One more world cup football started and in Europe this is a season of festivity, the celebrations starts from daycare centers and schools.
I remember in Germany; in 2006 football world cup; the kindergarten where 'J' was going was decorated with flags, also it was more special as Germany was the hosting the tournament. They did world cup football picnics, sports and tattoos on every kids cheek! In our office we had bets for which country will win? Also beamers which is normally used for powerpoint presentations of scientific results were used to watch football matches which were 'very' important but were held during office time.
Well, please never think that I am a die hard football fan, my knowledge about football limits to a goal and few famous players names, but that does not mean I don't have any alliance with it.
Today when 'J' while coming from school (she is now in UK and the scenario in her primary school is not much different from that of Germany) asked me "Mum why India is not in world cup? I would have loved to cheer for India." I replied "Yes, 'J' it is sad, India is not very good in football, but India is good in Cricket, Hockey and Chess, and nevertheless you can always cheer for Germany, it is your birthplace." She replied "But India is my country." I felt amazed that amidst of all the confusing relocations in different countries and her total stay in India for 6 weeks only, in her six years of lifespan, has not prevented her in developing a sense of national identity.
I wanted to tell 'J' about how enthusiastic people of India participate in their own way in the world cup without even having its own team. And on the way back walking slowly towards home I started spinning yarns of the world cup foot ball I have as an Indian.
My earliest association with world cup dates to that year when Maradona was storming the world and also our army quarter when I woke up suddenly in the middle of the one night hearing a roaring goal sound from my father, watching T.V. all alone in the living room. I got up and slowly went to him, to see his eyes excited with childish joy and he showed me how Maradona made a goal!
Next, I remember a scene in my ancestral house in a small village in India where about 12 boys (aged 8 to 80 years) were sitting on a double bed and watching very silently a world cup semi-final in the late afternoon on a black and white portable T.V. The T.V room was on the first floor. The kitchen downstair was also equally populated and not at all silent, where my mother, aunties and grand mother were preparing supply of tea for adults, sherbet (home made lemonade) for younger ones and hot tele bhaja (meaning deep fried snacks made up of different thin sliced veggies and chick pea flour) for all of us. After all watching a game like football also needs lot of strength.
I also remember that on the same season of football world cup, on one such summer afternoon, in the middle of a very exciting game, that double bed broke just after making a creeping sound and all the boys from 8-80 fall down on the floor, making an extraordinary noise which we from the downstairs first thought was yet another goal!
The girls hostel of my university would get divided into two camps of the world cup finalists and we were quite regular in reading sports news on the newspaper for those few days.
The scene in boys hostels were wilder of course.
After coming out of India this is my third world cup football, last two times I was in Germany and it was fun. Specially 2006 world cup showed a new Germany to us. Flags, T-Shirts, key chains were sold in large number in those days and for the first time we saw people putting flags on their balconies or windows. Unlike Denmark or Sweden, Germans don't use their flag for personal occasions (owing to their history perhaps), but hosting the world cup dissolved their inhibitions and enlightened their feelings for a proud nation. Also flags from Turkey, France, Italy were seen along with German flags in many houses telling us that those houses are from expats of these countries.
After talking a lot, I looked at 'J', she was laughing madly listening to those funny stories and as I opened the door to home I silently but convincingly told her that may be we need to wait few years and then India will manage to enter into world cup football tournament. She clapped her hands with joy, the same one as I saw in my father's eyes many years ago.
So India cannot we try to make a child's dream come true?