Guest Blogger, Raghav Rajan Ravi, a mechanical engineering graduate student from Hyderabad, India traveled to Brasil to experience fútbol at the World Cup. Watch the final match between Argentina and Germany at the International Center, Crossroads Food Court, on Sunday July 13th at 3pm.
“Without football, my life is worth nothing.”- Cristiano Ronaldo
Right from my childhood I’ve been a big fan of football, playing it in my early childhood days, then started watching it and following it and now it’s become a part of my life. My team has always been Manchester United and it has been my dream to watch a game at The Theatre of Dreams. Although that hasn’t happened yet, another opportunity came my way when my friends randomly tried booking match tickets for the FIFA world cup in Brazil and they got it!
The night before leaving, I could hardly sleep for obvious reasons. Finally it was time to leave. We spent a night in Miami as our next flight to Sao Paulo was the next day. It was my first trip to Miami and I barely managed communicating as Spanish was more commonly spoken than English. That gave me a glimpse of what lies ahead- a land where Portuguese is the main language and me, an Indian guy from the USA with just “little Portuguese” knowledge. The thought of that, though sounds difficult, was challenging and exciting.
Finally got on the flight to Sao Paulo where the announcements were mostly in Portugese but a few in English too. It was fun and a tiring flight but the thought of being 24 hours away from witnessing a live Fifa world cup game kept me going. There was a particular announcement after which the passengers began to applaud. Later I came to know that it was the result of Brazil’s qualification into the knock out stages. This speaks about the heights of futbol fever in this country, an announcement midair being cheered and celebrated.
We directly hit the bed at our accommodation as the next day was a big day. Next morning, we were all excited and geared up. Had some breakfast, got ready, asked our host for directions and a map and set out by foot to explore the city. We saw Colombian fans and Japanese fans fill the streets cheering loudly, the former being more dominant. On reaching the stadium, we found a huge line of people waiting outside. I got my cheeks painted in Colombian colors to show my support and we then ran into the stadium as soon as we could. The atmosphere was electrifying. The Colombian fans were noisy and chanting phrases in Spanish. We soon learnt the lines and cheered along. The game was a pretty one sided affair, but to our fortune, we got to see 5 goals in all! As the final whistle was blown, the crowd erupted. Celebrations everywhere, “Co-lom-bia, Co-lom-bia” chants were heard loud and in unison. It was an amazing feeling.
We left Cuiaba and were headed to Rio. It was a long journey from the airport to our house in Copacabana, but the views of the busy streets and the beautiful beaches kept us going. With a bit of help from the public, we finally reached our house and were given a warm welcome by our host.
The next day was a Brazil match day and an official public holiday. We wore our yellow jerseys and went to watch the game at the Fifa fan fest. It was as good a feel as watching the game at the stadium. The atmosphere, the chants, the sound of drums and music, the dances on the streets, the game of football and a Brazilian win. Overall it was a great experience. It showed how much football means to this country. No wonder it is a religion here.
This experience of the World Cup was so fulfilling and wonderful that it has made me fall in love with the place and people there. I have clearly made up my mind on going back to Brazil on another vacation- maybe during the Carnival which happens every year or maybe for the 2016 Olympics. Ole! Ola!