Sunday, June 18, 2006

WM in Frankfurt

A weekend at home after what feels like ages. Work is on full swing and there are not enough hours in the day to even spend time with K. When we are together we spend all our time either watching soccer or soccer fans in full spirits on the streets of Frankfurt. Its an ideal time to get the real feel of Europe through people watching. The streets are so full of color nowadays that even if it rains, the yellows, oranges and reds predominate. There is no gray while the soccer fever lasts. It started with the Sky Arena, a show where they used the Frankfurt skyline as a huge projection screen. It was simply awesome.. (hmm... think of how this would look in NY, the mind boggles). We had gone across the river early so that we could see the full skyline and were lucky to get a good spot. The pedestrian bridge was full of people on this dark cloudy night and when the music started along with the countdown, cheers went up along with quite a few beer bottles clinking. There were two different themes - the first dealt with different emotions associated with soccer (or life itself) such a ambition, hope, joy, dissappointment, success, desire et al. Each emotion was given a different colour and different scenarios depicting the emotion taken from soccer matches of the past were accompanied with the mood-inducing music. Alongwith the music there was commentary on the particular match with voices rising when there was goal, giving it a real match feel. People were cheering, dancing and sighing along with the show, it was that electric! I was left wondering as I saw the beautiful laser lights go out into the clouds how it would all look from a plane landing at Frankfurt airport that night. The second theme which was more abstract, serious and very beautiful depicted power politics, the economic state of the world, how money influences soccer and more, terrorism, and the need for peace. The faces of children asking for the space to laugh, play and just be free was haunting. And then we slowly made our way down the banks of the lighted river in the company of thousands like us, talking about the show and the chances of various teams playing in the World Cup.

Soon the fans arrived. Full of hope, joy and bursting the city with their collective spirit. Early mornings the train station is full of them with placards around their necks offering exorbitant amounts for tickets, any ticket, any match, while other fans catch on some sleep on the station floor. When I come back late in the evening after a long and tiring day of work, I can feel the tiredness dissappear and my spirits lift in sync with the fans cheering the latest victory with drums, body paint and lusty shouts. Something that struck me as extremely strange is that every car driver honks on the streets when their team wins... so you could be walking down the road and car after car goes by you each honking to the high heavens! It disturbed me in the beginning but now I take it as all being a part of the game... and when I told this to my European friends back in NY, they collectively let out this huge sigh condemning the ignorant me saying that this was the best part of the celebration, and making it clear how jealous they were of me being in Germany at this point of time. I dare not show them how much I am enjoying this mad season, else I will lose all goodwill et al. :)

In the meantime, quiet, business-like Frankfurt is gone and in its place stands a gregarious city, one populated by people of every size and color... Brazilians, British, Africans, Italians, Koreans, Americans, Argentinians, East Europeans...different ethnicities inherent to the city emerge along with the visitors, all a diverse bunch of people ignited by common passion. The city is alive by night (quite in comparison to other weeknights), eating places all open, and sounds of revelry reach even our quiet residential neighbourhood at the outskirts of the city. What I enjoy most nowadays is to stand at the window at night, taking in the cool breeze and listening to those cheerful flavor of sounds, somehow they make me sleep better :) I like this so much better than Heidelberg where the only indication that the WM is on, is that the streets are deserted from afternoons on, everyone is at their local cafe or bar catching the action with friends on a giant screen TV, while we the crazy scientists work through this fever everyday as if nothing is happening. This maybe different in Frankfurt (or any other host city) I feel, the infectiousness of a match being played in the city cannot be ignored so completely!

Its been too busy so far, but one of these days we have to go the Stadion in Frankfurt and just watch the crowds while a match is in progress. It seems to be that although the World Cup gives all kinds of license to people to (mis)behave, and in general be as "ungerman" as possible :), somehow the spirit and passion that goes along with it eclipses all else, its seriously as the German organisers say "a time to make friends".

p.s.Incidentally I have seen so many impromptu conversations (and fights) arise in this past 2 weeks, way more than I have seen in the past 4 months of living here. Its just that I don't seem to be a fan to be included in the passing remark, should dress myself is some colours perhaps... there are these times when Indian participation is sorely missed.

p.p.s. another incidentally, World Cup is called WM (WeltMeisterschaft) in Deutschland a.k.a. Germany, so just as a shortcut I use them interchangeably.


At 7:15 AM, Blogger Patrix said...

Sigh! Even I wish I was in Germany right now.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Joy Forever said... I envy you! Although I'm not a great soccer fan, I do take interest in the WM, and this time I don't even have a TV around :( I just had to be content with this...that too after reading your post. Thanks for informing about such a beautiful event.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Bidi-K said...

patrix: you know there is a standing invitation for ash and you anytime :)

joy: we didn't have a TV too, but then we got a TV tuner card specially for this season.. though there are huge TVs everywhere you look on the street showing the matches. And I didn't know you could see some part of the show through YouTube!

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I envy you much.....I don't care about soccer usually,but once every four years, for one month, almost everybody likes and loves soccer, and everybody knows about it, so you can talk with anybody on the road...I wish I was in Italy, at least for some time..anyway..
Italy won today with the czechs, 2:1 and Ghana too against US!!!! yes!!!!!!!! it so much fun to watch the african much energy, and Ghana's players are so young!! it is a Pity they will find Brasil on the next step.....but still, it is great they went so far their first time at the WM.....
A lot of people in CSHL are following soccer this time! In Grace Auditorium there is always some game on and peple following them....and today Italy-Czech was in the bar, with no one less that Karel in front of the TV, commenting on the stupidity of the american commentators and on the errors of the Czech....that's was fun...
still, more people than 4 years ago, but nothing like what happens in Italy.....


At 11:05 AM, Blogger Bidi-K said...

graz, yes Ghana won, I was rooting for them too! and yes Italy won too but didn't see that... can't imagine Karel though :) was supporting Japan yesterday but they lost of course, but I loved their goalkeeper so much!


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