• Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chintito

The World Cup Fever is not Catching

(Or am I getting old?)

Chintito
Photo: Firoz Ahmed
Photo: Firoz Ahmed

It is now 20 years since this column began. That is old times for sure!
We have covered five FIFA World Cups whence Brazil, France, Brazil again, Italy, and Spain emerged champions. Need I to say the previous ones had more heat and fervour? I think Shakira's “La-La-La” opening ceremony anthem was Lo-Lo-Lo and brought down the spirit as much as the boring and predictable proceedings by masked and overdressed humans as mannequins. Such ceremonies have reached a routine that you could pass any opening song and dance and mass display as that of any world cup of any sport, Olympics, summer and winter, Asian Games, Euro championships… Creativity has lost to commercialisation. Some Facebook-ers were of the opinions that we, yes as Bangladeshis, did a better job during the cricket world cup in Dhaka, and I agree. At Arena de Sao Paulo this12 June evening, the humanness of the players was not projected.

Photo: Prabir Das
Photo: Prabir Das

Over the past two decades, now that sounds more grandiose, this column has met our readers on nearly seven thousand Fridays, unless some of you got to see The Star on a Saturday or later. The pain was more for my editor, as she had to go through every line, or that is what I believe she has been doing other than offering me a hot cup of beverage during my rare but most pleasurable visits to her cluttered desk. Despite the wide grin, I always got the impression I was unwanted distraction, as she had to churn out a an magazine in the following few hours, and so I usually left quickly after draining my cup dry. She got the impression I was busy. Good.
No fault of theirs, but the Brazil match times are so outrageous that one gets the feeling of being on night duty. Some people actually get up to see the 4am match, meaning they found the 10 or 2am one less appealing. Some doze off during the 2 am one and get up at 10 the next morning; match miss, report sick. Unarmed petty thieves operating in the dark and at dawn are not at all happy as their favourites Brazil and Argentina are under-performing; total loss.
During such groggy existence, many children reminded us how every father is the best-est in the world. I am in complete sync with that. But, howsoever we look at the situation, there are basically three types of children – those who believe every day is Father's Day whether they mention it or not, and those who miss their papas every day but mention it only on Father's Day because they live separately owing to their marriage (not necessarily only of the children) or because they live in the same house but are both too busy, and the third group who miss and lament not having spent enough time with them now that they are no more, the fathers.
Obviously the first group of children are the most blessed. The middle group is the most unfortunate. As for the third group, the fathers and children are separated for good, till they meet again in their heavenly abode. But, there is a lesson in it for the second group. Why wait for a particular Day? You can call him up, Skype, Whats App, Twit, go over and see him every week if not every other day even if you are 2-3 hours away, every day if you live in the same building. But many of us wait too long to meet until he is no more. Then they join the third group.
The time to meet your dad (and mom) is now, and not wait for a man-made date to hug him. He (or she) needs no card from you. Your being is their constant greetings card from the Lord Himself. He is blessed because of you. Be blessed because of him.
Talking about the “days”invented by business people so that we may spend money to exchange cards and mobile wishes, buy cakes and ice creams, candles and confetti, get ripped off at expensive and exclusive restaurants, buy presents from clothing to jewellery to toys…, but there are only 365, and most of them are taken. Then what? Relax! In fact there could also be a very popular “relaxing day”.
When all the days will be taken by the United Nations and the countries of the world, and some even duplicated, we will have to look beyond sunset and before sunrise. We may have to book our important occasions, people, and products atwww.night.kom. Soon we shall have Aunty Night, Uncle Late Night, and so on. It is only a matter of time before we get Solicitors Midnight and Matchmakers Twilight. If matters turn for the worse, then Haircutters Noon and Laundry Afternoon will have to be accommodated. As for sports, any international event on the other side of the globe will be dubbed world cup early morning.
That brings us back to Brazil 2014. The basic wrong with this World Cup is technology, too much of it. Once upon a time someone used to catch the news on the radio and we would all huddle around him and listen in awe, and then argue about it. Live coverage in the 1960s was on radio. Then came the black & white television and we wondered how colourful the games could be. After that the coloured channels made everything clear, and we learnt that footballers do wear different shoes on their two feet, which is not a bad idea since we have seen how some of them have two left feet or right. And with the advent of HD, we discovered that some of these football superstars need to groom their nostrils.
We used to look forward to controversies: goal line, handball, offside, and ten-yards, and (alas!) now plus-thirty cameras keep an eye on everything. There is hardly anything to discuss, argue or contradict, except whether the presence of omuk player's girlfriend in the stand had any effect on his passing. Or, was it his boyfriend? Even the free-kick distance is now marked with foam. Great business relief for foam suppliers as more and more people are now emerging with a rich stubble.
The goal-line controversy it seems is over for good, and that is not good for football. Where is the passion in the games when one section of the public says it was a goal and the other shouts “offside”?And where would Maradona be if his hand-play was allowed to be reviewed on slo-mo? Six Englishmen would not have frozen on the field and the legendary Argentinian would not have gone on to score perhaps the greatest goal ever.
Also on the World Cup fever, 99 degrees at best to date, the prime minister's endorsement last week of flying flags of the football finalists ensures that the pataka ain (flag rules) will be applicable to only India and Pakistan flags in our cricket matches at our stadiums. That is justified because we have a history with those two countries, and we have 1971, and alongside them we are one of the top ten contenders in world cricket.
Those two sub-continental flags symbolise pro- and anti-liberation forces, however marginal the flag carriers may be. With those two flags some Bangla-speaking fanatics try to make a political statement and that cannot be allowed. With Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany, and the rest of the guys kicking ball, the flags atop our buildings is pure love for the game.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2014

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