Monday, 30 April 2007

A Poisoned Chalice, Cortisone Shots and Overcoming Injection Phobia

The World Cup is over. It kept me occupied for the past seven weeks and also provided me with much material for my blog! I now have to readjust to a World Cup less World and also think a bit more about what to write. Speaking of cricket, the West Indies has a new captain, coach and manager. My sympathies go out to Sarwan for he has truly been handed a poisoned chalice albeit for one tour- he has only been appointed for the tour to England after which his performance will be reviewed (by the same administrators who have no knowledge of the concepts of transparency, democracy and accountability and are in dire need of removal). I don’t know much about the coach David Moore except that he was the assistant coach under Bennett King. Will he do a better job? Mike Findlay’s appointment as manager is classic WICB old boy’s network at play and a case of recycling failures. A former chief of selector is now manager; there is no attempt at introducing new blood; in dynamism; in progress.

I had a doctor’s appointment today as well as therapy. I have been going to therapy about 2-3 times a week and every other session the therapist introduces a new exercise. Since my alarm two weeks ago at having forgotten how to walk, I have progressed to a point where I can stand on the foot that is injured and with the help of crutches lift my right foot. I can also stand on my left foot and take a small step forward and back with my injured foot. The doctor thinks that I need to wean myself off of the crutches now as my foot is progressing and I need to get back to using it. I will continue wearing the boot to protect the foot though. I am therefore using one crutch and within a few days I am supposed to switch to a cane. Using one crutch takes some getting used to and I instinctively want to resist putting any weight on my right foot. My foot is also hurting with the increase of weight on it and I now realise that what I was told about therapy being very painful is true. The first part with electrical stimulation, ultrasound and massages was good and the exercises while painful at some points were generally bearable. The part with walking without support is another story!

Besides all of that I had another cortisone shot today, the fifth one so far. I still cannot look at the syringe so I just glance away while the doctor sticks my foot. For those who don’t know, I have a huge syringe phobia. I didn’t actually have it when I was smaller and I remember getting injections at the doctor without any fuss and even getting a vaccination when I was in secondary school when there was a measles scare in Barbados. However, when I was about 14 my mother became very ill. She needed to be given injections everyday and one of my sisters was the one who volunteered to do it. Needless to say, the injections would hurt very badly. When she was hospitalised, she had lots of drips and needles stuck in her and this coupled with the nurses never finding her veins and sticking her all over freaked me out and I developed a serious fear of syringes. I can take a needle and stick my skin or use it to take out a splinter but show me a syringe and I will cringe. I took a significant risk in 1999 by not getting vaccinated for my four month trip to India and I absolutely refused to get any blood tests done until my doctor finally managed to persuade me to get one in 2005 as part of a physical check up. I still close my eyes when there is an injection being administered on tv and this is the first time since my mother died almost 14 years ago that I have had one. I think the last injection I had was in December 1993 when I had some fillings put in at the dentist.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

LA Riots Fifteen Years On

Fifteen years ago, Los Angeles, California broke out in riots after an all-white jury acquitted four white police officers charged with the beating of black motorist, Rodney King. The brutal beating of Rodney which was captured on video followed by the appalling decision would serve to highlight, that in “the land of the free and home of the brave”, the black man was still not an equal. The four policemen were retried, two were acquitted again and two were found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. King’s treatment was not isolated and before the end of the century, a number of other incidences had occurred involving police brutality and abuse against black men. The cases of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima who was severely beaten and then sexually abused by New York City police officers in a Brooklyn station in 1997 and Amadou Diallo, the unarmed Guinean immigrant who was shot 41 times and killed by New York City police officers in 1999 stand out.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Of National Heroes and Farcical Endings

It was apt that what has been failure of a tournament would end in a farcical manner. No one had any control over the rain but the ICC’s rules destroyed any prospect of a complete and competitive game. Once the rain had delayed play to such a large extent, the logical step would have been to play the normal 50 overs match over two days but the ICC, pandering to the television networks and focused on extracting maximum profit, had in place rules to reduce the overs and try as far as possible to finish the game in one day. It is absurd to play a final or a semi final for that matter of the most important event in international cricket in 38 overs.

Gilchrist plundered Sri Lanka’s highly rated bowling but I think that if the rain had not intervened or if Duckworth/Lewis had not come into effect, the Sri Lankans stood a good chance of chasing down the Aussie score. We will never know though, because in their greed, the ICC robbed the tournament of a really good game. The umpires and match referee obviously had to join in the act and their bizarre interpretation of the rules meant that international cricket had to be subjected to the indignity of players playing three overs in darkness. Anyone watching who was not a cricket fan would have been amazed at the silliness of it all. The ICC has repeatedly stated its aim of popularising cricket all over the world. Once again it failed miserably in its task.

Two articles expanding on the above can be read here and here.

Today is Barbados’ National Heroes Day and normally there would be activities to commemorate the lives of the ten outstanding Barbadians who played critical roles in shaping our country’s history. Hosting the final of the Cricket World Cup meant that the Day had to take a backseat this year. However, the only living Hero, Sir Garfield Sobers, was present at the presentation ceremony and presented one of the awards. It may seem strange to some people that a sporting icon is a National Hero of a country, but for the Caribbean the game is much more than a sport and is intertwined in the social, economic and political landscape of these small islands. For Barbadians, Sir Garry is more than the greatest cricketer to have walked the globe; he was a man born in a tiny British colony but who would stride the cricketing world like a giant, earning the respect and admiration of millions. Cricketing success instilled a pride in West Indians and in the words of C.L.R. James, it goes “Beyond the Boundary”.

Friday, 27 April 2007

CWC 2007 Comes to a Close and Memories of Kensington Oval

*Photo from

The biggest event to ever have been hosted by the region is drawing to a close. It has been a financial success for the ICC. For fans from all over the world, Caribbean people and cricket in general, it has largely been a failure. Much has been written about all the problems that have plagued the tournament so I will not dwell on that. Needless to say, I have very strong views on the issues but I think its best for me to stick to the actual field of play.

Tomorrow’s game will be a rematch of the 1996 final. Eleven years ago, the Sri Lankans were not regarded by anyone as having a chance of winning. Their victory and the manner in which they played the game was the stuff of fairy tales. A team which had only recently been the whipping boy of international cricket was now world champion. In 2007 they are an established side with genuine world class players and a few cricketing legends to spice things up but they will still go into tomorrow’s game as the underdogs. Such is the dominance of the Aussies. I will be rooting for the Sri Lankans as I have been doing since the West Indies knocked themselves out of the tournament.

A good preview of tomorrow’s game can be read here.

And for added measure, here are two articles (1 and 2) about the home of West Indian cricket, Kensington Oval. Holding’s over to Boycott and Rowe’s 302 were before my time, but I did see among many other stand out performances, Marshall smash Salim Yousuf’s nose with a bouncer in 1987, Ambrose run through England’s batting on the last day of the test in 1990, Carlisle Best score 164 in the same match, Greenidge brutalise the Aussies in his last test innings with a double century in 1990 and Haynes score a century off Wasim and Waqar in 1992. Unfortunately I was in England studying in 1999 when Lara scored 153 against Australia in what is regarded as his best innings and could only watch on tv. Good memories but there are also bad memories like 1994 when Alec Stewart scored two centuries in a match as we lost a test at Kensington for the first time since 1935 and 2003 when Ponting and Waugh scored centuries to help Australia to a mammoth 605 on a slow dry pitch that was an insult to Kensington. That was the last time I went to Kensington. I chose not to go in 2004 when the English were there because I knew we would lose and I refused to suffer the indignity of seeing in person the old enemy securing their first series triumph in the Caribbean for 36 years at what was once our fortress.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Perennial Chokers

International cricket’s recurrent chokers lived up to their billing and handed a finals spot to the well oiled Aussie machine. Who would have thought though that the manner of choking would be of such magnanimity? I could not believe my eyes as one after the other, South Africa’s batsmen threw away their wicket, playing like primary school children. Australia bowled well, but there was nothing in the bowling to justify a score of 27/5 after 10 overs. No score attained after this would have been enough to defend and especially against a team like the Aussies. So South Africa came to the Caribbean ranked as the number one team in one day internationals. They return home with their reputation of choking on the big stage and especially in World Cups enhanced just as New Zealand go home after falling once again at the semi finals stage.

Sri Lanka versus Australia, Kensington Oval, Barbados, April 28th- can the exciting and likeable Asians defeat the arrogant Aussie juggernaut?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

West Indian Turmoil and a Sri Lankan Demolition Job

Sri Lanka completely dismantled the New Zealanders today to reach their second World Cup final. It was an outstanding performance and they dominated from the time they won the toss and decided to bat. Any attempts by New Zealand to fight back were strongly resisted and the captain led from the front with a perfect example of how to pace a one day international innings. He followed that up with some excellent captaincy, reflected by his decision to bowl Dilshan when New Zealand was trying to wrestle control after the loss of two wickets. Besides Jayawardene’s performance, that of the umpires and in particular Rudy Koertzen stood out but for differing reasons. Two extremely poor decisions went against the Sri Lankans when they were batting and I find it hard to believe that two top umpires can make such huge mistakes. Koertzen added to his howler in Sri Lanka’s innings by denying them an extremely close LBW call and then singling out Fernando for shocking treatment. To warn a bowler twice in his first over for running onto the pitch without speaking to him before was a bit harsh and I felt that New Zealand was playing with 12 men on their side today! While Fernando had a bad day at the office, the rest of Sri Lanka's varied attack all did well. Vaas bowled his normal line and length, Malinga was fiery and Muralitharan hiw wily self; will this bowling attack be enough to stop the Aussies in the finals? I am assuming that they will beat South Africa tomorrow although I would so love to be wrong!

While the Sri Lankans celebrate, West Indies cricket continues its downward spiral. Lara’s retirement was followed by the resignation of the coach Bennett King and rumours that the WICB President, Ken Gordon, had also resigned. Ken Gordon has since stated that he has not resigned but there has been confusion over the selection of the team to tour England, with Gordon, in response to Lara’s comments in his press conference that he had met with selectors to select the team to England and had selected himself, claiming that the selectors did not meet to select a team. To add to all of this, the WICB and WIPA are locked in another battle; this time it is over the WICB seemingly going back on its agreement with WIPA on the status of the England tour in relation to the ICC’s Future Tours Programme.

Amongst all of this, Ian Bradshaw has announced his retirement. Bradshaw may not be the most naturally gifted player in the team, but he has made the most of his abilities, is a thinking cricketer and has shown total commitment to the West Indies. The West Indies waited until Ridley Jacobs was in his 30s before deciding to select him and it is obvious that they did not learn from that situation for they waited until Bradshaw was 30 before handing him a maroon cap. All manner of undisciplined, uncommitted players were given a chance but Bradshaw, a shining example of hard work, discipline and civilised behaviour was kept out. When he was finally given the chance he performed admirably. Unfortunately his form dipped in this World Cup and he only played three matches. West Indies needs many more players with his attitude.

So what does the future hold for our cricket? I am, to be honest, pessimistic. The WICB cabal/politburo has stubbornly resisted any type of meaningful reform and continues to function almost like a secret society. Unless there is a revolution in the way the game is run in the region, our cricket will fail to lift itself from the lowest ground it has now reached. Rawle Brancker was supposed to deliver the Sir Frank Worrell Lecture tonight on the topic of the WICB. I am looking forward to hearing what he said.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Have I Entertained You?

*Photos from

Yes, bellowed the huge crowd who had turned up to say goodbye to a West Indian legend.

West Indies lost the match; appropriately many may say, as during his time playing for the regional team, it rarely won! Unlike so many times in the past though, he did not shine with the bat but it was not due to any fault of his. He was run out because of a poor piece of cricket by Marlon Samuels who symbolises much that is wrong with our cricket- lack of commitment and mental strength. Samuels will be forever remembered as the man who ran out Brian Lara in his last match. A number of fans have been saying that it was deliberate or that at the minimum selfish, as he called for the run and should have kept running and given up his wicket. Interestingly, according to press reports, when asked during his press conference if Samuels had apologised, Lara fumbled for words and then said “It would have to be a yes, or a no. So I will leave it.”

The whole affair of Lara retiring has a bitter taste to it. Only recently he had made clear his intentions to carry on playing for another couple of years until he was 40 and the manner in which he batted late last year on the tour of Pakistan demonstrated that his hunger for runs and his physical fitness have not waned. One wonders if he was, like many of our other cricketing greats, pushed out. He certainly hinted at it in his press conference. Lara has always been the consummate diplomat and once again he refused to bite at the bait the reporters threw out. However, he did say enough to let people make their own conclusions. Lara, like all of us, has his faults, but he cannot be blamed for the malaise that envelopes our cricket. For that, we must blame the administrators, their incompetence and obsession with power and money along with the way our society has moved towards a culture of mediocrity, materialism, indiscipline and instant gratification. Until we admit the deep-rooted structural problems facing us instead of finding convenient scapegoats, we will never be able to fix our beloved game. Until there is a drastic transformation instead of superficial changes to appease criticism, we will continue to languish at the bottom of the cricketing rankings. Plain and simple!

Brian Charles Lara did entertain. He entertained like no other batsman in his era. The statistics and the records are phenomenal but there was nothing like actually watching him bat. He also had the burden of playing in a team of mediocre players and of having to carry the batting for over a decade. Other great West Indian batsmen (besides George Headley) never had that burden and this makes his achievements even more admirable. We will never see that extravagant back lift, the exquisite cover drive, the deft late cut, the dismissive flick or pull; that seemingly supernatural ability to pierce fields; the utter destruction and total domination of bowling attacks all over the cricketing world. While he has left international cricket, his fans will hope that he goes on to play county cricket for a while still in England. The stage may not be as grand as that of the test arena, but it will still afford some the opportunity to see art in motion.

A transcript of Lara's interview can be seen here.

Friday, 20 April 2007

A Legitimate Sold Out Match?

The news coming out of Barbados today is that there is a mad rush for tickets for tomorrow’s match with the Barbados Defence Force and police being called out to control the crowds coming to buy tickets. It is rather ironic that the only legitimate sold out match will be because Brian Lara has announced his retirement from international cricket! Even with thousands of free tickets being given away for other matches, none have witnessed a full house.

The Aussies annihilated a team that many were saying may challenge them for the title. Well any such thoughts were laid to rest today. They just look totally unstoppable. Can the off day Australia is due come in the semis or finals?

Thursday, 19 April 2007

A Legend's Announcement

“I want everybody to know that on Saturday I'll be bidding farewell to international cricket as a player. I've already spoken to the board and my players.” With these words, a batting colossus announced his retirement from all international cricket today. Saturday’s match in Barbados against the old enemy will be his last. Before the World Cup began, I had hoped to see him lift the trophy on April 28th (I knew it would require a miracle but one can still wish!) and then end his career on a high on the tour to England. It wasn’t meant to be.

Lara is a man who evokes extreme emotions in West Indians. There are people who hate Lara and nothing he does is ever right. Then there are others for whom Lara can never do any wrong. I like to see myself in the middle. I will never blame Lara for the ills that have befallen our cricket. He is just one man in a team of eleven and for most of his career he has been the only batsman (besides Chanderpaul) worthy of wearing the maroon cap. Those who attack Lara as if their life depend on it conveniently ignore the real reasons behind our failure- a complete failure of the administration of the game in the region combined with a general change in attitudes and behaviour of young people. Lara however has his faults and captaincy was not one of his strong points. Many a time he made questionable decisions on the field and those who adulate him refuse to acknowledge this. They also refuse to admit that at some points in his career he acted like a prima donna and as if he was above the rules.

At the end of the day though, Lara was a genius playing in a team of mediocre and often time poor sportsmen. For over a decade he carried the weight of the West Indies and his retirement is our loss. I am sure that if the West Indies miraculously starts doing well, his detractors will say I told you so. If the West Indies keeps declining (is it possible to go any lower?) they will say that he destroyed West Indian cricket beyond repair. Lara, as the saying goes, just cannot win. I will cherish the memories of Lara’s many great innings, from his 277 and 375 to his 153 and 400 and everything in between and after; for me he will always be one of the greatest batsmen to ever walk this earth, better than Tendulkar and better than Ponting! What I have also always admired about him is that despite being faced with criticism for his entire career, he has rarely ever hit back, instead letting his bat speak for him. I look forward to reading his memoirs and to hearing the story from his point of view.

As for Saturday, it will be fitting for him to end on a high. A century against those English whingers, one last time, for us the fans, at the home of West Indian cricket, Kensington Oval!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

English and American Humiliation and 35 Years in Solitary Confinement

It was immensely satisfying to watch the England team suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of South Africa. Abject batting and poor bowling from the English was matched by excellent bowling (particularly from Andrew Hall) and swashbuckling batting by South Africa who approached their innings like a 20/20 match! The South Africans also seemed intent on throwing off their tag of chokers in this match which assumed knockout value. The over rated Freddie Flintoff once more failed with the bat as did Michael Vaughan. Is this the end of the line for him as one day captain and indeed his one day career? They do play West Indies next however and we have a tendency in recent years of bringing severely out of form batsmen right back into form. I won’t be surprised if Flintoff makes some runs or if Vaughan does the same and manages to save his one day career.

On April 17, 1961, American-trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba with American support from the sea and air. Vastly outnumbered, their expectations of massive Cuban defections to their side never materialised and they were soundly defeated with over 100 killed and 1 189 taken prisoner. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a major foreign policy embarrassment for the US and President Kennedy and would serve to both strenghten Castro's hold on power and bring the Soviet Union firmly on to his side.

Also on this day, thirty-five years ago, three black men were placed in solitary confinement. One, Robert King, proved his innocence and was finally released in 2001. The other two, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox still languish in solitary confinement today! The men, known as the Angola Three, were put into solitary on the same day that a young white prison guard was murdered and then convicted of the guard’s murder in a trial later exposed as a farce. 12 775 days in solitary confinement for a crime they never committed. Most Americans will have never heard about this case, of the men unjustly confined to a 6x9 cell, of this severe abuse of human rights, of this glaring example of what it means to be black in the US. An article about this can be read here.

Monday, 16 April 2007

I Have Forgotten How to Walk!

Since January when I was put in a cast, I have gotten around using crutches and my left foot. My right foot has not been used at all. While I have been “walking” with both feet in the past two weeks, it is still with the aid of crutches and the medical boot. I had appointments with both the doctor and the physical therapist today. The doctor checked my foot and said that the physical therapy would help further healing. He also said he would give me a cortisone shot after therapy was over in a part of the foot which was still painful from the tendonitis. If within a few days the pain lessens, then it means the cortisone is working and I have to go for another shot in two weeks. If the pain is the same it means that the cortisone is not having an affect and only rest will help. Physical therapy was the same as before except that this time I had to stand on my feet at the end of the session. This was the first time I was standing on both feet without any support and besides the pain that shot up from my toes right up to my knee, I was unable to move my right foot. I almost freaked out. To widen my stance I had to hold on to a beam and then lift my foot. I had to sway from side to side about ten times in that position. After that I had to move my right foot forward so I would be standing at an angle. Once again I had to hold onto the beam and move my foot. I performed the same swaying exercise and then changed my stance (using the beam for support again) so that my left foot was now in the lead and swayed again. Using the crutches and medical boot to shuffle/walk with both feet, I had not realised that I had lost my ability to walk and so I was somewhat mortified. I thought that my foot was just stiff from the cast/ not being used and that therapy would reduce the tightness enabling me to put weight on my foot and walk normally. The body and mind is amazing. Just under three months of not using my foot and it has totally lost its ability to function! I have to do the swaying exercises at home twice a day and I guess as physical therapy continues, I will regain full mobility. It is a bit scary though.

Because of my double appointments I was only able to watch Sri Lanka’s innings which folded timidly in the face of good bowling. The only resistance came from the middle-order partnership between Chamara Silva and Mahela Jayawardene and some tail end hitting out. This was not unexpected however, as besides Sangakkara (who was the recipient of a poor umpiring decision), none of the Sri Lankans have a good record against Australia. I also don’t think that the Sri Lankans approached this match with a desire to win. They rested their two best bowlers and it appears to have been a strategic decision to play a weakened side in a match which was of little consequence- both sides had already reached the semis. The intention seems to be to spring a surprise on the Aussies in the finals rather than compete or win in a Super Eights match and then have them bounce back ruthlessly. Once they can increase the momentum in the semis and reach the finals, the tactic will have worked. The top order needs to make some runs in the last Super Eights match against Ireland on Wednesday and be in a proper frame of mind for next week.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Of Nor'easters, Irish Upsets, South African Chokers and Salvaging the World Cup

As I write, the nor’easter that has been pounding the East coast is still raging outside. I just watched the news and there has been record rainfall, flooding, damage, cancelled flights and trains and chaos in general.

I was watching the cricket this morning when I got a call. It was one of my sisters in Barbados. She was at Kensington Oval and asked me if I had just seen her on tv! The organisers were forced into making admission free today in light of the consistently poor sales and attendance at all the matches this World Cup and so two of my sisters took advantage of the “freeness” and took their kids. Unfortunately she seemed to have been on tv just when I had stepped into the kitchen to grab some breakfast. I guess they took the kids for the experience and to give them something to do. Hopefully it stimulates some interest in the little ones. They seem to be much more engrossed in playstation and cartoons! However, if I was in Barbados, there was no way I would have gone, even if they had paid me! Besides the actual play on the field, the World Cup has largely been a flop. There are a few main reasons and there are quite a few people who are to blame. They are now trying to salvage something from the tournament by giving away tickets and relaxing the regulations which had taken the Caribbean element out of the venues and deterred fans. I feel insulted by all of this and if I was there, there is no way that I would have dignified them by attending.

In the battle of the giant killers today, Ireland came out on top, convincingly dismissing the inconsistent Bangladeshis. While Ireland has had a hard time in the Super Eights, Bangladesh has been hot and cold. Whippings by New Zealand and Australia were followed by a win against South Africa and a close lost against England. Even if winning consistently against top teams is too much to ask of the Tigers, they should have won today. Instead they played like an Associate team while Ireland performed like a team of seasoned professionals. From the time the Irish captain took the bold decision to bat first so as to negate the threat of Bangladesh’s left-arm spinning trio, they dominated the game and thoroughly deserved their victory.

The World Cup has had its fair share of highs and lows (for us West Indian fans, largely lows) but as the Super Eights has progressed, it has become much more interesting. The results from the last few games mean that the match between England and South Africa on Tuesday assumes quarter-finals proportions. Speaking of South Africa, they continuously justify their tag as the perennial chokers of international cricket. They came into the World Cup as the number one ranked team in one day internationals, but have suddenly began to look very ordinary. They almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Sri Lanka, lost to Bangladesh and put in a dismal performance yesterday against New Zealand. South Africa is not one of the teams I like, but at this point I am supporting anyone who may somehow halt the Aussies. When the South Africans returned to international cricket after their ban was lifted, they were right there at the top of the list of teams I dislike. A post-apartheid South African team still full of players from the white minority was a definite no for me! I did feel sorry for them in 1999 when they somehow managed to lose to Australia in the semis, but not when they botched up the Duckworth/Lewis calculations in 2003 and had to exit in the first round. As their team has become a bit more diversified (it still doesn’t reflect the country’s racial composition) I have somewhat thawed towards them, although their captain Graeme Smith remains one of the biggest whingers in cricket!

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Don Imus, Hip Hop Culture and a Sri Lankan Stroll

The controversy over Don Imus’ comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team has dominated headlines in NYC and the US in general this past week. While his comments were disgusting, at least a real issue was being discussed by the media instead of some silly celebrity event. After protests and pressure led by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, MSNBC dropped the simulcast of his show on Wednesday and CBS finally fired him today.

Imus has apologised profusely but his punishment is deserved. If he had made this sort of comment about another prominent New York minority group, he would have been immediately fired. It is time that people like Imus realise that you cannot make nasty, racist and sexist remarks, then apologise and expect life to go on like normal. Imus and his morning show crew have repeatedly made similar remarks, including calling African American sports columnist Bill Rhoden a "New York Times quota hire" and African American PBS anchor Gwen Ifill a "cleaning lady", often referring to Arabs as “ragheads”, suggesting that Serena and Venus Williams were animals better suited to pose for National Geographic than Playboy, and stating that Palestinians mourning the death of Yasser Arafat were "stinking animals" upon whom the Israelis "ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now...".

However, in all the uproar over Imus’ comments, what needs to be highlighted is that many black people use terms like those Imus used and today’s hip hop culture is synonymous with words like “nigger”, “hos” and “bitches”. The artists who have made these words acceptable need to be criticised and whipped into shape just as much as Imus. Imus should never have said what he said, but hip hop culture has in many ways set the standard for words like “hos” to become part of conventional vocabulary. Will Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson now lead a campaign to reform the hip hop industry? I doubt it.

Sri Lanka clinically disposed of New Zealand today. The Black Caps have been playing excellent cricket this World Cup but met up with a Sri Lanka team that came out with all guns blazing and once they had gained a stranglehold in the first over, refused to let it go. Interestingly, the Sri Lankans were without their key bowler, Lasith Malinga. At this point it seems as if the semi-finalists will be Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa. After being brushed aside by the Aussies and barely winning against Bangladesh, I cannot see England beating South Africa to gain a semi-final berth. On current form, it also seems as if the Aussies will win the World Cup for a third consecutive time. Can Sri Lanka stop them? I hope so!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Brixton Riots 1981

On April 11, 1981 the arrest of a black man sparked off three days of riots in Brixton, south London. Rioters fought police, attacked buildings and set fire to vehicles; over 300 people were injured and the damage amounted to approximately £7.5 million.

The riots shocked the UK but tensions had been building up for a while and finally boiled over. Brixton was (and still is) an area with a large minority population and especially West Indians. Half of all black men had no jobs and many young black men accused police of discriminating against them particularly through the unfair use of the “Sus” law which allowed police to stop and search anyone they suspected of planning to carry out a crime. While an amended Race Relations Act had become law in 1976 police forces were exempted from its provisions. The week before the riots, a special police operation called “Operation Swamp” had seen police stop and search over a thousand people under the “Sus” law supposedly in an attempt to crack down on street crime. The operation caused widespread resentment among the young men of Brixton who felt that they were being unfairly targeted and heightened tensions. On the evening of April 10th, a crowd had gathered to confront police after rumours of police brutality against a black man but they had dispersed. The following night, an arrest resulted in full scale riots.

Although the arrest of a man had sparked the riots in Brixton, high unemployment, deprivation, racial tensions and poor relations with police were not unique to Brixton. The next few months would witness a host of similar disturbances including in Manchester and Liverpool.

An inquiry was commissioned by the Government and headed by Lord Scarman. His report published in November 1981, stated that there was "no doubt racial disadvantage was a fact of current British life". He recommended that "racially prejudiced" behaviour be made a specific offence under the Police Discipline Code with offenders liable to dismissal. The report also led to the end of the “Sus” law, the creation of the Police Complaints Authority and police/community consultative groups and new approaches to police recruitment and training.

However, he concluded that "institutional racism" did not exist in the Metropolitan force and it would be another twenty years before the scope of the Race Relations Act would include the police. Ironically, eighteen years later, Lord Macpherson’s report stemming from an inquiry into the police investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence by a group of white youths would arrive at a totally opposite conclusion: that the Metropolitan Police were institutionally racist.

The Brixton riots drew national attention to the situation of black people living in Britain and led to blacks becoming more politically active. However there were sporadic disturbances in the 1980s and 1990s and black people continue to face numerous problems ranging from discrimination, deaths in custody, racist attacks, poverty, unemployment and low academic achievement among boys. With the focus of Britain now on its Islamic population and particularly those of Pakistani origin, the challenges facing blacks have assumed even less importance.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Pathetic West Indies

Another mauling in the Super Eights, this time at the hands of South Africa and it was not unexpected. What else can a team lacking in commitment and proper management give to its supporters but heartache. Its time for resignations and heads rolling but this is the Caribbean so a few minor changes will be made to appease the people and life will go on merrily.

I went to my second session of therapy yesterday. It was the same process as the first one. The therapist also told me to apply an ice pack to my foot two to three times a day and do the exercises after that. The next session is on Friday.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Remembering Deir Yassin

"Never again shall we forget:

Len nensaa!
Len nensaa!"

(From the poem Never Again Shall We Forget
"Len Nensaa"
By Randa Hamwi Duwaji)

On April 9th, 1948, Jewish terrorist group the Irgun, led by a man who was to become Prime Minister of Israel in 1977, Menachem Begin, entered into the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin and proceeded to systematically rape, mutilate and murder 250 men, women and children. The Irgun was joined by two other terrorist groups, the Stern Gang and the Hagannah, the former led by Yitzhak Shamir and the latter by David Ben Gurion. Both these men would also go on to become Israeli Prime Ministers, Ben Gurion in 1949 amd Shamir in 1983 when he succeeded Begin.

Deir Yassin was strategically situated on a hill top in a corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Its inhabitants were primarily stonecutters and they had been in the area for 700 years. On that April 9th, 59 years ago, the innocent people of that village were attacked and brutally slaughtered. Some survivors of the original attack were paraded down a street and then executed. It was a calculated event and part of a wider plan to terrorise Palestinians and expel them from their lands in order to repopulate them with new Jewish immigrants. The carnage was widely publicised by the terrorists and bodies were heaped and displayed to the media. Survivors were also deliberately left so that they could recount the horrors. Speaker trucks went around nearby villages and towns warning that if the people did not leave then they would suffer the same fate as Deir Yassin. And many others did as places such as Lydda, Ramle and al-Dawazyma witnessed massacres. The strategy worked, as the fear of being murdered led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing. UN estimates, which many argue are extremely conservative put the figure at 750 000. Today, those refugees and their descendants number around 4.5 million and comprise the largest and longest standing refugee population in the world. To this must be added the further 300 000 refugees created by Israel’s 1967 War and occupation and their descendants.

Up to this day, it is not known exactly where the victims of the Deir Yassin massacre were buried although some survivors speak of the bodies being thrown into wells and quarries. In the days following, orphaned children were gathered up and left at Jaffe Gate by the terrorists. One woman, Hind Husseini, took in 55 children. The site of her orphanage is now the site of one of the largest schools in Jerusalem. As for Deir Yassin, whose people were ethnically cleansed and driven from their land, its original structures still remain, but it has been wiped off the map and is now an Orthodox Jewish colony called Giv'at Sha'ul Bet.

Earth-torn roots yearning
Palestine Landscape mourning
Displaced descendants

The words of Randa Hamwi Duwaji inscribed on the Deir Yassin memorial in
Geneva, New York

Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Tiger Roars

*Photos from

Even though they had upset India in the first round, heavy defeats to Australia and New Zealand meant that no one expected this from Bangladesh! The lowest ranked one day team totally outplayed the top ranked one and opened up the Super Eights. This was even bigger than their win over India and it was wonderful to watch the youthful exuberance of the Bangladesh team as they outclassed the South Africans and made a mockery of the rankings system. What the result has also done is given hope to West Indies and England and Tuesday’s match between West Indies and South Africa in Grenada will now assume much more importance for the South Africans than they would have thought this morning.

The Aussies play the English tomorrow. I can’t stand either team and when they play each other I usually back one or the other depending on the situation. During the 2006 Ashes series, I backed the Aussies because the English media and all of England for that matter were overdoing the whole “we are better than Australia” story in the lead up. They had finally beaten Australia in a series after eighteen years in 2005 and they were parading as the best in the world! 2006 certainly brought them back to earth! In the context of tomorrow’s match an Australian victory will be in West Indies’ favour and so let’s hope for an Aussie administered whipping for the English.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Climate Change and Physical Therapy

I went to my first session of physical therapy today. It went quite well. After an in depth discussion about my foot and checking to see what sort of manoeuvrability I had, the physical therapist started with electrical stimulation and an ice pack. It hurt a little bit at first but after the initial pain, it was just a bit uncomfortable. The electrical stimulation is supposed to increase muscle strength and promote blood supply and healing. After that, he used ultrasound, massaged my foot and ended with some stretches and exercises. The ultrasound is used in conjunction with a gel and while you don’t feel anything on the surface of the skin, it creates deep heat which in turn aids in vasodilation, relieves pain and accelerates healing. My foot actually felt much better when he was done and the heavy feeling and tightness is not as acute as before.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its second report for 2007 today, the findings of which are pretty much obvious to anyone with a brain and/or a conscience: climate change is getting worse and the affects of it are being and will be felt most by the poor and vulnerable, particularly in the poorest countries. In its first report published at the beginning of February, the IPCC had concluded that it was very likely that global warming was being caused by human activities. The Panel will issue two more reports this year to complete its Fourth Assessment Report. The First Assessment Report was published in 1990, the Second in 1995 and the Third in 2001.

The IPCC was founded in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The body does not carry out research of its own nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters and bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature.

While the evidence and the initial draft are provided by the scientists, the summaries in the reports are the result of discussions between the scientists and government officials from around the world. The end result of these negotiations is that the reports are not as strong as they originally were due to the various economic and political considerations of the many countries present. While some may argue that this compromise leads to reports being watered down and scientific certainties being turned into ambiguous language, pragmatists would argue that it is better to have governments at the table and making firm commitments to address the problem than for a group of scientists to publish an extremely strong document which is rejected by key countries and then have no action at all.

At the end of the day, the fact is that climate change is happening, it is getting worse each day and unless there is urgent action by the chief emitters of greenhouse gasses, our children will inherit a world from us that is not worth living in. I often wonder if those people who reject the notion of climate change because of greed and economics and actively contribute to the destruction of our planet do not think about their children and grandchildren.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Apartments Available for Rent in Barbados

I am going to play the role of marketing and advertising man today as I promote my brother-in-law/sister’s apartments (Maxwell Park Apartments) in Barbados:

-Four fully furnished, self-contained two-bedroom apartments in Maxwell
-Within walking distance of nightlife, shopping area, restaurant, bank, post office
-Located two minutes walk from a bus route
-Two minutes walk across the street from the beach
-Available for short term and semi-long term rental at very competitive rates
-Package deals are also offered if for example someone wants to rent all four apartments or rent two for a month etc.
-Professional service with a smile

So if anyone is planning to visit Barbados or has relatives/friends visiting and they are in need of accommodation, please get in touch with my sister or brother-in-law at

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

What about the Tebbit Test?

What would Norman Tebbit have said? England’s South Asian connections (Sajid Mahmood with four wickets and man of the match Ravi Bopara with his cool half century) almost won them the game against Sri Lanka but in the end England just was not good enough. I had expected them to be on the receiving end of a whipping but to their credit they played well to restrict Sri Lanka and then recover from 133-6 to come within three runs of victory. While an England win would have been better for our extremely slim chances of advancing to the semis, I was supporting Sri Lanka. Even though I hope for a miracle and Lara doing an Imran Khan, the sad reality is that we are not good enough and I can not see us beating England or South Africa. I also can’t stand the English cricket team (the Aussies are arrogant and crass but the English are just poor losers and whingers, and not to mention the old enemy and former colonial masters) so I was rooting for Sri Lanka all along. With the Windies seemingly on their way out and Pakistan already gone, I am backing Sri Lanka now.

Staying with England, Keith Richards has denied that he snorted his late dad’s ashes while using cocaine. The Rolling Stones guitarist claims that he was joking when in an interview with music magazine NME he said “… I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow” and that the ashes "went down pretty well". Now I like the Stones but even by Richard’s standards this is sick and I don’t know if to believe him or not. He has done some crazy stuff, much of it narcotics related, so on the one hand this can’t be put past him, but on the other, he is a man who doesn’t care what people think so the fact that he has felt the need to come out and say that he was not serious, could mean that it was indeed said in jest. Who knows! I am not one for wasting my time reading about celebrity lifestyles but I like the Stones and the headline caught my eye.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Of Achilles Tendons, Equinus and Physical Therapy

I went to the doctor today to discuss the results of the latest MRI. The good news is that the Achilles tendon is not ruptured and so it is just the tightness and tendonitis that is causing the pain. My heel and the area above it were so tight that to prevent any pain I had to keep my foot in a position where my toes were pointing downwards (equinus) and I had to put inserts in the boot to maintain that position while I was wearing it. The doctor told me that while he had allowed me to do this for a few days until the MRI results came back (to prevent further rupture in case there was a tear), now that it was clear that the Achilles tendon was not torn, I had to keep my foot in a normal position even if it was painful as failure to do so would make everything tighter and also make therapy much more difficult. He also said that I could now put a small amount of weight on my foot while using the crutches as long as it is only to go to the bathroom or kitchen. I was warned against going outside for a stroll on a nice spring day! Well, needless to say, putting on the boot when I was finished and then walking- and he stood there and made sure I walked correctly, putting weight on the heel and not gingerly on the toes- hurt although after the initial pain, it is much better and I am wearing the boot normally for the first time in a week. It may seem minor but for me it’s significant. I also spoke with the physical therapist and he is supposed to call me back to let me know when I can start therapy.

My GP and podiatrist along with a number of other specialists all share office space and the physical therapist is located in the basement, which meant I had to go down and up a flight of steep stairs. This was the first time I have done that since January and it was difficult. I am not sure how much sense it makes having the physical therapist in the basement and only accessible via stairs when many of the people he would be treating would have suffered injuries and may not be able to cope with stairs. On the other hand, therapy comes after the injury has healed or is almost healed and is meant to enable a person to regain full use of the limb etc, so it may be that the stairs are part of the therapy process!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

A Cruel April Fools Joke?

April Fools Day and all the West Indian fans must have been wishing that what happened in Guyana earlier today was just a cruel joke and that the actual game is scheduled for tomorrow. The West Indies played like true minnows. Actually, it was even worse because none of the minnows has displayed this type of sickening behaviour on the field- lethargic, apathetic, lack of unity and spirit, poor body language. The Windies team of the past decade has been notorious for putting in some poor performances but I can’t remember having ever seen the players act like they did on Sunday. There was a total absence of life and it is obvious that the team is disunited and beset by internal problems like never before.

The bowling (with the exception of Powell) and fielding left a lot to be desired and as has become the norm, the batting collapsed. Chris Gayle once again confirmed that he is severely limited when it comes to mental capacity as did Dwayne Smith. Even after Lara got out, I still think that Sarwan and Chanderpaul could have pulled it off but for some odd reason they played as if it was a test match. I agree that there was a need to consolidate and rebuild after the loss of three wickets but playing out dot ball after dot ball was not the answer. Singles and with the size of this new ground twos would have kept the run rate manageable and the batsmen to follow would not have been placed under so much pressure. It is absurd that two part time bowlers can go for 20 runs off 7 overs while Muralitharan went for 59 off of 9!

Mathematically we still have a chance of qualifying for the semis, if we win our next three matches and the win/losses in the other matches go in our favour. However, while I would love for the Windies to win the World Cup, deep down, I know that they do not deserve to qualify for the semis based on how they have played. If by chance they manage to qualify, it will still not disguise the fact that West Indies cricket is in need of a serious revolution, starting with a purging of the administrators and a creation of a body that is truly transparent, democratic and accountable and followed by a proper restructuring of the game throughout the region from primary school right up to the senior level. This is the ideal. The reality is that I am speaking of the Caribbean. I need say no more.