Diversity before wicket

When Pakistani journalist Abid Shah visited Sri Lanka, everyone wanted to talk to him about the attack on their national cricket team in Lahore, and Shah began to see South Asia’s differences through the prism of the sport.

From The National:

ScreenHunter_09 Jul. 11 17.00 So my question: where was the spontaneity, the joy, the unstructured chaos of street cricket in Sri Lanka?

DeSilva could not understand what I was saying. Children played cricket in schools, he said. Or in grounds. Why would they play in the street?

Which reminded him. What had happened in Lahore? My trip to Sri Lanka was in March, so we both knew what he meant. “So tell me,” his furrowed stare burrowed through me. “Who did it? The Tamils?”

“The Taliban.”

To each his own demons.

DeSilva, like many Sri Lankans I met, was asking about the commando-style attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. These questions were asked in the half-joking camaraderie of a people who are accustomed to terrorist threats – and so I easily found common ground with them. In March, the Sri Lankan government’s victory over the Tamil Tigers was two months away, and the country had suffered a quarter of a century of communal violence that left more than 70,000 people dead.

The Lahore attack had happened three weeks before my trip, on March 3, and my experience of it was somewhat personal. I exercise at a health club which is a short distance from the cricket stadium, and at 9.30 that morning, I was driving to my gym. At that time, Lahore is quiet after the noisy mess of the morning rush hour, and I can take advantage of the window of calm before the streets clog up again at lunchtime. On that morning, I zipped through the streets until I reached Main Boulevard, the city’s tree-lined thoroughfare, when a policeman stopped me. Behind him was a flimsy steel and barbed wire barricade.

More here.