Lift me out of my skin and put me inside another’s…

Where one bucket of wheat equals one candy bar

Where one bucket of wheat equals one candy bar

Paul Salopek’s (Twitter — do yourself a favor and follow along) latest post is, per usual, a gem; a brilliant-cut diamond of a piece:

Salopek is currently in Turkey. At Yelkovan Koyü, Turkey, 37°48’16” N, 38°32’28” E, to be accurate. He is at a bakal, an oasis. He writes of the man he meets there, and of the lives he encounters in this outpost that time forgot:

“We are poor here,” Karadoğan acknowledges. He is a kind man. He himself is poor. “Not everybody has money in their pockets all the time,” he says. “I buy the grain and resell it in Kâhta for a small profit.”

In exchange, the Kurdish farmers in the village obtain soap or salt. Batteries or cigarettes. Notebooks and other schools supplies. There is a brisk trade in candy—in sweets.

“It is the children’s job to clean the grain,” Karadoğan explains. “This is their reward.”

In this world that is part of our world and yet apart, one bucket of wheat = one bar of candy — the title of Salopek’s latest post. And as with much of his work, it is not the travelogue that strikes you, though his project is a travelogue spanning 21000 miles and seven years. What grips you and won’t let go is the stories he tells of the lives and of the peoples he encounters along the way. Stories that lift you out of your skin and put you inside another’s — and in doing that, both diminish you and enhances you at the same time.

Consider this lead-in to his previous post, Mother Rivers:

Coban Ali Ayhan sings like a human being in pain—like a man pouring salt into the open wound of his heart.

He bounces a wounded cry down into the canyons of the Tigris River: a blade of rusty water that saws its way through the bedrock of time. Ali’s song is a hymn to true love, which is to say, to love unrequited. It is the tale of a beautiful woman who remains blind to the longings of the singer. It is a lyric of loneliness. Of waiting. Of resignation—a form of acceptance. It is the perfect ballad for this antique river and this doomed, haunted town.

Through his posts I’ve met Coban Ali Ayhan. And Murat Yazar, who walked with Paul into what looked like certain death but turned out to be a shared cup of tea. Muhammed Sadiq Demir, the tailor who mourns a world where people no longer repair their clothes, preferring to just junk them and buy new. Ismail, who with gun in hand attempted to oppose the armoured tanks of the ISIS. Yuval Ben-Ami, Paul’s trekking partner through Israel, who would rather walk (and sing as he walked) than anything else, and who was not above leading Paul to Nazareth because there is a good hummus shop there.

“Strangers are friends you are yet to meet”

Each post in the series introduces me to strangers. And thanks to the art of the narrator, they become friends, people whose fate I am now invested in; people I care about.

There is something I print and hand out to journalism students during my infrequent lectures on narrative. It is from the introduction to The DC Comics Guide To Writing Comics. I tell the students it is the best definition there is of story, of why we write:

Here’s what I would like you to do for me: Make me laugh. Make me cry.

Show me my place in this world. Show me the world’s place in my life.

Lift me out of my skin and put me inside another’s, and show me how to live there.

Show me places I have never been to. Carry me to the ends of time and space.

Give my demons names, give my fears a face, and show me how to confront them.

Present before me heroes who will give me courage and hope.

Demonstrate for me possibilities I had never thought of.

Ease my sorrows, increase my joy.

Teach me compassion. Entertain me, enchant me, enlighten me.

Above all, tell me a story.

Those words could have been written for, and about, Paul Salopek and his Out of Eden Walk.

Bollywood’s women

A guest-post for @genderlogindia by DIPTAKIRTI CHOUDHURI:

Bollywood is usually the go-to guy for bashing. Anything evil in this country is, by and large, attributed to Bollywood’s zestful propagation of the same. Smoking – check. Dumbing down – check. Eve teasing – double check.

The meme goes that Bollywood has made stalking into an art form and otherwise respectable composers- choreographers-costumers have participated wholeheartedly to make this activity into a grand and enduring success.

The ‘stalking song’ is what stars and directors are most reviled for, but I am inclined to overlook it because it is never an end. If the villain does it, there is swift dispensation of justice by the hero. If the hero does it, he either reforms soon after or does something completely monumental (like strangling his Mafia don father’s pet anaconda to marry the girl) that underlines his true love.

My logic is simple: If a molester claims that he got his idea from Akshay Kumar, he should immediately be made to fight thirteen sword-wielding goons to save a girl. Because that’s what Akshay did – right after he teased the girl.

However, this is not to say Bollywood can hold its head high when gender is being discussed. What Bollywood kills us with are the stereotypes it silently perpetuates through stock characters or situations, either for convenience or through not wanting to take a risk. This is – in my opinion – far more damning than a raucous song. Because it is a subtle and, more critically, ongoing message that certain things are ‘wrong’.

Here is my quick list of six stereotypes Bollywood perpetrates. (Please feel free to add more. ):

Heroines don’t do regular work. Unless they are prostitutes or police officers:

Heroines don’t go to offices. (Yes, I know you will jump up and name five movies where they do but that’s exactly my point – those are exceptions.) They study. They are nice people, but they don’t ‘do’ anything.

In the two biggest hits of this year – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express – we are not sure what the heroine does. In the former, Deepika Padukone is shown preparing to become a doctor in the flashback but in the present day, she is quite happy looking gorgeous, and no mention of her medical practice is ever made. Ditto for Chennai Express.

In the Top 10 grossers in Bollywood history (all of which are from the last few years), only one heroine – Kareena Kapoor of 3 Idiots – uses her profession to make a contribution to the story. The rest just dance spectacularly.

And this has been a standard template in Bollywood. For example, Madhuri Dixit was supposed to be a ‘student of computers’ in Hum Aapke Hain Koun but she never goes even close to one in the film. In Maine Pyar Kiya, heroine Bhagyashree had excellent marks in ‘inter’ but she chose to be deposited in a family friend’s home instead of a working woman’s hostel.

Take the biggest hits (and the not so big ones, as well) and you will see the same trend. The only working girl I can think of in a major hit is Sholay’s Basanti. And she abandoned her promising career to get married.

Working mothers are bad. Actually, mothers are bad whenever they are not doing the act of ‘mothering’:

Basanti’s abandoned career brings us to the subtle messaging about mothers who work. In Taare Zameen Par, the working mother gave up her career to make her sons into class-toppers. In Akele Hum Akele Tum, the career-focussed mother (who left her son for a promising singing career) almost became the vamp till she decided to return to domesticity.

Whenever a child is shown to be in physical danger (road accident, kidnapping etc), the mother is usually doing something frivolous (like shopping) and is meted out some hard-hitting advice (“Tum kaisi maa ho?”) by a bystander – advice that leads to terrible remorse.


Pre-marital sex is punishable by death or imprisonment (though, by and large, not both):

If rain, crackling fire, skimpy clothing and sensuous songs cause you to slip (‘behek jaana’) and taste the forbidden fruit before marriage, you will die. Because sex is done by bad girls.

Sometimes the man dies (Aradhana), leaving the woman to a lifetime of struggle (including some jail time).

Sometimes, the woman dies (Trishul), thus getting a version of ‘capital punishment’.

Even in a totally realistic film like Masoom, the woman dies leaving her son in the care of her married lover.

In recent times, the moment of passion is dealt a little less severely — but the non-virgin never gets the hero (Deepika Padukone in Cocktail, for example).

Only prostitutes initiate sex:

As per Bollywood logic, all sexually aggressive women are prostitutes (or similar), though all prostitutes are not sexually aggressive (if she is the heroine).

Traditionally, characters artistes like Helen and Aruna Irani have performed – with great aplomb – the cabaret that caused the hero to sway slightly off the straight and narrow path before he progressed on his way towards the virginal heroine. In recent times, the purpose of the ‘item number’ has been to introduce a guest star who can do the Fevicol-Zandu inspired gyrations while the heroine can dutifully avert her face when the hero zeroes in for a kiss.

[NB: The heroes can sow a few wild oats here and there. If you take the last five films of current heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor, he has been polygamous in three of them unlike his heroines who, without exception,  were steadfastly monogamous.]

Even in an explicit movie like Murder, it is the man who initiates the adulterous relationship. The heroine initially turns away and is about to leave,  when there is an excuse for her to come back (she left her purse behind, you see) and get sucked into the affair. (Maybe an adulterous relationship is not the right example to make a point about women in Bollywood not having a say in sexual activity, though).

Women are allowed to kill villains but only with help from new lover:

There was a time when all of Bollywood was gainfully employed in remaking the Julia Roberts hit Sleeping With The Enemy. Agnisakshi, Daraar and Yaraana faithfully replicated every detail from the original and differed from their source code on only one major front – the hero rushed in to kill the obsessive husband. While the fragile Julia Roberts pulled the trigger herself in Hollywood, a chubby Rishi Kapoor (whose heroines were much fitter than him) and a hungover Jackie Shroff ambled into the last scene to perform the heroic honors in Bollywood.

At one point of time, when Rekha was acting in a series of films as a female vigilante, it was always the hero who rushed in to assist her in the climax. The most famous example is probably Khoon Bhari Maang where she was doing a mean job of chopping Kabir Bedi up till Shatrughan Sinha was made to intervene.

In a love triangle, only the men get to chose the ‘winner’:

A Bollywood woman is, at the risk of over-simplification, property. She doesn’t really have a say in matters of the heart.

From Sangam to Saajan, from Dostana to Dobara OUATIM, the woman is just a method of sacrificing for the sake of a friend (or proving one’s masculinity for the sake of the world).

The friends decide – depending on who saw the girl first, whose relative debts are higher, whose box office clout is bigger – who gets the girl. This often leads to death or the honorable exit of one participant while the surviving one, usually the docile girl, goes with the guy. Simple, no?

And when you see a rather cavalier tyaag by Ranbir Kapoor in favor of his elder brother in Raajneeti, you realize this is a tradition as old as the Mahabharat itself!

Often one wonders about the wasted charisma of Bollywood’s leading ladies, and if the system will ever change to portray them as true role models. Right now, there are lakhs of young girls copying Priyanka Chopra’s tattoo. What impact she would make if she is shown actually working hard to become – say – a boxer!

A Mary Kom biopic – starring Priyanka Chopra – is currently in production. So yes, there is hope.

Diptakirti Choudhuri, everyone’s go-to guy for movie trivia, is a salesman  by day and writes by night. He lives in Gurgaon with his wife, son and daughter. His nocturnal activities result in this blog; this column for Yahoo; and a couple of books (Kitnay Aadmi The, the Bollywood one, is a total hoot), not to mention random musings on Twitter


The power of the story

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

A chunk of my morning, which should have been devoted to working, was totally hijacked by this excellent talk by Nigerian novelist/story-teller  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — and she nails it when she says:

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

In its review of Adichie’s latest, The Thing Around Your Neck, the New York Times says the collection of stories exemplifies the tensions “between fiction and autobiography, the expectations of the observer and the experience of the witness, not to mention the value of certain experiences in the global literary marketplace”.

Many of the stories in this book have been published before, and provide a flavor of Adichie’s writing. A quick list:

  • A Private Experience , where two women, caught up in a communal riot, take refuge in a shop
  • The Headstrong Historian which tells of a woman whose husband was killed by his cousins — or so she believes — and of how she fights to regain the family’s lost inheritance for her son through the latter’s education
  • Cell One in which the son of a professor is caught for a crime and sent to the infamous titular cell of a Nigerian prison

Her own story-telling hero, Chinua Achebe, says this about the young Adichie:

“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.”

And here is Adichie herself, from the talk posted above:

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structure of the world, and it is “nkali”. It is a noun that loosely translates to “To be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with “secondly”. Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.

 Where she really drives the point home — and in doing that, underlines the danger of the kind of single PoV narratives we are increasingly subjected to by the media — is when she says:

Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and over again, and that is what they become.

Arati Kumar-Rao (blog and Twitter), who alerted me to this talk, also points to this excellent playlist of talks on story-telling, featuring the likes of Isabelle Allende, Andrew Stanton, Elif Shafak, JJ Abrams and Scott McCloud. Enjoy. (And if you’ve come across good talks/articles on story-telling, narrative, etc, share links in comments and I’ll round those off into a follow-up post).

PostScript: In response to this post, friend and Caravan writer Rahul Bhatia:



‘Hard work is a talent’: Abhinav Bindra

TO me it is not just amazing — it is intimidating,” said Rahul Dravid, in a revealingly candid moment.

He was referring to Olympian athletes in general, and more particularly to Abhinav Bindra who, at age 26, became the first Indian to win an individual gold (10 m Air Rifle, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics), ending a gold drought that had lasted since 1980.

It was not the act of winning gold that had Dravid waxing superlative, but the scarcely credible circadian rhythms of an Olympian’s life. Here is how Abhinav explains it in his book:

The cricketer has Test matches through the year, the tennis player has four Grand Slam events in twelve months, the golfer has the same number of majors annually. Constantly, there is an opportunity for redemption, a chance to stake a claim for greatness. Not for me. My only chance comes every four years. My only chance is seventy shots in 125 minutes every four years (the first 60 shots have to be fired in 105 minutes, each of the final ten shots within 75 seconds.

We have to be a little insane to do this, a trifle obsessive, almost as single-minded as shaven monks who sit for years meditating under trees in search of distant nirvana… Let’s be clear: we are not you. We are not better than you, or other athletes, just caught in lives weirder than most.

‘Intimidating’ — a word well chosen by a sportsman, monkish in his own way, who could only marvel at the enormous discipline, the focus, the drive and desire that could impel a teenager to dedicate his life towards producing that one perfect shot at that one moment that only comes once in four years — knowing as he pulls the trigger on that day that even absolute perfection isn’t enough.

(No, seriously — a series of perfect tens merely puts you in the final — to win gold, you have to better perfection. In the 2004 Games in Athens, Abhinav set an Olympic record with a score of 597/600 across his first 60 shots — and ended up seventh!).

“It is awesome to think that he can invest four years of his life towards that one moment, towards producing that perfect shot when he needs it most – because that one moment is all he gets. Us cricketers, we can fail in a game or a series, and know that there is another game around the corner, another shot at redemption. But for Abhinav, that moment is it — nothing before that matters, nothing that comes after will matter. Investing an entire life for one hour, one shot — that is intimidating.”

Rahul was speaking at the launch, last evening in Bangalore, of A Shot At History, the autobiography Abhinav co-authored with arguably India’s best sportswriter, Rohit Brijnath.

BOOK launches can be incredibly boring affairs. Some random VIP, often bearing no connection to the theme of the book, “launches” a copy most members of the audience are already clutching in their hands; an author untrained in public performance reads a random passage that means nothing to the lone member of the audience who is actually listening to him/her; several members of the audience pose “questions” designed more to show off their own erudition than to showcase the author and his book; cue clumsy vote of thanks by the organizer and a general stampede for the bar.

This one, at the Mysore Hall of the ITC Gardenia, in Bangalore, was the exception proving the rule (obligatory idiot question notwithstanding). Two sportsmen, brilliant in their own right, discussed the mental mechanics of their respective arts with some gentle shepherding by Rohit — and what came through was a passion shared across sporting disciplines that could not be more dissimilar.

Abhinav and Rahul are the high priests of hard work, and it was the shooter who settled the work-versus-talent debate when he said:

“Practice is a talent. Perseverance is a talent. Hard work is a talent.”

Champions are made in those moments no one else sees — those moments when, insulated from the pressures of competition and the adulation of fans alike, they sweat the tiny details of their craft through relentless repetition, each iteration a baby step towards an ideal of perfection few others can even comprehend. Rahul and Abhinav were unanimous that it was those moments — and not the competition, the glory, the applause — they truly lived for.

“Practice,” said Rahul, “is all about the pursuit of excellence without the stress of competition — and it is those moments, when you are hitting a ball just because you can, that brings you back to the joy of sport and reminds you of why you took it up in the first place.”

Abhinav concurs. “It is when I am in my shooting range, just me, the rifle and the target, that I am truly myself. That is when I am shooting for the pure pleasure of producing the perfect shot, with nothing on the line, with no one watching you. Put 25 pence on the line, and everything changes.”

Abhinav calls it a “meditative experience,” and Rahul latches on to that descriptor. “That is where I see similarities with Abhinav,” he says. “That single minded pursuit of excellence that he talks about, it resonates with me. It is not about the gold medal, but about the quest for the perfect shot, the quest to be the best shooter he possibly can be — that for me is the essence of sport.”

The two spend some time discussing the nature of ‘The Zone’, that Holy Grail of all sportsmen everywhere, and they agree that they cannot put a finger on what it is. At best, says Rahul, what he can say is that there are times, days, when he feels so perfectly at ease with himself, so focused on the moment, that he just knows he will play well, that he will make runs.

“Is that the zone? I don’t know — I only know that it comes rarely, and it comes on its own, and there is no way I have yet found to switch it on and off at will.”

It is, says Abhinav, about “living in the moment” — a phrase so often used in sporting conversations as to have become cliche, but one that is clearly an article of faith for the Olympian. “You only have that one moment, that one brief window of time that comes along once every four years — and you try to put yourself entirely in that moment, oblivious to everything, to the past, the future, the competition lined up alongside, everything. That is why, when I win I feel exhausted, dazed, unable to even comprehend the fact of having won. But when I lose, I am not as tired — because when I lose is when I have not managed to invest everything of me into that one moment, that one perfect shot.”

Two things stood out in that response. The first, most obvious, was the unshakeable conviction; the second, more important, was ‘voice’.

When reading a particularly fine passage in a co-authored autobiography, the almost inevitable question in the mind is, how much of this is the voice of the subject, and how much the voice and skill of his amanuensis. I was at the time a little less than halfway through a book studded with passages of stunning eloquence, and already that question had occurred to me multiple times.

Now, after an evening of listening to the ace shooter speak, at ease extempore, I know: the skill, the craft, is Rohit’s, but the voice is indisputably Abhinav’s.

It is a certain, sure voice; the voice of a man confident in his chosen sphere and comfortable in the knowledge that he has chosen a life of hardship and pain that may — or may not — bring him fleeting glory once in four years (“I know that when I win, it is not going to last too long. So I have no choice but to be humble,” was Abhinav’s matter of fact response when asked about the perils and pleasures of fame).

And that voice comes laced with a top-note of delightfully wry humor (“Like Gordon’s gin,” Rohit said later when I commented on it). Sample these exchanges:

Rohit talks about how fame can affect the balance of even the most level-headed sportsman. “Oh, I am very lucky,” chips in Abhinav. “People read about me only once in four years.”

When asked the inevitable ‘If not shooting, what sport would you have chosen’, Abhinav’s dry response: ‘I would love to captain an IPL team.’ (Rahul, predictably, picks golf. It is, he says, a golf where your quest for excellence is private and personal; you practice on your own; you are focused on finding the perfect balance to play the perfect shot..’)

When a member of the audience talks of the wealth of technical detail in the book and asks Abhinav if he is not worried about revealing the secrets of his craft, just ahead of next year’s London Olympics where he will defend his gold: ‘The only secret I know is that there are no secrets in shooting. But yes, I hope my opponents might get confused.’

There are few purer pleasures than to be able to eavesdrop on two sportsmen of the highest calibre delve into their own minds, almost oblivious to the surrounding public as they seek validation for the monkish existence they have willingly assumed in the pursuit of excellence. That pleasure was ours last night — and it was just the appetizer to the book that was the reason for the evening (Review follows, in a day or two).

Lights! Camera! Animals!

Got a box of tissues handy? Here you go:

Done sniffling yet? Jai Arjun Singh [if you are into books and cinema, you really need to be following his blog] in his latest Yahoo! column riffs off Moti the almost-human canine of Teri Meherbaniyaan, and contrasts the kitschy with the artlessly artistic use of animals in films. Lovely read. And while on lovely reads, haven’t had much time these last few days to point at other good reading material — so here’s a portmanteau link, to the Yahoo Opinions home page — considerable good stuff has gone up there since we spoke last.

Staying with animals for a beat longer — and reprising something I had posted earlier — here’s Joel and Ethan Coen, in a clip from a *roflmao* interview to Playboy magazine some years back. This part relates to the Coen brothers’ experience of filming with animals, in context of Raising Arizona:

Playboy: Was it challenging to direct all the babies you had in that movie?

Joel: It was bizarre. Whenever you have an infant, you have to triple or quadruple them. When we had five kids in the movie, we had to have 15 babies on the set.

Ethan: The picture babies and the standby babies. Cacophonous, nightmarish.

Joel: We had the baby pit—a big padded pit they were tossed into when we weren’t using them. The mothers all sat around the perimeter knitting.

Ethan: Whenever we needed a baby we reached into the pit and grabbed one. It was kind of like a barbecue pit.

Joel: You can’t really direct a baby, which is the problem. You take one out of the pit, put it in front of the camera and see if it behaves. If not, you toss it back into the pit and get another. It’s a lot like working with animals, actually.

Ethan: Yeah, if an animal doesn’t do what you want it to do, you just grab another one. But the rules for working with animals are a lot more stringent than those for working with babies.

Joel: There is definitely no comparison.

Playboy: What can you do with a baby that you can’t do with an animal?

Ethan: A million things.

Joel: The pit. You can’t do that with animals.

Ethan: Believe me, it is remarkable thing to see how animals are monitored. You cannot kill a mosquito on screen.

Joel: When you do a Screen Actors Guild movie that uses animals in any way you have to get the American Humane Society to sign off on it. We blew up a cow in O Brother, which meant we had to send the Humane Society work tapes while the film was being shot. When they saw the cow scene they didn’t believe it was computer generated, but I assure you it was.

Ethan: There is a rule that you can’t get a cow anywhere near a moving car.

Joel: It might cause the cow stress.

Ethan: You can’t upset the animals.

Joel: We had to have a lizard crash pad for Raising Arizona.

Playboy: What’s a lizard crash pad?

Ethan: A lizard shoots off a rock in the movie, and we had to have a preapproved soft place for it to land.

Joel: Yeah. With babies, you don’t have to bother about all that stuff.

Unrelated, except perhaps tangentially — a while ago I’d done a post on Psycho; here’s Kim Morgan in fine form, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the seminal film.

Browsing time has been somewhat rare these last few days, but two resources, and one good read, for you relating to soccer: ZonalMarking, for impeccable analysis of the World Cup games, and Supriya Nair’s Treasons, Strategems and Spoils for more general, equally compelling reading on the game. Any personal favorites among soccer blogs? Links, please?

On my way out the door, the Bangalore-based Joe Christy treated me to this lovely link: Henry Kissinger on soccer.

Got to run… have a good weekend.

The best book on football. Ever.

Thanks so much for the recommendations attached to yesterday’s query about great books on football — discovered some new titles, and new ways to put a dent in my credit card.

Meanwhile, my post on the best soccer book of all time is now up.  Thoughts?

I’m heading back to work — need to finish all there is to do well in time, so I can quit early, shop for beer and other essentials, and settle down in front of the TV by 7. Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal plays Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast and then, on the stroke of midnight, the first look this Cup at Dunga’s Brazil.

Must confess I’m equal parts dread and anticipation about that second game. Brazil, at its best, invariably spell magic; for all that it lost in the quarterfinal to a combination of its own arrogance and the opportunism of the resurrected Paolo Rossi, my favorite Brazil team of all time [picking only from the ones I’ve seen in action, not experienced through reading and the grainy clips on YouTube] is the 1982 version. Equally, my least favorite lineup has to be the trophy-winning lineup of 2002, the year the team eschewed its flights of creative fancy for a hard-nosed pragmatism that produced results, but personally turned me off. Much pre-match punditry suggests that Brazil circa 2010 will be more akin to the 2002 team than to the earlier one led by the majestic Socrates — but one can still hope. [Oh, and while on hoping, I hope the samba in the stands is not stifled by the monotonous drone of those damn vuvuzelas].

Right — off to finish work. Be well all.