In the shadow of India’s spectacular display and glory at the recently concluded 2022 Commonwealth Games and given that we just clocked in the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, it’s a great coincidence that senior cricket writer and commentator Chandresh Narayanan is ready with his latest book called Journey of a Nation: 75 Years of Indian Sports (Game, Guts, Glory). He spoke to us about the same.
Excerpts from the interview:
How did you get the idea to write this book?
After discussing numerous ideas, in 2020, the publisher Rupa suggested we celebrate the 75th anniversary of India as a nation. But the pandemic hit and everything took a backseat. After much delay, I was able to complete the writing of the entire book. I am thankful to Rupa for being patient with me, especially my editor Rudra Sharma, who is the calmest person I know.
You are one of our eminent cricket writers and commentators today. What made you write about all kinds of sports and not just cricket?
The 75th anniversary of India as a nation is not a moment to be missed by anyone. I jumped at the idea as soon as Rupa pitched it as I saw the opportunity to showcase India’s sporting achievements. It would have been easy for me to only write about cricket, but this is about the celebration of a nation. I would not miss it for anything.
Can you enumerate some of the highlights mentioned in your book for our audience?
When Balbir Singh Sr was dropped from the 1948 Olympic hockey final, Indian students in London erupted in protest. Thanks to the intervention of the then High Commissioner of India in UK, VK Krishna Menon, he was inducted in the team and the rest is history. India’s first-ever individual Olympic winner Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav could attend the games only because his teacher mortgaged his own house to fund the trip. Prakash Padukone, who is the first Indian to win the All-England Open Badminton Championships, on the day of the finals walked to the London tube, carried his own kit, and walked on to the court. There are so many more such tales...
Is your book anecdotal in nature? Or did you speak to people who were instrumental in creating these magical moments?
The book is anecdotal in nature. There was no time to put together a book of this nature while talking to all the people involved.
Can you take us through the process of writing a book?
The process is simple, put together a schedule for writing with proper tabulation of data that you need to research. Read as much as you can on the subject. Identify people you must speak to, reach out to as many as possible and take notes while they speak. If possible, record conversations with potential subjects who are part of the research process. Not discussion has to be recorded or transcribed; some are background material for your book. Go through archival newspapers, magazines, etc. as they prove to be excellent for procuring material.
With this one, you have written three books. Any advice for upcoming writers on how to put their first book together…
It is simple: find a topic you are passionate about. This may not be the age of niche performers but to write a book you need to follow your passion. Master a topic, learn all that you can and then write it all.
Are you planning a foray into the fiction side of writing as well?
That is something on my mind and I have a few ideas, not necessarily related to sports/ cricket. But it is too early to talk about it as there are a few things I have to sort before I can move to fiction writing.