Sunday, May 20, 2012

Of Reds and Blues

So, I finally reserved the TV for a while. As I hadn't checked the correct time of the match, I asked one of my closest friends, G, who told me that the match would start at 10. As I was having my dinner late, I watched TV then, instead of reading a book like I usually do.

10 was at last, and I switch channels eagerly, and what do I see? Three men in a bar. Four men, actually, with plenty more people in the background. It was this Extraa Innings kinda thing from some sports bar in Delhi. (The TV was on mute (who but me would stay awake to watch a football match???), so I have no idea what they were talking, then and later too...)It was only when I called G again and screamed at him that instead of players, there were some other people chatting away, and he told me the match would start after 11:30, given the time difference.

It was 00:15 when the match finally started. Interruptions prevented me from getting the teams into my head. Two minutes into the match, my phone rang. It was G. We had a long chat for almost 20 minutes, before deciding to take a break for a couple of minutes before the next score update. (while I continued grumbling to him that no one was scoring). A couple of minutes, we were back, talking of this and that, discussing mutual friends, our teams for the Euros, who we had on our fantasy teams; all as background to the walking commentary of the match I was giving him (talking about a friend, suddenly shouting (if you call it that, given I didn't want to disturb the others who were asleep), "Wait,one minute.... Oh, he misses yet again", and then pauses of silence while I was staring at the TV screen - I don't think these actually constitute a running commentary).

Half-time came and I went to refill my bottle. G&I were on a call just before the second half started, and for a couple of minutes, our exchanges were limited to, "So, like I said, I'll be there next week. Has the second half started?", "No, some ad is being aired", "And so, I really want to watch this movie in Imax. Have the players come?, "No, yet another ad", and finally, I could tell him, "The players are coming out"

I felt I should give G a break, and so I told him that I'd call back in ten minutes, before that if there was a goal. It was with a start that more than fifteen minutes had passed since I said that, and so I called him to say that the score hadn't changed, the first thing he says is, "So, who scored now?" I had no choice but to fill him in on the fact that though there were attempts, none had materialized into a goal.

It was finally at the 83rd minute that I could give him the update he'd been waiting for - Bayern Munich scores. I'd just been telling him that it seemed to me that Bayern seemed to usually score only at the last minute (like they did against Madrid, when it was literally a last minute goal!), when this happened. G told me, "The next few minutes are really crucial. Follow it closely", and just as we expected, the equalizer came at the 88th minute.

By then, I'd started feeling sleepy, and G talked me into staying awake for a while, and watching the extra-time. He told me that the match would probably end soon, and I could happily go to bed. But Fate, it seemed, had other ideas. I watched the first half of the extra-time sitting almost at the edge of my chair, waiting for a goal that never came. The second half seemed to be going the same way, and I'd started dozing, when G roused me yet again and sternly reprimanded me for falling asleep. So I shook myself awake, and the commentary started again.

The penalty shoot-out started, and I kept up a live commentary of the happenings. G started a chant, "please score, please score" and kept it up while the Munich players took their turns. When I told him that Nueur had stepped up to take his turn, G was on tenterhooks till I told him he'd scored. He then passed a remark on how even goalkeepers could take penalty shots and asked me about the Madrid fiasco, before getting back to "Who's taking it for Chelsea?". A couple of times, I had to tell him, "Hey, wait, at least until the player comes forward, then I'll tell you." He got tense when I mentioned that Lampard was taking a shot, and his tension increased when Nueur failed to save. He kept lamenting Ribéry's absence, and went off on an edge when Olic's shot was saved, and so was Schweinsteiger's. When I told him Drogba was taking a shot, he again started his chanting, this time saying "Don't score, don't score", I reminded him that this was how he'd jinxed Munich's chances, he altered it to "Please score, please score". I warned him to be careful in what he was wishing for, as it might come true any time. And just as I finish saying this, Drogba's on the ground - his shot was cleared, and the Blues had won.

It was with a heavy heart that G bade me goodnight. I finally went to bed around 3:15 A.M. (after thinking for a while whether it was pointless to go to sleep when I'd be up in a couple of hours, I decided I should catch up on sleep, if only to give my eyes a much-needed rest)

I'd watched the match as a neutral, with my team having lost out to Bayern in the semis. And I thought I'd provide some moral support to G as he rooted for Bayern.

(In the morning, I'd had a "sign" that Chelsea would be winning - I'd just started reading a novel, and there, on the first page, in the second line was a name. A. My friend with that name is a Chelsea fan. And so, I took it to be a sign. Also, the Chelsea mug I'd gotten for another friend kept looming into my mind at times (I usually prefer my own Real Madrid mug). But I did hope that G would get his wish.)

Anyway, there is the Euro to look forward to. And I don't know if I'll be fighting with G this time round - we usually have Clasicos of our own when there are other Clasicos being played in Europe. Plus, he has listed my team as one of the teams he's rooting for. But who knows? During the World Cup, we finally ended up on opposite sides in the finals...

Looking forward to see what the future holds in store...

And before I leave, Happy Birthday, Iker. Feliz cumpleanos! :)

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