Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quote of the day
Forgive me, I beg you. And take this public show of my private pride giving in to your fury as an act of love. One of many. I guard your dignity, like a treasure within my heart, even when careless comments slip off my tongue.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, publicly apologizing to his (second) wife after flirting with other women at a TV awards dinner. By the way, he's 70 years old.

My Patience With Shoaib

If I wasn't already tired of him, I am now. He should not, I repeat not, be part of Pakistan's World Cup squad. Furthermore, he should not be part of Pakistan's Test team ever again. More on this when I have time (hopefully on the weekend but no guarantees).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Inappropriate Headline of the day
This BBC story says "Pathan to be unleashed on Windies". Um, is Irfan Pathan really the type of cricketer who's "unleashed"? Shoaib Akhtar is unleashed. Brett Lee is unleashed. Andrew Symonds, Kevin Pietersen and Adam Gilchrist are unleashed. I'd say Pathan is more "gently and unobtrusively placed in opposition to" than "unleashed".

Photographs/Trivia of the day

Alright, Karachiites, let's see how well you know your city. Can you identify this?

It's Clifton, more than a hundred years ago.

What about this?

Probably the easiest of the lot, eh? It's the Gymkhana, fool!

Any idea about this?

Victoria Road.

And finally, if you can guess this one, then you are the King/Queen.

That, my friends, is Saddar. Stop laughing, it's actually Saddar.

Many thanks to the people at Metroblogging Karachi for these photos. Honestly made my day.

Quote of the day
Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Koran extols Muslims to wage jihad. We only fulfil God's orders. Only jihad can bring peace to the world. We will continue our struggle until foreign troops are thrown out. Then we will attack them in the US and Britain until they either accept Islam or agree to pay jazia.

Baitullah Mehsud, a militant/terrorist in Pakistan. Jazia, as the BBC describes, is a tax imposed on non-Muslims living in Islamic states.

Remind people who want NATO forces out of Afghanistan and like to see Western soldiers die that they are, in essence, supporting the Baitullah Mehsuds of the world. The people who kill 42 Pakistan soldiers while they're exercising, the people who ban music and television, the people who keep girls from going to school - these are Ayaz Amir's heroes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Only In The L.A. Times...

...can someone write an article with the headline, "Was 9/11 Really That Bad?" I can't wait for the Bill O'Reilly types to jump all over this.

Terrorism in Pakistan

You know how they say "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"? Well, who the fuck should be ashamed if you're fooled three times? We've now had three suicide attacks in less than four days. On Friday, someone blew themselves up outside the Marriot in Islamabad. On Saturday night, the target was a Shia procession in Peshawar, which killed a bunch of policemen who were making security arrangements for it. Today, another suicide bomber killed himself, a civilian and another policeman in Dera Ismail Khan, near where Shias were meant to hold another procession.

A couple of points. First of all, it's almost tragically easy to see these things coming. It's Muharram (for non-Pakistani/non-Muslim readers, the 10th of Muharram is called Ashura, perhaps the most important day of the year for Shias), it's Pakistan, so we're going to get people dying. In fact, the Daily Times actually predicted something like this after the Islamabad attack, asking, "Can the Peshawar government prevent the foretold killings in the province [NWFP] on Ashura?" Well, I guess they have their answer now. Being Shia in Pakistan, especially over the last ten years, has become an increasingly risky business. Though some Shia groups have been responsible for terrorist activity themselves, it is by and large Sunnis who are the perpretrators of sectarian violence and Shias who are the victims.

Second, we all know who's responsible. If it's not Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, it's Jaish-e-Muhammad. If it's not Jaish-e-Muhammad, it's Sipah-e-Sahaba. If it's not Sipah-e-Sahaba, it's Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. These groups have a lot more that unites them than divides them. The same people who kill Pakistani soldiers in Waziristan are the same people who blow themselves in crowds in Karachi who are the same people who target Shias who are the same people who have been waging Jihad in Kashmir for years who are the same people who attempt to assassinate Musharraf. The point to be made is this: we all know about the closet support given to these types of people when they kill American soldiers or fight for "Kashmir's right of self-determination" by Urdu newspaper columnists, Ayaz Amir types (remember, he called Osama a "hero"), and large sections of our political, military, intelligence, and bureaucratic establishments. But what now? Where are their cheerleading statements and columns now? You can't support what they do one day and not the next, simply based on the nationality/skin colour/religion/sect of their victims. Either you think they're "heroes" or "terrorists". There's no in-between. So if you do think they're heroes, then please say so. Don't wait for them to kill Americans; do it now. Say "It is heroic to kill policemen and to target Shias in Muharram". Say it, Ayaz Amir, fucking say it. I can't hear you, you hypocritical fuckwit. Asshole.

Not Quite A Surge

We've all heard about the increasing troop presence in Iraq, but what about Afghanistan? The Onion reports.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Photograph of the day

The worst thing about my school in Pakistan was that sometimes my Urdu teacher would unnecessarily pick on me during class. The worst thing about this girl's school in Iraq is that sometimes kids get blown up.

Photo credit: Getty images

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Excerpt of the day
This dilemma is captured in brutally frank comments that Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck made during the early 1860s, when it appeared that Poland, which was not an independent state at the time, might regain its sovereignty. "Restoring the Kingdom of Poland in any shape or form is tantamount to creating an ally for any enemy that chooses to attack us," he believed, and therefore he advocated that Prussia should "smash those Poles till, losing all hope, they lie down and die; I have every sympathy for their situation, but if we wish to survive we have no choice but to wipe them out."

I'm not sure who I love more - Bismarck or Mearsheimer. Every time I read The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, it gets more hilarious.

Man Tasers Wife's 79 year-old Grandmother...

...then says, "If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t." You think? By the way, this story is not from the Onion or anything. This one is though.

Conspiracy of the day

An old favourite:
THE articles by M.P. Bhandara (Jan 14) and Mikhail Gorbachev (Jan 19) actually refer to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming millions of human lives, besides loss of property and miseries of the innocent Muslims, without any tangible proof, produced in any international court, thus denying “basic natural justice”, before being punished.

No doubt, it is nothing less than the 21st century’s Jewish crusade against the Christians and Muslims, in the fulfilment of their imaginary “dream to establish their own Kingdom of God, to rule over the world”. Are they not virtually ruling over the world powers to launch their crusade against Muslims and Christians?

Did they not plan and execute 9/11 themselves, as evident from the secret code, left behind by one of them, in Windows 95 software, utilising all the hi-tech know-how and capability, brought by them from the West, not known to the poor Muslims of Afghanistan, to embroil the Christian powers against innocent Muslims, leading to the loss of innocent Christian and Muslim lives.

From a letter in Dawn today.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quote of the day

Sorry for the flood of coverage on the Roddick-Federer match but I had to post this beauty from Roddick from his press conference.
Question: How will you sleep tonight?
Roddick: It depends on how much I drink.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More on Federer

Here's the New York Times report on the Roddick match.

Federer relied on classic shots from his repertoire: forehand flicks that dipped just out of Roddick’s reach; running one-handed backhand blasts that zipped down the line; sharply cut volleys that hit the rubberized green surface and quickly bounced twice. But there was also some exotica, none more memorable than the shot produced on the opening point of the fourth game of the second set.

Roddick was already down 0-3, and when Federer gave him a rare short ball, Roddick moved forward and channeled all the frustration of the match’s first 40 minutes into a forehand that landed very near the baseline. Most players would have gotten out of the way, but Federer sprung to his left and hit a backhand reflex half volley on the move that traveled cross court for a clean winner. Roddick stood gaping at the net as the crowd roared with a mixture of surprise and aesthetic delight.

But such sounds soon gave way to nervous laughter and anticipatory groans as it became abundantly clear that Roddick had no answers to the tennis riddles that Federer kept posing. Roddick’s frustration eventually gave way to anger, and he could not even get that quite right, smashing a ball into the stands after losing his serve and accidentally losing his grip on the racket in the process, sending it hurtling in the direction of a photographer courtside and earning him a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

There's really nothing to say about Federer that hasn't already been said. All I'll say is that I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to say I saw two of the five greatest atheletes of all time at their very peak (Jordan and Federer, with Muhammad Ali and Pele and a third of your choice being the others).

Conspiracy of the day

linked to an Irfan Hussain column a few weeks ago which described the efforts of a certain Maulana Fazlullah to proscribe polio vaccinations. If you recall, his exact reason was:

According to Islam and Shariah, people should just stay away from areas which are hit by contagious disease. It is not right to look for a cure before falling ill with a disease.

Well, looks like the Maulana has changed his mind. No, not about polio vaccinations being bad. No, he's changed his mind about why polio vaccinations are bad. You see, the good Maulana thinks that the vaccination drive is part of an American plan to keep fertility rates in Pakistan low. According to him, it is "a conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to stunt the population growth of Muslims." Oh, and by the way, his words are working - health officials in parts of NWFP are getting beaten up and some parents are not allowing their children to be vaccinated. Yay for Pakistan!

Quotes of the day
I had one of those days where everything worked and I was unbeatable. It's just unreal, I'm shocked myself. I've played good matches here, but never really almost destroyed somebody. That's a highlight of my career.

Roger Federer.
It was frustrating. It was miserable. It sucked. It was terrible.

Andy Roddick. I kind of feel sorry for the poor guy. I don't think I've ever seen anyone dominate a sport (individual or team) the way that Federer is dominating tennis right now. That includes Tiger Woods, Brazil, Australia, Milan, Schumacher, Jordan, or anyone else I can think of.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sighting of the day

A blogger on Metroblogging Karachi was have a coffee at Ciao (one of the 417 coffee places on Zamzama) when a certain Shaukat Aziz walked in. Does that make Ciao insanely cool or insanely un-cool? I'm not sure, though I'm leaning towards the latter.

Quote of the day
I played the game hard. But this guy [Allen Iverson] might play the game harder than anyone who has ever played the game.

George Karl.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Obama's Prospects

Remember how a couple of months ago I said that no matter how great a candidate Obama is, he'll struggle simply because he's black, and white Americans aren't ready for a black President yet? Well, as it turns out, black Americans may not be either. Hillary Clinton has a 26 percentage point lead over him among black Democrats. More analysis here.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks the race for the Democratic Party nomination will be more interesting than the race for the actual presidency? Obama vs Hillary brings so much to the table: black vs white; man vs woman; uniter vs divider; upstart vs old hand; charisma vs money; Harvard Law vs Yale Law; Chicago vs New York; support of Oprah vs support of Bill. Fun year ahead, yes?

Slate link courtesy Andrew Sullivan.

Gibbs and Racism

In a weird way, I'm grateful that I haven't been able to write about this episode until tonight. The weight of my school work precluded any decent attempt at addressing this issue and, by extension, obviated a knee-jerk reaction that is somewhat typical of the blogosphere. I've had time to think it over and consider everything (fairly) carefully.

Let's start off with the very basics. Just so everyone's on the same page, here is a youtube of Gibbs' remarks. And in event that (a) your internet connection is too slow to play youtube clips or (b) you haven't followed this in the news at all, here is what Gibbs said (at least as far as I can tell):
Fucking bunch of fucking animals! Bunch of hyenas, fucking go back to the zoo! Fucking Pakistanis.

Again, just to be clear, Gibbs was directing these comments at a group of spectators who were apparently giving Paul Harris a rough time on the boundary. Needless to say, the two Pakistani batsmen at the crease heard him too. These are the barebone facts of the case.

Were the comments racist? I guess that depends on your definition of racist, doesn't it? I hate
articles that lift definitions from dictionaries and use them to ostensibly add to the gravitas of a piece but in this case I think it's necessary. This is what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about the word "racism":
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Now, based on that very narrow defintion of racism, Gibbs' comments were not racist. This is for the very simple reason that "Pakistani" is not a race. It is a nationality. This is not to say that there are no adjectives out there that describe both a nationality and a race ("Chinese", "Indian" and "Arab" do both), just that "Pakistani" is not one of them. We're too young a country to encapsulate a race. So under this definition, Gibbs would have had to say "fucking brown people", "fucking sand niggers", "fucking towel heads" or "fucking muzzies" for it to be racist. He didn't, so his comments weren't racist, merely terribly offensive.

As I said, I think that definition is too narrow and fails to capture within it a lot of what people instinctively regard as racist. Let's go to another set of criteria, this time proposed by Malcolm Gladwell, only the best non-fiction, non-academic writer out there. In a post on his blog a few weeks ago, Gladwell put forth a prospective yardstick of racist comments based on three measures.

First, content. What was said? Was it specific or general? Was it simple name-calling or a pointed, accusatory generalization? Was the racist comment "Nigger" or "Black people are dumber than white people"? According to Gladwell, the more specific a comment is, the more racist it is.

Second, intention. Was the comment malicious? Was it meant to be harmless? By this measure, me making comments like "Fucking Mohajirs, why don't you go kill some PPP-walahs today?" to my Mohajir friends (which I do all the time) is more acceptable to Gladwell than someone who actually means it. Obviously.

Third, conviction. Does the comment accurately represent the offender's views? Was it made in anger? Was it made when drunk? Was it made in some other stressful situation in which one might reasonably conclude that the person "didn't mean it, yaar"? By this measure, a written, edited article in a newspaper is more racist than a black guy yelling "Fucking cracker" in a bar fight.

To these three criteria, I would add a fourth. Gladwell touched on it in a later post, using terms like "context" and "power". My preferred term is "history" which gets at a very obvious facet of racism: the sociological relationship between the racist and the victim. The word "Nigger" when said to a black by a black guy means something entirely different when it is said by a white guy. The word "Paki" when said by an Indian means something entirely different when it is said by a Brit. An anti-semitic remark by an American will be treated very differently if it's made by a German. This measure differs from the first three in one important respect. To use social science lexicon, the first three are nominal variables and the last is an ordinal variable. In other words, the first three are, generally speaking, of the yes/no; is/isn't; there/not there variety. By contrast, this last one is a measure of rank or degree.

If you consider only the first three criteria, Gibbs' comments weren't particularly racist. First, it was somewhat specific, but not incredibly so. Certainly the "fucking Pakistanis" part of it was just petty name-calling. Which one of us doesn't say stuff like "fucking [insert nationality here]"? I for one do it all the time and would certainly like to think I'm not a racist. What about the "go back to the zoo" part? That was kind of specific (implying that Pakistan is a zoo/Pakistanis are uncivilized animals) but again, not to an unimaginable degree. Second, I don't think the comment was malicious - it wasn't meant to hurt anyone. You may disagree, but that's my interpretation of it. Third, it was said in anger and frustration, or in other words, mitigating circumstances could be cited. So, by Gladwell's three measures, the Gibbs tirade wasn't that racist.

What about "history"? On the face of it, there's nothing there. South Africa never colonized Pakistan. They never denied us our chance to vote (nope, we can handle that one pretty much by ourselves). They never raped our women or imprisoned our men. Furthermore, Gibbs is colored. He's not white, so any attempt to pigeonhole him as a "typical racist South African" is also futile. In short, even the fourth criterion seems to favour Gibbs.

However (tell me you knew there was a "however" coming), I think the point to be made about "history" is that collective memories retain the right (rightly or wrongly) to perceive events and categorize people the way they want to. So, for example, someone might not think of Gibbs as "colored" but as "South African". Furthermore, they might think of "South African" as "Western" and "Pakistani" as "Muslim". Do you see where I am headed with this? Seen in a different light, Gibbs comments are incredibly racist. They represent the worst of Muslim-world perceptions of Western insensitivities to our people and our civilization. For the record, that is not how I'm treating this episode. What I am saying is that just as judging beauty is the right of the beholder, judging racism is the right of the victim. One man's offensive comments are another's racist comments. That's just the way it is. That is why to assert, as one South African writer does, that "Gibbs was stupid, insensitive, abusive, and derrogatory [sic]...but he wasn't racist" is just stupid. I don't know where the line between abusive and racist is; what I do know is that Neil friggin' Manthrop is not qualified to tell Pakistanis whether or not Gibbs crossed it. That decision is each individual Pakistani's - some, like me, may think it wasn't racist, and some may think it was. It's our prerogative and no one else is allowed to quibble with what each individual Pakistani thinks.

I've actually found the South African reaction to this hilarious. It's amazing what a spectacle one is treated to when a famous personality from a country that practiced apartheid is accused of racism. Have you seen how defensive, fidgety and counter-attacky they became in the fall out of all this? Gibbs' dad came out all guns blazing, Fanie de Villiers called Pakistanis "the worst fans in the world" and the general tendancy was to bring up Shoaib's and Asif's doping case in "retaliation". Wow, you think we touched a nerve there? The only analogy I can think of is, imagine a guy who was gay in high school, then found a girlfriend in college and proclaimed himself straight. He went out with a couple more girls, graduated college and found a job. Then at an office party, he seemed to be having a really long, meaningful conversation with the new Italian guy. Sharing drinks, laughs and pats on the back, they were obviously getting along well. While he makes his way to the bathroom, you run into him and politely ask him about the new guy. In response, he gets really angry, his face flushes with anger, he grabs your shirt by the collar and yells, "I'm not fucking gay, ok?! And if you ever fucking mention that shit again, I'm going to kick your fucking ass, got it?" Damn, dude, chill out. Why so touchy?

Anyways I can't imagine a more respected and honorable man than Richie Benaud to adjucate on the matter. If I'm making a prediction, I'll say Benaud keeps the suspension right where it is: two Tests. That's just a hunch, though given my history with predictions you'll probably be better off betting money on any outcome other than a two Test suspension. Let's see what happens.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On Captains

I'm extremely happy we got this win though it would have been nice to be able to actually watch some of it. Just looking at the scorecard and reading all the reports, I can see it was a true team performance. Only four players did not have a significant impact on the outcome of the game: the openers, Hameed and Yousuf. Everyone else played an important role. Inzi even called it his best win as captain.

That last part got me thinking about captaincy records. Just where does Inzamam rank - statistically anyway - on our list of Test captains? Luckily, cricinfo has an answer for almost everything, so I managed to dig up the following information from statsguru.

1. Inzi has now led us in 30 games. He has 11 wins, 10 losses and 9 draws. One more win and he ties Wasim for third on the all-time list for wins. After that, there are a couple of guys ahead of him who go by the name of Imran and Javed, both with 14 wins. If Inzi doesn't retire at the end of the World Cup (and by God, I hope he doesn't), he could well end up as the most successful captain Pakistan has ever had.

2. Quirky stats: Miandad had as many wins as Imran but in 14 less tests (34 to Imran's 48); Waqar captained us 17 times and never drew; Rashid Latif has the highest win/loss ratio (4) of any Pakistani captain (though leading us three times against Bangaldesh out of a total of six Tests might skew the odd ratio in your favour); we've had six captains who never won when in charge (Imtiaz Ahmed, Javed Burki, Saeed Ahmed, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari and Asif Iqbal, all of whom were captain for at least three tests); and Intikhab Alam, statistically speaking, was our worst captain ever (11 draws, 5 losses, 1 win. Actually, really).

3. Walmart has a lower turnover rate than our captains. In 54 years of playing Test cricket, we've had 25 captains, or in other words, we get a captain every 2.2 years. By comparision, Australia has played Test cricket for 130 years and has had 42 captains, or one every 3.1 years. If that difference doesn't strike you as significant, focus only on the number of captains we've had since 1990 - Imran, Javed, Wasim, Waqar, Salim Malik, Ramiz Raja, Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail, Rashid Latif, Moin, Inzi, Yousuf and Younis, for a grand total of 13. During the same period, Australia have had 5 (Border, Taylor, Waugh, Gilchrist, Ponting). Looking at those numbers, I'm just wondering how Asif Mujtaba or Ata-ur-Rahman never became captain.

Image Is Everything

If Musharraf keeps harping on about projecting a "soft image" of Pakistan and waxing lyrical about how moderate and tolerant we are, shouldn't he also somehow convince the ISI to not physically assault two journalists working for the most famous newspaper in the world? And is anyone surprised that said newspaper then publishes a report by one of the two said journalists slightly, uh, critical of Pakistan?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Quote of the day
I'm in. And I'm in to win.

Hillary Clinton. I suppose this would be a good time to say that I am among the few people who thinks she has a decent shot. Not a great shot, a decent shot. Time will tell, yes?

By the way, I apologize for the incredibly short posts. I'm not being lazy (promise), I just happen to have a lot on my plate at this point. As soon as I find the time, something more substantial will be posted, probably on the Gibbs episode.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Photograph of the day

There's clearly something very special about the shoe in this picture. When my mum used to throw shoes at me, they would immediately fall to the ground. In this case, however, the shoe displays impressive bounce off this fellow's forehead.

Photo credit: AP

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Excerpt of the day
There is another reason why political action frequently requires coordination. Many of the goals that political actors pursue have a "humpy" or "winner-take-all" quality to them (politicians seeking reelection, coup plotters, and lobbyists either win or lose; legislation either passes or is rejected). Unlike economic markets, where there is usually room for many firms, finishing second may not count for much in politics. Indeed - the Russian Menshiviks in 1917 come to mind - it can be extremely problematic.

Hee hee. By the way, I really shouldn't be laughing. Some 20 million Russians died in their civil war. A few years later, in the early 1930s, a further 20 odd million became victims of the deliberate famines carried out by Stalin in the Ukraine. A few years later, a further 20 odd million died in World War II. So basically three events within the space of 25 years cost 60 million lives for one nation. Not funny. Anyhow, the passage is from Paul Pierson's Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gibbs and Racism

I really, really, really want to write at length about this entire episode. Unfortunately this is an absolutely crazy week for me. I find this whole situation fascinating and I want to do it justice, so I'm not going to write on it until I can deal with it the way I want to. Hopefully by the beginning of next week, I'll have something for the eleven of you. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quote of the day
He (Michael Ballack) always gives a contribution to the team and not everyone can say the same, so he can feel at least pride and honour.

Jose Mourinho. Hmmm, I wonder who the target of that thinly-veiled jibe is. Call me crazy, but I think it's the guy whose name rhymes with Devchenko. Let the speculation on Mourinho's future begin. Early call: somewhere in Italy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

How Do You Know When A Columnist Has Run Out Of Things To Say?

When he starts talking about what he's been eating the last couple of months.
The eating binge started when my host Ijazul Hasan picked me up from the airport and drove me straight to lunch at Shahid Amjad’s farm. There, in very picturesque surroundings on a glorious winter day, we tucked into saag, seekh kebabs and a delicious pulao.

Worse was to follow: I had come to attend young Jafar Ali’s wedding, and the food at the mehndi was seriously good. There, Anis Hyder Shah mentioned a place he knew that, according to him, served the best meat in Lahore. Having lived many years in the city, I wanted to check out the joint that had escaped my carnivorous attention for all this time. And as Anis knows his desi food, I promptly accepted his invitation to go there for lunch the next day. It took us 40 minutes of awful traffic to get to Neela Gumbud, and I was starving by the time we walked into the lane off the square where Ghafoor cooks his legendary mutton-chholas. A few beat-up metal tables were scattered about the sidewalk, and we asked Ghafoor for his best cuts of meat. Imagine our disappointment when he informed us that after the blood-letting over Eid, his meat supplies had not been resumed. But as a consolation, he offered us chicken-chholas instead. While the dish was good, it wasn’t up to Abbot Road standards. I will have to return one day to verify Anis’s claim.

A brief diversion here about the humble chhola or chickpea: when I first arrived in Lahore around 40 years ago and began my long, cholesterol-laden relationship with gurda-kapuras, friends urged me to try the chicken-chholas (or chickur-chholas), but I turned up my nose at this seemingly vulgar combination. The truth is that the chickpea does not figure prominently in Mughlai or Lucknavi cuisines, and I assumed the dish was peasant fare not to be taken seriously. How young and foolish I was. The chhola, when lovingly cooked, absorbs the flavours and juices of the spices and meat with which it is simmered, and releases them when you bite into it. When properly prepared, it offers a slight resistance to the teeth before giving up its essence. A steaming bowl of chicken-chholas accompanied with hot roti from the oven has few equals among Lahore’s splendid array of street food.

The next day we drove to Ijaz’s farm in Sheikhupura where, again among bucolic surroundings, we had an excellent lunch featuring saag and a chicken curry, using desi fowl naturally. It must be said that the company and the setting can make or mar a meal. And at the farm, both were of the very highest quality. Dinner that evening was at Javed Masood’s where I encountered beef in a meltingly tender shab-degh for the first time.
I think it's safe to say that I'm going to be ordering desi take out for lunch. Yeah, Devon Avenue.

Ahsan Is A Complete Fucking Jackass And Doesn't Deserve To Write About The Game And Is Able To Do So Only Because His Friend Started A Blog

I would have written a post with this heading at the end of the series but a reader issued a friendly reminder and requested I do it now, so I'm doing it now. As some of you may recall, this is what I wrote in a post at the conclusion of the home series against the Windies:
Before I move off Pakistan, I want to talk about Imran the Terrible. His flashy, lucky batting has just guaranteed him three tests in South Africa. I've never been good with predictions, but mark my words. Print this post out, underline it, highlight it in pink, yellow and green, do whatever the hell you want. My prediction is this: Imran the Terrible will be a complete, unmitigated disaster in South Africa. I'm talking Agarkar-in-Australia-in-2000 type disaster. I'm talking Atapattu-in-his-debut-series disaster. If he averages more than 15 in South Africa, I promise to write a post with the heading "Ahsan is a complete fucking jackass and doesn't deserve to write about the game and is able to do so only because his friend started a blog". You can hold me to this. I will hold myself to this. 15 is the magic number. Remember this.

Since Imran the Terrible has already scored 26 and 68 in this Test, it means he can't possibly average less than 15. So there you go.

Just once, just one measly time, I want one of my predictions to come out right. How can I know so much about the game and never, I mean never, get one right? What sort of horrible curse is this? Oh, well. Actually, if you think about it, I am actually helping all eleven of our readers in a roundabout way. See, if any of you want to gamble on sports, just read this blog and then pick the opposite of whatever I say. At this rate, you'll be a millionaire by June.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Comparison to Multan continues...

In addition to the three points raised in the post below, you can now add these two:

4. England's target in Multan: 198. South Africa's target at Centurion: 199.

5. Chasing their target, England's second wicket fell at 64 in the 20th over. South Africa's second wicket fell at 67 in the 18th over.

Eerie coincidences aside, I actually don't think we're going to win tomorrow (and I'm not just using the age-old "saying something when you actually want the opposite to happen" trick). The reason is that South Africa's batting lineup is much better, and much deeper, than England's was in Multan. Plus, they recently chased a very similar total against India, so they know how to go about it. Be that as it may, I'm proud of our team. We're missing our best bowler of last year (Gully) and our best batsman of last year (Yousuf), our diamond in the rough (Asif) is returning after a long lay off, our team has gone through all sorts of turmoil recently, and we've still fought these guys tooth and nail. Yes, some of our top order batsmen could have gone on after making starts (they've combined for three 60's, a 40 and two 30's and exactly 0 hundreds) but I think that's missing the bigger picture: we're seriously undermanned in this Test, in a country where we've had very little success, against a team on a high, and we've made it close. That's a good thing.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Déjà vu?

Unfortunately, living where I do, it's next to impossible to watch any of the First Test against South Africa. The time difference between Chicago and South Africa means the game starts at 2:30 a.m and ends some time around 9:30 a.m, so at best, I'd get an hour or so, which is why I haven't coughed up the cash to get the feed on my computer. Nevertheless, just reading about what's happening, this test, at least so far, is starting to remind me of Multan 2005.

Now normally I would never compare an ongoing match to a past win because of my perpetual fear of jinxing us. But seeing as how my anti-jinxing tactics never work anyway, I'm just going to go ahead and point out the comparison. Consider:

1. Both times we batted first and ended up with a decent but below-par score. In Multan it was 274, here it was 313.

2. Both times, the opposition managed a significant lead (144 at Multan, 104 here) on the back of a big hundred by a left-hander (Trescothick with 193, Prince with 138).

3. Both times, Day 3 saw a solid batting effort by us, keeping us in the game. In Multan, we ended the day 19 behind with 8 wickets in hand. Here, we're 1 behind with 8 wickets in hand. In addition, both times, one of the overnight batsman on Day 3 was a left-handed opener with a solid score to his name (Butt 53 not out in Multan, Farhat 41 not out here).

Tell me I'm wrong.

Quote of the day
The cretins rule in “Alpha Dog,” which has much the same entertainment value you get from watching monkeys fling scat at one another in a zoo or reading the latest issue of Star magazine.
Man, I love reading movie reviews. Is there a more scathing, brutal bunch of people than movie critics? What would it be like to have dinner with five of these people? For me, the experience would rate somewhere between "Captaining Pakistan with Asif, Shoaib, Gul and Kaneria at my disposal" and "Watching 30 straight episodes of The Office (the American one)".

Mukherjee's Visit to Pakistan

The Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee is visiting Pakistan for the first time this weekend. With all the lead-up to this visit (Musharraf's "We'll give up our claim to Kashmir" and Manmohan's "Breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, dinner in Kabul" comments, to name just two seminal moments in the last month), I can't help but feel something substantive is on the cards. Even if they don't announce anything, I'm sure sufficient progress is going to be made on certain issues (joint mechanisms in Kashmir, Siachen, consulates in Mumbai/Karachi etc) for an announcement to be possible on the sidelines of the Saarc summit in April. The BBC is not so sure, however, saying "nothing spectacular" is expected and no agreements will be signed. On the other hand, the Daily Times carries a story saying the Asian Age is reporting that differences on certain issues have been "narrowed" and that "certain mechanisms appear to be taking shape." Who's right? Don't know, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

For whatever it's worth, Musharraf sees "light at the end of the tunnel" for India-Pakistan relations. The timing of such a statement is certainly interesting though I would be prudent and not read too much into what he says, given his proclivity for overly optimistic statements in the past.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What's Weird About This Picture?

Younis Khan finally has a bat sponsor, that's what. Good for him.

Photo credit: AFP

Le génocide? C'est une bonne chose

Deeply disturbing article in the Guardian today on France's role countenancing, even outright supporting, the genocide in Rwanda. The article talks about France's leading anti-terrorism judge heading an inquiry into the genocide and concluding that the Tutsis essentially brought it upon themselves since they - according to the judge - were responsible for the assassination of the then President Habyarimana, which set off the mass killing. The present government, headed by Tutsis, rejected the findings and in turn set up its own inquiry to look at France's support for the Hutu militias and death squads before and during the massacre, turning up with some fairly damning evidence.
When the genocide started, Paris made no secret of where its loyalties lay. The French military flew in ammunition for government forces and, in the following weeks, a stream of Hutu officials travelled to Paris, including Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, who was later convicted of genocide by the international tribunal, for meetings with President François Mitterrand and the French prime minister. Even as the mass graves filled across Rwanda, Paris engineered the delivery of millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Hutu regime from Egypt and South Africa.

Africa has traditionally been considered such a special case in Paris that France's policy is run out of the presidency. At the time, the "Africa cell" was headed by Mitterrand's son, Jean-Christophe, a close friend of the Habyarimanas. He later said that there could not have been a genocide because "Africans are not that organised". France's president did not deny what had happened, but took a view no less racist: "In such countries, genocide is not too important."

By the way, French disdain for human life was not restricted to mere words. I had heard this story elsewhere too, and am glad this article mentions it which saves me from trying to find a reliable source on google.

The French army turned its back on many others, including the French embassy's Tutsi staff, who were mostly abandoned to their deaths despite desperate pleas to diplomats they had worked with for years. The French soldiers did rescue some Rwandans. They took the assassinated president's wife (a notorious anti-Tutsi extremist in her own right), and various Hutu politicians who helped organise the genocide. They also remembered the French embassy dog, which was carefully loaded on to an army lorry while a Tutsi man who ran up to beg for help was turned away.

Why, you might ask, did the French train and arm the Hutu militias with machetes, against the minority Tutsis, who literally had just sticks and stones? The claim is made that it was a question of language and culture. Apparently, the French would rather support Francophones over Anglophones, consequences be damned. A French historian is quoted in the piece:

Gérard Prunier, a French historian who advised the French government during the later stages of its intervention in Rwanda, has characterised Paris's view of its former African colonies not as foreign countries but as "part of the family". Paris's African "back yard", he wrote in a history of the Rwandan genocide - in which he made clear his disaffection with French support for the Hutu regime - "remains its back yard because all the chicks cackle in French. There is a high degree of symbiosis between French and Francophone African political elites. It is a mixture of many things: old memories, shared material interests, delusions of grandeur, gossip, sexual peccadilloes."

He added: "Of course, the arch-enemy in this cosy relationship, the hissing snake in the Garden of Eden, is the 'Anglo-Saxon'." Prunier said French governments viewed "the whole world as a cultural, political and economic battlefield between France and the Anglo-Saxons ... It is the main reason - and practically the only one - why Paris intervened so quickly and so deeply in the growing Rwandan crisis."

Somehow, I find dubious the claim that the French went through all this trouble only because they wanted Rwanda in the control of people who spoke French and not English. Surely 800,000 deaths were not worth a cultural sphere of influence? Then again, I know next to nothing about the region or its politics (though lately I've been developing an interest), so it could well be true.

AI in (Powder) Blue

I watched my first Nuggets game since Allen Iverson, the greatest basketball player in history, got traded from Philly. It was so...weird. There's no other word for it. Following him for so long, as a Sixer, in that arena, in that city, and now it's all changed. Don't get me wrong; I think it's great he got out of there, even if he didn't end up where I (along with every other NBA fan) wanted him - in Minnesota, where him and KG would have formed the greatest 1-2 punch since Michael and Scottie. The atmosphere, the team, the fans, everything in Philly had gotten to the point where it was best for all parties for him to just leave. But just because it was good for him to leave doesn't mean it's not strange to see him in another uniform. Like Chris Webber said, Allen Iverson is Philly.

Anyways, AI played a great game, shot 15-25, and his team still lost because they put up bad shots in the 3rd and 4th quarters when the Spurs made their run. No biggie. One loss here or there right now is not going to hurt them. But when Melo gets back, they better figure out things quickly. By figuring out, I mean:
1. Denver's down by one, 12 seconds to go, who does Karl draw up the play for?
2. Who's going to take fewer shots than they're used to: AI, Melo, J.R. Smith, or Earl Boykins? All of them? Some combination of them? One of them?
2a. How will the person taking fewer shots react to said development?
3. What's the crunch time lineup? With Najera and Camby in there, one of Smith or Boykins has to sit. Which one will it be? How will Smith/Boykins react?

Whatever happens, it's sure to be interesting, which is a lot more than you could say about the situation in Philly over the last couple of years. But enough bitching about Philly. Here are my personal five favourite moments/games from the Allen Iverson era in Philadelphia, in reverse order. Three are from the same season, but that's understandable given the season it was.

5. It was a game in Orlando, some time during the 2004-05 season (the year the Webber trade happened, though this game was before the trade). Anyways I'm not absolutely sure how the play started; it was either a long rebound or a steal by AI in the backcourt. Either way, he was off and running. And I mean running. AI on the break, in his glory years, was a true sight to behold. Anyways, so there he is sprinting down the court, on a 3-on-2 break, with Kenny Thomas trailing the play to his right and some random dude to his left. And he's got a Magic defender back-pedalling. Uh, oh.

Now, in this situation, you'd normally expect one of two things. First, he could probably cross over the guy in front and at least get a couple of free throws, if not the and-one. Second, he could probably hit the guy on his left with a behind the back pass, one he used a lot on the break. And for a moment, it looks like he's going for option no. 2. AI wraps the ball behind his back with his right hand and makes like he's going to give it to the guy on his left (remember, he's sprinting, just haring down at this point). Instead, he takes his left hand behind his back (so now, for a split second, both his hands are behind his back, like he's hugging someone behind him), switches hands, and throws a behind-the-back pass with his left hand to Kenny Thomas on his right, who gets it in perfect stride and dunks it.

I wish youtube had a clip of this play so you could see for yourself. When I first watched this play, I didn't understand what had happened. I honestly didn't know what he did. I had to watch two replays, in slow-motion, to see what he had done. In essence, he bounced the ball of his left hand, behind his back, and found the guy trailing the play. Running. At full speed. Without travelling. I'm shaking my head as I'm writing this.

4. Playoffs, 2001. The MVP year. Eastern Conference Finals vs. Milwaukee, a team, truth be told, that was better than Philly. Game 4, on the Bucks' home floor, Philly down 2-1 with AI missing the previous game through injury (for the record, he was playing with about 12 different injuries at the same time...I swear that's not an exaggeration). The game is close, both teams scrapping, AI has been knocked all over the place the whole game. Late in the fourth, AI gets hit by an elbow on his mouth. Starts bleeding. Doesn't come out of the game. Hits the free throws. Scores 7 in a row, actually, and gets Philly the win.

Now for those who're not familiar with the NBA, you should know this: the league has a rule (affectionately known as the Magic Johnson rule) that says you can't be in a game if you're bleeding, because of health risks (no one wants to get AIDS on the basketball floor, you see). So usually what happens is, in the event that someone is fouled and has to shoot free throws, but is bleeding, the team will take a time-out, patch up the bleeding, and then get the player to shoot free throws after the time-out. This is easy enough if it's your leg or arm; you can put a band-aid on it and you're good to go. But your mouth? Have you ever put a band-aid in your mouth? Right, you haven't.

Why is this important? Because if you can't patch it up within 100 seconds (the length of the time-out), and therefore you can't shoot the free-throws, you're not allowed to re-enter the game at any point. So AI had to get his mouth to stop bleeding within 100 seconds, or he would miss the rest of the game. What did he do? Well, why don't we ask the man himself?
I didn't think the refs were going to let me back in the game because I was spitting up so much blood. I was trying to stop the bleeding, but it wouldn't stop, so I kept my mouth closed and swallowed the blood when it filled up.

Say it with me: Pound-for-pound, the toughest player to ever play the game.

3. Playoffs, 2003. First round vs the New Orleans Hornets. Game 1, in Philly. The First Union Center (or as it was known among NBA circles, the F.U. Center because of the noise in the building) was rocking. Loud as hell before the game even started. During the game? Louder still.

In one of the greatest shooting clinics I've ever seen, AI torched the Hornets for 55 on 21-32 shooting. He shot 9-11 in the fourth quarter, when defenses ostensibly take it up a notch. He also added 8 assists. His 21 field goals and 8 assists meant he was directly responsible for 29 of the Sixers' 36 field goals. Please read that sentence again.

It wasn't even a usual AI game. Normally when he would score big, he'd have a ton of trips to the line and a lot of layups and drives. Not this game. Most of it was mid-range jumpers. He kept hitting them, hand in his face or not. There was absolutely nothing anyone, least of all the Hornets, could do.

I'll always remember one play from that game. It was in the fourth, and the game was still pretty close. AI had Stacey Augmon on him, the type of long-armed defender (Augmon's 6'8") who supposedly gave AI trouble. Behind the three point line on the right wing, AI shaped like he was going to go baseline, and gave a vicious head-fake to go along with it. Augmon moved to his left to cover the drive, and on a dime, AI brought the ball back between his legs, and did it so quickly that Augmon lost his balance and fell down. AI paused for a split second, as if savoring the moment, then went up for a three. I still remember Marv Albert's voice: "Iiiverson...for threee...yesss!!" The crowd exploded. Gives me goosebumps, to the day. To the day, bro, to the day.

2. Playoffs, 2001. Round 2, vs Vince Carter's Toronto Raptors. Game 5, series tied 2-2. After AI scored 54 in Philly's Game 2 win, Toronto enforcer Charles Oakley said something to the effect of "That won't happen again. We won't let it happen." Well, guess what? It happened. AI shot 21-32 (eerie how it was the same as the Hornets game) and scored 47 in the first three quarters before slowing down in the fourth of a blowout game, ending with 52. He hit 8 three-pointers. Eight! Uff, you just had to be there.

1. Finals, 2001. Game 1 vs the hated Lakers, who were 11-0 in the playoffs up to that point. They had swept everyone, including the Spurs who had the league's best record and home court advantage. They looked invincible. Meanwhile the Sixers were banged up, missing players due to injuries. Even the guys who were playing were playing hurt, not least of all AI. In comparison to the Lakers' 11, Philly had taken 18 games just to get to the Finals, and that too from the decidedly weaker conference. But for one night, David went mano-a-mano with Goliath and, well, put it this way: it wouldn't make my number 1 AI moment if Goliath had won, would it?

The stage was this: Lakers came out on fire, Philly fell behind quickly. AI caught fire, scored something like 30 points in the first half, as the Sixers took the lead into halftime. Early third was more of the same, as Philly showed everyone they meant business, eventually going up by 15. Then Tyronne Lue came into the game, started grabbing and holding on to AI, who went cold. So did the Sixers, and slowly but surely, the Lakers worked their way back. Fourth quarter was crazy, neither team could get ahead by more than 3-4 points, and eventually the game went into overtime. In the extra session, the Lakers found their groove again, and went up 99-94 on the Sixers, who couldn't find a bucket from anywhere. AI had been completely shut off, he had scored something like 3 points in 15 minutes or something. I have watched this game about 12 times, which is why I remember Marv Albert saying, "It has become desperation time...for the Philadelphia 76ers." It really was. Anyways Raja Bell hit a miraculous scoop shot to bring the Sixers within 3 with something like 2 minutes left. Then:

Lakers miss a shot, AI finally (finally) gets free for a second. He gets the ball and races up the floor and gets fouled. It was the first daylight he had seen for about 20 minutes of basketball. Anyways, he buries the free throws. Sixers within one, 99-98. At the other end, Lue (the villain) drives and throws up an off-balance prayer of a shot, which misses badly as he falls to the floor. Once again, AI has daylight for a second as the Lakers figure out who's guarding the MVP. By the time they do, it's too late. McKie (great glue guy, by the way) finds AI in rhythm on the left wing, and AI buries the three. Marv Albert: "Iiiverson...for three...yess!! Allen Iiiverson...has given the Sixers...a 101-99 lead!" AI pumps his fists. Lakers throw away the ball trying to get the ball into the post to Shaq. Suddenly, with about 50 seconds left, the Sixers have a 2 point lead and the ball. But the game's not over yet, not by a long shot. They need a score here desperately. Raja Bell brings it up. Him and AI are the only Sixers on the right-hand side of the floor. AI's in the corner, near the sideline. Bell throws it to him, gets the hell out of the way. Lue (the villain) is on him. Marv Albert: "Iiverson...bothered by Lue." AI keeps the ball above his head, brings his arms down and back up. Still hasn't dribbled. He moves basline. Takes one dribble to his right. Lue moves to his left. AI, in the blink of an eye, brings the ball back between his legs, goes up for the jumper, right in front of the Laker bench. Nothin' but net. Lue (the villain), in an attempt to cover the cross-over, lost his balance and fell down, right next to where AI landed after burying the J. AI steps over him, has a word or two to him, scowls at the Laker bench, and gets back on defense. Game.

Youtube clip of moment number 1, right here. Watch it from 5:30 on. By the way, I paid 17 Euros for a DVD of this game. I would have spent 170.

But They Still Drink More Than Everyone Else, Right?

Currency notes in Ireland carry traces of cocaine. All currency notes in Ireland carry traces of cocaine. Good times.

He Probably Went to the George W. Bush School of Science

The Chief Economist of car manufaturer DaimlerChrysler essentially thinks global warming is not happening. I kid you not. In his words, "the problem is way, way into the future, with a high degree of uncertainty." I would actually laugh at idiots like this if their ignorance didn't affect all of humanity for the next few hundred years. Oh, well. At least my family doesn't live in a coastal city or anything. Oh, wait.

If you haven't seen Al Gore's movie, I highly recommend it. The one thing that struck me the most (and is extremely relevant to this jackass' comments) is the spin and innuendo related to global warming which make the science seem more "uncertain" than it actually is. In the movie, Gore talked about how in a random review of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals (not sure how many articles, could have been dozens, could have been hundreds), not one of them spoke of global warming as a doubtful proposition. Not one. On the other hand, something like 50 percent of articles in newspapers, magazines and the popular press spoke of global warming as something that wasn't a certainty. 50 percent! Something is happening to the message as it gets from the scientific community to the lay person. And that something is entirely due to the deliberate and willful manipulation of science by bastards like Van Jolissaint for their personal and professional gain.

For the record, the best place to cut through the hype about global warming is Check it out when you have the time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ah, the Middle East

Should I feel bad that I couldn't stop laughing while watching this video?

Link courtesy Andrew Sullivan

Apple of Everyone's Eye (sorry for the obvious heading)

I remember asking a few months ago, somewhat facetiously, if Apple was planning on coming out with an iFridge. Now I'm beginning to think an iFridge probably isn't that far off. Is there a cooler company in the world right now?

Quote of the day
I dream of a day, while retaining our respective national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.

Ufff, what a line, yaar. By the way, Manmohan, let's chill out on the dinner in Kabul thing and get the lunch in Lahore thing down first, eh? Meanwhile, C Raja Mohan gives advice on how India should conduct its foreign policy towards its West. From the Prime Minister's speech and Raja Mohan's analysis, it seems clear to me that India is looking to play a bigger role in the downward spiral that is Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. Here's one of his nine suggestions:
The sixth is an enduring commitment to stability in Afghanistan. Preventing a destabilisation of Kabul by the Taliban has already emerged as one of the highest priorities for India’s national security strategy. As Pak-Afghan ties sink to lower depths, India faces a new tension between improving ties with Pakistan and strengthening the Karzai regime. The answer must necessarily lie in New Delhi taking the initiative for a triangular political and economic cooperation and encouraging Islamabad and Kabul to limit their conflict.

Interesting stuff, read the whole thing.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Waqar, gone

Waqar Younis resigned as Pakistan's bowling coach a few days ago. I read a story on the BBC website today that confirms the separation was even more acrimonious than I had initially thought. This is what he had to say:
Respect is something that the PCB needs to learn. I am a bowling coach and not a clerk. The improvement in Pakistan bowlers is there to be seen. I took time out from my family commitments to help youngsters but it is better to quit when you don't get the respect.

You know what? He's absolutely right, even if his comment about taking time out from family commitments was a bit disingenuous (he was, after all, paid to do a job). Respect is something the PCB needs to learn (for cricketers, coaches, and doping regulations among others). The improvement in our bowlers is there to be seen. I'm not 100 percent sure what role a bowling coach has in a bowler's development, all I know is that Gully was suddenly bowling inswinging yorkers against the Windies with the old ball and that Asif kept on improving throughout the year, and that Waqar clearly had something do with these developments. He will be missed, especially since it seemed, at least from a distance, that he had a good rapport with all of our quick bowlers.

Even though his absence from a purely cricketing point of view is worrying enough, it's actually the circumstances of this episode that bother me more. At the end of the day, a bowling coach is a bowling coach, and we should hopefully be able to find a suitable replacement (no, Mushtaq, I don't mean you). But what about the bigger picture? What does this say about the way the PCB is run? What does this say about Pakistan cricket? What sort of nonsensical statement is "The management feels that Waqar has (had) very little contribution in the past as far as the shorter version of the game is concerned"? Waqar's contributions are to the bowlers, not to a particular version of the game. How is it possible to help someone be a better bowler, but only in Test matches? Given the farcical nature of the explanation the PCB has given, it's clear that there is more to this than meets the eye. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Waqar was to be in South Africa for just the Tests and Shoaib for just the ODIs. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that this episode was concurrent with Mushy being brought back into the fold. Perhaps it is. One can only speculate.

The only thing I'm sure about is that I'm getting tired of Dr. Nasim Ashraf, and he hasn't even been there that long. The reason why I absolutely loved the Shahrayar Khan/Bob Woolmer/Inzamam team was that it was so stable, there were no controversies for the best part of two years, problems were taken care of behind closed doors and Pakistan cricket only benefited from the harmony. On the other hand, this Ashraf fellow has, in something like three months on the job, brought back Younis Khan as captain after he had patently disrespected the Pakistan shirt (you don't decline the captaincy of the national team, an unbelievable honor, because someone made you wait outside their office), had the whole religion-in-public spat with Inzi in the papers, completely and utterly mishandled the doping affair (actually, "mishandled" is being charitable), fired Mushy only to bring him back, and is now responsible, at least indirectly, for Pakistan losing the services of Waqar.

I'm just so, so tired of this shit. Can you imagine how good our team would be if we didn't have to deal with this stuff on a consistent basis? Conversely, can you imagine what would happen to the Australias and South Africas and Englands of the world if they went through something like this every six weeks? These things are so avoidable. I mean, they don't just happen. You actively have to be looking for trouble for things like this to transpire. And with us, they always do. Oh, well. I know no one wants to hear bitch on and on so I'll stop now.

Note: When I was recently in Pakistan, I discovered that the "Comment" link below every post was inaccessible. If any of our readers in Pakistan want to comment on any particular issue, then please don't hesitate in emailing me at

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The World's Craziest Arenas

Everybody knows how psycho Gilbert Arenas is. Well, he just celebrated his 25th birthday with a party that cost $1 million, was hosted by Puff Daddy (or P Diddy or Diddy or whatever the hell his name is) and actually has its own website. I've seen some weird websites in my life, but I don't think I've ever come across one dedicated to a party. Anyways, the Washington Post has pictures. I have no idea why this fascinates me.