KOLKATA’S GLOBAL CARNIVAL
Reported by: Ronak Tanna, Anuvab Chatterjee, Sayan Sadhukhan
Guest Photography by: Anirban Saha Photography Blog
Our entire nation has been going off to sleep a bit late for the last 3 weeks or so. Thanks to the biggest footballing event on the planet, The FIFA World Cup 2014 being hosted in the Samba-land of Brazil. The entire country is following the tournament very enthusiastically, but Kolkata, as always has been the most enthusiastic about the FIFA World Cup. We can see flags of Argentina, Brazil, Germany and even Portugal all over the city hung across streets by the local clubs to show their support, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. being the fan favourites this time around.
To be honest, the World Cup has lived up to all the hype it had been getting for the past few days. With all the group stage matches over, we have been witness to enthralling performances by certain players, some astounding goals, and already seen quite a few upsets, including the extremely unforeseen eliminations of a few favourite teams from the tournament. The biggest upset this World Cup has seen is Spain bowing out of the competition so early. Spain were the reigning champions, so it was the last team which people thought would get knocked out in the group stages. They played really poor football against Netherlands suffering a 5-1 defeat to the Dutch and then Chile pulled off a shocker against the Spanish side, knocking them out of the World Cup. Their six-year long reign in International football has finally come to an end and looks like it marks the end of tiki-taka too. This group witnessed another cracker of a match when The Netherlands faced The Socceroos of Australia. Australia lost the game 3-2, but they certainly won many hearts because of their performance, with their captain, Tim Cahill scoring a classic volley to equalise the score only seconds after the Dutch had opened the scoring.
We also witnessed a huge turn of events in the Group of Death consisting of England, Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. By the looks of it, England didn’t stand a good chance of making it out of this group, with Italy and Uruguay being the favourites to make it through. However, Costa Rica had other plans. They defeated Uruguay in their first game and went on to defeat Italy in their next match, becoming the first team to qualify from that group, making it dicey even for either of Italy or Uruguay to qualify. Later on, Uruguay managed to score a goal against Italy in the final game of the group becoming the second team to qualify into the knockout stages from that group. In the same match, Luis Suarez was back with his antics as he bit Italian Centre-back Georgio Chiellini on the shoulder. Suarez is going to face a really long ban because of his actions including 9 international matches and 15 other games for his current club, Liverpool.
Along with Costa Rica and Australia, there are quite a few teams which really impressed the fans. Mexico, Algeria, Iran and Ghana were teams gave the bigger teams quite a scare with Iran almost pulling off a draw against Argentina. Ghana however, managed to get a point against Germany, in a match which will be better remembered for Miroslav Klose’s record equalling goal, for scoring a goal in 4 different World Cups, a feat achieved by no other than Pele himself.
Amidst all this footballing action, our own country was busy playing the sport which it’s good at, Cricket. People in India seem to have forgotten that India played a tournament against Bangladesh, in Bangladesh and defeated them in a convincing manner. Half the people in the city were unaware that there was international cricket going on, on the telly. The question here is why is the country, especially this city, crazy about the FIFA World Cup even when India is not participating?
Even though India has never qualified for the World Cup, we Indians follow the World Cup religiously for the sole reason that football is a beautiful sport. The excitement, the fans and the game itself grasps all the attention. The football followers in Kolkata have seen this beautiful game played by their legends like Diego Maradona, Pele, and the iconic Brazilian Ronaldo with his iconic hairstyle. All these players won our hearts and they still instil the love for the game in us.
To spread the love of the game even more in this country every once in a while there is a big match hosted by India. We hosted an International friendly between Argentina and Venezuela and a match was held in the Delhi where the German club Bayern Munich played the Indian National team. In addition India will be hosting the next U-17 FIFA World Cup which will take place in 2017. Our country is taking big strides to reach a competitive level in International football.
Let’s come to the big picture here though:
What does the World Cup mean to me, you, us or Kolkata as a whole?
For a generation, the World Cup represents an opportunity to stay relevant and be a part of this mini carnival engulfing the city. This generation prides itself on having seen iconic legends play in previous World Cups and have their own share of stories to share revolving around marvellous football feats of yore.
For a particular generation, the World Cup is an opportunity to watch their favourite stars in action and to square off against dear friends and relatives at home or even outside. For some, it is just fashion, an activity that occupies a to-do list with special inputs on learning about the names of teams, players, who scored and results to make conversation at parties and other gatherings.
For some, it is one crazy ride filled with an ecstasy that cannot be provided by a drug or chemical fix. For some, it is an opportunity to finally get together at home after dinner in the unspoken silence of camaraderie over a match.
Mostly, The World Cup is when Kolkata gets to shake off its cobwebs of daily habit afresh and engulf a breath of fresh air in a mental skyline that is already clogged with fumes. Long live the World Cup!
At least it dissipates political, social and gender divisions, creating a utopian environment conducive to good cheer!
Here’s wishing you have a fabulous month ahead!