Today is all about futball. After a hot water solidifying mashed potato breakfast we set off on the stallions to the red square. Our plan was, we would leave real early and we can skip the line for the tickets. When we got there, we realised that today was a holiday. One thing about Russia is, if someone in the government feel like lets say shutting down a metro station one day, they do it. There is no one to question it. So we were stranded. We had a butter+ jam bun which has been the staple for us since we got here. That helped to lift the mood.
On the way we got lost and found this famous street where just the day before, fans from all the countries came together at night and started chanting. It was insane, unfortunately we were too drained to go there. But this was something else. The street was lined with lights and at night I am sure it would be an epic picture.
So, as we made our way into the square next to the red square, we saw a lot of monuments dedicated to the martyrs of the “ The great patriotic war” or WW 2 as we call it. And the flame of the unknown solider is on fire ( literally).
Then came the best part of the day. When we entered the square. This was why I came to the world cup. Football fans all over. Like 200 Peru fans, 300 Colombian and a few hundred Mexicans. Plus pockets of fans from other countries. It was bliss. Everyone had their flags out and was waving it proud. So we took out ours. Never been more proud to represent India( Even though most people think we are Iranian). It was time to make a statement. My boi Sreehari had told me exactly how.
Shaji Pappan would be proud. I might not be the most malluest Mallu, but I can make do with it. That thing got pretty popular on my social media.
Then we met a gang of Gults and had a picture with them. We went to this shopping centre called the GUM. This mall is centuries old and has a lot of luxury brands my ass had never heard of before. This is where fans were going rabid. Spain fans and Colombia fans faced off each other over two opposite railings. I do not know a lot of Spanish, but the universal “ You’re wanker” sign sends the right message.
We met fans from all over. Talked about football and took a picture with them.
Then came the best part of the day. We saw an indian flag. I was like, Macha, look at that da, it cant be, is it an India flag?
It was, I ran towards them and said Namaste. It was a dude and his mom and this story will inspire you. They were from Bihar and had won a competition by FIFA they said and are guests for the WC. I didn’t understand the scale of that statement then but I will get back to that. They were clearly really happy to see us. We took a picture with them and FIFA TV also took a video of us chatting. It was surreal and soon we said good bye.
So, we decided to move onto hotel Ukraina. A Stalinist era hotel which is said to be one of the grandest in the world. On the way we dropped by at a KFC for lunch and macha, it was the best KFC ever man. Its cheaper than India and it has got more options too. And the chicken leg is so luscious and juicy and oh man. Its the best thing I have eaten since I got here. So we decided to read more on the Indian mother and son we saw. We found a video about them on FIFA.com and their story. Is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a really long time. When it comes to football, I get really emotional. And I started crying. In a crowded KFC. The floodgates opened and I made a scene there. Russians were like- “asjfdmfdmfdm” looking at me. Amar didn’t know what to do. I kept on crying for 5 minutes looking at that story, it was something else. I will share the video and it is definitely something all of us should be inspired from. You know, these moments, these small moments are where the entire effort you put feels vindicated.
So, we cycle off in search of Ukraina and it took us to downtown Moscow. This is where the skyscrapers are. Moscow is not a city build on the grandeur of its modern sky scrappers, but these felt like it was out of Total recall. Futuristic stuff man. The Ukraina is now owned by Raddison Blu and is also a grand building which takes your breath away.
Now it was time for us to head back to catch the opening game. We got very lost on the way there and ended being late while we boarded the metro to the Fan Fest. We missed the opening ceremony, but who gives a fuck about that anyway. As we were walking towards the fan fest, we met a Tamil payan who is not Tamil, but speaks Tamil. ( Malaysia Vasudevan level). And soon we met this Punjabi twins who again were not Indian, but Malaysian. We tagged along with them. They were medical students there. They said they were on a scholarship. On enquiring which one they said “parents scholarships”. We knew they were chutiyas and that is what we been missing for some time. Chutiyas. The Russia vs Saudi Arabia game had already began. Russia scored first and when that went in, everyone on the street started celebrating. We were eager to get in, but when we got there, there were enough Russian soldier to invade Ukraine who were blocking the way. Apparently since it was a Russia game. It is full and they said come tomorrow.
So we had to watch that game on a phone. Decent game, bit one sided though. :p
We chilled with the quasi- Indian college student gang and finally we peaced out from there.
On the way back, in the metro I saw Ahmed. A Saudi fan. The entire train was showing 5 at him. He covered up his jersey and was really shaken. I said to him, at least Saudi qualifies habibi. WE are still a few years off that. And I took a picture with him and made fun of him in Insta :p.
Maybe the chutiya effect?
Cycling back to the hostel. It was the first time we were seeing Moscow dark. And machi. It was beautiful.