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Russia 2018: When goodbye becomes painful

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France’s players celebrate with their World Cup trophy during the trophy ceremony at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO 

There are times in your life when you have to say goodbye to people and places.

Be it willingly or unwillingly. Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things in life. Goodbyes are hard. It may be harder for the person leaving; but it’s always hardest for the person being left behind.

That is the situation I find myself as the World Cup comes to an end. It’s a difficult situation to think and to remember that all the people and places you have come to know and love would be fading away like an evening shadow.

Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Luzhniki, Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Rostov-On-Don, Volgograd, Saransk, and Yekaterinburg among all the beautiful cities that hosted the World Cup matches. It’s difficult to wave goodbye to such eye-gripping facilities, the smooth roads, trains, electricity that never blinked for a second and the beautiful and wonderful people. The Police who do not understand English but would politely guide you safely to your destination.

It’s not the goodbye that hurts but the flashbacks that follow.

The Volunteers. Excellent. Always-smiling boys and girls, men and women and professionals like Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists who devoted their time to ensure that Russia World Cup 2018 finds a place in history. And indeed, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino lavished accolades on the host when he proclaimed  Russia 2018 as the “best World Cup” ever, thanks to the quality of football and organisation of the tournament.

And now, my guide. Ekaterina. I call her Pathfinder. Ever-ready. I’ll miss you. I’m consoled by the words of Washington Irving; ‘’ There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love”.

And as I go to Nigeria to behold another ‘Hello’ from my wife and children, I beg you to remember and smile for its better to forget than to remember me and cry.

Sniffing Trouble!

I never knew or imagined that there was anything to sniff other than the tobacco snuff. That was while growing up. My father never handled tobacco and so I grew up to despise it. But I still remember one old woman that not only sniffed but also licked the snuff. The problem with tobacco is that the nicotine and tar easily absorbs into pores causing a yellow or brown discoloration.

I was jolted the other day when the Russian national team were accused of sniffing ammonia which helps increase lung capacity before their historic victory over Spain and defeat by Croatia at the World Cup. What a pain to Spain!

But Russian team Doctor brushed aside the consequences when he confirmed  the players sniffed ammonia he before downplayed it’s consequences  saying: ‘It is simple ammonia which pieces of cotton are dipped into and is then inhaled. Thousands of sports-people do it to stimulate themselves. It has been used for decades.’

Never knew of Ammonia. Only know of Codeine, Benylin, Tramadol, Gum and the most bizarre of it, inhaling toilet.

Ammonia is not classed as a prohibited substance in international anti-doping regulations but it can improve athletic performance by stimulating breathing and improving the flow of oxygen in the blood.

Russian players were snapped allegedly sniffing the ammonia-drenched pieces of cotton before their matches against Russia and Spain.

Ammonia can help athletes’ breathing and blood flow before performing but it is not prohibited by FIFA’s anti-doping laws.

It can be bought over the counter in Russia and Bezuglov said: ‘It is not only used in sport but in people’s daily lives when someone loses consciousness or feels weak, simply because of the strong smell it gives off.

‘You can go to any pharmacy and buy ammonia and cotton, this is not a case of doping. I am at the Russian pharmacy. Do you want one?

 Deti Festivalya

The countdown is on. I know you would be wondering the countdown I mean since the World Cup just rounded up in Russia.

The word above is referred to mixed-race children born to Russian mothers after international events in Russia. They mean ‘’Festival Children”.

Remember that before the commencement of the World Cup, Tamara Pletnyova warned Russian women that ‘’we must give birth to our own”.

The head of the Committee on Children, Women and Family, warned Russian women against getting too friendly with foreign fans. “It’s OK if they are of the same race. But if they are of another race, then that’s something entirely different.”

That angered so many people including some Russian women who were ready to rock and roll in the spirit of the World Cup. And as the World Cup ends, the countdown is on to know if truly Pletnyova’s warning was adhered or not. Just a matter of nine months.

Hair-llo Duro!

I never knew that Duro Ikhazuabe has such amazing cooking and barbing skills.

God endowed him with talents outside Journalism. With hairs turning to nests and grey hairs threatening the remaining black ones and baldness becoming pronounced on many, Duro had to remember his forgotten talents. He was so good at it. Atleast, Okpara’s hair which looked like River Jordan when Moses parted it became even after clearing the remaining halves. If not for Duro, a hair cut here in a saloon goes for 1000 Ruble equivalent of N6,000. Not to cut off the head, to cut the hair.


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