December 20, 2010

The Calcutta Derby

Few weeks ago, my friends on social networking sites had become Spanish. All through the day I got status updates which spoke about El Classico. It was slightly funny. As if all of them lived their lives in Madrid. It’s ok to follow any football league; it’s another to put up status messages about some random match in some random country. I had anyway given up on fat ManU fans and skinny arsenal warriors. The EPL I understand can have a socio cultural reason; the Brits taught us the game! But come on, The Spanish League?

And that day I decided to write a post, a post about an idiot, a staunch supporter of a football club I hate, my oldest friend, my partner from the gang of the last remaining North Calcuttans.

When we were in school, the only football we discussed apart from the World Cup were the Calcutta Legaue, IFA Shield, Durand Cup, Fed Cup and a few other tournaments which we followed with our radios and newspapers. I still remembered in the early 90s, when Mohun Bagan signed Chima as the first foreigner, I was really really upset. Then when we whisked away Krishanu De and Bikash Panji from under their noses during the transfer season, I had done a little jig in the Tiffin Break while he refused to speak to me for a week. As if I had betrayed him.

The Calcutta Derby is perhaps the slowest game of football that is being played today. When I watch it on TV, I can see the reason why any other football league is preferred by my friends. But still some of the bongs never fail to turn up in Yuvabharati carrying their Hilsa or the Lobster depending on whom they support. But things have changed.

The Barettos, Muritala and Chidi dominate the teams; we have not only lost our football but our footballers too. Even the coaches, Naim or Diamond Dutta are no longer the toast of the Calcutta giants.

The passion has definitely come down. Goa and Kerala have perhaps got out even better football teams in the recent years than Calcutta. We have lost Md. Sporting and Tollygunj Agragami and have just added Chirag. But then Indian Football has lost Mahindras. All in all, we are not hep and happening any more. It’s like Jatras of Bengal. If a kid can watch Tron, why will he watch “patir punne satir punno”? (In the good deeds of the husband is the good deed of the devout wife)

So the main reason I am writing this is because I have lost the passion myself. It doesn’t matter to me anymore if the news channel reports that Bagan has held Dempo to a draw and not the other way round but if the Calcutta Derby comes up, I never miss a chance to call up and claim that this time we will give them a 5-0 drubbing. But he has remained true. He follows the team, ensures he is at the matches and celebrates the wins, whenever that happens.

But I think one day we will get back our football and then we will continue to fight over who wins the Calcutta Derby but with more pride than El Classico!

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