Monday, June 28, 2010

We're Moving

So a bit of blog news: we're moving.

Over the last few weeks, we/I have been in discussion with the people over at Asian Correspondent, a website which aggregates news, views and blogs with an Asian focus. I've agreed to have our blog hosted on their site for an agreed upon time.

Some questions:

Wait, what? What does this even mean?

Well, functionally all it means is that I blog on Asian Correspondent, so our new address is If you've been nice enough to bookmark us, then you can update that. But you don't really have to worry about not being able to find Rs.5, because anyone going to our current URL will be automatically directed to the new one when it goes into effect. RSS feeds should also be redirected, as well as all posts from our archives.

Why is this happening?

I gain in two ways from this. One, I'm being monetarily rewarded, and it's nice to get paid. Two, I get (the promise of) more readers, because, um, AC is a bigger website than we are.

They gain from this because they get the potential of a Leo Messi homage every week. So it's fairly even, and that's why this is happening.

So you sold out, eh? Well done. Seriously, well played.

Look, just because I was bought out doesn't mean I sold out! And besides, I have learned at my time at the University of Chicago that free-market enterprise between two consenting parties is good.

What changes?

The address obviously, and the layout. What we're trying to do is keep as many of our features from here so that the change is as seamless as possible. The blogroll, the archives, the categories, the comments, and so on will stay the same. The basic idea is that I don't want to lose any of our current readers, who add so much to the blog with comments and emails and suggestions, so it's important to keep the basic architecture and familiarity.

The color scheme and the way the blog looks will be different, and will be basically in the hands of AC. I've received enough complaints about our color scheme over the years to understand this is probably a good thing.

And content?

The content is the same. II'll be blogging the exact same way I do now, i.e. badly and increasingly sporadically. Nothing changes on that front. I even retain my right to curse as much as I please. The only thing I am exlpicitly not allowed to do is promote hatred or incite violence, or be defamatory and racist, but remember, Imran Farhat is not a race.

When does this happen?

In the next couple of days, maybe as soon as tomorrow. The move has been a while coming; I've basically been in discussions with Hybrid News/AC for about a month, and with my coming to Pakistan for AKS' wedding and so on, the details of the move have just taken a while to iron out.

Technology is involved, so I'm sure they might be a couple of glitches as we migrate, but I'm also sure that if anything arises, it'll be taken care of fairly quickly. One issue that might come up is the RSS feeds being transferred, so those of you who subscribe to us, please let me know with an email (fiverupeesadmin at googlegroups dot com) if something seems to be off.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Liveblogging Spain-Honduras

Full Time: Spain do enough to move ahead of Switzerland into second, on goal difference. They'll have to beat Chile later in the week to move to the round of 16, and if they finish like this, I wouldn't be so sure of the result. A game that should have finished 8-0, ends in a lowly two goal win. Even if they do win, top of the group could come down to goal difference, as Switzerland play last-placed Honduras next. And you definitely don't want to finish second in this group, as you'd then have to face Brazil and a well rested Kaka. As well as Luis Fabiano and his ever active hands.
I had fun writing this thing. I'm going to attribute the lack of comments to the time, and not my more-like-commentary and less-like-incisive-point-making. Goodnight.

93 min: PEEEEEP! And that's that.

93 min: Navas succeeds in annoying me one more time, as he wastes a perfectly good opportunity to find one of three Spaniards in the box and win me some much needed money, uh, if gambling were legal. But he idiotically plays it along the ground to a Honduran instead. Just notional losses then. So long, Ulysses S. Grant...notionally.

93 min: 85th minute on has been pretty pedestrian. Spain taking the foot off the accelerator, allowing Honduras more of the ball, while breaking periodically.

92 min: Villa > Mata deflected shot > Cesc attempted nutmeg backheel to Navas > nothing.

91 min: Navas plays another ball over the box, to no one. He must think Villa is 14 feet tall.

90 min: Spain tease me again, trying to walk it into the goal, as Mata, Navas and Alonso play a series of passes which eventually result in the goalkeeper picking the ball up with relative ease. 3 minutes of stoppage time.

89 min: Spain break again, Cesc to Villa on the right, with Mata streaking down the left. Villa is dispossessed, however.

88 min: Not too much going on here, really. Even the cameraman knows it, as he focuses on the Spanish fans, dancing in the crowd. Some of them look pretty ridiculous. One in particular, is wearing a hat with bells, and looks like Adam Duritz.

87 min: Villa should have had at least 4 goals tonight. I want to slap him. And Torres. And Navas.

85 min: Spain break 4 on 1, as Navas finally gets a good ball into the box, putting it on a platter for Villa. He takes too many touches however, and a Honduran slides in to clear.

83 min: Suazo goes off for Palacios brother no. 2, Jerry. Honduras waste a corner by pushing someone in the box.

82 min: No sense of real urgency from Spain, but they are still attacking, albeit leisurely. Ball in from Mata, just goes past Villa as it deflects off a Honduran head. Nothing comes off the corner. "Over 2.5" looking increasingly unlikely. Come on, Spain! Or Honduras. Anyone, really. Just come on!

80 min: Villa goes for goal with his left after build-up play by Navas and Arbeloa. Hits a defender in the stomach. Must have hurt. Honduras sprint the other way, and earn a free kick within striking distance of the box. Welcome gets his head on the delivery, but it drifts harmlessly wide. Not a welcome effort, that. Sorry.

79 min: Puyol gets to it, completely unmarked - but he can't jump high enough to get any direction on it. Perhaps a couple of years ago...

78 min: Mata fouled 10 yards outside the box. Cesc stands over. Poor delivery. Corner eventually results. Spain's 9th of the night.

77 min: Munez smacks the ball, which rebounds off one of the goal supports (the ones holding the net up in the back) and almost hits Casillas in the face. That would have been interesting with Spain having used up all 3 subs.

76 min: Arbeloa comes on for Ramos, who got pretty far forward, and had as many chances on goal as anyone bar the two strikers. Decent game, overall, I think. Navas stays on to keep me interested.

75 min: Spain strolling here. Villa tries a wide one-two with Navas, but expectedly, the latter's ball is played too far in front for the striker. Okay, okay, it wasn't that bad. Still hasn't impressed me though, this Navas.

73 min: Mata, Cesc, and Navas combine to get Spain in an attacking position again, before Navas crosses it wide over the box to the left hand side of the field. Would have been a perfect ball for Mata had he not been standing next to Navas at the time. Idiot.

72 min: Spain pile forward again, but after a half-clearance, Mata shoots miles over from 25 yards out.

70 min: Ramos streaks through the middle of the field, thinks about shooting, passes it to Navas on the right, who gives it right back, as Ramos attempts an athletic scissor kick. Spain then dink it around a little before Honduras clear. They really should be up 5 or 6. Goal difference may come into play in this group, and then they'll really regret this performance. Not to mention it's effect on my "over 2.5" bet. If, as Bill Simmons would say, gambling were legal.

69 min: Another Spain substitution as the disappointing Torres goes off for Ahsan's dark horse to start, Juan Manuel Mata. There will be a bit of an adjustment here, I suspect, as he will slot into the left with Villa moving up top.

68 min: Honduras with a free kick just outside the box. Nunez kicks it over, though. They've already had twice as many shots here as they did in the first half. That is, 2 shots to 1 shot.

67 min: Spain should have had a third there. Multiple opportunities to score for Villa and Ramos. And now, Navas - whose deflected crap header is saved by the keeper. Cesc in the middle of everything, says the commentator. What a man.

66 min: OH MY GOD! I love this man. Fabregas makes a beautiful run as Alonso plays it for him over the top. Cesc's first touch is almost a goal, as he rounds the keeper and shoots, but a defender clears of the line. Please stay for one more year. Please.

65 min: Spain ticky-tack it around the box again. Honduras clears the danger and break, as Welcome sweeps it out to Suazo who cuts in and shoots, rather unwisely with better options waiting. That, however, allows CESC FABREGAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to come on for Xavi, who was playing rather well. Resting him for Chile already?

64 min: Ramos is fouled on the right by Palacios. I think he (Palacios, not Ramos) has committed about 62 fouls so far.

63 min: No harm done to Spain though, I don't think.

62 min: MISS!!!!! Idiot Villa misses a perfect chance for a hat-trick as he puts it wide to the right of the goal, with the keeper going the wrong way. Jackass. Really hurt my team there.

60 min: PENALTY! Spain break quickly from a free kick, and Xavi passes it on to Navas, who is promptly stepped on by Izaguerria. Ref immediately points to the spot. Villa steps up...

59 min: Villa looking really sharp. Gets on to a difficult through ball from Capdevilla and crosses it in, albeit straight to the keeper.

58 min: Honduras holding on to the ball for a bit. And getting forward even! Oh wait, Spain has the ball back. Normal service resumes.

56 min: Two corners in a row, before the pressure ends with Navas uselessly crossing past everyone from the left. Have to give him credit though, he seems to be everywhere.

55 min: Spain with some lovely passing in the box, but it's more Arsenal like than anything else, with the ball being bundled out for a corner. Pique is back on with a wad of toilet paper in his mouth. Almost half a roll, that.

54 min: Ouch! Pique's mouth is bleeding profusely, after a Honduran boot caught him accidentally in the face. Hope he doesn't go off - would be more of a blow to my fantasy team than to Spain, mind you.

53 min: Spain pile forward again. Villa > Alonso > Navas > weak shot straight to the keeper.

52 min: Oof. Spain opening it up here. Ramos breaks clear and smacks one just right of the post. Keeper was in the vicinity.

50 min: GOAL!!!! Brace for Villa! Honduras get men forward, but Spain counter quickly, as Xavi runs 25 yards with the ball, leading a 4-on-4. Xavi gets it out to Navas, who thankfully plays it sideways to Villa instead of crossing it in. Villa shoots from just outside the box and scores (after a deflection), for his second of the game. He's now three behind Raul for the all-time Spain goalscoring lead.

48 min: Navas dribbles down the left this time, for a good 30 yards, as someone (Villa?) stands all alone on the edge of the box on the right with his arms raised plaintively. Nothing doing - Navas runs it straight out of bounds.

46 min: Honduras pressing, and Casillas plays it out under very little pressure. Looks nervous, he does. Chile must like the look of this.

2nd Half: Welcome back. I mean that literally - Honduras have just brought on a chap by that very name. Yes, yes, I'm here all week. Figueroa tries to shoot straight from kick-off. Better effort than Alonso's but still not on target.

HALF TIME: Spain dominated the ball in that half with 66% possession and 10 shots (to Honduras' 1), but couldn't put the game to bed due to poor finishing - that would be you, Fernando. While they weren't entirely convincing, I still think they'll go on to score at least 2 more in the 2nd as the game opens up towards the end. Honduras are clearly on a damage limitation exercise and are probably hoping to maintain this scoreline till the 80th, at which point I hope they will try to attack.

44 min: Honduras with some possession and a foray towards the box, but it goes nowhere. Spain quickly counter, with Villa streaking down the left. His cross is deflected however, and the extra minute of injury time seems to be petering out. Wait a second - Honduras have what must be their first corner, after the ball goes out off of Pique's uhh balls. Decent cross in, but Spain deal with it, if unconvincingly. Whistle blows for the half.

43 min: Torres goes down in the box as the ball is played to him after a series of nice little passes by the Spaniards. Nothing there though.

40 min: Bit of argy-bargy in the box here (I've always wanted to say that). As Xavi stands over a free kick, Villa slaps a Honduran in the face. Could have easily gotten a red card there, the stupid git, but the referee didn't see it.

39 min: Navas to Villa again from the corner, but the striker's cheeky backheel is misdirected.

37 min: Honduras pick up another yellow, and Xavi absolutely strolls to the edge of the box from the resulting free kick. Passes it out to Navas, whose cross is deflected into the arms of the goalkeeper. Moments later, Navas has the ball on the edge of the box again, and gets it into Villa, but it's jussst kicked out for a corner.

36 min: Torres was apparently on. Sorry 'Nando.

35 min: Xavi playing well here. Finds Torres with a long ball but he was offside. Sounds about right. Seconds before, he had turned his defender with ease when receiving a ball from Alonso, but his pass on to an open Torres was found out by Figueroa.

34 min: Now Torres is gifted the ball on the edge of the area, but shoots miles over from just inside the box. This is getting painful to watch - Spain should be 3 up. Bring Cesc on!

32 min: Speaking of which, Navas puts in an early cross to no one, but Villa saves it on the left side, easily beats two defenders but can't find anyone in the middle. Shortly after, Ramos skips past his defender with a classic schoolyard play-on-one-side-run-the-other move, and crosses it in, but Torres can't put an open header away from 8 yards.

31 min: Spain being afforded a LOT of space in midfield, as Honduras hangs back. Inviting disaster, I think. In other news, Navas loses the ball. I think he's had one good ball in so far.

28 min: I can't even hear what the commentator is saying, which is unfortunate, since I was hoping to rip off some relevant and incisive commentary from the chap. Stupid vuvuzelas. As far as the game, Torres could have been through, but he couldn't control the pass. Seems quite rusty, understandably, one might add. Navas sends in another useless cross.

27 min: Navas' crosses have been below par. Xavi seems to be finding his targets rather well though. Like Barca Xavi, not last week's Xavi. Also, Suazo handles a deep ball for the second time in a weak effort at controlling it. And he isn't Fabiano, so it isn't okay.

26 min: Busquets goes down theatrically on minimal contact from Palacios. Typical. Real choot, Busquets.

24 min: Spanish width is resulting in a lot of open spaces in front of Xavi when he has the ball within 35-40 yards of goal. Scary, that.

24 min: Pique is being given a lot more space here to drive forward than he was by the Swiss. May be significant later...

22 min: The Hondurans are keeping things interesting. They counter again, and only a semi-accidental intervention by Puyol prevents a forward from being clean through.

20 min: Ramos blatantly pushes Figueroa (1 of 3 Hondurans I know), from the resulting free kick, but heads straight to the keeper from 3 yards anyway. Whistle had already gone. Also, on watching the Villa goal replay - he actually got past/through 3 defenders. Nicely done.

19 min: Spain get the ball back fairly quickly, and push it out to Navas on the right again. He's not doing much with the ball out there though. Villa is cynically brought down on the other side on the next Spain attack. I feel like the Honduran right back is going to suffer a long night. And 1 Card, at the least.

17 min: GOAL!!!! Beautiful goal from Villa. I told you so! He absolutely skins his defender, jinks in from the left, and belts it into the top right corner while falling down, no less. Wonderful effort.

16 min: Honduras were tippy-tappying it around in the center of midfield until they suddenly broke through the defence with two quick passes, and Casillas had to rush out to pick the ball off the attackers feet.

14 min: Honduras sweep forward on a sort of counter, and Casillas very unassuredly slide-kicks the cross away. At the other end, Alonso tries scoring from 50 yards. Pitiful. Not everyday is the 29th of February, son.

13 min: Villa shoots across the face of goal from just inside the box on the left. He really seems in the mood. Is my fantasy captain too. Bodes well.

12 min: Honduras hold possession for 2 minutes, primarily because their goalkeeper is down injured. Still counts towards their percentage...which will end up around 35%, I feel.

10 min: Ramos now heads over from a Xavi cross, with three Spaniards waiting to connect. All three defenders, interestingly, with Puyol and Pique being the other two.

8 min: Ramos is pushed over in the box as Xavi delivers the free kick. Two decent penalty claims for Spain already - that push was rather deliberate, although Ramos didn't seem to mind falling over.

7 min: Cute backheel from Navas to Busquets, who's surprisingly high up the field. He's subsequently fouled and a Honduran picks up a foolish yellow card by needlessly interfering with the taking of the ensuing free kick.

6 min: That "Over 2.5 goals" bet looks legit as well. Xavi passes to Villa who thumps the bar with a cracker from 25 yards with the goalkeeper nowhere near it.

5 min: Penalty claims seem legit. Contact was not intentional, but the defender's hand was away from his body.

4 min: Capdevilla steals the ball near the box, and Xavi shoots but is blocked. Spain claims a Honduran handball from the resulting confusion but the ref waves on. Shortly after, Torres miskicks a nice little cross in from the left (Villa, I think it was).

3 min: It's early days yet, but Spain (expectedly) seem to be maintaining a much wider formation with Navas hugging the right touchline, and seeing a lot of the ball too, might I add.

1 min: All I can hear so far are those infamous vuvuzelas. Quite a racket too. Spain maintaining most of the possession. Nice little backheel from Torres but unfortunately the recipient was not on the same page.

Kick-off: Spain in Red and Blue, Honduras in White. Not that it matters...

The graphic on my TV shows Spain playing a 4-1-3-2, but I think it's going to more of a 4-2-1-3, with Xavi playing behind Villa (left), Torre and Navas (right). Meanwhile, for Honduras, only one of the three Palacios brothers makes the starting lineup. Also, Suazo is playing alone up front, I think I saw him play for Inter once...

Team News: Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos, 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 11-Joan Capdevila; 22-Jesus Navas, 14-Xabi Alonso, 8-Xavi, 16-Sergio Busquets; 9-Fernando Torres, 7-David Villa.
Honduras: 18-Noel Valladares; 23-Sergio Mendoza, 2-Osman Chavez, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 21-Emilio Izaguirre; 19-Danilo Turcios, 8-Wilson Palacios, 20-Amado Guevara, 13-Roger Espinoza; 15-Walter Martinez; 11-David Suazo

Iniesta and Silva make way for Navas and Torres. Iniesta seems to have picked up a mild thigh strain, so his exclusion is understandable, but I'm surprised at Silva being left out - would have thought it would be Busquets. And what does Cesc have to do to get a game? Perhaps Del Bosque needs to give this a quick once over.

Pre-match: Hello all, and welcome to my first liveblog, and what i'm vaguely certain is the first soccer liveblog, on Rs. 5.
We're here for Spain-Honduras, and while one may expect the Hondurans to suffer a fair shellacking, one never knows - especially on a day when Federer was within a whisker of losing in the first round of Wimbledon after making the final for 6 straight years. It would have made for a far better analogy had he actually lost, of course, but still...
Moreover, there were a couple of Hondurans on my casual co-ed weekend football league team in New York who were pretty darn good, so I wouldn't write them off just yet.
That being said, Spain are 1/8 favorites to win, but there's still a good bet to be had, if you're interested in that sort of thing, by having a flutter on "Over 2.5 goals" at 1.60 (Win 60p on a Rs. 1 bet). For a team capable of scoring goals like this, you'd have to think they'd fire sooner rather than later.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Programming Note: Liveblogging Spain-Honduras Tomorrow (But With A Twist)

Greetings, loyal readers. I have not been able to blog in the last few days for a couple reasons, but suffice it to say, I've missed you too.

Anyway, just letting the footie fans out there know that tomorrow there will be a live blog of the Spain-Honduras game on Rs.5, only none of the regular contributors will be doing it. Instead, we have a guest blogger, friend of Rs.5 and long time commenter, JJY (my college roommate and still good friend) taking the reins. I must take this opportunity to emphasize that JJY invited himself.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Video Of The Century

I was going to title this post "Video Of The Day" but that really wouldn't have done it justice. Please watch this, and make sure to listen to the lyrics as best you can.

Your welcome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lessons Learned On Coming Home

I arrived back in Pakistan a few hours ago; I'm here for the next month to spend time with family as well as celebrate AKS' wedding. Here are some quick lessons:

1. Never underestimate how soon you will be subjected to a conspiracy theory. In my case, I heard my first about 17 minutes after stepping in my house from a family member who shall remain unnamed. Did you know Faisal Shehzad was a CIA agent? Yes, evidently they used him to create pressure on Pakistan to take action in Waziristan. Look how quickly "Hillary Clinton's tone changed!" Man, I miss being home. I've said it before and I'll say it again: living through conspiracy theories in the media is very different than living through them in the flesh. Good times.

2. If your flight is more than 12 hours long, and the airline sits you next to a couple with a 1-year old, God hates you. To be fair, the kid was very cute when she wasn't crying. That qualifier is more important than you think.

3. One needs to ease oneself back into Slims Chili Chips. I ate two large packets at 5 in the morning after going six months without 'em, and my mouth felt like I had just made out with Lindsay Lohan (i.e. diseased). I need to pace myself.

4. Don't be tempted by the free computers or the Wi-Fi internet at Abu Dhabi airport. My twitter account got hacked one hour after I did. Though I suppose it serves me right for being one of those obsessive losers who goes on Twitter at an airport.

5. Kids grow up very fast. It's been half a year since I saw my neices. I barely recognize the younger one (14 months), and the older one (5 years) now has a wider vocabulary than I do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We're Getting Slaughtered In England

I have a blog post up on Dawn's website. It concerns our selection issues before the summer tour to England. You may be surprised, but I bitch out Shoaib Malik.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Urgent: Please Read This Post If You're Participating In The Rs.5 World Cup Bracket

Okay, I'm really happy with the response rate but there's a minor complication which a reader's comment alerted me to. Namely, the ability to track people down if they actually win.

Now, for many of the people who sent in predictions, they either used Google accounts (which makes them trackable) or I know them personally (which also makes them trackable). But there are a select few who fall into neither category. So if you are any of the following, please send me an email to fiverupeesadmin AT googlegroups DOT com, and simply identify yourself with your pseudonym:

1. Lahori
2. Disfigured corpse
4. Ahad
5. KP_Red_Devil
6. McPhisto
7. Zozo

Please do this as soon as possible. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I Can't Think Of A Title For Something This Brilliant

Behold. Via Huma Imtiaz's twitter, please check out this Geo report, which tells us what the covers of notebooks sold in Lahore's Urdu Bazaar are being made of.

Sorry English speakers, but I can't translate while I'm laughing this hard. The images should be good enough though.

It does seem to me, though, that much of the consternation is due to the fact that it's ghair-mulki (international) booze. I imagine the Geo newscasters and the interviewees would be happier with Murree brewery cartons being used instead.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Excerpt Of The Day

This passage is drawn from page 148 of David Halberstam's truly excellent book on the US-Vietnam war called The Best and the Brightest. The passage concerns the South Vietnamese leader Diem, and how support for him within the upper echelons of the US government morphed from tepid in the 1950s to something greater later. It describes how that transformation, and the attendant heavier footprint of the US in Vietnam, took place:
It was a shaky basis on which to found a policy, but it did not seem like a major decision at the time, nor a major policy. The attitude was essentially that there was little to lose, a certain small investment in American money, virtually no investment in American lives. In the beginning there was little illusion about the legitimacy of the [Diem] government, or the state, or its chances for survival. That illusion would come gradually, later on, for a commitment is a subtle thing, with a life of its own and a rhythm of its own. It may, as in the case of South Vietnam, begin as something desperately frail, when the chances for survival are negligible. For a while, oxygen is breathed in, mouth-to-mouth, at great effort but little cost, and then the very people who have been administering the oxygen, desperate to keep the commitment alive (not because they believe in any hopeful prognosis, but because they do not want to be charged with failing to try and give first aid), look up one day and find that there is indeed a faint pulse, that the patient is more alive than dead. But at this point they are not relieved of their responsibility; instead, for the first the commitment really begins, and now they are charged with keeping it alive. It is a responsibility, it is real. Its death would mean genuine political repercussions.

No deep point here. Just wanted to share a really nicely written paragraph.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Coke Studio

The Twitterverse has been obsessed with the beginning of the third season of Coke Studio. Everyone felt that the best performance was by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shaif...

...but I honestly felt the Abida Parveen performance was better.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't really know much about this Coke Studio business until very recently. I had heard of it only tangentially until my friend Oba told me a couple of months ago that he would be on this season. He seemed really hyped about it, and while Oba gets hyped about everything, this seemed to go above and beyond that. I then gradually learned how big a deal it was, and it was rammed home this weekend when it was all anyone seemed to talk about.

This was the first time I saw it, and I have to say, the level of production quality was immensely impressive. I don't really watch TV in Pakistan other than news, so this stuff is very new to me. Evidently you can download the video and audio files of all the songs from their website. Well done to the people behind it, and I look forward to all the other artists in the coming weeks. Even Oba and his crappy band.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Five Rupees Wins An Award

Well, there you go. Some of you may know that Five Rupees was nominated in the Pakistani Blog Awards under the "Political coverage" category. Last week, they announced their winners, and lo and behold, we won in our category. They even gave us this badge to put up here.

I'm obviously flattered and honored, and grateful to both the organizers as well as Mosharraf Zaidi and Kalsoom Lakhani for nominating us months ago. Also, I am very whatever-the-opposite-of-"grateful"-is to both AKS and NB for helping me in keeping this blog constantly updated.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, this blog is set to undergo a couple of changes in the next week or two. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Blaming The Victims: My Response To Mosharraf Zaidi

I have to say, I was fairly disturbed when I read Mosharraf Zaidi's latest op-ed in The News. Maybe I take things too seriously, but I honestly couldn't sleep for about half an hour because it angered me so much.

Now, before I actually explain why this is the case, I want to say that I really like Mosharraf as a writer. This isn't a standard boilerplate "I respect you but.." qualification; I genuinely admire his views and ability to articulate them. Moreover, Mosharraf and I are good friends, and we go wayyyy back. I first met Mosharraf when I was just 13 years old and he was a university student -- him and my eldest brother were great friends and college roommates at LUMS. He's actually probably the only person in the world to have been well-rounded enough to be able to get along with each of the three brothers in our family; the eldest (a CEO), the middle one, no longer with us (an artist), and me (a fraud academic). My parents have treated him like a son, and I consider him an elder brother. Which is why it's easy for me to say that this op-ed was rubbish and full of dangerous false equivalences that I found genuinely offensive.

In Mosharraf's view, liberal and progressive Pakistanis haven't done enough to be engaged in Pakistani politics, and have ceded space to the the more hardline elements of our society. As a consequence, we have been complicit in things like the anti-Ahmedi discriminatory legislation that was at the root of last week's massacre. In essence, liberals -- to borrow the Bush/Obama administrations' favorite catch-phrase -- need to "do more". This is the central message of Mosharraf's piece; he writes
As children of Jinnah’s Pakistan, perhaps aspiring liberals and progressives need to start to ask questions about the nature of our citizenship, the nature of our engagement, and the nature of our politics within the broader canvas of realpolitik in Pakistan.

My rejoinder would be: really? You don't think that's what liberals have been doing since forever? We've been asking questions about the nature of citizenship, the nature of engagement, and the nature of our politics for a long time. The problem, you see, is that we've received answers to those very questions, and they're not pretty.

The simple fact is that today's Pakistan (or yesterday's for that matter, but definitely today's) has no space for liberals or liberal ideas. None. If progressives got rounded up and shot tomorrow, the country wouldn't blink, and it wouldn't miss us. Why? Because we don't matter. Why don't we matter? Number one, because we speak inconvenient truths, that people would rather ignore; number two, because there's not enough of us; and number three, because we don't use guns and riots to get across our points of view.

Let's start with number one. Liberals have been on the right side of Pakistan's history, always. When it comes to the big issues of the day, we've been right. I'm sorry if this sounds pig-headed, but it's true, and I'm not going to hide behind false modesty to mask what should be patently obvious to everyone. Liberals were the only ones who questioned our Kashmir policy in the 1990s (before it came back to bite us in the ass). Liberals were the only ones who raised problems with the Talibanization of our society and foreign policy (before it came back to bite us in the ass). Liberals were the only ones to talk about Hudood laws and rape laws and blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmedi laws (before Mukhataran Mai, and before the assorted episodes of violence that engulf our helpless minorities every three or four weeks). Liberals are the only ones who regularly speak up for women's equality, and for the freedom of press, thought and religion. Let me say that again: the only ones, again and again. On all of these issues, we are joined in tactical alliances every now and then, but as a matter or principle and long-term strategy, only liberals espouse these views. And we've been right each and every time.

The problem is that there aren't nearly enough of us for this to matter. There are a few scattered in the blogosphere and Twitterverse, and a couple of columnists for Dawn, and the Daily Times editorial board, but that's it. There are, functionally speaking, no liberals in Pakistan. Oh, there's plenty of scotch-drinking social liberals (think Salman Taseer). But liberalism and progressivism is not about drinking scotch or wearing jeans. Liberalism is about equality and freedom and personal choice and rationality and the privileging of the individual, and no one believes in those things.

Now, even that wouldn't matter if liberals borrowed from the Mullahs and amplified our true power by rioting, using violence and threats and intimidation to get our points across, but we don't do that because of another core liberal tenet: the abhorrence of coercion. As a consequence, our actual power reflects our actual numbers, both of which are small.

So when Mosharraf writes that
A transformed political landscape is a long-term project. Without substantially more grounded and active participation of Pakistani liberals in mainstream politics, it has no chance of fruition.

I would say "Yeah, buddy, we've tried. And you know what? We've been told to fuck off." Pakistan has no space for liberals; despite being involved in the process to the extent that we can, we are marginalized. More than that, we are actively treated to unmitigated hostility, accused of being traitorous, foreign agents, overly Westernized, and not "true" Pakistanis/Muslims. I wrote a post a while back which contained some of the hate mail Nadeem F. Paracha, one of the true liberals in Pakistani society, got. This is what happens when liberals try to "actively participate" in mainstream politics:
Example one: ‘Dear Mr. Paracha, there is now no doubt that you are working for the CIA. You should be ashamed of defending Zionist lobbying and America. You should be kicked out of Pakistan and sent to Israel.’

Example two: ‘Paracha, how can you be a journalist and have such a big house? The answer is simple: You are CIA funded journalist.’

Example three: ‘Paracha, Zaid Hamid slapped you left, right and centre on the show, you pseudo-intellectual. There is no shortage of people like you in Pakistan. People like you have occupied important positions in our society and are given 90-95 per cent of media coverage. We are with Zaid Hamid and inshallah we will succeed.’

Example four: ‘NFP, you are a slave to the west and working against the interests of Pakistan by attacking patriots like Zaid Hamid. It is clear you and the newspaper you write for is being funded by Israeli and Indian agencies. Better shape up or we will ship you out.’

Example five: ‘Paracha Sahib, you have been trying to propagate your Yahoodi [Jewish], Hindu and Christian masters’ rotten and obsolete ideas of ‘freedom’ and ‘secular liberalism’ and kafirana [heretical] Socialism. But people like Zaid Hamid will never let Godless men like you succeed.’

While I get less of this than someone as well-known as NFP, please read through the comments on these two posts to gauge the type of insults people like me have to deal with consistently. Just look at the sheer viciousness of the things said there. I'm not asking for sympathy; no one is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to blog (which almost naturally implies getting this type of reaction). My point is only to demonstrate how mainstream Pakistani society thinks of people like us.

It's interesting that when I interviewed Mosharraf about 18 months ago, we had this exchange on the place of liberal ideas in our society:
Ahsan: To be self-referential for a second, I also have to take issue with your statement about the stuff being discussed here [Five Rupees] forming public policy debates for the next decade. One thing that is really disheartening for me personally is how far out of the mainstream I exist. The fact that I believe in secularism, and rapprochement with India, and political and diplomatic disengagement with the Arab-Israeli dispute, and a woman's right to marry whomever she chooses without threat of violence or even social shunning, means I'm engaging in conversations that public policy simply isn't concerned with. It's not even on their radar. It's a whole different world. The older I get, the more this is rammed into my head.

Have you read Lipstick Jihad? It's actually pretty decent, despite my low expectations going in. Its subtitle is "A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran". It really captured a lot of my thoughts on the quasi-immigrant experience. I am forever made to feel like an outsider in Pakistan by the Imran Khans and Ayaz Amirs and Talat Hussains and the Urdu op-edders and the America-bashers. My ideas find acceptance nowhere other than my close friends; even much of family thinks of me as some fringe lunatic. And you really should read one or two of the extreme comments we've gotten on this blog.

Mosharraf: On the "mainstream", one thing that I think a lot of privileged middle class young people don't realize is how deep rooted the changes that have taken place in Pakistan really are. I won't go into a list, but some of the fundamental assumptions about Pakistan are actually begging to be corrected. Pakistan is now an urban country, not rural. If there's a half-decent census (not possible in the current atmosphere) you'll see the urban share of the population has gone past 40%. Then consider that the current definitions don't really account for extended metropolises and peri-urban areas. Then consider that if you can get cable, and have a highway nearby (that's virtually all of the Punjab save three to five districts, out of 35) then how "rural" really are you? Point. The mainstream in Pakistan is not what it used to be. Syeda Abida Hussein said horrible things about middle class Pakistanis in an interview with the Wall Street Journal before the election. One generation ago, that was not news. Now it is. She's over as a political entity. Her ilk is near extinction as well. Two more election cycles and all this will be more obvious than it is right now. It might not even take a full ten years.

The things you beleive in are not a unique set of ideas, much as they might seem to be from reading the newspaper and watching television. They are more mainstream than the regressive politics that dominates the national landscape.

Looking back now, I'm sure even Mosharraf would be embarrassed by that last sentence. How can something be "more mainstream" than something else that "dominates the national landscape"? By definition, if something dominates the landscape, it's mainstream. And leaving aside the quote itself, does anyone seriously think the ideas I mentioned above are mainstream? Please. Go to and figure it out for yourself.

No, sir, there is no place for liberals in Pakistan. Think about it: why does Hamid Mir still have a job? Why are banners saying "Yahoodi Eesai Mirzai Islam key dushman hain [Jews, Christians and Ahmedis are the enemies of Islam]" allowed to be hung up outside the Lahore High Court building? Why does our urban elite have a different set of standards for its daughters than its sons when it comes to going abroad for their education? Why do honor killings take place? Why has there been no serious attempt at land reform in this country in sixty years? Liberal ideas are mainstream? Are you kidding me? If liberal ideas were even remotely mainstream, we would have adequate political representation. It's almost a natural law of politics: if there's enough of you, someone will stand up for you. But there are no liberal/progressive mainstream political parties in Pakistan. The closest that we have is the MQM, and Lord knows they have issues that make liberals uncomfortable.

So when liberals try to spread our ideas, we are ignored or spat upon. What's the solution, according to Mosharraf? Here's another snippet from his op-ed:
Asking questions about how to improve the rate of success of liberal causes in Pakistan requires us to take a break from mullah-bashing, and introspect...We are too self-conscious as a nation. Too beholden to mullahs on the one hand, and too dislocated from our own culture and context on the other.

Let me translate that into plain English. "Liberals, stop believing the things you believe. Try to appeal to the Mullahs and the hallowed "middle ground". You're too extreme for your own good. Dial it down a notch, and you might get people to pay attention." If this sounds familiar, it should. It's what Mosharraf's namesake (with a different spelling, to be fair) always went on about. "Enlightened moderation", which lumped the hardline and terrorist right wing of this country with "liberal extremists", a false equivalence so singularly offensive that it leaves me speechless.

No, Mosharraf, we're part of the solution. Always have been. They're part of the problem. Always have been. That Pakistan and Pakistanis choose to ignore this fact is a tragedy, because we liberals have to share the country with those who (stupidly) think we're wrong. We have to live with the consequences of their idiocy, bigotry, racism, and violence, and we need to change the way we interact with the body politic of Pakistan? Right.

This is how Mosharraf closes his piece:
The most important tribute we can pay to those that were slaughtered by the TTP in Lahore is to formulate and execute a transparent and comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. Anything less would be a continuation of the failed politics of Pakistani liberals, and the unchallenged run of success enjoyed by Pakistani fanatics.

Hmmm. Formulate and execute a transparent and comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy? You know who's been demanding that for the better part of two decades? Liberals. We've been talking about the dangers of militancy for a long, long time -- well before 9/11. That no one bothers listening is not an indictment of the "failed politics of Pakistani liberals". It's an indictment of everyone else.

If mainstream Pakistan wants to ignore us, fine, that's their prerogative. But don't blame us when shit goes bad. In other words, don't blame the victim for the crime. It's bad enough that we have to live with the actual criminals.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Punjab And The Militants

I'm in a bit of a rush right now, but read this press release from Human Rights Watch in full. Evidently Shahbaz Sharif's government was told well in advance that something like this was about to happen but they didn't really care. It's the same angle as Musharraf-with-BB's-security thing. I'm excerpting what I think are the most relevant parts:
Human Rights Watch also urged the government of Punjab province, controlled by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, to investigate and prosecute as appropriate campaigns of intimidation, threats, and violence against the Ahmadiyya community by Islamist groups such as the Sunni Tehrik, Tehrik-e-Tahafaz-e-Naomoos-e-Risalat, Khatm-e-Nabuwat and other groups acting under the Taliban’s umbrella. Leaders of these groups have frequently threatened to kill Ahmadis and attack the mosques where the killings took place. The anti-Ahmadiyya campaign has intensified in the past year, exemplified by the government allowing groups to place banners seeking the death of “Qadianis” (a derogatory term for Ahmadis) on the main thoroughfares of Lahore.

The independent, non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Ahmadi community leaders told Human Rights Watch that they had repeatedly brought these threats to the notice of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the provincial government, and the police controlled by the provincial authorities, and that they had asked for enhanced security for Ahmadiyya mosques given their vulnerability to attack. However, Human Rights Watch research found that the provincial government failed to act on the evidence or to ensure meaningful security to the mosques.

On May 30, Zaeem Qadri, advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, said in an interview on Dunya TV that the provincial government had failed to remove the threatening banners from the city’s thoroughfares in order to prevent “adverse reaction against the government” by the groups responsible. On the same day, a Taliban statement “congratulated” Pakistanis for the attacks, calling people from the Ahmadiyya and Shia communities “the enemies of Islam and common people” and urging Pakistanis to take the “initiative” and kill every such person “in range.

“The Punjab government is either in denial about threats to Ahmadis and other minorities or is following a policy of willful discrimination,” said Hasan.

The thing about not wanting to remove the banners shouldn't surprise anyone. Remember when Shahbaz Sharif basically said that he was okay with terrorists as long as they killed other people ("them") but not people like him ("us")? Well, in the PML-N worldview, Punjabi Ahmedis are definitely "them".

Also, read Recycled Thought on the question of Punjab-based militant networks, and how they're intertwined with local politics.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Ahmedi Killings: Time For The PPP To Step Up (Updated With Taliban Statement)

Before I put down my thoughts, let me urge you to go and read two great posts on the tragic killings at Ahmedi MOSQUES yesterday. The first is at A Reluctant Mind and the second is at Cafe Pyala. I basically agree with everything both of them say on the killings of MUSLIMS at MOSQUES.

I want to concentrate on a different facet of the tragedy, namely the absurd laws that remain on Pakistan's books, decades after political expediency (in Bhutto's case) and downright bigotry (in Zia's case) that have allowed things like this to happen.

Actually, I think some people may take issue with that statement in and of itself. So let's back up for a second. There are basically two ideal-type views on the relationship between laws in a society, and that society's existing mores and preferences. The first would be that laws really matter, and change the way we think about things, as well as the things we do. The second is diametrically opposed to this, and would argue that laws are epiphenomenal. Laws, in this view, merely reflect what we already think and do and have no independent effect on anything. Put differently, the first view says laws determine our actions and thoughts, and the second says that our actions and thoughts determine our laws.

This distinction is important because it forces us to consider what types of actions we should take when we oppose a particular social practice. Let's take honor killings. If you are with the first group, you think that if you make the laws against honor killings more stringent -- by, say, punishing the entire family responsible for the killing -- then you can slowly but surely eradicate it. If you are in the second group, you think changing the law is pointless; the thing to do is to change the education standards and the social norms that govern our interactions and actions in society. These prescriptions are very different, and so the views we have on the law-norms relationship have very real consequences for how we go about reforming things.

I think most reasonable people would fall in between the two ideal-type views on average, but privilege one or the other on a case-by-case basis.

On the Ahmedi issue, however, I'm most definitely in the first camp. Why do I believe this? Well, the main reason is that the only reason we even have these laws -- especially the Bhutto laws from the 70s which declared Ahmedis non-Muslims -- is because of agitation from the religious right. Now, we all know that the religious right has no real political power; they've never won anything worth winning in elections. They are at most a nuisance, a bunch of mosquitoes and flies who need to be brushed away when they start buzzing around. They don't represent "average" Pakistani norms and never have.

The problem is that because of short-term and ill-advised considerations, non-religious leaders have given into these goons repeatedly. Whether it's something serious like declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims (Bhutto), or something unserious but still incredibly annoying like a religious column in the Pakistani passport (Musharraf), leaders have found it convenient to give in to them, hoping it'll shut them up. But it never does. All it actually does is leave draconian and bigoted laws on the books for people to take advantage of. The Zia laws are similar, in that they allow and sanction people to explicitly discriminate against an entire group of Pakistani citizens. Let me say that again: under Pakistani law, we are supposed to discriminate. Not discriminating is illegal.

What ends up happening is that because of the existence of these laws, cultural and social practices change as a result. Anti-Ahmedi sentiment has spread from being the sole purview of the religious right to a much more mainstream position in the last couple of decades. Judging by online comments and some Tweets I've read, hating Ahmedis and being glad about yesterday's events is perfectly normal. My feeling is that these laws are a big reason for that.

Anyway, all this is a long preamble to my actual point: this is the next big thing the PPP must do. The Hudood laws, the rape laws, and the anti-Ahmedi laws. Gone. Done. Dusted. Am I crazy? Can this happen? Mostly yes, and mostly no, respectively, but bear with me.

If you examine the PPP government's record in power, there's been a great bifurcation on the issues on which they've done well versus the ones they've done badly in. Think about their greatest successes: the autonomy package for Gilgit Baltistan. The moving forward -- if fitfully, in stops and starts -- on Balochistan and Balochi rights. The 18th amendment. Inter-provincial harmony. Now think about their greatest failures: electricity. Water. The war. The economy.

Can you see what's going on here? On the issues which affect the everyday lives of ordinary Pakistanis, the PPP government is either unwilling or unable to do anything that makes a difference. On the other hand, on "big" political/constitutional issues, whose importance tomorrow will outweigh their importance today, they've actually done an excellent job.

Well, this should be right up their alley. The anti-Ahmedi and Hudood laws are a disgusting blot in our penal code. It should be their next target. The tragedy of yesterday should serve as a focal point around which reform can coalesce. Recall that the PPP was the only party to support Musharraf's Women's Rights Bill back in 2006, when his own coalition partners (the Q) weren't really for it. They are, purportedly, the secular, liberal party of Pakistan -- or at least they advertise themselves as such. The numbers may not work in the Assemblies -- I see only the MQM helping them out, and even combined those two don't make for a majority, let alone a two-thirds majority. But I'd still like to see them make an effort, if for no other reason than forcing the PML-N and PML-Qs of the world to come out in the open and explicitly say they favor the current discriminatory legislation (and they will, don't worry).

This is what governments are elected to do: tackle the big issues which individuals can't tackle on their own (like, say, garbage collection). This is the PPP's chance to make history...again. It's time for them to rid Pakistan of these laws. It's time for the PPP to step up.

UPDATE: Here's the Taliban's statement in reaction to the killings. Let's just say it's not exactly like reading NFP:
Congratulations for the whole nation. What the brave Mujahideen did yesterday in Garhi Shahu & Model Town, Lahore. We greet them whole heartedly how well they have done with best of their expertise. As a whole we do like to encourage the nation for increasing this kind of activities like target killings of Qadianis, Shia, supporting political parties, Law enforcement agencies, Pakistan Army, racist parties and many more. MQM is an acting political and terrorist wing of Qadianis & jews. They are responsible for destruction of the country & nation. We are confirming the very near future assassination attacks on everyone who is with MQM. Simultaneously we advise the realistic people to take initiative and kill every that person who came in their range. There is no specific need of detonators, bombs or explosives. Just kill them either by means of just crashing them under their cars. Qadiani & Shia are the enemies of Islam and common people. They disrespect Muhammad (Salal-Lahu-Alaihi Wasallam) and Sahaba (Razi Allahu-Anhum). They have no respect for anyone. MQM is their terrorist wing which is involved in target killings in Karachi.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Here Are My World Cup Predictions. Where Are Yours?

With the World Cup just two weeks away, it's time to put in some predictions. I'm always wrong with this stuff, but it never stops me from trying. Before I detail some of the choicest tidbits here, a quick note: I want to run a type of mini-competition amongst footie fans from the Rs.5 readership. There are basically thirty one spots open to prediction if you leave out the permutations of the third- and fourth-place teams in each of the groups in the first round. I am also leaving out the 3rd place playoff because bronze medals are for losers.

So yeah, there are 31 spots open for prediction. All you have to do is number your teams the way I have done it here. This part is crucial: your number 1 should be the winner of group A, number 2 the runner of Group B and so on. Just follow my lead by looking at the table below, and filling it in with your own predictions.

Then, either in the comments or in an email to fiverupeesadmin AT googlegroups DOT com, send me a numbered list that looks like:

1. France
2. Nigeria
3. England
4. Serbia
31. Spain

or whatever. You can add your justifications and whatever, but that part is optional. All you have to do to partake in the competition is give me thirty one numbered teams. And you must do so before a ball is kicked; the competition closes at the exact moment the World Cup begins. Who knows, I might even give a prize to the winner (maybe).

So get cracking with your predictions and send them in. You can find the groups by clicking here.

Anyway, here is my bracket:






1. Winner of Group A—Mexico

2.Runner up of Group B—South Korea








3.Winner of Group C—England

4.Runner up of Group D—Germany

5.Winner of Group E—Holland

6.Runner up of Group F—Paraguay



7.Winner of Group G—Brazil

8.Runner up of Group H—Chile

9.Winner of Group B—Argentina

10.Runner up of Group A—Uruguay





11.Winner of Group D—Serbia

12.Runner up of Group C—USA

13.Winner of Group F—Italy

14.Runner up of Group E—Denmark



15.Winner of Group H—Spain

16.Runner up of Group G—Cote d’Ivoire

The highlights for me:

  • France failing to get out of the group stages for the second time in three World Cups. Do not, I repeat, do not sleep on Mexico and Uruguay. You do so at your peril; I watched plenty of the South American and Central American qualifiers, and trust me, neither team is to be messed with. Plus, France just suck. I mean, they're just a terrible team, with a terrible coach, and overrated players. I am very confident about this one. They're out.
  • Two tasty all-South American round of 16 clashes. The first between Argentina and Uruguay and the second between Brazil and Chile. Argentina beat Uruguay by a single goal twice in the qualifers, the second time under considerable pressure (in Uruguay, when a draw or defeat could've meant missing the World Cup). But they're more settled now, and I don't see Uruguay having enough to get by them. As for the second game, as much as I love Chile's sexy 3-3-1-3 formation, they got laced 7-2 on aggregate against Brazil in the qualifiers, and I see that trend holding up too. Also, the Brazil-Chile game will be the most entertaining of this round. Remember I said this.
  • If it's a contrast in styles you want, watch the Denmark-Italy game. Denmark are actually quite an exciting team to watch based on the little I've seen them play in the last couple of years. Trust Italy to ruin the fun with a 1-0 win, the goal a freaky one that takes a deflection off a set piece in the 78th minute.
  • By the way, I see Serbia ruining England's World Cup dream...indirectly. You see, I'm predicting Serbia win their group, pushing Germany down to the runners up spot, so that they play England in the first knock out stage. England may be better on paper, but in big tournaments, I'll take the Germans over the English every day. Some teams just know how to play and win big matches. Germany is one of those teams. England is not. Bye, bye Don Fabio.
  • The two most interesting quarter finals for me will be between Holland and Brazil, and Italy and Spain. I expect the bad guys to win one (Brazil) and the good guys to win the other (Spain). Meanwhile, Argentina and Germany beat a pair of teams that have realistically reached their ceiling by getting to the quarters: Serbia and Mexico, respectively.
  • In the semis, Brazil beat Germany, who simply aren't good enough. And Spain beat Argentina in the game of the tournament, where Messi and Di Maria put the fear of God into Spain (whose one vulnerability is down the flanks) before ultimately bowing out because of some idiotic substitution by Maradona. We get our dream final: Brazil vs Spain.
  • Spain are exactly the type of team Brazil love to beat. They'll sit back, absorb, wait, wait, wait some more, and then pounce. Think Inter-Barca first leg to see what I mean. Brazil will have 40% of the ball but 75% of the goals. Children everywhere will cry, including Brazilians, who wonder what the hell Dunga has done to their team, they barely recognize it anymore, before someone politely tells them that Brazil haven't played "like Brazil" since 1982.
Alright, now it's your turn. Remember, numbered teams to 31, either in the comments below or in an email to fiverupeesadmin AT googlegroups DOT com. Go for it.

Other random predictions
  • Most annoyingly played up thing by the media who have nothing else to write about in the week before the games begin: those horns that make it sound like the stadium has been invaded by bees. Trust me, by June 11, you would've heard the word "vuvuzela" about 8204343299048 times.
  • Top scorer: David Villa
  • Most heartbroken team: Spain.
  • Team everyone is happy is kicked out when they are because their media is starting to bug the hell out of everyone: tie between England and USA.
  • Biggest disappointment (team): Portugal, who fail to win a single game.
  • Biggest disappointment (player): Wayne Rooney, who gets a red card at the wrong time. Again.
  • Most outrageous quote: Diego Maradona, in the couple days off between the group stages and the first knockout stage.
  • Possible subjects of said quote: Pele's sexuality, racism in South Africa, the backward nature of Uruguayans, or a reporter's sister.
  • Best feud: pick two, any two, players from Holland.
  • Best friendship: Pique and Fabregas, who make Spain even more suffocatingly likable.
  • Most awkward moment: when British tabloids reveal that John Terry's wife has been having an affair with his Chelsea teammate Michael Ballack. Ballack confirms the rumors before the England-Germany game, saying "Well, I broke my ankle and am sitting here in London, and I had to help my team, I always kinda liked Wayne Bridge.
UPDATE: If you contributed predictions under the pseudonyms of any of the following, please email me as soon as possible at fiverupeesadmin at googlegroups dot com:

1. Lahori
2. Disfigured corpse
4. Ahad
5. KP_Red_Devil
6. Mcphisto
7. Zozo

Thank you.