Location: A tiny peninsula in Southern Europe
Population: around 60 million
Famous for: Handsome men, Renaissance art, crime and mafia gangs, soccer
My first love affair with Italy started in Std 6 - I still remember vividly how my class teacher who had visited Venice once used to spin stories about how beautiful the country was - She would rattle on and on about the famous gondolas rides and how she was "this" close to the Pope at the Vatican. Impressionable age that it was, I decided that one of my first holiday destinations when I became rich and famous would be Italy. Needless to say, the last time i saw Italy was when my 8 year old nephew opened the atlas last week.
It was during one of my first quizzes in school that I also heard of that great all rounder of the 16th century (am I right?) Leonardo Da Vinci. Artist, inventor, architect, mathematician - a genius if ever there was one. Did you know that he used corpses stolen from the gallows to perform his medical experiments - of course u did - but did u also know that he wrote in his own style of "mirror writing" - starting at the right side of the page and moving to the left. It was only when he was writing something intended for other people that he wrote in the normal direction. Comprendre?
Then came movies and Marlon Brando as Don Corleone changed everything I had imagined about this wonderful land. However since I had grown up by then, blood and gore and power and politics also appealed tremendously. I wanted to be "mafioso" - I dreamt of honor and pride and imagined myself to be of pure Sicilian blood. I saw all gangster movies and basically went mad.
The last few years (and I use "few" very loosely) my only Italian connection has been with footer. Every Amar, Akbar and Anthony knows that I am a big fan of the Azzuri and it infuriates me whenever these self proclaimed pundits rubbish the Italian style of playing as "boring". Hey, do I need to remind that defending is as much an art as scoring goals ? Besides the sublime Gianfranco Zola and that towering giant Christian Vieri, aren’t we forgetting that awesome footballer Francesco Totti for providing us moments of sheer bliss with his wonderful ....foot-in-the mouth quotes :-) Love live the Azzuri !
As I keep saying, there's something about this nation that will always fascinate me.