Saturday, July 3, 2010

World Cup, now available at Marina Mall

As I wait for Mrs. Blog to return from her trip the Land of Fun, I will once again return to the well of international soccer for inspiration for a blog post.

Big upset yesterday: Holland smote Brazil, the favorites (as they are just about every year) to embarrass the field. And as luck would have it, I happened to run into a Dutch guy while meeting a friend for a Friday night drink. This guy--we'll call him Dmitri, because that's what he told me his name was--is working as a programmer and trying to set up shop here in the 'Dhabs. He admitted that arriving in the summer wasn't the best timing, but pointed out that airfare and hotels were roughly half price. Save a few dirhams, lose a few gallons of sweat. Not a bad trade.

Holland got ahead of Brazil. Get it? Get it? OK, sorry.

Anyway, he was excited about the victory. But not overly so. The reason? Most of the players (he said) came from a club team in Holland that he hated. I guess every nation has its New York Yankees.

This wasn't the first encounter with the Brazil-Holland game I had that day, though. Earlier, whilst in the mall doing some mall-related activities, my friend Sarah and I noticed massive crowds gathering on the mall's second level. Everyone was staring down at a cafe on the first floor. The reason?

Soccerfootball. The cafe's two TVs were showing the match, and literally hundreds of people--most of whom probably couldn't afford to watch the game in their own home or labor accommodations--were taking advantage. This proved true all over the mall, at restaurants, cafes and anyplace else that had paid for the World Cup package.

What is the takeaway here? I guess there should be some grand, sweeping conclusion. But really, the only things I can say with certainty is that people here love soccerfootball and malls – and both facts cut right across social strata.

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