I have a confession to make – I have been totally enthralled watching the World Cup cricket matches.
I have another confession to make – I could barely spell cricket a month ago.
Why the new found interest? It wasn’t because I needed another sport to watch. It was because I wanted to better understand something that was very important to many of the people on my team. The fact that I enjoyed it so much was an accident, but not really as I’ll explain later.
Over half of my team is from a country where cricket is of great interest – India, the UK and South Africa. So when the grandaddy of the them all, the World Cup, came around the buzz became pretty intense. When India made it to the semi-finals our office in India gave the folks the afternoon off. We don’t give days off when the Braves make it to the World Series so this is big!I decided to try once again to understand this game when I heard that India and South Africa were going to be strong contenders. It was a bit painful as the vernacular of cricket alone is tough to digest. Now that the World Cup was streaming across the internet I actually got to watch the rules and game strategy play out live. I became a fan.
But that was only the beginning. When I first started learning the game I would come back to the office and ask some of the guys why a team would voluntarily give up an inning or what the rule was regarding the knee and the wicket. After they got over the shock that an American would actually be interested I found myself indebted to their teaching. They were leading me and we both loved it!
After a few games of getting the hang of things I started to understand the key players and a bit of the nuance of the game. “Man did Sachin rock the house in that game. Did you see that helicopter shot?”. The smiles on the faces of those that taught me was priceless. They knew I had come to understand why they love the game so much.
I did not learn cricket so that I had yet another sport to watch. I learned cricket because I had another culture I wanted to understand. I spent 6 hours on a Saturday morning nervously on the edge of my seat because I knew how important it was to my friends to have India win after 28 years. I was at home watching the match with my wife on my laptop when I jumped in the air with a fist pump when Dohni delivered the final winning blow – a 6 no less. I genuinely shared their emotions, I understood their passion and I get to go back to work tomorrow to appreciate their excitement.
What started out as a simple exercise to better understand why something is important to someone else turned out to be a wonderful immersion into another culture and becoming a student again. I really enjoyed myself and that is no accident. To immerse yourself is to get caught up in all that it is – your mind, your physical being and your emotions. How can you not enjoy something that has all of you engaged?
Look first for those things that seem to perplex or confuse – they are rich with opportunity. I still don’t get bagpipes, know much about Holi, or can explain what a rugby scrum is. I eagerly look forward to Derek, Srinivas and Hannes teaching me.
What is out there right now that is waiting for your immersion?