World Cup madness has struck. Every night when I leave work there are little kids playing soccer barefoot in front of our building. Along all the streets of our neighborhood there are "nonton bareng" (watching together) outposts like this -- 5, 10, maybe 20 people gathered around talking and cheering, some sitting on benches or plastic chairs, others standing in the back.
Because of the time difference, the games are at 8 pm, 11 pm and 2 am. The government has issued a stern statement saying watching the Cup is no excuse to miss work. But everybody's too sleepy to pay attention.
I watched the end of the Iran-Portugal game at this little spot last night, around the corner from our apartment. It was a little awkward because the crowd was almost all young men. But there was a middle-aged guy who sort of took charge of my comfort, got me a seat, and made me feel welcome. Everybody was rooting for Iran, so they went home disappointed. I was rooting for Iran, too, just because I tend to favor the underdog. But Portugal had pretty dazzling footwork and I couldn't feel too bad when they won.
There's supposed to be a really huge nonton bareng near here, where hundreds of people watch, so we're going to check that out soon. I even bought a World Cup shirt for the occasion, but it smells like petroleum and gave me a nasty rash. Something tells me it's not an official FIFA product!