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Where all the good men go

BY rights this should be an article on Bangladesh's glorious victory over England with many a flowery flourish. But after the ignominious defeats at the hands of Netherlands and Ireland, such an article seemed pointless. Netherlands may be the runners up in the football World Cup, but they are rubbish at cricket. Despite our historic clashes with Ireland, stretching back to the ICC Trophy days, it is a sobering thought to get beaten by a nation world renowned for being so superbly drunk that they hallucinate about little green men showering them with gold. Not to mention the fact that their best players get stolen by the English side. So much for happy thoughts!

Now let's look at the transfer market in the aftermath of Fifa World Cup 2010.

After the Spanish victory at the World Cup, it looks like Barcelona is determined to capitalise on the winning formula. It was known before the World Cup that Villa is set to garrison at Nou Camp, but Barca are trying hard to get Fabregas to join as well. Already Messi and Villa have said that they'd love to have Fabregas in the team and frankly, even the thought of that attacking line-up makes tehari sound like a tasteless dish. But for all the talk, Arsenal refuses to sell the man, rejecting a supposed of 35 million [pound/euros, depends on which rumour you are reading]. Some say Arsene Wenger is showing sense; others say Arsenal is beyond sense at this point. Latest news suggests Fabregas will stick with The Gunners for another season.

The Catalans are also targeting Fernando Torres apparently. So take away Xabi Alonso, Ramos, Capdevilla and Casillas [Valdes isn't a pushover though] and add Messi and you have the Barcelona side … or at least the Barcelona side that Barcelona wants to be.

The Beggar
Long distance relationships are such pains. Ricardo Carvalho is practically grovelling at Real Madrid's feet asking them to make an offer for him. The Chelsea defender is pining away to be with his coach Jose Mourinho and even said that he has arrangements with the club should Real make the offer. And they all talked about Maradona's show of affection!

The Young Guns of Germany
This is where all the excitement comes in. The young German team shook up the World Cup with the whopping attitude of a Luftwaffe squadron and naturally people are dying to know where the Özils and Müllers will end up. Where are these wonderboys going? Nowhere, at the moment, it appears. Müller looks set to pull a Raul Gonzalez and has expressed he wants to stay with Bayern Munich for the rest of his career. Khedira is in Stuttgart and Boateng moved to Man City before the WC. Rumours are abound about Manuel Neuer, but nothing is certain.

Özil however is a different matter. Everybody has eyes on him. So far, he has done nothing to indicate he is moving away from Werder Bremen, but seriously, a player of his calibre will eventually move. Man Utd, an old courter, looks on avidly.

Manning up
Man City is starting to look business. The addition Yaya Toure and David Silva should strengthen that midfield and if these guys find a little form and click, they could cause trouble and finally make that coveted Champions League slot.

The Devils are back to Red
Man Utd has gone back to the traditional all red kit, but for some reason, it just doesn't look as good as the Red and the Black. But the funny part is all the worry and the tension and the “leaking” of pictures of the new kits. That's when you know people are going a little bit overboard. Then again, the word “fan” is a derivative of fanatic.

Do you guys realise we could just go to a garments factory in Bangladesh, snap a couple of pictures on our cellphones of the jerseys being made and sell it for thousands of pound?

Rainbow Letters

“AND how come I never get letters in the mail? * Insert sad immigrant face. * If you want what's best for you, you will write me a letter NOT on Microsoft Word and mail it to me in the old fashioned way. You do NOT want me to break out into the chorus of “What a Girl Wants.” No, you don't.”
--June 22nd, 2009

It was hardly something we could have foreseen. Our fingers, our pens must have, though. In retrospect, I think they always knew that we'd need to, soon enough.

Doodles and scribbles always came naturally to us. The first month back in school would find our textbooks covered with every sketch and design that our 10-year-old imaginations found remotely presentable; our exercise books thinning from the pages torn out for invented conversations conducted under the desk during soporific science classes. What did it matter if we were made to change seats a little too often? Our notes managed to carve out a secret track, weaving through the bags and desks and watchful teachers, which always ended at the other.

But then we changed classrooms, area codes, landmasses; the way it often happens. We still doodled and scribbled but a new pathway needed to be found for these. Meanwhile provisional arrangements had to be made.

I received her first ever e-mail; she got mine. “Never thought I'd live to see the day.” Facebook wall posts followed, then IMs. Things that we never really expected to happen when they did soon formed a pattern cohesive with our slowly changing days. Still the letters bided their time. Spoken of, yes, planned but not sent. Not just yet, not just yet.

The first e-mail felt good; the first chat online, even better. But, despite the many conveniences of being able to send her the odd article that needed reading, receiving the songs she couldn't wait for me to listen to, of being able to send each other the most brilliant Facebook Bumper Stickers; despite not having to worry whether the letters reached or to wait too long for a reply, some elusive element was missing.

So the letters began. On sheets of faux parchment, on pages torn from notebooks. The pen slid and stumbled across the papers in an illegible scrawl, during bumpy car rides through Dhanmondi traffic jams; secretly scrawled notes during classes; spewed out odd rants and ramblings by the light of the bedside lamp. I absently traced along the margins of these pages the flowers, double helixes, abstract figures and quotes that I was unable to reproduce on the computer screen.

It felt right to write again but we still wanted that passage. And the shabby little post office on Kamal Atuturk Avenue hardly possessed the necessary magical doorway qualities. My hands were tentative as they passed the envelope across the counter to the young man with the bored expression, who tossed it into the forbidding mess of parcels and packages behind him. And my feet took me down the dusty steps, with a new doubt and worry born of the knowledge that the Bangladesh postal service and the world at large aren't really kind to the quaintness of the letter writers anymore.

Then, one day last autumn, came the big yellow envelope, complete with stamp. And barely had I torn it open when it exploded in a flurry of dragonfly-winged quotes, dancing doodles amidst a rainbow of letters arching out in yellows and purples and neon greens. And her voice: moody, bored, and merry by turns, closer than it had been in two years.

Now, all that is required to open that doorway is the opening of a shoebox. And a rainbow bridge emerges every time, one of quotes and drawings, ramblings in red and fluorescent pink, curving over the workings of time and space. It's a childhood legacy, one of doodled pages and scribbled conversations that holds faithfully even as our fingers learn to lay aside the pen and turn to the keyboard.

“On a completely random note, my pinky is cramping up from all this writing. Sorry I don't have hand-drawn emoticons to jazz up my boring letter, written on boring legal pad paper. Some of us are just plain ORDINARY.



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