Kolkata comes to a halt as Messi magic unfolds | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Kolkata comes to a halt as Messi magic unfolds

Kolkata, a part of a country that has a FIFA ranking of 158 (August 2011), ate, slept and drank nothing but soccer for the last two days.

kolkata Updated: Sep 03, 2011 00:47 IST
HT Correspondent

A pair of feet had the entire city on its feet on Friday. The small, skilled Argentine, Lionel Andres Messi had cast his spell on Kolkata.

By the standards of global soccer, the Argentina-Venezuela match was an eminently forgettable one. There was just one goal scored as Messi-led Argentina beat Venezuela 1-0 in the international friendly.

But Kolkata, a part of a country that has a FIFA ranking of 158 (August 2011), ate, slept and drank nothing but soccer for the last two days.

Large parts of the city virtually observed a post-sundown bandh on Friday, a shutdown that did not elicit a frown from CM Mamata Banerjee.

In a sense, the chief minister herself kicked off the mood by bringing forward a cabinet meeting scheduled for 6pm on Friday to Thursday.

Twenty-eight-year-old Kunal Kishore, who has come all the way from New Delhi to watch the match, said, "I persuaded my boss to grant me leave."

And when HT called union minister of state, tourism, Sultan Ahmed five minutes before kick off, he said, "Please call me later. I am now running past the gate. I am late and just learnt that the Argentines have taken the field."

HSBC authorities switched on the television so executives did not miss the match, and firemen did not miss out on all that footwork either. "In all our offices firemen are watching the match on TV. I am no exception," said Bibhas Guha, divisional fire officer, department of fire services. While the majority was cheering others just had to grin and bear it.

In the run up to the Durga Pujas, Gariahat in South Kolkata, the city's very own Lajpat Nagar, is usually brimming with shoppers. On Friday, hawkers waited for customers who were rare to come by. "I got no customers after sundown today," said Dinesh Kumar Gupta, who sells men's clothes at Gariahat.

Sonagachi - the city's largest brothel - also recorded a low footfall for a weekend. "There are very few customers today. We can't watch ... as the landlady won't allow it," said Sonam Singh, a sex worker.