Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Football: A Religion

It's been a while I have been ensconced in the Americas, but I haven't still transitioned completely.  For instance, I am yet to comfortably lapse into the word "soccer", it is still "football" for me in a country where that word means an entire different ball game. And that sport, that I call football, still happens to be the greatest game on earth for me.

Four years ago, I was preparing for my journey over the Atlantic while watching the World Cup, reveling in the joys and despairs of the game with my family, in the middle of the night. Today, the timings of the live matches are more convenient but I miss the furor of my city, the madness of my co-enthusiasts. (This is one of those rare moments where I feel I need to thank Facebook in keeping me connected with the revelers scattered all over the planet, albeit sometimes at the expense of the uninterested getting spammed, to discuss, argue and celebrate)


The thing about football/soccer, it is not about individuals, it is about a nation, any nation, and them coming together with all others on the greatest platform that is there. There are 193 countries that are the members of the United Nations (UN), and the International Federation of Association Football, better known as FIFA, has 209 countries today. I have learned names of new countries from this sport, and I have learned of their plights, their everyday struggles and of their prides from this sport. This is one sport where there is no inequality, no judgement but the spirit and the skill of the game. I don't care if the origins of the sport is European, today the sport is owned by the world.

Coming from a country where cricket is touted as the best sport, and a country that is divided (as it is united) by barriers of regionalism (or languages), I cannot emphasize enough on the beauty of this sport that cannot stand simply on the shoulders of one individual, albeit a great one. Messi cannot be the glorious Messi we know all by himself, if there were no team members that set him up, or let him be at his best. It's not often that one player can shoulder a whole team forward. Football can be played by one great player, but it is beautiful when played by eleven not-so-great individuals playing to and playing for each others' strengths, and playing together. To me it's a lesson in basic humanity, the strength in numbers, the strength in unity.

But even without becoming philosophical about the sport, it is wondrous that how simple the game actually is. With only 17 major rules, it is one of the easiest sports to follow, even if it is not the easiest to play. It is indeed, as simple as the metric system. The game is addictive. Like every other sport, it has its boring matches, but it can be fast-paced, exciting and thrilling as well. Yes, there are matches which are scoreless, but the score doesn't always say the whole story. Spouting philosophy again, but it's always about the journey, never only the destination.

Maybe girls and boys can play the sport together, it only helps to bring forth the divides that this sport has managed to transcend. This sport is not played for 'justice', but for equality, for amicability. Of course, there will always be the joy of winning, the urge for winning but it won't take away the glory of playing together without any barriers. And then there are the upsets, Senegal beating France (2002), Ghana upsetting the Americans (2010) and scaring the Germans (2014), Costa Rica emerging victorious after being written off (2014), Brazil/Argentina, two impoverished states, being the fore-runners.

Again, I am from Calcutta/Kolkata. I inherited the love for football by tradition, and maybe took that love to the more exciting level of obsession. But there are worse things to learn, or to be obsessed about. With the World Cup 2014 being held in Brazil now, and being in America where people are beginning to get interested in the sport, not least due to their own team doing marvelously, I find it strange that some sects find it difficult to participate in the global joy of the game, only because it's not just theirs.

On a different note, one of my hopes (I have very simple wants in life!) is that India will play the World Cup in my lifetime, or at least have a team worthy of competing at the international level with all the biggies (currently we are ranking 154!). I don't know what that will do to my blood pressure levels, which already sky rocketed marvelously with Brazil going into penalty shoot-out with Chile last Saturday in the Round of 16 - and Brazil is not even my country! And of course, I will cheer for India against Messi or Brazil or Italy- hoping against hope!

The newly conceived Indian Super League gives me the hope that may be in another decade (or maybe longer) we will be able to have a proper team of eleven talented players (which shouldn't be too hard from a pool of over a billion people) who will play for the glory, the love of the game and be compensated for it too (something that primarily happened only to cricketers in our country). Of course, Kolkata was the most sought after team which is now owned in part by Sourav Ganguly (who interestingly was initially a footballer before he went on to become one of the best Indian cricket captains) and by Athletico Madrid. If I had known about this ownership, I'd have supported Athletico Madrid against Real Madrid in the Champions League Finals earlier this year! Anyway, it seems the Kolkata team is going to called Atlético de Kolkata. Funny but exciting! Of course, the other sought after teams are the states that are similarly enthusiastic about football, the North-East, Goa and Kerala. The remaining teams are Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore, which makes it look like that the whole country might be gearing up for league football.

As for the ongoing FIFA World Cup, the Round of 16 just completed yesterday and the teams that are in the quarter finals are Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands, France, Germany, Costa Rica, Argentina and Belgium. None of them had it easy. Experience gave them an edge but they had to fight tooth and nail with the younger teams to earn (convincingly or no) their places in the quarters. So, today is an off day for football and I am already suffering from the withdrawal symptoms of adrenaline. Football is like having an addiction - it is not easy to juggle day-to-day life, work and the matches together, but not having the matches to look forward to is worse. But we are still in the middle of the season, and the tournament in not over yet. So, at least all the heated discussions, the angry conversations and the passionate arguments are still on!

I am rooting for Brazil, as usual, or at least a Brazil-Argentina final (or even a third place match)... Who are you rooting for?



N.B. For reference, look up a certain American columnist, Ann Coulter's article on how American interest in soccer, moral decay, the metric system and true Americans (versus, immigrants) are inter-related. Pardon my reluctance to post the link here. ~G.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Unbridled

It will hurt, it will ache
And you'll think, that you will break.
It will smart, it will mock,
Like your world is balanced on a rock.
You'll think, and will think again
Thinking what could be done
To make it all undone-
And start it all from a scratch.
But you know nothing will change,
Nothing will be different-
Even if it was done all over again.
For people are, what people will be.
Uncaring, selfish, and wielding self pity.
Liars, and uncouth, and destroyers of faith.



P.S. This is a very constructive way to channel anger, wouldn't you agree? ~G.

Friday, May 30, 2014

To My Cherished

I would love you unto death,
Like I have loved you in life.

I loved,
Breathing, asphyxiated or barely gasping
The life within of my soul, with its beating frantic heart
There was no end, nor a beginning to the tale of circles
It went away and it came back, but always to you

I loved like a madman,
Like a nomad in search for home
Like the dry earth that opened up to the skies
In thirst, in love and in expectant joy.
I loved like I have no tomorrow,
Like you'll never be mine...
Like it's this moment that is my lifetime.
I have loved without boundaries
Without judging, without wrongs or the rights

I loved when there was nothing for me
Or when I was all that was left for you.
In moments when you had the world, in its glory and all
In the suspended time in space, when we belonged
It was there in despair,
In joy and celebrations,
It was there in successes, in losses
And in the mere days of mundane.
It lived and grew, and spread its wings
For you, in happiness, in songs, in words
And even in melancholy, it rings.
It was there, when you weren't
It will be there even if I wasn't.

I would love you unto death,
Like I have loved you in life,
But I will walk away if I have to,
For I have loved, in truth and across time.



P.S. This would have been an ode that I would have written in a small wrinkled piece of paper, with a quill dipped in bright ink, in the light of my oil lamp, to woo and convince my damsel of my love, and my good intentions.  ~G.

P.P.S. Re-reading it after publishing... and I am thinking, romance and love is just not my thing. I am better off spouting philosophy! Sigh! ~Guria

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cast Aside

Lost in an ocean of misery
Travelers, dark and dreary
Friends, who were friends no more-
With only sailors,
Sailing in the same boat.
Of need and usefulness,
That was of use no more;
Cast aside and forgotten,
A cheap shell, washed ashore.
Told to get lost and never come back-
Of diminished importance, and courtesies that lack
You are a nobody, and nobody cares.
No glitter, no sparkle says no gold in there.



P.S. In general, people amaze me. But their treatment of others (and their friends) flabbergast me. Sometimes in a good way and sometimes, in not-so-good ways. This is one of those latter times, when realization of the presence (if not the reason) of such behavior baffled me... And as always it makes me wonder, would they do what they do if they knew, or understood, what is it they are actually doing? My faith in humankind, says no, they wouldn't. But my cynicism just smirks... Well, it is a question for another day. Keep reading (and trying to decipher) poetry. ~Love, G.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to You

It's been a while since I wrote in here,
I was too worried about heartbreak
To remember to care,
That the heart was breaking elsewhere.
Never occurred to the git
Submerged in her own selfish despair
All the while, while the happiness
Blinked, breathed and stuck through.
Right next to you.
I forgot about love,
The one that comes, holds and stays-
The one that whispers,
You are worth every bit and more
I am here, always and always, am I not?
I forgot about you,
The promise unconditional,
I forgot to remember
Why I never felt alone-
I forgot in my selfish adventure
The reason I was here.



P.S. Between the time changes, and the changing of continents, sometimes we forget those, the ones who have stuck through and through out with us, and even laughed, when we have taken them for granted from time to time. This is to one such person who holds my heart. Happy Anniversary, darling! ~ G.

Friday, November 1, 2013

102°F

Tinkling shards of glasses
Strewn over the black asphalt
Gleaming red, as it catches
The moonbeam errant and bright
The scars shined black
Still dripping at the sides
The ache in the body
Manifested and magnified
The fever roared high and strong
As the body struggled to cope
With the mind in chaos
And the heart that broke
I am happy, or may be I am sad
Being human held no joy
Or may be it is just, that feeling too much
Today I have simply have gone mad



N.B. There's a madness in me (as in everyone else) that I respect and fear. Unleashing it gives me a little respite from the burning. And fever tends to make my sensibilities get overridden, and it lets loose more easily. A couple of weeks earlier when this happened, it was the flu, apparently. Also, no punctuation marks- eloquence needed freedom- as did interpretation. G.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mistakes!

Right thing is always not the nice thing
The wrong thing is rather tempting.

Make the mistakes, I say
Even when you know it's one
You cannot know for sure
If it really really was such, unless
You have done and seen it beyond.

I'd stick to the not-so-right
Toeing the line,
Saying, it ain't right
But no one said-
It all be wrong either.

So here I go-
Brushing shoulders with the Devil
Making deals that's neva' gonna hold
All for a joyride, a jump from the cliff
A path not taken, by the smart and the bold
All for learning,
As I hit rock bottom-
It was a mistake after all.



P.S. One episode of "How I Met Your Mother" inspired this one- Lily and Ted have this conversation about why to make mistake even though you know it's a mistake, so that never in your life will you have to wonder whether it was actually going to be a mistake! Whew! All this weird not-really-a-poetry poetry keeps my blog and my on-and-off writing skills afloat. ~G.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Grey Skies

The clouds gather, like warriors in steel,
Dark and dreary? All geared for battle!

I stop, to stare and wonder
Behold the dark and gloomy
The laden grey skies-
Of impending thunders,
Of lightnings, and powerful rains.
And wonder yet again,
The beauty the dull can bring-
Ne'er a brighter green,
Ne'er a more startling white,
Against the backdrop of grey
It is another one of those,
Another my kind of day!



P.S. It is a part of the 'weird me', that I love the grey skies, and every time it makes me happy- thinking of the rains it is going to bring. And that feeling I have that it is takes dull grey to make the world come alive, as it enhances in its own unique way every beautiful feature, every bright color, which the sun in all its glory, suffusing the world golden, cannot accomplish. Isn't it on a dull grey day that you feel like lounging by your window and just staring beyond?