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Hosts ready but mood's missing

The Cup begins two days from Wednesday but for the look and feel of the planet's biggest show, there wasn't anything excitement in Germany.

india Updated: Jun 07, 2006 12:50 IST

Had Buddhadeb Bhattacharya taken his vacation a little further away from home, he would have been delighted to know that his city isn't the only one where walls are defaced.

Munich has graffiti and they are too big and ugly for anyone from Kolkata taking the S-8 train from the Franz Strauss Airport to miss it. Certainly not after the furore about it back home.

There is nothing profound or political about them, though. "Most of the time, no one understands them. They are a punk thing," explained Max, a student of Metrotronics (that's mechanical and electronic engineering put together) on board the sparkling S-8 to the Hauptbahnhof Central Station, when asked about the scrawls on the houses in the lush green suburbs of Hallbergmoos, Englschalking.

And Bhattacharya's Left may think it is right to write anywhere but here it is against the law.

Comparisons with Kolkata, however, begin and end there. From the sound of silence, which permeates through Franz Beckenbauer and BMW's city - it's busy airport included - it seems like someone somewhere has pressed the mute button on people who go about their chores efficiently.

The Cup begins here three days from Tuesday but for the look and feel of the planet's biggest show, there wasn't anything beyond a huge Oliver Kahn cutout on an unusually cold, gray Pentecostal holiday that was Monday.

"Not everyone likes the idea of so many people visiting," Max said. Whether that was also a personal opinion couldn't be gauged, but he did mention the inconvenience caused to his weekend travel for close to a year because of work on the railroads in preparation of the June 9-July 9 extravaganza.

A cabbie, however, had a different take on this. "Everybody knows the World Cup's starting here on Friday so why do you need to advertise," he asked. Maybe, he is right. Maybe that's Germany's way of doing things. Quietly and efficiently.

Maybe, that's why there was no mention about the finals on the flight from Dubai to Munich apart from a mum from Sialkot saying she was advised by her son to bring forward her date of journey.

Because it is they're on TV all right with Stefan Freund (member of the European champion squad in 1996) on a Tuesday morning talk show and reports of German preparedness being the top story on a news channel.

Mention the World Cup in the capital of beer and Bavaria and you will be engaged in some serious conversation. From Josef at the immigration counter, who supports 1860 Munich and not Germany's biggest football club, which is also from his city, to the lady at a downtown hotel.

And most of them do it in flawless English, which to a first-time visitor is a pleasant surprise.

If their opinions do reflect that of Rhineland, it would make a certain Juergen Klinsmann very unhappy. Germany's coach may have booked a hotel in Berlin with an eye on the final but people here feel the team is too thin on experience to go that far.

"It will be a miracle if we go beyond the semi-final," Josef said. His colleague, already upset with Kahn being benched, said much the same thing. Both felt the foreign invasion in the Bundesliga is telling on the National team, making it markedly different from Kaiser's golden generation, which won the World Cup in Munich almost 22 years ago. Especially, at the back.

It seems Germany won't be moping should Klinsmann leave the party early. Unless they do that by losing to England! They also can't wait for the show to begin.