Archive for the ‘Neel’ Category

Disappointing FIFA World Cup finale… but a priceless memory nevertheless

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

The match between Spain and Holland (July 11, 2010) was the only game of this year’s FIFA World Cup that I watched, and throughout the game, I couldn’t help wondering if it was worth staying awake to watch it. The desire to not miss the once-in-four-years’ spectacle got the better of me, and aided by a couple of cups of hot Milo and some digestive biscuits, I managed to get through the start-stop-yellow-card-start-stop-…game. 

I had been eagerly looking forward to the Spain/Holland game in the hope of seeing some attacking and skillful football, but to say that I ended up disappointed is an understatement.  There were, of course, some good moments and some skill on display- everytime the ball went to Robben, it seemed like something could happen; Sergio Ramos looked good and the match picked up some pace after Jesus Navas came on. Overall, though, these moments were few and far between.

Since I first got a taste of watching international football  in the 1986 episode in Mexico City, this was the first World Cup that I didn’t watch any game other than the final.  What an initiation it was— the quarter final game between France and Brazil is etched deep in my memory; the image of legends like Socrates, Zico and Platini missing penalties, in a game that just seemed to flow from one end to another; or the wonderful final between Argentina and Germany that was another see-saw battle.  As I reflect back on that game, I am reminded of my soccer-mad cousin, barely 3-4 years elder to me, who stayed awake that morning to watch Diego Maradona lift the World Cup; today, he’s still struggling to recover from a paralytic stroke  that’s taken away a big chunck of  his memory and his mobility.  I still hope someday we’ll get to sit down together over  a beer or two and pull one another’s legs..

Anyway, coming back to 2010 and the Spain vs Holland game — there’s only one good reason that may have made the staying up worthwhile. It was Neel’s initiation to a  World Cup soccer finale.  I woke him up just as the second half of extra time was about to commence, and with slightly watery eyes, he watched Iniesta score the goal that differentiated the two teams on the night. He insisted that he stay awake to see Casillas lift the trophy. 

Many years from now, may be Neel will remember the first time he watched a World Cup game….and if you ask me, memories such as these are priceless!


Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Neel learnt the following 10 lines by rote for a recitation competition at his school – his first attempt. The notice about the recitation competition was quite short, which meant he effectively had time from Friday evening till Sunday night to memorize a poem. We weren’t sure what poem to give him to prepare for the competition– I looked at some by Indian greats like Tagore and Sarojini Naidu, but felt those were much tougher. Finally, we chose 10 lines from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”.


If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!


Watching him memorize and then recite those, while trying to give it “expression”, was a thrill in itself. As I write this, all I know is that he recited the poem in class, and “everybody clapped for everybody”.

48 hours to learn 10 lines of poetry for a recitation competition… and a lifetime to understand, appreciate and practise those values…

Neel’s ‘Indianness’ and the cricket connection

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We will be in India for a couple of weeks later this month. Since our visit coincides with the IPL 3, I told Neel that we will try and take him to watch a game at a ‘real stadium’. Looks like that game will be the Mumbai Indians v/s King’s XI Punjab game on the 30th of March at the Brabourne stadium.

Ever since, Neel simply can’t control his excitement— he is eagerly awaiting a glimpse of Sachin Tendulkar and his favorite player ‘Sardarji’ (Harbhajan Singh). The other day, he was out cycling and I overheard him say to a group of boys a couple of years elder to him, “When I go to Bombay, I will watch cricket in a real stadium!”. (…pity, the other kids didn’t quite share his enthusiasm; in fact, one of them was outright dismissive: “why should I care?” he asked)

Anyway, Neel is really working himself up for the game at the historic Brabourne stadium. “I will wave the India flag….. and I will also paint my face with orange, white, green and the chakra….!”  For somebody who keeps saying “Singapore is our country” and asking me everytime he sees something on India on TV “that is your country, right?”, I am glad that at least cricket is instilling the sense of Indianness that everything else we do, hadn’t. 

The IPL tickets are certainly worth it!