A funny thing happened to me in downtown New York late last year.
I was visiting The Big Apple as the coach of four Australian Aboriginal marathon runners from the Red Desert of Northern Australia and I was in America for the first time.
We were staying at a little old hotel on West Eleventh Street in Greenwich Village, one of those quaint old 1930s terraced places, where you share the bathroom down a narrow hall way and when you turn the doorknob on your room door it rattles.
There was a chill in the late afternoon November gloom when our cab pulled up at the sidewalk. A homeless old man was huddled in the alcove just below street level next to the hotel steps.
As I lugged my bags up the old stone steps a smiling young man came rushing down to help me.
"Hi. My name is Gaatso. Can I carry your bags, sir?"
In Australia we are not used to people carrying our bags, and hotel porters can only be found at ritzy upmarket hotel chains.
Over the next few days Gaatso's smiling presence was everywhere, opening doors, helping with bags and local information, all done in a very friendly low key manner.
Then late one night when I returned from a subway trip to see the spectacular nights lights of Times Square on Broadway, Gaatso happened to be manning the elevator to my fourth floor room.
On the way up I asked Gaatso his nationality and he said with a note of pride: "I am from Tibet. I have been in America for 5 years and in New York for 2 years. I come here as refugee".
We chatted in the hallway and I heard an amazing story of survival, of a young man walking alone across the top of the Himalayas for 27 days and 27 nights to reach India, to escape an oppressed homeland, chased by vengeful soldiers, of a tortuous journey, of being saved by Indian border guards and ending up in New York.
"I love New York, and I love my homeland" he told me "I live on my own and work here in a warm job. I miss my family very much but the soldiers will shoot me if I go back"
The next evening Gaatso was again manning the elevator as I ascended with two of my athletes. We happened to be discussing the 2011 cricket World Cup and Australia's chances which were looking pretty grim.
Gaatso said nothing as the elevator ascended. When it arrived at our floor he said quietly and unexpectedly "I hope Australia wins. Ricky Ponting is a great player. I would like to see them play Bangladesh in the final but that isn't very likely!" and he smiled.
I was staggered that this young bloke from Tibet had even heard of the game, let alone knew of the Bangladeshi national team.
"Oh, yes !" he said "I follow the fortunes of Australia and Bangladesh on cable. I like Bangladesh because it is just like my country. We are not good at world sport and one day it would be great to see Bangladesh get to the final of the World Cup! It would show my people on Tibet that anything is possible! Bangladesh is improving! One day!"
From that day onwards our conversation turned to cricket whenever we crossed paths.
Gaatso knew his stuff, alright. We analysed every country's World Cup chances, talked about the sub continent pitches taking spin and Murilithurun's suspect bowling action, and Gaatso said "yes, he chucks, but I wish he played for Bangladesh!" and we shared the joke, laughing.
On the morning of our departure to return to Australia, Gaatso shook hands and said with a big wide smile "One day when Bangladesh plays Australia I save airfare and fly to the game to watch in the grandstand with you, OK?
"OK!" I replied.
As our cab turned the corner of West Eleventh heading for JFK, I saw Gaatso in the rear vision mirror waving good bye.
And I promised myself that one day I would sit in the grandstand watching the bat and ball World Game with a fellow cricket fan, a refugee Tibetan cricket nut and supporter of one of the game's mighty minnows.