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4 Jun 2018

Hills divided by teams, united by love for football

Deep Gazmer | TNN |  Jun 3, 2018, KOLKATA: Every four years, people in Darjeeling are divided by which team they support - but there are no political undertones to this divide. Ahead of the June 14 kick-off in Russia, houses, shops and restaurants of the town have put up flags of the countries they hope would win the football World Cup.
Brazil, Argentina, Germany and France are the all-time favourites here. Portugal has also found admirers, along with Spain and England.
Restaurant owner Dawa Pakhrin's family is a divided lot. Dawa is rooting for Spain, but his son Laden is a staunch Brazil supporter while his wife supports team Ghana. "I have always been a fan of Spanish football. I like their game. They lifted the Cup in 2010 and I am praying for them to repeat the feat. Spain has good players," the 52-year-old said.
Vikash Kalikotey owns a shoe shop in Chowk Bazar, but during every World Cup the shop is flooded with flags of different countries. "I don't see selling flags as an opportunistic business endeavour even though I sell around 50 to 80 flags each day. I am a football fan at heart," he said.
However, the most busy place during the World Cup season isthe municipality's "C" building area in Chowk Bazar, which is popular for its tailoring shops. The tailors admitted that business was brisk and it was a case of making hay while the sun shines. "Every World Cup, for a month, I actually don't have time to leave my sewing machine. Orders come from hotels, restaurants, schools and taxi drivers' associations. My income shoots up to around Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 during the tournament," said Suren Trikhatri.
Flags of Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Spain are selling at a premium. The lowest price tag is Rs 50 for small flags and it goes up to Rs 850 to Rs 900 for the bigger variety.
The Hills is not known for graffiti culture, but a few civic wards do go out of their way to paint walls with the World Cup fixtures, their football heroes and flags. "I am working on two orders in Butcher Busty and Chandmari. I hope to get more orders as the tournament gets closer," said Prakash Mallay of PK Arts.
Electronic goods showrooms also have seen a spike in the sales of TV sets.
Hotels are also gearing up for the mega event. "We will keep big-screen television sets in our halls. We will also serve snacks and beverages for our in-house guests," said Rajesh Rajak, general manager of a popular hotel.

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