The Anxieties Of A Beautiful Day

That mysterious, terrible anxiety felt on a beautiful day–whether that of the spring, summer, fall, or winter–is perhaps better understood when we realize that such anxiety is not one, but many anxieties. To wit, that anxiety is:

The anxiety of not knowing whether this beautiful day is not the harbinger of a terrible day; for do not all accounts of disaster begin by noting the innocent beauty of an ‘ordinary day like any other’?;

The anxiety of despairing that this beautiful day is not being ‘lived,’ ‘used,’ ‘experienced,’ ‘utilized,’ or ‘seized’ ‘well enough.’ This is lent an especially melancholic sense when we feel others are ‘outperforming’ us on their said ‘usage’ of the day–a gleaning obtained from their public proclamations (these days, on social media) of such feats. We are anxious because we sense that we are spending this day ‘wrong,’ that we could be spending it in some ‘better fashion’;

The anxiety of not knowing whether this day is the last of those like it, never to be seen again, and time is inexorably running out on it even as grasp and seize at its offerings;

The despair at the memory of many days like this, in days gone by, that were not then realized for being the beautiful days they were; perhaps this day is similarly condemned.

The beautiful day is at hand; that much is certain. But all else is still uncertain and provisional, and so long as that is the case, we are anxious.

America, Let’s Just Keep Our Flag At Half-Mast, OK?

Folks, we have a problem on our hands. Every few days, or weeks, we put the hard-working men and women who are in charge of lowering and raising our national flag–whether in parks, schools, public libraries, post offices, or anywhere else–to considerable hardship. To wit, we make them repeatedly perform the tedious task of lowering the Stars and Stripes down to half-mast, and then raising it again a few days later when the period of ‘national mourning’ –declared in response to our latest public massacre–is over. This tedious, time-consuming task is a nuisance, and it is unfair that these loyal compatriots of ours should be subjected to this endless repetition on a monotonous theme. Come wind, rain, snow, hail, or scorching summer, no matter what the season, time-zone, or locale, this task has to be performed again and again. Enough is enough.

Sigmund Freud talked (and talked) of endless therapy and neurotic repetition. Trust me, if the good doctor knew of what went on in the United States in this day and age, he might find himself forced to extensively revise his theories of neuroticism to accommodate the pathology on display. Or perhaps he might be gratified at finding here, that long-awaited confirmation of his postulated ‘death drive,’ the one that was marked by ‘aggression, repetition compulsion, and self-destructiveness.’ Our nation would then have fulfilled a salutary scientific role in providing empirical confirmation of this radical revision to Freud’s psychoanalytic framework.

But if we do not wish such an exalted role for our nation, then we have a simple alternative at hand, one that would accommodate our national predilection for things that go bang-bang and pop-pop and boom-boom, and for the periodic massacre of innocents. Because, soon enough, we’ll be offering more thoughts and prayers, standing around solemnly with heads bowed, and yes, sending out the trusted custodians of ‘Ol Glory to bring it shimmying down to a more appropriate position.

Let’s just keep the flag flying at half-mast. As a nation, we deserve no less.

Book Release Announcement: ‘Shyam Benegal: Filmmaker and Philosopher’

I’m pleased to make note here that my book ‘Shyam Benegal: Filmmaker and Philosopher‘ has been released by Bloomsbury Books. Here is the book cover and the jacket copy:

For almost fifty years now, Shyam Benegal has been a leading artistic, political, and moral force in Indian cinema. Informed by a rich political and philosophical sensibility and a mastery of the art and craft of filmmaking, Benegal is both of, and not of, the Indian film industry.

As a philosophical filmmaker Benegal brings to life the existential crisis of the downtrodden Indian, the ‘subaltern’—the landless serf, the lower caste peasant, the marginalized woman—and imposes a distinctive philosophical vision on his cinematic reworkings of literary products. Focusing on its philosophical depth, Samir Chopra identifies in this book three key aspects of Benegal’s oeuvre: a trio of films which signalled to middle-class India that a revolt was brewing in India’s hinterlands; movies which make powerful feminist statements and showcase strong female characters; and Benegal’s interpretation, ‘translation’, and reimagining of literary works of diverse provenances and artistic impulses. Running through this body of work is an artistic and moral commitment to a political realism and an intersectional feminism which continually inform each other.  

In Shyam Benegal: Filmmaker and Philosopher, Chopra shows how to understand Benegal’s cinema is to understand, through his lens, modern India’s continued process of political and social becoming.    

The Gabba As Field Of Dreams

All sports fans are sustained by fantasies. They are our white ravens, the sights we imagine we will never see, because they are ruled out by improbabilities, but they still sustain us. For they bring us back to the ‘action’ again and again, hoping against hope and empirical plausibility, letting their associated dreams and wonderings live and flower within us, because it is they, and not anything else, that grants meaning to an essentially meaningless activity. In my soon-to-released ‘cricket fan memoir,’ I wrote the following about the  ‘great, epic, unbelievable’ 2001 Indian win in Chennai over Steve Waugh’s Australians

I had never imagined such a turn of affairs: Victory was possible after suffering the humiliation of following on, after facing almost certain defeat against the world’s strongest team, an unbeatable one reckoned among the greatest in cricket’s history. Several beers later that night, I stumbled home and fell into bed, unable to comprehend the scale of the cricketing event that had just transpired. I was shaken. Nothing like this had seemed remotely possible in the years I had watched and followed cricket. I thought of the 1983 World Cup, so long ago—another life, another place, another improbability. This Test was in those same precincts of implausibility. I had never spun out a cricketing fantasy so exotic, so schoolboyish. Never had I dreamed of a comeback so over the top, so back from the edge, so against the wall. Even as a youngster, hopelessly mired in daydreams, I had never, ever, dreamed up something like this.

I’ve been watching cricket for over forty years now. Many are my cricketing fantasies, created and sustained over decades of cricket spectatorship and its interactions with the events in my inner and outer lives. Beating Australia, arguably the greatest cricketing nation of all in Test cricket’s history, in Australia in a Test series, has always been one of them; it was the greatest of all because it represented such an implausible achievement. Over the years that fantasy had morphed and grown new forms and shapes and contours, reflecting my changing self. It wasn’t just enough to beat old foes. They had to be beaten in a particular way and manner. Beating England, Australia, the West Indies, Pakistan at home, in India, was not good enough; they had to be beaten ‘away.’ Beating them in facile fashion, by innings defeats or 10 wickets or boatloads of runs, was not good enough either; cricketing adversity had to be overcome along the way. That adversity could be of match situations, ground conditions, injuries, hostile opponents; whatever it was, it had to be overcome before victory could be claimed and celebrated.

A win after following-on checked those boxes for sure. But the 2001 win at Kolkata had come at home. And India had after all, had an Indian umpire officiating on the final day at Kolkata. (There is no doubt in my mind that on that fateful day, had India been pressing for a win with an English or Australian or South African umpire, they would not have won; not because those umpires would have been biased, but because they simply would not have known how to adjudge those crucial LBWs – off offspinners and legspinners – on the final day.)  

I have had, for a painfully long time, a very particular fantastic scenario played out in my head about how I wanted India to win in Australia. Ideally, a feisty Indian batsman would be chasing an improbable target on the final day, in the company of tailenders, all the while relentlessly sledged by the Australians along the way. His response to these manifold adversities would be to talk back – with both bat and mouth- and continue to take his team onwards and upwards. It should be clear that in my mind, this fantasy was going to be fulfilled by Virat Kohli, who in 2014 had taken Indian to the brink of one of the greatest Indian Test wins of all time at Adelaide in 2014. But both India and Kohli collapsed that day, and India collected its usual ‘brave loser’ award. India did win in Australia in 2018/19, thus marching across ‘the final frontier’; but the win, in retrospect, wasn’t an adequate satisfaction of the daydreaming impulses that underwrote my fantasies. The Australian team was weakened; the Indians lost at Perth, supposedly the fastest wicket in Australia when they tried to out-pace the Australians; and of course, Virat Kohli lost the battle of the big mouths to Tim Paine, the Australian captain. 

But India’s win at Brisbane over Australia on the 19th of January 2021 did it all. India won in the last few overs of the last session of the last day of the last Test of a series which had begun with them losing the first Test after collapsing to their lowest score in Test cricket. They lost their captain, their first XI; they put up with, and mastered, the usual Australian three-pronged barrage of witless player sledging, press sniping, and fan abuse. They came back in the second Test to win; they drew the third Test after batting out the final day (and threatening to win along the way); they won the fourth Test on the last day by three wickets with a young opening batsman and wicketkeeper leading the way. Along the way, they sledged right back, reported fan abuse from the stands, and kept their mouths shut when it came to addressing mysteriously sourced reports about their being ‘sooks’ and ‘whingers.’ My fantasy didn’t all come to fruition in one Test or one day; instead, cumulatively, over the course of a series, this particular fantasy was prepared and simmered, finally all coming to a head on that glorious afternoon in Brisbane as a young, feisty, chatty wicketkeeper from Delhi (my old hometown) – with a tailender at the other end- slammed an aggressive, bigmouthed Australian pace bowler (an archetype of sorts) for four to win the Test and series. (That the march had been led by a young, exquisite strokeplaying star from the Punjab was the icing on the cake.) 

In my mind, it is all quite clear now: this was the greatest Test series of all time. No other team in cricket’s history has overcome so many adversities away from home to win in a former domain of subjugation. The usual Anglo-Australian cabal of writers, ex-players, and fans can continue to wallow in glorious tales of Ashes long past; those glories have long been displaced from my formerly colonized mind. A new cricketing order – mental, aesthetic, and performative – is in place.

The white ravens we will seek from now on will be of an entirely different plumage. I look forward to their sightings.  


Crossfitting While Brown

I ‘CrossFitted.’ And I’m Brown. But I just didn’t CrossFit anywhere. I trained at CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK). That is a crucial component of my “CrossFitting While Brown” experience. Being brown and chasing ‘elite fitness’ does not necessarily entail a conceptual clash between the two, but my personal insecurities and the cultural placement of CrossFit when I started at CFSBK back in 2009, ensured an internal discomfort that took some dispelling. CFSBK had a great deal to do with it.

Brown people, especially Indians, are not supposed to be athletic. We do not occupy such a place in the American imagination. The Indian immigrant has other stereotypes to conform to: the doctor, the systems analyst, the storekeeper, the motel owner, the taxi driver. He is typically skinny or just out of shape; he speaks with a comical ‘Apu accent’; he is better known for spelling bees; he does not play organized sports. I fulfill some components of the stereotypical Indian: I am a professor, I do math in my head, I talk about the books I read, I write books, I used to write computer code once; I’m a nerd; I fly my nerd flag proudly. I’m aware I’m not supposed to be strong or fast or athletic; those are not the images associated with ‘folks like me.’ I grew up with a legacy of athletic failure at both national and personal levels; it is how I view myself. My personal failure appeared embedded in a broader cultural failure ‘back home’; in my darkest moments, it became pure essentialism, driving me to find flaws in my genes. My sense of my body is very closely tied up with its failures. All of this suggested I did not belong in CrossFit, a place only for the very fit, the very strong, and dare I say it, at least back in 2009, the very white.

Then too, it was a time when I, as a brown man, thought better of my going to Crossfit because I had been warned about its ‘right-wing politics,’ its flirtations, or rather, its wholesale embrace of militarism and a problematic masculinity grounded in workouts that aspired to ‘fuck you up,’ ‘make you puke,’ and ultimately, like in those photographs that make the rounds, sprawled out on the floor in a puddle of sweat, ripped bodies heaving and gasping for breath. In post-911 America, to go to a gym dominated by hard white bodies, whose group photographs (those L1 certs!) and ‘CF main site’ pages were dominated by images of law enforcers (the guys who’ve never let me, and many others of a darker persuasion, feel at home in the US), or the military (which seemingly specialized in killing brown people with turbans, and which seemed to hate my wife’s Muslim community), just felt like a fraught decision. Still, I made the decision to sign up at CFSBK because I desperately needed to kickstart my fitness—and my associated downward headed head space—and because I trusted the woman friend who directed me to CFSBK.

I came to CFSBK with my baggage of being an unathletic brown man, one insecure about his bodily self-worth and about whether he belonged in its spaces. Once I began, every CrossFitting failure of mine, my failures to perform kipping pull-ups, handstand push-ups, or even the elementary forward roll, further slotted me into the category of athletic failures. My back injury, incurred a few weeks after I started at CFSBK, made it even worse. Perhaps I was not cut out for this ‘elite fitness’ business – genetically, culturally, ethnically. We are all racked by self-doubt and insecurity and a diminished personal image of ourselves (as Orwell once said, “every life, when viewed from the inside, is a series of small failures”); my insecurities were not any greater or any worse than others, they were decked out in a different form with a different affective content.

Every time I ‘failed,’ I felt I failed my entire demographic, a race, an entire people, and added one more datum point to the claim that brown men are unathletic. I would often wonder, “These folks must be shaking their head at this out-of-place brown dude, whose numbers are the lowest, his times the slowest.” It was a peculiar burden to carry, a weighty additional framing of what should have just been a workout. I did not want to be the sole representative of a large and varied group, but I found myself functioning as one—in my mind. I felt, keenly, that such was the spotlight turned on me. When I did ‘well’ in a workout, that is, I did not disgrace myself, I chalked another win up for my own, entirely personal, stereotype-dispelling project. (Variants of these exist in my other walks of life.) Every time I ‘did poorly’, I put one in the loss column. This was perhaps self-destructive, but it was an instinct, not something that I consciously took on.

This is a familiar tension for the immigrant, to be aware of the preconceptions that frame your presence in the spaces you frequent: you want your particularity to be noticed, but you also want to be ‘just like everyone else,’ to blend in, to not be noticed. When I stepped on to a CrossFit floor, I was aware of this fact. I was made aware of my identity when my lifting partners would ask me to repeat my name, when my accent made people ask me ‘where I’m from’ or insist I repeat a word which I had subjected to my idiosyncratic pronunciation. Sometimes the ƒQuestion of the Day would become fraught for that reason; I did not want to attract attention to myself, even as I sought to stand out with my own distinctive answers to questions like ‘what was your favorite television show growing up.’ (The real answer: live cricket games on other folks’ televisions; we didn’t have a TV till I hit eleven.)

But of course, my identity is not just that of a brown man or an immigrant. I’m a teacher, a writer, a metalhead and Deadhead, a pothead, a father, an immigrant, a New Yorker, a Giants and Yankees fan, and like so many others at CFSBK, just someone hoping to look better, feel better, live longer. These all found expression in CFSBK’s many, varied spaces. At CFSBK, I shared platforms with cops, Iraq war veterans, firefighters, doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers, teachers, photographers, management consultants, actors, comedians, with black, brown, and white (and many other skin toned) folks. I was given a nickname and made some very good friends; my back injury was accommodated, and even given personal attention! I found my peeps at CFSBK in more ways than one. I was welcomed in all the right ways; CFSBK peeps laughed at my stupid jokes, my endless drug references, my silly dancing, they cheered for me during workouts, they counted my reps, they cheered for big lifts at the Strength Cycle Total, they cheered whether I came last or first (never!); heck, CFSBK even picked me as Athlete of the Month.

Eleven years on, I do not have the bulging biceps or boulders in my shoulders that the male Crossfit ideal has; I do not have a six-pack, and have resigned myself to a three-months-of-good-diet-and-regular-workouts-will-give-me-my-dream-body state (where we all are, really.) I still do not qualify as a ‘firebreather’ or a ‘beast,’ I did not become a member of the ‘competition team,’ I’m not among the strongest or fastest older men at CFSBK. But none of that seemed to matter any more at CFSBK. I had friends, among coaches and members, and I found a space for expressing myself, both physically and emotionally. CrossFit South Brooklyn made me feel at home. Which, as those who leave ‘home’ will tell you, counts for a great deal.

It is important to note that my sense of belonging does not necessarily transfer to other CrossFit gyms. I do not CrossFit when I travel. Perhaps some traces of my earlier associations with CrossFit still linger on; a workout is a space in which I feel I’m putting my body on the line, and I like doing so around people I trust. CFSBK was that place. I came to CFSBK as an insecure brown man, and in some ways, I remain one. But if I grew out of that self-conception at all, Crossfit South Brooklyn, ‘the house that David built,’ had a great deal to do with it.

Anxiety And Philosophical Inquiry

My essay in Psyche Magazine on the intimate linkage of anxiety and philosophical inquiry is online today.

Killing a Friendship Over Email

Modern relationships end in strange ways. Last year, a friend terminated a friendship with me over email. We had not met in over a year, and had been exchanging emails on trying to find a time and place to meet and ‘catch up.’ Arranging a meeting time with another ambitious New Yorker that works is an intractable task at the best of times; still, my friend and I, thanks to our emailing back and forth, seemed to have found a rendezvous space-time point that worked. But that meeting fell apart thanks to my parenting commitments, and as it did, and as I asked to reschedule, my friend accused me of inattention, of not reading our communications carefully enough. I quickly and briefly apologized, and stunned by the anger on display in the accusation of inattention and distraction, retreated into embarrassed silence. A couple of weeks  later, we ran into each other on the street, and found our conversation brief, rushed conversation–it’s New York City!–awkward and stilted. Having noticed that personal contact hadn’t helped, I tried again, over email, to reach out. But it didn’t; my email met with an another angry response; the relationship was well and truly over. Yet another attempt at reconciliation, hopefully in person, made by email contact, again ended in disaster, as I was accused of insensitivity and selfishness. I stared my email exchanges thread in some disbelief; there it lay, the forensic record of a relationship gone well and truly bad, down the tubes.

A year or so later, I’m still surprised by the speed at which an ostensibly ‘healthy’ relationship degenerated so quickly. My friend did send over a couple of accusations of self-centeredness on my part in our relationship, so the demise of our friendship was perhaps foretold, but I certainly had not been forewarned or been given a ‘call-out’ or a ‘heads-up’ to try to make amends. At the very least, as another friend of mine suggested, I should console myself with the thought that the friendship hadn’t been that great to begin with if all it took to end it was a ‘simple misunderstanding’ over email, one that did not even prompt a suggestion for a ‘conversation’ to sort things out. 

I’m inclined to think too, that the intersection of our extended email correspondence with our hectic modern schedules and commitments had some role to play here. The endless back-and-forthing, the desperate hunt to find a time-slot that worked, the mounting frustration of scheduling details, the pressure to try to maintain a relationship through making appointments, the irritation of feeling another email to be replied to mounting – I’m inclined to think that trying to maintain a ‘friendship’ in the face of this can generate a temptation to just call ‘the whole fucking thing off.’ It’s tempting to want to trim ‘friend lists’ in the face of scheduling pressures; only some make the cut in the face of the imperatives of limited time and energies.

No doubt, my personal faults, as pointed out by my friend, had something do with the demise of our friendship; I’m deeply flawed like we all are, and these flaws often exert a damaging influence on my social interactions. But they might have been tolerated in a different social and cultural setting, where, if we had enough time and space to attend to personal relationships, my friend and I might have been able to work on ours.

The American Republic Stands By For A 3-6 Shellacking

The American Republic, not content with having one election decided by nine unelected officials (Bush v. Gore, circa 2000), is gearing up yet again to have its Grand Prize, its esteemed (and very expensive) presidential election, decided by another unelected jurisprudential posse – the Supremes, all the better now for having replaced one punchy acronym RBG with yet another, ACB. Behold the republic, which venerates these esteemed Reviewers of Legislation and Settlers of Political Disputes. The Republican Party–including all its supposed moderates, centrists like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins–has already announced that it is committed to a ‘peaceful transfer of power,’ a state of affairs entirely compatible with a Supreme Court decision that awards the election to Donald Trump. This is a nation of laws, not men, and it is laws, not men and women, adult voters, that is, that will decide the fate of the American Republic. And some cherished, hoary theories of legal interpretation, all the better for having being vetted, and found suitable by the finest legal minds of this nation, produced by those bastions of political rectitude, Yale and Harvard.

Let’s face it; wouldn’t you want the fate of our great nation decided by people who have attended expensive prep schools, Ivy League colleges, and scored 180s in LSATs, rather than your average soccer mom, diner patron, rust belt worker, laid off disgruntled corporatist, and sundry other elements of that flotsam and jetsam known as ‘the American voter’? Why trust the voice of the people when you can trust the voice(s) of the Inner Chamber of Constitutional Deliberation?

America is going to go down 3-6; that much is foretold. The scoring will be opened by the Conservative Bench, and despite some valiant counterattacks and equalizers scored by the Ostensibly Liberal Bench, the Conservative lead will not be overcome when the referee blows his whistle. It was a good and valiant battle, but it was always fatally undermined by a historical amnesia, a wallowing in a misremembered past, one that insisted its Constitution was a masterpiece of political and moral spirit, as opposed to recognizing that it was a Rube Goldberg contraption destined to fail precisely when the slightest amounts of stress were placed on it, one reliant on norm-following by flawed humans. Those flawed humans are here, and they do not care to follow these precious norms.

But we will have the satisfaction of knowing that power was transferred peacefully, that briefs were filed, following the requirements of Federal Procedure, carefully specified in large tomes and treatises, intricate legal arguments were made, all the while extensively footnoted. Then some young bright law clerks, all of them recipients of that greatest prize of all, the Supreme Court Clerkship, will produce a gleaming 300-page ruling in PDF, that will certify the result. This PDF will be duly examined by the SCOTUS Blog and by many professors at our finest legal academies. Some might cluck their teeth at the reasoning on display, but their angst will never manifest itself in a rush to the barricades. The law will have triumphed, and the order and decorum of the republic will have been preserved. Even if the republic itself will not have been.

William James On The ‘Automatic, Therapeutic Decision’

In Existential Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom, writing of conscious, directed, self-therapeutic change, writes of the ‘essential’ role of personal decisions and choices in ‘effective’ therapy, and invokes William James‘ five-fold taxonomy of decisions “only two of which, the first and the second, involve “willful” effort”:

1. Reasonable decision. We consider the arguments for and against a given course and settle on one alternative. A rational balancing of the books; we make this decision with a perfect sense of being free.

2. Willful decision. A willful and strenuous decision involving a sense of “inward effort.” A “slow, dead heave of the will.” This is a rare decision; the great majority of human decisions are made without effort.

3. Drifting decision. In this type there seems to be no paramount reason for either course of action. Either seems good, and we grow weary or frustrated at the decision. We make the decision by letting ourselves drift in a direction seemingly accidentally determined from without.

4. Impulsive decision. We feel unable to decide and the determination seems as accidental as the third type. But it comes from within and not from without. We find ourselves acting automatically and often impulsively.

5. Decision based on change of perspective. This decision often occurs suddenly and as a consequence of some important outer experience or inward change (for example, grief or fear) which results in an important change in perspective or a “change in heart.”

So three kinds of decisions are seemingly ‘automatic’; they are made for ‘no paramount reason’ or ‘accidentally’ or ‘suddenly.’ But they should not, for that reason, be understood as ‘spontaneous’ or ‘uncaused.’ After all, they are made by a patient in therapy, someone that has decided to go to therapy to ‘become better’ or to ‘be cured.’ Change, or an acute desire for it, already stirs within such persons. When the decision is made, therapy has already taken place for some time; narratives of the lived life have been constructed and edited for clarity; ‘suggestions’ for therapeutic change have been made; tentative drafts of new self-constructing narratives have been offered for emendation and rewriting in the clinic.

In these circumstances, the patient/client is not a passive participant in the therapeutic process but an active dynamic one, albeit with levels of interaction with therapy that are not always explicitly conscious and available for introspection. These levels of interaction, in ‘producing’ decisions,’ act in much the same way as unconscious modes of problem-solving do, the ones that prompt the anecdotal observation that ‘mathematicians do all their theorem-proving while they sleep.’ The ‘therapeutic decisions’ which result should be cause for optimism; in the same way that writers, artists, and creators of all stripes press on through moments of ‘block’, trusting that their unconscious creative processes will work out for them in the end, moving them past points of turmoil and stasis in their artmaking, the patient in therapy can continue to strive, pressing on, trusting that within them, directed processes, even if not immediately apparent, of self-discovery, invention, and construction are under way.

Cover And Catalog Copy For ‘The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey’

The good folks at Temple University Press have a cover design for my forthcoming book, ‘The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey.’

Here is the catalog copy for the book:

An autobiographical account of a cricket lover’s journey across nations and identities

The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: A Shapeshifting Journey

Samir Chopra is an immigrant, a “voluntary exile,” who discovers he can tell the story of his life through cricket, a game that has long been a presence—really, an obsession—in his life, and in so doing, reveals how his changing views on the sport mirror his journey of self-discovery. In The Evolution of a Cricket Fan, Chopra is thus able to reflect on his changing perceptions of self, and of the nations and cultures that have shaped his identity, politics, displacement, and fandom.

Chopra’s passion for the sport began as a child, when he rooted for Pakistan and against his native India. When he migrated, he became a fan of the Indian team that gave him a sense of home among the various cultures he encountered in North America and Australia. This “shapeshifting” exposes the rift between the old and the new world, which Chopra acknowledges is, “Cricket’s greatest modern crisis.” But it also illuminates the identity dilemmas of post-colonial immigrants in the Indian diaspora.

Chopra’s thoughts about the sport and its global influence are not those of a player. He provides access to the “inner world” of the global cricket fan navigating the world that colonial empire wrought and cricket continues to connect and animate, observing that the Indian cricket team carries many burdens—not only must they win cricket matches, but their style of play must generate a pride that assuages generations of wounds inflicted by history. And Chopra must navigate where he stands in that history.

The Evolution of a Cricket Fan shows Chopra’s own wins and losses as his life takes new directions and his fandom changes allegiances.

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