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Kolkata couple ready for their ninth World Cup


Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) All set to catch the World Cup action in Brazil – their ninth on a trot – Kolkata's famous football couple 81-year-old Pannalal Chatterjee and his wife Chaitali are as enthusiastic today as they were when they watched their first World Cup in 1982.

With five first-timers accompanying the evergreen fans of the beautiful game this time, Pannalal wants them to experience the wonder and see for themselves why the couple "live for the game".

Residing in south Kolkata's Kidderpore area, the couple has to scrimp and save for four years between every World Cup to afford the tour, and age has also has caught up to them. But as far as the zeal goes, that remains unchanged, even though India, ranked at an average 131, didn't make it to the league.

"We want the first-timers to see and experience the game. They should watch why we (India) are at that rank, and see why we (the couple) are still alive," said Pannalal, a former employee of Kolkata Port Trust who earns a monthly pension of Rs.7,500.

The first glimpse of the beautiful game in the 1982 Spain World Cup left the two spell-bound and wanting more.

Since then they decided, come whatever may, they would bank a certain amount of money every month to make it to the next World Cup.

Apart from the pension, 72-year-old Chaitali has a small saree selling business and scrounges a bit every month by doing the housework all by herself, not spending on the luxury of servants.

Sometimes, if expenses go over the threshold limit, they refrain from eating fish for a month, said Chaitali who takes care to represent India in the best light during the trips abroad.

"People see me wearing saree abroad and want to learn to drape it. I always oblige," said the eager Chaitali.

Their residence is dotted with photographs and collections of match tickets. Captured in these relics are their favourite moments – Diego Maradona's 'hand of God' goal and meeting Pele in 1986.

The couple leave for Brazil June 17.

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