This day started a bit stressful. We had to vacate our hostel which we were renting at like 1350 Rubles per day per person. This was putting a lot of stress on the cash reserves and we were planning to kelamboloski ( Russio-Tamil for leave) asap. I wrote in the morning and staring at the screen gave me a headache, ( Trust me it wasn’t the beer, beer doesn’t do anything here) We had to do the chore of packing up again, the hostel was a really good place for us to chill, now pack up and leave was the priority.
A big question arises- “ Where to next?”
Thats a big question we needed to ask ourselves. This is where I would have to introduce an angel. Like literally an angel and also talk about something called “ Decathlives”.
So, as you guys might have known, I have been working with decathlon for a while. And decathlon being the big MNC it is, has operations across the world. And the company wants to put use of that network to make sure that cultural exchange happens between Decathletes and that is why we have our own platform like Couchsurfing where Decathletes from other countries would host you and you can do the same. When I heard of this, I was like – “ Decathlon IS the best decision I have made in the last one year”. This gives me more incentive to stay with the company than anything else. So when I put a request out for Moscow. A dude named Andrey responded. I was over the moon. Somebody actually responded, I found a place to stay in RUSSIA and more importantly a friend. ( At this point, it was only me, Amar had not joined me yet.)
So Andrey had told we can stay with him for a few days. And we planned to peace out to his place. But there was a little scene as he was at work and would only be back at night, so we had to make do with something else till then. Moreover, it was Egypt vs Uruguay and Spain vs Portugal that night. So we had to make it to the fan fest and watch the games.
While we were pondering over what to do, two Russian ladies who were drunk AF came to us and started to talk, it was the most fun conversation I ever had without knowing what the fuck was being said. Their names Sasha and Toniyo ( How do I still remember their names? :P). It was funny cause they were drunk. They offered me a smoke and I obliged ( Cause it was impolite to refuse, not cause I endorse smoking). Sasha was describing yesterdays game where Russia beat Saudi 5 nil. ( By describing I mean a single pelvic movement symbolising – “ Fucked”, language barrier no bar)
So we checked in again and we planned on what to do. I would go to the fan fest and Amar would go get the keys to Andreys apartment in the evening and so I got onto the metro and was on my way to the fan fest.
FIFA FAN FEST.
I departed at Vobory Gory station and started walking towards the FAN FEST near Moscow State Uni. I was joined by fans from across the planet. The Mexican gang with their sombrero hats, the Peruvians with their wrestler masks and the Colombians with their powder ( JK). I met this gang of Argentine fans who taught me how to sing “ Cada di term mas” which is like really catchy Argentine chant. Its like “ This is America” once it goes inside your brain, it will be on repeat for a while.
So I walk into this gigantic park which looks over the Luzniki stadium. The view from the park to the stadium is insane. European stadiums look like a UFO landed here sometime and have set up shop to play football. Insanity at its finest. I enter the fan zone park. There are 5 screens all showing the match. And the biggest one is where all the fans are standing and watching. ( I have no idea why people would sit down for a football game.)
There I saw a group of Egypt fans. And since it was Eid, Salah’s birthday and I look more like them than anyone else there. I joined in on the chanting screaming “ Mass” “ Mass”. Its the Arabic for Egypt. ( Ikka Mass adda) Those Egyptians were in props like a pharos attire and stuff. There was one big hairy dude who reminded me of the big hairy dude from Borat. Absolutely wicked. I became habibis with a few habibis. And the Egypt side started wishing happy birthday to Mo Salah. Salah didn’t start the game, but he was on the bench and every time the camera looks at him, the decibel levels rise. On the other side were the Uruguayans. They were less in number, but made up for it with proper chants and you knew they were the more experienced set of fans. One habibi brought a drum that you see in Arab belly dance videos and we went wild after that. It was epic.
First half was over and I went to get a highly inflated Budweiser. It costs 300 rubles inside the fan zone, outside in a supermarket, it costs 79 rubles. ( HYPER INFLATION). I met this mallu dude from Malapurram who was an Argentina fan and he had come to catch all of Argentinas games. Second half was even more intense. But Egyptian hearts were broken in the 89th minute when Gimenez headed it in to send the Uruguayan fans into pandemonium. Egyptians literally sat on the ground after that, without a talismanic figure like Salah, the whole team shut down. The decision to rest Mo Salah turned out to be a mistake. The Urugayan fans got the party started and then “Mass” became mess.
After that was the Iran vs Morocco game. I had to go meet Andrey to get keys for his apartment. On the way out I saw Iranian women. Macha, after the Russian beauties, Iranians are the most beautiful women in the world. That forbidden fruit feeling makes it fascinating. And we met Andrey at the metro. It was the first time I was seeing him in person. Amar had video called him before, but for me it was the first time. And I realised he was such a young dude. I think almost my age. I later learned he works in Decathlon, goes to college and also has a construction business. Proper hustler. Respects.
He showed us the way to his apartment and we went there and he showed every last detail about his place. And I will share pics of his apartment in a later post. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. The sort of place you and your girl would wanna move in. Simple, elegant and lovely. So we got a little late, when trying to go back to the fan fest. We saw Ronaldo’s penalty on the TV in the metro. Then we finally reached the fan fest and dashed to make it back. We missed Spains equaliser. Then Nachos volley. Gommale. There were very few Spain and Portugal fans there. Honestly the vibe I get is . There are more fans for Latin American teams like Peru, Colombia, Mexico than any other team. You would expect Europeans being closer and with a higher per capita income than most South American nations to come and take over the stadiums. But what really surprised me is the amount of South Americans that come for this. Entire families to the grandad who can barely sit to infants wearing little Messi 10 shirts. My travel instinct compass is slowly pointing towards South America as the magnetic north of world football. But that is for another time.
I met two Kochi guys too. I felt like I was being interrogated by them. Blah. Right now mallus are at the bottom of the people I wanna meet in Moscow. It turned upside down over the past week.
Then Spain went ahead. I was a little disappointed with that cause, Cristi is one of our own and it hurts a united fan a little bit to see him hurt. ( When he got injured in the EURO final, I wanted Portugal to win. ( I WAS SUPPORTING FRANCE FOR THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT).
So we were walking away when Portugal wins the freekick outside the box. I knew something was about to happen. Everyone who were leaving early to catch the metro stopped. All eyes were on the screen. The bustle drops. Cristiano Ronalso steps up to take the freekick. He takes a breath, 20, 000 people in the fan fest reciprocates. Then a moment of magic and greatness was inscribed into his already spectacular career. Greatness is consistently producing quality when you need it the most. A freekick in extra time to leave Dea a mere spectator to the magic which unfolded was insane. I fucking went mental and the few Portugal fans there followed suit.
I have tasted football fan fest at its best. Tomorrow its time for the real thing.