To be or not to be (an Arsenal fan)
To be a gooner
This article is part of our archives and was originally posted in February 2014. The writer of this article was seen throwing wasabi nuts out of his twelfth-floor residence on February 19 after Arsenal suffered a defeat at the hands of those beer drinking Bavarians. He, me that is, deeply regrets throwing the wasabi nuts, and apologises to unsuspecting dogs that might have eaten them in the morning. As an aside, the writer, still me, once also gifted a teddy bear dressed in Arsenal colours to a girl. He never heard back from her.
It’s been two years since I relocated to India from London. Over these two years, I have been on the move constantly and though coming back to that familiar mutton curry and Leylajaan, our five-year-old German Shepherd, defines home for me in many ways, what lies in my suitcase on my travels defines me best. It’s the Arsenal scarf, travelling across the country and beyond.
I have been an Arsenal fan for as long as I can remember. Though there were periods in my life (like there are acts in a play) where I did support clubs in the Greater Manchester area or maybe even the red half of Merseyside, those were younger, more confusing years. What didn’t help was my mother gifting me (David) Beckham and (Michael) Owen jerseys at that precarious age. I often found myself on the playground kicking around without realising that the T-shirt I wore meant allegiance. I later recognised how merchandising = allegiance years later as I was nearly assassinated by a couple of drunk Sp*rs fans outside a tube station in London. Bottles thrown at me were luckily not on target and I was pleased to note that alcohol could lead to terrible aim. What gave me away? A red and white woolen scarf, of course.
I recall living with my dear friend and fellow Gunner, Kanishk Tharoor, in North London – De Beauvoir Road it was. With quaint Vietnamese restaurants and loud football fans, I knew it was the right place to call home for the first month of moving to London from university. The household was full of Arsenal fans. Our breakfasts, lunches and dinners were all about tactics, player signings, nostalgia and our own expeditions to the Heath where we’d have a kickabout.
The Turkish restaurant, a short walk away from home, became the center of the universe for me. The constant supply of hot bread, the chicken swimming in yogurt, the kebabs off the grill and the hot red sauce were staple, along with the beer we’d carry in Sainsbury packets. I felt a sense of togetherness, one big family.
Over the years, though, it’s not been easy. Life goes on and all that but not when you’re surrounded by these Chelsea types. Some of my favorite people on the planet are Chelsea and United fans, and they’re always throwing ‘when will Arsenal win some silverware’ argument for close to eight years now. Yes. It’s been that long. But that family, the Arsenal family, sticks close together and some day we shall dance on the streets of Gurgaon, celebrating a win.
Till then, here’s a modern day look at a William Shakespeare work:
To be, or not to be (an Arsenal fan), that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer?(a decision taken in thy teens)
The Slings and Arrows (from these Chelsea fans) of outrageous Fortune
Or to take Arms against a Sea of (trophy-less years) troubles
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep (to drink, to weep)—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end?(on nights of Champions League Quarter Finals)
The Heartache, and the thousand Natural shocks?(Why Wojciech Szcz?sny do you get the red card, again?)
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep (to drink, to weep) -
To sleep, perchance to Dream (for Flamini to pick up a trophy); Aye, there's the rub
For in that sleep of death (8-2, 5-1), what dreams may come,?
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil (reference to our defenders),?
Must give us pause (to think and play). There's the respect?
That makes Calamity (own goals and red cards) of so long life:?
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time (i.e. Arsene Wenger, My Lord)
The Oppressor's (Jose Mourinho) wrong, the proud man's Contumely,?
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s (Looking at you, Howard Webb) delay
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns?(so close, yet so far)
That patient merit of the unworthy takes
When he himself (Ozil, clearly) might his Quietus make?
With a bare Bodkin (carried to Spu*rs games)? Who would Fardels bear,?
To grunt and sweat under a weary life (oh! to be an Arsenal fan)
(Arjun Puri was born and raised in Kolkata, back when it was still called Calcutta. As a young child he spent time in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru – before their names changed. His last long-term home was London, and he fully expects it to call itself something else soon. Arjun graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2007 and worked as a banker for 5 years, before he realised it was not for him. Arjun now lives in Delhi and works in the education sector. He loves books, sport, people and travel -- and most of all, Leyla, his German Shepherd).