While the rest of the world enjoys the World Cup, for Diary it’s just work, work, work, work, work, work. What with the deadlines and all, it’s a bit of a Drake really. Sorry, drag. (Diary is weary.) As fans make merry and guzzle their beer — paying a premium for FIFA’s beverage partner — the scribes peer at their screens, trying every new angle to score a point over their rivals.
Fred and Sam, two brothers from Brasilia, are all cheerful ahead of Brazil’s quarterfinal, confident of seeing their team through to the semifinals. They create a frenzy, egging on their quieter compatriots to make some noise as they patiently await their turn to enter the stadium.
Kazan — the graveyard of seeds much like Wimbledon’s No. 2 Court — had already accounted for Germany and Argentina, and, alas, Brazil too failed to break the curse. Though teary-eyed, the fans, however, don’t forget their civic duties and collect the drinking cups and other waste in a garbage bag as they reluctantly make their way out of the stadium.
The early morning flights and dead-of-night trains have left Diary a little sleep-deprived and, naturally, a little more cranky than usual. The journey from Kazan to Samara, of around 400km, however, was done by road, with the lovely Alvina behind the wheel. Her faint grasp of the English language was compensated by her enthusiasm, and much points were won when she bought the three weary passengers some ice cream at the gas station. The Kazan resident has been to Delhi and Bengaluru as a part of a cultural exchange programme and still shudders at the memory of the traffic and pollution in our national capital.
The drive was picturesque, with the road meandering along the Volga river, and the sights and sounds of the Russian countryside would have filled many pages were it not for the slight impediment of Diary dozing off in the back seat. Sheepishly waking up a few hours later, he finds his two journey mates passed out, with only the cabbie soldiering on.
Sunny Samara produced a damp squib as England and Sweden produced a dreary game with neither team showing much urgency to play football. Ninety minutes of monotonous passing and two headed goals settled this game in England’s favour, but nobody left the ground pleased.
With his work done, Diary decided to sneak on to the playing pitch and watch the Russia-Croatia match, going on in Sochi, on the giant screen with the hard-working FIFA volunteers. Russia’s early strike created much joy, though things became a little subdued thereafter. The thrill of walking on a World Cup pitch, hours after a quarterfinal game, made Diary really happy. And he directed a few choice curses at the securitymen at Eden Gardens back home, who guard the turf — game or no game — as if it were a field of gold.
If only the pot-bellied Calcutta Police were a little lenient, Diary could have run a few singles. But, here, in faraway Russia, he had his way posing in the English dugout, imagining dictating the play.
The daydreaming, however, was annoyingly short-lived as another early morning flight beckoned.
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