We were all sitting in executive lunch tables.
“Rao, would you like to bet on the world cup winner?” Asked one of my colleagues.
All that I knew was world cup football is going on in Germany.
My ignorance of the game is well known among my colleagues and I felt they are all making fun of it. I thought I would give them some more chances to have fun. It does not cost me anything you see!
“I would have liked to, but I do not know the teams participating. Give me the names of participating countries and teams likely to win, I will try to bet on one” I told coolly.
“That is why the bets… there are several teams… any team can win…said Vijay.
“For example, I bet on Germany. Any bets…? Dhs. 500? Any takers?” Declared Abdulla. He had a neck tie resembling a whistle with neck band!
“I would have agreed. It’s going to be France… but I have already one bet with you and one with Vijay for Dhs 500. I do not want one more bet with the same person, on the same team” told Kannan. “France is going to be the winner, anybody other than these two willing to take me?” Kannan shouted at the top of his voice.
“I can bet France will not win. Dhs. 500? do you want to take?” Cried another.
“Come on? any time..”
The shouts went on and on?. The arguments were getting heated up offers counter offers… I thought some bets did take place.
“I will not offer money bet…ready for a free kick bet?” I heard that too!
I kept quiet.
“I need witness for this Rao. I say Argentina will reach final. He says impossible. You are the witness for this Dhs. 500 bet” Two of my colleagues came to me.
The lunch arrived and I started to eat my lunch. All that I could gather was Germany, France, Argentina, Brazil and England are playing in the world cup.
I was surprised to see that Pinto had four bets… One was for Germany to lift the title, one for Argentina not reaching the finals, one for France beating England and one more for the final to be decided on one goal margin. The combined stake was Dhs. 1350! If he were to lose all the bets, it is certain that he will be at my home asking for credit in the last week of next month!
Ramu came to me holding a coin hidden in his hand. “Tell me head or tail”
“For what?” I asked.
“Head is Germany will win, tail is France will win” he told
I told I am not interested.
“Why?” he was amused at my action. He is not calling me to have a bet but still I am not obliging!
“If Head is Germany winning, tail should be Germany losing … It can not be France winning” I told him.
“But I want to bet with Abdulla if head comes, would like to bet with Kannan if tail comes. Tell me now… whether it is head or tail”
“Look, you want to know whether it is head or tail. Just open your hand and see. If it is head, go and bet with Abdulla if it is tail, bet with Kannan. Why you want me to tell whether it is head or tail? On the other hand, if you want me to tell, why you need the coin?” I asked him unconvinced.
… I will bet a cup of ice cream for the final match will go to the extra time….
“I want to make it doubly sure… come on, tell me fast – head or tail?” he told
“You mean if I tell head and the tail appears in your hand, you are not going to bet with both?” I wanted clarification.
“Not that way… if you say head and head appears, Germany may win… so I will go and bet with only Kannan. Likewise if you say tail and tail appears I will bet with Abdulla only” replied Ramu.
“That is well understood… but what if I tell head and the tail appears on your hand or the vice versa?” I asked curiously.
“I will bet them both” he told blinking his eyes.
“But we know that it is only one team that will win. You will have to make up your mind before entering any bet” I tried to explain him.
“Not necessary… Abdulla is betting on Germany. If you do not think so you can bet with him. Kannan thinks France will win if you do not think so, you will bet with him.” Ramu opened up his idea of the bets.
“But you need to have your own assessment as which team is likely to win before entering so many bets…” I told him.
“Tell me how Germany can win? There is England, there is France, Argentina, and Brazil… it is not that easy… I am going to bet Abdulla.” Ramu was firm.
“So you will not bet Kannan” I remarked.
“I will bet Kannan as well… he thinks France will win… he forgets there is Germany. Then there is England, Brazil… I am going to show him what foot ball is? “He told me and did not wait for my reply even. The coin was still in hand firmly held.
Soon after, Vijay occupied the seat in my front.
“So? Rao. It a foot ball world cup and so you will not bet” he remarked in a teasing style.
“Why not? I can bet…but not Dhs 500… First, because its foot ball and second, because India is not playing. I will bet a cup of ice cream for the final match will go to the extra time” I told in a firm voice.
“That everyone knows… no one will bet you on that… anything else?” told Vijay.
“The final score differential will be just one goal” hesitantly I told my second bet.
“That too is almost certainty… no bets…”
“I do not want to take any other bet. I do not follow the game closely because India is not playing “I told.
“If India were playing?” asked Vijay laughingly.
“I will not answer hypothetical questions”… I answered like a seasoned politician and kept quiet.
We saw Reddy eating all alone in the next table and Vijay pulled him into conversation.
“Reddy sir, what is your opinion? Would you like to take any bet?”
“Why not?” He told with all the confidence, smiling at us.
I was surprised! His football knowledge is poorer than me!
“Which team you would bet to win?” Vijay encouraged him.
“That I do not know” Reddy told with all the confidence. “But with Greg Chappell as the coach and his tactics of changing the positions of players, I would bet India will not win the world cup whether it is football or cricket”
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Author: Gopinath Rao- UAE