One Last Act!

Growing up with your favorite sportsperson as he passes through the various stages of his luminous career does weird things to you. Every generation has it’s childhood sports idol – the one that makes you scan newspapers, t. v channels, internet and even the likes of a radio in places where technology really hasn’t caught up and where you have been unfortunately held up for no fault of yours to find out what’s happening in that person’s world and then place them in a higher pedestal than your seemingly more important exam results and other stuff that at least in your parent’s and friends’ eyes would deem you to be a sane soul. (This explanation is for all sports icons barring a certain Sachin Tendulkar who by spanning three generations gives a whole new dimension to the word «omnipresent». Maybe that’s why he is called GOD).

The thing about having that sportsperson who occupies a demigod status in your scheme of things is that you begin to possess a prejudice which doesn’t make you feel guilty at all. For example: My dad sets store by the Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe era saying that whatever else has happened after that in tennis is a tragic travesty of the most geometrically and aesthetically pleasing game the world has known. My brother, Pete Sampras’s man through and through, found it hard to adjust to the fact that a virtual nobody like Roger would show him the way out from his kingdom of Wimbledon in that famous summer of 2001,which in hindsight was akin to the passing of the tennis torch. That freaking player has a ponytail and a bandana. Which «champion» dresses that way? Tennis is going to be poorer after Pete. My brother passes these statements imparting to me that sense of losing out on something unique and that something which I could never ever be blessed to be part of. About 2 years later – A tennis «Mozart» with a style which is a throwback to the classical ages but blending it with the touch of the modern alluding to raw power and precision and then blessing it with the grace and finesse of a virtuoso artist becomes my idol, the one whose victories,defeats and battles within a battle have enthralled my senses and filled me with a gratitude of watching something special unravel itself in front of me and coupled with a demeanor off court that has made him in a recent poll, the second most respected person in the world after Nelson Mandela. . . the Swiss Maestro – Roger Federer.

I became his man, my side of the debate when I argue with anybody on who is the GOAT – Greatest Of All Time (the most heated ones are reserved for my brother though) and having a bit of experience on the vagaries of «fan-dom» has helped me be sure of one thing. I will diss off a Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic or Jerzy Janowicz irrespective of whatever they achieve in the future. No offense meant, actually, I’m just going to be the same person as my dad and brother. Only time can tell, for records are meant to be broken, and if bregrudgingly, the Swiss’s records too will be broken, something which I’m hoping against, I will accept it, but as they say, one will always be partial to those instances and people who have touched you in a special way in your childhood

Being blessed with talent is one thing, to make it count is another. Roger Federer has done exactly that and that is why after a horrible 2013 by his exemplary standards, where lesser folk feel that it is their right to point out to him that he should quit the game before plummeting to depths none of us would even bear to think of during his glory years, it feels to be a grave injustice to tell him what to do. He has made it this far from that prickly hot headed youngster to the serene, monk-like master illusionist who used to conjure up moments of utmost beauty with that tennis racket of his, ala Michaelangelo with a scalpel. His career from the evidence of it looks to be the one of a person who has made the most of life’s lessons and used it as a base to stake his claim to be arguably one of the greater sportsmen to have strutted his stuff on the world stage. A loss to Tommy Robredo or a Sergiy Stakhovsky does shake up things a bit but it is granted that, Roger doesn’t intend his career to end that way and in the words of another tennis legend, Pete Sampras, there is a ham actor in every person who wishes to put together a final act that will bring the house down. Roger might be feeling that (just a hunch), but as he said during a particular 2008 season when he lost in the semifinals of the Australian Open to a up and coming Novak Djokovic, which was greeted with a shock of seismic proportions, that he might have created a monster with the truckload of expectations that greet every swish of his racket.

The next season he comes back with that elusive 1st French Open title which catapulted him into the elite league of extra-ordinary gentlemen who have won all four slams, and then breaks Pete’s Grand Slam record in a marathon duel with Andy Roddick in a Wimbledon final for the ages. He has come back and will certainly do so if he feels like it and that’s what his recent interviews suggest. . . he is hungry for more. We always count out champions when they are down and out without taking note of that single separating factor which has made them stand apart from the pretenders. Their mental strength. Professional sport is more about the battles that takes place between the ears than the actual battle. It’s a beautiful sign when you come across articles from many journalists and critics stating that his time at the zenith is up and that he should quit trying hard so that it doesn’t make it painful for his followers to see him reduced to a mere mortal, but then you see the words of Rod Laver and Pete Sampras, legends in their own right and players who stake a claim for being the GOAT, who emphatically state that Roger Federer is still not a finished article and that something monumental is going to happen from Roger’s magic wand. They’ve been there and they can sense something simmering underneath Roger, the indignancy of being told what to do with the sport that he loves the most, and for him that is the ultimate factor that keeps him going – the love for the sport. He recognizes the fact that he will never be greater than the game and it is this over eager and zealous attribute of Roger, of the student who unflinchingly explores newer and greater depths of his game, to test himself against challenges put forth by the sport and it’s various other practitioners, and to come out on top for that’s what top students do. They will find a way. And Roger is very keen on going out on top. Nobody gets to 17 grand slam titles and 302 weeks at number 1 without possessing oodles of mental toughness.

The hardest thing is to make it look easy and I am sure that anyone who has touched a tennis racket will vouch for it. Therein lies the genius of the Swiss. The very thing that makes me hope for that at least for a fortnight, the Swiss will piece together a glorious fairytale run replete with his brilliant backhand down the line ( a thing of beauty ) and conjuring those moments of pure innovation and belligerence coupled with his stunning on-court dominance and tactical acumen and mastering of angles, which you thought weren’t there until he executed the impossible and induce grimaces and did-that-just-fucking-happen looks from his opponents,when they felt that the point has already been won and then you wonder why hasn’t anyone thought of it before. It then strikes you – the tennis court is his canvas and we are that privileged, lucky bunch who gets to see a master at work. A glorious epiphany at that too, and when he holds aloft that grand slam trophy, making a fool of time and more importantly, those doubters who felt his epitaph was pending, it would be the apt time for him to bow out in style and stamp his last bit of an enduring legacy on a tennis court. It’s for two simple reasons – we owe that much to Roger for giving us so much joy during his time, that only he should decide on his future, and from a more important and selfish perspective – my childhood needs that epic One Last Act.

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Has Any City’s Sports Teams Won All Four Major League Championships in One Year?

The simplest answer is no. No city has hosted the current owner of Vince Lombardi Trophy (National Football League), Larry O’Brien/Walter A. Brown Trophy (National Basketball Association), World Series Trophy (Major League Baseball) and Stanley Cup (National Hockey League) in the same year. The closest any city has come so far is 1988 when the Raiders, Lakers, and Dodgers all brought championships to Los Angeles. Six other times, a city has hosted two out of four champions:

  • 1956: New York Giants (NFL) and New York Yankees (MLB)
  • 1971: Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
  • 1976: Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
  • 1999: Dallas Cowboys (NFL) and Dallas Stars (NHL)
  • 2001: Denver Broncos (NFL) and Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
  • 2002: Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Anaheim Angels (MLB)
  • 2004: New England Patriots (NFL) and Boston Red Sox (MLB)

Students of sports history, however, are aware that these four trophies have not always represented «the» major leagues. There are the defunct competing major leagues such as the pre-merger American Football League or the World Hockey Association to consider. Also, the NBA was not always the major league in basketball, and other leagues have a good claim to being «the» major league for basketball at various times. Finally, we should at least consider the champions of the Canadian Football League considering the number of NHL teams from that country.

Broadening the definition like this adds relatively few cities to our list. Twice in the late 20’s three of four major league champions were from New York: the Giants, Yankees and Brooklyn Celtics in 1927, and the Yankees, Rangers and Brooklyn Celtics in 1928. The Brooklyn Celtics played in the American Basketball League, at a time when the NBA did not yet exist.

Other two-champion cities considering these competing and defunct major leagues are:

  • 1930: Montreal Canadiens (NHL) and Montreal AAA (CFL)
  • 1932: Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Toronto Argonauts (CFL)
  • 1942: Toronto Maple Leafs (NFL) and Toronto RCAF Hurricanes (CFL)
  • 1944: Montreal Canadiens (NHL) and Toronto HMCS Donnacona
  • 1947: Chicago Cardinals (NFL) and Chicago American Gears (NBL)
  • 1947: Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Toronto Argonauts (CFL)
  • 1948: Cleveland Indians (MLB) and Cleveland Browns (AAFC)
  • 1977: Montreal Canadiens(MHL) and Montreal Alouettes (CFL)
  • 1987: Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)
    Notes:

    • The Toronto RCAF Hurricanes and Montreal HMCS Donnacona were football teams from various armed forces bases which competed for the Grey Cup during WWII.
    • The Chicago American Gears were in the National Basketball League. The NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1949 to form the current NBA.
    • The Cleveland Browns started their history in the All-America Football Conference. The AAFC competed with the NFL for four years. In 1949 the AAFC partially merged into the NFL, the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship the next year.

So while no city has completed what might be a «GrandSlam» of major league team sports, New York (twice) and Los Angeles (once) came close.

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Air Optix Night and Day Aqua

Are you a contact lens wearer with a busy schedule? Then you surely must have experienced the occasional need to take a time out from your hectic day for a refreshing catnap. The only thing is, you probably didn’t think of removing your contacts-and you awoke still wearing them. Forgetting your contacts in your eyes while sleeping may be acceptable from time to time, however potential eye-health problems could occur if occasional forgetfulness becomes neglect. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a contact lens with a wearing regimen that could accommodate your style of living?

Now there is.

More on-the-go people are looking for a contact lens that is compatible with their lifestyle: full and active with little time or patience for life’s inconveniences (such as time out for frequent lens care). Many find the answer with Air Optix Night & Day Aqua, a monthly disposable that has been approved by the FDA for up to 30 nights of continuous wear. *

If this contact sounds familiar, it is because recently Ciba Vision changed the brand name of its Focus Night & Day to Air Optix Night & Day Aqua. Many active contact wearers quickly realize the benefits of this new brand, a soft lens with an emphasis on comfort. Air Optix Night & Day Aqua offers the same fit as Focus Night & Day, with the addition of Ciba’s ‘Aqua Moisture System’. This silicone hydrogel innovation delivers six times more oxygen through the lens than the prior brand, achieving a continual ‘breathability’ that contributes to healthy eyes. They are also moister, with a surface that reduces build-up of deposits-a combination dramatically lowering the rate of dehydration and discomfort that may occur at the end of the day. The result is a contact that can be worn while sleeping; which, aside from convenience, gives one the advantage of waking up to crisp, clear vision.

Those satisfied with Air Optix Night & Day Aqua enthuse about the natural feeling they get with their use, which increases due to not having to ‘bother’ with them for an extended period. Also, reduction in ‘red-eye’ or irritation, as well as the fresh sensation stemming from the oxygen flow through the lens adds to their comfort. Impromptu naps can take place without concern for failing to remove them.

If you are a busy mom, frequent business traveler, involved student, or just want a few less hassles in your life, then Air Optix Night & Day Aqua may be the contact lens for you.

* To minimize risks that may come with continuous wear contacts, be sure to strictly follow your eye-care professional’s instructions.

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Kottayam – The Land of Latex & Letters

Kottayam is located in central Kerala in India. The town is an important trading center of spices and predominantly known for its commercial crop rubber. Rubber trees are extensively cultivated in central Kerala, especially in vast areas of Kottayam District, in plantations, both large and small. It is also known as the base of important print media majors. It has also emerged as the pioneering centre of modern education in Kerala with the city becoming India’s first municipality to achieve over 100% literacy in 1989. The city of Kottayam is also called as «Akshara Nagari» which means the «City of Letters» considering its contribution to print media and literature. In keeping with its education, it also became the first tobacco free district in India.

Kottayam is bordered by Pathanamthitta district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west, Ernakulam district on the north and Idukki district on the east.

Etymology:

It is believed that the name Kottayam originated from the Malayalam words ‘Kotta’ meaning fort and ‘akam’ meaning ‘inside’, giving the word meaning ‘interior of the fort’.

Geography:

Kottayam town is located in central Kerala at a location of 9°35′N 76°31′E9.58°N 76.52°E. It has an average elevation of 3 meters (9 feet) from sea level. It is situated in the basin of the Meenachil River that is formed by the confluence of several streams in the Western Ghats in Idukki district. The river flows through Kottayam district and joins the Vembanad Lake. Kerala geographically is divided into Highlands, Midlands and Lowlands based on altitude with Kottayam falling within the Midlands. The general soil type is alluvial soil. The vegetation is mainly tropical evergreen and moist deciduous type.

The climate in this District is moderate and pleasant. Kottayam’s proximity to the equator results in little seasonal temperature variation, with moderate to high levels of humidity. Annual temperatures range between 20 to 35 °C (68-95 °F) From June through September, the south-west monsoon brings in heavy rains as Kottayam lies on the wind-facing side of the Western Ghats. From October to December, Kottayam receives light rain from the northwest monsoon, as it lies on the leeward side. Average annual rainfall is 315 cm.

Brief History:

Kottayam was ruled by the Rajas of the independent little kingdom of Thekkumkoor who ruled from Thazhathangadi till the mid-18th century. Marthanda Varma, the hero king of Travancore annexed Thekkumkoor and surrounding areas of Kottayam to the Kingdom of Travancore. During the British rule of India, Kottayam continued to be ruled by the Princely State of Travancore.

The Travancore State under royal rule consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a ‘Diwan Peshkar’. Later in 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. A fifth division, Devikulam existed for a short period but was then added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars were replaced the more British «District Collectors». Thus Kottayam district came into being in July 1949. Later it became a part of the Kerala state and the headquarters of the district bearing the same name when the state was formed in 1957.

Economy:

Kottayam as already mentioned is a major trading center of natural rubber in India. The Rubber Board, a body set up by the Government of India for the development of rubber industry, is located at Kottayam. A number of small and medium sized enterprises in and around the town are engaged in the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Besides rubber, Kottayam is a trading place of other commercial crops like spices cultivated widely in the surrounding areas. The Plantation Corporation of Kerala also has its headquarters at Kottayam.

Religion:

Kerala has a history of being a magnet for traders’ predominantly from the Arab world as well as Europe. They not only brought along business opportunities but their culture and more importantly their religions along. Considering that the Hindu religion had been practiced here for ages, the negative practices of it were implemented in its harshness too-this included the feudal system supported by the caste system. Some of the religious beliefs that «offered» equality and a sense of self esteem was a welcome change for many suffering communities. One of the enticements of new religions was the opportunity to attain «nirvana» without social barriers. Christianity is supposed to have reached the shores of Kerala way back in the first century. According to unconfirmed beliefs, St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ was also reputed to have landed in Kerala to spread the good words of the lord.

Reflecting the religious make-up of the population, a large number of Hindu temples and Christian churches along with Mosques dot the townscape. Apart from the native Hindu population, Kottayam in particular has a large no. of Christians along with substantial no. of Muslims too.

Christianity- Kottayam is a major center of Syrian Christians of Kerala. Followers of Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Jacobite Church, Knanaya, Marthoma Church, St. Thomas Evangelical Church, CSI Church, Pentecostal Churches, and Brethren form major Christian sects.

The St. Mary’s Church, or the Valia Palli or the Big Church, built in 1550 by Knanaya Syrian Jacobite Christians who emigrated from West Asia, is considered as the first Christian church in Kottayam town. This church is famous for its two granite crosses known as Persian crosses. There are rare antique carvings and mural paintings behind the main altar and on the ceiling.

There is another St. Mary’s Church known as Cheria Palli or the Little Church, belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church was built in 1579 by the Raja of Thekkumkoor for his Christian subjects. These churches feature temple architectural influences. The interior murals, painted using vegetable dyes, depict Biblical themes.

The Syro-Malabar rite of the Roman Catholic Church has an archeparchy based in Kottayam. Some of the important Catholic churches in Kottayam include Lourdes Forane Church, Good Shepherd Church, Vimalagiri Cathedral and Christhuraja Cathedral. The previous Pope John Paul II visited Kottayam, during his visit to India in 1986. He announced the beatification of Father Kuriakose of Chavara and Sister Alphonsa, who hails from Kottayam. The mortal remains of Saint Alphonsa, who was elevated to sainthood in 12 October 2008, are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary’s Church, Bharananganam. It is a popular Christian pilgrimage center.

Islam-The most prominent among mosques seem to be the Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid, situated in the banks of river Meenachil. It is reputed to be one of the oldest mosques in India and according to legends is more than 1000 years old. It is famous for its architectural beauty, and rich wood carvings. This mosque was constructed by the followers of the Islamic prophet Muhammad during one of their first voyages to Kerala.

Hinduism- The native religion has a significant influence in the socio-cultural fabric of Kottayam. One of the most important temples is the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Kshetram, at the heart of the town. It is dedicated to the destroyer among the Hindu trinity- Shiva and is built in the typical Kerala style of temple architecture, with interior murals depicting themes from the Hindu epics. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by the then Raja of Thekkumkoor. The annual temple festival is a grand affair and culminates with the Aarattu ceremony that attracts large number of devotees.

Despite the presence of various religions and a large no. of each faith, in keeping with its reputation for peace, various sections of Christianity, Muslim and Hinduism co-exist harmoniously.

Tourism:

It has been a major contribution to the economy of Kottayam. Many tourism related businesses thrive in the town. Kumarakom, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kerala, is only 14 km from the town. Wagamon is another prominent place worth a visit, and borders the districts of Kottayam and Idukki. Kottayam has a vast network of rivers, backwaters, hill stations & ancient religious places. Just a few prominent places have been highlighted here:

Places to visit:

Vembanad Lake: It is a great water-body which is part of Kerala’s famous interconnected Kerala Backwaters that run virtually the length of the state. Vembanad Lake is 52 miles (84 km) in length and 9 miles (14 km) in width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams have been modified into luxurious cruise boats and house boats for the convenience of the tourists. These boats gracefully move around the back waters, enabling its passengers to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad Lake in a relaxed pace.

Pathiramanal: Translated as the midnight sands, Pathiramanal is a small yet beautiful island located within the Vembanad Lake that is accessible only by boat.

Kumarakom: Located on the Coast of Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is a village made picture perfect by mangroves and coconut groves, lush green paddy fields, gushing waters snaking through the dense forests. Kumarakom bird sanctuary is home to migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. Local birds like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl and water hen and other common varieties like the woodpecker, sky lark, crane and parrot can also be spotted here. Approximately 91 species of local and 50 species of migratory birds are found here making it a bird watchers paradise. The best time to watch local birds is June-August and the best time for migratory birds is November-February. House Boats and motorboats are available on hire for bird watching cruises in the Lake.

Vagamon: is a hill station in the Kottayam-Idukki district.

Other attractions close by:

o Thekkady Periyar Tiger Reserve – 104 kilometers away, located in the Idukki District.

o Peerumed- Roughly 75 Kms away, located in Idukki district

o Munnar- The famous hill station, about 80 km away

o Vaikom- Located about 50 km from Kottayam.

o Kottayam is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers like Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor Siva temple, Thirunakkara, Bharananganam, Erumeli and famous Manarcaud church. Kottayam town is linked by rail to other prominent cities in Kerala and also linked to the waterways for scenic travel.

During the months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam transform into race tracks. The serene backwaters come alive during the popular malayali festival of Onam when the spectacular water regatta -the snake boat races. Oarsmen, at least a hundred in each boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full-throated singing. Thazhathangadi boat race in Kummanam is over a century old. Boat races are conducted at Kavanar and Kottathodu rivers in Kumarakom. These vallam kalis have about 50 boats participating, including Chundan, Churulan, Iruttukuthi(ody) veppu, and canoes.

Bottomline, Kottayam is a beautiful part of the gorgeous Kerala. Visit it to believe it.

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Living in The Gambia

SUMMARY
I enjoy traveling around West Africa, especially around culturally rich regions blending nature with modern infrastructural developments. Both my air and road travels around this ECOWAS subregion in the last 15 years has been both instructive and enriching for me. I have been culturally immersed with diversity in languages, religion, culture, food, architecture, climate, economic life, flora and fauna.

The knowledge acquired, cannot be quantified in monetary terms, and i will recommend this educational tours to our youths to enable them appreciate and tolerate other cultures, thus reducing conflicts and disputes among countries countries. Somewhere else, i have written and held several seminars on working and living in Ghana about 11 years ago.

Today, the success story of Ghana is evident to all and this country Ghana, has emerged as one of the best economies in the subregion. Again, i am introducing another emerging great economy to you, The Gambia.

Before the whole world flood here, and you'll be left out, why not take my advise seriously and invest, work, live or holiday in this beautiful country to experience what I'm talking about? I love this peaceful country blessed with hospitable people. Gambians welcome you with natural inspiring smiles. The Gambia is bounded round by an historical river, rich in natural resources of sea foods, animals and healing powers. Welcome to The Gambia, the smiling coast of West Africa.

From the natural beauty of Makasutu Village, historical sites of Kunta Kinteh village, James Island, Kachikally Crocodile pool, Kanilai Farm, and so many other sites to the beaches and people, you will hardly want to leave. Little wonder, there are so many repeat tourists coming to The Gambia for the past 10-15 years that I've met. They come from all over Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa. At the beach, the beauty of the Sea, the sand and sun will remind you of Mother Africa.

How about the investment climate, very favorable and investor friendly.With a stable economy with a single digit inflation rate and currency exchange of US $ 1.0 = GMD26 (As at 9th April, 2010). The Gambia is a multicultural country with a lot of immigrants from West Africa, Europe, America, Middle East and Asia permanently living as investors, working with several NGOs, some retired investors while many others are engaged in importation businesses and owned several shopping malls. The Gambia is home to investors, volunteers, professionals pursuing their career, and holiday makers who has made this peaceful country their destination. Welcome to The Gambia, where there is no discrimination based on religion, creed, color, race, gender, social status, disability and with zero tolerance to corruption. Read on! Alsamadeh!

MARKET
The major markets are in Banjul, Serrekunda and Brikama. Here, you can shop for staple foods like fish, meat, vegetables, clothings, jeweleries and fashion accessories. The locals welcome people with natural smiles after exchanging the religious greetings: "Asalamalekun", meaning, peace be unto you. Traditionally, Gambian women go to market daily to buy what to cook.They can be seen with the plastic baskets with holders thronging to the busy markets to shop for fresh fish, meat, vegetables and take time to greet each other asking after each others' families, relations and get updated about current social events and other women gossips. Some of the elites, however, prefer to shop in shopping malls around Kairaba Avenue, and buy foods in large quantities to store at home.

Mini-markets, or what some call supermarkets are all over the Greater Banjul area competing with the traditional markets. There are also the neighborhood shops, called "Fulah Shops", owned mostly by Mauritanian citizens and in some cases by Guineans. This is the place to get the locally made bread called, "Tapalapa". This is usually a long banana shaped clay oven baked bread that is usually transported on bicycles by the suppliers early in the morning, mid-day and sunset time. I prefer buying this, when fresh, it's soft and more appealing than the stale hardened and uninviting ones. A full one goes for D5 and the half is D2.50. The bread is usually sold with a nice spread of butter, mayonnaises, egg, potato and spiced with jumbo or Maggi sauce depending on the buyer's preferences.

There is also "Senfu", which has a crumb nature and much cheaper, being sold for D3 for a full roll. However, i noticed the "Senfu" is not as filling as the "Tapalapa" that can keep me going for the whole day, like a bowl of "Fufu", which is the energiser for most Nigerians, Ghanaians and Sierra- Leoneans in The Gambia. The local "Fufu" unlike the ones found in Ghana and Nigeria are made from "Saddam Rice", as it is called locally, by milling it into powder and cooked into a solid paste in a pot. The most popular lunch meal, among Gambians, is the jollof rice, locally referred to as "Benechin". Different types of stew are prepared to eat the rice meal like "Plasas", "Super ganja", "Damoda", etc. I enjoy the Gambia breakfast meal of "Thura Girthe", which is very rich in protein. This is a mixture of well pounded rice cooked with milled groundnut and eaten with a spread of yogurt "Sour Milk".

Gambians eat together. Small groups of between 5-8 people are usually seen eating from the same bowl, and yet, when a visitor appears, he or she is beakoned to still join them and share out of it. This is the true love, i'm yet to see anywhere. If you think there is no free meal anywhere, you're wrong; come to The Gambia! This explain the reason for very low or non-existent crime rate. At least, a lunch meal is guaranteed for anyone living in The Gambia. Food is shared, no one goes home hungry. The women also waste a lot of food by always preparing a lot expecting visitors to join them when serving their meals. They package the rice meals in large wide bowls with a cover and wrap it in a traditional manner with cloth, that will secure the food from spilling and carry to their husbands at their respective working places for them to eat with colleagues. Sometimes, they go travel long distances, to deliver the foods, like a family living in Lamin and the husband working in Serrekunda.

WORK HOURS

The official working hours is 8 am- 4pm from Monday to Thursday. Friday is half day. Most of Gambians are Muslims, and they go for the Friday Special prayers in the afternoon. Although, the "African time" concept is still prevalent among the people, this is common with the government workers, the private sector is better. Most serious business appointments start from 9am, even though, they are scheduled for 8am.

The major reason sometimes for arriving at work late, can be as a result of unavailability of commercial vehicles to transport workers to their respective places of work. Even, at places of work, Gambians do not forget to take their Chinese herbal tea called "Atire".

GAME OF FOOTBALL

A first time visitor, to The Gambia will think the game of football has it's origin from here, because of the love and passion attached to this game. There are quite a number of playgrounds that are never kept idle because of the teeming youths that religiously train and play daily matches, especially in the evenings after work or school. Similarly, on weekends, first thing in the morning, you will notice everyone exercising or playing the game they love most; football.

The discussions of most of these youths that constitute half of the country population is centered on the European matches. Teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, AC Milan and other big teams have passionate fans in The Gambia.

There are many Football Viewing centers that are making a fortune showing the live matches to most Gambian. Although, some of these youths might not know the capital of Nigeria, they often tell me it's Lagos, but they certainly know all the European Club Managers, first line ups and transfers of these key players, not to talk about the latest scores in the premiership or championship.

The Gambia's national team, called the "Scorpion" is adored and you dare not say anything bad against this team in order not to incur the wrath of my football lovers. A loss in game when "Scorpions" play, will turn the entire country into a grave yard, "a mourning period". But with a win; the Brazilian samba dancers will envy the dance steps of both the young boys and girls singing: "ho, ho ho ho, ha, ha, ha, ha..haleyomii". Therefore, to make friends with Gambians is so easy, just pick up a football topic!

BEACHES

The climatic conditions of The Gambia is slightly different from other ECOWAS countries. There is only one cycle of rainfall which starts around June and ends around October. It is usually hot during the raining periods, unlike other countries that experience cold periods.

The Hamattan period starts from November to February. However, the weather experiences erratic changes sometimes. The beaches are clean and provide succor to visiting tourists that want to experience the beauty of the sun, the sea and the sand of The Gambia.

There are several beaches to visit. From Banjul beach to Palma Rima, Senegambia and up to Sanyang. There are so many private beaches along this line. Most white tourists called "Toubabs" are usually welcome at these beaches that have attractive traditional bars with natural juice, canned drinks, barbecue and special packages for visitors.

The menace of "bumsters" have been curtailed and there are tourist police patrolling most of the busy beaches to deter the "unsolicited friends". The beaches are besieged by almost all Gambians during festive periods or during major musical concerts or shows.

FESTIVE PERIODS

A visitor arriving The Gambia around Easter or Christmas will think all Gambians are Christians, with the celebration and partying. Similarly, around the Muslim festivals of "Koriteh or Tobaski" will give one the impression that there is no single Christian in town.

This is the beauty and diversity of the Gambian hospitality and tolerance of other religions in The Gambia. The people enjoy good music. The local artists are adored, some of whom are Jalibah Kuyateh, Titi Kololi, Freakie Joe, Asan Njie, Olugander and Sambou to mention a few.

The women, both young and old, enjoy dancing. The very physical dances of jumping and kicking the air is common and i often wonder where the women get the extra energy and strength from. Some young men that are not used to these dances, dare not challenge these women in a dancing competition, if they do not want to be hospitalized.

The entertainment industry is therefore very vibrant. Most people relax by watching Nigerian, Senegalese and Ghanaian home videos. There are several video rental shops to pick the latest Nigerian films from. Most of the banks and hotels show foreign channels like DSTV, CNN, AlJAZEERA, EUROSPORT etc.

PAID WORK IN THE GAMBIA

Except for ECOWAS nationals, that are allowed to work freely in some key government sectors like Education and Judiciary, other nationals are only allowed to work as expatriate and have to go through a scrutiny and get approval from the immigration department, before they can be permitted to work with the government.

However, investors are allowed to bring in their work force, provided they abide by the immigration laws of obtaining a work / residential permit. Openings exist all year round for qualified teachers in Senior secondary schools all over the country.

Most of the vacancies are usually filled by Nigerians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, Sierra-Leoneans, Liberians and a handful of other ECOWAS nationals. Openings also exist for lecturers in University of The Gambia, several professional training institutes and other tertiary institutes like Management Development Institute (MDI), Gambia College and Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).

Although, the private institutes remuneration is higher than the government pay scale. Most of the secondary schools in the provinces are in need of teachers, most teachers rather prefer to transfer to the urban cities leaving the rural villages without qualified teaching force.

Government subsidized schools remuneration package for non-Gambian teachers are between D3,500-D4,000 per shift (Morning or afternoon) depending on the entry level experience and qualification. The private schools pay between D4,500-D10,000, depending on the school and experience of the teacher.

Most schools prefer teachers that have gathered "Gambian experience", meaning, they must have taught in The Gambia for some years to understand the system. Combining both shifts means more income. Most government schools prefer to pay full salary for the morning shift and half salary for the afternoon shift. There are other several opportunities of income earning, by organizing study classes for the students after close of school by some teachers. Most teachers often change school to those paying more, and every term witnesses a mass drift of teachers around.

The coveted schools are: Marina International, SBEC, Zenith, SOS, Scanaid and West African International. Linguistics and sciences are the preferred subjects often in high demand. English language, English Literature, Mathematics, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Agric Science, Applied Electricity etc, are "hot cake" subjects for most schools.
ECOWAS qualified teachers (M.Sc, B.Sc & HND holders in the subjects listed above) are usually being employed in secondary schools in The Gambia.

Other professionals needed to work in the private sectors are:

1. Lawyers with LL.b degree that have successfully completed Law school and called to Bar to work as
Magistrates / Judges with the Ministry of Justice.
2. Professional Graphic & Website Designers.
3. Professional Advertisers.
4. Desktop & Laptop Repair Technicians.
5. Automobile Technicians.
6. Theater Arts & Dramatic artists.
7. Film Directors & Producers.
8. Professional Actors & Actresses.
9. Radio & TV Program Presenters.
10. Fish Breeding & Farming
11. Aquarium Making & Gold Fish Rearing.
12. Leadership Development Trainers.
13. Trainers in unique skills & vocations.
14. Cottage Industry set-up trainers (Body creams, soaps, cartons, shoe polish etc.)

The financial industry has witnessed a phenomenal growth with addition of more banks joining the league recently, bringing the total number of banks to fourteen in The Gambia. Most of these Nigerian banks are opening up branches and will need more staff.

Although, it is far cheaper to hire the locals than expatriate by the banks, because of the special tax paid for not hiring Gambians. The same rule applies to the Hotel and Tourism industry. The Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs are allowed to bring in their personnel.

Volunteers are also welcome in The Gambia. Volunteers can have a cultural immersion and gain international experience in this peaceful country. For holiday makers, i will recommend visiting this small but unique country for those in search of a Peaceful, Affordable and Memorable African Retreat (PAMAR!)

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

1. ECOWAS CITIZENS

The government welcome investment in all sectors, special attention is, however, given to Agriculture because of the importance of food security to any nation. Other sectors like Real Estate & Properties, Mining Industry, Hotel & Tourism, Health, Education, Manufacturing and Agro- allied Sectors are key areas to go into and get government incentive, in tax relief and total support.

ECOWAS citizens enjoy free movement of persons and goods within the 16 countries block, the required capital needed to re-locate to the Gambia to work, live, invest or holiday is far less than what is required to settle down in other ECOWAS countries. With the electricity tariffs coming down (thanks to the government initiative), NAWEC, the electricity company is doing her best to guarantee stable supply of electricity and many businesses solely rely on this stable electricity supply.

Incidences of armed robbery attack are very rare. I have not noticed or witness or hear about armed robbery attacks in the last six years. I only read in one of the newspapers, one or two times, about such attacks in the provinces some few years ago. People move about without fear of molestation or attack. Petty mobile phone theft are usually common.

The residential houses are affordable, and rents of one to three months advance payments, are demanded. The people are warm and hospitable. For as little as D500 per month, a room can be rented around the busy areas like Brikama, Latrikunda, Lamin, Tabokoto, Wellingara and Coastal road areas.

The 2-bed room apartments with all the conveniences goes for between D1,500-D2,500 per month in these areas depending on the finished taste and proximity to the busy highways. ECOWAS citizens can enter and settle in the country with opportunities to start small businesses.

For these wise residents in the country, there are several businesses to choose from and do effortlessly in this investment friendly country. Anyone coming to The Gambia for the first time, must first of all plan and prepare, knowing what to do and where to stay and having adequate information about the culture and business climate.

2. WORLDWIDE INVESTORS (MEDIUM / LARGE SCALE BUSINESSES)

The specific areas, wise investors, can rush into to invest presently, from our detailed research findings are:
A) Setting up a private University with residential campus to attract all ECOWAS citizens.
B) Eateries like MacDonald's, Chicken George, Mr. Briggs, Sweet Sensation, Tantalizers, TFC, etc
C) Botanical Garden / Love Garden around the Tourist areas.
D) Building low Cost Homes to be sold or rented out to people.
E) Ground nut processing factory.
F) Feed Mill for Poultry, Rabbitry and Turkey Production.
G) Cashew Processing Factory (CNS Oil, brake oil, glue, rubber, electrical wires etc).
H) Natural Juice canning factory (Fruits like mangoes, orange, lime etc abound).
I) Fresh Flower production and export.
J) Fish Canning / Food packaging for export.

There are other 90 businesses we have surveyed to be potential instant money earners for wise investors to take on. Kindly request for a detailed project profile on this. The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency, (GIPFZA) welcome investors with unique offers of tax relief, government support and non-bureaucratic processing of necessary documents to allow for quick set-up and investment in The Gambia.

To have a fair idea of ​​the business climate, i recommend that all potential investors read the latest business directory (The Gambia Business Directory).

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT & BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

The Gambia, though small, but has a robust economy with fourteen commercial banks, four GSM companies, a good number of airlines plying the subregion and the outside world. There are more than five daily newspapers, around eight radio stations and many hotels of international standards including the 5-star Sheraton Hotel.

The major roads from the airport to most busy commercial centers like Kairaba, Brufut, West Field, Senegambia, Brikama, Latrikunda and Banjul are all tarred with well lighted street lights. Clean, fresh and treated pipe borne water is available to most homes 24hrs uninterrupted.

Communication and internet services are quite cheaper than most other countries. The cost of starting a business in The Gambia is far cheaper both in the short term and long term. The real estate business is enjoying a great boom with 30% return yearly on investments, and the Meltdown phenomenon is not easily noticeable in The Gambia.

The Gambia is a tourist destination and repeated visitors are common in this wonderful and peace loving smiling coast of The Gambia. Although, The Gambia is a tax based economy, the government makes substantial earnings from Tourism and exportation of agricultural commodities like Groundnut, Fishes, Cotton and solid minerals.

It is mandatory for every resident to have a TIN number (Tax Identification Number) before a bank account can be opened. New buildings are coming up daily and it is common sight, to see most of the property owners advertising their phone contacts for those interested in renting or leasing these properties from high rise buildings in Senegambia axis, Kairaba, Fajara, West Field, Tallinding, Tabokoto , Abuko, Lamin, Yundum etc.

Gambians in diaspora are rushing home to invest in this high yielding property sector. A visitor that last visited the country a year ago, will notice a remarkable difference in this infrastructural developments. The Gambia is a clean country, especially with the introduction of the monthly cleaning exercises, called "SETSETAL", which is a special cleaning day for everybody on the last Saturday of the month between the hours of 8-1pm and thereafter there is free movement .

Municipal officials go around to ensure the wastes are properly disposed and ensure compliance to the law, that all shops and businesses most be closed and no movement of commercial vehicles, until the end of the cleaning exercise.

Health wise, it is safe to live in The Gambia, because the health delivery system is very efficient and well equipped with the best medical personnel in The world. There are various health centers, well spread around the country with ambulances standing by to quickly evacuate emergencies to Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, RVTH, Banjul where complicated cases are usually taken.

Visitors coming for the first time, therefore, are advised to take the appropriate vaccinations recommended. ECOWAS citizens must take vaccinations against yellow fever, meningitis, Polio etc and ensure these are stamped on their Yellow Card, this is even taken more seriously, when traveling by road through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal to The Gambia . Not having a valid Yellow Card could cost you a fortune in fines you'll be asked to Pay!

Medical services is free to Gambians, except the registration card which is D5 only. ECOWAS citizens are, however, required to pay for cost of treatment and hospitalization, depending on the treatment. Tourist visiting The Gambia are advised to have a Travel Insurance when visiting

Transportation within the country is affordable. Moving from one location to another is quite easy. There are three categories of commercial road transportation. One, is the commercial Bus, that only allow maximum of three passengers on a row which is convenient, unlike four on a row in several other countries. This type of buses go around the major destinations like Banjul to Serrekunda (D6), Banjul to Tabokoto (D10), Banjul to Brikama (D15), Serrekunda to Senegambia (D5) etc.

The second category is the yellow and green painted taxis that take people for D5 a drop or chartered services for most tourists and locals, called "Town Trip". The last category, are the green painted and branded "Tourist Taxis" for tourists from and to the airport, hotel areas, most beaches and historical sites for new visitors. They are more expensive than the yellow painted ones.

Except when it is very important, first time visitors are, however, encouraged to avoid going out around the rush hours, like 7-8am and 4-6pm, especially when commuters are going to or returning from work. From Tabokoto, Lamin, West field, Serrekunda and Brikama in the morning to Banjul and returning back home in the evening is always very hectic and expensive to take a taxi. The bus-stops are usually congested and the traffic chaotic around these periods.

There are many well organized tour operators with luxurious air conditioned buses to pick from and to the airport all visitors and tourist that arrange their visits through them. They also partner with most hotels on tours to historical sites and around the cities.

There area ferry services available to transport people across the River Gambia. From Barra to Banjul is D25 only. Visitors can come in to the country either by land through The Gambian border with Senegal at Hamdallah, or from Guinea and Cassamace, Senegal through Basse. By air is through the only airport at Yundum. The Banjul International Airport, one of the best in the subregion with the longest run-way and modern radial facilities installed.

The airport is not always busy and travelers should always inform someone to pick them at the airport, especially during the weekends when commercial activities are low. However, tourist taxis are available at any time for between D500-D800 depending on the distance, usually between 15-30km from the airport.

There is a Bureau de Change at the airport to change money from other currencies like Euro, dollars, pounds and CFA to Dalaisi. For Visa Card carriers, there is ECO Bank ATM at the airport. Bank PHB and Trust bank also have their ATMs at the airport.

On arrival in the country, when you hear "Nagadef?", Meaning how are you, just answer "Jamarek", meaning i'm fine. After a hand shake, say "Jerejef", meaning thank you.
Jerejef, Jarama, Baraka (meaning thank you in 3 different local languages).

Comprar Camisetas de fútbol para adultos y niños desde 15 € y camisetas oficiales de equipos de fútbol. Clica y Recoge GRATUITO en tienda. by Adetunji B Aderonmu

Leftbank Apartments – Location and Facilities

The city of Manchester has become the choice destination for many new settlers in the United Kingdom. London has long been the economic hub to attract investors and workers from all over Britain. However, due to the overcrowded city of London, many people are now heading towards Manchester. Manchester has been one of the most industrial towns in the Britain, and its development into a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city has been reason enough to attract settlers in this part of Britain.

When going through residential properties, you would come across the development of Leftbank Apartments, structured specifically for settlers and new dwellers in Manchester. The Leftbanck Apartments attract a lot of attention and notice from new would-be residents, primarily because of their location.

Located in the centre of Manchester city, these apartments boast a number of top-notch facilities. Central Manchester houses great shopping malls, cuisines and many bars and pubs. The night life in this part of the city is full of vigour and energy. Hence, the location of the Leftbank apartments in the core of Manchester is of no surprise.

The apartments are mostly located on the banks of rivers such as River Irwell. This makes them a prime attraction for people who are looking for scenically beautiful areas to lodge at. Moreover, the location ensures that the general hustle and bustle of life in this busy metropolitan is not such a major factor for people who prefer some peace and quietness.

All apartments are well-furnished and are well-connected with elevators. To get to your desired shopping mall or some gym, all you have to do is to take the elevator and walk on. This is another reason why the Leftbank apartments are so popular among new settlers.

Another reason for their popularity is that the prices of these apartments are inclusive of electricity rates, towels and linens. Hence, you do not have to worry about paying for all these things individually, rather as a small chunk of the price you pay for the entire apartment. The rents are quite nominal, when compared with other residential areas, and you can get the apartments on a daily, weekly or monthly basis on rent, the way it best suits you.

The spacious parking lots work in the favour of these apartments as well. Other residential areas have congested parking lots due to smaller construction area; however, at Leftbank, you get good parking space for your vehicle. It is also well-secured and, thus, you do not have to worry about car theft when parking your car.

Also, apart from the above mentioned factors, another great thing about these apartments is their 24/7 reception. The Leftbank administration also provides its residents with a facilitation centre that allows them to arrange their trips etc. Moreover, the apartment complex has huge swimming pools, hair saloons for both ladies and gents among other things. It is definitely a residential feat to be able to construct something like the Leftbank apartments and at such reasonable rent per month.

Echa un vistazo a nuestra variedad de Camisetas de fútbol. Camisetas de entreno y partido de clubes nacionales y selecciones internacionales. by James L Harrison

History of Real Madrid

Spanish club Real Madrid has been the best club of Europe for some time now. The team enjoys popularity throughout the length and breadth of the world and has been the leader of the clubs. They have been leading the pack, leaving behind arch rivals Manchester United and Barcelona in the process as well. The club has boasted of David Beckham, Ronaldo, Figo, Kaka and the likes who played. Fondly called as Los Blancos, they have always maintained the Galactico standard, comprising of world-class players being recruited from the top clubs across Europe.

They boast of having one of the richest boards in the entire club circuit. The Madrid side is one of the richest clubs in the world as well, earning revenues from shirt sales and merchandise goods and tickets. The club has always been one of the top clubs to draw the most number of sponsors and is a hot favorite with the sponsorship companies who intend to striker a deal with them.

Unearthing Club History

The history of Real Madrid dates back to the year of 1912 when a group of boys introduced football to Spain. The group of boys used to practice on local fields until 1920, King Alonso of Spain granted the side the title of ‘Real’ which means ‘Royal’ in Spain. Since then, the name was officially bestowed on the club and the team began to be known by the name of Real Madrid in the country and later throughout the world. The club started playing games across the country with different teams and since then, there has been no looking back for them. The team looked to build on to their reputation being the best team of the country and went from strength to strength.

The club suffered a major setback back in 1937 when all the activities of the club was suspended and games were not being played as the country got engaged into a Civil War. The club elected its first president back in the year of 1945 when the Civil war was finally over and the elected president made sure that the club was rebuilt. The club got a proper board and a panel of experts was hired by the president as well.

Rise to Fame

Real Madrid has experienced a meteoric rise in their growth and popularity since they resumed playing following end of the civil war. Apart from success in the domestic field, the club gained a lot of respect from the international circuit as well as they were on their way to becoming one of the biggest clubs in Europe. They have won the European competition for the most number of times till date and no other club has come closer to their achievement till date. The club has won the Champions League for a record number of eleven times so far and is still going strong in the current seasons.

They look set to lift the La Liga trophy this 2016-17 season. The club has also won the La Liga for a record number of times as well. The club still goes on to dominate in both the domestic and international circuit and maintain its stature of being the best club in the world.

ENVÍO y DEVOLUCIÓN GRATIS – Gran colección de Camisetas de fútbol oficiales – Descubre camisetas de equipos y selecciones europeas en camisetasfutboles.es. by Kev Rob