Thursday, 28 June 2007

Of Storms, Flight Delays, Indian Cuisine and Calypso Cricket

My sister was due to come into NYC tonight from Ohio on her way back home to Barbados. Unfortunately, after repeated delays caused by bad weather their flight from Columbus was cancelled. Initially AA told them that the next available flight into NYC that would allow the whole family to fly together was July 4th but fortunately they have been placed on a Continental flight to Cleveland tomorrow evening where they will have to transfer to an AA flight bound for NYC. Delayed and furthermore cancelled flights are not fun and I can’t begin to imagine the hassle it must be with two little children. They left Athens around twelve today to drive to Columbus for what was supposed to be a 5pm flight. The most frustrating part for them must be that they were on the plane and about to leave when they were taxied back to the gate. On the positive side, at least they were able to get a flight out tomorrow and a friend of my bro-in-law in Columbus was able to meet them at the airport and take them to a hotel etc.

I cooked up some chicken curry for their dinner tonight and marinated some tandoori chicken for tomorrow, so they will now have to eat tonight’s dinner tomorrow night and the tandoori will have to stay marinated an extra day!

I like to cook and since being allowed to gradually put weight on my foot a few weeks ago, the kitchen has proven to be a place of solace. I’ve been cooking up a storm every few days and it has been a welcome break from the food I was forced to order since the end of January. I’ve made mostly Indian dishes and especially things my mom cooked and which my sisters now cook. My mom would be shocked if she saw me because there were not many Indian dishes I liked eating when I was growing up. It took going to London to study for me to begin eating a variety of Indian food and now Indian cuisine is my favourite.

Speaking of London, the West Indies brought some Caribbean flair to first of two Twenty20 Internationals to put some smiles on West Indian faces after a tough past few weeks. I am a purist; I love test cricket; one day internationals provide entertainment but are not a substitute for the real thing; Twenty20 is simply a slug fest and far from authentic cricket. However, I know that cricket is a billion dollar business and the powers that be will spare no effort to market the game and its entertainment value to those with no appreciation of all the intricacies and nuances of genuine cricket. I am therefore realistic and accept there is no point fighting it; I watch it just to see some big hitting; and big hitting it was from the word go. I could not believe my eyes when I saw Devon Smith hitting out as if his pants were on fire. Chanderpaul played some innovative shots and Marlon Samuels decided to turn up and bat. Despite a big hitting knock by the England captain, the West Indies total proved just enough and it was the English with all their Twenty20 experience who were made to look like novices by a team playing only its second Twenty20 at the international level.

What pleased me was the attitude of the West Indies players. I can’t remember the last time I saw a West Indies team being so enthusiastic. The laughing, smiling, shouting and encouragement of each other were a joy to watch and the young team actually looked as if they were enjoying themselves for the first time this tour. Have the events of the past week galvanised the team and has the Board unintentionally motivated the players? It would be wonderful if this sprit continues and I hope the team can go on to win tomorrow and do the same in the one-day internationals that follow.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Ongoing Madness

The idiocy continues in West Indies cricket. The first 20/20 game begins tomorrow but all the hype is on Gayle and the WICB!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Madness Continues

The farcical drama that our cricket has been reduced to continues to play itself out in front of the world. The idiots that call themselves the WICB decided to censure Chris Gayle for critical comments he made about the Board a few days ago in his tour diary. Gayle’s refusal to apologise led to the censure. The West Indies Players Association then came to Gayle’s defence, revealing that the article was vetted by the tour manager as part of normal protocol and approved. Guess who met Gayle along with Ken Gordon to discuss the issue before Gayle was censured: the tour manager Michael Findlay. What does this make the Board and Findlay look like: bloody fools!

Chris Gayle has been a failure with the bat and doesn’t even deserve a place on the team furthermore the captaincy. He needs to do his talking on the field with the bat and with a change of attitude. However, I must admit the comments he made were totally correct: the Board has no legitimate authority to demand anything of the players when it is the reason for the mess we are in. It is rather large of the Board to speak of Gayle embarrassing it; every member of the Board should resign and apologise to the West Indian people for what they have done to the one regional institution that was a success.

Read two articles on here (1 and 2) and one from the UK Telegraph here on the whole fiasco.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Indian Test Cricket’s 75th Birthday

June 25th, 2007 marks seventy-five years that India has been playing test cricket, a game which is now so popular in the country it can be considered a religion. Since that day in 1932 when the Indians walked onto the field of Lords, Indian cricket has never looked back. On June 25th, 1983, fifty-one years later, they would shock the mighty West Indies team in the finals to win the World Cup. In the past seventy-five years, India has produced a host of legendary spinners and wristy stroke makers ranging from Bishen Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Venkataraghavan and Anil Kumble to Gundappa Viswanath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar as well as allrounders like Kapil Dev, Polly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad and to round it off flamboyant wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.

Here are some articles on India’s seventy-fifth test anniversary: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Cricketing Mismanagement

The thrashing of the West Indies on the field of play on the current tour of England is symptomatic of the malaise that afflicts Caribbean cricket. As if the embarrassment on the field wasn’t enough the WICB has made a series of blunders in the past two weeks that serve to highlight the way this old boys network has destroyed our cricket. I cited some articles in my post of June 14th and here are two even harsher ones, one by Tony Cozier and the other by Martin Williamson.

The ICC also demonstrated how much of an incompetent organisation it is when last week it announced the banning of the five officials who had stood in the farcical World Cup final in April from the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa in September. Now I have no problem with disciplining those idiots who presided over the ludicrous situation on the night of April 28th, but what I do have a problem with is Malcolm Speed’s pompous statement: “It would have been easy to let sleeping dogs lie and pretend nothing happened, but the reality is that the playing control team made a serious and fundamental error that caused the final of our flagship event to end in disarray and confusion.” This is the Chief Executive of a body that along with West Indian officials mismanaged the running of the World Cup and who refused to accept that the ICC bore any responsibility for the tournament’s failure! If the umpires and match referee can be disciplined for their part in the farce, then surely Speed and the rest of the inept and corrupt should also be held accountable!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Sadness at Thierry Henry's Departure

I’m a huge Arsenal fan which may be surprising to anyone reading my blog as there is no mention of the football team in any of my posts. I made the decision to place my support on hold a little while back when Arsenal started a sponsorship partnership which I could not bring myself to accept. I may like football and Arsenal but there are some issues too close to my heart and about which I am too passionate about that I cannot compromise on. Until Arsenal ends the partnership, Real Madrid and Juventus, two other team I like (though not in the same way I am an Arsenal fan) will be the focus of my attention.

However, the news which broke today of Thierry Henry’s departure for Barcelona did sadden me- he is one of my four favourite Arsenal players, Ian Wright, Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp being the other three. Arsene Wenger’s signing of Henry and then playing him as a striker was a superb move and Arsenal (and Arsene Wenger) transformed his career just as much as he helped the team reach a new level. Ultimately the prize of European glory proved to be elusive and I think the fact that Arsenal doesn’t seem interested in buying big name players preferring instead to groom a young team is one of the main reasons for Henry’s decision to leave rather than the exit of vice-chariman David Dein as he has claimed. Cesc Fabregas stepped into Vieira’s boots when he left. Who will fill Henry’s?

Here are two interesting articles about Henry’s move to Barcelona and what it means now for Arsenal- 1 and

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Of Artic Wolves and Springs, Disappearing Lakes and Desalination

I am going to share some articles on the environment and nature today:

Earlier this year I had written an entry about wolves and my fascination with them. Professional explorer Jim McNeill along with a BBC crew has travelled to Ellesmere Island to film the elusive Artic Wolf. The Artic Wolf which maintains it white coat year-round lives in Greenland and the Canadian Artic. The BBC website will be featuring McNeill’s diary of his experiences and it can be seen here.

The second article is about the Magellanes region in southern Chile where a five-acre lake has mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind just a huge crater and some chunks of ice.

The third one is about the Artic spring arriving weeks earlier than a decade ago according to a team of Danish researchers. The obvious effect of this situation is the disruption of the natural eco-system and the threat to the various species that comprise it.

A number of countries have embraced or are exploring the possibility of adopting the process of turning salt water into drinking water to address water shortages. However a recent WWF report has cautioned that desalination is not the solution to global water scarcity as the technology used is energy intensive and would therefore only increase emissions and damage coastal and river habitats. The WWF’s contention certainly provides food for thought.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Arthroscopy of the Knee

While everything has largely been going well with my foot recovery process, the pain in my knee has not decreased and has worsened as I put more weight on the foot and do more exercises at therapy. It reached a stage where it was difficult to fall asleep at night and so I took a trip to the orthopaedist on Monday. He did x-rays and neither those nor the MRI from January explain why the pain is so severe. He now wants to perform an arthroscopy of my knee to enable him to diagnose and treat the problem. For those who don’t know (and I didn’t either until he told me) it’s a minimally invasive surgery that allows the surgeon to diagnose and treat problems without open knee surgery- a few small incisions are made through which an arthroscope (pen shaped instrument which has a tiny video camera and light source attached) is inserted, allowing the surgeon to view inside the joint and if necessary operate using small instruments inserted through tiny separate incisions. As arthroscopy only requires a few small incisions, there is usually no need to stay in the hospital more than a few hours after surgery, the healing and recovery process is much quicker and there is not much scarring. Most patients are able to return to work within a week and once all the post surgery recovery exercises and steps are done, full recovery is expected.

This all sounds rather straightforward but it is a surgical procedure, something which I am not exactly enthusiastic about! I was relieved that the tendons in my foot healed without surgery but now my knee has decided to be stubborn! The doctor’s office has scheduled the arthroscopy for July 11th subject to insurance approval, but I have not yet made a final decision on if to have it done- while the pain I am feeling has me leaning towards the surgery, I still have some doubts. I am scared that I may not be able to run, play cricket, swim, scuba dive, work out at the gym or do all the travelling I plan to do in the future. I have been doing research and I also plan to go back to speak to the doctor about the lingering doubts.

As if my knee’s misbehaviour isn’t enough my foot has been hurting more than the usual since yesterday evening and today I started using the cane again to take some of the weight off of it. I can definitely see myself taking a painkiller tonight to help me sleep.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

At least is wasn't 4-0!

At least West Indian fans can console themselves with the fact that it was a 3-0 and not a 4-0 whipping! From a dominant position at the start of the fourth day to fighting for a draw at the end and ultimately losing today in a match that lost a day and a half to rain! Poor captaincy and bowling enabled England to pose a lead and the continued poor batting of the top order meant that defeat was going to be the only result. Chanderpaul continued his defiance but even he couldn’t stave off the obvious.

Hopefully this series will have proven to Ganga fans that he is not a test class player and the appointment of a man as vice-captain who can’t even justify his place on the team was a ridiculous move by the selectors. Devon Smith still looks out of place, Sylvester Joseph does not convince me that he knows how to bat, Runako Morton is neither here nor there, Marlon Samuels is a waste of time and Chris Gayle needs to be dropped for his attitude and poor performances not rewarded with the one day captaincy! Ramdin has promise but he needs to work hard to improve his wicketkeeping; some proper competition for his place would force him to raise his game and be more consistent. The bowling is pathetic with the exception of Edwards but even he needs to work to improve his mediocre returns. Powell looked a different bowler from the one who played in the World Cup and he obviously is lacking in the brain department since there can be no other explanation for his playing the same nonsensical shot in both innings. Taylor has been struggling for a while and I think he needs a rest while Collyslow has gone past his sell by date. The only positives from the series were the immovable Chanderpaul, Bravo to an extent although he needs to convert his starts and stop throwing away his wicket and Darren Sammy’s debut.

Chanderpaul has received a lot of praise for his performance this series and it is richly deserved. If only the heart and fight he has demonstrated was replicated by a few more of his teammates! This is another article written about him in the UK Guardian.

So another series and another dismal performance. The solutions to the problems plaguing West Indian cricket are rather obvious but as long as they entail disturbing the status quo and restructuring the corrupt and inefficient old boys network- WICB- nothing will happen.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Of West Indian and Siberian Tigers, the Amazon and the Nile

For the first time this series, the West Indies ended a day actually ahead of England! Starting dismally on Saturday and then fighting back, the Windies almost threw it away today with some poor shots, but the ever impressive Chanderpaul, ably supported by Collymore, managed to give the score some respectability. Chanderpaul, the West Indian tiger, continued his defiance of the English bowling and has now batted for just over 13 hours without being dismissed. In the process of this innings, he also became the seventh West Indian to pass 7000 test runs, joining an illustrious group comprised of Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Garry Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd and Desmond Haynes. Poor bowling at the start of England’s innings was fortunately negated by the quick loss of three England wickets just before close of play. This is the West Indies we are speaking about however, and while they may appear to be on top, I would not be surprised if the tables are turned around by lunch tomorrow. This is after all a team which has not won an overseas test for several years and has no culture of winning.

I came across this article on the BBC website about researchers in Brazil claiming to have scientifically proven that the Amazon River is actually longer than the River Nile. The researchers claim that an expedition has found that the source of the Amazon is in the South of Peru and not in the North of that country as was previously thought.

I also read an article which reported good news for wildlife- the endangered Siberian tiger has seen a population increase with the birth of 84 cubs in captivity in China. It can be read here.

Friday, 15 June 2007

1976, Grovelling and West Indian Pride

I went to therapy today without my cane! I felt like new! I have to concentrate so I don’t limp and for the most part I walk quite normal. The stairs were a bit tricky and it will take a bit more practice before I can use them with confidence. All in all, I was quite pleased with myself! The next step will be to wear another shoe besides a sneaker but that will entail doing away with the ankle strap as it is bulky and can only be worn with the sneaker.

1976 was an eventful year: Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao both died that year; Pol Pot became Prime Minister of Cambodia; earthquakes in Guatemala, Honduras, China, Iran and Philippines killed and injured hundreds of thousands; the Soweto riots erupted in South Africa; the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was officially proclaimed; military coups occurred in Argentina and Uruguay; Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford to win the US Presidency; the summer and winter Olympics were held in Montreal, Canada and Innsbruck, Austria respectively; July witnessed the US Bicentennial; Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic replacing the Queen of England with an elected President as their Head of State; Air Cubana Flight 455 was blown up off the coast of Barbados shortly after take off in a CIA-linked terrorist attack by anti-Castro Cuban exiles; the Barbados Labour Party led by Tom Adams defeated the Errol Barrow led Democratic Labour Party in elections; Alex Haley’s Roots, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch, Alice Walker’s Meridian, Maya Angelou’s Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, James Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work and Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada were published.

In cricket, 1976 is remembered for the West Indian cricket team’s tour to England. As I have written before, for the Caribbean the game of cricket is much more than a sport and is intertwined in the social, economic and political landscape of these small islands. Issues of race and nationalism are intrically linked to the success of the West Indian team and there are not many people in the Caribbean who would deny the feelings of racial and national pride whenever our team wins. In May 1976, the West Indies arrived in England and in the build up to the first test, the English captain Tony Greig give an interview to the BBC in which he boldly stated that his team would make the West Indians grovel. The comments, coming from a white South African, severely offended the region and its team and only served to motivate the players. Tony Greig’s team was severely thrashed and he was subjected to huge amounts of barracking from the West Indian fans in the grounds as well as special targeting by the West Indian bowlers. By the end of the series it was Greig who was doing the grovelling- on the afternoon of the fourth day of the last test, he walked over to boundary, sunk to his knees and grovelled to the West Indian fans in the stands. BBC has a feature on the 1976 tour here and also did two interesting articles which can be accessed here and here.


I came across another article in the UK Guardian about the 1976 tour here.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Of Podiatric Progress, Vacation Days and Captaincy Quarrels

I had a doctor’s appointment along with therapy yesterday. I can now basically walk alone without the cane except for when I go up or down stairs so the doctor told me I could stop using the cane and also try to get accustomed to using the stairs without it. I am still not supposed to do any unnecessary walking. I still have tendonitis in parts of my foot and I am still feeling some pain and stiffness in different areas. Overall there has been much progress though. I hope when I see him in two weeks time I am given the all clear to go back to work on July 9th. Beyond that I also am looking forward to going back to the gym. I weighed myself on Monday night and I have put on fifteen pounds!

I also have to take at least fourteen days vacation each year or I will lose them and since I can’t take any time off from September to December because of the UN General Assembly I have to take the days sometime in July and August. There is no way I am losing my hard earned vacation so I guess the office will not be seeing me for two weeks in July or August!

Yesterday I spoke about the pathetic handling of the captaincy issue for the upcoming one-day series and this morning the news media reported that the WICB board as a whole had sided with the selection panel against the Executive Board and therefore Gayle will captain the side with Chanderpaul as his deputy. The Barbados Nation and both carried stories which can be read here and here.

UPDATE June 15th

Tony Cozier has an article in the Weekend Nation on the captaincy situation which can be read here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Back in Action, West Indian Resistance and West Indian Folly

I was out of commission for a few days as my laptop had to pay another visit to the office to get fixed. Apparently nothing was wrong with the wireless adapter because it functioned normally there. Now that I have it back, it is working but not consistently- annoying situation!

The West Indies surprised everyone with a great fight back after being thrashed for the first half of the third test even though in the final analysis they lost yet another overseas test. Chanderpaul continued to highlight his worth to the team while Darren Sammy who I did not think should have been on the tour made a remarkable start to his test career. Will he build on this performance or will he go the way of so many players of the past decade who showed promise and then regressed? Only time will tell. Even though Fidel Edwards’ final figures did not look impressive, his extra pace made a difference and at least we did not have to bear the sight of Pieterson charging down the pitch to one of our “fast” bowlers like he has been doing to the rest, especially Collymore.

Tony Cozier and Andrew Miller wrote two good articles on the last test and Chanderpaul respectively so have a read.

While on the field the team was fighting against England, off the field the West Indian administrators were fighting among themselves on the choice of captain for the one day series that follows the tests. The selectors chose Gayle but the WICB Executive Committee rejected that choice and instead headed by Ken Gordon advised the selection panel to appoint Darren Ganga (who was not even selected as part of the one-day team)and Dinesh Ramdin as captain and vice-captain respectively. The latest news seems to be that the selection panel has refused and so yet again the Caribbean fulfills the stereotype of a bunch of inefficient fools who can't manage the simplest of tasks. While I would hate to see Gayle captain the team, Ganga with his inability to make the one-day side and even struggling in the test team is not exactly a much better choice!

The absence of West Indian fans at cricket grounds during the Caribbean team’s tours has been noticeable in recent years. In addition, besides Alex Tudor a few years ago, there have been no black players on the England team unlike the 1980s and early 1990s. Two interesting articles about this can be read here- 1 and 2. Fellow blogger Colonise This! also writes about the issue here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

40 Years of Further Occupation

On June 5th, 1967, Israel launched an attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan, decimating their armies and air defences in a few hours. At the end of the so-called Six Day War, Israel had succeeded in capturing even more Arab land- the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights- and had basically doubled the amount of territory it controlled. Sold initially by its officials, Western backers and media as a pre-emptive strike against an increasingly threatening Egypt and Arab world, later pronouncements and admissions by Israeli government officials along with declassified documents and information have discredited this claim and revealed that the attack was an aggressive move aimed at gaining territory.

The War led to the displacement of 400 000 Palestinians, about half of whom were already refugees from the 1948 creation of the Zionist state. These people and their descendants, numbering in the millions continue to live as refugees in various parts of the Arab world today. Forty years later, the people who remained in the West Bank and Gaza continue to live under a brutal and oppressive military occupation (and the settlement regime that accompanies it); an occupation which endures contrary to international law and despite various Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions.

The Six Day War is often viewed as a watershed in the history of the region, but in reality, the real watershed occurred in1948 when the right to self-determination was denied to one people, the indigenous Palestinians, and their land was taken to create a state for another group.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

A New Cold War?

There has been talk in the past few days of the emergence of a new cold war as the US and Russia and Russia and the UK have been engaging in a war of words over missiles and spies. On the face of it, it does look like a page from the past but some deeper analysis demonstrates that it is more about post-Cold War power politics than a conflict rooted largely in ideology.

Both Russia and the US are governed by highly nationalistic administrations seeking to further what they consider to be the national interest. The US has decided that unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001 followed by plans to build a missile defence system in Eastern Europe as part of a larger global network (for the stated aim of countering threats by “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran and non-state actors) is in its national interest; Russia has decided that the presence of such a system in its geographic sphere is a threat to its security and interests and has retaliated by testing a ballistic missile and announcing that it will target missiles at Europe. NATO has condemned the Russian threat and the French and British have also voiced concern.

All this comes at the same time as the row over the murder of a former Soviet intelligence agent in London and British demands for the extradition of another former Soviet spy who they claim is responsible.

Add to the mix the following: some Eastern European politicians are worried about a remerging Russia and view the US plan favourably even though the US has explicitly stated that the missile defence system is aimed at countering threats by “rouge states” and non-state actors and not at Russia; many of the people in Eastern Europe and particularly those who live in the areas where the system will be built are not supportive of the plan, environmental and health risks being primary concerns; many in Western Europe are unhappy with the idea of the US unilaterally going ahead to build a missile defence system in Eastern Europe and not consulting the EU; Russia has increasingly felt that it is not being accorded the respect it deserves in the international arena by other large powers and under Putin has been seeking to reassert itself; the US is caught up in its own “war on terror” and all of its actions are inevitably tied into the new realities of international security and politics; Russia possesses vast energy supplies on which Europe is dependent and the EU relationship with Russia is invariably influenced by this.

In other words, the current situation is complex and vastly different from what prevailed during the Cold War. Talk of a new Cold War is premature but the danger of arms proliferation are however very real and the only way to deal with the current impasse is for both sides to engage in dialogue and arrive at some form of a practical agreement.