Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup and Me

World cups come around every 4 years and thats what makes them special. Its good that FIFA hasn't done it to death as has ICC with either a T20 or ODI World Cup(WC) every year. Cricket has lots its charm with that. Football is run by saner people though. Looking back each World Cup looks like a marker in my life, a milestone every four years.

Italia 1990:
My first WC. I had moved to Kolkata only a year back. We had this brand new Sonodyne TV. My brother was too young to be interested. But I remember the fervour with which I collected Maradona, Linekar and Schillachhi posters given with Cadbury's Dairy Milk. The sight of Maradona weaving past a stunned defender adorned my walls and dreams for many years until I lost the poster when our house was repainted. On the field action remains a blurred memory to me. I only remember, and my parents recall too, that I stayed up late at night to watch the semi-final and final of the World cup and was bitterly annoyed with the referee when Germany was awarded a Penatly kick. It all seemed a conspiracy then.

USA 1994:
Those were the days. I was a class 4 student. I woke up early. Went to sleep early. Sundays then were for cartoons, for games. Going to school was a joy. We had a great Principal then. And here was football and I was all geared up. I remember Maradona. His last appearance. Of the delectable touches . But more for the shame that followed. It broke my heart and Argentina's back. But there was Brasil too. Yes Brassssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllll !!!!
The Samba rocked and Romario and Bebeto danced. I distinctly remember the famous baby-rocking dance of Bebeto, the new father. And there were other stars too. Thomas Brolin(Sweeden) and Histo Stoichkov being among them. These 2 I remember distinctly, Brolin because there was an almost identical looking boy in my brother's class and Stoichkov because I simply loved him when he lost his temper, he looked so funny. Also etched in my memory is Roberto Baggio's brilliant display against Ireland.
This was the World Cup which made me learn the finer nuances of the game. I finally understood what is an off-side(of course partially....I still dont understand the rules completely), what is marking and what the various terms like sweeper, winger etc. meant.

France 1998:
I was in class 8. I was doing good in school. Addicted to Cartoon Network. The Metro Railways had taken over the nearby park and used it as a dumping ground, so my playing days were gone.
I was yet to have my first crush. Sachin was God(since 1996). And the country was still grappling with rickety coalitions.
Brasil was the favourite once again. Ronaldo was the star to watch out for. Roberto Carlos and Denilson I remember too. But 2 lesser stars who remain my favourites to this day are Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas of Chile. The way they played really made an impression upon me. then there were the brilliant Laudrop brothers of Denmark, the promising Patrick Kluivert, the skillful but frustrating Ariel Ortega, the lightning quick Owen. And Zizou. He broke my heart when headed in 2 goals in the final. Ronaldo looked so so forlorn and wreteched that I wished he hadnt played. And in that final the Brazillian in me died a thousand deaths, not for the loss but for the manner in which they played.

South Korea 2002
Life had changed drastically. I was under pressure. Higher Secondary Board Exams loomed ahead, and cast a menacing shadow on me. I no longer though that cooperating during exams is a sin. Hostel life had thoroughly versed me what each expletive meant and slowly my reservations in using the occasional expletive at the opportune circumstance had started to fade. Personally I was not coping too well with hostel life. My habits did not match my institutions regulations. My freedom was totally curtailed under the name of discipline. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. Imagine the plight of having to change your bengali handwriting totally so as to write fast enough to fill sufficient number of pages with crap. I was having a horrid time.
But Brazil brought joy. The Samba was back again. In all its flair and glory. Ronaldo Rivaldo Ronaldinho Roberto Carlos. The game I remember the most was Brazil versus England. Super hyped England put in a goal before Ronaldinho unleashed his magic. On the other side Germany was almost single-handedly pulled to the final by Oliver Kahn. But he couldnt do enough to deny Brazil their 5th title.
This World Cup is etched in my memory because it came at a very crucial time in my life. Mainly because till this World Cup I saw life in a certain way....and by the time the next WC had come I was a different man.

Germany 2006
I was in 3rd year in college. I could hardly relate to the "me" that was 4 years back. My thinking had changed. My body language had changed. My confidence had increased. I talked much more now. Bunked classes , went to movies with friends. I had got over my first crush and was about to fall into my second. Engineering was no longer a stepping stone to an IT major, I dreamt of more. I had discovered that I absolutely hated fagging and but had a curiosity about drinking. My concentration levels had fallen. I could no longer study for long periods, or mug large pieces, and my college afforded me that luxury. Life was easy, exams were a collaborative affair at best and vivas were more a test of my smartness than my technical ability. I had grown fat, the progression from my first to third year was slow but steady. And college fests were a dreamy affair. Foggy memories, loud music, pulsating dances, maniacal shouting, adrenalin-shooting interactions. I still did not realise that I was not making the most out of opportunities. I was happy with my mediocrity.
I wont say much about the world cup though. It was so very disappointing. Both Argentina and Brasil lost so quickly. Perhaps the best game of the tournament was the semi-final between Italy and Germany. The final was dramatic but not for the right reasons. All in all a forgettable world cup for me

P.S. : The 2014 WC is scheduled to be in Brasil , And I am supposed to be in USA at that time. Is a visit to a WC match possible? If not a match then just the ambience would do. Lets see if I can make it there.

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