Sunday, 29 July 2012


Our tour guide warned about the emotional draw of this place,  “many have cried and some quickly rushed outside because they could not bear the mere thought of being there.” We got out of our cool and comfortable van into the blistering heat of Stone Town, the world heritage site of Zanzibar, and walked a hundred meters to our first destination.

We arrived at an old building of just two floors. The sign outside (in photo) announced ‘Former Slave Market Site’ sending me shivers. “What’s inside?” I thought ducking my head at the entrance that led to shiny stone steps down to the first floor which was an art gallery catering to tourists like us and hosting local artists who mostly painted on canvas with subjects ranging from still life to landscapes.

We were led to the basement through dark, dingy, narrow, and circuitous alleys that brought us to what was once the herding area of slaves.  “Zanzibar was the center of the slave trade in East Africa in the mid-19th century,” according to our travel guide.

While listening further to history, we had to sit on stone slabs around a room of 25 square meters with a ceiling height of just five feet. There weren’t any windows but simply small slits of space on the walls of very hard stone. Without ventilation, we exerted effort while breathing made even more difficult by the pervasive stench.

We learned that the whole perimeter held at least fifty slaves who were shackled to each other. Apparently, they were sold in bunches. The tide from the nearby sea would occasionally fill this tiny enclave. Disease and deaths resulted from the miserable living environment.  

Zanzibar today enjoys a healthy rate of tourist arrivals especially with the availability of Five-Star resort complexes frequented by citizens of nations who once colonized this island.  Until today the colonization continues and who knows, the covert forms of slavery as well. 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Apple Juice

In my last trip, I had the luxury of choosing which airline to fly with. That's because not one among my favorites flies to my famed (?) destination. Hence, no frequent flyer credits despite the very long haul. I settled for a well-known carrier with global awards and distinctions.

Only to find out that they did not have any apple juice with them! What? Is this a religious thing?

That's right, I was not being a wimpy by asking for apple juice but I suffered from an unusual bout of hyperacidity just before boarding and throughout the sequence of flights. I had also discovered sometime ago that apple juice calms down the stomach acids unlike orange or tomato juices which I had been offered as substitutes.

It is not fun knowing that hyperacidity could be triggered anytime by the usual suspects in the food and drinks that you take. Those who have and had been there would know how unpleasant it feels -- air inside, occasional pain, gurgles, etc. Sure modern medication can stamp out the acids over time but one gets wary of taking alcohol and spicy food afterwards.

To many, it may only sound as if conscious eating habits are the way out of it but what about the pressures of life which are triggers just the same. I can still take alcohol but won't know what levels may be tolerated and that definitely rules out binge drinking. Oh!

Apple juice is thankfully okay.

Sunday, 26 February 2012


Sounds of an aircraft's engine whirring down to pause and then to stop. 

The first time I came across this book, I thought it was for highly-stressed individuals like myself -- who complain most of the time! I could have adopted its recommendations and led a different life than what I now have but alas, it was easier to say than do. However, the book is a valuable template for anyone seriously wanting a change in his life's ecosystems. 

It is an ideal and more so a goal to set one's self against.

Not for lack of any attempts but stepping back from the frenzy of career battles and of home struggles is not in my cards presently [No, I did  not consult a geomancer like some of my friends do] even if this is a tempting value proposition. I realize that there is an alternative and hence steeled myself to building an immune system ready to smother the pathogens associated with stress, anxiety, sickness, etc. 

I have posted an image of the book in case anyone might be interested.  

Ready for another week? 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Back In Business

Eight months from my last post! Yes, I have been irresponsible and for that matter I admire friends like Nyl and Clyde who unabashedly announce short-term periods of rest from their blogspaces. I missed my own which I have always considered an opportunity for expression and sharing. It is trite but just the same, apologies.

If I hadn't been able to populate this blog, I have been reading those of others from my phone which I found very convenient. Found many of old friends on Twitter and kept updated with their daily chatter.

Entrance to Melbourne Park's Tennis Matches
The year began with my quest to complete visits to all tennis grand slam championship venues. This time, it was at the Australian Open where I was fortunate to have stayed for an entire week and seen some of today's sports heroes in the flesh. It was again an opportune moment similar to visits to Wimbledon and Roland Garros which coincided with official duties. Lucky indeed as I managed to snag last minute tickets for centre court matches. It was summer in Oz, Melbourne was too hot for most, with allergens flying through the air even around court side . Wham, I mean one, more to go -- the US Open at Flushing Meadows in NYC. Later this year? Someday, I might write about comparisons among venues.

To fans, the sound of rackets hitting balls was like listening to one's favorite tune and singing to it at the same time. I wasn't an exception. Only the interruptions of players' shrieks and grunts [read Sharapova's] disturbed the serene atmosphere where nobody moves or utters a sound until a natural break in the game. Some players I had seen and talked to at breakfast but they were the younger aspiring ones than those seeded. The future Rafas?

Next stop. Back in cold, cold London. Slept most of the way, nothing like reclining 180 degrees.

Returned to London in the dead of winter [end of Jan] where my colleagues said I had brought the bitter cold with me. Apparently, it was mildly pleasant until the day I arrived. Huh! I was actually fine with negative temperatures except that my strides had to be long and fast to get from place to place. No leisurely shopping, no hovering outside street cafes -- unless you'd like to court a nasty cold. Indoors was fine all the time. Surprisingly I was just okay with this quick five-day trip; no sadness about missing visits to other cities. Managed to take off hours just before the snow engulfed most of Europe.

After a week, I took the courage to revisit my blog. Peter is here.