A Journey Of A FlagBy: Kaushik | February 8th, 2011
Paulo Martin, esto es para ti
Paulo Martin, this is for you
This is a special story about love, compassion and respect. Written by a Madridista for a Madridista, it demonstrates how boundaries collapse when you stand up for a cause.
When Andres Iniesta got the ball in the six yard box and fired it home with unerring ability for an extra time winner, it was difficult to judge exactly how I felt then. Fuzzed as I was with all those spirits coursing thruugh my veins, nothing had prepared me for Iniesta’s celebration following the goal. While a Higuain may have punched the air or an Ibrahimovich may have shown off supreme attitude, Iniesta removed his jersey and it wasn’t to display his six packs. On a white sleeveless muscle tee were sketched these words: “Dani Jarque, Siempre Con Nosotros”, in memory of fellow friend and embittered rival club Espanyol’s player, Dani Jarque who had died in tragic circumstances the previous year leaving behind a girlfriend with a kid on the way.
It was this gesture that jogged my senses, albeit slowly. I’m a confirmed atheist, but I mouthed my thanks to whatever powers that may exist above and paid tribute to my friend Paulo Martin, a fellow Madridista who we met on the internet forums; who died last year in tragic circumstances leaving behind his family and a host of we people around the world unable to fathom the suddenness with which he was taken away from us. Just as Spain showed us in July that you don’t need to have a ‘national pride’ to win, as Andres Iniesta showed to the world that you can be dear friends with your neighborhood rivals, as Paulo Martin showed everyone he knew that you can’t let your obsessive love for something cloud your appreciation of the other you don’t, I’m a Madridista telling a story about a small thing we tried, to pay our respects to Paulo with the aim of letting you know that a small group of people can make a difference.
There were four of us, Madridistas, who were friends with Paulo through the Ether. We met up in a pub in Mumbai, India, just as we normally do to catch up on our lives where we had this idea of having a flag with a Real Madrid logo sent on a journey around the world and people who knew Paulo and felt for him could write their goodbye messages on it. The idea was to later send this flag to Paulo’s family as a testament that there are so many people around the world who share their sense of loss. Cules and Madridistas together.
At first it seemed like a daunting task because we’d be too reliant on unreliable services (the post office & the courier services, for instance) and a single careless move by one of us could mean that the flag would be lost forever. However, we still decided to go ahead with it, with us dividing responsibilities between ourselves; one of us getting people to sign up for this initiative and charter a route from India to Spain, while others trying to find out the average courier charges it would take to move the flag inside India and then over the world. After some back and forth, we finally managed to chart a route for the flag to travel to, from India to Spain.
The 1st leg of the journey was in India and headed by a couple of us who kept tabs on the flag’s journey at all points like policemen. The flag moved through various states in India and there was a scare when it got held up in Kolkata due to a postal strike, and a power outage at the same time meant that our guys in Kolkata could not update us about the status of the flag as well. The flag updates in themselves, were always touching. Every time someone got the flag and they read the messages written on it, it brought on a rush of emotions, the conversations we had with Paulo. It helped us bond closer. We might not have met each other personally ever, but Paulo and his flag brought us closer than some of our closest friends.
The 2nd leg of the journey was where the flag moved out of India and this is where it really went out of our control since we were talking about different countries, different courier services; plenty of scope for things to go wrong. From India, the flag moved to Singapore & China, from there on it went to the UAE after which it was couriered to the UK, US and finally from Canada to Spain. We, the initial flame bearers noted a distinct difference that all the people who had signed the flag back in India kept tabs about its status and every week we had someone or the other inquiring about the flag’s latest whereabouts. There was a scare on the international leg as well when the flag was apparently lost in transit as both the sender and the receiver had changed apartments. But thanks to both of them, they tracked down the flag through the courier service and had it delivered finally.
In August, the flag left for its final destination, Spain. Incidentally, the last recipient was a Cule living in the UK. This journey, in itself, was a revelation to me that we people can do anything if we decide to work towards a common cause. I’d urge everyone reading this to contribute some of their hard earned money every year to some noble cause. You may never know how many lives you’d enrich directly or indirectly. Thanks for taking the time to read this long article; I’ll end it just the way it started but with a twist: Paulo Martin, Siempre Con Nosotros.
This article was written few months ago by my friend Ashay Kubal, who also posts sometimes on our blog as Another Prick in the Wall. I was also part of the forum where we as Madridistas would talk and discuss football and other things. Paulo was an intelligent man and a passionate fan, but most of all he was best known for the level headed person he was, by us and Cules alike. Today, barely a week after his first death anniversary, I thought I should share this story, as a mark of respect for a great man. Paulo, we miss you.