As football frenzy grips Brazil, Indian fans are making their presence felt albeit in small numbers in the ongoing soccer World Cup, wishing they could also witness such a sporting spectacle in their home country.
Taking breaks from their businesses, some of the die-hard fans from India are making their dreams of watching Brazil play at home in a World Cup come true, but the ongoing tension due to protests against the mega event is making them cagey while soaking up the experience of a lifetime.
For Subrata Das, a 42-year-old businessman from Kolkata, who never misses even a local football game in his home city, watching the opening match between host Brazil and Croatia was a dream come true.
"The dream has been achieved... the experience inside the stadium was beyond words. I also brought the Indian flag specifically for the event," Das said.
Naman Agarwal, a Mumbai-based businessman, who came with a group of friends, was also equally excited to have lived his dream and would stay to watch all the matches of the host country.
Yet, the 36-year-old sounded incomplete when he was asked about India. "Wish we also had some kind of football in our country. It is so much fun," he said.
Ahmedabad-based businessman Manoj Parekh had a different reason to be here to watch the World Cup.
"I had promised my son that if he does well in his 10th examinations, I would take him to the World Cup. He came out with good grades and I was left with no choice but to bring him here," said the 52-year-old father.
Parekh, however, has no regrets to be here and watched the opening match.
"The atmosphere inside the stadium was electrifying, never witnessed such passion," he said.
The Indian fans are, however, playing it safe when it comes to going out for sightseeing.
"Security is an issue. We have been advised not to venture alone even during the daytime," Das said.
Expressing similar sentiments, Mukesh Kumar, a businessman from Mumbai, who came with his wife and son, said, "The buzz is somehow missing. We thought there would be carnival kind of a feel but the only places where activity was visible were the suburbs near the stadium."
Delhi-based Ajitesh Kumar, who started making arrangements to witness the World Cup two years back, said, "We saw some protesters while going to the stadium. If you are in the city it doesn't feel like such big event is taking place but all said and done, won't forget this experience."
Having lived their dreams, these Indian fans want to relive it again, as Das puts it "I will start saving for the next World Cup (to be held in 2018 in Russia) from this year itself."