A to Z of the CWG

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi are finally here, and just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s an A to Z guide to get you up to speed:abhinav-bindra.jpg

A is for Abhinav. India’s first and only individual Olympic gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra may shoot himself to a fifth Commonwealth Games medal and a thousand more marriage proposals.

B is for Bolt. The Jamaican sprinter named Bolt is missing from the Games, but as a safety inspector at a new bridge in Delhi said, “We’re more concerned about any other missing bolts.”

C is for Clean Up. No, not what’s been happening at the athletes’ village in Delhi, but what Indian athletes hope to do on the medal table.

D is for Delays. The Games have been plagued with delays: delayed funding, delayed construction and even delayed corruption.

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Brown men. Tight shorts.

Personally I think an epic Bollywood love story centered around kabbadi would have made for a better movie than one about Cricket.

In a recession, are brown men in modest shorts in?

The crowd seemed subdued — at least compared with fans of American sports — and there was little shouting or cheering. Typically, many devotees are Sikhs, and the crowd on Sunday included many men with beards and traditional turbans. Women sat in separate bleachers, many under umbrellas as shields against the sunny heat.

Yet in keeping with the sport’s international appeal, Sunday’s competitors also included a London team of white blond women and an Australian crew with two African-American men from California, one of whom described himself as a mercenary of sorts. [NYTimes]

Mercenaries? A team of blond women? Oh behave you New Yorkers.

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U.S. Open Men’s Doubles Finals (open thread)

Today Indian Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani doubles partner Aisam-Ul-Haq Quresh try and make history! The Men’s Double Finals will be carried on CBS this afternoon. They will face the American Bryan brothers (twins), who they beat last month. Any of you fortunate enough to be able to watch it can leave your observations in the comments thread here (note: all jingoistic and non-secular comments will be deleted).

NPR featured the dynamic duo this morning.
And the two ambassadors are bhai-bhai.
“There’s always the potential,” the Pakistani ambassador, Abdullah H. Haroon, said. “Hardeep [Indian Ambassador] and I are in the New York area and we’re always looking for avenues to open and this is a magnificent one. The message going back to Pakistan is, here’s a team seeded 16th, and they’re in the finals for the first time at the U.S. Open. That’s great news.” [link]
Let’s hope for a good match.

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“Indo-Pak Express” doing well at U.S Open

Hey tennis fans, have you been paying attention to the nice run by Indian Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani doubles partner Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi at the U.S. Open in New York [thanks for the tip, Abe]? Can I get a “South Asia, represent” from the crowd?

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi looked around the perimeter of the court Tuesday and saw what he’d hoped for. They were sitting together.

Pakistanis and Indians, blurred along the bleachers, one just like the other. They were clapping for the same thing. Cheering in unison…

“There was a lot of Pakistanis and Indians in the crowd cheering for us,” Qureshi said. “And you couldn’t tell the difference, who was Pakistani and who was Indian, they were all mixed together and supporting the same team.” [Link]

And they won their match yesterday to advance:

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi progressed to the men’s doubles pre-quarterfinals of US Open with a straight-set win over German-Finn pair of Michael Kohlmann and Jarkko Nieminen.

The 16th seed Indo-Pak pair defeated their opponents 6-4 6-4 in the second round of the season’s last Grand Slam. [Link]

Were any of you there at the Open? Anyone see the match? Would love to see some pictures of the crowd.

The duo next play second seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic in the third round.

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Vertigo Stick

You know the great art of stripper pole dancing that we see performed at the local gentleman’s club? Turns out everything-is-from-India-Uncle could be right… pole dancing it turns out IS from India. Watch and thank me in the comments (thanks Sushil).

I mean… did you see when he….. how did he….. what the heck……? Did that hurt???

Mallakhamb was introduced as a supporting exercise for wrestlers. “Pole mallakhamb” was started by Balambhattdada Deodhar sometime between 1800 and 1810. The mallakhamb pole used in competitions is a straight pole made of teak or sheesham wood, standing 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) in height with a circumference of 55 centimetres (22 in) at the base. [wiki]

Pole dancers in the West could learn a move or two from these Mallakhamb acrobats. I’m just saying. Continue reading

Bravo, Murali!

On the last day of his last test match, Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan picked up his 800th test wicket, an unprecedented feat.

Of course, he’s been so far ahead of the field for so long that unprecedented doesn’t mean much, but it’s a nice round number to end the brilliant career of one of the most fun players to watch in cricket, whether he was batting or bowling.

Murali began the match against India (the first of a three-test series in Sri Lanka) on 792. Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 520 put the pressure on India, and Muralitharan only needed 17 overs to pick up 5 wickets. India was forced to follow on and drew out their second innings. Muralitharan required a staggering 44.4 overs for his final 3 wickets. Sri Lanka’s openers went on to seal the deal, easing Sri Lanka to a comfortable 10-wicket win. Here’s the scorecard.

Please share your favorite Murali memories below.

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Ole, Ole Ole Ole. Gulati done good.

Four years ago I noted on SM that Sunil Gulati was appointed the head of U.S. Soccer. Right now the U.S. Soccer team is performing near its best in the modern era. 80% of the credit has to be given to the improvement in play by the U.S. team and to coach Bob Bradley. But lets also give some credit to Gulati. France and Italy have demonstrated that having some of the most skilled players in the world means jack if your organization is dysfunctional and poorly managed.

Gulati (left) is working with Clinton to try and bring the World Cup back to the U.S. in 2018 or 2022

He grew up playing football in Nebraska. Gulati, who served as USSF vice president for six years, was elected as its president in March 2006.

“Across the past decade, a platform for this sport has been built that did not previously exist, and we now have an opportunity in the coming years to achieve more for soccer in the United States than anyone could have ever envisioned 15 or 10 or even five years ago,” Gulati had said after being elected at the USSF President.

Former USSF president and Major League Soccer founder Alan Rothenberg has called Gulati the “single most important person in the development of soccer” in the country. It is he who appointed the current US soccer coach Bob Bradley.

In February this year, he was unanimously re-elected the USSF president. [ToI]

As Gulati said after the Algeria victory, “A new benchmark has been set.”

I guess not everyone appreciates him though. A blogger at Deadspin had this recent eyewitness account from South Africa:

PRETORIA, South Africa — A few hours before the gut-roiling USA victory here, I witnessed a tense moment of another sort when two well-lubricated American yahoos tore into Sunil Gulati, the head of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Here’s how it unfolded …

Sometime after noon, I made my way to Hombaze, the pre-game boozing site for hardcore Stars and Stripes fans. And boozing they were. Waiters were bringing around six packs of Castle beer. The lads were downing lager as fast as they could lay hands on a bottle. Everyone was sauced and ebullient. Then Sunil Gulati turned up…

It was then, from the balcony of the bar, that an evil howling commenced. Even over the patriotic commotion you could hear it, an expression of pure animal rage that ran through the crowd like a dirty shank.

FUCK YOU, GULATI!… (Their complaints about Gulati, I would later learn, were manifold, and their origins were difficult to discern. They had something to do with the USSF and banners being prohibited in stadiums and ticket sales and Mexicans sitting in their section and not having “a seat at the table.”)… [Link]

Win or lose today, we here at SM appreciate all Gulati has done for the sport of futbol/soccer in the U.S. I like the fact that it is the hard work of an Indian American who grew up playing soccer in Nebraska that has in part led us to this game against Ghana’s Black Stars. Open Thread below for the game. Let’s go U-S-A!

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Real men do it barefoot

My friend Amit emailed me earlier today asking me if I thought this was the single greatest Wikipedia trivia fact ever. Ennis covered this back in 2006 but I think it is worth revisiting in greater detail:

India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. However, they did not take up their place in the competition. The Indian players were unable to play as boots were required according to FIFA legislation, and the Indian players were not used to footwear and thus refused. The Indian football team was known to play barefoot during the period. In fact, Mohammed Abdul Salim one of the Indian football players played for Celtic F.C. barefoot.[2] The team has never since come close to qualifying for the World Cup. In the FIFA world cup 2010 qualifiers, India was eliminated in the first round by Lebanon. [Wiki]

I tried to do a bit of digging and found what I believe to be the oldest organized soccer club in India, pre-dating the 1950 World Cup. It is Mohan Bagan.

If you go to this site and look at some really old pictures you can get a glimpse of their feet. Sure enough, they play barefoot.

1911 IFA SHIELD WINNING TEAM (beat the Yorkshire Regiment)

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Are you ready for some BBB (Bhullar brothers basketball)?


If you love basketball and hope to see a desi player in the NBA, you might want to pay attention to the twin towers of Western Pennsylvania, also known as Sim and Tanveer Bhullar. Sim, 17, is 7-foot-4. His brother, 15, is the short one: only 7-foot-2.

The Indo-Canadian brothers, who play for Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pa., are not just tall, but also talented. 

Sim, who just completed his sophomore season, averaged about 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. He has three-point range and is a strong passer, but he also can run the floor and finish strong with power dunks.

“You just don’t find big guys that agile,” Kiski School head coach Daryn Freedman said. “There’s nothing like him in the country right now.”

Tanveer averaged about 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks during his freshman season. He possesses a smooth 15- to 17-foot jumper and has quick feet and soft hands, key attributes to low-post success.

They both have improved immensely at Kiski School under Freedman, a longtime college and NBA assistant who arrived at the school about a month before the Bhullars did. They have since remade their bodies, regularly working out at 5 a.m. with the Kiski wrestling coach. [Link]

Working out at 5 a.m.? These guys are serious about their basketball. Sim already has a scholarship offer from West Virginia and Duke may come calling soon. The brothers are likely to be solid college players, but will they someday be dunking over LeBron James?

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Who was “The Great Oom?”

The Houston bureau of Sepia Mutiny (our southernmost outpost) has shuttered its doors, a casualty of the economic upheaval. The Houston bureau chief (me) has returned to Los Angeles to rejoin our offices there. One of the things I will miss most about Houston in my yoga teacher/class. A good yoga place is hard to find (even in the “yoga capital” of the U.S.). And isn’t it wonderful how so many of you nodded your heads in agreement just now. For many of us, finding the right yoga class is as important, and as difficult, as finding the right doctor. On the airplane to Los Angeles last night I read a blurb in a magazine that made me aware that many of us owe a debt of gratitude to one Pierre Arnold Bernard (a.k.a. The Great Oom). He had a significant hand in ensuring that Yoga is now essentially a part of everyday American culture:

… men and women came to his ashram on the Hudson River, two hundred acres of leafy real estate in Nyack, New York, that included a zoo, a yacht, airplanes and a dozen mansions that Mitchell could only describe as the “English countryside estates one sees in the moving pictures.” Bernard had made his fortune teaching yoga, and his students made up a Who’s Who of American life: college presidents, medical doctors, ministers, a spy or two, theologians, heiresses, a future congresswoman, famed authors and composers — some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world. Doctor Bernard, they called him, and like a benevolent physician he ministered to their needs, body and soul. He sheltered them, entertained them and gathered them together to teach them the art of living. They stood on their heads for him, worked in his fields, sang in his theatrical productions and performed in elaborate, professional-level circuses for his approval. Some of them came to delve deeply into hatha yoga and the philosophy behind it, some for romance and fresh air, some for the Bernard cure, having been abandoned by hospitals and mental institutions. These he literally led back from ruination — from ledges of despair, lethal addictions and Great War nightmares. How he managed to do this has remained his closely guarded secret…

But who was he, really, this uneducated savant who could lecture extemporaneously for three hours on the similarities between the philosophies of ancient India and the Gnostic heresies of the early Christians? This same man was known to stage a three-ring circus, manage a semi-pro baseball team, train a world-class heavyweight boxer, repair a Stanley Steamer automobile and whoop it up on fight nights at Madison Square Garden with nicotine-stained reporters. This last was where he was most at home, some said, shouting, swearing, happily chomping on a cigar. Who was this man of such wild contradictions, a name as familiar to headline writers of the 1920s as Charles Lindbergh? The answer depended to a large degree on who was doing the asking. [NYT]

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