Samir Chopra June 19, 2008

Time travel

Cricket told me the experienced daily world is sliced up into distinct temporal spheres; nothing else brought this home quite so clearly, not even those ubiquitous rows of clocks at airports, each set to a different city.
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Cricket was how I learned about time zones. It's how I learned other creatures on this planet experienced very different times of day while being simultaneously co-existent with me.

I knew all about GMT, the International Date Line, and 360 degrees of longitude as a child; these were abstract academic facts about a globe, gleaned from geography textbooks, and I was a nerd after all. But I only really learned what time zones meant when it became clear to me I could be hunched up in bed on a cold winter night listening to a disembodied voice over the radio describing flannelled men playing in bright sunshine somewhere far away. It's how I really learned to grasp that India was a big country, and that the bureaucratic fiat of Indian Standard Time did abuse to the fact of its spectacular east-west sprawl. How else was I to understand that one part of the country (Calcutta) could fall into darkness (as test match cricketers seemed to be pointing out to umpires) while I was playing in the bright winter sunshine with my friends in New Delhi? Cricket sliced up the day into distinct parts, each marked out with its own distinct label, each providing a particular background and locale for a distinct set of cricketing memories.

Test matches in England were about summer heat, burning hot afternoons that shaded into cooler evenings before the radio commentary finally came to a halt just before midnight. Game changing moments happened as the Delhi night wore on outside. Watching cricket in Australia had as its local backdrop, the North Indian winter, its freezing early mornings, its glorious sunny afternoons, and the chance to conduct post-mortems of the day's play from lunchtime onwards.

Perhaps nothing else quite so clearly marked my move to the US, and my subsequent residence on the East Coast, as my realization that from now on, those two locales (England and Australia) would be almost precisely exchanged (a temporal reversal of roles if you will), that other places in the mind's cricketing map would have to be rearranged.

England became associated with summer mornings; with early morning cups of espresso; with the hope that perhaps I could delay my setting out for work so I could finish watching the post-tea session. Australia became associated with winter evenings; snow would fall on my dark Brooklyn street while I watched players do battle at Brisbane; and I could crawl into bed by 2 AM as the day's play wound down. And perhaps most strange of all, the West Indies, that mystical place where giants once slew all those who visited, and which was all about post-dinner commentary and tape-delayed radio in the early mornings back in India, this place suddenly became part of my local time zone: games began in the late morning and ended in the evening. The machinations to watch games in the West Indies took on a similar hue to those employed in India to watch home games: the 'sick' days, the "I think I'll just work from home" claims. The advantage of being located in the same time zone had also brought along its inconvenient companion: the clash with work hours.

Cricket told me the experienced daily world is sliced up into distinct temporal spheres; nothing else brought this home quite so clearly, not even those ubiquitous rows of clocks at airports, each set to a different city. And yet nothing else quite so clearly reinforced the connectedness of the world either.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lasik Eye Surgery on January 12, 2009, 1:19 GMT

    That's a smart point...for sure

  • Liposuction on January 7, 2009, 1:30 GMT

    What is that guy talking about?

  • Liposuction on January 6, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    How is that relevant?

  • Tummy Tuck on January 6, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    Really well written!

  • Samir Chopra on June 22, 2008, 17:47 GMT

    Nelson: I'm impressed you remember the Radio Australia frequencies! (indeed, you seem to remember most of the pertinent ones). You're right about Radio Pakistan; I learned some high-faluting Urdu by tuning into those guys.

    NC: Live telecasts introduce another sense of immediacy, don't they? (and hail to all Dilliwallahs everywhere!).

  • Mina Anand on June 22, 2008, 13:29 GMT

    Thanks samir...

  • Naked Cricket on June 22, 2008, 12:37 GMT

    Samir, your time travel sure struck the right note, esp those musings from a dilliwallah's pov -Cal's early sunsets, Sydney's early starts, and the Jamaica nightcaps. Just the other day I made it back home in time for the 2nd innings Aus vs WI T20 game. Felt good to finish the game. Even @3.30am.

  • Nelson Rodrigues, Toronto on June 21, 2008, 21:01 GMT

    Superb article Samir! I remember in Mumbai, early 80's & 90's, used to get up early & tune to Radio Australia cricket cracking over the shortwave frequencies i.e. 21775 on 13 MB. Few hrs. later start cursing Radio Moscow jamming & had to resort to fine tuning. Rush to college & then catch the latest sports score on BBC World service 'Sports round up' on shortwave or MW 1413 later in the evenings. During the English cricket season, it was TMS on the 19MB shortwave. It was the 1979 Oval Test India vs England & chasing 400 plus to win, listening till late night with my folks how Vishy & Co. nearly pulled off a win.

    If you knew Urdu/Hindi you could pick up cricket commentary from Radio Pakistan on their shortwave frequencies.

  • Samir Chopra on June 21, 2008, 18:20 GMT

    Shreyas: I don't think it'd be an exaggeration to say that some folks only figured how close or near some places were when cricket entered the picture.

    Mina: Law student at 50, and still following the cricket? Much, much respect.

    Michael: I have similar memories of the Oval 1979 - a late chase that didn't quite work out, all on a summer's night.

    Jay: Indeed, cricket made me realize how similar and yet diverse, the cricketing world was.

    Homer: Thats a dream come true, right there!

  • Samir Chopra on June 21, 2008, 17:04 GMT

    Thanks for the comments folks. Much appreciated.

    Charles: The allnighters are indeed difficult, increasingly so!

    DSH: I hear you. NZ tests really do start alarmingly early on this side of the world!

    SP: Glad I could fire up the nostalgia engine for you!

    Rajesh: I've had the occasional very oddly timed beer, all thanks to trying to sync myself up with the time at the ground.

    Angi: Thanks. The early morning sessions were something else, weren't they?

  • Lasik Eye Surgery on January 12, 2009, 1:19 GMT

    That's a smart point...for sure

  • Liposuction on January 7, 2009, 1:30 GMT

    What is that guy talking about?

  • Liposuction on January 6, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    How is that relevant?

  • Tummy Tuck on January 6, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    Really well written!

  • Samir Chopra on June 22, 2008, 17:47 GMT

    Nelson: I'm impressed you remember the Radio Australia frequencies! (indeed, you seem to remember most of the pertinent ones). You're right about Radio Pakistan; I learned some high-faluting Urdu by tuning into those guys.

    NC: Live telecasts introduce another sense of immediacy, don't they? (and hail to all Dilliwallahs everywhere!).

  • Mina Anand on June 22, 2008, 13:29 GMT

    Thanks samir...

  • Naked Cricket on June 22, 2008, 12:37 GMT

    Samir, your time travel sure struck the right note, esp those musings from a dilliwallah's pov -Cal's early sunsets, Sydney's early starts, and the Jamaica nightcaps. Just the other day I made it back home in time for the 2nd innings Aus vs WI T20 game. Felt good to finish the game. Even @3.30am.

  • Nelson Rodrigues, Toronto on June 21, 2008, 21:01 GMT

    Superb article Samir! I remember in Mumbai, early 80's & 90's, used to get up early & tune to Radio Australia cricket cracking over the shortwave frequencies i.e. 21775 on 13 MB. Few hrs. later start cursing Radio Moscow jamming & had to resort to fine tuning. Rush to college & then catch the latest sports score on BBC World service 'Sports round up' on shortwave or MW 1413 later in the evenings. During the English cricket season, it was TMS on the 19MB shortwave. It was the 1979 Oval Test India vs England & chasing 400 plus to win, listening till late night with my folks how Vishy & Co. nearly pulled off a win.

    If you knew Urdu/Hindi you could pick up cricket commentary from Radio Pakistan on their shortwave frequencies.

  • Samir Chopra on June 21, 2008, 18:20 GMT

    Shreyas: I don't think it'd be an exaggeration to say that some folks only figured how close or near some places were when cricket entered the picture.

    Mina: Law student at 50, and still following the cricket? Much, much respect.

    Michael: I have similar memories of the Oval 1979 - a late chase that didn't quite work out, all on a summer's night.

    Jay: Indeed, cricket made me realize how similar and yet diverse, the cricketing world was.

    Homer: Thats a dream come true, right there!

  • Samir Chopra on June 21, 2008, 17:04 GMT

    Thanks for the comments folks. Much appreciated.

    Charles: The allnighters are indeed difficult, increasingly so!

    DSH: I hear you. NZ tests really do start alarmingly early on this side of the world!

    SP: Glad I could fire up the nostalgia engine for you!

    Rajesh: I've had the occasional very oddly timed beer, all thanks to trying to sync myself up with the time at the ground.

    Angi: Thanks. The early morning sessions were something else, weren't they?

  • Homer on June 21, 2008, 16:50 GMT

    Jan 1998 - South Africa in Australia, Sri Lanka in India and England in the West Indies..

    4:30 AM - 11:30 AM - Oz-SA on ESPN-Star 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM - India SL on DD 8:00 PM - 3:00 AM - England Windies on ESPN Star

    5 days, 0 sleep, all mundane chores (eating, bathing etc) revolving around lunch and tea breaks ( across the different games)..

    Bliss!

  • Jay on June 21, 2008, 16:35 GMT

    A wonderful article Samir, and thanks for touching on sentiments rarly talked about. The world grew in my imagination thanks to cricket. I clearly remember the Old Trafford test in 1974 - the first time I was old enough to follow live an overseas match as Abid Ali scored 71, with the whole family huddling around the radio in our Bombay flat close to midnight. Another aspect of connectedness to me is that cricket brought home to me the diversity of the world in terms of looks - blond hair, giant physiques as Samir alluded to - and the wonderful sounds of foreign names. Now living in Montreal, I too appreciate the fact that the West Indies are now firmly in my time zone ... so no more taped commentary!

  • Michael Jones on June 21, 2008, 16:17 GMT

    One of my great cricket-following memories was listening to Hussain and Thorpe chasing down the target in the dark in Karachi - I was well known at school for bringing my radio in to listen to TMS and other pupils (and teachers!) frequently came up to me to ask the score. The Karachi match finished during the lunch break in the UK so we were all glued to the radio in the common room!

  • Mina Anand on June 21, 2008, 14:06 GMT

    As a fanatical cricket watcher myself, I empathize with the author's 'cricket time zones'. Living in India, I jump out of bed before the crack of dawn(2.30/3 am)for the pre-match live Espn cricket shows Down Under, or in Kiwi Land; bunk college ( a law student at the age of 50!)to go and watch a test match alone; and am a very good night-watchman when it comes to a series in the West Indies !

  • Shreyas Rao on June 21, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    A very good Article indeed.Brought me back the memories of the 92'WC,waking up at 5 AM in the morning in Mysore,India ,watching Jadeja take that catch to send Border packing.The cricketing world is truly connected.

  • Angi on June 21, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Beautiful article. I can totally identify having been brought up in India. The beauty of waking up at 5;00 AM and watching huge crowds at Melbourne when there's only the cries of birds outside are truly a treat!

  • Rajesh Mehta on June 21, 2008, 7:52 GMT

    Cricinfo is great, of course, as Charles Maxwell comments. Living in Naorobi, Kenya, one has to make sure one is up at 2.30 or 3.00 am when India are playing Test Matches in Australia. Tucked up in bed, it is wonderful to see the bright Australian sunshine and at the same time feel a twinge of envy seeing the Fosters' going down. One can continue drinking till 3.00 am but I do draw the line at starting a beer session at that time. Yes, the connectedness of the world is indeed wonderful as Mr. Chopra says.

    Rajesh Mehta

  • Straight Point on June 21, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    i still remember how we used to wake up 3am or so and used to switch up that big radio set (as we did not had tv) in very slow volume so than we can listen to commentary during world cup and then that famous champion of champions B&H world series...

    i sometime used to turn the volume knob to full after switching it off...and would deliberately ask my younger brother to switch the radio if would start in highest possible room...i would pay anything now to see that expression of panic and astonishment again on my younger brother face...

    you rekindled all those nostalgic memories now samir...which will take some time to ease out...

    oh what you have done maan...

  • D.S. Henry on June 21, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    Try watching cricket from New Zealand sometime. It's the land that time forgot, in more ways than one. Unless you're a dedicated night owl (as, I fortunately, am), you just won't get to follow much cricket. And if someone could explain to me how it is that, during the southern summer, there is only a 3-hour difference (well, a 21-hour difference in the other direction) between NZ and California, I'd be all ears. The entire Pacific Ocean covered by 3 time zones?! Huh?

  • Charles Maxwell on June 20, 2008, 23:42 GMT

    In my youth in Sydney it was a no brainer - we'd stay up all night, swill beer and watch the Ashes live from Lords, Old Trafford or wherever, crawling into bed at 3 or 4am having watched Tubby and Swampy bat all day, Steve Waugh conjur up another match-winning ton, or Terry Alderman baffle the England batsmen with his prodigious swing. Alas these days I am more likely to set the alarm and then sleep through it. Thank godness for cricinfo's commentary and updates!

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  • Charles Maxwell on June 20, 2008, 23:42 GMT

    In my youth in Sydney it was a no brainer - we'd stay up all night, swill beer and watch the Ashes live from Lords, Old Trafford or wherever, crawling into bed at 3 or 4am having watched Tubby and Swampy bat all day, Steve Waugh conjur up another match-winning ton, or Terry Alderman baffle the England batsmen with his prodigious swing. Alas these days I am more likely to set the alarm and then sleep through it. Thank godness for cricinfo's commentary and updates!

  • D.S. Henry on June 21, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    Try watching cricket from New Zealand sometime. It's the land that time forgot, in more ways than one. Unless you're a dedicated night owl (as, I fortunately, am), you just won't get to follow much cricket. And if someone could explain to me how it is that, during the southern summer, there is only a 3-hour difference (well, a 21-hour difference in the other direction) between NZ and California, I'd be all ears. The entire Pacific Ocean covered by 3 time zones?! Huh?

  • Straight Point on June 21, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    i still remember how we used to wake up 3am or so and used to switch up that big radio set (as we did not had tv) in very slow volume so than we can listen to commentary during world cup and then that famous champion of champions B&H world series...

    i sometime used to turn the volume knob to full after switching it off...and would deliberately ask my younger brother to switch the radio if would start in highest possible room...i would pay anything now to see that expression of panic and astonishment again on my younger brother face...

    you rekindled all those nostalgic memories now samir...which will take some time to ease out...

    oh what you have done maan...

  • Rajesh Mehta on June 21, 2008, 7:52 GMT

    Cricinfo is great, of course, as Charles Maxwell comments. Living in Naorobi, Kenya, one has to make sure one is up at 2.30 or 3.00 am when India are playing Test Matches in Australia. Tucked up in bed, it is wonderful to see the bright Australian sunshine and at the same time feel a twinge of envy seeing the Fosters' going down. One can continue drinking till 3.00 am but I do draw the line at starting a beer session at that time. Yes, the connectedness of the world is indeed wonderful as Mr. Chopra says.

    Rajesh Mehta

  • Angi on June 21, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Beautiful article. I can totally identify having been brought up in India. The beauty of waking up at 5;00 AM and watching huge crowds at Melbourne when there's only the cries of birds outside are truly a treat!

  • Shreyas Rao on June 21, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    A very good Article indeed.Brought me back the memories of the 92'WC,waking up at 5 AM in the morning in Mysore,India ,watching Jadeja take that catch to send Border packing.The cricketing world is truly connected.

  • Mina Anand on June 21, 2008, 14:06 GMT

    As a fanatical cricket watcher myself, I empathize with the author's 'cricket time zones'. Living in India, I jump out of bed before the crack of dawn(2.30/3 am)for the pre-match live Espn cricket shows Down Under, or in Kiwi Land; bunk college ( a law student at the age of 50!)to go and watch a test match alone; and am a very good night-watchman when it comes to a series in the West Indies !

  • Michael Jones on June 21, 2008, 16:17 GMT

    One of my great cricket-following memories was listening to Hussain and Thorpe chasing down the target in the dark in Karachi - I was well known at school for bringing my radio in to listen to TMS and other pupils (and teachers!) frequently came up to me to ask the score. The Karachi match finished during the lunch break in the UK so we were all glued to the radio in the common room!

  • Jay on June 21, 2008, 16:35 GMT

    A wonderful article Samir, and thanks for touching on sentiments rarly talked about. The world grew in my imagination thanks to cricket. I clearly remember the Old Trafford test in 1974 - the first time I was old enough to follow live an overseas match as Abid Ali scored 71, with the whole family huddling around the radio in our Bombay flat close to midnight. Another aspect of connectedness to me is that cricket brought home to me the diversity of the world in terms of looks - blond hair, giant physiques as Samir alluded to - and the wonderful sounds of foreign names. Now living in Montreal, I too appreciate the fact that the West Indies are now firmly in my time zone ... so no more taped commentary!

  • Homer on June 21, 2008, 16:50 GMT

    Jan 1998 - South Africa in Australia, Sri Lanka in India and England in the West Indies..

    4:30 AM - 11:30 AM - Oz-SA on ESPN-Star 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM - India SL on DD 8:00 PM - 3:00 AM - England Windies on ESPN Star

    5 days, 0 sleep, all mundane chores (eating, bathing etc) revolving around lunch and tea breaks ( across the different games)..

    Bliss!