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Brazil vs Chile: Up in the Air

Last updated on: June 29, 2014 12:07 IST

Brazil vs Chile: Up in the Air

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Mauktik Kulkarni

Who scored the goals? Was it Neymar? Or Oscar?  Who scored for Chile? And who were taking the penalty kicks? Every minute, says Mauktik Kulkarni, added to the suspense on the flight to Brazil.

In today’s world, it is difficult to get away from things. Isolate yourself from things. In this age of cellular internet, smartphones and ubiquitous computing, it is virtually impossible to find a quiet corner in the world. The constant stream of news and updates – useful or otherwise – is not just a nuisance, but a lot of money circulating around the world in the form of bits and bytes. When a social media giant like Facebook feels the need to shell out $19 billion to buy a 50-people company called Whatsapp, you know how important instant communication is.

When booking my flight to Brazil, I was a bit surprised to notice that flights landing in Brazil on the 28th of June were a lot cheaper than I had anticipated. In hindsight, it was a rookie mistake for a first-time World Cup attendee like me. But I should have looked at the draws and expected the flights to be a little less expensive on this day. Given the weak group that Brazil was placed in, they were the favorites to top the group and play their round of 16 match on the 28th of June.

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Image: Fans watch the Round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile
Photographs: Victor Moriyama/Getty Images

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Brazil vs Chile: Up in the Air

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As a backpacker who thinks about such things at the last minute, it was too late when I realized it. The teams had moved to the knock-out rounds, draws were set and nothing could be done about the booked flights. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be an interesting experience in its own way.

When passengers were boarding the flight, the small number of Indians on board had sleep on their mind. And that was probably true for the other passengers as well. However, as the 15-hour flight finished half of its journey, crossing the West coast of Africa into the Southern Atlantic, one could feel the anxiety in the crowd. Without knowing each other, two young Brazilians and a Chilean struck up a conversation and started chanting ‘Brazil, Brazil, Brazil’ and ‘Chile, Chile, Chile’ from opposite ends of the economy section.  The Brazilian predicted that it would be 4-0 whereas the Chilean just kept saying Alexis Sanchez.

I furiously started pressing the buttons on the touch screen to check whether any of those 100 channels was streaming the match live. If they were streaming it, the Brazilians and Chileans would have figured it out before me. But I was not thinking about that. Maybe the news channels? Nope. One of the radio channels, maybe? Even live radio commentary would do! There was absolutely nothing.

In those couple of hours, there were murmurs all around the flight. Everyone was hoping that someone had activated wifi on board, but nobody wanted to pay for it. In the end, after two long hours of nervousness, one of the guys from the cockpit came out and told the group of Brazilians that it was a 1-1 tie. ‘Oh me dios!  Penalchy!’ (Oh my God!  Penalties!) said the loudest Brazilian guy, banging his head on the chair in front of him. The temperature in the flight went up a notch.

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Image: Thiago Silva, Luiz Gustavo, Ramires, Dani Alves, Jo, Marcelo, Hulk, Willian and Neymar of Brazil look on during a penalty shootout
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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Brazil vs Chile: Up in the Air

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It was strange to experience the early 1900’s in 2014. If anything, the announcement made the fans bite their nails even more. Every minute was adding to the suspense. Who scored the goals? Was it Neymar? Or Oscar?  Who scored for Chile? And who are taking the penalty kicks? Or ‘Penalchies,’ as they translate into Brazilian Portuguese? Brazil has not been tested in the tournament yet and the Chileans have proved themselves to be stronger than most other Latin American teams. I would not have been surprised if the Chileans had pulled of the upset of a lifetime. However, I was praying for Brazil to win so that I don’t have to land in a country suffering from collective depression!

And the news came after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence. Brazil had won 3-2 and everyone except the Chilean guy could breathe a sigh of relief. The Brazilian passengers exchanged pleasantries and conveyed their condolences to the lonely Chilean. The vocal guy walked around the aisle repeatedly wiping his imaginary sweat. A few minutes later, he made a horn with his two hands and became a broadcaster. He was fantasizing how the penalty shoot-out must have unfolded. ‘Sanchez, Sanchez, Sahchez….ooooooooo…Julio Cezar!  Ceeeeeeeeeezar!  Ceeeeeeeeeezer! Oh no creo!’

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Image: Julio Cesar of Brazil acknowledges the fans
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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The Brazilian guy was not just happy with the score, but he felt the need to fantasize about the proceedings as well.

For a change, fantasy was worse than access to reality. But if we are talking about the FIFA  World Cup and the passenger indulging you up in the air is a Brazilian, the fantasy is a close second to reality.

As we land in Sao Paulo, who scored the goals and who missed the penalties is not important anymore. A sea of happy faces and Yellow t-shirts has invaded the airport.

Welcome to Brazil!

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Mauktik Kulkarni is an author, movie-maker, travel buff and sports enthusiast. He is in Brazil for the World Cup reporting for Rediff.com during the knock-out stages.


Image: Willian of Brazil celebrates after defeating Chile in a penalty shootout
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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