November 10, 2008

Indias within India

India is a diverse country, but we don't usually try to learn about other cultures when we are touring for domestic matches
27

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Qalandar on November 20, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    Excellent post Aakash, a welcome read!

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Qalandar on November 20, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    Excellent post Aakash, a welcome read!

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Abir on November 14, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    This coming from a cricketer is most heartening as cricket nowadays is considered as the unifying factor in this diverse country.

  • Shefali on November 13, 2008, 19:29 GMT

    I would just like to reply to what Linus has said. The cricketers do not have to worry about the living standards as they are only there for a week, and about being taken for a ride think we all have in most cities across India, its about knowing what to expect from a city like Delhi. Like you said you didn't like the food in Delhi and I know for a fact that some of the players from the north don't enjoy the southern culture. It works both ways. Dont get me wrong but isn't life about learning and experiencing different cultures and people, I'm sure Aakash will agree?

  • ARJUN.G on November 13, 2008, 10:32 GMT

    what u said is absolutely correct.Most of us would spend time and money going abroad,when we don't even realize how beautiful our country is and how diverse its culture is.I am engineering student from Kerala and I think knowing about the various cultures would make us a better person

  • Linus on November 12, 2008, 9:32 GMT

    Yes, thats an important point, but the realisation comes too late for akash who is 30+ by now and have played 100s of matches already.

    Its a lot different wherever you go.. When i came to Delhi for the first time, it all started with the auto driver taking me for a ride. Found the food not tasting good enough, pathetic buses, and was unable to breath in the polluted air of delhi. The living standards are very very bad when compared to a state like Kerala, just opposite to what shefali(the commenter ahead of me) ;)

  • Paraa Sakthivel on November 11, 2008, 17:08 GMT

    Nice Blog.I am always eager to explore and know about new cultures from people who travel a lot.As u said You are blessed with lots of travel.looking for more travel experiences like this one

  • Venkat on November 11, 2008, 14:56 GMT

    I always wanted to ask Akash why Sadagoppan Ramesh was never taken into the team during the last but tour of Australia (under Ganguly I feel what Ganguly did to Ramesh nature gave it back to him of late) even though he was more successful than the ones selected to open the innings in Test. Was it discrimination against a Southie much like Gavaskar's ensuring the most exciting and (of those days) T.E.Srinivasan from the 92 team. One can stretch this discrimination to Lala Amarnath days when VV Kumar the best leg spinner (better than Gupte) was never considered for selection or P. Ramesh the ideal partner for Gavaskar was overlooked for butter fingured Ramnath Parkar. Thankfully atleast now some members of Indian team seem to be open.

  • chewing gum on November 11, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    nice to see such an article and I guess by default all cricketers tend to become god fearing for the tremendous pressure that the game involves these days and considering that be it doemstic cricket or the international arena there seems to be a lot at stake! all the best for your matches ahead...

  • Taxalian on November 11, 2008, 6:55 GMT

    Awaiting the same performance from your bat, what u wrote about cultures by ur pen..... The batting like by all the people, of different culture, region and religions

    Cheers :)

  • Raghav Mehra on November 11, 2008, 4:10 GMT

    Well said, Aakash; yes, India is indeed a very diverse country with rich heritage and tradition. By the way, I do feel that injustice was done to you by not having you replace Gambhir for the fourth Test. Even though we eventually ended up winning the Test, your new patient style of playing could have ensured a lack of hiccups along the way, such as quick wickets falling. Vijay's choice was a complete joke, because he was selected on the basis of just that one double century; you, though, have proven yourself with multiple double centuries. Even when Gambhir is back, though, I think that you should replace the terribly out-of-form Dravid, for he is a large burden for the team. Your solid technique and similar style of playing would also make the transition much easier. Keep up the hard work, though, and the call is bound to come some day or the other. By the way, any news of the tickets that you were supposed to receive?

  • smylav on November 11, 2008, 4:06 GMT

    Good one, Akash. I'm a southy myself and at times people take me up for a northy. I make it a point to be an ambassador for the southies when i am with North folx (includes the rest of the country as well :) and vice versa and make an effort break prejudices and build bridges. The onus is on all of us. Another thing I learnt from a friend is always to taste the local cuisine no matter where you are the in world, and even pick up a thing or two about the local language/ culture, thru observation and friends from that place. May your endeavors give you more joy and help you grow as a person (they most certainly did that to me and to scores of others across the world).

  • Vivek Suri on November 11, 2008, 3:00 GMT

    Aakash I wish some of the so called leaders of India will learn from you. You are absolutely correct. I grew up in New Delhi India but have been living in US for the past 25 years. New Delhi in 70's and 80's was demographically very north Indian. I learned so much about other cultures after coming to US. However, todays Indian society is much more mobile and now that we have the oppurtunity to learn more about other cultures without having to travel. India is the most diverse country in the world and that is a privilige that we should cherish. In the end, I must say that cricinfo has been godsent as I am able to relive some of the matches I saw on TV as kid and also get to know some of the players that I played with as to what they are doing now.

  • Sunil on November 10, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Lovely post Akash, and so very true. There remains so much about India that we ourselves don't know, and it won't hurt us at all to learn more about our own country.

  • Rajesh Kalyanaraman on November 10, 2008, 22:00 GMT

    Terrific point, Aakash. I wonder whether we do the same when we go overseas. Not just for shopping and going to the nearest night clubs. But really get to know the people on the streets. From all these years when our Indian teams have gone overseas I have not known anyone to write interesting tour diaries. For example, I wonder when we toured Australia or New Zealand, did our touring party wanted to meet the indigenous people (aborigines or the maories) to get to know their cultures. I doubt it. Somehow I dont think our cricketers are that worldly wise, yet we expect overseas vistors to know our culture.

  • Gizza on November 10, 2008, 21:40 GMT

    Your point about different state language is very important I feel Akash. Every state or region in India has a different language or at least a different dialect of Hindi and we should cherish every single one. But of course, culture is more than that and includes, music, cuisine, philosophy and way of life and thinking.

    Embracing different cultures rather than fearing them would have meant a lot of controversies during the India-Australia series would not have spiralled out of control

  • Kapil Gaur on November 10, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    Aakash,Its nice reading your blogs,I really appreciate your never say die attitude , i am quite disheartened that you are still not in the Indian team inspite of such wonderful performances in domestic cricket .I thought you would be the 1st choice after Gambhir was suspended,also considering your experience against a much better Aussie attack, but I feel our selectors only tend to concentrate in zones from where the chief selector comes from.I am sure your amazing domestic performance will continue and you will back with Veeru at the top or at No.3 with Veeru n Gauti at the top .All the best .You are an inspiration for us.

  • Bhavani Peddada on November 10, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    This is great to see someone write about learning cultures within. I am from Hyderabd. My father was in Indian Air Force, When I was a kid travelled thoughout India. Learning cultures and customs with laguages etc. It was a facinating life. When my father left Indian Air Force, we settled down back in Hyderabad,kind of missed travelling a bit. By then I could speak any language that I hear once. People were amazed by my language skills. Now settled in USA looking back this brings back many memories. Watching Indian news on TV, kind of saddens the things that are going on where people are turning against each other ( Statewise ). As Indian people we all must learn of the old ways and life a healthy productive lives. It only takes one to say "NAMASTE KAISAI HAI AAP".

    Bhavani Peddada

  • Shefali on November 10, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    Aakash, it is interesting that you come out with such an article. Over the years I have experienced first hand that many players from the North didn't enjoy touring the south, places like Chennai and Kerala were only visted because of cricket. They always complained about the food and lack of entertainment and the language barrier. Where as the players from the south always enjoyed going up to Delhi, Chandigarh and Dharamshala for the tough cricket and different lifestyle to what the south offers. Over the last year or two I have seen changes, its very heartning to hear some players from the north learning a few words in Kannada or Tamil. With the amount of cricket played now days players always have local friends with whom they go out with and explore. Like you said it is important that people go out and enjoy the local culture as you never know who you may meet. Good luck and enjoy the travelling.

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  • Shefali on November 10, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    Aakash, it is interesting that you come out with such an article. Over the years I have experienced first hand that many players from the North didn't enjoy touring the south, places like Chennai and Kerala were only visted because of cricket. They always complained about the food and lack of entertainment and the language barrier. Where as the players from the south always enjoyed going up to Delhi, Chandigarh and Dharamshala for the tough cricket and different lifestyle to what the south offers. Over the last year or two I have seen changes, its very heartning to hear some players from the north learning a few words in Kannada or Tamil. With the amount of cricket played now days players always have local friends with whom they go out with and explore. Like you said it is important that people go out and enjoy the local culture as you never know who you may meet. Good luck and enjoy the travelling.

  • Bhavani Peddada on November 10, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    This is great to see someone write about learning cultures within. I am from Hyderabd. My father was in Indian Air Force, When I was a kid travelled thoughout India. Learning cultures and customs with laguages etc. It was a facinating life. When my father left Indian Air Force, we settled down back in Hyderabad,kind of missed travelling a bit. By then I could speak any language that I hear once. People were amazed by my language skills. Now settled in USA looking back this brings back many memories. Watching Indian news on TV, kind of saddens the things that are going on where people are turning against each other ( Statewise ). As Indian people we all must learn of the old ways and life a healthy productive lives. It only takes one to say "NAMASTE KAISAI HAI AAP".

    Bhavani Peddada

  • Kapil Gaur on November 10, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    Aakash,Its nice reading your blogs,I really appreciate your never say die attitude , i am quite disheartened that you are still not in the Indian team inspite of such wonderful performances in domestic cricket .I thought you would be the 1st choice after Gambhir was suspended,also considering your experience against a much better Aussie attack, but I feel our selectors only tend to concentrate in zones from where the chief selector comes from.I am sure your amazing domestic performance will continue and you will back with Veeru at the top or at No.3 with Veeru n Gauti at the top .All the best .You are an inspiration for us.

  • Gizza on November 10, 2008, 21:40 GMT

    Your point about different state language is very important I feel Akash. Every state or region in India has a different language or at least a different dialect of Hindi and we should cherish every single one. But of course, culture is more than that and includes, music, cuisine, philosophy and way of life and thinking.

    Embracing different cultures rather than fearing them would have meant a lot of controversies during the India-Australia series would not have spiralled out of control

  • Rajesh Kalyanaraman on November 10, 2008, 22:00 GMT

    Terrific point, Aakash. I wonder whether we do the same when we go overseas. Not just for shopping and going to the nearest night clubs. But really get to know the people on the streets. From all these years when our Indian teams have gone overseas I have not known anyone to write interesting tour diaries. For example, I wonder when we toured Australia or New Zealand, did our touring party wanted to meet the indigenous people (aborigines or the maories) to get to know their cultures. I doubt it. Somehow I dont think our cricketers are that worldly wise, yet we expect overseas vistors to know our culture.

  • Sunil on November 10, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Lovely post Akash, and so very true. There remains so much about India that we ourselves don't know, and it won't hurt us at all to learn more about our own country.

  • Vivek Suri on November 11, 2008, 3:00 GMT

    Aakash I wish some of the so called leaders of India will learn from you. You are absolutely correct. I grew up in New Delhi India but have been living in US for the past 25 years. New Delhi in 70's and 80's was demographically very north Indian. I learned so much about other cultures after coming to US. However, todays Indian society is much more mobile and now that we have the oppurtunity to learn more about other cultures without having to travel. India is the most diverse country in the world and that is a privilige that we should cherish. In the end, I must say that cricinfo has been godsent as I am able to relive some of the matches I saw on TV as kid and also get to know some of the players that I played with as to what they are doing now.

  • smylav on November 11, 2008, 4:06 GMT

    Good one, Akash. I'm a southy myself and at times people take me up for a northy. I make it a point to be an ambassador for the southies when i am with North folx (includes the rest of the country as well :) and vice versa and make an effort break prejudices and build bridges. The onus is on all of us. Another thing I learnt from a friend is always to taste the local cuisine no matter where you are the in world, and even pick up a thing or two about the local language/ culture, thru observation and friends from that place. May your endeavors give you more joy and help you grow as a person (they most certainly did that to me and to scores of others across the world).

  • Raghav Mehra on November 11, 2008, 4:10 GMT

    Well said, Aakash; yes, India is indeed a very diverse country with rich heritage and tradition. By the way, I do feel that injustice was done to you by not having you replace Gambhir for the fourth Test. Even though we eventually ended up winning the Test, your new patient style of playing could have ensured a lack of hiccups along the way, such as quick wickets falling. Vijay's choice was a complete joke, because he was selected on the basis of just that one double century; you, though, have proven yourself with multiple double centuries. Even when Gambhir is back, though, I think that you should replace the terribly out-of-form Dravid, for he is a large burden for the team. Your solid technique and similar style of playing would also make the transition much easier. Keep up the hard work, though, and the call is bound to come some day or the other. By the way, any news of the tickets that you were supposed to receive?

  • Taxalian on November 11, 2008, 6:55 GMT

    Awaiting the same performance from your bat, what u wrote about cultures by ur pen..... The batting like by all the people, of different culture, region and religions

    Cheers :)