Did you notice that Croatia played one match more than France did?

On Sunday, July 15, France beat Croatia to win the FIFA World Cup 2018. I noticed that Croatia played one match more than France did before the Final. How? I will explain that later. Before that, I will list down some of the interesting things I noticed and knew during this tournament.

1. All editions of FIFA World Cup, and its logos are registered Trade Marks of FIFA. While this may not be a new information to many, I was surprised while I saw the superscriped TM besides the names and the logos.

2. Two official ball were used in the tournament. In the group stage, Telstar 18 was used while in the knockout stages, an alternate version of Telstar 18, Telstar Mechta was used.

Telstar Mechta had red colour instead of black.

Telstar 18 and Telstar Mechta were tribute to this original iconic Telstar which was the official ball in 1970 World Cup.

Source for both football images: http://www.soccerballworld.com/HistoryWCBalls.htm

3. Three big contenders got knocked out from the same ground–Kazan Arena.

Germany lost to South Korea 2-0 on 27th June in the final match of group stage. They ended up at the bottom of their group, thus adding insult to injury.

On June 30, the ground witnessed one of the best matches of the tournament that saw Argentina lose 3-4 to France.

Six days later, Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 to reach to the semi-finals on the same ground.

Kazan Arena was also the historic ground which witnessed the first World Cup VAR (video assistance refree) decisions on June 16. Both France and Australia were awarded a penalty each during the match.

4. Crotia had a difficult road to the Final.

They had topped their group with wins in all three matches: 2-0 against Nigeria, 3-0 against Argentina and 2-1 against Iceland. In the knockout stage, they first faced Denmark, then Russia and in the semi-final, England. All the matches went to the Extra Time, the first two of which were decided by the Penalty Shootouts.

Adding 30 minutes each of the extended play, I saw that Croatia had played 90 minutes of additional time. 90 minutes make up a regular match. While they met France (who played no extra time) on Sunday, they had played a match equivalent time more than France had done. The fatigue clearly showed towards the end of the match.

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Movie Review: Rajja Rani

When the movie Rajja Rani was released a few months ago in theatres, it flopped. I wanted to watch it but some exams did not allow me to go to theatres. A few weeks ago, the movie was released on YouTube and became an instant hit. Looking at the comments and the way it was trending, people seemed to have liked the movie. The issues it has raised makes it nice but that could have been done better.

The Good:

The best thing the movie has shown is the problems of the Terai, keeping dowry and politics at the centre. Deepak Chhetri nails his performance as the Rani’s naive father.

Najir Hussein and Keki Adhikari deserve applause for their titular roles. Najir acts better as a villanious Raja in the second half of the movie.

The Bad:

Except for the part where the issue of dowry is raised, the movie loses control. There is way too much comedy in Raja’s part. It has been used to establish Raja as a person with political influence and as someone who breaks his promises often but it could have been done in other ways.

Language is another problem in the movie. I don’t know but it sounds like a mixture of Nepali, Hindi, Maithili and Bhojpuri. They could have stuck with one language. The movie was also released in Maithili. Is the language better in that version? I can’t be sure because it’s not been released online yet.

The ugly:

Ending of the movie is so bland that it ruined the entire movie for me. I don’t understand why they had to kill off Raja. He was not the problem but just a part of it.

There were so many ways the movie could have ended. One way could have been to just show the problems and leave the audience in tears. Another way could be to show Rani’s fight against Raja and society against the practice of dowry. Tit for tat isn’t something that works in real life, especially when someone is cunning and wicked.

Conclusion:

One last thing I want to say before I wrap up: I didn’t like the name of the movie. Rajja is not the hero. He does not care for his pregnant wife. He does not care for his friends. He is so evil that sticking his name with Rani makes no sense. Because it’s not a love story between the two, the name itself becomes unnatural for the script.

Welcoming the Monsoon

Kathmandu has been wet this year. It rained throughout April and May only to be called pre-Monsoon by Meteorologists. Monsoon has just arrived and they say it will rain as much as it should.

On Sunday morning, the typical Monsoon clouds poured–the soft drizzle that comes down without much noise. It was fun walking in the rain with an umbrella over my head.

The rain stopped before I reached college. I put the umbrella in the corridor for drying, complained with my friends how it rained and ruined every morning, and attended my classes.

Later that day, I realized I lost my umbrella. It was a new one my Mom had bought less than a fortnight ago. She murmured about how careless I had been. She had the right to be angry. What would I do without a good umbrella this Monsoon? All I could do was say, “Let it be. If it’s gone, we won’t get it back lamenting.

I had lost it. But where?

“It was in the corridor,” you might say but I didn’t tell you that I had folded it as we went away to a canteen for lunch. I remembered taking the umbrella there but could not remember carrying it back. If the canteen owner had found it, it would be safe. If somebody else had found it, it would be gone.

Thankfully, I got the umbrella from the owner. She had kept it! I was speechless because I had not thought I would get the umbrella again. She brought me to senses by asking for a “Thank you”. (I was about to thank her anyway!) So, I thanked her.

रातो सूर्य

सूर्य रातो छ नभमा
मिर्मिरे हो या सन्ध्या ?

नयाँ सुरुवात ?
वा अन्त्यको सुरुवात
सडक, गल्ली र घरहरूमा
बगेको लाल रङ्गको ?

नीलो किनाराले घेरेको रातो
मुस्कुराइ रहला
सूर्यको लाल प्रकाशमा ?

चुप !

थाहा थियो तर चुप थियौँ । बोल्यो कि पोल्यो ! अपशब्दको वर्षा हुन्थ्यो । बोल्न खोज्नेलाई किचकिचे बनाइदिन्थ्यौँ । चुप बस्थ्यौँ । अझै पनि खुलेर बोलेका छैनौँ ।

सार्वजनिक यातायातमा अनेक सास्ती भोगेर यात्रा गरेका छौँ त्यो पनि प्रायः जसो बढी शुल्कमा । १३ रूपैयाँ लाग्ने ठाउँमा १५ रूपैयाँ तिरेका छौँ । यस्तो होइन भन्यो भने कुनै यात्रीले नै भनिदिन्छ, “दुई रूपैयाँको लागि किचकिच किन गर्‍या ?” लाग्छ, दुई रूपैयाँ त साह्रै सानो रकम हो जसका लागि बोल्नु पनि पाप हो ।

हामी सौखिन नेपालीहरूलाई सिक्का बोक्न मन लाग्दैन । १, २ रूपैयाँको नोट राष्ट्र बैँकले छाप्न छोडेको कति भो कति । सिक्कै पनि कहाँ पर्याप्त छ र ? २०६५-६६ साल यताका सिक्का मैले त भेटेको छैन । एक दुई रूपैयाँ चलाउनु छैन भने १३, १७, १९ जस्ता अङ्कमा भाडादर किन बनाउनु ?

यो भाडादर वैज्ञानिक छ । उनीहरू लुट्न खोज्छन् । हामी लुरुक्क परेर घुँडा टेक्छौँ । टेक्न नचाहनेको हात समातेरै तान्छौँ अनि झुकाउछौँ ।

हामी विद्यार्थी (म सहित) त पढेका मुर्ख नै भयौँ । यातायातमा ४५% छुट पाइन्छ तर २५% भन्दा कममा पनि रमाउछौँ । १३ रूपैयाँको भाडादरको ४५% हुन्छ ५ रूपैयाँ ८५ पैसा । तर १० रूपैयाँ तिर्छौँ । तीन रूपैयाको छुटमा रमाउछौँ । कसैलाई सोच्ने फुर्सद छैन । फुर्सद हुनेलाई अर्काको खुट्टा तान्न पाए पुग्छ ।

सरकार अहिले यातायात व्यवसायीलाई कम्पनीका रूपमा दर्ता गराउन प्रयास गर्दै छ । राम्रो ! तर भाडादरको कुरा अझै के हुने हो थाहा छैन । बोल्नु नपरे त झन् राम्रो ! बोल्नु पर्‍यो भने ? नानीदेखिको बानी न हो, चुप लागुँला !

A Wedding: The Feast of Love

I am thrifty. I think thirty times (ok, that was an exaggeration to relate thrifty and thirty) a lot before I spend a hundred rupees. When my expenditure increases, I get worried. Therefore, I say to my parents often, “My wedding will sure be expensive for sure. How can we cut expenses?”

“By not including alcohol in your feast,” Dad says.

I like the idea for I am a teetotaller but I offer a radical solution. “Let’s not have the feast at all.”

“Don’t say that,” Mom disagrees. “We have attended weddings of hundreds of couples. We can’t exclude them.”

I shut my mouth and start thinking the solution. The thriftiest solution would be a temple wedding and no party hence. But my parents disagree to that. Society has an more important role in helping me and my parents the mode of the feast.

Society criticizes someone who does not conduct a feast. Some complaints are:
“Falana* did not call us in his wedding.” (*Falano is a word used to indicate someone without mentioning their names. Falana is masculine. Falani is feminine.)
“Falani bosated her son earns crores. She did not give a party on his wedding!”
“Can’t they spend a little of what they earn to feed their neighbours?”

But people complain everytime. They make a fuss if they are not called. The invited ones complain about the variety and quality of the food. If you don’t include alcoholic beverages, they say, “That was like a Pooja, not a wedding Bhoj.” If somebody pukes because of excessive drinking, others holler about the inclusion of “hard” drinks. You can’t satisfy everybody.

But there might be more to to the feast. Jantis plus the relatives, neighbours and friends who could not attend the main ceremony are yet to celebrate the union of the two families. The groom and his family invites them before the actual ceremony on a feast called the Preetibhoj. The compound word is derived by combining Preeti (love) and Bhoj (feast). An English term “Reception” has become popular but I like the translation of Preetibhoj, “Feast of Love”, more.

The Feast of Love is the first formal gathering for the couple. Where a guy and a girl walking together in the street can be a taboo, the Bhoj helps people identity the groom and the bride as a couple.

Dowry, huge feasts and high expense make me feel that appeasement of the society is more important than the real status of the community. So, people fall in debt to try making others happy, who unfortunately are never going to be satisfied.

***

The Feast of Love of my neighbours is held at a party palace not too far from my home. Therefore, there won’t be much problem when we return. My family goes with many of other neighbours. Once we reach the party palace at about six in the evening, one aunty says, “People around here must be happy. Music and feast everyday!”

We have an excellent proverb: “गुण पनि धेरै खायो भने तितो हुन्छ ।” (Translation: If you eat too much sugar, it gets better.) Too much music and partying is hated by the people of the surrounding. They shut their doors and windows, shut their ears and mutter curses! Some curses come up on Twitter. Most get welled-up.

Another aunty says what I had in mind. We enter the one storeyed, zinc plate covered party “palace” which has been divided into two sections. A second wedding feast is taking place on the other side. The feast has begun, people are clicking photos with the bride and the groom, eating, drinking, dancing and are everywhere!

Children are running. No parents can control them. Forming suitable groups, they go here and there. They sometimes knock upon elders, sometimes upon waitiers and sometimes break glasses spiling cold drinks to the floor. While the owner is earning, the workers are burning!

In almost every wedding I have attended, I get to see unhappy faces of the waiters and helpers. While the host and the guest are enjoying, they are in grief that they have to work.
It’s natural to be sad that you can enjoy, it’s human to be jealous. Even anger can be justified because of the activities of people and their children. The food might be good, the drink might be excellent, the music may be loud, but the owners and managers have failed in making their employees smile.

Had they been in the West, their Party Palaces may not run for long with unhappy workers. Because we only care about the food and the behaviour of the owner(s), they’re still doing good. However, in long run, they must pay attention to keep their employees happy. They must sort out the problems.

But still I feel bad for people who are sad. Will they ever be happy?

***

The food items that are used as starters are good but heavy. They fill my stomach even before I reach the dining hall for the main course. I don’t feel like eating but I’m attracted by chicken and fish, which I don’t usually get to eat at home.

I make my stomach believe that it can accommodate more. I take about half an hour before I eat everything except a few bones. Will my stomach digest it? I doubt. So, I decide to boost digestion by chewing up antacid tablets as soon as I reach home.
I get a remedy in the form of yogurt. It’s cold but refreshing. My stomach already feels better.

Meanwhile, people take more than they require and leave food on their tables. Just as at bride’s during the wedding ceremony, a lot of food fills the trash. My parents taught me never to throw food. Maybe their parents did not teach them, maybe they forgot or maybe they chose not to follow their parents’ advice.

***

The dance never attracts me. I shy away from the crowd listening to songs now dominated by Nepali over Hindi. “We now have a lot of “party” songs,” my sister says.

They are not Western-style Bollywood party songs, they are Nepali folk style party songs. (Sometimes, they are remixed, which I don’t like.) I agree with my sister and we make a list of songs that are being played. We can count them on our fingers but it’s okay to have something than to have nothing.

The bride and the groom, their parents and relatives, neighbours and friends all dance together. I wish everyone stayed as happy as they are. I also wish they didn’t need a stimulant (alcohol) to make them happy.

At 9 o’clock, the music stops, the party palace prepares to close and we all prepare to leave. Kathmandu has no night life except at a few places. I sleeps after ten. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. As a tourist city, it’s bad but as we are a bunch of free and happy people who must sleep in time, I think it’s okay. We don’t want to be zombies!