It’s been a long time coming, but with yesterday's kick off, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Four years is an eternity when you are waiting to cross that barrier called the legal drinking age, just to be able to enter a pub to catch soccer excitement among cheering fans.
That was the sad predicament I found myself in the last time around, the sole nestling in a group of older beings denied entry to a South Delhi bar for the Germany vs Italy semi-final. This time, I intend to make up for lost time.
The only question is, where should I head to? My inbox is currently flooded with information on FIFA-special deals in bars and restaurants around town, with each place — from the smallest eatery to the largest sports bar — claiming to offer the best a fan can get.
The first round of elimination is simple. It has to be a bar, not a restaurant-that-has-put-up-a-large-screen-overnight. The essence of watching a live match is lost when one is caught between wanting to cheer on one’s favourite team and trying to maintain a dignified composure.
So, a bar it shall be. But I wonder whether the atmosphere in any of the city bars would be as electrifying as I’m told it is in England, for instance, where a friend will be spending match hours glued to the television in a small village bar. Unlike me, he will be surrounded by hordes of raucous — sometimes even destructive — English fans.
The pub culture is seminally different there — drinking taverns have traditionally been hubs for watching, discussing and debating sports over rounds of ales or drams on a regular basis, instead of just during big-ticket events. That culture is yet to percolate through here, though it has definitely taken root. Sports such as football and cricket are best enjoyed in social settings, and watering holes are an ideal spot for that.
At the end of the day, I think I will hedge my bets. Five matches in five different bars across town, each with one other thing apart from a giant screen — great beer. Belgian ales, Trappist beer, freshly brewed craft beer, stouts — I shall let beer menus be my guiding light for the next 30 days. After all, what’s soccer without beer, especially when one has come of age?