In mid-April 2005, I was on the District Line train from Mansion House to South Kensington, in London, and in the Victoria station, a huge number of people got on to the train. They were all dressed in red, and carrying Liverpool scarves and cans of Carlsberg beer. They were on their way to Stamford Bridge, to watch Liverpool take on Chelski in the Champions League semis at Stamford Bridge. And they started singing.
It is said that couples who share a number of passions are closer. The corollary is that one way of getting closer as a couple is to develop shared passions. However, things aren’t so easy.
Sometimes it can so happen that one partner is a “leader” when it comes to the hobby while the other is a “follower”, and that can ruin some dynamics. Let me explain. Among other things, I’m passionate about spaghetti westerns and Liverpool FC. Pinky is passionate about chick flicks, theatre, “Full House” and “How I met your mother”. We’ve both independently tried getting the other interested in our respective passions. I’ve watched a number of chick flicks, liked a few of them, but not so much to develop a passion for the genre. Pinky has watched some Liverpool games, but her fundamental dislike for sport-watching makes it hard for her to develop it as a passion.
We’ve tried hard, both to convince the spouse to take up our respective passions, and to get ourselves to get interested in the spouse’s passion. Sadly, things haven’t worked out as well as we’d thought. It’s been hard on both of us. Like today I fidgeted through an hour of a 90s Kannada comedy before declaring (rather rudely) that I was getting bored. Watching me fidget, I’m sure, would have made Pinky uncomfortable, and feel a sense of responsibility.
Such asymmetric passions can cause grief for both the “leader” and the “follower”. The follower tries hard to “fit in”, while the leader tries hard to make sure the follower is fitting in. The dynamics thus created can ruin whatever positive energy a shared passion can create.
All is not lost, though. I only talked about asymmetric passions here. The key is in finding activities which both parties are independently passionate about. My all-time favourite movie is this Kannada movie called Ganeshana Maduve, which I’ve watched at least 20 times. At least 15 of these were before 2009, when I first met Pinky. By then, she too had watched the movie at least 15 times. Both of us are independently passionate about it and we never seem to tire of it. We use dialogues from the movie in everyday conversation, and watch it every time it comes on TV (the other day, it was playing on ETV Kannada early in the morning. As soon as my mother-in-law saw that it was playing she rang me up. I DVRd it, so now we can watch it every day if we want).
Pinky and I are both passionate about Ganeshana Madhuve. We are passionate about long intellectual conversations (which is what made us talk as much as it did back when we were just “blog friends”). We love experimenting with food, both in terms of cooking and eating. Unfortunately the list isn’t as long as we might have liked it, so sometimes we need to invent shared passions. So far we’ve tried imposing our respective individual passions on one another, and that hasn’t worked out too well. Is there a way out?
I can think of one way out. Jointly trying to develop interests in activities neither of us knows much of currently. The odds there are lower that we will both end up liking it, but then again, we are both at the same level. There is no leader and follower, and the disruptive dynamics that ruin passions we try to foist upon one another could be avoided. What do you think we should do?
It’s been yet another frustrating season as a Liverpool FC fan. You might say that this can be said but just about every season, but unlike in the last two seasons when we played shit and there was no hope, we have actually been playing well this season, and just haven’t been able to convert that into goals. I didn’t watch the loss to Fulham and I agree we were absolute shit against Spurs, but King Kenny’s statement that we “deserved” to have won every game apart from that Spurs game does have some merit.
I don’t remember the exact stats right now, but two things stand out. LFC has the maximum number of shots that have hit the post or crossbar this season (eighteen, if I’m not wrong). And we also have the lowest ratio in terms of goals to shots on goal. So basically it seems like we’ve been doing pretty well getting the ball into the D, but have been quite wasteful from there. The other notable stat that comes to mind is that we have conceded the least goals this season among all teams (13, I think), and that includes the time when Johnson and Agger were injured, when we had become somewhat porous. Now, with a settled back five, we seem to be doing quite well defensively despite the season-long loss of Lucas Leiva.
Despite the attacking opportunities and number of shots on goal that we’ve got, I’ve felt throughout this season that there has been something missing about this team. There’s something disjointed about the attacking moves. There’s a lack of cohesion. Back when we had Xabi, we had a natural route to switch flanks on the attack – simply pass the ball back to Xabi who will control the game. Unfortunately, good though he is, Adam is not in the same class, and so this route doesn’t seem to be that fluid.
For the first month, I thought the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle was Gerrard, and though he was good (against Man U, etc.) after seeing him play I realized he was not the answer I was looking for. To be absolutely frank, I don’t think his absence from the team (from a purely sporting perspective, without taking into account leadership and morale) has had that much of an impact.
The win against Aston Villa came quite easy (after the couple of early goals, the game was won on autopilot), but I think the big gain from the game was the performance of Jonjo Shelvey. Of course, he wasn’t involved too much, but the little I saw of him (including that back-heel that set up the first goal) showed immense promise, and hopefully he can be developed into a fine advanced midfielder. Speaking of which…
So, I think, the missing piece in the jigsaw is a clever advanced playmaker. A classic number ten, as they would call him in South America. Someone like Juan Roman Riquelme, or Mesut Ozil, or even Iniesta. Someone who plays high up the pitch, and can distribute intelligently and pass accurately. It seems now that Adam has taken on this role, but he seems a bit too slow at times, and not accurate enough. I think he is suited for a more withdrawn playmaking role, and a good number ten in front of him can do a great job of tying the team together.
It is for this reason that I was sad to see Raul Meireles go, for I thought he was someone who was quite capable of being developed for that role (I quite enjoyed how the Arsenal game transformed after he came on). Gerrard has the drive and ambition and pace and all that, but I don’t think he’s smart enough for that. Shelvey might be developed there but for now he’s too young. I’ve seen Henderson play there but again he seems to play much more like Gerrard and much less like an advanced playmaker.
That leaves two players in the squad who are capable of playing that role, but both are away on loan, and both displayed horrible form when they played for LFC. Hopefully the loan spell will help either or both of Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani to get back to form, and hope that King Kenny and co realize that the advanced playmaker role is the one that they’ve been sorely missing, and are able to keep either or both of these two when it comes to next season.
For now, though, there are other worries, with Suarez having been banned for eight games. I guess the season will continue to frustrate.