November 10, 2008

Indias within India

Aakash Chopra
Doug Bollinger and Jason Krejza pose at the Taj Mahal, Agra, October 23, 2008
 © Getty Images
Enlarge

Hello

Whenever an overseas team tours India we get to hear of how they spend time in getting to know the country, how they learn the different facets of a different culture, and how that helps them go back as better individuals. We also do the same when we travel overseas.

We [the Delhi team] are in Hyderabad for our second-round game, and something made me wonder why we didn't do what most teams from abroad do - try to know the local culture. I just went to a nearby temple, something that I'm getting into the habit of doing daily, and came across a completely different way of offering prayers to the same Gods we worship in north India [Hyderabad is in the south]. The prayers were being offered either in Sanskrit or Telugu, and were music to the ears. The rituals were different, but the goal the same. Even though I couldn't understand a single word, it had a mesmerising effect on me.

We do try to learn a few words of the local language, but there could be a lot more to learn from different cultures within the country than just the language.

India is a huge country with diverse cultures, and we must not restrict ourselves to making that extra effort to know the local culture only when we're overseas. Sometimes, that way, we get to know other countries better than our own, which is diverse and beautiful. We're blessed to be in a profession that allows us to travel so much and interact. While the gruelling schedule and the little time in between the games seldom gives us the opportunity to explore the city, I still feel that making the extra effort is most certainly worth it.

Cheers

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

RSS Feeds: Aakash Chopra

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Qalandar on (November 20, 2008, 20:28 GMT)

Excellent post Aakash, a welcome read!

Posted by Raghavendra Deshmukh on (November 19, 2008, 16:12 GMT)

Hello Akash A very heart warming piece to read. Yes, India is such a diverse country it offers Cricketers a better chance to see different places and meet different people. You may not end up learning different languages like Kannada or Tamil or Marathi, but you get to see a lot of new simple things in different regions. At my work place i get to interact with a lot of people from all over India and its wonderful to hear from them about their places and the way they do things like from preparing Dhal to celebrating Diwali etc etc. Akash, you have made a very very interesting point here and exposed all of us cricket fans to something more than cricket that you play. Its always been a pleasure reading your articles. Good luck buddy for a great future (in cricket and otherwise)

Posted by Rana Ray on (November 18, 2008, 18:58 GMT)

Akash,

Spot on .. I lived and worked in at least 6 major cities in India during the first 4 years after graduation and now after 13 years in living outside India, I go back to the same cities and discover things which I could do earlier. I guess it's because of lack of appreciation of our surrounding. You do make a wonderful point.

Posted by Vivek on (November 18, 2008, 15:16 GMT)

Excellent article...I am a South Indian who has stayed in all parts of the country. My mom was brought up in Kolkata while dad was in Punjab and I was born in Mumbai..all Indian right :-) I feel bad when I see this great North-South divide everywhere. Even in reality shows, its state v/s state or city v/s city when the name is Voice of INDIA or INDIAN idol etc..We shouldnt be competing aginst ourselves and people need to realise that. I still see bad vibes among people when a south Indian is selected. I love my idli dosa and at the same time relish aalu parathas and lassi. The best thing abt the current Indian team is all are so open. Balaji and Irfan Pathan were the best of friends with Pathan singing Kishore Da's songs for Balaji and the rest. This new Indian team is truly Indian. I have to add this for you, you did nothing wrong to be dropped from the side. I guess you were plain unlucky. This will pass. I will pray that we see you in the team again.

Posted by murali on (November 18, 2008, 10:32 GMT)

Akash, this is an excellent article. I live in Melbourne and play club cricket. When India and Australia play each other we get so much from the OZ boys. But end of the day its all fun. Even in club cricket the aussies sledge, like questioning ur technique and you can't play a shot and things like that. Thats really common for them and its a bit different for us. I think we need to know the cultures as u said. This is a really important point you made.

Posted by Sri on (November 16, 2008, 19:59 GMT)

Wonderfully written article with a great sense of respect for different cultures. Akash, you have touched a very good subject and created a new bunch of fans with your open mind. Good Luck and best wishes for your cricket career. I see a window of opportunity for you in Indian team and maybe as one drop if Dravid decides to retire in next season or so.

Posted by Vivek Suri on (November 16, 2008, 7:47 GMT)

I could'nt help but comment on Mr.Linus. Mr Linus have an open mind, it is the fortitude of people from North experiencing outside invasions,war and agression that they can enjoy the good lifestyle I don't know how lifestyle in Kerala can be better, which city he is comparing to and what is the population of the city?. Discrimination runs both ways, and coming from a state with highest literacy, I would expect more open minded view. Selection process for cricketwas flawed in the past but today the amount of money and scruitny does not allow for it

Posted by raj on (November 14, 2008, 15:32 GMT)

Excellent article Aakash. keep writing good articles like this . you are a great player and also a great human being. Take care and good luck and hope to see you in the indian team soon.

Posted by raj on (November 14, 2008, 15:32 GMT)

Excellent article Aakash. keep writing good articles like this . you are a great player and also a great human being. Take care and good luck and hope to see you in the indian team soon.

Posted by Ravi Rajagopalan on (November 14, 2008, 13:16 GMT)

what a nice thing to ask for. Here I am - southie brought up in delhi, spent many years outside India and now in Paris - with boundless curiosity about my own country. And yet I am appalled at the wilful ignorance fellow Indians have about their own country. And dont get me started on the yuppie JPMorgan banker I met a few years ago in London who kept referring to Andhraites as "madrasis" and how all of them spoke "tamil"...made me cringe with shame. There is much to see, and much to understand about our own continental homeland. Lucky is the man who gets to see all of the country in his lifetime. You write very well my friend, and have absorbed crickets lessons in life. Cheers

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

All articles by this writer