Debjit Mukherjee, Kolkata: The FIFA World Cup is a unique time to be in India’s footballing capital of Kolkata. Not least because it is the only period during which practically every neighbourhood is lined with flags. Flags that are not Indian. From Brazil to Spain, from Argentina to Germany, from Portugal to England to France, all the footballing heavyweights have their territories neatly marked as football fever grips Kolkata.
Haridevpur’s 41 Pally club is no exception to World Cup fanfare this winter, but what sets it apart is that it is one of the few localities in the city that seem evenly split between Brazil and Argentina fans, the two teams that draw the largest support from Kolkatans. Every four years, the members of 41 Pally club come together to decorate their neighbourhood’s streets with flags, posters, cutouts and other forms of World Cup insignia. The neighbourhood is not among the city’s most densely populated, but the noise its football fans make during Brazil or Argentina games can fill a small stadium.