Sunday, November 12, 2017

Haresh Pandya - Fine man, studious writer!

A LOT of things can happen in less than a week. Haresh Pandya filed his final piece for this newspaper on November 4 — from his beloved Rajkot — where New Zealand beat India in the T20 international. On Saturday (November 11), news of his death sent shockwaves through India's cricketing fraternity. Pandya, 53, was loved; much loved. He would extract great delight in ensuring you were comfortable in Rajkot, recommending a good Gujarati Thali joint or a fine sweet shop that sold the special Rajkot pedas.

Representational Picture
Representational Picture

He took special interest in the careers of cricket writers. He made them feel good about their pursuits and interviewed the prominent ones. He could have written a book on all of them. As a freelance journalist, he wrote for publications in India and abroad. His obituaries were well researched and anecdotal. Being an English professor, he brought studiousness into his writings. In his younger days, he wrote letters to Australian greats Sir Donald Bradman and Keith Miller and their correspondence was much treasured. Miller was delighted to learn that Pandya was pursuing his MA in American, English and European classics. "I hope you become a professor of English," he once wrote back.

Pandya ensured the start of his last piece in these columns was memorable. He wrote: "Kiwis are flightless birds. But this set of Kiwis, currently touring India, not only took flight at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Saturday, but actually soared." Pandya soared high in the world of Indian cricket writing. He ought to have been commended more for his efforts. As poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen sang, 'Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.'

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