If you go to Kolkata today, at this very moment, you’d find in the land of the great Tagore, the lordly Vivekanand, the valiant Bose, something that has got nearly the entire city talking in unison. The land of the great Mohan Bagan is smitten today but by something different, fascinated by a popular sporting hero, someone the world loves despite its obvious geographical disparity.

It’s that man whose first name pays homage to the soul of a lion and one, who inarguably plays like a king- Lionel Messi. In the great surge of Messi-love, an ordinary tea-seller is dominating discussion in the entirety of Kolkata. At this moment, Shib Shankar Patra is quite a celeb in his own right.

Apart from being a massive Messi fan, which is understood given the great popularity of Argentine footballing champion, Patra has converted a dull moment of life into something worth cheering about.

For years together, Shib Shankar Patra- an Argentina devotee all thanks to Messi- had harboured one dream and one dream alone. He simply wanted to save money to travel to Argentina to see his ‘hero’ play live in front of his eyes. But what his royal savings of INR 60,000 did was at best, fetch him remorse, at being turned down by a travel agent who truthfully informed him that the amount would not suffice at any cost.

And that is where Patra’s hero inside kicked in. His remorse was short-lived. He didn’t crib. He didn’t despair, instead, he decided to enjoy the magnum opus of football, the much-anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup in his own special way.

Wondering what he did? Any idea, what he may have done? Well, to put it simply, Patra converted his house into an Argentine-styled abode. But to put it eruditely, the ordinary tea-seller actually painted a three-storey building in full Argentinian colours so as to delve deep into the fanfare of celebrating his favourite team, to root for his idol- Lionel Messi.

At this juncture, if anyone wished to sip some lovely ‘chai’ at the tea-stall of Patra, he’d find to his utter surprise the colourful tea-stall decked in full Argentinian national colours. That’s quite a lovely make-over, isn’t it?

What was, till a few days ago a normal tea-stall, though frequented by locals in the heart of Kolkata has turned into a den of unbridled support for among Soccer’s most watched and loved teams.

One wonders just what might be the kind of vibe at the tea-stall in the coming days? Wondering why? On June 24, Messi shall celebrate his birthday, whilst competing in the midst of the FIFA World Cup. At around this time, the local support in Kolkata, led by Patra the tea-stall owner could be expected to go all out in their love for their hero.

At the present moment, every day during normal working hours, people flock to the tea-stall to gather pictures some pictures, including the most important one of the man who made Kolkata appreciate Messi in a different way; over a hot sip of tea. Everyone is decked in Argentina’s jerseys and there is a shared passion to revel in the love for a team that is expected to do what is long pending: lift the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

We know that fans of sports do all sorts of weird things. The sight of cricket having arguably the greatest Sachin-fan and now, the Dhoni fan doing the rounds of talks in sporting circles has made headlines. But don’t undermine Football ever. Soccer fans are among the most passionate in the world.

Patra, the kind-hearted man maintains earnestly that on Messi’s birthday, he has a simple plan. He will be distributing Messi, Argentina’s t-shirts to kids around the city and they will together cut a cake. One hopes that Argentina gives something tremendous back in return to besotted fans, some of whom pray of its success here in India.

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