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The world is round

india Updated: Jul 01, 2010 22:50 IST

That period of my life is here again when my general knowledge gets tested as a barrage of questions is hurled toward me on a daily basis. The failure to answer even one of them invites contemptuous looks from juniors and Raju, our domestic help.

Well, the World Cup has come back to haunt me yet again. No qualms in admitting that having been brought up in Calcutta in a sports-loving family I have a special weakness for football. But what gets my goat is the information-seeking part of the Beautiful Game.

No, I am not talking about the queries related to either the rules of the game or about who is the coach or captain of which team. It is the geographical queries that surround this modern-day Celtic headhunters' pastime that knocks me down completely.

As a subject, geography was my last choice in school. So I was happy to get rid of it three decades ago. But little did I realise that it will come back to bother me years later and that too while watching one of my favourite sports.

While it’s easier to talk about the location of Denmark, France, Germany, Brazil and Chile, countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Honduras leave me stumped.

When my initial attempts to dodge and dribble the volley of questions failed, the atlas and the globe, which had been gathering dust for long, were brought down from the shelf and duly referred to.

With the help of a torchlight, which replicated the sun, the movements of our planet were explained. The juniors’ query on why spectators in South Africa were wearing thick jackets in June also got answered.

This also explained why we were watching some matches bleary-eyed while the fans at the Mandela Stadium were blowing their vuvuzelas.

The quizzes weren’t, however, restricted to geography alone. A bit of history also got into them. Here, some of the smart juniors scored, as they knew Serbia was part of the erstwhile Yugoslavia, Slovakia was carved out of Czechoslovakia and Slovenia was a founding member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, before declaring full sovereignty in 1991.

Well, if this barrage of queries can be ignored, I think the Cup, besides bringing in a month’s worth immense joy, is a blessing in disguise, for, at least once in four years, the atlas and the globe on my shelf get dusted.