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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Chp 71. World Cup: Opening Ceremony

Beer? Check.
Bean bag? Check.
Nachos? Check.
Freshly fried prawn chips? Check.
Enough cigarettes to last me 6 hours? Check.
Emptied my bowels so that I wouldn’t have to crap during the game? Check.

Ah! Finally I was ready to watch the Greatest show on Earth, Live! Woohoo!!! The opening ceremony wasn’t as great as I expected. Everything seemed to be a little bit chaotic and unorganized. And every time those Bavarian dancers tapped their feet on the ground, I shuddered, because all I could think of was the beautiful football ground they might be damaging with their steel toed boots.

The veteran’s parade was really really nostalgic, especially when I came across people like Didier Deschamps, Maradona, Lothar Matthäus and Emmanuel Petit walking around in their Armani suits and their body resembling nothing like the athletic well built soccer icon they once used to be. Had I already started drinking, I swear to God I could have cried on seeing all of them once again, smiling with such a deep sense of satisfaction and a glimmer in their eyes telling you they had indeed achieved their dream.

What made me genuinely smile on seeing them was one particular scene when they all got together to pose for a photograph while the parade was still going on. The all huddled together and the veteran players were handing out their digital cams to the people around them asking who can click it. Lolz! Even we mere mortals do that. And the person who clicked it would suddenly want to be in the next picture so somebody already in the snap would have to sacrifice his place in the photograph and do the honours of clicking it . Deep inside, I guess we are all the same. And some of these Titans were actually using the same phone camera that you and I use everyday. In a strange and twisted way, it actually made me feel like one of them

I was a bit shocked to see Claudia Schiffer walking by the side of Pele, the Greatest football player ever in the History of the “goal duniya” (hehe sorry I couldn’t help it with that corny pun) but then she IS Germany’s hottest babe around so I can somewhat understand that. But what really shocked me last night was when I switched on my TV and went to ESPN. Tra la la la dish dish dish and all the graphical intro about Germany 2006 and then finally we were taken to the studio. Appearing there right infront of my 21” TV screen was none other than Harsha! Yes, our very own Harsha Bhogle! He was giving the welcome speech and introduction to World Cup 2006! No!!!! This can’t be it! I immediately switched to Star Sports ~ MotoGP World Championship. Zee Sports ~ Sports Café. Ten Sports ~ French Tennis Open Live. Aaaargh. So I went back to ESPN. Harsha was still on the main screen. And to make matters more inanimate, Harsha turned to his TV screen to ask an “expert” for an opinion about the World Cup, and guess who appeared? Ravi Shastri! Why why why is this happening to me?

Harsha and Shastri definitely know how to sell themselves when it comes to Cricket, but by using the same brand at a completely different market, the TV Moguls are killing the very essence of Football spirit. Please keep these two streams apart from each other. If entertaining the Indian viewer is your intention, please use some other Indians with a good Football background (one who is not affiliated to any other sports). This is sheer Product assassination. In IIMB we learnt about STP – Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. Just because there are some people who are crazy about both Football and Cricket, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be targeted together because the two games do not belong in the same segment and hence must be all together positioned differently. Yes I do agree Harsha is very good at what he does, but a brand image and value can easily get exhausted when over-used especially in two completely different Markets. Kotler might term this as “confused positioning”

Atleast the appearance of Gerry Armstrong (and Richard Keys?) on the studio set made things a bit more professional. Harsha did his part well, but it could have definitely been better had it been John Dykes in that seat (No offence intended, dear Harsha). Anyway, fast forward to the game. Germany Vs Costa Rica where another great shock was waiting for me. The game kicked-off and the commentary was in Hindi!!! All of us screamed out! Where’s the freaking English commentary? Other than me, my three companion ofcourse understand Hindi perfectly, but even they admit it is very “inanimate” to watch International Football with no English running commentary. I didn’t understand Hindi at all so to me it sounded just like those lightning fast 1000 words per minute South American football commentaries . JV said we should call up the cable operator but then we realized atleast 100 guys from out locality would have to call them up to ask for a change.

I quickly text messaged my friends all over India. Amos from Bangalore said it’s in English. Mary from Delhi said it’s in Hindi. Johnny from Calcutta - English. Puia from Aizawl – English. Ravi from Chennai – English. Arjun from Pune – English. Damn, a majority of them were all getting it in English. And then suddenly, exactly on the 4th minute of the game, the cable operators switched the commentary to English! Halleluiah!!!! 100 people from my locality must have called up the Cable Operator Two goals later, Mary from Delhi smsed me saying it’s still in Hindi over there. Hahahaha! Guess that’s her problem But the text messaging did not stop throughout the game and I was in constant sms with all my friends discussing about the game. When Germany conceded their first goal, Amos from Bangalore immediately texted me “There was nothing Lehmann could have done about it” and I quickly agreed, after all, we are both hardcore Arsenal fans and woe be anybody who bitch-slap any Arsenal player. Finally at the end of the game, I got an sms from Chandigarh’s Jimmy that I have been expecting. A very short but sweet sms. “We won”.

I like Germany a lot but it has a very young team. I thought I would support for France due to its heavy Arsenal presence until I found out only Henry was the sole Arsenal player in the entire squad (Viera and Wilthord are ex Gunners and Pires is out). Hence I still haven’t decided what team I’ll be supporting for. Last World Cup I rooted for Argentina and look at where that took me. Somebody very special to me and I decided to support for Holland together but I still need to analyze the various other players first. One thing is for sure, I will definitely not be joining the Brazilian Bandwagon. Yes they are the favourites to win the cup and yes they got an amazing fire power. But the victory of a weaker team is much much much more sweeter than that of one that’s sure to win.

The June pin-up of the Arsenal Official Calendar that my sis from UK gave me is none other than Henry himself. Had I been more superstitious, I would have considered this as a good omen that France is going to win (Check out the strikers: Henry, Saha, Trezeguet, Cisse). But since the competition go on to July, well, the July pin-up is Gilberto, hence passing a message that Brazil will win. Bah. Who believes in superstition anyway


sowmya said...

hey kima:-)!!!great to see this side of you!awesome!keep it up!
hey and support netherlands!!!!;)

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Football, is that a game where grownup men kicks a small back and white ball for 90m?

Here, you call it by the right name soccer :-D

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Football, is that a game where grownup men kick a small black and white ball for 90m?

Here, you call it by the right name soccer :-D

No Hidden Depths said...

Two things, in the last world cup we had Baichung Bhutia giving his "expert" comments with an ex-world cup player and this time we have a cricket commentator? sucks!!
About Brazil? they have ruined the game. They just keep on winning and it has made the game more and more boring to watch. Its Germany for me-Efficient in everything that they do..
Looks like Mumbai's treating you well. Its fun to live with your sisters, women keep the house so clean and the fridge is always piled up with goodies... hehe :D
Take care...

illusionaire said...

Thanx Sowmya.

And about Netherlands, yeah, am supporting them this World Cup. Tough pool, with Argentina. But we're gonna win this time. Thanx for visiting...

illusionaire said...

@ Benjamin: I think we heard you when you said it the first time. We arent exactly deaf (or blind) you know...

illusionaire said...

Yup its sheer Heaven out here. The house is always cleaned, and sometimes they even force me to take a shower more than once a a day! I've been having home cooked meal continously so far, while in Bangalore the only times I eat home cooked meal are when friends invite us for dinner.

I agree with you on the brazil part. I have decided which team I am going to support and it is Netherlands. Woohoo... Go Van Basten, go Van Nistlerooy, go Van Persie, go Van Bronckhorst, go Van Bimmel, go Van lalruatkima :-D

Mazami said...

Looks like you've taken over Dinpuii's house! You better watch it!!! Does she actually force you to shower more than once a day? That's not what I heard!!!

Supporting Holland? Oh my.... I wasn't very impressed with them yesterday.

For me it's South Korea all the way! C'mon all you Kims and Songs and Parks and Lees.... win the cup for Asia!!!

virgochhas said...

so i see...BaamBay raackss in Hindi lolzz

poor u...

Germany?...never like dem much...back grandad is alwayz like..'look @ Durtlang hospital, how much haf we gained from them,...they are christians...' blah blah blah..

me did not root fo Braxil last time and am still not rooting fo dem...

England , then Thierry Henry (mind u..not France :D ) ... then South Korea and Japan...Italy... :)


illusionaire said...

@ Mazam: Well whatever Dinpuii's been telling you is a lie. Everyday I have to wake her up and make coffee for her too. And about yesterday's match, I guess the Dutch need to warm up a bit. Once they get the hang of it, they are going to be unstoppable!

illusionaire said...

@ Virgo: So ur gonna support for Henry as if he's an entire Country huh? Interesting... :-P

Korea and Japan wont be performing as good as they did last World Cup coz there's a big difference between playing at home soil and away. But yeah, it wiould be nice to see them beat one or two of the giants.

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Football is about faking. Look at those guys lying down, unwilling to get up, as if they have lost their BALLS!!

And everyone knows Beckham becuase he is married to that girl from Spice Girls :-D

Well, thats not really me. It's Glen Beck from CNN,

"Why we hate football"


virgochhas said...

@ illusionaire - why not...gawdd he is sooo 'haaaat' :D lolz

@ benjamin - if u know Beckham because of his wife, am sorry for you...but don't think dat everyone is you...

faking?....u get fake s everywhere...why point out only football?...