The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ball game, small and big
- Football fervour on Big Friday: Watching it on a14-inch telly or a 40x20-ft screen

'Argentinaaaaa, Argentinaaaa' Orey, shot maaar' ' Monada's tiny tea stall in a Tollygunge bylane, with a 14-inch TV.

For 10 years, Mona Saha has been just a tea-stall owner at the corner of Utpal Dutta Gali in Azadgarh, close to the Tollygunge Metro station.

But that has changed since the World Cup began, since he donned the blue-and-white-striped Argentina headband, and since he mounted a small TV on the table that normally carries his biscuit jars.

For a month, Monada is the high priest of football fervour and his hired TV the talisman. The TV is not a business tool here; business comes to a standstill as soon as the TV is turned on and the 14-inch screen becomes a window to the World Cup.

A giant 20-ft Argentina flag billows from a tree beside the shop. The TV base is covered with a slightly tattered cloth of blue and white, blue and white ribbons are wound round the bamboo posts holding up the tiled shop roof. A part of the shop wall is plastered with newspaper clippings and magazine posters, there are blue balloons and tube lights with blue cellophane strips.

Many of the Maradona devotees who turn up do not have cable connections at home. There are some who do, but prefer to have a ball at their favourite tea stall.

'Here we can yell, burst crackers, curse and enjoy ourselves. At home my brothers' kids have class tests' explains a 20-something regular, sipping on a final glass of tea before 8.30 pm.

And how much does Monada charge for the tea before kick-off' 'Nothing, this is the World Cup!' exclaims an indignant Monada.


'Oh man, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch such a big game on the big screen, and in such comfort' ' from a plush auditorium at Fame multiplex on the Bypass, in front of a 40x20 ft screen.

If small is significant at Monada's tea stall, the World Cup beam doesn't get bigger than the Fame football fiesta.

The 250-seater Screen 2 has been devoted to Cup action, quarter-finals onwards.

'Watching the match on the big screen is a completely different experience from watching it at home or even at the para club,' said Rahul Merchany of Shringar Cinemas Limited.

The multiplex is decked up to resemble a football ground with flags of all participating countries lining the foyer and cut-outs of soccer stars galore.

Unlike Monada's free front stall, tickets at the multiplex are priced at Rs 150 (quarters), Rs 199 (semis) and Rs 249 (final).

'Every Friday night, we go for a movie together. Tonight, we decided to dump films for football on the big screen,' said one in a gang of nine businessmen friends, sipping on a cola.

The popcorn-cola menu card remains the same at Fame till it is replaced by Breezer, wine and cheese on July 9.

At Monada's, there is talk of special biscuits being served with cha for the Cup final.

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