There is something about the Football World Cup. The fact that it comes once every 4 years adds to the charm. Well, so does the Cricket World Cup, many would say! Guess, the advent of T20 and hence a T20 World Cup once every 2 years besides the Champions Trophy where all the big teams battle it out again has taken away some charm out of the quadrennial tournament. Euro is not quite the World Cup and I rarely follow Club matches. And all this makes the FIFA World Cup all the more interesting for me. As every 4 years, I reflect on how my life has changed from the last one. And when you do that, you are pleasantly surprised at the magnitude of changes, of new people who have become a part of your journey, of new responsibilities, of how you have changed as a person. No one can judge the transition better than you as you are the constant. Your world changes every 4 years. And no better milestone to look back at your own life than this quadrennial showpiece!
Mine has been one spanning across the nooks and corners of the country. Every 4 years, I have found myself in a new city, a new state.
Being an 83 born guy, I can say that I started seriously watching it from the 1994 World Cup. Appa being a big sports buff and having played Football at the professional level did fuel my interest. I distinctly remember the Roberto Baggio penalty miss at the 94 World Cup. That memory has stayed with me over the last 2 decades. If I were to summarize my world then, it would read something like the below
1994 World Cup for me - Nazira, Assam - 11 year old - Settling into KV ecosystem from Apeejay days in Mumbai - Appa and me - Roberto Baggio miss - ONGC colony by the river bed - Cycling to school with my sister - Attending lot of official Malayalee Samajam get togethers in Officers Club - Visiting family friends at their homes and staying back for dinner - Expecting family friends at home and playing with their kids till Amma hollers for dinner - Playing Cricket matches with rival groups - Loads of fun
Life moved on. Fast forward by 4 years. We moved to Bharuch, Gujarat from Assam as Appa got transferred. 1998 World Cup was immediately after the 10th Boards got over. I remember being mighty relieved at the thought of watching the games without the baggage of Board exams. Had a cousin staying with us, so it was Appa, me and him grouping up for the matches. In hindsight, this was 3 years before the two most turbulent years Gujarat would witness.
1998 World Cup for me - Bharuch, Gujarat - 15 year old - Shifted to Gujarat Board from Central Board - Appa, me and my cousin, Sreeji - Zidane magic - staying in our own home in Bharuch - mini Kerala of sorts with the entire neighbourhood from the state - Sad on moving into the more serious end of school days, the Science stream for 12th Boards
Fast forward by 4 years. Moved out of home for the first time to pursue Engineering. Well, hello Hostel life! Came back home for vacations in time for the World Cup. Saw a different Gujarat this time around. All charred up. Desperately trying to get back on its knees again. If the Earthquake the previous year was not enough. Never seen so much police on the roads in my life. Never travelled in a train with no more than a bunch of people in the compartment. To be told that the shop from where you bought clothes last year has been razed down by a mob. That feeling. Eerie! That memory completely overshadowed the Cup memories.
2002 World Cup for me - Ichalkaranji, Maharashtra - 19 year old - Trying to make sense of the circuits - Staying on my own and managing with the pocket money that Appa would send in every month - Standing in a long queue for the cashier to hand over cash - Waiting downstairs close to the landline phone at the hostel anticipating a call from home - Fellow batchmates cum hostelites who became family - Memories of a charred and bruised city - Lot of negative vibes and enemity amongst communities all around the city - Holing up at home during vacations all the time without going out - That Ronaldinho free kick versus England!
Fast forward by 4 years. Finally decided that Engineering was not what interested me. Marketing/Advertising did. Took a shot at management. CAT followed. Ended up in Delhi. Life without Television. Followed much of the proceedings online. Not quite as exciting as the previous editions. Assignments and Tests took most of the time. And Italy won!
2006 World Cup for me - New Delhi - 23 year old - Buried under a heap of assignments, assessments, projects and internals - Life without the idiot box - catching a couple of matches here and there - Ragging juniors - Interviewing juniors for Student Clubs - Bracing up for final placements later in the year - Uncertain where life would take me - Zidane headbutt!
Time flew. Started working. First job with Idea. What an Idea, Sirji days followed. Bombay happened again as I got my final posting at the Corporate office. Celebrated my 25th B'day. Discovered my love for Digital and got lucky to get that profile. A boss who was more of a friend. Fabulous years at work followed. Memorable campaigns followed as well. Moved up the ladder. Wonderful time with lot of friends around. Memorable World Cup.
2010 World Cup for me - Ghatkopar, Mumbai - 27 year old - What an Idea - Mahindra Park - Friends - Digital Marketing - Sitting blank by the sea with Naishy & Tapo - Watching movies in theatre every weekend - Salary hitting the bank a/c every month - Chinese food every alternate day - Germany dazzling at the start to fizzle out later - Spain and Villa!
2014! Four years from the time Spain lifted the trophy, I find myself in a new city. Bangalore. Working for a new company. The King of Good Times. A lot has happened in these 4 years. So many memories already. Getting a car for family in Kerala. Getting a bloody big screen LCD for dad to watch matches like a king. Marrying my best friend. Making holiday plans with her. Paying EMI's for our first home togehter. Having an awesome extended family in her family. Building up to sisters marriage. Pulling her leg in the days leading to the same. Discussing investments with Appa. Suggesting medical alternatives to Amma. Acting like a 31 year old should. My family and wife would beg to differ on that perhaps. Am yet to attain maturity, they complain!
My world changes every 4 years. And World Cup is a time when I sit back and reflect on all things gone by. And that's where the charm of this quadrennial event lies. It makes you go back in time and that is a wonderful feeling. May the best team win!