Monday, June 30, 2014

Chp 514. World Cup: Brazil & Netherlands match


Brazil versus Chile and Netherlands versus Mexico - How many of you felt the wrong teams went through?

First of all, Brazil versus Chile - the first match of the Round of 16 was bloody long but entertaining at the same time. Those of you who watch English Football regularly will immediately recognize the familiar faces – David Luiz, Oscar, Ramirez and Willian from Chelsea, Fernandinho from Manchester City, Gonzalo Jara from Nottingham Forest, Gary Medel from Cardiff City, and Howard Webb from Manchester United.

However, Webb played surprisingly well, and that decision to disallow Hulk’s goal in a split second, at such a crucial point, for such an important match, amidst the immense pressure from home crowd, was one of the ballsiest move I’ve ever seen, and new found #RESPECT to him for that.

Both goalkeepers Julio Cesar and Claudio Bravo played excellently. Neymar was shit. And you know what I really hated about that Brazilian victory? I look at Facebook after the match and my timeline was flooded with women screaming, “Neymar Neymar Neymar! I love you”, “Well played Neymar ♥”, “Forever Neymar. #TheBest”… I mean, WTF did Neymar do??? If anyone should be credited with that win, then it should clearly be Cesar.

See, that is one of the many things I find so ironic during every World Cup. We reduce the talent and sheer awesomeness of the players to mere objectification. If a bunch of men were watching a women’s sports, say beach volleyball, and we passed comments like, “hehe, nice ass”, “wow, sexy ompalompas”, “I’d tap that” etc, then we would immediately be branded as male chauvinist pigs, sexists, stare-rapists, with a long sermon from women about how such athletes worked hard to be appreciated of their talent and not be a feast for the eyes. And then the same women then go on to watch the World Cup and scream out, “OMG, CR7 is soooo hot”, “Sergio Ramos, marry me”, “Look at those thighs. #orgasm”, “I wanna have Falcao’s kids”, “I snuck his photo inside my panties #hotforNeymar” and suddenly those statements are considered normal. Nothing double standard about them, I guess.

Neymar is overhyped. Yes I’m not denying he is a great player, but then again, it’s really hard to admire a player who has a habit of diving. I’m not a fan of Messi either, but the video below is quite hilarious. It’s a compilation of Messi’s best tackles and Neymar’s most obvious dives (it’s not as if Messi never dives either, the video below was obviously made by a Messi fan, but still it is quite funny watching the comparison)



Coming back to the topic, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to cheer for Chile because of my association with Start-Up Chile Accelerator Program, even though a part of me felt Brazil was going to win. And then I watched the match and realized I made the right choice of supporting Chile. They didn’t get that many chances, but the few they got were executed perfectly. The goal-post shot by Pinilla towards the end of extra time was heart-breaking.



Alexis Sanchez, Charles Aranguiz, Marcelo Diaz, Gary Medel, Claudio Bravo, Arturo Vidal, you guys are da real MVP.


And then there was the late drama at the Netherlands Mexico match. That too had such a tragic ending. Mexico was leading 1-0 thanks to an awesome goal by Dos Santos and just when sweet victory was so close to taste, Wesley Sneijder scored an uncontested goal in the 88th minute, and Arjen Robben went down for a controversial penalty on the 4th minute of injury time and Huntelaar converted that penalty kick. And suddenly, it was all over for Mexico.

Somebody compared that match to the fight between The Red Viper and The Mountain, Game of Thrones 4x08 and made a comic strip out of it. The similarity is uncanny!

Even though Robben over-reacted with such a theatrical dive, there was indeed a tiny contact (whether he was baiting the defender and trying to draw a foul is a different question), and like it or not, that’s a penalty. But overall, apart from that incident and another dive earlier in the game, Robben played well, and so did the others like Sneijder, Huntelaar, Kuyt, De Vrij and Ron Vlaar. RVP was shit. And yet after the match, all my Facebook friends (mainly females) cheering for Netherlands were like “RVP! RVP! RVP! What would Holland do without you?”, “#bestplayer RVP”, “love you RVP!” etc etc. Seriously???? #facepalm

Anyway, it was weird seeing such a thing as “cooling break” for the first time on TV. It kinda made the game feel a bit more like basketball with its numerous time-outs. But then again, playing under a harsh condition where the temperature’s above 38 °C must be torturous. One can really feel sorry not just for the players sweating it out, but for the referees as well who, mind you, have to run as much as the players under the same boisterous heat and humidity (and yet we are so quick to curse and abuse them for the slightest wrong call).


My only thought about the #CoolingBreak is that, yes, players and officials under such extreme condition may have such a break, after all, they’re humans too. But does this take away the advantage teams from such countries used to playing under such conditions have? And also, I really feel coaches should not be allowed to speak to the players during this break. Because now it’s becoming more like a tactical break that we see regularly in many other sporting events.

Anyhoo, to end this post, the four teams from the first half of the round of 16 that went through to the Quarter Finals are Brazil vs Colombia and Netherlands vs Costa Rica. Let’s see who the other four teams are going to be. Comonnn Germany! :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

Chp 513. World Cup 2014: Round of 16


As I mentioned in my earlier post, sometimes it’s nice to update one’s blog with a record of what’s currently happening, no matter how frivolous that post may be, so that years from now I can read it again with glee. This time, I’m just making a quick update about the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 fixtures.

I’ve been supporting Netherlands for the past three World Cups, as is evident from my blog post updates in 2006 and 2010. Back then, I had very few Indian friends who supported the Oranje, because they were unknown to most people who don’t follow football. I on the other hand had been a supporter of Netherlands because of Arsenal legends like Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars, and other legends such as Ruud Gullit, Patrick Kluivert and Van Basten. And of course because many of them were named “Vans”, just like me, Van lalruatkima :)

Everybody would mock me in office for supporting such an “underdog” team as they rooted for the typical clichéd Brazil, Argentina or Spanish teams. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in supporting those teams. If you like the players, you sure can support any team you want. But if you don’t know anything about football or you’re hardly interested in the game, then for the love of God just because you have a herd mentality, do not mock others who actually do follow football.

And then suddenly at the last World Cup, Netherlands made it till the finals, making all my colleagues and bosses (Yes, Meg, Tarana, I’m looking at you) eat their words.

And all of a sudden this year, I see Netherlands fans everywhere :D You know, people claiming they had been hardcore Netherlands fans at every World Cup, including one guy (much younger than me) who claimed to have never missed watching a LIVE telecast of the World Cup whenever Dutch legend Johan Cruyff played! Hahaaaa! I wasn’t even freaking born when Cruyff played his last World Cup match!

Anyhoo, like I said in my earlier post, this World Cup I’m actually not supporting for Netherlands for a change, all because of RVP. Being a hardcore Gooner, it’s really difficult to actually support the team he’s playing for… But I’m very curious and interested to know where all these so called new Netherlands fans who popped out of nowhere will be cheering for next World Cup if Netherlands doesn’t win the title or even gets knocked-out in their first match (that’s what I love about blogging, you know, it keeps a record that we can read years later) :)

This World Cup’s upcoming round of 16 is like this –


One quick look and most people will predict that the teams that will make it to the semi-finals are Brazil, Germany, Netherlands and Argentina.

But then again, that is just the vox populi. Anything can happen. I just hope the team I’m rooting for this World Cup - Germany (consisting of Arsenal dynamic trio Ozil, Podolski and Mertesacker) gets to lift the cup.

Until then, I will be cheering for whichever team Brazil, Netherlands and Argentina are playing against, starting with tomorrow - Brazil versus Chile. Comonnnnn Chile!!!!! :)

Cheers!

[Ps. Speaking of Chile, some of you may know that the company we started “FITH Media” was selected for the world renowned Start-Up incubator/accelerator program called “Start-Up Chile” last year from a total of 1577 applicants across 68 countries. It was truly an honor for us. And then in spite of all the nightmare I went through just to get my passport and Chilean Visa approved, we decided in the last minute that it was best for our company’s future if we remained in India and say goodbye to our Chilean dreams. My Chile Visa, as of today, is still valid till August 2014 actually! :) Our plan back then was to somehow sneak into Brazil once our incubator program at Chile was over and watch some of the World Cup matches at the venues. Too bad that’s not going to happen today. But still, to fix broken promises, I will be cheering for Chile more aggressively just because of that!]



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chp 512. World Cup: So how did I fare?


Now that the group stages are finally over, lemme take a look at how I fared on who won which match…

Like I said in my earlier post “World Cup 2014”, here’s a list of the teams I wanted to see winning. And as I mentioned in that same post - “This is in no way a prediction of course, because we know Argentina and Brazil are going to win most of their matches.” Yes, this is not about me predicting. It’s just me wanting to see such teams win.

Well, here’s my result…

13.6.14 Brazil Vs Croatia (Group A) - My team: CROATIA
Actual Result: NAY!

13.6.14 Mexico Vs Cameroon (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
Actual Result: NAY!

13.6.14 Spain Vs Netherlands (Group B) - My team: SPAIN
Actual Result: NAY!

14.6.14 Chile Vs Australia (Group B) - My team: CHILE
Actual Result: YAY!

14.6.14 Colombia Vs Greece (Group C) - My team: COLOMBIA
Actual Result: YAY!

14.6.14 Uruguay Vs Costa Rica (Group D) - My team: COSTA RICA
Actual Result: YAY!

15.6.14 England Vs Italy (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
Actual Result: NAY!

15.6.14 Ivory Coast Vs Japan (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
Actual Result: YAY!

15.6.14 Switzerland Vs Ecuador (Group E) - My team: ECUADOR
Actual Result: NAY!

15.6.14 France Vs Honduras (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
Actual Result: YAY!

16.6.14 Argentina Vs Bosnia (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
Actual Result: NAY!

16.6.14 Germany Vs Portugal (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
Actual Result: YAY!

16.6.14 Iran Vs Nigeria (Group F) - My team: IRAN
Actual Result: DRAW

17.6.14 Ghana Vs USA (Group G) - My team: GHANA
Actual Result: NAY!

17.6.14 Belgium Vs Algeria (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
Actual Result: YAY!

17.6.14 Brazil Vs Mexico (Group A) - My team: MEXICO
Actual Result: DRAW

18.6.14 Russia Vs S.Korea (Group H) - My team: S.KOREA
Actual Result: DRAW

18.6.14 Australia Vs Netherland (Group B) - My team: AUSTRALIA
Actual Result: NAY!

18.6.14 Spain Vs Chile (Group B) - My team:  SPAIN
Actual Result: NAY!

19.6.14 Cameroon Vs Croatia (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
Actual Result: NAY!

19.6.14 Colombia Vs Ivory Coast (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
Actual Result: NAY!

19.6.14 Uruguay Vs England (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
Actual Result: NAY!

20.6.14 Japan Vs Greece (Group C) - My team: JAPAN
Actual Result: DRAW

20.6.14 Italy Vs Costa Rica (Group D) - My team: COSTA RICA
Actual Result: YAY!

20.6.14 Switzerland Vs France (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
Actual Result: YAY!

21.6.14 Honduras Vs Ecuador (Group E) - My team: HONDURAS
Actual Result: NAY!

21.6.14 Argentina Vs Iran (Group F) - My team: IRAN
Actual Result: NAY!

21.6.14 Germany Vs Ghana (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
Actual Result: DRAW

22.6.14 Nigeria Vs Bosnia (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
Actual Result: NAY!

22.6.14 Belgium Vs Russia (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
Actual Result: YAY!

22.6.14 S. Korea Vs Algeria (Group H) - My team: S.KOREA
Actual Result: NAY!

23.6.14 USA Vs Portugal (Group G) - My team: USA
Actual Result: DRAW

23.6.14 Australia Vs Spain (Group B) - My team: SPAIN
Actual Result: YAY!

23.6.14 Netherland Vs Chile (Group B) - My team: CHILE
Actual Result: NAY!

24.6.14 Brazil Vs Cameroon (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
Actual Result: NAY!

24.6.14 Croatia Vs Mexico (Group A) - My team: CROATIA
Actual Result: NAY!

24.6.14 Italy Vs Uruguay (Group D) - My team: ITALY
Actual Result: NAY!

24.6.14 Costa Rica Vs England (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
Actual Result: DRAW

25.6.14 Japan Vs Colombia (Group C) - My team: JAPAN
Actual Result: NAY!

25.6.14 Greece Vs Ivory Coast (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
Actual Result: NAY!

25.6.14 Nigeria Vs Argentina (Group F) - My team: NIGERIA
Actual Result: NAY!

25.6.14 Bosnia Vs Iran (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
Actual Result: YAY!

26.6.14 Honduras Vs Switzerland (Group E) - My team: HONDURAS
Actual Result: NAY!

26.6.14 Ecuador Vs France (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
Actual Result: DRAW

26.6.14 USA Vs Germany (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
Actual Result: YAY!

26.6.14 Portugal Vs Ghana (Group G) - My team: GHANA
Actual Result: NAY!

27.6.14 S. Korea Vs Belgium (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
Actual Result: YAY!

27.6.14 Algeria Vs Russia (Group H) - My team: ALGERIA
Actual Result: DRAW

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

25 nays, 14 yays, 9 draws.


Well, that is actually not a bad outcome, considering I was rooting for all the underdog teams, including any teams that powerhouse teams like Brazil, Argentina and Netherlands were playing against.

Now that the round of 16 is about to start, let’s hope I fare better :)



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chp 511. A World Cup introspection


Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is never an easy task. But blogging for three consecutive World Cups have made me realize I have done it, and hope I can inspire those finding it difficult to do the same...



Reading through some of my old blog posts about the World Cup brings back a lot of memories. And this is one of the main reasons why I dedicatedly try to update my blog on a regular basis - not just to express my opinion or whimsical thoughts, but because many years down the line, I know that what I’m writing today will trigger old emotions as I walk down memory lane reading this post.

My 2006 World Cup blog post updates reminded me about the time I had just dropped out from IIM-Bangalore and was clueless about what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Staying with my sister in Mumbai, it was a bit difficult trying to enjoy the World Cup matches because the thought of having a doomed and uncertain future troubled me. 

My 2010 World Cup blog post updates reminded me of the times I struggled as a copywriter at an Ad agency where I was the only person cheering for Netherlands. Everybody in office back then asked me why I was supporting for an unpopular team as they all cheered for the clichéd Brazil, Argentina or Spain team on the large office TV, while working on deadlines at the same time.

This 2014 World Cup, I am blogging as a Co-Founder of my own mobile game dev company, where so much has changed in my life in the past few years. Priorities tend to get reshuffled along with responsibilities. In fact, I have watched only 4 World Cup matches so far because work always came in the way. Being the first to reach office and the last to leave is crucial for any start-up company founder.

From unemployed to employee to employer: Three World Cup blog updates - so many differences! 

If I’m still alive and blogging in 2018, I wonder what my World Cup blog post updates would be like? Where would I be then? Will I look back at this post and laugh at it because I would have achieved so much more, or will I cry at it for having fallen from grace because where I am right now is the pinnacle of my achievement? Only time and more hard work will tell.

What is most important here is to never be afraid of stepping out from one’s comfort zone, especially when push comes to shove. Rest assured, it will be hard trying to adapt to the new environment initially, but you will eventually draw new boundaries that will keep you safe and secure if you give it your all. 

Sometimes the World Cup can be such an unexpected source of introspection :)




Friday, June 13, 2014

Chp 510. Rumming: Haterz gonna hate :)


A World Cup inspired blog post :)

Now that the World Cup has kicked off with host Brazil beating Croatia in the first group match, everybody’s excited, talking about players and sports and this and that. A lot of talk was about athleticism and physical fitness.

Well, in my case, forget about taking exercise, here is an image my friends have posted on my Facebook wall quite a number of times in the past…



We just laughed it off, but then, after watching all those Brazilian and Croatian players running around with so much stamina while I was just pouring myself a relaxing glass of rum, I suddenly thought, “Heck, why not both? Running and Rum, why not start… rumming?”



And so, in dedication to the 2014 World Cup, here is me in my first attempt at “rumming”…













So who’s gonna join me in rumming next time? :)

Here’s to the World Cup! CHEERS! :)

#HumorPost     #NotToBeTakenSeriously     #YesImTalkingToYou



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chp 509. World Cup 2014


It’s FIFA World Cup time once again! Tonight is the grand opening ceremony at 10:30 PM for us Indian viewers, followed by the first match taking place between Brazil and Croatia at 1:30 AM tomorrow morning.

I can’t believe this is the third World Cup my active blog is witnessing… kinda makes me feel so old. And going through some of my old World Cup blog posts really brings back memories!

First there’s the 2006 World Cup opening ceremony, where me and my friends continuously exchanged text messages and commenting on all the things we’re seeing on TV. Today, we’re doing the same as well when it comes to long distant friends, except hardly anybody uses SMS anymore and everything is done via WhatsApp groups, Viber and other instant online messaging services, not to mention Hangout, Skype and other mobile video chat services.

Back in 2006, it was all about supporting Netherlands and displaying how frustrated I was as they crashed out against Portugal. That was also the year when blog conglomerate sites such as desipundit and mutiny were extremely popular in India. One of my World Cup related post “Of Women and Football” was a featured post at desipundit for a week! Yes it was a tad sexist post written in humor, and many of my female blog friends back then loved it too, but today, I dare not write such stuff again for fear of being lynched by the femnazi brigade.

In 2010, I was again cheering for Netherlands, and was ecstatic to see them progress till the Finals, only to be shot down by Spain at extra time. It was a boring match anyway. The 2010 World Cup was different, as I mentioned in my 2010 blog post - it was the first World Cup to be powered by Social Media.

2014 - This year, I’m not supporting any country in particular. One of the main reasons why I’ve always supported The Netherlands was because of a host of Arsenal legends like Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and (the now much hated) RVP, not to forget other renowned players like Ruud Gullit, Patrick Kluivert, Nistlerooy and Van Basten (I never got to see Johan Cruyff in action so I’m not including him in the list). Another reason why I support them is because a lot of them are named VANS, like Van Basten, Van Nistlerooy, Van Bommel, Van Bronckhorst, Van Hooijdonk, Van der Sar, Van der Vaart, Van Persie and so on, just like me, Van lalruatkima.

But now that RVP has become Arsenal fans’ enemy number 1, somehow, I just couldn’t find myself supporting that team. So this World Cup, I have decided I am going to enjoy the spirit of football and the excellence of game play by supporting a host of different countries. Here is a list of different countries, divided by different tiers.


Tier A teams:

This is the most important list of my chosen teams. These are the countries which have current Arsenal players included in their squad. They are -

1. Germany (Group G) - Because of Podolski, Ozil and Mertesacker.

2. France (Group E) - Because of Koscielny, Sagna and Giroud.

3. England (Group D) - Because of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere.

4. Belgium (Group H) - Because of Thomas Vermaelen.

5. Spain (Group B) - Because of Santi Cazorla.

6. Costa Rice (Group D) - Because of Joel Campbell.

7. South Korea (Group H) - Because of Park Chu-young.

If any of these 7 teams are playing against any other team, I will be supporting them. However, if two teams from this same tier are playing against each other (example: Group H has S.Korea and Belgium while Group D has England and Costa Rica), then it’s a coin toss to decide who to support :)


Tier B teams:

These are a mix of different teams – some have a connection with me, while others are underdogs. People who know me well will know I love supporting an underdog team against a renowned super strong team because (a) it is so clichéd and herd-mentality to support a stronger team that is bound to win, and (b) it is so much more fun and exhilarating if the underdog suddenly wins, though this happens rarely. Such teams in this list are -

1. Ivory Coast (Group C) - Because of Drogba, Yaya Touré, Salomon Kalou, and ex- Arsenal players Kolo Touré and Gervinho.

2. Cameroon (Group A) - Because they’re one of the weakest teams in the group stage. And also because of ex-Arsenal Alex Song.

3. Chile (Group B) - Because of Start-Up Chile :) It was an extreme honor to be one of the 100 privileged start-up companies selected from a total of 1577 applicants across 68 countries. I still have my approved and stamped Chilean visa which is still valid up to September 2014!

4. Algeria (Group H) and 5. Iran and 6. Bosnia & Herzegovina (Both Group F) - Because these are the three teams with a Muslim majority population and it will be really interesting to note how their players cope since Ramadan is starting on June 28. (Yes I’m fully aware there are Muslims in other teams as well, like Mesut Ozil, Toure brothers, Karim Benzema, Bacary Sagna, Marouane Fellaini etc who’ll be observing Ramadan as well, but I handpicked these three teams because a majority of their squad are Muslims).

If any of these 6 teams are playing against any other team (other than Tier A teams), I will be supporting them. However, if two teams from this same tier are playing against each other (example: Group F has Iran and Bosnia & Herzegovina), then it’s a coin toss to decide who to support :)


Tier C teams:

Any teams playing against the countries listed below, I will be supporting the opponents :)The following countries are:

1. Any team playing against Netherlands (Group B) - Because of RVP :P

2. Any team playing against Uruguay (Group D) - Because of Luis Suárez :) Also because of Diego Forlan, ex-ManUtd player :P

3. Any team playing against USA (Group G) - Because they call football, soccer :D :P

4 & 5. Any team playing against Brazil (Group A) and Argentina (Group F) - I got nothing against these two teams, they are both great with a lot of awesome players in both squads. However, most of my friends are supporting these two teams, so in order to balance the odds a bit, I will be cheering for whichever team they’ll be playing against, especially since FIFA Pre-Tournament Power Ranking (not to be confused with FIFA country wise ranking) placed these two countries as the “most likely” and “second most likely” to win, at position #1 and #2 respectively.

6. Any team playing against Portugal (Group G) - Because my girlfriend supports this team :D


If two teams from this same tier are playing against each other (example: Group G has Portugal and USA), then it’s a coin toss to decide who to support :)


So based from my Tier A, Tier B and Tier C listing, here are the teams I’ll be supporting till Round of 16. This is in no way a prediction of course, because we know Argentina and Brazil are going to win most of their matches. But let’s see how many I get right :D


FIFA WORLD CUP 2014 FIXTURE

13.6.14 Brazil Vs Croatia (Group A) - My team: CROATIA
13.6.14 Mexico Vs Cameroon (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
13.6.14 Spain Vs Netherlands (Group B) - My team: SPAIN
14.6.14 Chile Vs Australia (Group B) - My team: CHILE
14.6.14 Colombia Vs Greece (Group C) - My team: COLOMBIA
14.6.14 Uruguay Vs Costa Rica (Group D) - My team: COSTA RICA
15.6.14 England Vs Italy (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
15.6.14 Ivory Coast Vs Japan (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
15.6.14 Switzerland Vs Ecuador (Group E) - My team: ECUADOR
15.6.14 France Vs Honduras (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
16.6.14 Argentina Vs Bosnia (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
16.6.14 Germany Vs Portugal (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
16.6.14 Iran Vs Nigeria (Group F) - My team: IRAN
17.6.14 Ghana Vs USA (Group G) - My team: GHANA
17.6.14 Belgium Vs Algeria (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
17.6.14 Brazil Vs Mexico (Group A) - My team: MEXICO
18.6.14 Russia Vs S.Korea (Group H) - My team: S.KOREA
18.6.14 Australia Vs Netherland (Group B) - My team: AUSTRALIA
18.6.14 Spain Vs Chile (Group B) - My team:  SPAIN
19.6.14 Cameroon Vs Croatia (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
19.6.14 Colombia Vs Ivory Coast (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
19.6.14 Uruguay Vs England (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
20.6.14 Japan Vs Greece (Group C) - My team: JAPAN
20.6.14 Italy Vs Costa Rica (Group D) - My team: COSTA RICA
20.6.14 Switzerland Vs France (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
21.6.14 Honduras Vs Ecuador (Group E) - My team: HONDURAS
21.6.14 Argentina Vs Iran (Group F) - My team: IRAN
21.6.14 Germany Vs Ghana (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
22.6.14 Nigeria Vs Bosnia (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
22.6.14 Belgium Vs Russia (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
22.6.14 S. Korea Vs Algeria (Group H) - My team: S.KOREA
23.6.14 USA Vs Portugal (Group G) - My team: USA
23.6.14 Australia Vs Spain (Group B) - My team: SPAIN
23.6.14 Netherland Vs Chile (Group B) - My team: CHILE
24.6.14 Brazil Vs Cameroon (Group A) - My team: CAMEROON
24.6.14 Croatia Vs Mexico (Group A) - My team: CROATIA
24.6.14 Italy Vs Uruguay (Group D) - My team: ITALY
24.6.14 Costa Rica Vs England (Group D) - My team: ENGLAND
25.6.14 Japan Vs Colombia (Group C) - My team: JAPAN
25.6.14 Greece Vs Ivory Coast (Group C) - My team: IVORY COAST
25.6.14 Nigeria Vs Argentina (Group F) - My team: NIGERIA
25.6.14 Bosnia Vs Iran (Group F) - My team: BOSNIA
26.6.14 Honduras Vs Switzerland (Group E) - My team: HONDURAS
26.6.14 Ecuador Vs France (Group E) - My team: FRANCE
26.6.14 USA Vs Germany (Group G) - My team: GERMANY
26.6.14 Portugal Vs Ghana (Group G) - My team: GHANA
27.6.14 S. Korea Vs Belgium (Group H) - My team: BELGIUM
27.6.14 Algeria Vs Russia (Group H) - My team: ALGERIA

Yayyyy, common teams :) And comonnn ARSENAL! :D


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chp 508. Happy birthday, dear DP…


To the one who had shown me happiness and comfort the past couple of months, to the one who had made me laugh over and over again to the silliest of all things, to the one who understood me and gave me companionship right when my path was dark and dreary… happy birthday my love :)

Still feels like yesterday when we first met…


Even though we were both completely aware of our “awkwardly difficult” connection and never had any intentions of becoming a couple, we still clicked somehow and enjoyed each other’s company, hanging out just as friends…


…and hanging out with MY friends, like the time we went to see the live performance of indie bands like Laxmi Bomb, Fuzzy Logic, ViceVersa and Bone Broke at Blue Frog, where you knocked over a glass of water and everybody laughed…


And the time I get to meet your side of the family and everything went well… (except when you “titau” and all of us ended up not eating dinner…)


Then came Christmas… for a long time then, I was planning to play Mud’s “lonely this Christmas”, when you came into my life and convinced me that was not going to be the case… how we spent Christmas together, from the Mizo Church service to our favorite hangout at Gokuls…


…to my friend’s pre-Christmas party…


It was a complete joy ride. Even when Christmas finally arrived…



…it was definitely not snowing with sadness, all because of you. And then I got to meet more of your relatives, whom I completely adore…



Perhaps one of the most magical moments was when you insisted on watching the last sunset of 2013 together. Me being a clueless romantic, who kept work at a higher priority than everything else, actually left office early on the last day of 2013 so I could make you happy by seeing the sunset together...



Of course all my friends and colleagues teased me, but you know what? I really enjoyed that. You brought out the teen in me again and rejuvenated me. Thank you for that. And from then, it suddenly didn’t matter being silly or immature, as long as I was being silly with you… like the time we did that Navy officer cosplay at our friend’s Naval base…


…or the times I would almost die laughing every time I see you trying to eat that “beef steak with cheese and egg” burger from my favorite restaurant Gondola…


Whether it was work or fun or something to do with charity, you were always there by my side, like the time we went to that charity auction event and I ended up bidding some dresses for you which actually didn’t fit you but we all shrugged it off and reminded ourselves that it was for charity :)





Watching Mizoram win the Santosh Trophy with you was definitely a highlight. From “nihawichi” to “chhangban”, we made our own little Mizoram here in Mumbai and had a blast together…



And not to forget that Sunday night after Mizo church service when I finally fulfilled your constant (and sometimes a tad annoying) wish to walk at Marine Drive, and then when you got there, it wasn’t actually as much fun as you thought it would be (even though I warned you a million times), hahaha… but yes, we had so much fun that night…



Then there was that unforgettable night when we took a romantic walk together at Bandstand and some assholes called us “chinky ching chong” from their car. While I went to reprimand them, you went all kamikaze and took down their car’s license plate number (MH 02 AK 4465) completely built up… I’ll never forget how cute you looked then… :)

And what about the many times I could end an argument by buying you your favorite caramel flavored popcorn? :D

 

The saddest part was having to bid farewell to you when you were leaving Mumbai. That farewell party I threw for you at my house will be something I’ll never forget. The amount of fun we all had, while and at the same time feeling sad because you were going to leave Mumbai…









Even though we had great fun when I came back to Mizoram, I still wish you were here in Mumbai, so I could be happy and alive again…


Happy birthday my sweet love. Miss you lots…


Saturday, June 07, 2014

Chp 507. Mizoram versus Maharashtra


“A GOAL DAWN E!”

“A GOAL DAWN E!”

The sound of Mizos screaming out football chants in unison echoed across the large football stadium. “A goal dawn e” means “We’re going to score” and this is uttered during a corner kick or a free kick so as to intimidate the opposing team.  Except this time, the opposing team didn’t understand a single word and the stadium was in Mumbai. Yet, we shouted together because it was fun, and it encouraged our young players who traveled all the way from Mizoram to play a match against WIFA.

WIFA XI (Western India Football Association), consisted of a mix of Maharashtra Santosh Trophy Team players and the best players of various football clubs within Maharashtra including renowned senior players such as Steven Dias and Raju Gaikwad, and Brazilian internationals like Jose Ramirez Barretto and Roberto ‘Beto’ Mendes da Silva.

Yes it was a tough team, and even though it was just a friendly match, Mizos all across Mumbai came together to cheer for our state team. We wore red, the color of our football team, to show our support. Below is us preparing to go to the football stadium.


But how did it all come to this? Let’s take a brief look back at what happened three months ago.

In March 2014, the tiny state of Mizoram became the latest Santosh Trophy champion, India’s most prestigious football tournament. After Manipur won the title in 2002, Mizoram became the second North Eastern state to win this coveted title.




And the road to Mizoram’s victory was not easy at all. After beating local heavyweights Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh to qualify for the North East zone, the team went on undefeated to beat powerhouses Kerala, Maharashtra, Services, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Railways to clinch the title! Unbelievable.




With a total population of just around a million, Mizoram, the second least populated state in India dominated the nation. It was a day worth remembering and celebrating. The state government even declared the next working day a state holiday and the returning team members were given a grand Hero’s welcome by the people of Mizoram.

Just last month, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a German club team currently in 9th position at the Bundesliga this season, travelled all the way from Germany to Mizoram to play an exhibition match against the team!!! Though this grand incident was hardly mentioned in the Indian media, the state of Mizoram was abuzz with fervor and everybody went crazy there. And even though Mizoram lost 3-0, it was a dream come true for every Mizo to watch many international players (who will be representing various countries in this upcoming World Cup) to play in our very own home town football ground!



Such is the craze for football back home.

A few days ago, I got a message from Tetea Hmar, the General Secretary of MFA (Mizoram Football Association), telling me that he’s coming to Mumbai with the team! Though I’ve never met Tetea Hmar in real life, we’ve known each other for a long time in the online world and we have a lot of common friends as well.

And so the word quickly spread within our Mumbai Mizo circle. Click on all photos below to enlarge. Most of the photos below are mine, with a few taken from Mumbai Mizo FB group, WIFA FB page, and Tetea Hmar’s extremely hard to detect Bluetooth :D

Three days ago, I was there at the arrival terminal of Mumbai airport, excitedly waiting for our Mizoram team to arrive!


Funnily, I was the only Mizo who could make it to the airport :D


Everybody else was busy with work and since they had already planned to take a leave on the day of the match, they couldn’t afford to miss work by coming to the airport as well. That’s the thing about us Mumbai Mizos (or a typical Mumbaikar for that matter). First of all, Mumbai is a very expensive city, so we do not have a large Mizo student population (the ones most likely to be present at such occasions) like other Mizo Associations in Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata etc. And secondly, due to the high cost of living, we have to continuously struggle and focus on our work if we want to continue earning our daily bread.



Anyway, I got the blessings of our Mumbai Mizo Association leaders to warmly welcome the team on behalf of the Mumbai Mizo community. Although it was just me alone, I screamed and shouted and yelled and cheered when they walked out of the airport. I was the photographer cum the handshaker cum the narrator cum the introductor cum the everythingtor. And hey, look at it this way - there are more people living in Andheri West than the entire Mizo population. There may be 1 million Mizos but there are 112 million Maharashtrians. So just one single me welcoming them to Maharashtra was equivalent to 112 Maharashtrians welcoming them :)




Just as they were about to board their bus provided by their sponsors, my friend Tluangboihi too arrived at the airport. So now, there were 224 Maharashtrians welcoming the team. What a grand welcome indeed :)

Late as she was, she still managed to take a pic with them. Typical Tluangboihi :P


The team getting into the bus…




The next day, we were all pumped up, excited to watch our team in action. Even though Mizo supporters were asked to wear any tee shirt that is red in color, some unknown person started spreading a rumor that everyone must wear red Arsenal jersey, and so a lot of people came in their Arsenal jerseys. Man, that person is so evil :D

We reached Cooperage Football stadium just before kickoff. Machhana, Charlie and the others from Mizoram House had made this giant banner for our Mizoram team.


Mizos from all over Mumbai slowly started filling up the stands…




The players entered the field, warmed up, completed the formalities, and the match started! COMONNN MIZORAM!







As the sun set, the floodlights came on, adding more awesomeness to the experience. We shouted and cheered and jeered, keeping us all well entertained.




The place was an assortment of all kinds of Mizos, from the football fanatic Arsenal jersey wearing kind to the women extremely concerned about the humidity continuously spoiling their make-up :D


A view from the other side of the stadium, courtesy WIFA facebook page. Check out the stark contrast in the way spectators are watching the match :)


Even though Mizoram had already beaten Maharashtra at the recently concluded Santosh Trophy tournament, I’d just like to remind you all again that this was not the same Maharashtra Santosh Trophy team. Professional players like Steven Dias, Raju Gaikwad and the Brazilians greatly changed the momentum of the game. If only we too had the likes of Jeje, Dika, Mama, Robert etc. playing for our side :P In addition to that, our youngsters were not that used to playing under such a hot and humid condition (the recent Santosh Trophy which this team won was held at Siliguri).

But our young players played excellently. Valpuia managed to beat the goal keeper twice, only to be denied by the post on both occasions. And Biaktea’s excellent kick was blocked by the extremely flexible goalkeeper Harshad Meher. He made a couple of other really brilliant saves as well, and to me, he was the Man of the Match.

WIFA XI scored twice, one in each half. The first goal came from Linekar Machado, and his shot hit the bottom of the top crossbar but rebounded just enough to bounce across the goal line. Although some people watching from the other side argued that he was in an offside position, the second goal from Mohammed Shafique was a clear goal. No contention about it. Mizoram on the other hand, remained goalless. Some of my Mizo friends blamed those of us wearing Arsenal jerseys for the loss, saying our team ended up playing just like Arsenal FC - “Great passing skills and domination of the game but fails to execute the final goal score”. Haha. I’ll take that with a pinch of salt. :P

Overall we had a really great time, regardless of the final score.





Perhaps one of the best things Mizoram team achieved was bringing so many Mizos from all over Mumbai together. The Mumbai Mizo Association leaders jokingly said they had no idea THAT many Mizos were living in Mumbai, while the BMCF (Bombay Mizo Christian Fellowship) leader said the number of Mizos present at the stadium was five times the number of people who attend our weekly Mizo Church service :D




Well played indeed WIFA XI.

After the match, there was the usual pitch invasion. I am extremely honored to be the first person to jump over the fence and run inside (although the next day I ended up having muscle cramps all over my body because of that… :P )

Players receiving medals…





Here is Steven Dias, captain of WIFA XI lifting the trophy. Well played once again Steven!!!


If any WIFA association member is reading this, I would like to apologize on behalf of our community for disrupting the award ceremony. Yes some of our members posed with the players for group photo sessions even though the award ceremony was still going on, forcing the MC to time and again repeat or plead to the crowd. You’ll have to understand that to many Mizos, these players are heroes for winning the Santosh Trophy, and they just couldn’t control themselves being so close to their idols. Really sorry about that.

After the award ceremony, it was socializing time, as players and fans interacted with each other…









All in all, everybody had an awesome time. Ending the day’s event with a couple of comic strips :)



If you can’t read the above WhatsApp message, here’s an enlarged version…


So much fun indeed…

The next day, the Mizoram contingent was invited by their host at the ICE Award function, where they were felicitated.




Yup, that’s John Abraham in the pic above, who was a part of the function.

On their last night in Mumbai, I went over to their hotel to bid them goodbye. It was great meeting the players and looking at where they’re staying. According to Tetea, the entire team was staying separately, depending on the availability of rooms. So we moved around with this long list of names and room numbers across different floors, lolz.




I had a great conversation with Tetea, Maruata (Finance Secy) and TK-a (Treasurer) till 2 in the morning, talking about football, Mizoram and various other topics.


What I learnt from Tetea that night really surprised me…

So we all assumed Mizoram football team must have been sent (read: financed) by our state government or some semi-govt Sports Authority/Body. Actually, no! Mizoram or Maharashtra state had nothing to do with their travel. In fact, WIFA had nothing to do with it either. The only time WIFA was involved was arranging the match and playing with the team. Other than that, everything was organized by their sponsor called FEI (Freight Express International) Cargo Limited!

Curiosity got the better of me and I started googling. Now why would a private company spend so much money on this, without even promoting their brand anywhere. The only time I saw their logo was in the banner welcoming the Mizoram team at the airport.

Even if they were doing it to expand their business in the North East, it didn’t make any sense because they deal with Freight shipping and logistics, something that is ineffective in the North East with no coastal borders. And even if it was to promote their business, was it worth spending so much that would hardly yield any returns?

I mean, the money they spent was no trivial matter at all.

First of all, they paid for the flight tickets of all 30 members of the Mizoram squad from Aizawl to Mumbai and back. And then, they accommodated all of them at The Leela. MAN that’s the freaking Leela I’m talking about. One of the finest 5 star luxury hotels in Mumbai. When I was in my college basketball team and we traveled to a different city, we slept in the freaking college classrooms on top of the freaking hard wooden desks surrounded by mosquitoes. Even international teams do not get such royal treatment, that too especially for an exhibition match.

And yet here, our players had the time of their life, swimming in the gigantic swimming pool or tasting a part of luxury which is hard to come by again…




Not to mention their travel expense within Mumbai, including their food and drinks...


And hiring the Cooperage football stadium must have cost a lot of money too. On top of all that, Tetea told me they were gifted with a large amount of cash to further promote football in Mizoram!

Apparently, everything was because of this guy…


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Mr. Pratap Nair, Founder and Director of Marketing, FEI Cargo Ltd. Tetea told me that one fine day, he was reading the newspaper when he chanced upon a small section announcing that Mizoram had just won the Santosh Trophy. He was greatly interested after that. In fact it was he who was giving out the awards at the stadium (refer above photo with Steven Dias). I would have never guessed that all this was just a private affair!

Way to go, sir! He’s now trying to promote grassroot level football development in Maharashtra, in association with WIFA, and I’m sure with the amount of interest, vision and capital he has, it will surely succeed.

It got me more and more interested and I read up further.

I found out that his son Mr. Abhijeet Nair was also a director (Finance and HR) in the same company.


At that moment, I was like “Holy $hit” because he was the same guy I met at the airport while welcoming the team. We chatted for a while and even exchanged cards, but since his designation was not mentioned anywhere on the card, I just assumed he must be some lowly executive assigned with the task of welcoming the team.


Dayyyymmm, he’s the director and possible heir to a really affluent private company! Such humbleness indeed! Respect. And he has my business card! :D :D :D

But then as I read further and further, I discovered that he had lost his mother, Mrs. Shailaja Nair, and there is a whole website dedicated to her to serve as a memoriam. In fact, the ICE Awards where the Mizoram team was felicitated, was run by the “Shailaja Nair Foundation”. She used to actively take part in various NGO initiatives like Cheshire Home, CRY etc. What a truly noble family. My condolences, however late it may be.  

Here is a big thanks to Mr. Pratap Nair and family for bringing the Mizoram football team to Mumbai. May God bless you all.