Carolyn Gupte, whose mother is Trinidadian and father is Indian, is a Mumbai-born, Trinidad London-trained journalist (London School of Journalism) who has self-published a novella titled Love Without Boundaries–the 49-year partnership of Subhash and Carol Gupte–a homage to her parents.
The book chronicles the romantic adventures of her father, the Indian cricket legend Subhash Gupte and his Trinidadian wife, Carol (nee Goberdhan), who owned and operated a private primary school in San Fernando from 1972-2002 (AC Goberdhan Memorial School was named in honour of her father, Andrew C Goberdhan, a School Inspector.) Guptes’s father, Subhash Chandra Pandharinath “Fergie” Gupte (11 December 1929-31 May 2002), was considered among Test cricket’s finest spin bowlers. Sir Garry Sobers, EAS Prasanna and Jim Laker reportedly pronounced him the best leg spinner they had seen. The West Indians who toured India in 1958/9 reckoned that Gupte could turn the ball on glass. Gupte played for Bengal, Bombay and Rajasthan in India and Rishton, Heywood and Lancaster in the UK. He received the C K Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, the highest honour bestowed on a former player by BCCI. (Wikipedia)
Preamble to Love Without Boundaries–the 49-year partnership of Subhash and Carol Gupte
“My parent’s story began here in Trinidad but quickly spread beyond our boundaries, from Skinner Park, San Fernando, to Shivaji Park, Mumbai, from the Queen’s Park Oval to the Cricket Club of India, from Maracas Bay to Dadar Beach, from a two-week whirlwind island adventure that turned into a forty-nine-year partnership.
“The 1953 inaugural tour of the first Indian cricket team to visit the West Indies and British Guiana was of immense historical and cultural significance. Cricket, as we all know, is one of the strongest bonds between India and T&T, and one can imagine the excitement felt by cricket lovers in the Indian diaspora to see their heroes in action. Villagers, many of whom were 1st generation (former) indentured labourers, lined the streets, eager to glimpse “the home boys from the Motherland” as they whizzed past in tour buses. The anticipation was palpable, with many pooling their resources to buy tickets, charter taxis or travel by train to the venues. Against this backdrop, the team’s rising star, spin bowler my father, Subhash Gupte, was introduced to the cricket-mad Trinidadian public.”
In telling her parents’ love story, Gupte says they “mocked conventionality, tossed traditions out of the window”, and faced opposition to their marriage.
The Goberdhans, a prominent, conservative Presbyterian family, threatened to disown her mother for getting involved with “a foreigner, a Hindu, a cricketer!”. Gupte’s parents had similar reservations about their son’s choice in India.
Gupte recalls her parent’s passionate relationship and her father’s “constant rib-teasing with my mother on what he saw as the gradual decline of West Indian supremacy and the subsequent rise of India’s dominance of the game provided many amusing and lively ‘debates’ between them. He loved this game with a boundless passion. He enjoyed sharing his stories and advising many young visiting cricketers–usually from Team India–who made the almost ‘holy’ pilgrimage to our home.”
Gupte wrote the book after rummaging through her father’s tattered scrapbooks, carefully handling brittle newspaper clippings, scanning and restoring faded photographs, restoring memories of her childhood spent playing with her older brother and cousins on the terraced rooftop of her grandparents’ modest Mumbai home or going for an evening stroll with her mother to Dadar Beach, ten minutes away.
Extract 1: San Fernando, Trinidad 1953
… Looking at the sights of her country through his eyes made her feel as though she, too, was experiencing these things for the first time. Like the time when she stifled
her laughter when he came face to face with a hops and black pudding sandwich–his initial expression of disgust and horror was priceless, but in the spirit of “I must try all things Trinidadian,” he valiantly took a bite but immediately spat it out! Or
his shocked reaction when he gradually understood the double-entendre lyrics
found in some of the more risqué calypsos of the day.
Extract 2: Bombay, India–1957
Spinning Top in Mud
Professionally, Subhash was on top of his game. Today, however, while sitting in
the verandah of his favourite Bombay hangout, the very private and exclusive
Cricket Club of India (CCI), he once again cast his mind to that splendid tour of the
West Indies in 1953, and to the Test Match played in Trinidad, where he captured seven wickets for 162 runs off 66 overs. That was the turning point in his career had really taken flight. That was when everything changed–professionally and
… As his eyes scanned the length and breadth of the magnificent Brabourne
Stadium and its famed grounds–home to so many essential cricket tournaments–he knew that the time had come to make his next move.
Extract 3: Bombay, India–1957
A Pitch-Perfect Day
It was Wedding Day–April 1 st, 1957, at Parna Kuti, and the living room was abuzz
with excitement as those gathered anxiously awaited the arrival of the Pundit.
Everything about this day lent itself to creating an atmosphere of joy, beauty and love. The sight of dozens of hand-made white lily garlands intertwined with fragrant orange marigolds and succulent mango leaves placed strategically throughout the main floor formed a significant part of the decorations. Garlands were strung on the doors and windows, signifying to passers-by that a celebration was scheduled for that day …”
_End of extract
Gupte, who attended Naparima Girls’ school and briefly period worked in advertising in Trinidad (McCann-Erickson Ltd), is also a poet and says of this work, “Writing about my parents allowed me to connect to India out to long-lost family members and forgotten friends, especially those in the cricket community.
Ira Mathur is a Guardian columnist and the winner of the non-fiction OCM Bocas Prize for Literature 2023. www.irasroom.org