Rendezvous with Ramachandra Guha

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2004, 17:54 [IST]
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Bangalore:In his book "A Corner of a Foreign Field" that won him the UK Cricket Society Literary award, Ramachandra Guha candidly admits that he is a social historian by profession and a cricket writer by inclination.

So, when I got an opportunity to meet him, a gamut of emotions was running through me. The very thought of meeting Guha, whose works I have been reading ever since the gentleman's game of cricket caught my fancy, ensured that I had butterflies in my stomach.

But, the story was poised for a different turn even as we exchanged the initial pleasantries. Ramachandra Guha, the seasoned historian and writer, put me to ease in no time, striking a rather casual chord and asking me if I had any problem locating his house. And, that set the tone for our chat that extended for a good thirty minutes or so.

Sitting at his lawn, with a whiff of fresh air and bonhomie, I knew it was a dream come true for me. Guha's varying interests, including history, cricket, sociology....and many more fields, have never ceased to amuse me. And his areas are not limited to these; he is also an academician par excellence who has held positions in various Universities in India, Europe and North America. Here we were sitting at his Brunton Road residence in the garden city talking freely without any air of being such a big man. He showed no signs of fatigue as he had just returned home from a week-long trip to New Delhi.

I could speak to him for half an hour or so and our topics ranged from cricket books to academics. On coming to know that I hail from Kerala, he asked me "What happened to Tinu Yohannan? He was bowling well. There is still chance for him. Fast bowlers are getting a lot of exposure these days."Talking to such a good raconteur was a sheer pleasure. More so because of his vision that extends beyond the boundary. To add to this, I was in my "good listener" mode.

"Nowadays I don't write much about cricket," said Guha on being asked as to when we could expect a cricket piece on the lines of Picador Book of Cricket (which celebrates best writings on the game) and A Corner of a Foreign Field, (which is about the Indian history of a British sport, cricket) which I had just finished reading. However, there was good news for readers as one more book is in the pipeline in another six months. In addition, he gave me details of the 'Select' bookshop in Bangalore that has a good collection of cricket books.

The chat never was too professional as he found time to talk to me about my professional life and things like that. He did ask me if I had tried my luck in print media. As we bid adieu to each other, I told him "I would keep troubling you sir, be it through e-mail or telephone call," for which he responded with whole-hearted laughter.

It was neither an interview nor a story. Just a tryst with a childhood idol. And, what a meeting it was! The kind of things that you keep wrapped in pure silk....in the treasure box of memories.

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