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    Volume 9 Issue 28| July 9, 2010|

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One Off

When the dust and din subsides!

Aly Zaker

We have been witnessing a storm over the past few weeks. Shall we call it a storm or a war? Perhaps a war would be an accurate word to describe it. In a storm, the nature lashes out in full fury and not without a reason. Those that specialise in environment have a theory for this. They say any natural calamity is nature's own language of protest. When it is intimidated and dishonoured and is not in a position to take the onslaught anymore, it hits back. In a war, human being is pitted against human being with or without a reason. Both create, to quote Shakespeare, a lot of, “sound and fury signifying nothing”. At the end of it we see the dust and din created by the calamity slowly subside when human minds get back the rule of logic. Here, in our dear country, a war was waged with a reason or without, that saw us go bananas for a couple of weeks or so. The reason for the storm or the war is still there, albeit mildly. It will be over in a couple of more days. Perhaps then we will revert to the rule of thoughts over action. I am, as you might have guessed, referring to the Soccer World Cup (SWC). An event of the magnitude of the SWC comes once every four years. You or I may not live to see the next. Maybe, a whole new generation with a whole new set of values will witness the next Cup. But what I witnessed this time is in itself a fantastic display of pent-up emotion and almost irrational behaviour. I have been following World Cup soccer since I was a child. My father's favourite was the English team. That is understandable because my father was born, brought up and started his adult life under the British Raj with a cushy administrative job under them. He used to follow football in the radio and in the English language newspaper called 'The Statesman'. For some reason, best known to him, he grew wary of 'team England' and started taking interest in the Latino brand of football. It is then that I heard of Brazil as a strikingly different team playing a strikingly different brand of the game. Since my father supported Brazil and I as a child looked upon him as my only hero, I also started supporting Brazil. To this day, despite reasons good or bad, I did not switch allegiance. In my family my son also started off as a staunch supporter of Brazil following his father's footsteps. But recently he switched his support to the English team. How I wished my father were here! I am sure he would have switched back to supporting England for the sake of his grandson. And they would have got along famously. Ours was a very sport-friendly family. My wife was never much of an out-door sports enthusiast but she has been extremely kind to have kept company of the other members of the family and has been taking active interest in the subject these days. Our little daughter being born in a sport-loving family has grown a natural affinity towards games. As I write I suspect that my readers may have started thinking that the narration of this family saga is to prove that we are always at one in our opinion about supporting the same team. Far from it, each one of us as an individual has their own strong opinion and these opinions also differ. But these differing sets of opinions have, thankfully, never embittered our relationship much less, create a war amongst us. Indeed they create a kind of pseudo love-hate relationship that usually melts at the end of it all and we have a hearty laugh together waiting for the next exciting time when the family would differ in defence of each thinking adult's own argument to make life more interesting.

Heart broken Argentine coach Diego Maradona.

I have been a keen watcher of the SWC at least for the last twenty-five/thirty years. I am known to be a cricket buff but I took to watching world soccer at the behest of my son since he was a tiny boy. Now he is a fully-grown young man and more but the interest concerning the games in both of us has grown more intense. But even this passionate interest that used to be devoid of logical analyses and driven entirely by emotion in the good old days, at its worst, used to end in despair and sighs. This was a common expression across the board for everyone.

But what we witnessed this time around made me pause and consider whether it was indeed worth it at all. We saw the whole country wearing a look that we never witnessed before. At times in certain places I was confused about my being in my own land. I thought for a while, if I had travelled half the world away to a distant Latino land. I felt sad that people died of heart attacks at the loss of their favourite team, verbal invectives culminating in to rioting, closure of the educational institutions that were considered premium places of learning. All these for a soccer game! A young boy was so put down by the loss of his favourite team that he nearly burnt himself while burning down its flag. Do the Brazilians or the Argentineans get into such frenzy even in their own country? I wonder if they do. But we do. We seem to be more attached to those far off lands than their own citizens. A smart, young and well educated woman who was in support of this fanatic expression of love for the soccer teams told me the other day that it was an expression of love and my generation would not understand what it meant for the youngsters. I could not agree more. But what intrigued me is that we were also as vibrantly and passionately young not very long ago. We were so passionate that we did not even hesitate to pick up arms to fight against our adversary to liberate a country where today's young people have found a safe haven, where, unfortunately the deeds of some are taking the land to a point of no return. She said that give it a month and the storm would pass over. I sincerely wish so. I would only remind her that a month of utter insanity might destroy a lifetime of achievements. Who knows what it will be like in the next World Cup! Well the solace, perhaps, is in the fact that today's young girl will be a responsible and thoughtful mother by then and then she will have her own problem with the children to contain with. Brazil and Argentina are gone. The dust and din have started to subside. Thankfully for us we seem to have come out of the psychosis. So until the next time peace and reason, hopefully, would be the order of the day.

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