The other side of the LoC

The other side of the LoC

Apart from being a book on the Indian cricket team's 2004 tour of Pakistan, it is also a fascinating account of a young Indian travelling in Pakistan, from the dusty Multan to Lahore and beyond

September 15 , 2015
01 Min Read

There’s virtually no writing on what Pakistan is like for ordinary Indians, people who aren’t diplomats, soldiers or politicians. Yet several things about Rahul Bhattacharya, the author of Pundits From Pakistan, explain why his cricket book is also the first Pakistan travelogue for the 21st century Indian.

Partition happened 32 years before he was born; for his generation it’s a historical date, not an anguished memory. Pakistan itself is mundane reality, not a sad fantasist’s construction of “what if…”. And then Bhattacharya is a Bengali/Gujarati from Bombay. It helps him see Pakistan objectively in a way that is hard for most north Indians and virtually impossible for Punjabis--the irony is that it’s sometimes easier to be detached when you don’t look and talk the same.

Also, on the face of it Pundits is about the Indian cricket team’s 2004 tour of Pakistan. Much of the analysis--some of it easily the best you’ll see in Indian sports writing--is about the cricket, and this seems to free him from preconceived notions of Pakistan.

So when he travels to Pakistan’s fierce frontier, scopes out dusty Multan, or describes dope-fueled wanderings in Lahore, he’s taking in and describing a Pakistan that’s emphatically not India by another name. When bonds are forged, it’s because of similarities like a taste for paya, or knowing the lyrics to the Grateful Dead’s Scarlet Begonias, not Punjabiyat. The result is an utterly engaging account of a young man’s journey through a strangely beguiling yet distant neighbour.

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