Previous World Cups Revisited – Part 2

I remember quite a few things about the 2002 World Cup, the first to be held on Asian soil. And fittingly Japan was one of the nations that co-hosted the tournament along with South Korea. Shock of the tournament was defending champions France losing in the opening match to Senegal. Yes….to Senegal! Even more shocking they were eliminated at the group stage itself as they drew their next game against Uruguay and then lost to Denmark with the dubious dishonour of being chucked out of the world cup without even scoring a single goal!

The final saw Brazil win 2-0 over Germany – a match I watched in Trivandrum with a cousin who had traveled with me while we were staying at another cousin’s house along with some of the latter’s friends. We had whiskey, porottas and lamb curry with goat brains and fried eggs! But what I most remember of this particular World cup was the going to Calicut early in the morning with another cousin and our uncle to attend yet another uncle’s housewarming. On the way we pass through Malappuram as well and the entire district had football & world cup decorations, hoardings & posters all over the streets as well as effigies of famous players! Flags of Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Spain were all over the place as well. The same thing could be seen in the city of Calicut as well. After lunch at my uncle’s house a huge gathering of older folks – men & women in their 60s & 70s watched the Brazil vs England quarterfinal match and they were very knowledgeable about the game & players as well. That was a huge & pleasant surprise for me and my cousin as we don’t get to see that in the rest of the state.

Also that same world cup, I was watching a lot of games at my uncle’s house – just 2 houses next to where I lived back then – and my grandmother would join us in the afternoon and evenings to sit with us as we watched some of the matches. She was on medication (as well as being unwell she had also just lost a son less than a year ago) and liked sitting with us. It was fun and we would joke with her just to keep  her in high spirits. That is a cherished memory that I am unlikely to ever forget.

2006 World cup held in Germany. The 18th World Cup was the least I had seen of a World Cup tournament since I was old enough to star watching the matches live. The reason is simple enough, work stood in the way and especially when I had a mix of day and night shifts. Still I did manage to watch quite a  few games.

2010 was also a blur, mainly because I would be working most of the time that the games were on tv. I caught a few moments of the games at the office and some matches I would watch at home. I mostly remember not enjoying them too much as there was pressure at the office and I was concentrating mostly on that. I remember feeling mostly bored at some of the games and I cannot remember wanting a final to just end. It was terrible, the worst I can remember.

2014 – I was out of work for most of the year and hence I got to watch most of the games that I wanted to watch. Favourite moment of the tournament – and favourite of all time – is Germany thrashing Brazil (those eternal crybabies) 7-1. I so enjoyed that. In the final I didn’t mind who won for the first time ever. But – although the channel showing us the games did a great job in creating a long and entertaining tournament filled with experts of the games giving us their opinions and analysis, they did goof up by using typical Bollywood celebs and hosts.

Previous World Cups Revisited – Part 1

1982 – there’s not much that I remember about those years because I was a very young lad of not yet 6 when that world cup was played. I don’t think I watched more than the final between Italy & West Germany and do not remember anything of it. I do remember my sister saying that after Kuwait’s (which is where I was born and where my family & I were living at the time) national side qualified for the World Cup in Spain (their first and only appearance in a wold cup tournament) there was a huge celebration all over the streets of the tiny nation.

I remember her telling me that there were people all over the streets throwing confetti and shouting happy slogans and that the cars found it hard to get through traffic because of the crowds. Image if they have won! for me, the big thing about the 1982 Espana World Cup is the fact that the nation where I was born & lived in for 11 years qualified, played 3 games (lost 2 and drew 1) and also had a controversial moment!

Mexico 1986. For many football fans this was the most memorable World Cup ever, even for me. I was about to turn 10 when the tournament started and didn’t watch many live games. However us kids would watch some highlights and results every evening and discuss games and goals in school and later in the day with friends as we gathered in our building. The world went crazy for Argentina and a midfield maestro named Diego Armando Maradona, who was all over the news, newspapers and tv – I remember that Toyota in particular had ads with him as a brand ambassador that was shown so often on Kuwaiti tv.

Documented in a popular film, I and my cousins relived Mexico 86 for a couple of summers afterwards. One last thing, back in Kuwait in 1986 a chewing gum company (can’t remember which one) had a project for football fans. You could buy a book from them in which all the competing nations were entered and empty slots kept for each squad member. For each pack of the chewing gum you bought, you would get a small pack of 5 stickers on which you’d have the profile photo of a player in the Wold Cup. So one pack of gum gave you 5 player stickers and you had to fill the entire book with all the players – for which the company would give you a large prize. I managed to finish a little over half by the end of the tournament but still have the book for a long time.

My first World Cup once back home in India was Italia 1990. I had just started my 9th standard (grade) in school and 2 weeks in the World Cup started. We even had to write an essay about the World Cup in English class! At age 14 I was able to get permission from my parents to stay up late and watch the late night matches even on school nights. And yes this was the first world cup that I watched most of till then. My favourites were ofcourse Argentina and I was supporting and cheering for them until the very end. I remember watching the final with a cousin of mine, just a little while after the 1990 Wimbledon men’s final.

1994 was a bad year for me personally and I was literally in tears lying on a bed in the bedroom downstairs at my old home while watching the games every day during the USA World Cup. Held in 9 cities over the country, the World Cup was a huge blur for me, even though I watch almost all the matches, uptill the semifinals when I finally cheered up. But the biggest & saddest shock of this world cup – and I think it is the saddest ever – was the death of Columbian defender Andres Escobar. In the group stage match against the United States, he scored an own goal that eliminated his team. Escobar was shot to death outside a bar in a Medellín suburb only ten days later, apparently in retaliation for the own goal. As the insane idiot shot at him, he yelled “goal”,”goal” with every bullet shot! Such a tragic story.

The 1998 world cup was another really memorable and enjoyable one for me. Perhaps no other world cup was an enjoyable and as exciting for me personally. I was 21, not yet 22, studying at NIIT and despite most of the matches ending late at night, like 1am-2am, I would watch all of them and get up at 5 am 4 days in a week to get to the 7 am class at NIIT. Me and the other guys would be in class, eyes red as hell and guzzling down loads of hot black coffee to stay awake while the ladies looked at us as if we were insane. Once the classroom and lab sessions were over (usually at around 11 am) we would spend the next 2 & a 1/2 hours discussing the matches that we had seen the previous night. At 1:30 pm we would leave for lunch and head back home.

Summer After High School

What did you do the summer after high school?

So for me the summer after high school was 1992 after my 10th grade after which I went for my 11th & 12th in a college as part of a pre-degree course.

I wanted to stay in at home or go out with my cousins. But I started missing my buddies really badly in a few days. I joined a 2 month basic computer course in DataPro. I was restless and needed something to keep me occupied and make new friends as well. Besides it was only a couple of hours a day, 4 days a week. So this 2 month course at DataPro seemed like a good option and I had fun there. I got fascinated by computers as well and during my lab hours I would try to make colourful images on MsPaint. Remember that this was back in the Windows 3.x years.

I remember these two very gorgeous girls who were in my classes at Datapro. Their names were Zeena and Geena D’Couto and they were fraternal twins. And my eye was on Zeena but Geena was hot too. I spent much time with them and in the afternoons I would go to the record store nearby and go through the various album releases and check out some of the music at the store. Ofcourse I also went to various places visiting relatives. Those were good times.

Prompt from 30 DAYS OF WRITING PROMPTS FOR JUNE at The SitsGirls

Blast From The Past – Revisited Post

Write about a first kiss.

I studied in Carmel school, Kuwait at the time and they had a strict policy about the ratio of girls to guys. I remember that it was about 11 of us jokers against 35 or so girls! I was in the 4th grade. I sat next to, what I thought much later to be, two of the most cutest girls I have ever met. On my right sat Asma, who was this sweet but naughty Gujarathi girl. And on my left sat Michelle.

Michelle was Filipino and she was so cute. Thick curly hair, doll like fair skinned face and she had eyes that made you want to cry. Now, I am basing this mostly on the photos I saw of her much later, the ones I found about 10 years ago, long after I last saw her in person. Anyways, Michelle was the quietest girl in the school. She pretty much kept to herself and was so quite that sometimes the teachers forgot that she was even there.

Well, once she was ill and had to stay at home on a day that we were given a big homework to do. I remember that it was in Arts & Crafts (why did they have such a subject in school like that, I will never know). So Michelle didn’t do the work since she wasn’t there when it was assigned. The next day, our teacher was coming to each kid and checking the homework and when it came to Michelle – ofcourse she couldn’t submit it since she hadn’t done it.

Now Michelle was so silent & scared that she couldn’t even tell the teacher that she had been absent the previous day. The teacher scolded her loudly and gave her extra homework to present the next day. I wanted to say something in defense of Michelle but…you know how boys are at that age. So Michelle started crying, very quietly I might add, and it was getting to me. I must have said something like “stop crying or I’m getting drenched over here” or something. But she kept on crying. The bell rang and we all headed back to our buses.

Suddenly I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle and I rushed back to get it from the classroom. There sat Michelle, all alone, crying her little heart out. I was sad to see that and worried that she would miss her bus. So I went to her and pleaded with her to stop crying and get into her bus. She kept on sobbing. So I….picked her up, wiped her tears and told her that I would walk her to her bus if she only would stop bawling away.

That stopped her and she said ‘ok’ and off we went. We go onto our respective buses and went home. The next day, she smiled at me and gave me a small toy (I can’t remember what it was). And when no one was around, she said ‘I love you’ and kissed me! On the lips. One big smack! And I said ‘ok’!

I sat next to her for another two months and then it was summer vacations. The next school year, I had to move to another school (since boys were only allowed till the 4th grade in Carmel school) and I never saw Michelle again. But she is a part of my childhood no matter what else I will ever do in my life.

Prompt from 365 Blog Post Ideas and Writing Prompts at See Jane Write

When You Were Nine Years Old….

When I were nine years old….

Hmm let’s see. I am 41 years old now, so 1985-86 is when I was years old (born in August). What was I upto?

Watching a lot of cartoons – Tom & Jerry, Loony Tunes, Droopy, Flintsones, etc etc the good stuff – and playing a lot of games with my friends. Most of my close friends lived in the same building as me. I had a few friends from school who I met outside of school and we played football in a small ground near my building.

I went to Carmel School, Kuwait which was predominantly girls (each class I was in, I was one of 10-12 boys and there would be 30 girls). My family had weekend nights planned out in a simple manner – KFC or Shawarma with kuboos and hummus and a movie or two. Simple life!

Prompt from 31 DAYS OF WRITING PROMPTS FOR MAY at The SitsGirls

Kid’s Books

What were your three favorite children’s books when you were a kid?

Hmmm, I read a lot of comics as a kid. I read a lot period throughout my childhood uptil the age of 30-32 I guess. And that stopped because of broadband internet and especially Youtube taking over my life. But if I were to look back and see which were my favourite books:

  1. Huckelberry Finn
  2. Gulliver’s Travels
  3. Robinson Crusoe

I am not sure that you can qualify them as children’s books but I alliance and leicester loans read the illustrated versions of these books by the age of 10 and I loved them all.

Prompt from 30 DAYS OF APRIL WRITING PROMPTS at the SitsGirls

When I Moved

Write a post inspired by this word: moving

Back in September 2006 my folks and I vacated our home in Thrikkakara and move to this apartment in the city, we were busy packing up stuff to be moved to the new place. What we weren’t be able to squeeze into the apartment (hey, we had been piling up junk from the early 1980’s; stuff which fits in a big house but will not fit into a 3 bedroom flat), we stored some stuff in an uncle’s house & in my maternal grandma’s place. A whole bunch of newspapers, papers, magazine stuff, cards, letters & wrappers were found and dumped in the backyard to burn. I saw the burning going on and soon added a whole pile of my shit into the fire and further fanned the flames. I saw some old cards & books from lost loves, even some porno and other sort of stuff that I dumped into the fire pit.

I felt like my old life was being closed right before my eyes; chapters of my life being destroyed as the flames turned it into ashes. It felt like the end of an era & the beginning of one. The old one had a lot of fun and a lot of tears & heartaches behind it. And as the fire died down,only black.grey ashes remained. Is that symbolic? Is life as I knew it been changed to this….ashes?  The massive changeover took place and my folks and I moved from our home of 19 years (we completed the house in 1985 but only started living there permanently from 1987; until then it was a summer vacation house while we were based in Kuwait). I have so many fond memories of the house in Thrikkakara, which, the current owners, made a lot of changes to including building a separate wing itself and demolishing a wall between two room to make one really large room.

We moved in and boy what a shocker! A major goof up happened by the workers and the walls ended up being painted a sick looking pink! Imagine a 100 people threw up bottles of liquid Gelusin in the rooms and you will get the picture! I still giggle when I think of it. We later had it painted a light blue.

My 21st Was 21 Years Ago???!!

Write about your 21st birthday

1997, August 2nd. That was the day I turned 21. Seems like a lifetime ago. 20 years ago —– almost 21 years ago; man has it been that long? I had to go and check up and see what I did for my 21st birthday because I wasn’t blogging at the time. I only started blogging in 2002 and only became aware of blogs in 2000! See how useful blogs are?

1997 means I was studying at NIIT and having a really good time with the friends I made over there. This must also have been around the time that my cousins from Scotland came to stay in my grandmother’s hometown for a long summer vacation. I cannot remember if they came before or after my birthday though.

I kinda think I spent my birthday alone at home or went out for some beer. I think it’s the latter. I think my next birthday was at my grandmother’s house and we had some snacks or something. 21 was real mellow.

Prompt from See Jane Write

Dearly Departed

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about this girl from my school, Maryam, 2 years younger than me. I would like to share another incident from that time. During my 9th grade (or 9th standard as we call it) I was selected to be in a play for the school’s annual day celebrations. The play was called Dearly Departed about a grandfather whose two granddaughters think he has passed away (he is in reality only just in a deep sleep) and they and their husbands start fighting over his belongings and property. There is also a small girl in the character list, daughter of of the granddaughters.

So payday loans online direct lender no credit check I was to play the role of the grandfather and hence for most of the play I was in the sidelines, which suited me fine. I am only in for the last 1/3rd of the play when I finally wake up from my sleep and the little girl sees this and goes to tell her mother, father, aunt and uncle but they don’t pay attention to her or see him until he comes down the stairs. I see the family fighting over my stuff and blast them for it. I then go on to announce that I have met an elderly widow who I have fallen in love with and I am getting married to her and my estate will be going to her in case I die first.

The play is mostly funny but there is a scene in which one of the grandaughters, played by Maryam is supposed to check on me while I speak and hold my wrist, to check my pulse. During rehearsals it was supposed to be just a metaphoric holding of my wrist but she came and actually held my hand and I yelled out in jest “Let go of my hand woman!” to which everyone else in the play including the teachers started laughing but Maryam was embarrassed and ran away crying. My teachers admonished me (though not sternly as they were still laughing) and made me go and apologize and bring her back.

When I Worked In Sales

Have you ever worked in sales? Tell us your best story about that job!

When I started my career in the BPO industry and worked in the call center at Aspin Wall, it was all pure sales. We mostly did cold calling and it was all lower end sales like credit cards and online supermarket credit cards. The credit cards, which I did a lot during my 7 months working there, was mostly of a lower amount and it was usually to people who had been rejected for a higher value credit card.

Therefore it was quite disheartening to get rejections for sales but then it was mostly cold calls. We’d get abused, called racist terms but some were good calls. I used the name Jeff Steven but stopped after a month as twice I ran into funny calls : one women asked “isn’t that a girl’s name?” because she heard Jess and another lady heard it as Cat Stevens. We bought laughed at that one.

I then changed it to Jeremy Stevens which was much better. My favourite sales was when we did sales for Sprint PCS and I called this single mother, African-American, and she kept calling me “sir” and was desperate for three phones (all Nokia) and the plan we offered. I made that sale and was toasted as it was 3 phones in one sale.

Prompt from 31 DAYS OF MARCH WRITING PROMPTS at The SitsGirls

Maryam From My Childhood

Nostalgic musings and thoughts meandering to my teenage years and all the things I have done and been part of. And also the feelings I had around those times. I recently posted about my very first crush for a girl, two years my senior. Well let me tell you about this girl who had a sort of crush on me and who I also kinda liked.

She w equity loan interest rates as in the 7th grade when I was in the 9th grade. Her name was Maryam and she was from a Muslim family. Her parents were ultra strict with her but not with regards to religion or religious upbringing. Infact, in hindsight, her family must seem quite modern to most now. They were very strict with her studies and things like that. So they had no television and no games and no radio! This is the 1990! Her family were well off enough to afford a couple of tvs and a few radios and walkman but she and her younger sister were forbidden to have them at home.

Nothing to interfere with the wholehearted & steadfast approach to gaining the best marks in school (and I suppose college after that). If she didn’t finish 1st or 2nd in the monthly tests that we had in school, you could be sure that she would be on leave the next day. Why? Because her parents would beat her with a cane and she would fall sick and cry a lot.

Stay tuned for part 2!

That First Pull Of The Heart Strings

Write About Your First Crush

In 1989 I met this girl named Sofia who had just moved to my school. She was a class ahead of me but about 2 years older. She had fair skin, curly brown hair and she was tall. Taller than me too! But I had this magnificent crush on her. Probably my first real crush. I remember all those feelings I had for this girl. And it was love at first sight for me. I remember I had just turned 12 and I met her as she was one of the new girls in the school where boys to girls ratio was around 5:1.

I was in the 8th grade and she was in the 9th, so I was 13 and she was 15 at the time. She never talked to many folks at the school which made it hard for me to muster up the courage to go and talk to her but I got a chance when I was picked to be part of this choir / group singing thing for our school’s annual day celebrations and so for 2 months I was with her during the practice hour each day. I even managed to ask her for her number and spoke to her a few times.

Ofcourse nothing came of it and she told me that I was younger than her and so it wasn’t something she would be interested in. I wasn’t very heartbroken or anything really as she soon left the school (no idea why) and I lost touch. About 5 years later I saw her while I was waiting for the bus and shouted her name and she smiled in recognition and that was the only other time I have ever seen her. I used to have the song Street of Dreams by Rainbow as “our” song and I would play this song and imagine it was me singing to her, while she danced around me in a white sweater and a grey skirt! I remember it so well even it was almost 30 years ago!!!

Prompt from 365 Blog Post Ideas and Writing Prompts at See Jane Write

Earliest Memories

What is your earliest memory?

I can remember a couple – one might be at 3 years old or so. I am not sure exactly what happened but I think that I was playing with some other kids in the apartment building that we lived in back in Kuwait and I must have fallen down the steps or something and cut my head. I know I was bleeding and probably crying a lot and the memory I have is of me crying and falling asleep on my dad’s shoulder and he carried me and I had a Kitkat bar in my hand.

I will always keep the Kitkat as a chocolate bar of my kiddie days due to this memory but it’s not something that I feel is absolutely correct as I can see the scene as if I were watching it from an outsider’s point of view. Although, I could have been looking back at me and my dad through a mirror but I doubt it. It’s probably my recollection is slightly suspect because hey I was 3 and I am now 41.

Something that is more lucid is what I normally would say is my earliest memory and I remember it well. I was a small kid and walked into the kitchen of the little apartment where we lived. My mom was cooking dinner and I had come in specifically to ask her a question “Mummy, how old am I?” She replied that I was about to turn 4 years old!! And so my earliest clear (as crystal) memory is at the age of 4, asking my mom how old I was.

Prompt from 31 Days of January Writing Prompts at The SitsGirls

Missing Boston Video Library

Boston Video Library is one of the biggest nostalgia places for me from my mid teens to my mid 20s. The business no longer exists and while that is a sign of the times, it still remains to this day a reminder of simpler and good times. They had two branches – the first and original one was in Mattancherry, very close to my grandmother’s house. This was the place we got introduced to them. My cousins and I would go there during the summer vacations and select a couple of movies ever 2 days and watch them together during the evenings.

The second one is more special for one of my cousins and me. This branch was in a small business enclave in Convent Junction, Ernakulam meaning I didn’t have to go as far to rent movies. This branch was run by the youngest son of the business family that owned Boston Video Library but their main business was import of coir. Now, why the name Boston if they are from India, you say? Well I asked them that once and they told me that the very first international order they got was from a company in Boston and hence they named their next venture, the video housing loans india libraries, after that city.

My cousin and I would spend many hours at the Ernakulam branch as we were pally with the younger son, Paresh, who was just a few years older than us. I remember when I was ill once and restricted to my bed, I would call in advance for selecting a few movies and Paresh would get them ready for me. A driver who chauffeured my dad would pick them up for me. Same after my operation in 1997. I watched so many movies from these guys. It’s part of my childhood and my early 20s. I will always miss the stores.

VHS & VCR

Once upon a time, not so long ago we used to watch movies on VHS tapes that you insert into a VCR. Ooooh, aaah! Nostalgia unbound. I used to go to a couple in particular for many years and two other for a couple of years in between. All have closed many years ago. The two older ones I or my family had membership in was one at Abad Plaza and another at Palarivattom but I think I only went there a few times.

The other two were Boston Video Library, which had two outlets – one in Mattancherry near my grandmother’s house and where we cousins spent a lot of our summer and other holidays in and another one in Convent Junction, which is closer to my current residence and the one I used to go to more regularly as it was also closer to my old house. The second video library, which for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, was was also in Mattancherry and again within walking distance from my grandma’s house. So we would choose between these two libraries when we stayed in Mattancherry and selected a few movies every couple of days to watch as a group of cousins.

VHS has long lost it’s appeal to me. I had several movies and some tv shows on VHS which we bought as blank tapes and then recorded from Kuwaiti tv and, once we moved to India, on Indian television. Movies, tv show episodes, music videos, football matches and tennis matches as well. The odd special event like an Olympic games opening ceremony or two. I’m glad we have moved onto dvd & blu-rays as the VHS tapes seem ancient by now, bulky and bad in comparison but when it was the only option back then, it was fun.

And the dreaded VCR – oh how many VHS tapes did my old VCR eat! I had two that I remember and both were hungry at times.