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Why I am praying for Brazil to lift the Cup

By B S Prakash
June 21, 2010 12:07 IST
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B S Prakash, India's Ambassador to Brazil, on what it is to be in Brazil during the World Cup.

I am at this huge party in the South African embassy, here in Brazil. It is the opening match of the FIFA World Cup and with his imagination the South African ambassador -- a close friend and a fellow partner for me in IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) -- has organised a large screen, crates of cold beer, platters of barbeque and has invited the whole town. Many invitees around me are wearing their national team T-shirts, but I am drowned in a sea of mainly yellows -- the famous Brazilian football jersey colour.

South Africa has scored the first goal of the tournament, a real scorcher against which the Mexican goalkeeper is helpless. The screaming and the droning noise of the vuvuzelas around me are deafening. Brazilians are dancing too, as they have nothing at stake in this match.

"Is India in the World Cup? When is your first match?" the question that I face twice a day these days is now being asked by an elderly Brazilian who cannot dance at his age. I tell him with some embarrassment that 'Sorry, no, India is not in the World Cup, never was,' etc.

"Why?" He asks, again a familiar question for me in Brazil.

Why indeed?

Because football is above all a fiercely collective game and we are incapable of it, being individualistic? Because the 'Goal' for the individual in our civilisational ethos is nothing less than Moksha or Nirvan