Thursday, July 1, 2010

Copa de la Vida ...

Disclaimer: Chatu Da , this is not plagiarism ... as we discussed :)

I still remember (though vaguely) the day Roberto Baggio missed that precious penalty kick allowing the ball to fly over the Brazilian goal by over 1000 yards (exaggeration). It was the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and I was with a bunch of my family members enjoying the game at Kolkata (then Calcutta). It was a special occasion for the family too as my aunt was getting married the very next day! I still remember, we had clearly demarcated sitting areas in the room at my GrandaPa's house for the "opposing fans"!! Because of the marriage, a lot of the family had come from different places and it was grand re-union after a long time !! As of me, I was in a state of utter confusion about whom to support ! While the delicious Bourbon biscuits, Chocobar ice creams, roadside fuchkas, candy floss, and Hot Wheel cars came from the "Italian part" of the family ... The "Brazilian section" had HotWheel cars, Toy Guns, protection from mom-dads legitimate scoldings, Rashogolla ( a sweet) and Sandesh (another sweet) among their services!!!!! ..... And to tell you the truth, I still dont remember which side I chose!! But all I remember was the sheer fun of watching my uncles, aunts, cousins, more uncles , more aunts, more cousins .... everyone .. going crazy over a single white Ball!!!!
That probably is the oldest and the sweetest memory of the FIFA World Cup that I have......

When you look back you can almost define the different stages of your life from the different World Cup soccers! Since the 1994 Cup, every single World Cup has been associated with some very cherished memories for me. And every single cup has been a totally new way of entertainment! I remember spending the summer of 1998 in Durgapur, watching the Cup with Dad and some of his and my friends. The Korea -Japan World Cup in 2002 was also spent in Durgapur- following the Cup with my school friends. While the 2006 edition was spent at Gurgaon (my last few months in MS) .... and that was probably the first time when the Soccer + Alcohol combination started :) :)

Although India is a cricket dominated nation, football is almost equally followed.... atleast in the part of the country from where I come from. And specially in this part almost everyone will tell you "proudly" how India had qualified for the 1950 world cup, but couldn't play due to the lack of boots !!! "If they had played , may be they could have been the champions defeating Uruguay!!!!" ... BUT after many years I came to know that India was qualified by default as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. However, the governing body AIFF decided against going to the World Cup, being unable to understand the importance of the event at that time. The boot story was just another great Indian bureaucratic bull-shit. ... Despite this piece of information being quite well know now, we still are crazy about the World Cups atleast !!!... So whenever there is a world cup soccer, we support "our teams" !!!!!!!

So the question is how do we decide which team to support?? .... And before I tell you what made me support Germany, I will tell you some of the varied reasons why we select a specific team to root for : ... Over the years I have heard reasons that range from .. The style of football to the style statement of a specific player (am not being a sexist .. but thats mostly for girls), from the color of the Jersey to a good friend settled / working in that country, from an ex-great footballer to some great singer/actor in that country, from delicious cuisine to pretty ladies (and that mostly came from guys) !!!!!!!!!!!!
.. So what made me support Germany ? ... As far as my poor memory allows - both me and my brother started supporting Germany from the very day we started following World Cups seriously! .. Back in those days, there used to be a Chewing Gum brand (I dont remember the name) which would give you a photo card of a soccer player with every gum that you buy. AND LET ME TELL U ... IT WAS A VERY BIG THING .. back then! People (read friends) would exchange cards all the time with sheer corporate planning ... there would be bets on cards .. and even school soccer matches would end with a card exchange (always in favor of the winning team)!!!! Someone who possessed the max number of Maradona cards, was the unsaid ruler!!! Similarly someone who possessed cards for all the playing 11 from a big team like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy etc was considered very powerful!
....... So back in those days of card collection, we came across 2 cards of these 2 German players named J├╝rgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaus (Yeah thats the spelling). I still remember the pictures had an awe-inspiring effect on us!!!! ... Firstly Matthaus had an uncanny resemblance with Arnold Schwarzenegger (remember it was the Commando and Terminator era!!!), while Klinsmann's picture had something in it which evoked sympathy + we liked his jersey too !!!!!!!!!!!! That was it !!! ... we had got our team and so started the cheering .... which have lasted over the years and is present even today !!!!! Although the reasons have changed ..... while it started with the resemblance to a film star and the jersey + sympathy factor ..... more reasons were added in the following years ...the style of german football being the biggest. And then after many years the "cute chicks" factor was added to the list recently.
( I searched the internet for hours to find that picture which I strongly believe (as far as I can remember) were there in those cards ..... and I have uploaded those in this blog).

... Every year after the Cup is over, there is a feeling of emptiness and a little sadness. The idea that this is going to be back again after 4 years is kind of depressing. Specially if you enjoy it to the fullest with a whole bunch of people (as I have done in every World Cup including this one), then once its all over you tend to miss that bonhomie. When I look back to the previous world cups, I remember some faces , which are associated with the individual tournaments that suddenly flashes every 4 years!! People whom you remember only when you think about a particular world cup and how you had enjoyed it! ........

So ladies and gentlemen, dont miss this chance to join with others and go crazy for "your team" !!!... Remember its every 4 years... so manage your work, bf, gf, chats, chores, food, dinner, lunch etc etc .... and enjoy the game ... and SUPPORT GERMANY !! :)

.. Wishing you all a very memorable World Cup ... may you all make new friends .. whom you will eventually forget for the next 4 years ... until the next edition in Brazil ..

Copa de la Vida ... means ... The Cup of Life ....