Category Archives: africa


Have you any idea of how bad a food (or travel) blogger I would have been? People would have called my posts ‘flogging‘, akin to vlogging that people do to realise the cost of the webcam they bought (originally to do the dirty things the internet supposedly encouraged but they never found courage for). Do taste the flavor of my flogging, once you repeat after me, “Long Post Alert!”

I have been known to enjoy my holidays, and have blogged about them before, and a not-too-past trip to South Africa was outstanding in every way.

 So, you could say I was spoiled there with good food like braised lamb shanks.


I even loved the exotic steak meats like the crocodile and the ostrich.



The fearless gourmet in me even dared to sample the kind of foods even those bred on eating meats would baulk at—sample the typical jerky-style dried beef, ostrich, deer, antelope, and bigger game. 

DSC01485(These jerkies would go well with beer and a game of football, the Africans would have you believe.)

At Cape Town’s famous restaurantDSC01499 Mama Africa, I chickened out of 

DSC01629the invertebrates in the menu!DSC01502

And all the exotic food and drink were enjoyed in backdrops that are the stuff of dreams and hallucinations.


Don’t miss the author’s celebrated feet as he savors his cheap and excellent South African wine in the midst of the Kruger while watching elephants mate (or whatever it is that they do when not taking gigantic craps).


So (hello, readers, are you still there?) with this African experience not having entirely receded from my mind, I ventured off recently to Thailand with minimal expectations.

I had been to that country several times before, and what would be different this time? Leela was very kind when giving me a list of places to eat, and I thought I would somehow endure the few days of holidaying in Bangkok and Phuket.

As my cynical mind suspected, I was spot on.

In Phuket, the weather was gloomy, as we saw from the hotel.


 The room had only two verandahs with ocean views, and only one of them was air-conditioned! Gasp, I thought, what has this world come to!


In addition, there were little animals in the room, which kind of competed for space in the tiny suite provided.


The nearby events in Samao and Indonesia were reminders of how perilously perched our world often is.


The Thai Engrees made things more fun.

DSC02788(helloo! Can you hear me?)



(come in side, but chill out side, geddit? Hopefully, the verb meant a form of leg movement!)

In Phuket’s Jung Ceylon mall, there is an excellent food court, with Wine Connection (a restaurant that serves the most incredible chocolate moose mousse and caramel custard,  unfortunately un-captured in photographs as they had incredibly short table lives) standing out for class. The KFC in there (and in other places) has a Thai curry-style fried chicken that is an experience! Such a spicy and delectable chicken dish is really unusual! My son had it every day (I kid you not), not heeding my stern warnings about trans fats and atherosclerosis.

In Bangkok, as Leela had recommended, I decided to have dinner at Cabbages and Condoms. However, I had not reckoned with the awesome traffic.


In fact, bikes and scooters were riding gaily on the pavements, a la India. 


 At the restaurant, the starters were exceptional, specially the prawn with peppers, the tom yum goong, and the catfish salad (it has spiced raw mangoes in it).

The restaurant, in spite of its name and its social purpose (they serve condoms in place of mints), is tastefully designed.


I was wondering what the heck the fried thing in the salad was, though the name said it was catfish. It was as if egg fritters were fried in hot oil. Delicious and unique. The chicken tom kha soup I had was good, but slightly sweet. Not bad at all, but I love a more creamy tom kha.


The entreé of deep fried pork in garlic pepper was disappointing (they burned the garlic, I think), but the chicken in lemongrass was excellent. In the pic, you can see the pork and the jasmine rice (including a unique red variety) in the background, and the chicken in front.

I must say I had planned to eat Tab Tim Krob, the delicious water chestnut sweet, after Leela’s post on it. I was not disappointed. This was in one of the Be Siam (or some such) restaurants.


Bei Otto:


Another evening, it was time to try Bei Otto, a German restaurant (possibly the only good one in Bangkok)  located in Sukhumvit. 


A simple grill platter of German bratwurst, pork chops and veal cutlets, served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, was enough to sate three of us, though I had, gastronomically speaking, a relative off day. Dessert was mangoes served with cream and ice cream and a light filo pastry. Amazing. Definitely worth a visit every time!

Restaurants apart, even the food courts in the many malls of Bangkok offer uncountable treats for the foodie. I had sushi like I have never had before. Cream pastries. Cakes. Miso soups. Pad thai. Oh, I am already tired, with so many foods I have yet to list!

The street food is eclectic. You can find incredible junk, and you can find delicious local specialties like grilled bananas. I believe they sell frog legs but I never got to eat or see that!


 So, in summary, I hope I have convinced you that Thailand is one country I am definitely not planning to visit in a long time, till next year, anyways. Especially considering that I gained ten pounds in eight days.

The only reason that I can think of is it might, just might, get me a guest post in some celeb blog like Or maybe not. Once bitten, twice Thai, I mean, shy!


Disclaimer: The following is a true story, and any resemblance to any real person, place or event is purely coincidental.
If you are one of those dial-up losers, please go hunt a whale and come back while the page finishes loading. The exercise will hopefully be worthwhile. For fuller details, click on each picture. And bring your kids! Here goes…

Not so long ago, far away from Hopeful Capes,

and a few hundred miles away from the surreally beautiful, jacaranda-lined streets of the city named after Andries Pretorius,

an African sun was slowly setting in the breathtaking bleakness of a long-awaited spring in the jungle.

A black princess named Hopeful was heading in the direction of Wall Street for a long drink with her friends.

She strayed away from her more conservative friends while chatting up a flirting Prince Subprime, the latter clad in a dapper, striped suit. “Come on, in vest with me, heheh”, the suit smirked.

Suddenly, Princess Hopeful was attacked by a violent group of blood-thirsty animals. Prince Subprime ran away in fear. He had only heard of a bear run, but what was this?

In a few minutes, Princess Hopeful was dead meat.

The world watched by, ostrich-like.

“No one was willing to stick his neck out for the princess”, she cried.

No, not even the heavyweights.

The big cat was sated, having had the lion’s share of the killing,

but his cohorts were behaving like Lehmann executives. In no time, the vultures flew in to take stock, and then waited patiently for payday.

Watching all this, an obscure Indian celebrity turned away indifferently, eager for relief from the heat and dust of jungle politics.

He was tired of the constant sale sell-offs. Every dip is a buying opportunity, the stock market pundits used to say. He was tired of buying.

By next day, he heard someone say, “The bulls are finished”, and wondered what it meant.

Want more stories? There is a Buffett ready!

(Pictures: all mine, taken with a simple Sony Cybershot 7.2 MP camera)



If the Democratic candidate is elected president, we’ll have an Obama nation. If the Republican candidate is elected, he’ll bomb a nation. (Richard Lederer)

Former President Bill Clinton now says he is willing to do whatever he can to help Barack Obama become president, so the Obama team is asking him to campaign for John McCain. (Jake Novak)

Do you like good news? President Bush has ordered now — it’s official — has ordered his troops now to find Osama Bin Laden. Yep boy, he really jumped on that one, didn’t he? (David Letterman)

Los Angeles City Hall reported Tuesday it has issued seven thousand oil drilling permits this year. The city sits on a huge oil pool. Between the price of gold and the price of oil we’re lucky that people aren’t digging up the roads with their bare hands. (Argus Hamilton)

According to the Pentagon, at least 1,000 nuclear missiles or components in the U. S. arsenal are lost or cannot be located. We can’t even find our own weapons of mass destruction. (Jay Leno)

President Bush went to Iowa today. … Of course, people from Iowa were a little confused. They weren’t sure which disaster President Bush was talking about – the floods or his presidency. (Jay Leno)

By casting the key vote in the Supreme Court’s gun decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy proved again that he’s the court’s swinger who can go either way. Interns of both sexes are getting nervous. (Scott Witt)

Al Gore has endorsed Barack Obama for president. How about that? Political experts say this is great, because it gives the Obama campaign a much-needed shot of boredom. (David Letterman)

Saudi Arabia hosted a summit to find ways to reduce prices from the oil well to the pump. Gas station owners are looking for ways to make gasoline more affordable. Across the nation they’re converting all their mini-marts into pawn shops. (Argus Hamilton)

Australian police have charged a man for drunk driving in a motorized wheelchair after he was found to be six times over the legal alcohol limit. Police said they might have overlooked the incident if he hadn’t been doing 45 in a school zone. With gas prices rising, folks are souping up their chairs. (Joe Hickman)

Business at Nevada’s Brothels is down 45% because of gas high prices. Not so much because truckers find it hard to find money to drive to the bordellos, but rather because the price of gas is so high, the trucker’s wives are the ones working in the brothels. (Pedro Bartes)

George Carlin was remembered this week for his classic comedy routine listing the seven dirty words you can’t say on television. Not much has changed in the ensuing thirty years. You still can’t say those seven words on the air, but you can show them. (Argus Hamilton)

The Midwest floods are being called the biggest economic disaster in decades. Aside from the Bush Administration. (Jim Barach)

Belgium released a study Tuesday proving men make bad judgments about alcohol and money whenever they see a woman in a bikini. It could be worse. Seeing women covered from head to toe causes men to fly planes into buildings, so take your choice. (Argus Hamilton)

Continue reading



On the alleged sexual affair with country singer Mindy McCready starting when she was 15 years old: “Apparently, Roger Clemens has been playing in the minors.” (Jay Leno)

This week is the fifth year anniversary of the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner. Oil companies are planning to celebrate with a huge party and have asked Bush to lend them the banner for the night..(Pedro Bartes)

Prince William’s image may be hurt by his recent antics with a military helicopter. A rich young man born into privilege who is destined for the throne because of his bloodlines, who is not taking his stint in the military seriously? Thank goodness that could never happen here in America. (Jim Barach)

Hillary Clinton announced today she’ll appear on ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’ That should be a great confrontation. On one side, a loudmouthed bully who wants to tear apart the Democratic Party and on the other side, there’s Bill O’Reilly. (Craig Ferguson)

The first stimulus checks are being deposited in the accounts of taxpayers who were smart enough to sign up for direct deposit with the IRS. But the really smart tax payers are just having their checks deposited directly to their local gas station. (Jake Novak)

Boy, it is hard to keep up with all these crises we have in America. Remember last week, when everybody in America was obese? Remember that? This week there’s a food shortage. What happened over the weekend? Did we pig out and eat all the food? (Jay Leno)

The Automobile Club on Friday forecast record Memorial Day weekend highway travel despite gasoline prices nearing four dollars per gallon. The fact that it’s so expensive just makes it all the more exciting. This was Eliot Spitzer’s point all along. (Argus Hamilton)

Due to a worldwide fertilizer shortage, a utility company in Southwest Florida is on the forefront of developing a new environmentally friendly fertilizer: human waste. Apparently they are thinking of using all the members of Congress. (Pedro Bartes)

Continue reading



I should be excited because this is a historic night for television. Earlier tonight, all three — I don’t think this has ever happened before — all three presidential candidates appeared on “American Idol.” That’s true, yeah. It was interesting. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell looked at them and said, “Wait, there’s a black guy, a woman and a cranky white guy. You stole our formula!” (Conan O’Brien)

Taxes are due next week. We all hate paying taxes, but without our tax money, many politicians would not be able to afford prostitutes. (Jimmy Kimmel)

A new survey confirms that the Bible is America’s favorite book, especially among politicians who are killing time at motels waiting for their escorts to arrive. (Pedro Bartes)

Congress learned Tuesday that government workers charged tailor-made suits, Internet dating, lingerie and dinners to their government credit cards. The timing is no accident. It’s a clever ploy to take everyone’s mind off the money we’re wasting in Iraq. (Argus Hamilton)

John Corzine, governor of New Jersey and Clinton superdelegate, says he might switch his allegiance to Barack Obama. But this is not unprecedented. He would not be the first governor of New Jersey to switch from a woman to a guy. (Jay Leno)

The Clintons disclosed their tax information and in eight years they have donated over $10 million to charity. Yeah, and, in addition to Charity, Bill has also donated to Tiffany, Bambi, Chrystal, Amber, Brandi and Roxanne. (Alex Kaseberg)

The military is spending $153 Million a month on fuel for the war in Iraq. That and $4 a gallon gas in the U.S. pretty much proves the government’s claim that we didn’t invade to keep oil prices down. (Jim Barach)

Here’s kind of a philosophical question: If a sniper fires a gun in the woods and nobody’s around, does Hillary Clinton still hear it? (Jay Leno)

President Bush met with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s heavily wooded retreat in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Following a lavish state dinner, the two leaders joined a traditional folk dance backed by a chorus of Cossacks. The president thinks it will improve his popularity if he’s seen on Dancing with the Czars. (Argus Hamilton)

Atlanta, Newark, Philadelphia and New York now offer medical services at airport clinics, treating passengers with time to kill during layovers. Convenience plus. You can now score a quickie colonoscopy while they’re searching for your luggage (Bob Mills)

New York’s Mercantile Exchange saw oil prices continue to climb Wednesday. The dwindling value of our currency helps run up the cost per barrel. There was a time when Americans thought that nothing was as valuable as the U.S. dollar, and today it is. (Argus Hamilton)

Former presidential candidate John Edwards announced he will not — will not — accept the nomination for vice president. Which is really important, considering no one has asked him. (Jay Leno)

This month, the Pentagon will issue hand-held lie detectors to U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan. They costs $7500 each and are 60% accurate. Some people think it is a waste of money because we can use another device with 50% accuracy that’ll save us $7,499.75. Just flip a quarter. (Pedro Bartes)

Continue reading


Ebola is a dreaded name. It is a deadly virus that kills virtually all it infects. It is seen mostly in Africa. The danger of Ebola to the world is because of the real threat of it being used as an agent of bioterror, as I have mentioned in my Foolitzer-winning article on Bioterrorism that appeared in The New York Times an Indian newspaper. In the said article, I reported on the possibility of scientists within terror groups hiding a deadly virus within a benign bacterium which, when treated with antibiotics, would release the virus and cause a highly infectious and lethal disease that could decimate society:

Recently, Popov has talked about an experiment in synthetic biology that fuses plague and Ebola virus. The scientific premise of this Soviet research is to hide a deadly virus particle inside the genome of a more innocuous bacterium.
In this case, infection in the test subject would result in plague like symptoms. Once the treatment (usually tetracycline) for the plague is given, the virus is expressed fully. It is feared that the resultant walking ‘Ebola bombs’ could devastate populations. Ebola, if you didn’t know, has an almost cent percent mortality in man.

Scientists have launched a major attack on the disease by successfully testing a vaccine against Ebola in primates. Human trials are awaited. To read about the challenges of producing an Ebola vaccine, read this interesting and short report.


This is an email forward that is a sign of the times.

Last month, the UN conducted a worldwide poll.

The question was:

“Please give us your honest opinion on how to solve the shortage of
food in the rest of the world.”

The poll turned out to be a major screw-up:

• In Africa, participants didn’t know what “food” was.

• Eastern Europe didn’t know what “honest” meant.

• Western Europe didn’t know the word “shortage”.

• The Chinese didn’t know what “opinion” was.

• The Middle East inquired what “solve” meant.

• South America didn’t know the meaning of “please”.

• And in the US nobody knew what “the rest of the world” was.


Wait, wait, wait!” I told myself,“You are not going to drive out your readership by talking about malaria, of all things, are you? Write on things you know well, like the bathroom habits of boozed-out businessmen and sober socialites. Write on how bad other doctors are, compared to you. Etcetera.”


A recent paper published in the World Journal of Surgery interested me. First of all, the author’s name was familiar. In fact, I had written a blog post on one of his publications and scoffed at his pretentiousness.
This time, however, I wondered what his beef was. What was a surgeon trying to do by publishing an edit piece in the World Journal of Surgery on a very old medical disease like malaria?
My twisted mind told me that this was no scholarly treatise on the disease. Rather, underneath the medical jargon, there was a scathing indictment of Governments and world bodies like the WHO, and a hot story involving money, politics, global warming, the environment, and sex. Okay, not the last, but I thought I should raise your hopes a bit before I proceed.

A global perspective on malaria reveals that:
* It affects around 40% of the world’s population.
* Around 500 million cases of malaria occur every year (about 10 cases per second).
* 1 to 3 million children die of this disease annually. One could translate that to a death of one child every 30 seconds. Most deaths occur among young children in tropical Africa.

The author, perhaps, felt a need to justify writing on this topic:

……why do Third World surgeons and internists care so much for what, after all, is another ‘‘bug’’ for which cures have been discovered and Nobel Prizes long conferred? The question is answered by looking from the past to the future of malaria.
Malaria has defied all the predictions and plans of organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) by staging a massive comeback from the brink of extinction during the 1960s and 1970s. According to many public health experts, environmentalists must bear a significant burden of guilt for this owing to their campaign against the pesticide DDT. This agent removed malaria from endemic areas such as the United States (in 1951) before its use was almost banned a decade later for suspected (though unproven) damage to animals and humans. The use of DDT led to massive drops in the number of malaria cases, and the end of its use led to a massive resurgence.

Damn, damn, damn! Someone was actually attacking environmentalists?! WTF?
Actually, DDT was banned after Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring (1962), accused it of a range of dangers to human health (notably cancer), to the ecosystem and to thinning the eggshells of bald eagles. Ted Lapkin claims that “no scientific peer-reviewed study has ever replicated any case of negative human health impacts from DDT”.
He asserts that of all Carson’s charges “the only contention that has been scientifically proved is the thinning effect DDT has on the eggshells of predatory birds”. Several others have trashed Carson’s contention.

Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist)

Our intake of coffee is about 50 times more carcinogenic than our intake of DDT before it was banned…the cancer risk for DDT is about 0.00008 per cent.

Ted Lapkin:

(DDT is) still widely regarded as the single most powerful weapon at our disposal in the war against malaria and its disuse has been a scandal of public policy.

Author Michael Crichton:

Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the 20th century history of America.

It has even been speculated that the DDT ban (with the resultant deaths from resurgence of malaria) has been a Western ploy to control the population growth of the developing countries.

The environmentalists scoff disdainfully at the opposition, arguing that there are better alternatives to DDT, and that resistance of the malaria parasite to DDT was the main reason the world chose to ban DDT.

Crichton indicts the West, and especially the environmentalists. Take this quote from an article:

For Crichton, the most imperative of contemporary challenges is to retrieve responsible environmentalism from the clutches of those zealots for whom it has become a substitute faith….
“I am thoroughly sick of politicised so-called facts that simply aren’t true. It isn’t that these ‘facts’ are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organisations are spinning their case… in the strongest way. Not at all — what more and more groups are doing is putting out lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false. This trend began with the DDT campaign and persists to this day.”

Crichton estimates that between 10 and 30 million poor people of Asia and Africa have died because of aggressive environmentalism.

According to the WJS article, the return of malaria stems from several issues that, in turn, stem from interventionist Government business policies. Weak drug patency laws in Asian (including China, Thailand, and Cambodia) and African countries led to spurious chloroquine (the curative drug for malaria at the time) flooding the markets. The malaria parasite quickly became resistant to the drug. In spite of this, for long years, the WHO continued to push the drug as the main weapon against the bug.

So how much money is needed to fight malaria? The Bill Gates Foundation is at it, as is the WHO with its Roll Back Malaria program.

According to the WHO, around $2 billion per year is
required to halve the disease burden by 2010.

The WJS article quotes studies that trash the premise of this assessment:

Critics assert that public health spending and injection of foreign capital do not result in desired results. Filmer and Pritchett (1999) showed that although mortality in very young children could be massively reduced in the poorest countries by spending only $10 per child, the actual amount spent by governments to spare one child death is an incredible US $50,000 to $100,000. Among the several reasons for this, a couple are worth mentioning.
Public health agencies are inefficient and corrupt, with only a fraction (30–70%) of funds ending up in the community, and aid-financed drugs are sold in the black market. In addition, the presence of free public health
services drives out the private sector, resulting in a slothful monopoly in the health services
, a fact known to the people of Africa and Asia.

So, if pouring tax money on malaria prevention and control is not going to work, what is?
The article ends off lamely by saying:

Malaria, a disease that has survived a million years,
cannot be eliminated unless humankind eradicates what the
American playwright Eugene O’Neill called ‘‘the most
deadly and prevalent of all diseases’’—poverty.

There are very cogent arguments in scholarly studies that espouse a free market society as the ultimate solution to curb the ravage of malaria. The most wretchedly poor and socialist countries are the ones most affected by malaria.

Capitalism (as the most successful wealth-creating system) as malaria vaccine. Some concept, isn’t it?