The son of a streetside snack vendor will head to Old Trafford.
Every morning, 16-year-old Arko Dey helps his mother run an eatery selling telebhajias in a cacophonous north Kolkata neighbourhood.
For hours, the mother and son fry sliced potatoes laced with gram flour paste. Some days, when sales are brisk, the cash box is full. But there are also days when very few customers turn up.
The lives of mother and son swing between hope and despair.
Last week, a tearful Dey told his mother that the family’s troubles could soon be over.
Dey has been selected to train with the U-21 team of Manchester United, the world’s most followed soccer club, and will soon be heading to Old Trafford.
It was like a street actor being selected for a part in a Hollywood film. In August, Dey had participated in the talent hunt in Goa, where he impressed Manchester United soccer school coaches.
“My mother wept,” said Dey. “We live in abject poverty. She knows nothing about Manchester United.” When she heard the news, she walked more than 5 km barefoot to pray for her son at the iconic Dakshineswar Kali temple.
Dey said his mother was shocked when told the family’s monthly earnings of Rs 2,000 is the cash required to pay for a tour of the Manchester United ground.
Dey, who does not even have a passport yet, wants to join a top Indian club on return. He wants to leave his one-room home in Baranagar that lies close to a highway where backfiring trucks and belching taxis create Kolkata’s worst traffic snarls.
“I do not want her to sell fried vegetables anymore,” he said. “I am confident of my earnings. No one ignores a footballer who has trained with Man U.”
Around the same time that Dey found a reason to dream, a similar hope emerged from the despair of Sonagachi, the north Kolkata neighbourhood that is home home to an estimated 12,000 sex workers.
Rajeeb Roy, the 16 year-old son of Rekha, a sex worker, was told by his coach of his selection to train at Man U.
“It was like a father’s recognition,” said Roy, his voice choked with emotion.
Roy said he has been praying for a breakthrough in soccer ever since he started playing as a boy.
The 16-year-old is a class IX student of Rahul Vidya Niketan in Sealdah, a school for sex worker's children organised by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee that funds a soccer initiative among children of sex workers in West Bengal.
"I was very nervous when I met the coaches from the Manchester United. I knew I had to perform to get selected," said Roy, who helped West Bengal win the National Slum Soccer Tournament in Nagpur in 2014.
He plays as a frontliner and loves to dribble, his idol being Oscar, the fleet-footed Brazillian footballer.
He knows that, like him, Oscar also came up from poverty to make a mark.
As corporate India changes from strait-jacketed to stylish, here’s how you can stay on-trend
For men and women, tips to make your office style game strong.
Office wear in India tends to be conservative. For men, the staple blue or white shirt and dark trouser arranged in a monotonous assembly line has been a permanent feature of the wardrobe (a tactic shrewdly administered to ensure minimum time is spent shopping). For women, androgynous work wear has been ever reliable and just as dull.
But camouflage is of no use in the corporate jungle anymore. The Indian office is no longer a place for dull, unthinking conformity, it is a place that expects vibrancy in thought and action. With a younger workforce and a greater mix of multinationals and jobs, there is a greater acceptance of edgier trends. Men are stepping away from their blues and greys and women are reshaping their workwear to be more interesting and distinctly feminine. As corporate India is proving its mettle on the global stage and to itself, it’s also growing confident in expressing individuality and style in the formal work environment. From clothing to office décor and fashion accessories to work tools, the workplace is becoming a place to display merit as well as taste.
Work clothes have shed their monochrome and moved into the light of technicolor. Bright colours have steadily become popular as Pantone’s annual colours of the year show us. For the corporate warrior who wants to be stylish here is our pick of trends worth considering.
Statement jacket. A statement jacket is one that doesn’t merely stand out in a crowd, but blows it open for you. How do you recognize one? You’ll know it when you see it. Most statement jackets have a non-traditional color. They could also have subtle prints on them if you want to go funky.
Technicolor socks. Multicolored socks (or hipster socks as they are known in some quarters) peek out every once in a while and brighten things up in the workplace. From polka dots and caricatures to geometric patterns, you can choose a pair to suit your mood or your workplace. A great way of telling people you don’t take fashion rules seriously (except these ones).
Plaid: Well played is well, plaid. Great for your 9-to-5 and even performs well after. Plaids, in shirts and jackets, are perhaps the most versatile tool in the corporate warrior’s armory, and straddle the fine line between formal and casual effectively. They’re also age-resistant meaning a young buck in his twenties can rock them as much as your seasoned forty-plus campaigner. Plaid, though Scottish in origin, has an Indian connection too, in the Madras checks that became popular all over the world after the World War.
Inside collars and cuffs. If you like to keep it classy but still a little edgy, nothing does it like contrast or printed insides of your collar and cuffs. After the work day, when it’s proper to roll up your sleeves, it even adds a touch of evening character.
Coloured Shoes. Alternate your staid blacks and browns with variants like burgundy, light buttery browns and ashen blues. Play with moccasins, tassel loafers and lace-ups. Go beyond leather and try suede and maybe even canvas. But do remember to take a quick course in matching.
Floral prints. Flowers are back (though one could argue that they never went out) and now they’re storming the bastion of your office. Even the traditional Indian paisley is making its way into formal wear. With the prevalence of digital printing, with a little hunting, you’ll even find beautiful florals in watercolour style.
Scarves. The first rule of wearing scarves is to rid yourself of the notion that they are to be worn only in winter. A colourful scarf paired with a monochrome top works wonders. A dozen online videos will teach you to wear it in a dozen ways. Plus, it always comes in handy when the thermostat isn’t to your liking. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wears scarves frequently, and is a great example of how you can use it strikingly.
Pants. Yes. Pants. Experiment with different styles and you’ll be surprised how they can really spruce up a boring look. Silhouette is everything when it comes to pants. Choose from high-waisted, wide legged, pleated to ankle length pants and what not! The best part is offices rarely prescribe silhouettes, so you can always get by with some style even if your workplace demands a uniform.
Houndstooth. The houndstooth pattern is at the sweet intersection between casual and formal and can be worn to make a splash in either occasion. Whether its jackets or a dress or a simple top, a houndstooth pattern is incredibly versatile.
Chic suits. A sharp suit is a must for a modern professional’s wardrobe. And please don’t even look in the direction of black. Pastel colours or even greys with patterns are great options for suits. Uncoordinated suits are also a great option depending on how edgy you want your office attire to be.
It isn’t enough to be well-dressed in the modern workplace. A good professional is known by his or her tools and how they carry it.
Designer laptop sleeves. Your high-precision instrument deserves a cover chosen with as much care. Black Neoprene is out. Pastel monochromes, geometric patterns and bold designs are very much in. Different materials like cotton, leather and even paper are a great option.
Natural fiber or leather bags (yes kill your black synthetic one now). Briefcases are ancient and black messenger bags are done. Go for a color variant or a subtle pattern. Pay attention to the different leather finishes. Adding a few nicely done metal trims can make all the difference. But convenience and ease are top priority. If you travel a lot, get a stylish strolley and thank yourself later.
Commute pack. The urban corporate needs to be productive at all times, or at the very least, needs to be accessible. A modern commute pack should include wireless headphones, a USB battery pack (power bank) and a wire/gadget organisation pack just so that you’re always prepared.
Machine. We’ve all showed off our latest smartphones. Your work machine is way more important. And like in smartphones, a good laptop is no longer only about performance. The specifications must be top-notch but it has also become an expression of your personality. It can up your style quotient and significantly impact your experience.
The Dell XPS 13 is one device that achieves excellence in both form and function. With a virtually borderless infinity display that maximises screen space, and measuring a super slim 9-15mm, the Dell XPS 13 is an unalloyed delight. A sixth generation Intel® Core™ processor and the latest Intel HD graphics gives cutting edge performance for 18 hours and 14 minutes per charge—the longest battery life in any 13-inch device. The Dell XPS 13 epitomises the ethos of the modern day corporate warrior—chic and smart. To make even more of a fashion statement, you now get a free TUMI laptop sleeve worth Rs. 9000 with your XPS notebook purchase (offer valid till 31st October). For more information about the Dell XPS 13, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.