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Monday , July 14 , 2014
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Sleep off the World Cup hangover

Argentina fans in a south Calcutta neighbourhood hours before the World Cup final. Picture by Pabitra Das

A month of sleepless nights and groggy mornings has come to a close for Calcuttans glued to Brazil and Brazuca.

Metro meets some busy football fans in town to find out how they tweaked their daily routine and coped with sleep deprivation to watch World Cup action.


Sunirmal Chakravarthi
Principal, La Martiniere for Boys

The school assembly starts “dot at 8 in the morning”, so Sunirmal Chakravarthi had little choice but to be there even when a match went into extra time the previous night.

“Fighting a dull headache”, he would step into a classroom to teach Arms and the Man to students of Class XI and ask: “Which page was I on?”

Not that the students didn’t know what was happening. “The boys too would have been awake the previous night and we understand each other!” he said with a smile.

Principal Chakravarthi usually retires by 11.30pm and is up at 5am for a morning walk. On most days when the World Cup was underway, he would skip the walk and “blame it on the rain!”

If his tight schedule permitted it, Chakravarthi would catch up on sleep in the afternoon. After waking up, it would be back to football if work didn’t keep him busy. “I would watch the previous day’s repeat and feel fresh again,” he said.

Since Monday is a World Cup holiday at La Martiniere for Boys, Chakravarthi plans to sleep till late to compensate for the many late nights over the past month.

While he was overcome by a “sense of emptiness” on Sunday afternoon, not everyone in the family is unhappy. “My wife is very happy that the madness is over but my son and I have already started scanning the Premier League schedule,” the principal said with a smile.


Shaikh Hassan Iqbal
Orthopaedic surgeon

He is “a morning person” who has been waking up at 3.45am since he was 16. Orthopaedic surgeon Shaikh Hassan Iqbal maintained his routine, including “three days of surgery and three days of sports”, throughout the World Cup even if it meant forgoing sleep on some nights.

“Yes, I am sleepy and groggy but one adjusts,” said Iqbal, 55, the day after the Argentina-Netherlands semi-final that ended around 4.20am.

He had gone golfing after watching Lionel Messi celebrate and then headed for work.

Didn’t he feel tired? “The energy came from the thought that there is another match at night! People like us stay up the whole night twice every alternate week during the Champions League. This happens on Wednesday and Thursday nights. I am quite used to it, though not every day,” said the surgeon, who was in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup and has seen Messi play in South Africa and Abu Dhabi.

The 55-year-old, who says he doesn’t support any club or country in football “because India is a struggling team”, had bought his teacher wife Tabassum two small pillows to cover her eyes and ears while he watched the World Cup matches. “She is used to it. We have lived with each other for almost 27 years. Football has never come between us!” chuckled the surgeon, who used to play the sport until recently.


Rajdeep Mukherjee
Airline executive

What does a football fan do when torn between sleep and the World Cup? “Well, the World Cup does to sleep what Germany did to Brazil!” quipped Rajdeep Mukherjee, 25.

Unlike most people who would sleep for three to four hours at least after watching a late-night match, Rajdeep didn’t have that luxury. “My profession requires me to start my day at 4.30am, which means my love for football would keep me up at night and work wouldn’t allow me to sleep during the day,” the young man said.

If gallons of coffee helped the Argentina loyalist cope with work minus sleep, he would “crash” the moment he reached home after his shift. “My special arrangement for the past month was four hours of solid sleep from 5pm after returning from work. The 9.30pm kick-off on some days would be my alarm clock,” Rajdeep, a resident of Jadavpur, recalled.

Now that the World Cup is over, Rajdeep hopes to catch up on sleep whenever he isn’t working. “I have a one-month window to do that before the European football season starts in August,” he said.

D.P. Singh
DC (central), city police

Tennis was the first casualty when IPS officer D.P. Singh started waking up at 8.30am, two hours later than his usual routine. “The World Cup comes once in four years, so I chose football over tennis for a month,” deputy commissioner D.P. Singh said.

A keen footballer, Singh had played for his school team in Lucknow and remains a student of the game. “What interests me apart from the excitement associated with football is the evolution of the sport, from the off-side traps to the tactics employed by different managers,” he said.

According to Singh, the police headquarters in Lalbazar would resonate with animated discussions about team strategies that worked or didn’t in between official meetings throughout the World Cup.

And did he ever catch anyone in uniform catching a few winks at work after being up watching a match the previous night? “As police officers, we are used to sleeping late and waking up early,” he said.

Singh is looking forward to returning to his daily routine, especially his tennis.


Rajeev Pareek
Executive, HSBC

He’s the lucky one.

Brazil became a part of Rajeev Pareek’s life in more ways than one during the final fortnight of the World Cup when an office project required him to work in tandem with the Brazilian wing of his bank. It meant Rajeev had the luxury of watching football at night and starting work at noon the next day instead of 9.30am.

“The Brazil project enabled me to stay up and watch the World Cup. I couldn’t have wished for more,” said the Kankurgachhi resident. “I worked with Brazil by day and cheered for Argentina by night!”