Thursday, June 24, 2010

Go Chile

Why we are rooting for Chile today as they take on Spain in a very very open Group H

When the World Cup means everything: Chile fly the flag for 521 killed by earthquake

When your country has been hit by an earthquake and then a tsunami, you’d think football – even the World Cup – tends to become a minor detail. You’d be wrong.

At 3.34am on February 27 this year, Chile fell apart. The Richter scale registered 8.8 and 93 percent of the country's population were left in the dark as power failed. First the ground shook for 90 seconds, then the waves came. The huge off-shore quake moved the earth’s axis 8cm and shortened the day by over 1.28 microseconds.

The city of ConcepciĆ³n moved 10 feet west. The capital Santiago was shifted 10 inches, and Argentine capital Buenos Aires, a thousand miles away, moved one and a half inches. Chile gained an extra square mile of territory after their strongest quake since 1960.

It left 521 dead, 200,000 homeless and 500,000 houses damaged. But it also left a flag. The flag in this picture. Ripped and muddied, this is the standard around which Chile will gather today as they prepare to face Spain to decide Group H at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.

A chap called Bruno Sandoval rescued the flag (white for the Andean snow, blue for the sky, red for the blood of the independence fighters) from the ruins of Pelluhue, about 200 miles south west of the capital Santiago. At the time, Chile’s president Sebastian Pinera said his actions would “lift the spirit of a nation.”

And that La Roja flag is still doing its job, fluttering over the team’s plush base at the Ingwenyama resort near Nelspruit. Chile’s captain Claudio Bravo, their unbeaten goalkeeper in 1-0 wins over Honduras and Switzerland so far, says: “We brought the flag with us to remind the team of what happened. The whole nation is watching. We remember our disaster.”

The delightfully named defender Waldo Ponce said: “It’s extra motivation. I always go to the flag after we finish training. It shows the suffering of our people – but it also reminds us we can bring a little joy after what happened."

Back home, between gathering around televisions to watch their side in distant Africa, the rebuilding goes on. Pedro Poblete lives in Talca, right at the epicentre of the earthquake. He lost his off-licence/bottle store but argues: “The World Cup helps me forget I’m homeless. This flag shows we have suffered and bled. And continue to blee. The flag and the football soothes our pain.”

Fortunately for Chile, that soothing process is likely to go on for a while yet. As long as Switzerland don’t beat Honduras in Bloemfontein, they can even afford to lose against the world’s second-best side and they will still march on to the last 16.

In a tournament dominated by the Latin American teams, Spain’s opening loss to Switzerland means they are the side that has to do all the running at Loftus. Mind you, Chile have never beaten Spain. The last time they met, in 2008, the recently-crowned European champions crushed their former colony 3-0.

Spearheaded by Durban-born Mark Gonzalez, whose father Raul signed for Umlazi Bush Bucks in 1984 (I should know, I broke the story in the Durban Daily News!) Chile have got what it takes to be the surprise package at South Africa 2010, though they are ranked a mere 18 in the world.

Gonzalez scored the only goal against Switzerland and President Pinera, watching with earthquake victims in ConcepciĆ³n, issued his verdict: “Humberto Suazo is a great player, but today was not his day. I think that the best was Jorge Valdivia. He opened the field, he made beautiful passes and he gave the pass for Esteban Paredes to make the cross for Mark Gonzalez to score the goal."

That kind of political and emotional judgement, with the muddy flag flying in the background, might just spurs Suazo and Co on to greater things against Spain. The European champions had better be wary. They could be the last side knocked out in the group stages. This one could make England v Germany look pedestrian.

From this excellent World cup 2010 blog by Neal Colline

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010


And we are away (watched my first match today after waking up at 6:30 am, will be operating the day on 3 hr sleep it seems<--- standard ) at South Africa.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Playing crazies

Played a bat shit crazy guy and he donated 700 to me as an early christmas present over 2 tables of .25/.50 headsup (pic of one of the table above) in about 2.5 hrs !!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Calcutta beat

Mamata Banerjee may have been crowned queen of Calcutta but it was circus queen Champa who strode majestically through the city the day after, blocking streets that the Trinamul boss has promised to keep clear even during her victory march on Saturday. Metro tracked the circus on the streets as Champa trekked from Gariahat to to Garia Bazar, throwing traffic out of gear and leaving the cops wondering under what section to book Mayawati’s mascot for trespassing on Mamata’s city…

11.32am: Champa, 30, takes over a flank of Bijon Setu with mahout Raju Singh, eight years her junior, navigating the traffic-infested concrete jungle she must cross to reach a circus that has pitched tent in Garia 11.34am: A police sergeant who had tried to stop Champa and failed walks back, walkie-talkie in hand, trying to make sense of her defiant trunk call
11.37am: Sir, er, ma’am, your licence and registration number, please, another traffic cop asks Champa and gets a jumbo ignore 12.03pm: After taking a roadside break off Bijon Setu, Raju climbs back to his perch holding Champa by the ears with her trunk supporting his legs
1.18pm: Champa gets a breather on the Bypass while an officer from Kasba police station asks forest officials if there is any provision in the Wildlife Protection Act to stop an elephant from walking down a city street. There isn’t 2.06pm: Born free and bonded to a circus but free to go for now — Champa waddles off going “chomp…chomp” on a leafy bough.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


  • May 26, 2010, Mumbai An IndiGo flight, waiting for take off, taxiies onto the runway where a Jet Airways flight is about to land
  • April 2010, Mumbai The tyre of a JetLite flight from Lucknow bursts on landing in Mumbai
  • April 2010, Mumbai An accident is averted when a Kingfisher flight is asked to abort take-off minutes before a Go Air plane is cleared to land
  • September 2009, Delhi 213 passengers of an Air India flight to Riyadh have a miraculous escape at the Mumbai airport when the left engine of the aircraft catches fire because of an oil leak
  • August 2009, Dhaka A Delhi-bound Jet Airways flight carrying 139 persons skids off the runway just before taking off from Dhaka
  • June 2009, Calcutta 268 passengers aboard a Singapore Airlines flight have a lucky reprieve when a fuel tanker meant to refuel the plane catches fire
  • May 2009, Mumbai Over 250 passengers aboard a Jet Airways and an Air India flight emerge unhurt as the two aircraft headed towards each other in Mumbai abort take-offs
  • February 2009, Dibrugarh An Air India flight to Calcutta averts collision with an IAF plane over Jorhat. The IAF plane was not flying at 19,000 ft, the height it had permission for.
  • February 2009, Mumbai A helicopter carrying President Pratibha Patil lands on the same runway where an Air India flight has begun to take off. The pilot applies emergency brakes.
  • January 2009, Delhi Former LS speaker Somnath Chatterjee and other passengers aboard a Jet Airways flight survive narrowly when the pilot aborts landing seeing a China Southern Airlines plane on the runway.
  • June 2008, Mumbai Air India's flight from Jaipur overshoots destination Mumbai and continues to fly before its sleeping pilots are alerted by the Mumbai ATC and asked to return.
  • July 2007, Indore A Delhi-Bhopal-Indore-Delhi Jet Airways flight touches down hard at Indore, bounces repeatedly and moves from the runway. It finally comes to a halt close to the boundary wall.

Once bitten twice shy does not apply to the Indian government it seems. Tragic