"Is the Iphone5 available in London?" his brother, texted him from Dubai.
"I'm texting you from one. We live in the first world..." was his sardonic reply.
Having satisfactorily broken the heart of his younger sibling, my husband proceeded to banter with his new best friend. It was thus I found him, deep in discussion with Siri as I walked in the door of our apartment, the evening after the acquisition of his second most prized possession. For the next ten minutes I could well have been a fly on the wall or someone invisible as he proceeded to test Siri on various trick questions first in an Indian and then when that wasn't always successful an Anglicised-Indian accent which seemed to take him more places... that is till the big one came along.
Husband: Siri what are the cricket scores today?
Siri: ..... I'm still trying to learn about cricket. It looks really fun, though.
Husband: Grrr! What are the Premiership scores?
Siri: (Extra fast) Here are the scores from the Premiere League.
And that was that!
As my husband looked at me for the first time--well at-least that drew his attention to the living human presence next to him, I could argue--with a face like thunder, I realised that Siri had met his waterloo fittingly in that last bastion of sub-continent passion. No longer played as widely in the land of its birth, it is the colonies where this game thrives. Far from the original gentleman's game played in white flannels, it lives and thrives in its adrenaline charged T20 avatar, reinvented by the gods of billion dollar sponsorships aka IPL, kissed by shapely Bollywood starlets and courted by cricket athletes, all getting a new lease of retirement fund. A vicious Molotov of sex, flicks & cricket which never fails to turn the screen into a black hole of ratings, much to the frustration of TV executives around the world.
Sadly I am one of the few non-ladette Indians ever to have come from the subcontinent, having never really followed cricket. No, actually that's not strictly true, for during my teenage years I did for a while, passionately follow the travails of the Indian cricket team. From the victory in the Prudential World Cup in 1983, to the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985 when I was up at 4 am to watch Ravi Shastri do the victory lap in his newly minted Audi wearing the Champion of Champions crown. I suspect this was more to do with watching the team play in exotic locales (cue my twenties wanderlust) and the obligatory champagne spray (cue an alcohol riddled middle age) on winning.
Yet, moving to the UK a decade ago, and discovering that cricket was a rather elite occupation, strictly something which united us desis, I find I have been drawn to hang onto my bat & ball playing heritage. Not only is this the only game I actually know the rules to, I find that I take a perverse pleasure in the fact that most of my American friends are baffled by the game and many of my British born ones simply think of it as being quirky, slightly off the beaten track. It's a perfect fit for a middle class South-Indian like me who welcomes any opportunity to profess intellectual superiority, by claiming entry to what is fast becoming an exclusive club at least in this country.
But, when I dig deeper I find that by claiming knowledge of cricket, I am actually trying to hang onto my identity as an Indian. Nothing defines where I come from than the bewildering passion of my home country for this at-heart-scholarly game, where it has been elevated to dizzying heights of desire. Given there are 1.7 billion fans of this game in the subcontinent, and many more in ex-colonies around the world, I think Apple is missing a trick here. The original projections were for the 8 million sales of the Iphone5 to boost the American economy by 0.5%. But, I wager that giving Siri the cricket touch, could top that by quite a bit.
What do you think? Should Siri be cricket friendly in his next reincarnation? I'd love to hear from you on this.
Laxmi Hariharan is a author & blogger. Find her at www.laxmihariharan.com or on twitter @laxmi