Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Invention of the Year - 2010



I love magazines at this time of year. I fall for all the famous catch-phrases. “ The 50 best Inventions of 2010 – Time Magazine”, “ Jumpstart your life in 2011” - Men's Health, “Hottest albums of the year “– GQ ; I actually bought the GQ because of the feature interview with Ryan Reynolds but you get my point. It is the one time of the year when I read a lot more magazines than books. To be a honest between all the family get-togethers, chores (cos your domestic worker is generally on annual leave), and everything else, Dec – Jan is probably the time of year when I read the least books, but I digress.

My pick for “Invention of the year – 2010” has to be “The Straddling Bus”. Unfortunately, Time Magazine only found it to be the 18th best invention but I do not believe that they rated their inventions fairly but rather grouped them together so the feature would read better i.e Inventions 17 - 21 were all transport related and appeared on a double page with an image of the future incorporating all these inventions across the 2 pages.


The brainchild of Shenzen Huashi Future Parking Equipment, this bus will be raised 2 metres above the roadway allowing cars to pass underneath and will span 2 lanes. It is considerably quicker and cheaper than developing a subway system and has none of the disadvantages associated with a BRT e.g. A dedicated lane. If you still require convincing, check out this presentation that has been translated to English and explains the entire concept.

There were lots of jaw dropping options to chose from with this years inventions (The geek in me wanted to pick the XOS – 2, an iron man like suit developed by Raytheon Sarcos) and lots of annual favourites that must make the list every year e.g. Flying car, personal jetpacks and some or other new cell. I decided on the straddling bus because I believe it to be a viable option for cities like Durban that would never invest in a subway and where the BRT system has not borne the anticipated fruits expected of it. The improvements/ investments made in public transport infrastructure before the World Cup remains and there is now more people utilising public transport. If we have any realistic dream of hosting the Olympic Games (which I believe we do), then these are some of the ideas we need to start seriously considering. Even if it just ran from Umhlanga to the Durban CBD (i.e along the M4) and from Pavilion to the Durban CBD. I know that many of you reading this must be thinking what a na├»ve idealistic fool, and I confess to being one but if we don't at least dream of a better tomorrow, we have zero chance of achieving it. To prove this, I have attached a picture below taken from Popular Science Monthly - August 1925. It may have not all been realised but some of the ideas from that vision in 1925 are already commonplace in most first world cities!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SA vs India: T20 @ Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

There is very little that I can remember getting this excited about, but this match, this venue, this occasion... It crosses all my boxes. Although I am still perplexed why Cricket SA has decided to stop using Computicket for Cricket sales as PostNet stores are not as accessible as most supermarkets. Follow the link below to check the preview article I wrote for Durban Live



This is also going to be the first live sporting event I take my daughter to. Admittedly she is a lot more excited about seeing Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra sing and dance on stage but I am hoping the atmosphere will blow her away and we would be able to go for more matches together. Call it my parenting fantasy but  I always envisioned my daughters being big sports fans and tomboys in general. My mother has other ideas and she is currently winning but this match is the Ace up my sleeve. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Losing the plot in 'The Lost Symbol'

The Illumnati, the Vatican and now the Freemasons. It's obvious that the secret society at the centre of Dan Brown's next novel will be Al Qaeda. They are bound to have fanatical members that follow the ideals too literally; they are secretive (you don't get much more secretive than living in a web of caves); and there are bound to be a host of new symbols for Robert Langdon to interpret.

I am a fan of Dan Brown novels. I think he researches them well and he weaves many facts into the narrative to add to the excitement and broaden our understanding of history and especially symbology. Don't misunderstand me. I do not think the stuff he wrote about Jesus Christ in the Da Vinci Code is fact because I had the unfortunate honour of previously reading the book he took most of his ideas from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail' and therefore knew already that the Priory of Sion was considered by many researchers and journalists to be among the biggest hoaxes of the 20th Century but that did not detract from the novel which I could not put down and finished within 2 days.

Image Source: Wikipedia

His latest novel, 'The Lost Symbol', was not as good. It was entertaining and a good read but the tension and suspense seemed forced. Expect spoilers from here so stop reading now if you intend reading the book. The relationship between the antagonist and the good guys was revealed too early to the reader so when it is finally revealed to the characters in the book, the reader is not at all surprised by the reaction.

The aspect of the book that frustrated me the most however, was what can only be described as Dan Brown's 3 chapter apology to Christianity for the 'Da Vinci Code'. I am all for apologies when you believe you did something wrong but make a personal statement in the media. Don't weave it into your next novel because there is a strong liklihood that the people you are aiming to please, are not reading. This came at the very end of the book as well, so the protagonist had died, the world was saved and Robert Langdon is in the company of a beautiful woman, but the reader has to read on so he can understand how Science is only now beginning to catch up to religion (i.e all the miracles can be explained now with science) and that religion held all the answers all along,  but in code. The epilogue was so drawn out that even Robert Langdon needed a nap in the middle of the explanation!

My only hope while I wait for Dan Brown to unmask the next secret society is that Ron Howard chooses to not turn this novel into a movie.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making sense in the silly season!

The one conflict that I have with writing for websites etc. is that I have less time to write on my passions or whims cos let's face it there are only so many hours in the day and with a full time demanding job and the demands of modern day fatherhood.

This article is unique however, because it is one that I would have ended up writing on my blog in any case. It is biased, considering I am on the Board of Goveners for Child Welfare - Durban and Districts but hopefully a reader would take the ideas and run with it because I believe social responsibility to be a very personal thing that cannot be dictated if it is to be sustainable. I encourage people to start small but be consistent. Start with the R10 a year it takes to be a member of Child Welfare. If you feel like it, give R50 a month to an organisation via debit order. Visit the old age home once a month or donate all future unwanted stuff, that would normally just occupy space in a landfill, to the SPCA charity shop.

Making sense in the Silly Season - Article on Durban Live

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The best burger in Durban?

Recommending food is such a brave thing to do (yet we do it anyway) because people have very individual tastes and the mood and company that you are in can very easily influence your perception. For what its worth, I rate the Dagwood Steak Burger at Primi Caffe in Durban as my current favourite burger in Durban. Here's my review.

My review for Durban Live on the Primi Dagwood Burger

It is huge, very filling and very expensive so be warned!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What a Lotto Shit!


One of the big news stories today was the revelation of the National Lotteries board decision to donate R40 million to the National Youth Development Agency's world youth festival. This was in addition to the R29 million given to the agency by Government to stage the nine day event and host 30 000 youths from around the world. If those figures astound you, they should, but the NYDSA have stated that this is still far short of the R 370 million they required to host the event. WTF is unfortunately the only response that I can muster at this moment.

I serve on the board of a rather large charity organisation and I assure you that the Lotto allocation we received this year was a fraction of R40 Million. Furthermore, we received our funding last month for an application that was made in 2008 and it came with specific stipulations on how it should be spent. I wonder if the NYDSA were given similar guidelines, i.e. “Comrades. You can spend this money on champagne, but not on caviar.”

Why is South Africa stomping at the bit to host every conference imaginable. Yes, I understand that there is the tourism benefit etc etc but somebody needs to do the math and determine whether this is a sound economic strategy. As for the Lotto Board. I think you need to revisit your mandate. Yes, I understand that your first aim is to tempt our poor citizens of their weekly wages with the dream of striking it big and 'Tata my millions', but surely your next priority, after taking your bonuses, has to be the redistribution of that money to the development of our country. How hosting 30 000 students from around the world can be a higher priority now than the rising poverty, unemployment and crime in our country is incomprehensible.

On a brighter note, in a story that shockingly only managed to make pg 21 of the daily newspaper I was reading, seventeen additional US billionaires including Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg have joined other wealthy American billionaires in pledging to give away at least half of their fortunes in a campaign spearheaded by two of the world's richest men, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates and financial guru Warren Buffet. 'The Giving Pledge', which was launched in June now have a total of 57 billionaires who have publicly stated their intention with a letter explaining this decision. The full list of billionaires and their letters are available on


I must firstly sympathise with the heirs to these fortunes who may just be realising that their inheritance has been halved and then express my gratitude to the capitalist American billionaires who are prepared to put the wellbeing of the less fortunate back on the agenda. It was Winston Churchill who said,

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Julian and the Wiki-Nauts


OK. there is no Golden Fleece in this story but you have to admit that it is as entertaining and the first battles are thankfully being waged in cyberspace. There is no need to summarise what has been happening with “Cable-gate”, because it would be outdated before I complete the paragraph. But, I have some opinions on this saga and unlike people in the US who are being advised that commenting on this issue in social media would not be in the best interests of their career, I have the freedom to express them.

When I first heard that the Police were looking for Julian Assange on sex related charges, I was not surprised. Were you? You have to agree that the guy always seemed a bit weird although I thought the service being provided to the global community by Wiki-leaks was admirable. It is only when insiders are allowed to become whistle-blowers that there can be any meaningful change as history has illustrated most recently with the smoking industry. As far as I am aware, Wikileaks don't fabricate stories or provide an opinion on circumstantial evidence. They merely expose the hidden by providing proof, and sometimes that information is useful i.e. the recent leak of US Army documents confirming the number of civilian deaths in Iraq. People against the occupation of Iraq were often accused of exaggerating civilian casualty numbers but now they can use the numbers tallied by the US Army themselves. But the nature of these sex charges!

His accusers (both of them) have essentially said that consensual sexual encounters have became non-consensual when condoms were no longer in use. If that confuses you, let me attempt to explain further. It is alleged that Mr Assange had unprotected sex with one of the women, while she was sleeping! Why the other lady was upset by this act, is unclear but I am going to stop here and let Glenn Beck of Fox News, with the aid of a chalkboard and barbie pictures try and explain the events of Mr Assange's one night stand. He does it so much better!



The decision by Amazon to stop hosting Wikileaks was a brave move for the retailer, especially considering that it is Christmas time and that they have a completely online business model which may now be the target of hackers sympathetic to the Wikileaks cause. The move by PayPal and Mastercard to stop the transfer of funds to the organisation however, was a bit excessive. Wikileaks is not a terrorist organistaion and their was no legal reason why one should not be allowed to contribute to it. Since the hackers and I share a common viewpoint on this, I assume my blog is safe for now.

However this situation plays out, I am fascinated with the emergence of Superpower - ed individuals in the global landscape. The media etc. still refuse to acknowledge China as a superpower so I suspect that in the absence of another superpower, America is forced to wage war on these Superpower-ed individuals. And these individuals and their supporters are compelled to fight back. Regardless, it makes for interesting reading. I am going to conclude in support of a statement issued by a Pakistani judge on Friday when he was asked to rule on whether Wikileaks should be banned. He said,

We must bear the truth, no matter how harmful it is.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My first official restaurant review

I achieved quite a milestone today when my first official restaurant review was posted on the Durban Live website. (see link below)


A friend of mine, upon reading the article commented that it was exactly as I would have verbally described the experience in conversation. I beg to differ because it is a lot more difficult to describe something in a limited number of words with a looming deadline. In any event, the experience and subsequent adrenaline rush was awesome and I cannot wait to write my next piece. The deadline is this Friday, and I am going to write on alternative (more socially responsible) things to do in Durban this festive season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Will the real 007 please stand up?



I, along with every other, male of my generation, completely idolised James Bond. He represented all that was cool. Be it the cars (with the exception of that useless Z3 in Goldeneye), the gadgets, the beautiful ladies he encountered or that amazing wit. I would be convinced for weeks after watching the latest 007 adventure, that I would grow up and join the secret service. Thankfully, I was young enough not to have realised that the Apartheid security force may be sceptical about granting the double O status to a nerdy Indian boy from Chatsworth! In any case, it was not long before a mullet wearing, swiss army knife wielding scientist captured my imagination and with fantasy fuel on offer every Friday, I followed Macgyver down the path that led to a career in science. I was surprised by the lack of plastic explosives in the real world but I digress.


As I grew older, the words used to describe the original superspy included sexist, misogynist, chauvinist. These were the kind of labels that the modern, sensitive guy, which I was aspiring to be, avoided at all costs. It was shocking how much, the writers got away with in a post feminist era but Bond endured it all with the franchise growing from strength to strength. As I have pretty much borrowed all the audio books on offer at the library, I was ecstatic when I discovered the arrival of a new cache of titles two weeks ago. As I often take a chance on books that I had never heard of before (due to a lack of options, not personal taste), the chance to experience a hero I was familiar with was refreshing and better yet, due to the popular belief that George Lazenby was the worst Bond ever, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' remained the only Bond movie that I had never got around to watching.



The book was a revelation. It revealed a 007 that was far removed from the celluloid persona we have come to know. A 007 that was different, yet familiar and most importantly, real. This was the book in which James Bond, fell in love and eventually married the countess Tracy Vincenzo and after her murder I thought to myself that this is obviously why he is the way he is towards women. I was mistaken. This was the tenth Bond novel (of the 12 written by Ian Fleming) and it became apparent that the literary spy bore only vague resemblences to the movie character and attempts to justify the actions of one with the experiences of the other would be futile.

It appeared that the movies were peppered with characters and devices from the novel i.e The Bond Girl from 'The Man with the Golden Gun', Mary Goodnight, is actually the name of his secretary in this book and the title for the movie “ The World is not Enough”, is in actual fact the translation of the words that appear on the Bond family crest, non sufficit orbis. Perhaps the thing that differentiates the most between the two Bonds, is in the novel you are inside his mind and are therefore privy to all his personal thoughts and emotions. He is not immune to the feeling of fear, love, confusion, frustration. When he leaps towards an assailant in an attempt to disarm him and save himself, you do not merely see the execution of yet another action sequence but you comprehend how the situation was assessed, the move executed, and the outcome was unknown until completed.

I think the Bond movies will always be a cult classic and I am certain that when e-TV has another Bond festival I will watch them all again. If for no other reason, without the movies, we would have never been introduced to 'Q', who was only fleetingly, if at all, mentioned in the novels. If tales of espionage and mystery is your cup of tea, I would definitely recommend that you acquaint yourself with the literary Commander James Bond. For Fleming, the World may not be Enough but there is definitely enough to merit that you explore this character as he was originally envisioned.



Friday, November 12, 2010

Zulqarnain Haider: Hero or Coward?


The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has begun legal action against former South Africa coach, Mickey Arthur by serving him with a three page legal notice prohibiting him from repeating recent “whimsical” claims regarding his strong suspicions of match fixing by Pakistan. The PCB cannot understand why Mr Arthur would knowingly concoct a web of lies and deceit, casting the incorruptible nation of Pakistan in a poor light, merely to promote his upcoming book. Surely recent events have proven beyond all doubt that Pakistani cricket is above suspicion in regards to match fixing. . . I sincerely pity the judge who would have to keep a straight face while hearing this argument in court.

I remember, as a child, waking up at 4am and walking alone in the darkness before sunrise to a friend's house (who were incidently amongst the first in our neighbourhood to get an M-Net decoder) to watch that World Cup Final match when Imran Khan's Pakistan team rose from the ashes of that tournament to triumphantly lift the trophy. Although I later went on to support India (in that sub continental rivalry), it was on that day, for some reason that Wasim Akram became my childhood cricketing hero. I wonder how many children would look back on this week and consider Zulqarnain Haider, to be their cricketing hero. Not many I suspect, because other than in the English County he is bound to end up playing for, I doubt Mr Haider would remain famous for much longer (unfortunately fame and success is somewhat of an essential criteria when choosing a cricketing hero).

A brief overview of the saga as it stands. Hours before taking to the field in the fifth and deciding ODI between Pakistan and South Africa, Zulqarnain Haider, Pakistan's wicketkeeper, fled to London. Before fleeing, he posted a cryptic message on his Facebook page suggesting that his life was being threatened and that it had arisen from his failure to fix the previous match. Zulqarnain had scored the winning runs in the fourth ODI against SA to level the series in a nail-biter of a game. Thankfully Zulqarnain is not friends with anybody from the PCB, because when he asked for his passport for personal reasons they had no idea that he intended to flee for his life. He is currently seeking Asylum in England.

The story of a Pakistani cricketer who chose to not get involved in match fixing, at great personal risk, should have been a blessing to the PCB and he should have been hailed as a hero especially after the embarrassment during the English Test series this year. During the fourth Test against England at Lord's in August, three players were accused of being involved in spot fixing after a middle man (Mazhar Majeed) guaranteed three no-balls after receiving £ 150 000 in cash from the News of the World. After it subsequently happened, Pakistan's captain Salman Butt, and bowlers Mohamed Amir and Mohamed Asif were suspended by the ICC and remain so.The ICC had to act swiftly as the PCB refused to impart their own sanctions on the players. The PCB, in this current instance, appear to be much more concerned with Zulqarnain going AWOL with their legal advisor, Tafazzul Rizvi, stating that the player had breached his contract and would face an inquiry and disciplinary action. The reaction of the PCB was in this instance tame compared to the rebuke Zulqarnain received from the Pakistani Sport's Minister who said,

"If he is such a weak and scared person he should not have played cricket in the first place, particularly not for the national team” .

The minister had ironically released no statement regarding the action of the trio above nor had he said anything when Shahid Afridi (current captain) was caught on camera “smelling” the cricket ball during an ODI series in Australia (that was his initial explanation to the match referee).

Courtesy: theaustralian.com.au

Although the umpires acknowledged the rather distinctive, and to some, provocative smell of leather, sweat and grass, they were more interested with the chunks of seam that were now missing from the ball. To really appreciate the subtlety with which this was done, please watch the video, if you had not seen it already. And if you have, it is always worth watching again.



I am of the opinion that Zulqarnain Haider should be congratulated and celebrated for his choice to not get involved with this dark side of Cricket because it was clearly not the easy choice to make in this situation. He is now seeking political asylum in a foreign country, has put himself and possibly his family at personal risk and is currently unemployed. As it is unlikely, based on reading the actual text on his famous Facebook update, that he will be writing a tell-all book anytime soon, I hope he is successful in finding asylum and work in England. He is a young cricketer with great potential and like his namesake1, great courage. Hopefully, others would take strength from his example and stand up for justice if faced with a similar situation going forward.


1 Some eastern historians believe that the name Zulqarnain in Quranic text refers to the great Macedonian ruler, Alexander the Great.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Am I an Indian in South Africa or an African Indian?

The 16th November 2010 marks the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured labourers in South Africa. The 1860 Legacy Foundation was set up to acknowledge the contribution made by Indians since the introduction of indentured labour in South Africa and co-ordinate the various celebrations planned across the country to commemorate this event. Am I alone in not being excited about these celebrations. Truth be told, I cannot understand what all the fuss is about.

With the exception of the 20/20 Cricket match between India and South Africa planned for January next year at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium, I do not feel inclined to support any of these commemorative functions (for obvious reasons). I am not clear exactly what it is we are celebrating here or why we are choosing to celebrate it every 50 years? Do the African Americans celebrate the arrival of the slave ships that transported them to America? I believe that to be a fair comparison because indentured labour was in essence the colonial solution to the labour problem in the colonies after the theoretical abolition of slavery in the early19th century.

I have 2 primary concerns. Firstly, this commemoration will perpetuate the myth that the Natal indentured labourers that arrived on the SS Truro mark the start of Indian history in South Africa even with volumes of historical data to the contrary. People may argue that there may have been a handful of Indians in South Africa prior to 1860, but the arrival of 342 Indentured Indians on the SS Truro marked the first significant influx of Indians into South Africa. This notion is contradicted, amongst others, by Dr Robert Shell in his book “Children of Bondage” where he states that, “In the early decades of the 18th century, nearly 80% of all slaves imported came from the Indian sub-continent”. He goes on to state that during the period of slavery (which theoretically ended in 1807), there were 16,317 Indian slaves in South Africa, a figure which did not include the free black Indian population or the offspring of Indian slaves. These Indians played a significant role in the history and development of the Cape Colony and, no, I am not confusing this with the Malay Community, which has a rich heritage all off their own. For more on the history of Indian slaves in the Cape Colony I found this article by Patric Tariq Mellet to be particularly informative.


My second concern is whether this commemoration is helpful/ relevant to us as a developing democracy with the deep racial fractures inherited from Apartheid still very much present. Should our Indian heritage not be celebrated with the rest of our country on Heritage Day, a day set aside to allow South Africans the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge our collective diversity? How many Indians attend the Reed Dance or go to stadiums to commemorate events that were significant in the history of our country? I know that the previous question may sound preachy so let me confess upfront that I have not attended these events, neither do I understand Zulu culture as well as I may know the history relating to the American Civil War. It is for this reason that I would feel uncomfortable celebrating and explaining my Indian-ness to my fellow South Africans. Furthermore, I believe the request recently to national government to assist with funding for these commemorative celebrations should be considered carefully. We are a country severely affected by poverty, and money should be channeled to causes that would assist us in achieving our millenium goals, not the arrival of 342 Indians to South Africa, a 150 years ago. Perhaps if the events were more socially involved, rather than merely speeches, dance and biryani, I would have been more inclined to support the initiative.

I suspect that there will be many people who may take offence to and disagree with my point of view, but understand that all I am asking for is to not be considered a “traitor” or “too-westernised” when I choose not to participate in these events. I am not asking people not to support this initiative, just explaining why I think it is irrelevant.

When Zeph Mothupeng adressed a rally of mainly Indians in London, shortly after his release from Robben Island, he said, to much cheer and applause, that there were no Indians in South Africa, but only African Indians. That is what I wish to be identified as, an African Indian.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Smartphone users are percieved by others

This is related to my last blog post and was sent to me by a friend last week. Note that users of Windows Mobile were not considered because we are talking about smartphones here :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Google Goggles: The future of Search


A significant factor which made me realise that engineering was the career for me was my fascination with the works of Jules Verne who could arguably be labeled a prophet (hold the fatwa, I said arguably) when one considers how many times the themes/ inventions in his novels have escaped the shackles of Science Fiction to become Science Fact. This occurred most famously with his description of the Nautilus (Captain Nemo's submarine in “20 000 leagues under the Sea”) and then with “From the Earth to the Moon”. It could be argued that he missed the mark with “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, but as an author, his primary intention would have been to entertain and captivate his readers, rather than provide food for thought for retrospective scientific prediction in the future.

I intended to write this with a clear message to potential smartphone buyers in South Africa to seriously consider getting a phone that runs on the Android operating system based on the availability of just one App – Google Goggles. The opening paragraph and the tribute to Jules Verne was to draw an association between the unshackled vision of the author to the realisation of the future, today, by the staff of Google Labs. Google continues to be the primary proponent for the advancement and research of technology in this sector today. What has begun with Google Search, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Maps has now continued it's progression with Google Goggles.

Google Goggles is a visual search application currently available for both Android Phones and the I-phone. It lets you use pictures taken with your mobile phone to search the web with no need to type or speak your query. All that is required is to open the app, take a picture and wait for your search results. As this kind of technology is still in its infancy, it currently works best with certain types of queries e.g. pictures of books and DVD's, landmarks, logos etc and not so well with pictures of animals, plants or cars. Another great feature is the menu translator that may be used when traveling internationally. The video below highlights the functionality of this new innovation better than I ever could with words.



If you are not blown away by what has been accomplished with the development of this app, I suggest that you sit down and ask someone to check for the existence of a pulse. Notwithstanding the functionality already available, the potential for future enhancement is mind boggling. Unlike most apps, Google Goggles, has the potential to significantly enrich one's life and also allow them the opportunity to impress the pants off those people who still believe that cellphones should only be used to make and receive calls and receive SMS's (I omitted send SMS's intentionally).

As stated earlier, my intention was to convince people unsure of which smartphone to purchase, to give the Android phones a try, but then I discovered that like with Itunes, Android Marketplace is not yet available in South Africa. Salespeople would always convince you that availability is imminent but we've heard all that before. Is it our Copyright laws, our former communications Minister, COSATU? Who do we need to talk to to get this to happen? The South African telecommunication market has taught us to never count our chickens before they are hatched but for those Android/ I-phone users who really want the app, I am sure you are already aware of the “work-arounds”.

Unless your social circle is rife with Blackberry's and you are part of the crowd that text a lot, or are a self confessed Apple fanboy (like myself), I would recommend the Android devices to potential buyers in that smartphone market. The staff at Google are encouraged to be innovative and progressive, and have a track record of dominating any market they enter so I expect the Android platform to develop in leaps and bounds in the coming years. Hopefully us, South Africans will be invited to the party.

P.S I have subsequently discovered that Google Googles is available for download in South Africa for both Android and I-Phone users (3GS and I-phone 4 only). Users have commented that there is still some development required as it is not functioning as well as could be expected at times. I still think that it is something to be really excited about and could lead to similar products/ devices in the future. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Call of Duty: Black ops

A Lie is a Lie.
Just because they write it down and call it History,
Does not make it the truth.

I love this line. Call of Duty: Black Ops




Just Pre-ordered this game from Kalahari.net and got an awesome deal. Somebody bought my Call of Duty: World at War on Kalahari Marketplace this week. That combined with a R100 voucher I got from kalahari.net implies that I have bought this game (delivered to my door) for R35. Admittedly the gameplay on the DS will be nowhere close to that shown in the trailer but I enjoyed playing World at War and for R35...click click. ding dong


Welcome to my Domain!

www.knightlynotes.co.za. It has such a better ring to it than www.theinfiniteimprobability.blogspot.com

Today is day 1 of me effectively using my own domain for my blog and it is really exciting. When I started the blog, I did not want to let the selection of the most approriate name delay me from starting, so I registered my account and happened to be reading "And Another Thing", Eoin Colfer's excellent continuation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Part 6 of 3), so I decided to go with the name 'The Infinite Improbability Blog'. Being new to such decisions, I never gave much thought to the impact of such a long title or the amount of time that will be wasted by me having to explain the concept of The Infinite Improbability Drive to people.

Shortly after writing a few entries, I visited my cousin to update my cache of movies and TV series and we got to discussing blogs etc. He was way ahead of the curve and must have started blogging about 5 years ago. Funny story: I discovered his blog by accident oneday and knew that I was going to see him at a function that weekend. I read a few of his entries (because they were highly amusing, not for my evil plan) and when we met that weekend, I started chatting about stuff always giving him my views on various things, which were hillariously the mirror images of his own thoughts. This went on for a while until I eventually came clean. Considering that I regard him as the family member that I have the most in common with, he saw the humour in the prank.

He told me how he had started using his own domain now, how cheap it is to set-up, and who to contact to set it up. My mind was made up, but now came the hard part: choosing a domain name. I did not have to wait long because my wife and I went out to lunch that weekend and came up with the name whilst in conversation. It went through many iterations before she suggested Knightly Notes, and I immediately knew that it was the one. We went further and thought thta I could have multiple blogs linked to the website on different topics with catchy titles, e.g. The Parenting Blog would be called "In the Knight Garden" and the Humour Blog would be called, "On a Knighter Note". Realistically, I doubt I would have the time to contribute to so many blogs so I decided to keep everything as is, and just change the domain name.

The thinking behind the domain name is now also much easier to explain i.e. I often only have the time to write late at night and I am a huge fan of Batman i.e. The Dark Knight I also would have an e-mail address that wold be linked to my blog (fayaz@knightlynotes.co.za). In concluding this epic day, I was reminded recently of a great cartoon of the Dark Knight. Hope you enjoy it!



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Iranian Nuclear Debate


It was reported earlier this week that Iran is prepared to hold talks on its disputed nuclear programme in November. It is disputed because the Western powers “fear” Iran is building capacity to produce a nuclear bomb whereas Iran says that it is pursuing a civilian atomic programme designed to meet it's growing energy needs. Shown below is an estimate of the world's nuclear weapon reserves.

When compared to a map of the region, it is easy to understand why the Iranians have just cause to feel like they are the only ones who brought a knife to a gunfight. They are presently flanked by America on either side (I am referring to the strong presence of US Military in both Iraq and Afghanistan). Israel is rumoured to have as many Nuclear weapons as China (shocking that they are even comparable considering land and population size, if that were ever a justification on the number of nuclear weapons one should possess). And rounding up the nuclear neighbours would be Russia to the north and highly unstable Pakistan to the east.

I am not a supporter of Ahmadinejad or his rhetoric, and most definitely not his wardrobe or grooming habits but I feel it is unfair to the people of Iran to have to be subject to sanctions as no evidence has been found to support the 'fear' that Iran intends building a nuclear weapon. Even the Ayatollah Khomeini, who to many is the menacing symbol of militant Shi'ite Islam issued a fatwa, 10 years after the revolution forbidding the development of a nuclear weapon, a stance which has been confirmed even by the contemporary clerics in Iran. Even during the bloody war between Iraq, Iran ,unlike Saddam Hussein, never used chemical weapons. Yet, the world continues to rely on countries that have the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons to police other nations around the world and enforce the Nuclear Non Proliferation Act.


My point, long winded as it may be, is that Iran be allowed to continue it's civilian atomic program and that sanctions be lifted until such time that there is actual evidence that there are plans in place to construct a nuclear arsenal. If Western nations are really interested in making this world safer, then they should assist Iran, which they are required to do under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, with their civil nuclear program by enriching their uranium for free instead of offering Tehran new fuel swap deals. Oh, they should perhaps also deplete their nuclear weapon stockpiles!


South Africa should take special note, because if we intend increasing our generating capacity by the inclusion of additional nuclear power plants, then it may become financially viable for us to start enriching our own Uranium (SA is ranked fifth in world uranium reserves) rather than exporting our mined uranium resource and then paying a premium for the refined fuel. If we ever decide to do that though, we should be prepared for sanctions and the threat of invasion to help protect the free world!

















Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Procrastination

Hi. My name is Fayaz Khan and I am a procrastinator.

The only reason I am writing this blog entry is to delay writing a longer entry I have planned on "A Nuclear Iran". The main problem with procrastination is that you always manage to get things down in the end or as is often the case with me, you can effectively bullshit your way to an extension. So that my readers do not feel cheated, I have attached my favourite comic from a popular online comic series titled, wait for it, "Procrastination". 


P.S I always get excited and cut out coupons and vouchers (it's in my genes) and leave them in my wallet so I won't forget and then remember them only after they expire. I only remember my kalahari.net vouchers cos they remind you about them everytime you are on their site and even when you are checking out.

P.P.S To any marketers out there, I respond well to vouchers etc.

P.P.P.S Due to Procrastination (trait, not comic series) I may not use any coupons you send.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The real reason Disney bought Marvel revealed

The news earlier this year that Disney bought comic superhouse Marvel was met with shock but their intention has finally been revealed. Meet Iron - Lightyear!


Subsequent collaborations will see Mickey Mouse infused with an Adamantium skeleton and a sit com based (very) loosely on Beauty and the Beast with the Hulk shacking up with Cinderella. They are currently working with the title, " You no cook, Hulk smash!"

The Brothers Grimm made me do it!

A Florida woman, Alexandra Tobias, 22, admitted shaking her 3-month old baby to death after the little boy's crying distracted her form playing a wildly popular Facebook game. She confessed to police that she was playing Farmville and her baby Dylan wouldn't stop crying so she shook him, had a cigarette and then shook him again. She called paramedics when he stopped breathing and doctors later confirmed that he had died due to abusive head trauma.

It appears the media has this time decided to indirectly assign the blame for this on Farmville as opposed to a hard rock album she may have been listening to or a violent game wherein one is encouraged to perform acts of violence (admittedly I have never played Farmville and am therefore unsure of the violence content i.e are you allowed to rustle cattle from nearby farms or flog farm-hands who are not pulling their weight). It appears that whenever callous brutal crimes such as these are carried out, the media needs to blame something other than 'just plain psycho' for surely no human being could just do something like this without an external influence. By attaching the Farmville angle makes the story that much more viral because this kind of crime (shockingly) is more common than one would like to believe and the only reason we are hearing about it here in South Africa is because of the Farmville angle.

The story did get me thinking as to whether classic children stories were ever blamed for violent crimes that may have been perpetrated in history because the Brothers Grimm (an apt name) were responsible for the popularising of some shocking tales. Let us take for an example, the story of Hansel and Gretel which I had the unfortunate task of reading to my daughter a few weeks ago. I will quote an extract from the story below;

'We have not enough bread for the two of us,' he told his wife one night. 'What about the children?'

'Better off without them,' she said. 'Take them to the forest and leave them to get lost.'

'We can't do that,' said the woodcutter. 'They will be eaten by the wolves and bears.'

'Then you had best get our coffins ready now,' she said. 'We will all be done for soon enough.'

She nagged him and argued with him and in the end persuaded him, much against his will.

This was transcribed directly from a book called Classic Children's Stories and I am confident that there can be no copyright infringement because the Grimm's brothers themselves never wrote a fairy tale but merely saw a market, collated some folktales, and controversially some that were in print but authored by others, and published them as a collection of stories for children. The plots in these stories are morbid and distrurbing as shown clearly by the story of Hansel and Gretal above or the story of Snow White whose stepmother wanted her murdered because her skin was fairer. By far the worst has to be the original version of Sleeping Beauty which included rape, necrophilia, adultery, intended canabilism and murder. A group of fairies were also however integral to the plot!

I think it is about time that these fairy tales are benched and replaced by more wholesome ones as it is extremely difficult to read ahead whilst reading out loud and modify these stories on the fly all whilst trying to be entertaining to your little one. If not, then we should accept these potential movie adapted children's books in the near future. (I am trying to be satirical here and obviously do not which to see these movies made into children's books. It could make a funny adult satire though). These were done by Josh Cooley, an animation artist at Pixar.








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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Moses Mabhida Experience

I treated the staff in my department to a tour of our great stadium today to make up for not getting them cake on my birthday (It was very late, I know). The tour was awesome, so I wrote something for Durban Live (not sure if they are going to use it) and thought I'd share it here as well.

 
The Moses Mabhida Experience

I was extremely privileged to have attended two matches at the Moses Mabhida Stadium (Germany's thrashing of Australia in our cities opening game and the Round of 16 match, where Holland (or Netherlands, never sure which one is applicable) broke Slovakian hearts in their march towards the Final of the FIFA World Cup. So the prospect of attending the general tour of the stadium did not fill me with excitement because unlike the professional tour it did not include access to the VIP presidential suite or the state of the art change rooms. It was refreshing to see that, even a know-it-all like myself, can still be proven wrong.

For a mere R20 (Children – R15 and kids under 6 free) for a 40 minute highly entertaining tour of one of our cities most distinctive landmarks, seriously, do I need to further convince anyone. You are encouraged to take pictures or even videotape the entire tour but no video could replicate the feeling you get walking into the stadium proper. Even if you had been to on of the World Cup matches, that view still takes your breath away. We did however also take numerous pictures; running on the pitch, emerging from the tunnel, sitting in the dug-out. The tour guide was immensely funny and highly informative and appeared to genuinely enjoy his job and that made the experience all the more better.

Everything today is all about the money but it honestly feels like the people involved with the management of the stadium are sincerely interested in sharing this experience with as many people as possible. School tours are free and if combined with a visit to Mitchell Park, even rural schoolchildren could get an amazing school excursion for only the cost of the transport to get there. I can only imagine what the view from the viewing platform atop the stadium is like, but I will not be imagining long because I suspect that I will be taking my family back there soon. A trip to the viewing platform with the skycar costs R50 (kids – R25 and kids under 6 free). Admittedly, the only thing that is a tough sell for me is the “Adventure Walk” where you pay R80 for the privilege of walking the 550 steps to the viewing platform before walking back down again.

The public have free access to the perimeter of the stadium with free performances scheduled to start soon at the amphitheatre and with The Keg and Spear, Nino's, Subway and Cuba Lounge it is safe to assume that most tastes will be catered to. Every resident of Durban should visit our Stadium. All visitors to our city should visit our stadium. In fact, all tourists to our country should take the time to visit our Stadium, because it is without doubt the best in the country and because of it, I believe we finally have a realistic chance of hosting the Olympic Games.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A awesome reply to Gareth Cliff's letter to Government

I have really wanted to write a response to the Gareth Cliff letter to government but Justin Foxton hit the nail on the head with his response.

Justin Foxton's reply to the Gareth Cliff letter

An encounter with Judge Chris Nicholson


 One day a band of robbers attack a bank and the robber goes up to the teller and says, “Give me all the money or you are geography!”

The slightly puzzled, but still very afraid teller asks, “Don't you mean history?”

The robber points his gun in the face of the teller and replies, “Don't try and change the subject”


This was not a joke I overheard from a work-mate at the water-cooler or at an open mike show on a Thursday night (just putting the idea out there cos a regular open mike show in Durban would be awesome). This was the joke that the Honourable Judge Chris Nicholson used to break the ice before delivering his address at the 2010 AGM for Child Welfare – Durban and Districts. It was a sign of great things to come and when he finished, I can assure you that I was not alone in wishing that he could go on as he had succeeded in delivering a very entertaining, thought provoking and informative address.

The only allowable excuse for not knowing who Judge Nicholson is, if:

> You are currently less than 5 years old
> Not a South African, or
> Live with the mole-people in the sewers of Ladysmith.

He is most famous for his crafty spin bowling, excellent sense of humour and a little matter regarding the case of bribery and corruption against former friend of Schabir Schaik, Mr Jacob Zuma. Judge Nicholson in his judgement ruled that the case against Mr Zuma was procedurally flawed and went so far as to state that there was strong evidence to suggest a political motivation for the laying of these charges. His decision was then overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal who sanctioned him for making these allegations. The NPA then did not re-charge Jacob Zuma when evidence emerged that there was in fact a political conspiracy. Enough of that saga as it is a moot point anyways and was rarely mentioned by Judge Nicholson who it appears has a lot more benificial knowledge to offer society.

“What went wrong with homo sapiens?” This was the title of his speech and he effectively began by outlining some statistics as to how us as a species are inferior to even animals when it comes to the care of our fellow human beings and children in particular. He then discussed the evolution of man and during this part of his talk I noticed a lot of uncomfortable shuffling and muttering. The topic of evolution never goes down well with the religious or the elderly. His entire argument was however stunning, entertaining and logical (to me, anyways) but would be too lengthy to try and describe here but the key point was this; We need to free the right side of our brain from the tyrannical left side in order to evolve into a more sympathetic and caring society. Suffice to say, if there is ever a TED event in Durban, he should definitely be invited to speak. He should actually, now that he is in retirement give a lot more talks or if he prefers the quite life start a regular column in one of our papers giving us his insight on current events. He should actually just start a Blog.

I had the pleasure of conversing with him exclusively for almost 15 minutes after the meeting and it was arguably one of the most entertaining and inspiring discussions I had had in a very long time. In that short space of time, we discussed religion, cricket (we may have not agreed on everything but what would be the point in that), The Iraq War, mutual acquaintances (shocking, I know!), TED and his latest book ( he has already authored two other books) on the link between Wagner and Adolf Hitler.

I have already suggested to the communications team at my company that we consider inviting him to talk at one of our many functions and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. I suspect that he is likely to turn down the offer, but on the off chance that he agrees, you can be assured of a very insightful and thought provoking talk which would make the function immensely more attractive and beneficial.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Please save the American soldiers!

 

Today, WikiLeaks, the whistle blower website, released 400 000 'not so secret anymore' US files detailing every aspect of the war in Iraq. Speaking to reporters in Washington earlier today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she condemned "in the most clear terms the disclosure of any information by individuals and or organisation which puts the lives of United States and its partners' service members and civilians at risk". Admittedly she has a very valid point because something like this has the potential to disturb the relatively peaceful life normally associated with an invading army in a foreign land.

The files released today cover a period of six years – from January 1, 2004 to December 31 2009 – and shows that of the 109 000 people who died during this time, only 66 081 were civilians which emphasizes to what great lengths the coalition forces have gone to, to ensure that civilian casualties were minimised. The number of civilian deaths compares favourably to the 2,997 civilian deaths that occurred during the terrorist attacks perpetrated on September 11 because those were American lives, which in recent trade is valued much higher than everyone else's, and the second amendment of the United States Constitution gives American's the right to bear arms. The Iraqi policy makers have only themselves to blame for leaving this out of their constitution so the American forces in Iraq have every right to search and seize any weapons found in Iraq.

Sarcasm aside, who is genuinely shocked by these revelations of pregnant women being shot dead at checkpoints, priests being kidnapped and murdered and of Iraqi prison guards using electric drills to force their prisoners to confess (I am purposely being vague with the details here)? Reports of this nature have been surfacing throughout the conflict although this has considerable more credibility as the the US did not deny the reports but asked that they be kept secret so that their soldiers and civilians are safe and I agree with them ( I am being serious now). Each of those civilians killed belonged to a family. They were peoples mother's, brothers, sons or daughters and that family is understandably upset with the situation and the perpetrators of this situation. Confirmation that these atrocities are indeed true is going to now make the situation much worse because even the moderates can no longer defend the invasion.

The argument that this “war on terror” would get people to accept “The American way of life” and create worldwide peace in the process is as convincing an argument as the only nation with the courage to drop a nuclear bomb on civilians, asking other nations to disarm their nuclear stockpiles. There are basically three types of responses to this situation. Those against the war finally have the proof they needed to win staffroom/ online forum arguments, those for the war will claim that the reports are falsified (would you believe a person who looks like Julian Assange) or that this is normal during wartime, and those that still cannot believe that WikiPedia did not copyright the “Wiki” prefix!

P.S. For a great article on the history of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange read this article that appeared in the New Yorker Magazine in June this year after the release of video footage from an American Apache helicopter showing the killing of at least 18 people including two Reuters journalists.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ban the Cabbage! Viva Vuvuzela

The recent news that the PSL (of all organisations) is considering banning the vuvuzela from all future PSL games came as a shock especially after the vociferous support it received from SAFA and all “true” South African soccer supporters in the run-up to the World Cup. If one recalls, FIFA actually did ban these devices from the World Cup until SAFA made a presentation and suggested that you would not get a true South African football experience without the Vuvuzela's. Fans like Saddam Maake (you have to love his parents sense of humour), a famous Kaizer Chiefs supporter, was quoted as saying, 
 
No one will stop vuvuzelas and they’re here to stay! I will be the first to be arrested with my vuvuzela if it gets banned from the World Cup games. We have been blowing this instrument for as long as we can remember and no one will tell us what to do.”
Ironically, it was the behaviour of hopefully some other Kaiser Chiefs supporters during the MTN 8 semi-final clash against Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium on September 26 that resulted in this threat being issued by PSL Prosecuter Zola Majuvu. The Amakhozi fans are accused of throwing 2 vuvuzela's and a cabbage onto the field and Kaizer Chiefs were thus fined R500 000 which was wholly suspended making it similar therefore to points on the Drew Carey Show i.e. it means nothing. It was great to however see that healthy eating during sporting events appears to be catching on because I have no other explanation as to why someone would come to the great Soweto Derby with a Cabbage! Somebody bringing a cabbage to a game should really be the issue here and raise a lot more eyebrows.
If I had the resources, time, money or creativity I would have done a Daily Show like montage of a politician first supporting the vuvuzela's 6 month's ago as part of his culture and tradition and now saying that there are grave health and safety concerns associated with the device and it should therefore be banned. I remember watching an English Premiership game a few years ago where Wayne Rooney (he of Shrek fame) was celebrating in front of the opposition supporters after scoring a goal and got a cellphone thrown at him. Admittedly our supporters are tame compared to the 'hooligans', but where will it stop. I suspect one person who wishes this kind of thing does not stop is Zola Majuvu because what does a PSL Prosecutor do when there is no one left to prosecute?
I have nothing against the vuvuzela (except when pointed directly at my head from an over eager fan sitting behind me) and in fact think it is a great example of how inventive and resourceful the Chinese are. For those of you unaware, it is reported that as much as 90 % of the Vuvuzela's sold here during the World Cup were made in China. In fact, Chenghai toy manufacturers were quoted as saying that factories were working overtime to meet World Cup demand. In a land were workers are often exploited at minimum wage , I hope SAFA appreciated the impact its' presentation to reverse the banning of the Vuvuzela had on these workers. For those of you still naive enough to believe it was  SAFA's presentation that reversed FIFA's decision on this matter and not the $20 Million trumpet market during the World Cup, I hope the blue pill did not taste as bitter as the red one did!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tinky Winky is gay!






A few years ago there was a huge controversy (as only the right wing evangelical lobby in America can create) that “outed” Tinky Winky (a character from teletubbies for the benefit of those without toddlers) as gay because he was a male that carried around a woman's handbag.The Christian right wing evangelist, Rev Jerry Falwell issued a warning to parents to shield their children from the corrupting influence from the character who is in fact a covert gay role model. I remember thinking at the time that it was hogwash and another example of people looking too deeply into simple things and seeing things that are not really there. Until yesterday, that is.

I overheard a conversation between my daughter (Siddiqa) and the maid and could tell immediately that the maid was in trouble. Siddiqa wanted to know why Tinky Winky carried a handbag if he was a boy. Siddiqa had obviouslly picked this up on her own because I cancelled all my subscriptions to right wing evangelical magazines around the time she was born. The maid, who was now watching the teletubbies for possibly the first time in her life (I hope she does not sue), tried to wrap her mind around what she was seeing and then tried answering. The ensuing conversation was hillarious and I let it go on for a while (cos I am a sadist at times) until I stepped in to resolve the issue. I have already been asked about god, death and what is wrong with people kissing on TV, if I am allowed to kiss her (I am still sidestepping that last one), so this would have been easy.

I explained that children can play with any toy when they are young i.e she plays with toy cars and some of her friends are boys who play with dolls and that there is nothing wrong with that. She accepted my answer but was still confused because Tinky Winky was not a child as he was big. I tried to argue that he is obviously a child which was easy to prove as he happened to be dancing an admittedly gay, child-like dance at the time. I asked her, “ Which grown up do you know that dances like that”, to which she immediately replied with a glint in her eye, 

“You!”.

I was speechless but my wife's laughter from the kitchen ensured that there was no uncomfortable silence. I am beginning to think that the good Reverend was right in warning us parents about the corrupting influence of this character.

Et tu, confused! Then onward performing arts.


(a review of Jay Pather’s Qaphela Caesar)

My wife and I were recently in Cape Town and there where basically two big live shows on. Mama Mia (which we had watched already and I highly recommend) and Qaphela Caesar. Below is my review of the show. What I did not include is the weird encounter I had with an elderly gentleman in the men's toilet of Cape Town's City Hall. To read more about that, read to the end (subtle attempt at getting you to read the whole article. For this to be a success, it would be great if you could temporarily forget how to scroll straight to the bottom of the page. Thanks)

I readily admit to becoming a very late bloomer when it came to the appreciation of the works of William Shakespeare. I chalk it down to a school curriculum that robbed me of the joy of a Shakespearian comedy or the chance to act out a play rather than merely read it in class. At University, a combination of chance, adventure and the unrelenting pursuit to procrastinate all things relating to study found me at the open space theatre for a student production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream and I have been an ardent devotee ever since. I returned annually to the UKZN student’s production (which remains my personal favourite), watched professional productions at the Durban Playhouse and most recently watched a live broadcast (via Satellite) from London’s West End at Cinema Noveau. A description of Jay Pather’s, “Qaphela Caesar”, therefore served to heighten expectation and promised to be a Shakespearian experience never before experienced (by myself). The experience was truly memorable but perhaps not for the reasons I had expected.

The show can best be described as a combination between “The Dark Knight”, “Dancing with the Stars” and (insert your choice of a movie/ production that really confused you here). If lucky, one even caught extracts from Shakespeare’s great historical drama, Julius Caesar! The audience moved from room to room as scenes changed but with no explanation of the characters or the context of each scene, the entire experience felt like a dream as each scene was filled with imagery and performances that captivated the imagination yet eluded understanding. Often, as you began to realise the focus of the scene or the relevance of the imagery, you were ushered into the next room/ scene. I would therefore like to list the following. Don’t watch this show if,

  • You want to watch a contemporary version of Julius Caesar,
  • are more a fan of drama, rather than dance,
  • are elderly or unfit, as physical discomfort may distract from the experience,
  • lugging around a heavy knapsack/ handbag, or
  • wearing clothing that would prevent you from either sitting on the floor or walking on concrete stepping stones (true story).

Having said all that, once the viewer relinquishes any intent on watching a modern rendition of Julius Caesar, the performance becomes very powerful and impressive. The dance sequences were well choreographed and the experience of moving from scene to scene was unusual yet refreshing. The highlights of the show were my Cape Town acting debut, where I was briefly asked to read the part of Brutus (an excellent execution of audience participation) and Helen Zille’s unique rendition of that famous speech, “Friends, Romans, Countryman”. I later realised that the other audience members did not concur with my highlights, but perhaps they were tired and therefore unable to see the diamond in the rough.

Although Jay Pather’s vision in the telling of this epic tragedy may have overshot the Cuckoo’s nest, her ingenuity in scene transition, choreography and sheer bravery should not be overlooked. The cast were brilliant and came together perfectly in a compelling performance. The dancers were passionate, the vocalists hauntingly brilliant and the actress who read out critical passages from the play simply outstanding. Another actress who deserves mention is the lady who played the role of Portia, as she managed to be recognizable as a character in the play, even in the absence of dialogue. I would highly recommend the experience to all who are fit enough to undertake it but would recommend re-acquainting yourself with the play before attending.

Interview with a Ghost

Before the show, I went to the men's room and as I entered I saw this elderly european gentleman, who had a glass of wine and was about to sit on a sofa (It was that kind of men's room).

This is better than sex”, he said.

I immediately replied that he obviously had not had good sex in a while ( I still don't understand why I said this), to which he responded that it had been 8 years since the last time. I concluded my business and on my way out he told me,

Rush home now, the Police are coming.”
I smiled politely so that he would think I got his joke. He then repeated the warning, looking at me directly and intently. It was at this point when I made the obvious conclusion that this guy was a ghost ( Spooky building + old guy talking weird = ghost) and walked, very briskly, back to the crowd. During the performance, I saw his again with his wife and finally admitted the experience to my wife. Lesson learnt: Do not make conversation with strangers in the toilet of Cape Town City Hall