One of the obvious characteristics of Kensington Cricket Club is the diversity of its membership. A broad cross-section of the global community can be found sporting the red gold and blue on any given Sunday during the season. Once members people tend to remain members, even when international bureaucracy forces them to retire to their homelands often on the other side of the world. Thanks to the internet staying in touch is not difficult, and so it is that we find ourselves a global community with members in almost every quarter of this increasingly small round world.
Despite this it did come as some surprise to discover club connections not just beyond the bounds of space but also beyond the bounds of time itself. Allow me to explain by way of anecdote. Picture the scene, two veterans of the club who have known each other for many years and share a vast catalogue of cricketing memories; they are good friends. One is clearly Indian, and the other clearly English, both modern men, of the modern world, one a banker, the other a documentary film producer. They go for a drink, conversation is as it usually is between old friends, patchy verbal exchanges punctuate the otherwise steady flow of beer.
Then something happens, a friend of the Indian gentleman turns up and joins the conversation. He asks the Englishman, whom he has never met before, some fairly basic questions about his origins and before you know it the Englishman is talking about stuff even his old Indian pal has never heard before …
…..back in the early 1900’s the Englishman’s grandfather, who was a doctor in India, had been stationed in a remote Himalayan valley known as Gilgit. When I say remote I mean it took several days on horseback across rough terrain and high mountain passes to reach this veritable Shangrila. It was in the middle of nowhere. The community living in this valley, however, were well organised, and due to the good soil and conducive climate enjoyed reliable subsistence and what one might even describe as a degree of comfort in their daily lives. The doctor, who lived there with his wife and son, was on good terms with everybody, particularly the local dignitaries such as the flamboyant sounding (but frankly not looking, if you see the photo opposite) Wazir of Gilgit, the equivalent of a prime minister or some such. Indeed the doctor’s son and the Wazir’s sons were very firm friends….
….at this point the two look up at the Indian who to begin with had only been half listening but is now sitting rigid in his chair with astonishment. It turns out that this gent’s grandfather was none other than the very Wazir in question and the doctor’s son was a close childhood companion of his father. True story, no word of a lie.
Chris Ledger later invited Vivek Rattan round to his parents’ house to meet his father, Vivek’s father’s childhood friend. After dinner an old but well maintained photo album was disinterred and they all began to look through it together. Page after page was turned until….there they were, the whole lot of them all gazing up, entirely oblivious to the mixture of surprise, joy, nostalgia, love and consternation that they were then causing. It is this photo you see at the bottom of this page.