Vietnam is an interesting country. Born out of the grit, perseverance and so much violence. The country offers you so much to experience.
The insane traffic and two wheelers
Vietnam is full of two wheelers, in different shapes and sizes. And the traffic that comes along with it.
If you love coffee, Vietnam is a must visit place. The cities ( Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is full of cafes, serving all varieties of coffees you could ever imagine.
Vietnam was a french colony, before it was united after a violent war. You can see several buildings that was built the French. The Central post office of Saigon (Saigon later renamed as Ho Chi Minh City) is a building made in Gothic style. The churches at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are a visual treat.
Ha Long Bay, located in northeast Vietnam , is full of limestone islands surrounded by rainforests. A ride through these bay is very refreshing. A must visit if you want to be close to the nature.
The struggles, bloody coup, American occupation, effect of Napalm and agent Orange. Vietnam tells the story of grit, resistance and never ending fight for independence.
The Cu Chi tunnels are a network of 200 kms long tunnel system, used by Viet Cong fighters against the US army. A must visit if you want to know about the Vietnam war.
What i liked most about the Vietnamese is their never ending passion towards life and the importance they give for fitness. Visit Vietnam for the life lessons they offer you 🙂
18 June 2010: Nainamvalappu Football Fans Association (NFFA), Calicut
Nainamvalappu, a small town in Kozhikode, predominantly comprises the fishing community. Founded in 1996, Nainamvalappu Football Fans Association (NFFA) is in constant touch with FIFA. FIFA sends regular magazines, a copy of the new rules, brochures and miniatures. NFFA has a mini FIFA museum. “This time, FIFA sent us a gold key chain carrying its logo. We have displayed all our curios here,” says Mr. N. V. Subair, the President of NFFA.
You could see Zakumi banner, the Official Mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, goldand silver plated replica of World Cup, key chains, buttons, stickers and official postcards of all the entire FIFA World Cup matches, all sent by FIFA, in the museum.
Mr. Subair says there is so much talent here when it comes to football but lack of facilities is the biggest impediment.
At NFFA also I saw a replica of FIFA World Cup trophy, made of wood. There is a story behind the replica here. During the final of the World Cup when the winner lifts the original FIFA World Cup trophy, this replica at Nainamvalappu is handed over to the respective fan club members! So, as we all know, in 2010, the members of Spain’s fans club lifted the trophy.
By the time I reached Malappuram, two youngsters in Argentina jersey were waiting for me. Mr. Tanvir, my friend from Makkaraparamba, had arranged the meet up.
Mr. Shafiq and Mr. Nithumon were the self-proclaimed Brand ambassadors of the Argentina team. During the World Cup season, in their specially decorated Scooter, they travel to all the interior parts of the Malappuram district, spreading the message and encouraging everyone to root for the Argentina team. They make sure that they cover all the football clubs and they are treated as local heroes, especially at Argentina fan clubs.
Mr. Shafiq told me that they purchased their scooter mainly for the World Cup season. They spent about Rs 1000 for stickering. That evening there was a road show in Malappuram town. These road shows are a mere demonstration of fans’ craziness towards Football. You can see all types of merchandising, flags, bikes and cars decked with stickers and painted in various soccer playing nations’ flag colours. In Malappuram, blue was the predominant color, Blue being the color of Argentina.
Mr. Shiju, a business man, wanted to do something different during the World Cup. So he decided to sticker his two cars. He attended all the road shows related to the World Cup. He spent around Rs 3000 per car for stickering work.
By the time we started to Areekode from Malappuram town, it was drizzling heavily. Tanvir, however, was thoroughly drenched but thrilled to watch the Brazil Vs Argentina match that was organized at Areekode. Areekode is a football village, situated 28kms from Malappuram. Areekode has produced many international footballers including U. Sharafali.I was worried about Tanvir and asked whether we should wait for rain to recede but herejected the idea and said we were already late. We managed to reach Areekode just before the commencement of match, even though we missed the wonderful road show. There was a sea of people there. I was at the midst of a big football carnival. Tanvir was missing throughout the match. He was somewhere in the midst of all that hustle. Later, I spotted him standing on a chair and whistling non stop. The match ended in a draw. I met lot of diehard fans there, both Argentina and Brazil fans, in all shapes and sizes 🙂
I met Mr. Tanvir at Legends sports club at Makkaraparamba. He was thrilled when I told him that I had come from Chennai to write about Football. He arranged for photographs of the match that the club had organized. On that day there was supposed to be a huge road show, organized by Malayalam Manorama, one of the leading Malayalam dailies. The road show was at Areekode, some 60 kms from Makkaraparamba. He said he would take me to that place and show the entire proceeding.
On the way we decided to visit Malappuram town and then proceed to Areekode. So we set off for Malappuram town. By the time we reached Malappuram, there were diehard fans waiting for us, thanks to Tanvir. The fans were on bikes and in cars with stickers of their favorite nations. We couldn’t spend much time in Malappuram so we said goodbye to them all, promised to visit them again and headed off to Areekode.
On our return I noticed one strange thing. Most of the people who overtook us were screaming at us. I could hear only Argentina. I wondered what we had done to provoke such jeering. When we stopped mid way to fill petrol I understood the reason. Tanvir was wearing the Brazilian flag as a head gear since it was raining heavily and seeing him attired this way hardcore Argentinian fans heckled us. Tanvir smiled and said they were hard core fans. At last I dropped him off in front of the Club. He had only one question, when is the book coming? Tanvir is the true representative of the football crazy people of Malabar.
My next pick of interesting banner I am sure will delight Brazil fans and despond the Argentina ones.
Theme: Inspired from the Malayalam saying “1000 കോഴിമുട്ടയ്ക്ക് അര കാടമുട്ട ”, a rough translation “half quail’s egg is equivalent to a 1000 chicken’s egg.” The statement underscores the fact that a quail’s egg is far more nutritious than a chicken’s egg. Now to the World Cup and the banner from Brazil fans,
Headline: 1000 മെസ്സിക്ക് അര കക്കാ , means
“Half Kaka is enough for a 1000 Messi(s)”
So after taking few snaps of the banners at the junction near Makkarapparamba, I started interacting with people there, mostly kids, checking whether I could go to any other interesting places. Suddenly one guy with great joy yelled that Brazil won against Argentina 4-3. I was slightly confused because the World Cup matches were yet to start so how come Brazil won against Argentina? Then the details poured in. The match was a locally organized one for the fans of Brazil and Argentina. These exhibition matches are a routine affair in these parts of the world where players would wear various nations’ jerseys and play. So Mr. Sakkir, who used to play for Viva Kerala, was the captain of Brazil team and Mr. Asif Zahir, an ex-State Bank of Tranvancore Kerala player, captained Argentina. The match was very thrilling it seems. Around 200 people came for the match. A local club, Legends Club, at Makkaraparamba organized the game. And the winner receives the World Cup, not the original one but a replica, made in cement by an artisan named Mr. Sukumaran.
I met Mr. Manoj and Mr. Anil, two youngsters in front of the Garima stores. They were about to leave with a bag full of shawls that they had purchased at Garima. Mr. Manoj worked for Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. Their company, Crown Fashion Enterprises mainly distributed sports related stuffs throughout Malappuram district. During World Cup season they procured only football-related merchandising. “Football is in our blood” said Mr. Manoj, who is a hard core Argentina fan. In his Argentina jersey, he showed me various nations’ shawls. Messi’s jersey has the highest demand and Mr. Manoj had purchased around 1000 pieces. Other items included Wrist bands, flags, football itself and shorts. I requested for some pictures and within no time Mr. Manoj and Mr. Anil draped their car with various nations’ shawls.
During my trip to Malabar I saw at least 500-600 banners and took photos of almost 300. Every 500 metres you could see at least 2 banners, one for Brazil and another for Argentina. Almost all the towns in Malabar have their fan clubs. These clubs (sometimes individuals) spend huge amount of money for printing and mounting these banners. Argentina and Brazil have the maximum fan following. I picked up some interesting Banners. Some very creative, some with high voltage dialogues (thanks to Malayalam cinema) and some vulgar too.
So this is my first pick. An Argentina fan club’s banner for sure. Argentina is shown as the Lion; don’t miss Brazil shown as a donkey, Italy as a bull, Holland a rabbit and Germany a horse.
The headline says “The king of 1986 (The great Maradona) and cubs are getting out of African forest”. The punch line “This Lion (Argentina) will pounce upon his preys as soon as the whistle is blown at Johannesburg”.
Epilogue: I was busy taking pictures of this banner when a guy came and said there was another banner nearby, much bigger and more interesting. He took me to the nearby junction. There I saw a huge Brazil banner, then realized the guy was a hard core Brazil fan! He smiled and said “We have already won 5 World Cups, so a bigger banner was required”.
Never in my life had I seen such a huge crowd in a sports store. Most of the customers were in their teens, busy selecting jerseys of their favorite football players.Mr. Shamir, owner of the store was equally busy helping his customers. One could see Messi, Kaka and Rooney everywhere. Flags of Argentina, Brazil and other major soccer playing nations were strung all over the store. Garima had an entire range of special merchandising dedicated to World Cup Soccer, a must-have treat for the fans. The set included flags of leading football playing nations, car stickers, wrist bands, jerseys of great players, shawls, ribbons and the list continues. The store was literally stuffed with Football-related merchandising. Argentina and Brazil are the most favorite teams. Mr. Shamir had stocked over 1000 flags in different price and sizes and almost 15000 jerseys. Flags were in the Rs 45-300 range while Jerseys were priced between Rs 110 and Rs 130. Most of the stocks were from the neighbouring districts of Palakkad, Ernakulam and Tirupur, a town in Tamil Nadu famous for Knitwear.