Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

The battle has begun. Media has labelled it as ‘The Greatest Carnival of Football on Earth’. And indeed it is so. We’ve already had the Indian General Elections and a dying IPL back to back this year. But, this is the real thing most of us had been waiting for.

Childhood - top to bottom - Batistuta, Roberto Baggio, Roberto Carlos. Image Courtesy: Google

Childhood – top to bottom – Batistuta, Roberto Baggio, Roberto Carlos. Image Courtesy: Google

A month of sleepless nights is all I wish for. The World Cup this year, has begun at a very opportune moment for me. With things not exactly going well here and there, 90 minutes of adrenaline rush each day seems to be the best refute. I’ve been watching football effectively since the 1994 World Cup. Prior to that, I was just old enough to listen the nitty-gritties of the game during Italia ’90 from my previous generation. Summer vacation meant a trip to my maternal grandparents’ home. My father, maternal uncle and my elder cousin participated in animated discussions over each match and carefully dissecting the game of players like Batistuta, Roberto Baggio and Goycoechea. Their names sounded like pieces of enigma to my pre-teen ears while my cousin being four years elder than me had gained the privilege of discussion with our parents. He played the game himself, with his friends in school and our maternal uncle at home. They would make a dummy miniature football of a ‘cambis’ ball, and run all around it on the terrace.

I was never an outdoor sports person and would spend the hot sweltering evenings on the terrace, eating purple Kalo Jaam (Java plum) soaked in salt, and watching my uncle and cousin play. The elder one would pass tips and tricks, laced with anecdotes from previous world cups, trivia about every player and the faults of the game to the younger one. I bet those sessions were enriching to my cousin, though he never pursued the game since he was short like his idol Maradona. I had, rather imbibed the bits and pieces of information, names of the players, game statistics and an overall idea of the enthralling game. By the next world cup, I knew most of the international players – Valderrama with his huge crop of hair, Rene Higuita with efforts to score a goal, Roberto Baggio with his ponytail and Buddhism and many more. We used to buy chocolates more often than needed to collect the football cards with different players and compare with friends in school.

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First Reads Challenge 2014

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws.in

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws.in

I had participated in the Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013 without giving it much of a thought. In fact, I had set a very modest target for myself as I knew I’m a slow reader. And, I didn’t review every book I read. With all the writing and editing targets to be fulfilled, reading debut authors had become cumbersome throughout the year. Most of them came to me for reviews, I approached some of them out of my own interest in their books, others were won by me in contests/giveaways. These books have clambered for space in my cramped up old bookshelf. I had no idea a year ago that I would be reviewing books and reading such a huge number of authors for the first time.

In the wee hours of December, I think I’m ready for the next challenge. DDS of b00kr3vi3ws has come up with her next edition of First Reads Challenge for 2014. I hadn’t participated last year as I wasn’t sure about reading too many Indian debut authors. This time I’m geared with review requests and scourging new authors for interesting books. DDS has set challenge levels which makes it all the more challenging. I know I’m nowhere near the biggies of book reviews, so I’d again set a minimal target for 2014.

Challenge Level:
Amateur : Choose to read 1 – 25 New Authors
Lover     : Choose to read 26 – 50 New Authors
Expert    : Choose to read 51 – 75 New Authors
Fanatic   : Choose to read 76 or above New Authors

I’m happy with being Amateur for now, though I might upgrade the level if there’s any chance in mid-2014.

If you like to read and review, join us in this journey of reading authors for the first time and writing about their work.