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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.
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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.