Larry Diaram Boosted Indo-Carib Presence on TV

Larry Diaram Boosted Indo-Carib Presence on TV

Photo : Larry Diaram

Ramnarine Diaram, more popularly known as Larry, died last month at age 71 (1947 to 2018) in Queens. Guyanese will remember Larry Diaram as the camera man of the community television station, Indian Televions (ITV), and as an outstanding still photographer whose photos were used in several community publications as well as in Guyana. It is not often appreciated how much Larry did for the community.  I wrote several short pieces praising his work exposing the Indo-Caribbean people on TV. The Indo-Caribbean presence on ITV has been boosted because of Larry. Larry used his contact to increase broadcast time on ITV on Guyana and the Indo-Caribbean people (in the Caribbean people and in America). He was known as the lone Indo-Caribbean camera personality on TV. The Caribbean people have never had their own TV broadcast network. It was through Larry’s association with ITV that the Indo-Caribbean community (and even some Afro programs) got greater access to and became a fixture on ITV.

Larry’s entry into the world of TV camera marked an era when Indo-Caribbean Americans were coming of age (acquisition of greater wealth and establishment of all kinds of social and cultural institutions) in New York. Media exposure of the community was welcome and the mainstream NY media began to focus on the community as a role model since two decades ago. ITV also courted the community for advertisement revenues first for its TV program on WNJU TV and later when it acquired its cable station. ITV needed a Caribbean personality. Recommendations to its owner, Dr. Vishwanauth, were made from Ramesh Kalicharran, myself and others! Entetr Larry Diaram! And Larry was not ungrateful for what Kali or myself or others did for him. He always praised us and when he needed an opinion on broadcasting or who to feature on TV, he turned to Kali or me. Rudy Jadopat was introduced on ITV this way. Larry spent considerable amount of time filming Indo-Caribbean events; he also attended and filmed Afro (Guyanese and Caribbean) community events in Brooklyn and Queens.

Larry became a unique media figure in the Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean community in greater New York. He was not known as reporter but he did a lot of film reporting for the TV and provided still photos for Indo-Caribbean news publication of community events. Several pieces were penned under his name and edited by me. He would praise me for my volunteerism in writing about the community. Whenever we met at public events or at Kali’s office, he would praise us for dedication and commitment in service to the community which would not always show its appreciation.

Indo-Caribbean viewers (and many Afros) have been fixated on ITV since it began as a weekend program in the mid-1970s before becoming a full-fledged daily broadcasting TV station two decades ago. Larry exploited this connection between Indo-Caribbeans and ITV. He used his association with ITV to have events he filmed shown on the station. The management of the ITV liked him and so provided a lot of free time for him to air Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean oriented program. Many Guyana government news programs were also aired.  He would feature several notable personalities giving them media exposure. He even featured myself, Rudy Jadopat, and others to give us experience as news reporter and news anchor on several occasions. These programs helped to cement links between the TV station and Indo-Caribbeans. The programs also help South Asians to have a better understanding of the Caribbean people -- their culture, music, dance forms, politics, and religious practices.

Rich tributes were paid to Larry at his wake and funeral. It was noted that Larry was an exceptional camera man. ITV relied on him for filming many community events. He filmed meetings with several Prime Ministers, Presidents and other politicians from India, Caribbean and America -- Vajpayee, Manmohan, Panday, Kamla, Sam Hinds, Jagdeo, Janet, Cheddi, etc.

Larry Diaram held no ill will towards anyone. But he was not afraid to speak out against wrongs or criticize others. Larry was also a caring and compassionate person. He was moved to help Guyanese youngsters suffering from various ailments. He worked with others to help to raise funds in New York that would provide funding for free transportation and surgeries in India of several Guyanese youngsters afflicted with various illnesses. He also provided media coverage for the medical groups that went regularly to Guyana to perform free clinics and surgeries.

Larry also had a steadfast patriotism to Guyana and to the Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean diaspora in America. He was very concerned about social and political issues in the Indo-Caribbean community and Guyana. He found time to attend community events. And he gave frank views about some personalities and on issue confronting the community and Guyana. He traveled regularly to Guyana to film events (including elections) that were broadcast on TV. On politics, he was quietly scathing in his remarks of how Guyana was governed and the behavior of some politicians linked to the PPP. He criticized their behavior. Like most Guyanese, he had been very despondent about how the current administration is governing the country reminiscent of many of the mistakes the PPP made. Larry said the APNU+AFC administration disappoints the nation. And like some of us, he decried racial thinking and racial voting. But he accepts little can be done to change it.

Although Larry was ailing for some time and was confined to a nursing home, it did not prevent him from keeping abreast of developments in the community and in Guyana. He would occasionally attend public functions in the community and funerals of friends. He also accepted visitors. Larry was saddened with the passing last December of his long-time friend and community promoter Ramesh Kalicharran for whom Larry had only praises. Few has carried out as much charitable and community work as Kali.

Though he has not been around at public functions in recent times, the community had not forgotten Larry. They reminisce about him. Whenever we watch ITV, especially news on or about Guyana and Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean people in America, we will remember Larry. We will also remember his smiling and pleasant face at countless community events that he was assigned to film. His spirit will live on.