Kolkata: The husband is 81 and a former footballer, the wife 72 and a football fan. This Kolkata couple loves football so much that they are off to Brazil next week to watch the World Cup. In 1982, they were in England when a friend suggested they go watch the World Cup in Spain. Smitten, they made it their life's ambition to watch every subsequent World Cup. This year will be their ninth.
Today, as they pack their bag, they are as excited as their first time at the beautiful game. "I went to Spain for the first time, then Mexico, then Italy, then America, the fifth was France, then Germany, then Japan-Korea, then South Africa and now we are going to Brazil," said Pannalal Chatterjee.
His wife Chaitali Chatterjee adds, "We enjoyed it so much the first time and the football is so advanced, unless you sit in the ground and watch, it is just not the same thing. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we said, let's save and see if it is possible to go again. We managed."
Their fondest memory is witnessing Diego Maradona's hand of God goal and bumping into Pele, both in 1986.
But how do they do it? Their means are modest, to say the least - a Rs. 7500 pension and a small sari business. Well, for four years between every World Cup, they make small sacrifices and save and save.
"We save a certain amount of money every month. Whatever the difficulty, we don't touch that money. But suppose there is a wedding in the family or a sudden medical expense in one month, then next month, we won't eat any fish," says the couple.
The Chatterjee's leave Kolkata on June 17. But their excitement is tinged with a little sadness. The years are catching up and this may be the last time they are fit to travel for the World Cup. Next time, they may have to watch the game on TV, but with nine World Cups under their belt, there are surely no regrets.