Apparently there's a World Cup on. And apparently India is out of it.
The only reason I know this is because everywhere I go complete strangers, seeing that I'm Indian, strike up conversations with me to share our (supposedly) mutual grief.
This can be rather disconcerting. The thing is, when someone comes up to me looking obviously distraught and says "Isn't it terrible what's happened? With India?" I tend to picture scenes of violence and carnage - bomb blasts, twisted railway carriages, people being slaughtered on the streets - that sort of thing. So when I discover that it's just a lost cricket match, my natural response is to chuckle in relief and say "Oh, is that all?" This, it seems, is not done. If you're Indian you're supposed to treat every lost wicket as a blow to your immortal soul. Anything less and you're a traitor to your race.
The truth is, all this fuss about India losing the World Cup always reminds me of those conditioning experiments of the behaviouralists. You know, the ones where you feed a pigeon the first couple of times in response to a certain behaviour, condition him to behave in that way, then stop feeding him and see how long it takes before he realises that the behaviour is unconnected to the response and stops trying.
The last time I checked, it's been almost a quarter of a century since the Indian team won a World Cup. And from the headlines I see on MSN every time I log out of my Hotmail account, it doesn't look as though they've been particularly successful in other tournaments in the last couple of years. Any reasonable person would have reasonably concluded therefore, that India was not going to win the World Cup, and would have seen yesterday's result as confirmation of a strongly held hypothesis. Instead, we have people acting as if they've been struck by a bolt from the blue. And wondering how their team could have lost despite their loyal support, as if the two things had something to do with each other. It's pathetic.