Short takes
Diplomatic pitch
Randeep Wadehra

Cricketing Ties
Edited by Renuka Chatterjee and Nandita Jaishankar. Roli Books. Pages 143. Price not mentioned.

Cricketing TiesOnce an archetypal English game, cricket is fast becoming a global phenomenon with a distinctive subcontinental flavour. The recent Indo-Pakistan Test and one-day series was watched keenly not only in the traditional cricket-playing nations but also by diplomatic circles in the United States and elsewhere. The diplomatic overtones were manifest even before the Indian team crossed the border to play the game with their arch rivals. The emphatic Indian victories in both versions of the game understandably generated unprecedented euphoria in the country. This volume takes a look at the way cricket has been played between the two Asian giants over the past five decades.

The game’s fans will love to read the contributions by Omar Kureishi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Ayaz Memon, Madhu Trehan, Nina Martyris and Kadambari Murali. Statistics by Rajesh Kumar and snaps by Pradeep Mandhani add to the book’s charm.

Masala travelogue
The Highway
by Will Marks. Frog Books. Pages 169. Rs 150.

The HighwayZac Goodman and Grant are in India to act in a Bollywood production. They ride their motorcycles all the way to a Buddhist monastery situated just a few kilometers away from the Indo-Tibetan border. At the monastery they’re supposed to train in the ways of the monks as preparation for the role in the movie. On the way they meet a blonde who resembles Zac’s dead brother Sam. As the threesome race up the Himalayan highway they meet with a terrible accident. The blonde dies while Zac’s injured but not too seriously.

The narrative is peppered with exotic paranormal experiences. It also has longish descriptions like the one of the accident, "`85and all I can do is brake and jack-knife my handlebars, turning ninety degrees into the cliff just to get away but then the back kicks-up and I’m bucked off into a trajectory that, even as I fly through it, has an unaccountably joyful beauty." Travel is this novel’s theme — both as a spiritual experience and a temporal event.

Marks, a New Zealander, has spent two years in the subcontinent, motorcycling across the Himalayas to the South and Sri Lanka. He’s put his experiences to good use while writing this book. Yet, the narrative, occasionally disjointed, is a travelogue with adventure, humour, sex, spiritualism and suspense thrown in. Khichdi, anyone?

Ode to a committed communist
Edited by Harjit Daudharia. Darshan Singh Sangha ‘Canadian’ Heritage Foundation.
Pages 240. Rs 200.

Romance has gone out of communism. Its Utopian precepts have failed to become panacea for human misery. Yet, it’s necessary to document not only the ideology’s rise and fall but also have a look at the various people who helped spread its message across the globe. India has had its share of charismatic and not-so-charismatic communist leaders. Darshan Singh Sangha was one such who left a lasting stamp on the global canvas.

This book’s essentially an ode to Darshan — as he was known among his comrades. It traces his life right from the time he was an active trade union leader in Canada and the UK to the time he was assassinated by Khalistani terrorists in India. Its contents inform us about Darshan’s commitment to universal human values and to the socialist idea of equality for all. Its basically eulogistic as is to be expected when comrades write about their late friend. What’s unusual is the quality of the tome’s production. A lot of money seems to have been spent in bringing out this hardback edition even though it’s reasonably priced. Looks like our comrades are adjusting their mindset to the market economy.

Nonetheless, scholars will find this book quite useful. It might help them understand the reasons for the hammer ‘n’ sickle motif’s enduring appeal despite the movement’s collapse.