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     Volume 5 Issue 104 | July 21, 2006 |

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A Time to be in Rome

Fawaz Rob

For those of you, who watched the spectacles of World Cup final, I have to solemnly state that unless you were in Rome, you have missed out a great experience in life. It is quite an egotistical statement, but I can not but rejoice my experience without a pinch of snobbery. The final was in Berlin, true. However, if you ask any one of those hundred and eighty thousand spectators in Circo Massimo they would confirm that Rome was the place to be. Circo Massimo is a humongous arena where ancient Rome would host horse races. ('Spartacus' anyone?). It was one of the greatest shows any Italian has witnessed in a long long time. Now, for a 'deshi' like myself 180,000 is a morning crowd in Farm Gate area. For Italy, it is often population of an entire city. People started gathering as early as the morning. Surprisingly, three big screens and amazing sound system was capable enough to provide perfect entertainment experience. The 'hooligans' were well equipped with sound horns, flags, Chinese 'potka' and many other paraphernalia to make unreasonable blasts at every occasion. Average crowd relied upon their voice and spirit. To the confusing stares of surrounding revellers I held a Bangladeshi flag. Because of the mismanagement in my personal graphics department, the slogan 'Bangladeshis for Italia' was barely visible. (I have got to start buying broader marker pens). Anyway, I had to explain to several people the origin of my country and most Bangladeshis for some unknown reason support that Brazil and Argentina. 'So who are they supporting tonight?' came the enquiry. 'Italy, of course!' I replied promptly. The surrounding roaring noise relieved me from explaining that since France has beaten Brazil, Bangladeshis are quite ticked off at 'le bleus' squad. Nevertheless, all my Italian friends were quite happy to know that people from an unknown far away land were supporting their team.

The whistle was blown. And the game started. It would be a foolish attempt to describe the next hundred and twenty minutes. Billions have watched it, talked about it, analysed it and beaten the Joynuddin (Zinadin for French) affair to the pulp. So, I will leave it to the 'boddhas' who can describe the incidents and accidents more brilliantly than yours truly. I will just attempt to describe the events that followed in the streets of Rome. Now, I have to rely on Zahir Raihan style to describe the following. Standard reporting just does not seem fair enough for the subsequent spectacle.

From Circo Massimo to Piazza Venezia threr was incessant blowing of horns. Bombs exploding everywhere. Footballs flying up and down. Fireworks up in the sky. Beautiful girls dancing. Not so beautiful boys dancing. Thousands of people screaming. Thousands of flags waving. Green, White and Red. Italian flags everywhere eyes can rest. People screaming, singing, dancing. Horns from cars blowing. Burning all flammable trashes. Students dancing around fire in circles. Kids on their papa's shoulder. Girls on their boys shoulders. Cars honking. Motorbikes whistling. Flags flying. People screaming. Near full moon night. “Zidan. Z-i-d-a-n… “Totti Totti”. “Buffon Buffon”. Laughter. And tears of joy. Young women. Young men. Old Men. Old women. Camera's flicking. Cell phones ringing. Small flags. Huge huge flags. Girls on top of cars. Boys on top of cars. “Italia Italia Campione del mondo” (Italy Italy Champions of the world). Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

The next day became even more of a sight. The Italian players returned home to get the reception from their countrymen. The stage had a massive sign “Italia grazie squadra azzuri” (Italy thanks the blue squad). Most honoured TV and movie artists presented them to the crowds and showered them with gifts. When Cannavaro, the captain of the team held the golden trophy up in the air for the crowd…it was something to witness. I thought I nearly went deaf. Afterwards all the players piled up on a hoodless Double-Decker bus and started touring the streets of Rome. One guy told me that thousands of years ago this is how Romans would greet their war hero. Cannavaro, Totti, Materazzi, Camoranessi, Gattuso…all these mystified players were beaming with joy and pride. These men, riding on top of the bus were not just mere players anymore. They were Roman Gods. They became mythological characters. I saw a girl crying in happiness. She was screaming, "Campione del Mondo". Champions of the world.

The night of happiness followed. Hours of celebration continued in every pubs, restaurants and homes of Italy. I couldn't help but contemplate in my solitude, maybe every country should get a chance to greet home their champions. The Middle East is erupting again, planes are crashing, people are dying, miseries and unhappiness are polluting the world. The rest of the world faded in oblivion for all Italians that night. For once they could be absolutely hedonistic and not feel guilty about it.

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