Liverpool – No More Slips between the Cup and Lips

Ballwinder Paaji explains in his quirky way, what exactly did Klopp’s Liverpool do different this season to break the thirty year drought. Do read.

“Paaji!!!”, I exclaimed, “Liverpool finally won the Premier League! Can you believe it?! Who would have imagined that one day Liverpool will win the Premier league! Look at their fans, they are the ones who are in a state of absolute disbelief. Three decades it took them!” It was a hysterical moment. You wanted to share their happiness, except of course you wouldn’t, if you were a Manchester United fan.

Picture Courtesy: AFP


“Now its mathematically impossible for Manchester City or any other team to win the league, even if Liverpool loses all its matches.”

“It would have been realistically impossible any other way”, Smash! a one line response came dashing on my happiness.

george costanza disinterested gif | WiffleGif


Why would someone say something so crude in another club’s time of joy? A joy that has evaded them for the last 30 years! “Are you a Manchester United fan?”

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Really? You hate me so much!



“Liverpool, in this decade finished a couple of seasons as runners up. They came close to win but just could not.”

“Yeah. I know. Does that mean they don’t deserve to win this season?”

“Well, they did. The table speaks for itself. Seven games in advance. What do you think happened back then that they could not win despite coming so close?”, Ballwinder asked

A dream that remained unfulfilled


“Ummm…I don’t know. I don’t remember..”, replied while still thinking why did they not make it despite coming so close. I could start feeling that I am just about to topple from the moral horse that I was riding…for a couple of minutes.

Falling Off Horse GIFs | Tenor
Moral High Horse


“When the season came down to the wire, Liverpool buckled under pressure.”

“Liverpool surged from below the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City under the SAS partnership – Suarez and Sturridge – the highest goalscorers of the league that season. The last few games of the season were left. They were at the pole position to win the league. Or as they say in England – ‘It was theirs to lose’. You know then what happened? Steven Gerrard slipped in an all crucial game against Chelsea, who went on to defeat them two-nil. At Anfield.”

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The great Liverpool slip…down the table


“And in the penultimate game they threw away their 3 goal lead to Crystal Palace. Manchester City were home and won the league on the final day by 2 points.”

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City won the league 2 points


“And then what happened in the last season? Huh?”, asked Ballwinder in an interrogator tone

Interrogation GIFs | Tenor
What happened? Huh?


“Liverpool had a seven point lead on the table in January 2019. Seven points ahead, they lose to Manchester City in that month and then falter with some draws in relatively easier fixtures. They scored 97 points. No club that has finished runners up has scored those many points! Yet Liverpool did!”

John Stones makes remarkable goal-line clearance for Man City ...
The story of Season 2018-19 in a picture                Pic Courtesy – Sky Sports


“When the league goes down to the wire, Liverpool has had a problem to succumb under pressure. And to eventually top a table of what many might regard as one of the toughest league in the world and perhaps the most unpredictable too; makes it even more difficult. For Liverpool to win something this big required them to have so much more nerves through out the year. Which the players don’t have.”

“So what do you think happened this year?”, I sheepishly ask Ballwinder Paaji.

Sheepish No Way GIF | Gif, Poster
Sheepish Me


Even Klopp did not trust Liverpool to win the league if it went down the wire. His club played every game with a virtue that this would be that game which gives them that one extra point from the last season. Klopp did not leave anything to chance or mathematics.

“From the very first game, Klopp pushed the peddle so hard that you would have probably got exhausted watching Liverpool’s intensity on the pitch. They played every game as if to extract 4 points from it.”


Jurgen klopp gif 6 » GIF Images Download
When the ref decided to give him only three points for a win


“So you if you look at the table, Liverpool did not leave anything to the probability of permutations and combinations in the league. They played every game to win the league. Liverpool has lost only one match and drawn only two. That’s when Chelsea defeated Manchester City a couple of nights ago which made it “Mathematically” impossible for anybody else to win the league.”


“Mathematically Impossible”                            Picture Courtesy : Experimental361


Tonight, as always, Ballwinder Paaji won the argument. And Liverpool won the league. Next time I will be as prepared as Klopp.

Klopp GIFs | Tenor
One day I shall celebrate after defeating Ballwinder in a discussion


Elephant vs Tail

India lost yet another test cricket series abroad. Ballwinder explains elephant and its tail over a cup of Black Ivory Coffee.

“And yet again Indian Cricket team loses a test series abroad”, I said with a quick glance towards Ballwinder Paaji while swapping the sports channel to the one where Premier League was on.

England vs South Africa 2017, third Test match, Day 2: LIVE streaming, TV listing, date, time, venue
We did it again, lads! PC: Reuters


“How can you claim to be the best batting line up in the world when you collapse before such low totals?”, I looked again at Ballwinder paaji. “Who is responsible for such performances?”, I was on a rant, hoping for some response. It had been long, I did not realise what exactly was I asking for. Ballwinder paaji was busy burning the fresh Arabica beans for his double/triple shot espresso. But he was listening.

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There is coffee, and then there is espresso


“Elephant and its tail”, said Ballwinder.

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Lemme introduce this beauty called the elephant, and well of course, its tail.


“You sire, are in for a ride. Perhaps an elephant ride”, I said to myself. The most exciting thing about an elephant is its size, its trunk, its tusk. Why would anybody even think about its tail. Who has ever even thought about its tail.

Elephant Hair-Facts About Circuses
Elephant’s tail


Then there is Ballwinder. Ballwinder would tell me not only the significance of an elephant’s tail, but also its relevance in the context of Indian cricket team losing yet another cricket series abroad. Now I don’t even bother asking the obvious question like “Ballwinder Paaji, What on earth just happened?  I just commented on the consistent claims of Indian team to be the best in the world despite losing abroad, series after series??”. But I did not ask. I just patiently waited for Ballwinder to address the “elephant” in the room. He knew what I was thinking. He looked at me with a slight smile and only broke eye contact when his coffee did the magic for him.

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“I know what’s on your mind. Wait, this coffee is ecstatic!”


“Elephant is such a majestic animal. You are in its absolute awe. That trunk, the tusk, you are blown away. A creature of magnanimity, true class. And then there is its tail. A tail which does not go with its size, style, trunk or tusk. Something that is there to give it acceptance in the jungle. Everybody’s got one. Well, elephant should also have it. What’s its purpose. For example, look at a cheetah, its tail helps as rudder when it attacks. Look at a crocodile, its tail gives a torpedo effect in water. We, homo sapiens, did not have any use of it, so it vanished. Poor elephant is stuck with this tail. Just as a part of nature’s contract. Quite a price to pay, must I say.

Cheetah’s tail


Crocodile launches completely out of the water, using its powerful tale. Photo: Trevor Frost, screen grab
  Crocodile’s tail


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Again, Elephant’s tail


“That’s interesting, Ballwinder Paaji”, I said with intrigue. I actually was. Useless, elephant’s tail. As enlightening as it sounded, I still sought an answer to my question. “I understand this much, that you are referring to the Indian cricket team as an elephant. Its character can be compared to the class that an elephant belongs to. But what’s with the tail? Who is the tail? Why is the Indian team losing series after series”, I had to address the “elephant” in the room.

benedict cumberbatch sherlock GIF by BBC
What’s the tail gotta do with the Indian cricket team?


“The tail end of the Indian batting is the elephant’s tail”, said Ballwinder in a firm voice. A voice that sounded as if coffee was still somewhere there in the throat. I was shocked. I was taken aback. Not as much by the voice as by his reply. “The tail end of Indian batting, you mean the bowlers? They are not supposed to be batsmen”, I was enraged. At the tip of being offended.

Mohammed Shami
Why always me?


“Indian bowlers are not tail end batsmen Ballu Paaji, they are bowlers. We have to play them else the English would never have gotten out. In fact, Ballu Paaji, they got the England batting limited to such low scores! Here (England) as well as against South Africa! They did their job!”, I  said, now officially being offended.

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Indian bowling is not tail ending batting!


Ballwinder was unmoved. He was not at all moved by my reaction. Somewhere he knew that truth is as bitter as coffee. Not everybody can handle it bitterness the first time they sip it. One has to get used to such bitterness called the truth to relish its flavour and slowly come to terms with one’s mind and soul. He continued to sip his coffee, while my blood boiled in ignorance.

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Coffee is bitter, so is the Truth


“I understand your angst”, said Ballwinder Paaji while trying to patronise me. “But this is the bitter truth. Indian batting is as majestic as an elephant. You have to, have to admire it. You don’t have any choice. You just can’t criticise. Someday you might admire its trunk (Kohli), someday its tusk might stand out (Pujara), maybe never as a whole, but you can never condemn the elephant in its totality (The “grand” top order batting performance). Because you just cannot question the beauty of the elephant. Everybody ends up disgusted with the tail, never with the elephant. Who is acknowledging the fact that the Indian bowling performance has been unprecedented, that they have been successful in limiting the opposition batting to such low scores in the recent test matches? If the bowlers themselves cannot fend the challengers’ bowling attack, play between the gaps, keep rotating the strike, hit the odd one out for a boundary, and reduce the bat-pad gap, well then, they are as efficient as an elephant’s tail.”

 Although I could not even raise them, Ballwinder Paaji opened my eyes. I wish I never had to find out the truth. Not at least this way.

My eyes were opened, just couldn’t raise them.


“Ballwinder Paaji, how would you go about dealing with such an elephant?”, I asked gathering back my zen.

“I will make the most beautiful roasted coffee through the elephant’s digestion – Black Ivory Coffee”, responded Ballwinder paaji.

Black Ivory Roasted Coffee


“In fact, I was just having it. You want to try some?”, asked Ballwinder Paaji as a gentleman.

“Thanks, but no thanks”, I said with the straightest possible face.

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Elephant fermented coffee – Thanks but no thanks



The Game Changer so far.

Group stages done. Look at who has emerged out to be the real game changer so far.

FIFA has seemingly turned a page in the history book of footballing entertainment.  This page in the history book was quite into the turning for almost the whole decade, with the events like awarding of the world cup to new hosts like Russia and Qatar,  the sitting president coming under the scanner, and perhaps the most debated refereeing system. With this world cup in action one can safely assume that the page has hence turned for the better.

The balance of upsets in the group stages and the first day of knockouts has been quite as expected. The previous world cup winners exiting at the group stages has been the unsaid norm for a quite a few world cups now and hence this time too the tradition continues.

When you wait for the bus that has already left.

The real twist in the tale of this world cup which many people were cautioning about has instead swiped us all like the penultimate episode of every Game of Thrones season. The game changer so far:

VAR- Very Angry Response

Congratulations to the International Football Association Board (IFAB) for making the game even more entertaining. I also personally condole all the Foot-draggers and the naysayers who had written the epitaph of the beautiful game with the advent of a TV review system. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has come out to be the best surprise and has hardly failed anyone in getting entertained.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

About 50 matches have been played as yet in the World Cup and the VAR has come into action for about a couple of dozen times. The biggest complaint that the critics had was the slowing down of the game due to over indulgence in the review. The other vehemence in the argument was that any outside intervention at a crucial moment in the game would affect the sanctity of the arbitrariness or uncertainty in decision making. The joy of such arbitrariness was being defended as the real excitement of the game and the advent of technology as a corrosion of pure entertainment.

The VAR has done nothing short of impressing the viewers, perhaps even more the neutrals like you and me who want to see the controversial decisions being taken and then either being confirmed or being reversed by the VAR.  The suspense that looms for that time period and you sitting at home and judging with the referee is the unprecedented excitement that has taken us by surprise. The probability of its fairness has also increased. The apparent penalty that Neymar won against the Costa Ricans that was later confirmed to be the step of Neo-dodging-bullets that caught the referee’s imagination and was later overturned after VAR review is the whole reason that this review system is a success. More than anything, it is the FIFA that has gained any goodwill for not only making the game fairer but even more exciting.

‘Justice was done’: Praise for VAR after Neymar penalty decision reversed (VOTE)
Neymar seen dodging the bullets. Until, of course Agent VAR steps in.

The sense of grief that arises from injustice is only put to rest when you vindicate yourself in the future. The joy of vengeance perhaps leaves a deeper scar on the minds and hearts of the ones being perished, even more when such vengeance is attained at the cost of injustice. Because then two injustices added up to make one justice. A great approach to life, this, in the medieval times. Today you would have only tightened the noose on the neck of the beautiful game had the use of adequate technology not been put to test.

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Technology to medieval thinkers

Has the VAR actually changed the fate of the game so far? Yes! one at least. Spain getting back the goal that was ruled offside right at the brink of the game against Morocco. Just one game, is this worth it then? Of course! Imagine the sense of injustice had Spain not qualified due to the wrong decision.

Offside that never was

VAR courtesy Gianni Infantino is one of the real game-changers that has really entertained this world cup.


You are welcome – Gianni




Zero Sum Game

Ballwinder goes technical. Happiness in England and Sadness across two continents.

“Paaji, where have you been?”, I asked,”I have been looking for you since the Kroos rescue.”

Ballwinder was indifferent to my question, rather more focused in dressing his nachos with diverse toppings. He replies ” I was busy.” Clearly, one could see doing what..

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Grooming the Cleopatra

“Either ways Paaji, 6-1! 6 goals by England in a World Cup finals! Where the first match nearly gave everybody jitters and now just look at them. Hell! even the English cannot believe this! Must be the happiest day in their lives after a very long time”, I said with a little sense of rejoice.

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Cannot Believe we won the first two games on a trot!

Ballwinder smiles, without breaking any concentration of arranging his plate of nachos  “It was a true depiction of Zero Sum game. Do you know what a Zero-Sum game is? ”

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Ballwinder gets a chick when he breaks an egg.

“Yes.” I said, thinking that the sum of any two things is zero. How hard could it be. Hello! I know what I am talking about.

Pizza Gerry GIF by TAXI Ad Agency

Wait a second. “6-1=5 ; How is it sum zero?”  I realized while rechecking the score of England Panama. I asked while gulping my fear of the known..”But ….How…?”

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But….uh oh. 

Ballwinder smiles, acknowledging my nervousness after a 3 second stint of ultra cleverness.

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Don’t worry. I know you are a git.

Ballwinder sits down with his platter of Nachos, picks up a Nacho and sweeps it across the dip and starts munching. He then ordains,
“When you win against someone. You are happy. The one who loses is sad. Thereby maintaining the overall balance of happiness and sadness. Your happiness and your opponent’s sadness when added gives you a Zero-Sum. English fans were deprived of this happiness and pleasure for ages. They would always witness the opponents celebrating on their loss. Imagine the amount of grief and sorrow they must have been bearing for all this while and just today, they have virtually given it all back with compounding interest. Countries from two continents were taken down by the English. The magic number being 5”

I win when you lose.

“What exactly does that have to do with English fans who were surprised by their enormous victory in the World Cup last evening!? And two continents? Which two continents? North America and Central America?? And what is this magic number 5”, I won’t surrender this time. I will clarify all my existential doubts.


Nicolas Cage Film GIF
Two Continents? Magic number 5? Wait..What?



Ballwinder replies, “Now listen carefully.”

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When Ballwinder speaks, you should carefully listen.

“Last evening England won its game. In two different sports. England won against Panama which falls in North America. Right?”

England beat Panama (6-1=5)

England also won against Australia, which is also a continent. And the Aussies lost the series 5-0.”

Sam Curran of England celebrates after dismissing Ashton Agar
Whitewash (5-0=5)

“Not only the football fans, but even the cricket fans of England were happy. Then there were people who were double happy for winning at both the sports thereby transferring their age old sorrows of losing, to the two continents which are diagonally opposite to each other. And these victories came at the margin of 5 each. Therefore maintaining the Zero-Sum game in the global context.”


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Football Fans
The Barmy Army are renowned for supporting England on overseas tours all over the world
Barmy army

I was left baffled by his intelligence.

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Mr Ballwinder is a genius.

“But Ballwinder Paaji, do you really think that just this one day can balance all the disappointment and heart breaks of English fans for all these years? I am sure it can compensate the last decade but what about the decade before that?” I again asked in my innocence.

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Do you really think ?

“Don’t be silly”, said Ballwinder, while licking his fingers after finishing his mega plate of Nachos.

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Don’t Be Silly

“That’s when the English organize the Royal Wedding”, quipped Ballwinder.

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Doing it just for you lads!










Horse vs Donkey

Horse, donkey, Argentina, Croatia. Ballwinder speaks over a bowl of museli.

“Paaji, goodness gracious me!”, I shouted after watching the latest drubbing of Argentina by Croatia.”What a marvelous game to witness as a neutral. But how can a team of that individual stature struggle?”.”It is unfathomable to see arguably the best footballer in the world just might not qualify to the knock out stages”, I was on a rant.

Croatia win 3-0 against Argentina

“There is no denying the beauty of a game that the Croats displayed on the pitch, but Argentina did not even look like in competition”.

Croatia celebrating

“What was the main difference between the two teams tonight?”, I demanded an explanation while Ballwinder was pouring chilled milk over the museli.

How Many Calories are in a Bowl of Kellogg's Cereal With 2% Milk?

I had said enough. My job was to quietly wait for Ballwinder to speak and enlighten me, yet again.

“Have you seen a stud farm? I grew up next to one”, claimed Ballwinder while crunching his delicious looking dish. I was quiet. I was waiting for the genius to start the game. I would then play catch up.

Thoroughbred Horses on Farm : Stock Photo
Stud Farm

“Every stud farm has at least one donkey. Do you know why?”

Donkey and Horse

“So as to remind the horses, that they could also end up like a donkey!”, I laughed at it as if it was my best joke of the season.

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So funny I thought

After a brief pause by Ballwinder, he said “Alrighty then…”,

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Ballwinder’s reaction to my response

“The primary reason of having donkeys on a stud farm is for protection.”

The basic purpose of a donkey

They keep the farm safe from coyotes and other kind of canines. They are considered as a good friend by the horses”, Ballwinder added. “A very basic, simple job for a donkey. Nothing complicated. Nothing like what the horses have to do.”

This is it. Fasten your seat belts, Ballwinder will now take you through the journey of life. Riding on a horse. Or maybe a donkey.

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Saddle Up! It’s Ballwinder time.

“The Argentinian goalkeeper was the donkey among the stallions. His only job was to protect the goal, by being a donkey. He started getting a feeling that he is a horse too. He thought his master will like what he sees and perhaps someday parade him with the horses.”

Calamity Caballero and Sampaoli tinkerings leave Argentina a broken mess
Donkey – when he realizes that he is not a horse.

“Always remember”, Ballwinder concluded, “If God has made you a donkey and kept you in a stud farm. You are very lucky to be there. Your job is the simplest. Do not try to be a horse. Just be a donkey and earn your respect by protecting the farm”

I could not hold my tears. I was smitten by this basic lesson of life.

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My reaction after learning a new lesson from Ballwinder

I took a deep breath, and asked ” Ballwinder paaji, just out of curiousity, are donkeys and horses from the same family?”, while Ballwinder slurped his way to the peace of infinity.

Ballwinder slurping down his “Deadly Healthy” combination

After enjoying his last slurp, Ballwinder wipes his face, and says ” Ofcourse! Look..”, pointing me towards the horse and the donkey.




Willy Caballero


Butter vs Chicken

What ruins the dish? Butter, Chicken or the Cook?
Ballwinder tells us all after watching Tunisia vs England

“Paaji!”, I said with a sense of relief, ” finally the balance has been restored. A jail break Ballwinder paaji. England finally won an opening game of a major tournament. I don’t remember the last time this happened”.

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Harry Kane against Tunisia

Ballwinder looking pensive, replied,” How hard can the Chicken or the Butter try to ruin the dish?”. “Meaning?”, I asked, as usual being confused by this ever so anecdotal pondering of the great Ballwinder. England won. England lost. Ballwinder would have had Butter Chicken either ways.


Butter Chicken or Murg Makhni
Butter Chicken

“If somebody wants to ruin the Butter Chicken, what should he ruin, the butter or the chicken?”, asked Ballwinder.

“Paaji, it should be both, or either…”, I replied in utter innocence, confiding in bare minimum confidence of slight common sense. I am a student, I need to learn from Ballwinder Paaji.

Squint picard - I've traveled the galaxy and that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
Ballwinder’s reaction

Very unimpressed by my response, doubting over my existence, flexing all the possible facial muscles that are visible which aren’t really covered by any form of hair, he said, “It  is the chicken that can ruin the dish, even if butter tries to save it, it cannot.”

“ohh, like that, isn’t it a bloody given”, I said it in my head. But my head and soul had already surrendered to Ballwinder.

Oh, like that..

” Now tell me, even if the chicken is stale or has not been properly marinated, and is therefore cut out to ruin the dish and the cook, who like you thinks, butter can save the day and keeps adding butter incessantly, to make it a success, will he succeed?”, asked Ballwinder.

I took my time for this one. I thought hard. I don’t know what I was thinking but I thought real hard and replied” If the dish still succeeds, it will be a fluke. No chance otherwise”.

My response led to Ballwinder’s face breaking into a smile of I-told-you-so, with eyes semi shut filled with the air of vindication, head moving in small circles, beard being carressed, came out the word, “Exactly.”

Ballwinder’s reaction

I cracked the code but I did not understand what just happened here. Ballwinder then elaborates, ” The three lions wanted to win, but their formation was stale, having three centre backs was the case of stale chicken, but their manager like the cook, just kept sticking to his bad basics of changing a midfielder with a midfielder and going flank to flank, similar to adding more and more butter in search for a perfect cross. The dish somehow survived this time, but not always.”

Awestruck by this analogy, I nodded my head in refusal to accept the reality of being in the great company of such an intelligent human being.

England manager Gareth Southgate knows he will have to allay fears amid political tensions

” So what should Gareth Southgate do?” I asked like a child, mesmerized by the rays of enlightenment shining upon me.

“Add a different flavour, heat it for longer on the sim, take chances, because remember while the dish is still on the stove, the ball is in your court”, Ballwinder replied while examining the leg piece he held in his hand through out this conversation.

“But Ballwinder Paaji, how would you save the actual Butter Chicken recipe?”,  intrigued I was.

Ballwinder while remaining unmoved and unfazed, said ” I will serve it with alcohol”.

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Life Hack pic courtesy:

What on earth is happening?

Startled, Amazed, Taken aback, Aghast, Flabbergasted, Relieved were some of the reactions of different people supporting different teams this World Cup (#MeriDoosriCountry #ApniKaCaptainInstaParRotaHai #PhirBhiMeriDoosriCountry) except Ballwinder.

“Paaji, no wonder India has banned betting, all our obvious bets are going down the drain!”, I said with an excited demeanour. Ballwinder Paaji was still unfazed. I wanted him to give a reaction at least after Brazil-Switzerland draw. So then I broke to him all the surprises that have occurred as yet.


Spain-Portugal draw

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Spain – Portugal Draw Picture Courtesy:


Argentina – Iceland Draw


globallinksnow argentina iceland
Picture Courtesy:


Mexico stun Germany 1-0

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Brazil – Switzerland Draw

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(Buda Mendes) ;–tv-channel/1j8hhwdi6j2sz1xfnhnvn9iqx7


” WHAT IS HAPPENING!!” I exclaimed this time, hoping to get a reaction at least now!

Ballwinder takes a well-deep sip of his beer, licks his lips, very calmly dusts his moustache to remove any hint of any froth, takes a deep breath while looking at his beer mug and says with a deep voice,

“Winter is Coming.”

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Winter Is Coming”


“Even my beer is not chilled any more”, looks at me, hangs his head in helplessness and  repeats with even more pain,

“Winter is Coming.”



World Cup Police Diaries – I

“We wish to lodge a complaint”, said the Egyptian football team to the Russian police. With a smirk on their face, the Russian cop asked,” Well what more did you lose?”, apart from  obviously, the match .

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Egyptian National Team. Picture Credit:

Egyptians, looking dismayed, responded, “Well, some face, self-respect and good run of luck”. Russian cop’s smirk getting wider further asks, “Who do you think is behind this?”, expecting a straight forward logical answer.

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Sergio Ramos



“Sergio Ramos”, replied the Egyptian team in sync with an echoing effect on the rest of the world.