“Are you ok?” My colleague asked me on Monday morning over the team meeting.
I wasn’t sure about the out of blue context.
“Yeah, I am fine,” I said.
“Sure?” He chuckled.
“What do you mean? Has anything happened?” I asked.
“India lost the match against Pakistan. Maybe you don’t want to talk about it, I guess?” He teased.
“Oh! Well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t watch cricket.” I declared.
“WHAT? Don’t you? Mate, you are an Indian.”
“So?” I giggled.
“How come you don’t like cricket.”
“I like cricket as a game. But I don’t watch it.”
Huh? He was startled.
My cold reaction was way more disappointing than his anticipation.
Cricket may be a religion in India, but not all Indians believe in God.
As far I remember, I was never crazy about cricket. None of the sports makes me emotional. But I do get emotional when I see the cricket in movies.
I don’t have the patience to watch the T20 matches. However, I didn’t think about time while watching Lagaan for almost four hours.
Sports in the movies have a more emotional impact on me than watching sports in real life.
We cannot compare a movie with a real sport. This article is not about the comparison anyway. It’s about how we, an individual, has a ready-made tag for almost everything.
Society has pre-defined templates for people. Such tendencies come from which country you belong to, religion, language, culture, food, and clothes. We perceive the majority of people based on these values.
When our enforced understanding goes out of the stereotype, curiosity arises. People don’t like when you disturb their prediction. However, there are always exceptions.
Not all Indians love spicy food. Not all Aussies love Vegemite. Not all English love tea. And not all Asians love mathematics.
My intent is not to offend you with tea, maths or food. Instead, I use fine examples as a metaphor to elaborate my perspective.
The traditional values are there for a reason. We inherit them the moment we are born. But if you don’t align with in-built cultural identities, it doesn’t make you an outsider. You are still an individual with your custom definition. That’s what makes you unique. And you are still part of the society.
I’m not particularly keen to divide myself with a country for cricket. I love the game. But I don’t need to dissect myself with identity to enjoy the sport.
To witness a sixer is still a thrilling cricket whether it came from an Indian or Pakistani.
It may be against some odds, especially for patriots or nationalists.
Unfortunately, we are accustomed to such discrimination in society with sports, religion and culture because we must justify borders, colours and identities. That’s what Indian Premier League (IPL) did.
IPL leveraged glamour and money to create more countries within India to encourage discrimination and racism.
I turned off identity-driven cricket within me and on TV. But I turned on the unbiased sport.
I turned off my interest to participate in discussions after winning or losing the game. But I turned on my child-like personality to watch a live match with the crowd.
The most important question that we all need to ask ourselves is,