made his highest Test score. That’s a couple of mine.
Belle: Every woman has a special ‘look’. Some go casual, ethnic and so on. What is Amy’s preferred look?
Amy: I’m very open when it comes to dressing, but I prefer the classy look. I like to be appropriate for the occasion and I make sure I look my best. I have a passion for fashion. I make sure I have matching shoes and accessories for every outfit, and I am ALWAYS well kept. That’s something that Shiv and I ‘fret’ a lot about when we travel. I have a travel piece for my shoes!
Belle: Do you have a favourite colour or gemstone?
Amy: My favourite colour is baby blue and favourite gemstones are Amethyst and Topaz.
Belle: Finally, how has living in the USA made you appreciate being a Caribbean person?
Amy: Although America has provided me with a lot of opportunities at my fingertips, I appreciate being from the Caribbean, even more today. The Caribbean is a place where we have more freedom, many cultural and moral values, and it’s much more family oriented. To me, living in the islands is more of a pleasurable experience than anywhere else I have been.
Amy Chanderpaul and Shiv split their time between Florida- USA, and Guyana. His wife of 6 years, Amy is, like Shiv, Guyanese, of East Indian descent and a devout Hindu.