Think the Red Sox versus the Yankees at the World Series Final and then times that by a billion. Two nations are at a standstill today as they play for a spot in the finals of the Cricket World Cup. India versus Pakistan has caused schools to be let out early in India -- a nation obsessed with education. People have taken off work, and a friend in Pakistan e-mails to tell me that the local sports stadiums have been opened up to show the matches and are overflowing. Peter Roebuck of ESPN.com writes:
Interest is at fever pitch across the region. India's parliament is shutting up shop at 2.30 pm. A large screen has been erected in the halls of debate. Mumbai's taxi drivers are taking the day off. Companies are asking their employers to arrive at 7am, promising to stop work in time for the first ball. They, too, have put up screens in offices and on factory floors. Otherwise no one would turn up for work. The Melbourne Cup might stop a nation. India versus Pakistan in the World Cup stops a subcontinent.
It started six hours ago and is still going strong -- that's cricket for you -- right now Pakistan has the upper hand. But as a quick YouTube search of the 2007 India versus Pakistan world final will show you -- fate can change in an instant. Pakistan had the upper hand then and lost it in a fleeting second when India caught a ball that flew high off the bat and straight into the hands of an outfielder.
What does this have to do with anything regarding the U.S. or politics? It's just another sign of how we can be so unaware of what's happening in the rest of the world -- a good one-fifth of it.