I was leaving the main drag of Elm Grove and headed to an on ramp to get on 1-70 on my way to dialysis. It’s a 4 lane street and I was in the left lane to turn onto the on ramp. I was about a car length behind a pickup truck in the right lane when he signaled a turn and started slowing down bringing my front bumper about even with his rear bumper. I was going about 30-35 MPH (50-60 Kph).

Suddenly a car filled my lane. It was already there by the time I perceived it. If I had taken  a millisecond to process what was happening I would have plowed right into it but my instinct seized control and I cranked the wheel hard left then as I was now heading straight to the curb had to crank it hard  right to not crash into that.

It  all happened so fast I didn’t even get scared or excited until I was at dialysis 5 minutes later, then it sunk in what had happened.  I realized why the car pulled out. I was screened from the driver’s view by the truck so s/he never saw me. Since they saw him slowing down and signalling a turn s/he thought it was safe to pull out.

How did that instinct come to the surface and save me?  From soccer (futbol).

I took up soccer at age 45 and played until I was 54 and my liver failed hence no more stamina. I wasn’t the greatest  ball handler but I had quick accurate feet from decades of dancing so I could play passable defense. As a matter of fact at a pickup game once with high school and college players they started calling me The Wall because no one was getting by me

When I coached defense to my kids I emphasized the 4 Ps – Pressure,  Position , Posture, and Patience.

Pressure means to get on the ball handler quickly. Position means where you are in relation to the ball handler.  Turn 45 degrees to his shoulders so he can’t pass between your legs, you should know which is his strong foot so be on that side putting the ball on his weak foot,  and knowing his burst speed give him enough of a cushion so you can have time to pivot in the direction he moves  if he tries to get by you. Posture is  knees bent and 60% of your weight  on your rear leg so you can pivot on it to  follow the direction he moves.  Patience means don’t stab at the ball because as soon as you shift your weight he will be around you in the opposite direction. Wait for him to make a mistake and maintain your cushion

So as you wait for him ignore his foot movements they can be a feint, ignore his head movements and watch the hips, hip movement is a commitment to a direction.

This happens so fast you don’t have time to analyze and decide — you have to hone your reactions to react immediately without taking the time it takes for a sensory impression to travel to the brain and back to your muscles  — you basically connect from eyes  directly to the muscles.

I know that isn’t scientific but it is the mediation I  used to jack up my reaction time.

This happens many times in a game  so through repetition it starts to become ingrained. Which is why when the car pulled in front of me the reaction just kicked in  and saved me from a major car collision.

Thank you soccer.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Behind concrete walls and out of sight of men, Saudi women wearing shorts and short-sleeve shirts meet three times a week to play soccer in an all-female club in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah.

Cheering them on is Jeddah King’s United coach and striker Reema Abdullah, who also is leading a campaign in the ultra-conservative Muslim country to allow women to participate in sports and compete internationally.

Saudi Arabia has never sent a woman to compete in the Olympics. Human rights groups say the country is violating the International Olympic Committee charter’s pledge of equality.

In a report Wednesday, Human Rights Watch called on the IOC to require that Saudi Arabia’s participation in the London Olympics be contingent upon the Arab country allowing all girls and women to play competitive sports.

Saudi Arabia’s male athletes have qualified in several track and field and equestrian events for the London Games.

There’s a chance male athletes also will qualify in archery, and they are hoping for a wild card invitation in shooting. But if there are plans to send women to the Olympics, they remain a secret.

“We will watch the London Olympics and we will cheer for our men competing there, hoping that someday we can root for our women, as well,” said the 33-year-old Abdullah in a telephone interview from Jeddah.

“Nobody is saying completely ‘no’ to us. As long as there are no men around and our clothes are properly Islamic, there should be no problem,” she said.What they are doing is illegal, even though there are no written laws in Saudi Arabia that ban women from participating in sports. The stigma of female athletes is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.

Since Abdullah put together Saudi Arabia’s first female soccer club in Jeddah in 2006, teams have popped up around the country.

The team plays not in a stadium but on what Abdullah describes as “a proper-size football field with grass that is surrounded by a wall.”

The roster includes 35 women from 13-35. The players wear long trousers, long-sleeved shirts and specially designed head scarves to cover their hair, Abdullah said.

What do Madhava Gosh, Kat Von D’stroya, Velvet Assassin,  Rudie Mental,  GivEmhel Kel, and  Dead Wreckoning all have in common?  Answer: We were all skating at the Roller Derby  last night.

Since my hernia operation I am not supposed to do any lifting until Feb. 7th so a lot of stuff I would normally do around the homestead that has the side effect of being exercise (which is essentially a miracle drug) hasn’t been getting done.   I suffer from chronic fatigue so it isn’t always easy to motivate myself to get out and exercise for exercise sake.

As a living entity, I have a propensity for sense gratification so it’s easier to do something I  enjoy and that is roller skating.  I used to do it a lot but most local rinks have closed up and the one that is still open has a tweens and younger crowd so I don’t feel so comfortable there.

Recently an Adult Skate started up in St. Clairsville so I have gone there a few times.  While it is out of the way a bit, I have been doing some business with Amish guys south of Barnesville  so I meet them on days the skating is scheduled then skate on the way back.

When I heard there was a fund raiser for the  Ohio Valley Roller Girls  right nearby in Moundsville I decided to go.

One thing about roller skaters is it tends to be a clean  crowd because intoxication affects balance and roller skating is all about balance.  This event was, as advertised, a family crowd as it turns out women who are peak ages for the physicality of roller derby (a contact sport) are also in peak child rearing age so there was more kids  than adults.

It was like  New Vrindaban in the 1980s when there was 120 kids in the gurukula and lots more rug rats at home. Nowadays the demographics have shifted heavily to an older crowd here and although there are kids around,  they aren’t as dominant a force as they used to be in the 1980s.  So being around all those kids was a little nostalgic for me.

Roller Derby has a strong punk music influence so many of the ladies were sporting lots of tattoos. Their jerseys are sleeveless and many of them have fully tattooed arms.  I got their names from the back of their jerseys.

One thing different about skating with Roller Derby girls was when one took off sprinting there was no skate guard saying “Slow down” as is the case at most commercial rinks.

As it was the second time I skated this week, I found I regained a lot of smoothness that isn’t there when I skate irregularly.  As Vladamir Horowitz said, “If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don’t practice for three days, the world knows it.” Not practicing for years at a time has a really deleterious effect on skills.

I tried a few moves I used to be able to do but they weren’t there.  For example, I used to be able to do 360 jumps from either a forward or backwards start but the best I was able to manage was a 180 and the landing wasn’t smooth.  I don’t know if that is gone for good or if I can manage to regain it.

FYI, according to their website, Kat Von D’stroya, who was there skating,  was in the movie Whip It with Drew Barrymore.

By by Madhava Smullen on 30 Sep 2011


Raghu and his wife Yamuna outside the Alachua temple

In Alachua, Florida—home to North America’s biggest ISKCON community—two second generation devotee brothers have found that sports can be a healthy part of a balanced Krishna conscious lifestyle.

Samba Zaldivar, 36, and Raghunath Zaldivar, 31, have played soccer for many years and have found it a good way to keep the “temple of the body” fit, as well as to build community and contribute positively to the development of the next generation of ISKCON youth.

Raghunath, a father of two, has served as a P.E. teacher in the local charter school for nine years, where a large percentage of the students are devotees.

He began playing soccer while at the Gurukula day school in Gita Nagari, Pennsylvania in 1986 and ‘87, and when he moved to Alachua the following year, began playing in the city’s local recreational soccer league.

At twelve years old, his talent was spotted, and he was picked to play for a select team by the US Youth Soccer Association, traveling to cities throughout Florida to play other all-star teams until he was seventeen. At the same time, Raghunath—known to his friends as Raghu—made the varsity team at his high school, Santa Fe, and became its all-time leading scorer with 62 goals, a record he still holds.

“I had some really cool experiences there,” he says. “There was a whole bunch of devotee kids on the team. Once while we were on the bus, some of the other kids starting asking us what the Hare Krishna mantra was, and when we told them, they wanted to chant it. The next thing we knew, the whole bus was roaring out the Hare Krishna mantra!”

After high school, Raghu received a scholarship to play for Carson-Newman, a Baptist liberal arts college in Tennessee. Traveling to neighboring states such as Kentucky, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama while playing for its soccer team, he established strong bonds with his fellow players and introduced many of them to Krishna consciousness too.

“They’d see me chanting japa, and would have many questions about it,” he says.

Graduating from Carson-Newman in 2002 with a degree in communications, and a minor in psychology, Raghu didn’t have to wait long to find a job. Upon moving back to Alachua, he was contacted by the head of the local charter school who asked him if he’d be interested in applying for the position of P.E. teacher. He did, got the job, and now, nine years later, he hasn’t looked back.

“I love my job,” he says. “I teach 165 students right now, about half of whom are devotees, from Kindergarten through eighth grade. We do warm-up exercises, stretches, the Presidential Challenge Physical Fitness program, rock-climbing, and tons of games—American football, soccer, and many games that I made up and the kids gave crazy names. There’s Raghuball, which they love—it’s a combination of Capture the Flag and Dodgeball—and Death Lane, which is also a type of Dodgeball. In this country right now, we have a big problem with childhood inactivity, obesity and heart disease—so many kids just stay inside and watch TV and play videogames all the time. Our philosophy is to make sure the kids have a really good time and learn to enjoy physical activity, so that they have a positive outlook on it throughout their lives.”

Raghu also seeks to give youth a positive experience of Krishna consciousness, and has contributed to his community by organizing a mentoring program and other schemes in the past. Recently, however, he has managed to combine sports and Krishna consciousness for a wonderfully unique offering to the youth of ISKCON Alachua.

Coach Raghu (back row, third from the left) with teachers and P.E. students from Alachua charter school

“When I was going to Carson-Newman, a Christian college, I noticed a lot of churches doing something called lock-ins for their youth,” he says. “Because kids love getting together and staying up all night, they created a supervised facility for them to do that, with plenty of activities that would have a positive influence. So I decided to do the same.”

Every year, in October or November, Raghu rents the gym at the Alachua Recreation Center, and organizes a spectacular lock-in for thirteen to eighteen year olds from the local ISKCON community. The teenagers stay up all night from 8pm until 8am, playing sports such as soccer, Basketball, Raghuball, and a gurukula favorite called Dadhi Bandha.

Prasadam is provided for them throughout the night, and mixed in with this healthy, supervised fun are many Krishna conscious activities. Various devotee speakers from the community make presentations on Srila Prabhupada, the Bhagavad-gita, the Holy Name, and even local preaching efforts such as Gainesville’s Krishna House.

“They absolutely love it,” Raghu says. “As soon as one lock-in ends, we get kids asking us when the next one is for the rest of the year!”

Raghu’s brother Samba, who has also played soccer since high school, also uses sports to create a positive social and fitness experience for the local Hare Krishna youth, but in a slightly different way—he has his own soccer team.

“Back in 1996, when I was twenty-two, we started a team called The Pandavas, after the heroes of the Mahabharata,” he says. “Eighteen out of the twenty-two players were devotees, who would come out and play with shaved heads and sikhas. The community would show up to our games playing mridangas and kartalas. It was crazy.”

Although the Pandavas only lasted two seasons, in 2004, Samba decided to start a new team of second generation devotees. While the number of devotee players has sometimes fallen, today, there are fourteen amongst the twenty team members of “Real Alachua.”

“What’s special about it is that I also used to teach P.E. at the New Raman Reti school on our ISKCON property years ago, and now many of the kids I taught have grown up and are my team-mates,” says Samba. “The team chemistry is great, because we all know each other so well.”

Affiliated with the Gainesville Regional Soccer League (GRSL), Real Alachua has won six League championships and five tournament championships, and remains one of the top teams.

“If you look at our roster now, it’s full of names like Govinda, Krishna, Balarama, Mathura, and Uddhava,” Samba says. “That’s pretty awesome!”

Describing his team as keeping devotee kids engaged in a healthy, clean way, Samba adds, “Apart from me and my brother, who is also on the team, many of the others are between the ages of eighteen and twenty. So sometimes I’ll find myself coaching them. If they loose their temper, for instance, I encourage them to relax and remind them that it’s just a game.”

Raghu, whose priorities are bringing his children up in Krishna consciousness, contributing to his community, and doing Deity worship both at home and at the temple, agrees.

“In sports, as in life, we must remember to play the game, but not be attached to the results, as Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita,” he explains. “Sports are good for your body’s health, and can be a positive recreational activity; and I think playing them is fine as long as we always remember not to take them too seriously and loose focus of what’s really important in life—Krishna.”

31-25 :-(

“What I am saying is this: the score is not what matters. Life does not have to be
regarded as a game in which scores are kept and somebody wins. If you are too intent
on winning, you will never enjoy playing. If you are too obsessed with success,
you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life
has probably been wasted.”

Thomas Merton. Love and Living. (New York: Harcourt) p. 12

“A person in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental to the material modes of nature. He has no expectations for the result of the work entrusted to him, because he is above false ego and pride. Still, he is always enthusiastic till the completion of such work. He does not worry about the distress undertaken; he is always enthusiastic. He does not care for success or failure; he is equal in both distress and happiness. Such a worker is situated in the mode of goodness. ”

Bhagavad Gita 18.26

(courtesy of Bhakta Ed)

Our Head Coach, who Art in Hall of Fame
Hallowed be Thy game plan
Thy touchdowns come
Thy will be done
On Offense
As it is on Defense
Give us this game our time of possession
And forgive us our fumbles
As we scoop up the fumbles before us
And lead us not into the loser’s locker room
But deliver us from Rogers
For Thine is the Division
The Lamar Hunt and the Lombardi Trophies
NFL without end

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The Terrible Turban, or ‘Here we go, thin-jabis, here we go!’ or Slumdog Steel-ionaire


Lal Bhatti rockin’ the Terrible Turban

Polka, rap, classic rock, country, folk, blues — name a musical genre, and there is a Steelers song to go with it. So why not some good old-fashioned Punjabi-influenced Bhangra-infused hip-hop?

Uh … come again?

BlackMahal, a San Francisco band, has created possibly the most unique Steelers song to come down the pike, ever, called Black, Gold and Silver — the ‘silver’ is a reference to the Lombardi Trophy (which must come as relief to the small percentage of you worked up about Wiz Khalifa’s use of “Yellow” rather than “Gold”) — and comes up with a interesting new moniker for the team — the thin-jabis.

According to a release from the band:

“”Steelers Nation is a worldwide community so it’s time for the rest of the world, like us, to express our love for the Steelers in local flavors,” says BlackMahal rapper and executive producer Vijay Chattha, a native of Weirton, WV, just 45 minutes from Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field stadium.

“”The new colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers are black, gold and silver,” continues Chattha. “The Lombardi trophy and its silver sheen has become a standard of success in the team’s historic franchise, so we wanted to celebrate our colors on the song.”

“”The song takes the classic black and gold colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers and adds the silver of the storied Lombardi Trophy, given to the winner of NFL Super Bowl. First there was ‘Here We Go” by Roger Wood then “Black and Yellow” from Wiz Khalifa. Now BlackMahal unveils the first bhangra-infused anthem for football fans, “Black, Gold and Silver.”

“”The song features some dedications and samples of the late Steelers broadcaster and icon, Myron Cope as the band re-invents the, “Yoi, Yoi, and Double Yoi” catchphrase.

[The song] also introduces a new name for the team that sits at the confluence of the Monongahela, Alleghany and Ohio Rivers, translating them into ‘thin-jabis’ or “those from the three rivers.”

Part P-Funk, part Punjabi-Funk, BlackMahal is a 10-piece live music experience complete with drums, DJs, horns, hip-hop MCs, and the godfather of Punjabi-American music – Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti.

BlackMahal’s lead vocalist, Lal ‘Blitz-Singh’ Bhatti, is regarded as the godfather of Punjabi-American music. Bhatti has collaborated with the Black Eyed Peas, The Doors and has performed for nearly every U.S. President since Gerald Ford as well has being honored at the opening of the Smithsonian Sikh Gallery in 2005.

You can download the song here.

It’s been white here. Some recent pics.

White isn’t the only color on our minds though.

“In krsna-lila the Lord’s complexion is blackish. Holding a flute to His mouth, He enjoys as a cowherd boy.”

Caitanya caritamrta Adi 17.302

“Lord Krsna also appears with a golden complexion. That golden Lord Krsna is Lord Caitanya, who is worshiped by intelligent men in this age.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 11.5.32

Krishna is black. Lord Chaitanya is gold.

Go Black and Gold!

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