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The 45 day cricket World Cup draws to a close this weekend with a fitting finale. The joint hosts- Australia and New Zealand will face off at the ground the locals call “The G”. The game is slated for Sunday in the southern hemisphere which makes it a 11:00 PM (ET) Saturday start in the U.S. If like me, you find college basketball boring or just plain gross with the sight of old white men in suits bossing unpaid college kids around, you can watch the cricket World Cup final here for just USD 19.99. Or you can scour the bowels of the internet for a quality bootleg feed. Either way you are bound to be entertained a lot watching cricket’s quadrennial extravaganza.

aus vs nz

Here below are five things to remember as you get ready to watch the game:

● Evenly matched teams – The two teams have played eight games each to get here. The only loss either team has is the one wicket defeat Australia suffered at the hands of this very New Zealand team on a memorable night in Auckland exactly a month ago. A one wicket loss is analogous to a home team winning a baseball game while being down to the last strike. That is how closely and evenly matched these two teams are. They are both deserving participants who will likely go neck and neck for eight hours. Big games especially finals are prone to nerves and blowouts. I doubt this one will have either. Expect a close game.

● Australia = New York Yankees times Duke basketball – This is Australia’s seventh World Cup final. This is the eleventh World Cup. Like they showed in a comprehensive rout of India on Thursday, they are the big playground bully. They replenish talent quicker than other nations and somehow shine brighter and bigger on the biggest stage the sport offers. To fans of other teams and neutrals, they are the easy-to-root-against villain. If they were a college basketball team, Dickie V would be dressed like a Kangaroo during broadcasts. Feel free to hate-watch them.

● New Zealand has never had this many fans – The crowds at games involving New Zealand have been a lot of fun. They have been loud and displayed a deep sense of support to the team and the tournament. This is New Zealand’s first game in the tournament outside New Zealand. While Kiwis in the stands may be outnumbered by locals, never have so many people rooted for them. Australia smoked thru England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India in that order to get to the finals and these collective fanbases will be rooting against their common enemy. Also, what’s a more likeable country than New Zealand? Name one person who returned from New Zealand and said they didn’t like it there! New Zealand will never have this many hearts beating for them.

● Exceptional sportsmen on display – The game after all is about the players on the field and the two teams possess some incredible cricketers. Any one of the 22 men on the field could step up and make Sunday his. Brendon Mccullum, Martin Guptill, Corey Anderson and Kane Williamson are all gifted Kiwi batsmen who can win this game single-handedly. Trent Boult and Tim Southee make up a formidable pace duo capable of running thru Australia’s deep batting line-up just like they did a month earlier. Australia’s batting depth extends to their #10 batsman which is about as good as it can get. They possess a pace bowling trio – Johnson, Starc and Hazelwood that harassed an experienced Indian batting order that had been on fire for a month. Both teams catch the ball well and hit the stumps regularly. These are exceptional sportsmen at the prime of their powers playing the biggest game of their lives.

● This could be the biggest night in New Zealand sports history – At the end of the day, the story here could and should be New Zealand. A tiny nation with a GDP smaller than Apple’s 2014 revenue is on the verge of its greatest sporting day. While the country’s success in rugby is real and noticed, it is going to be hard to supplant a win over a loathed big bully on its home turf for cricket’s most coveted prize. We could all be witness to the biggest night in New Zealand’s sports history and a generational triumph. Isn’t that reason enough to tune in?

Enjoy the game everyone!

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The Cricket World Cup begins in 15 days with a promising double-header. Sri Lanka play New Zealand at Christchurch and Australia face England at the Melbourne Cricket ground. If, like me, you live in the U.S you are probably already thinking about ways to celebrate Valentine’s day a week early or a week late so that you can watch these two great games on Friday the 13’th as well as the India vs. Pakistan dandy from Adelaide on Valentine’s day. Cricket’s biggest tournament will suck you in then whether you like it or not. You can pretend to not care, blaming the format of the sport or the tournament but in the quietest months of the sports calendar, the World Cup will suck all of your Facebook, Twitter and internet time. You will find ways to check the score and you will visit Cricinfo at least as many times as you go the loo daily. Don’t fight it!

So if like me you are in the U.S, how do you watch the World Cup? I had the same question and I contacted ESPN and Willow TV. Here is what I heard back –

Currently, ESPN Pass will feature exclusive coverage of the entire ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. ESPN Pass is ESPN’s streaming video service for exclusive live and replay content over broadband connectivity for computers, Apple iOS and Android devices. Unlike WatchESPN, ESPN Pass utilizes a one-time pay per event as well as pay per season subscription service and does NOT require cable subscriber authentication to view

It is unclear to me how and where to sign up for ESPN Pass. I expect we will see the details soon. But be prepared for a $99.99 (my guess) package that gets you all the World cup games live via ESPN Pass which to be very clear is not WATCHESPN, ESPN3. I hope we will be able to access this app on all smart TVs, phones and tablets reliably as well as be able to chromecast from the get-go. Otherwise 1-888-549-3776 is bound to be bombarded with a trillion phone calls on Valentine’s day.

Willow TV and which do a stellar job of covering cricket in the U.S replied to my queries stating they don’t have any plans of showing the World Cup live at this moment.

I will update this as soon as ESPN releases details of ESPN Pass for the Cricket World Cup. In the meantime please do email or call ESPN support and ask for more details on their plans for World Cup coverage. More voices can only help.

Here’s to cricket and here’s hoping this all gets sorted out before the first ball is bowled.

P.S: I pick New Zealand to win this edition of the World Cup.

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Image of ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli published under the Creative Commons license from

Virat in Sanskrit means brilliant. Ajinkya in Sanskrit means invincible. Rarely in cricket history have protagonist names matched their virtuoso deeds as they did for four hours on Sunday, the 28’th of December 2014 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Two 26 year olds put on a show. They drove and they cut and they pulled and they ran. They got hit and they got sledged. They were cheered and they were booed. But for the most part they showed the world their unique gifts and the years of promise and runs that lay ahead for a fanbase and a generation that only a year ago thought the best they would ever see had retired from the sport. Two 26 year olds put on a show that was a window to the buffet that Indian fans and cricket fans can expect over the next ten years.

This Australian team had won its last 10 tests at home. The attack is experienced (Over 150 tests) and was bowling with 500+ runs in the bank. India were down 0-2 in the series with little to no hope of retaining the Gavaskar-Border trophy. Never forget this backdrop if and when the partnership is either marginalized or normalized in the future.

Both Virat and Ajinkya had some good fortune. Some catches went abegging and some chancy strokes escaped hands they way they would not on most days. But chancy should not be equated with flukey. Both batsmen were rarely beaten outside off and used their feet flawlessly to both spin and pace. There was also not much standing and delivering. Both ran hard and had eight threes each in addition to the 39 boundaries they combined for.

An incompetent performance from the Indian bowlers over the next two days at the MCG will likely ensure India lose this test to lose control of the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Or a serendipitously sensational bowling effort ala Ajit Agarkar 2003 may help propel the team to an unforgettable win. Or Melbourne rain may choose to push the contest in to becoming that rare contemporary event – the draw!

Independent of the outcome, the 262 run stand between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane on day 3 of the 2014 Boxing day test match deserves its own page in the annals of Indian cricket history. Combining their god-given talents with a disdain for the mortal feelings of fear and caution, the two 26 year olds painted masterpieces the likes of which Indian fans get to see once every ten years or so.

The Rahul-VVS marathons at Kolkata and Adelaide are the holy grails of Indian partnerships. They broke down great teams at the peaks of their powers. The Sachin-Azhar diptych at Capetown was a desperate and brilliant work that brought smiles and solace to a resigned fanbase. The Virat-Ajinkya collaboration probably passed these all today not just for what it did on the day but for all that it promises for the future.

The long term forecast for Indian batsmanship is promising. There is brilliance in the air with a touch of invincibility.

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The Bay Area Quiz club meets once a month on the campus of Stanford University. One volunteer prepares a collection of questions while 20-40 smart men and women are partitioned randomly into teams and attempt to answer these questions. The questions span a vast range of topics and typically make you think hard. It is 2-3 hours of mental stimulation that will do you a world of good. If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Bay area do stop on by for a quiz.

I volunteered to conduct the August 2014 edition of the quiz and had a ton of fun doing so. Hope you enjoy answering these questions below as much as I enjoyed preparing them!


Posted by & filed under cricket, Indian abroad.

There were five videos from my five days at Lord’s that I wanted to share with y’all. Here they are below in descending order of entertainment

1) The Ravi Jadejaaaa chant – I have been driving my wife nuts with this chant. Hope you will drive someone nuts too !

2) The “Jimmy is a bully” chant – A wonderful composition by the Blue Army (Indian fans equivalent of the Barmy Army)

3) Jadeja gets booed – Every time his name is mentioned. He did have the last laugh…..

4) Bhangra lunch time show on Day 2 – ’nuff said

5) Kids playing cricket in the stadium just outside the stands – ’nuff said

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Checking something off the bucket list is fun. It is where prayer meets planning meets reality. Attending major events at three iconic sports venues is the entirety of my travel bucket list and I hadn’t visited a place on my list since a freezing January morning in 2004 (I was at this game). Until July 17 2014. Tickets won via the official raffle, a cousin willing to loan the air mattress in his living room for six nights, enough money for the intercontinental air travel and most importantly – permission from the wife came to a confluence to get me to Lord’s. Here below is five memories from five unforgettable days at Lord’s. Through these I hope to give you the reader a taste of the experience and hope to inspire you the cricket fan to make your own pilgrimage to the ‘home of cricket’.


Here were the five things that I wanted to make sure I wrote about among the many things that make cricket at Lord’s such a fun and fulfilling experience.

The comfort: Watching a cricket match especially a test match at Lord’s is very comfortable. I have been to over 20 sporting venues in India and the US and no venue comes close in terms of comfort. Spectators are allowed to carry food and alcohol in to the stadium. The security checks, ingress and exit in to the ground as well as the stands are non-intrusive and brisk. The concourses are wide and there are big screens, picnic areas and TV sets everywhere lest you miss any action. Many of the seats had cushions and all seats had ample leg room. The ground even offered free Wi-Fi to all fans. The Wi-Fi was shockingly reliable and fast. Seeing how hard it is to use the phone at most venues during live events, the people at Lord’s have figured out some magic recipe that lets them scale quality internet access across the stadium. More power to them and here’s a huge thank you to them! Here’s also hoping other grounds can figure this out so fans can tweet and Instagram their fondest memories instantly.

The alcohol: The liquor flowed liberally thru the test match. The amount of beer, wine, Pimm’s and champagne consumed across the stands blew my mind. The lines to buy alcohol were full all the time and the picnic areas were full of people well into their fifth or sixth pints by lunch. I wasn’t used to this much drinking and stood out very much like the lightweight I am. The alcohol also brought out the best cricket debates. One group of three English fans sitting next to me were into their fifth pint each when Alastair Cook was dismissed Sunday afternoon. They quickly started making ‘All decade XIs’ and I fell off my chair when their discussion on the 90’s was a succinct “Lara and ten Aussies right, mate?” I had tickets for five different seats around the ground over the five days and I didn’t see any rowdy or raucous behavior induced by the drinking. There were chants, boos, cheers and debates but nothing rowdy and nothing that you would expect from a day of continuous drinking.

The history: Lord’s is not just the ‘home of cricket’. It tries really hard to showcase itself and be the home of cricket. There is history everywhere. Photos of star performers from all test playing nations, two different shops selling memorabilia and merchandise, two cricket museums and a variety of legends using the test match to interact with fans make for a showcase of cricket history at all times. You walk by the store and you run into Steve Waugh. Walk by the practice fields and there is Alec Stewart. Go to the loo and you’re standing next to Henry Blofeld. Look towards the pavilion and there’s Rahul Dravid ringing the five minute bell. The fans too were very knowledgeable and always interested in debate and discussion. For what it’s worth, the folks I met weren’t particularly fond of Cook and have invested a large amount of trust and faith in Joe Root. To me, it was wonderful though to see the level of interest, knowledge and passion for a game I care deeply about.


The food: Lord’s had quite the spread. There was a centrally located food village with five stations. There was a station each for burgers, curries, burritos, baps and pies. The lines moved quickly, there were a plethora of vegetarian options and the stations were open till end of play. There were also several other cafes and dining options within the stadium where I could order sandwiches, juices and desserts. Of course it is less expensive to pack your own meals but the options available make Lord’s quite the culinary destination. Not something I have been able to say of any sports venue I have been to before Lord’s.


The match: Last but not the least is the match and the actual game of cricket itself. The match was a wonderful advertisement for the format. The cricket on the field was glorious, unpredictable and entertaining. Young players carved their names on the honors board, old greats struggled and a cavalcade of fearless Indians stormed the English fortress for a spectacular triumph. As a fan of the Indian cricket team, the occasion and cricketing memories will stay special ‘til death. Every session was tight. Every session was absorbing and outside of the manic last half hour, the game was truly in balance at all times. A partnership like the one Root and Moeen had on the morning of Day 5 would be the highlight of many tests for how gritty and skilful it was. It was only the twelfth most important story line of a test match with too much bloody good cricket. Rahane, Anderson, Ballance, Vijay, Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar, Moeen, Root and Ishant were all inspired by the venue, the occasion and displayed their skills at the highest level to really make the visit an unforgettable one.


A great venue and an even greater game of cricket made my bucket list a little smaller and my life a lot happier. Here’s hoping every one of you gets the opportunity to do the same. Cheers to cricket and cheers to Lord’s.

Posted by & filed under cricket, Indian abroad.


I was lucky to be at Lord’s this past week to watch an extraordinary game of cricket. Over the next two days, I will be writing more about my time there, the experience of watching a game at Lord’s, the food and drink at Lord’s all accompanied with plenty of pictures and videos. Before that, here is my take on the win and its significance for Indian cricket.


Lord’s 2014 was symbolic. Lord’s 2014 was transitional. Lord’s 2014 was definitive proof that India’s next generation of cricketers are quite alright. It is as significant for what it means for the future as it is for being the team’s first win outside India in three years. If we as cricket fans are still glorifying our youth and bringing up Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman references, Lord’s 2014 was a reminder that old Father Time had moved on and it is time to embrace, support and watch a new group of kids who are possibly more fearless, more talented and more determined to carve their own niche. The kids are alright…

Ajinkya Rahane image reused under creative commons licence

Ajinkya Rahane born in Sangmaner, Maharashtra is all of 26 years old and 5’6”. Converted from an opener to a middle-order bat by team management, he took to the English attack on the greenest pitch known to man. Even at 145/7 on the humid Thursday of the test, Ajinkya mixed excellent judgment with the reflexes of a young opener to take India to 295. His second fifty was awash with boundaries to all parts of the ground with strokes that radiated experience way beyond his years. It is easy to watch parts of his stance, follow-through, walking and demeanor and slot him in as this generation’s Dravid, Laxman or even Sachin. Truth is he is none of them. He is his own batsman. He gives India a dimension and value it is very lucky to have. He did more on day 1 of a Lord’s test and in the first innings of a Lord’s test than the many legends before him. He is his own man and we are lucky we get to watch him bat. What he did on Day one was unprecedented and an obvious sign of things to come. He is doing quite alright.

Image reproduced under creative commons license

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is all of 23 years old and 5’10”. He is lean, slender and straightforward to a fault. If he wasn’t better at cricket than 99.9% of the universe was, he would be perfect for the role of the boy next door on any Indian movie or sitcom. Take a look at the photos he has posted of himself on his Twitter feed? This is every 24 year old brown male with a Twitter account. He is the boy every girl wants to take back to her mum. On the first four days at Lord’s and especially on the Friday, he was every cricketer you ever wanted to play for India. He was fearless with the bat playing more than a sidekick to Ajinkya Rahane on day one and to the Rajput warrior on day four. With the ball, he bowled a marathon seventeen over spell with the discipline, accuracy and swing rarely provided by bowlers to Indian captains of the past and present. He was the bowler Indian fans have always wanted and felt we deserved. He troubled the left handers consistently to provide cathartic relief to a generation haunted by Jack Russell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul marathons. With six wickets and 80+runs, he gave M S Dhoni the all-round performance so sorely needed to flip a test around. Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs our love, nurturing and support. He is not Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath or Sreesanth. What he did on day two of the test match especially to keep India in the game and hold one end up as an effective attacking bowler was unprecedented. For now he is the bowler we never had, the boy we all wished we knew and he is doing quite alright.

Image reproduced under the creative commons license

Murali Vijay is 30 years old and 6’1”. He is no one’s favorite cricketer. How little his second innings knock was mentioned post-game by journos was evidence of how easily he will be forgotten when he does stop playing for India. At Lord’s he was everything India ever wanted out of its opener. He left 200+ deliveries outside the off stump and saw thru tricky periods on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Alastair Cook referred to his inner steel in his post-game speech. You know who showed inner steel? Murali Vijay. It is obvious he has worked on his technique and attitude and slowly but surely developed the temperament to be one India’s best test openers ever. Like Mahesh Sethuraman mentioned on Twitter, Vijay’s second innings knock was one of the best knocks played by an Indian opener and it will only become more legendary and valuable with time.

Murali Vijay is not Sehwag, Gambhir, Bangar or Gavaskar. What he did on Day three of the test – do the opener’s dirty work and to keep India afloat and the swinging ball at bay was quite unprecedented. He is his own man he is doing quite alright.


Ravindra Jadeja is 25 years old and 5’10”. He is the sort of cricketer that Pakistan seemed to produce in bunches in the 80’s and 90’s that Indian fans longed for. He oozes with natural athleticism and talent while bringing a dimension of fearlessness not seen before. He was at the heart of the controversy at Nottingham and the English fans booed him in unison thru the test. Indian fans came up with their own chant for him putting him in the limelight virtually every second of the game. He was nimble and athletic on the field, bowled with the precision and to the field the captain had set for him and batted with a panache unseen from an Indian #8. He will have some days when his fearlessness will frustrate the fan base immensely but more often than not he will be the dynamic all-rounder capable of turning a game on its head. He will be what India has not had in a long time and he will be one that Pakistan fans wish they had. What he did on Day four of the test was the kind of all-round performance that the domestic system did not seem capable of. Sir Ravindra Jadeja is unprecedented and he is his own man and he is doing quite alright.


Ishant Sharma is only 25 years old and already has been in more incidents of note than Forrest Gump. It is easy to forget how many bowlers only truly figure it out in the late 20’s and that Ishant is older than he really is because Ishant has been around for so long. He put together a spell of bowling on day five that Indian fans have only seen on the receiving end. He bowled to his field, bowled what the captain wanted and stuck to a line and length amidst minor carnage. Performance on the biggest stage has to override performance on smaller stages and what Ishant did at Lord’s should buy him the goodwill of fifty bad ODIs. There have probably been a few Ishant Sharmas in India’s past but no one picked up seven wickets in the fourth innings of a test to win a match for the country. Ishant Sharma is one of a kind. What he did on Day five was unprecedented and he is doing quite alright.

Forget the giants of the years past. Forget the scars of tours past. Forget the anxieties of a future after Dhoni. With emergence of Ashwin, Bhuvi and Jadeja as legitimate international test all-rounders, India suddenly has the luxury of playing nine batsmen and five bowlers in tests abroad. Rohit Sharma probably walks in to every test XI today but India’s. Ashwin probably makes it ahead of all the spinners across cricket not named Ajmal or Jadeja. Whatever your political beliefs, ‘Acche Din aanewale hain’. The kids are doing alright….

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni has played in over 500 cricket matches in just under nine years. He has kept wickets in almost all these games while also shouldering the mantle of captaincy in over 70% of the games. During this period he has achieve unique success and authored memorable moments simply known to cricket fans as ‘that night at the Wankhede’, ‘that knock versus Punjab’ or ‘that last over vs. Pakistan’. He has captained India to triumphs at two World Cups, a Champions trophy win and has held one of the most difficult posts in world sport with great tact and efficacy. He is at least somewhat responsible for the fearlessness his teams show chasing gargantuan targets in limited overs contests. He is also loyal to a fault (e.g. Ishant Sharma), judges talent poorly at times (e.g. Ishant Sharma) and way too defensive (e.g. Ishant Sharma) much to the frustration of the team’s fans.

As he winds down to the part of his career where wicketkeepers past and present have started to lose their motor skills (Dhoni has already played more games already than Ian Healy did in all forms of the game and for longer than Adam Gilchrist did for Australia), there is but one fault in India’s biggest star – His record in tests away from home. Outside of India, Dhoni averages 33.00 and outside of the subcontinent, Dhoni averages 29.24. These are numbers generally associated with the Mark Ramprakashes and Chandrakant Pandits of the world, not the most famous and successful athlete of the country. Dhoni has also led his team on some #epicfail tours of late losing 9 of the last 11 tests played outside the subcontinent (almost all of them fairly convincingly).

The five test series vs. England that starts a week from today is Dhoni’s last chance to salvage this pathetic batting and captaincy record away from home. Australia later in the year will likely be too much for this Indian side and there are no major tours on the horizon past the World cup next year. A 35 year old Dhoni may not warrant a place or will more likely be out of tests altogether when the next opportunity to tour England rolls around.

Dhoni batting in England

That is why I think India’s first five test series in more than a decade is all about Dhoni. It starts and ends with one of the certain starters on the All-time India XI trying to craft one memorable knock or eke out one series win away from comfortable confines. Forget India’s pu pu platter bowling attack or the much beleaguered Alastair Cook. Forget whether Virat Kohli or Joe Root or both will get to 600 runs before the fourth test even. Forget whether Moeen Ali will be dismissed even once. The story of the series for India is the success of their captain as a captain and batsman. Never has leadership by example been more important for Indian cricket and a Dhoni who chips in with 45 runs an inning could be the major difference in side composition, morale and the team’s ability to grind out enough days and hours.

Dhoni now more than ever needs to play a defining role in India’s test fortunes. Another insipid series with the bat or another winless series loss will put him a few tiers below his predecessors when the history books are written. If Dhoni wanted to add test match success & pedigree to an illustrious limited overs record, this is the time.

In some ways, the signs are promising. This English attack is a lot weaker than the ones India had to face on their last tour and England got worked over by a Sri Lankan team that no one will mistake for the Invincibles. Dhoni, Kohli and Pujara have also gotten one of their longest breaks away from the sport and rest can be a wonderful cure for most ailments. There is a good chance that the Indian batsmen put it together game after game and the bowling gets lucky enough once or twice to eke out a series win.

A full summer of cricket with five test matches is a fascinating and fun feast for cricket fans worldwide. MS Dhoni has one last chance. He can make this series his and take a much-deserved place on the pantheon of Indian greats. If not, this summer’s drama that makes Indian fans cry and mourn will be the fault in our star; In our captain and biggest star – MS Dhoni.

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One year ago (to the date), I wrote about finding vegetarian food in Taiwan. Taiwan is notoriously difficult for herbivores and the whole exercise of me writing that post was to make it easier for vegetarians like me to survive on trips to the Asian superpower-in-progress.

This post on the other hand is about searching for, savoring and enjoying vegetarian food in Peru. Peru is not a place where the vegetarian has to try and survive. It is a country of vast beauty, rich history and a cornucopia of grains, vegetables and fruits. It is a country that prides itself on its culinary importance (the word gastronomia was used quite frequently by waiters and bartenders and this guy is their biggest “rock star”).

Five thoughts on Peru though before I dive deep in to specific vegetarian recommendations:

1) Orders across the country in every city I was in (Lima or Cusco or Mancora) take a little more time than I am used to in the U.S. This is true of any place that does sit-down service and is not a fast food or chain food outlet. A typical order for two took about 20-25 minutes to be processed. Do keep this in mind and make sure you get to your place of choice before the hangry pangs set in.

2) American fast food chains are plentiful. Even in the remote corners of the country, a Subway or a KFC or a Mcdonald’s is not far away. If you wanted to survive on comfort American fast food you could easily do so outside of the 8 hours you spend at Machu Picchu.

3) Pizza is the national dish or at least it should be. I am still trying to figure out how and why this is the case but there are more restaurants selling Pizza than there are restaurants selling Peruvian food. The pizza was ubiquitous. Whether it’s Papa John’s at the Lima airport or a 100 square feet street food store, the pizza was the most popular dish in Peru. You’ve been warned!

4) People in Peru eat late. Breakfast service is available till 11 and lunch doesn’t start until 12:30. Dinner is usually eaten past 20:30. So if you are craving the company of Americans, make sure to eat at American times ‘cos the only folks at dinner tables across Peru before 8:30 PM are American tourists.

5) Peruvians do not seem to have a tongue or craving for spicy food. I craved politely and admonished loudly for “Mucho Picante” or “Aji Aji” but chefs across the country had trouble reaching the spice level that someone who likes spicy food is comfortable with. Carry your own Sriracha if you can!

Now on to the fun parts!

Arroz Con Verdura

Arroz Con Verdura

Spanish for Rice-with-vegetables, you cannot go wrong asking for this simple yet fulfilling dish in kitchens across Peru. Red peppers, Green Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes are sauteed for 5-7 minutes & mixed with local seasonings and spices. This is then served hot and fresh with a cup of white rice. I found this to be worthy of a daily lunch several days in a row. If and when coupled with the ubiquitous Cusquena, you get a lunch that is the very essence of Peru – simple, tasty and filling.

Inka Grill in Cusco

Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level. It is a deviated septum’s worst nightmare and on an unrelated note, a shockingly good source of vegetarian yumminess. Inka Grill situated along the edge of the Plaza De Armas at the center of the city boasts of fine decor and stunningly tasty Peruvian fusion food. The wife and I sampled most of the vegetarian menu here across two meals and you really cannot go wrong. Our favorite dish was the Piqueo peppers shown below. These soft well-cooked local peppers stuffed with quinoa and herbs have an incomparable after-taste. I didn’t find the side of cream or local sauce to be required at all. The peppers by themselves were very tasty.

Piqueo peppers

I also highly recommend the Risotto here. It is chock-full of vegetables including asparagus and thyme. It is rich without being overloaded with cheese or butter and is just the right kind of filling. A plethora of appetizers including Huacataya (Andean potatoes) and Tamales make for great conversation accoutrements as you wait for the Ravioli, Risotto or Pesto Quinoa (shown below) to be prepared by the chef.

Pesto Quinoa

Chifa food in Lima

Lima is a beautiful city with diversity in its neighborhoods and outstanding food everywhere. The tourist-friendly Miraflores and Barranco neighborhoods are home to 100s of restaurants per square mile and the ones they are loudest and proudest about are the local Chifa restaurants. Chifa is a term used to describe Peruvian-Chinese food. It is the amalgamation of years of immigrants from Guanghzhou assimilating into Peru.

I tried Chifa dishes in Lima, Mancora and Cusco and one place that stood out was the ‘Restaurant Chifa Asia’ in Barranco. Their vegetarian noodles and fried rice were to die for. The restaurant is very bare-bones-y and the service absolutely sucks. These however tend to be the characteristics of restaurants that survive for a long time based purely on their tasty food and that is absolutely the case with Chifa Asia.

Chifa fried rice

In a refreshing turn, the dishes here are not overloaded with salt the way similar dishes in several Chinese restaurants across the US can be. The portions are plentiful, the veggies are cooked really well and the noodles even come garnished with tasty roasted cashewnuts. For less than 8 dollars-per-head, Chifa Asia offers a killer vegetarian meal.

Chifa noodles

Pizzeria Antica

Pizzeria Antica is an Italian chain that has outlets across Peru. We visited the one in Mancora twice and were very satisfied customers. Antica offers one of the biggest menus I have seen allowing patrons to choose from seven kinds of Pasta, 30 sauces, 20 toppings and Pizza crusts. The options are overwhelming and no number of Mojitos make the decision-making process any easier. Trust me, I tried!

The good news in all of this is that the vegetarian options are plentiful. I tried the Gnocchi with Pesto sauce and a simple pizza with cheese, olives and peppers. The chef took nearly 40 minutes to get these out but they were both great. Again, the dishes were less salty than comparable US dishes and were very filling and tasty. The service staff here was great and the whole place had a great relaxed vibe which made it one of our favorite jaunts while in the beautiful wind-swept beach town of Mancora.

Pizza Antica


The only Indian restaurant in Lima

As far as I could tell google, the only Indian restaurant in Lima was the Mantra. The wife and I visited Mantra for dinner one night wondering what sort of Peruvian flair this meal had in store for us.

In spite of the music which was most definitely a 1999 Shah Rukh hits on infinite loop, we left satisfied customers. Our meal of Gobi Manchurian (Wet/Gravy), Aloo Gobi and Coconut Burfi was authentic, flavorful and satisfying. The restaurant owner chatted us up for a bit explaining how he procures many of the ingredients from the US while actually preparing the spices and powders in-house. The service was great and the crowd started to trickle in well after 10 PM. For those having Indian cravings, Mantra is a must-stop.

Burfi Gobi Manchurian


The Chocomuseo has branches across Peru and conducts 2 hour sessions and workshops on chocolate making and chocolate history. We made time for this in our first 24 hours in Lima and are very grateful we did. The folks here are as sweet as the dessert they work on every day and the 2 hour session involves roasting, grinding and tasting chocolate beans. The place offers up a variety of ways to eat or drink your chocolate. You can try chocolate flavored Pisco, jams or even tea.

We made a bunch of chocolate in shapes and sizes we liked and enjoyed them after. In a land renowned for chocolate and the cacao, Choco Museo is the must-see dessert spot.

Chocolate ground chocolate

Peru is a land where you are never too far from either the mystical or the modernest architecture. Peru is home to the potato, cacao and Pisco. Peru is a land of plenty and home to extraordinary food. Fusion, Italian, Chinese, Indian and local cuisines work hard to sate the vegetarian palate. The people are friendly and proud and I hope you have as funa culinary adventure in this great country as I did.

Muy Bien!

Posted by & filed under cricket, Indian abroad, Media.

Image courtesy Getty Images under Creative Commons license

A very unfamiliar program will greet you this Sunday morning when you turn on ESPN2. Instead of the dulcet tone and canned notes of John Saunders or the 732’nd breakdown of the Final Four, you will be greeted with cacophony, terrible play-by-play and references to tracer bullets. You may also be greeted with loud, pouring rain. For Sunday is the day when for the first time ever, a cricket match will be telecast live on a major American sports network. The World T20 final is live on basic cable at 9 AM EDT on Sunday!!!

ESPN has steadily increased its coverage of India’s most popular game starting with live updates and previews on the front page of the website during the 2011 World Cup final (A World Cup final that was of a different format and is more important and very different from Sunday’s World Cup final. We’ll get to this later) and then showing the previous edition of the T20 World cup final on tape delay on TV to now showing the whole friggin’ game live.

I am 33 years old and cricket has already given me a lifetime of joys. Here below is a quick primer for the unfamiliar American. Hopefully it makes you want to stay tuned for the entire 3 hour broadcast and turns you into a cricket fan.

1. There are three primary formats for the sport that is played mostly between 9 nations and a made-up one called the West Indies. The longest of these formats lasts up to five days at a time and has been in vogue since 1877. For reasons unknown to man, games in this format are called tests/test matches. These games are actually a lot of fun but it will take longer for this version of the sport to gain relevance in America than it did Solomon Northup. The most popular format is the One Day variety that lasts approximately seven hours and has been around since about the start of ‘Monday Night football’. Until a time when the Red Sox were afflicted by the Curse of the Bambino, odds were that this would be the format that evangelized and seduced Americans but a skimpier sister who would only take three hours to put out stole its thunder and is now here to stay. The skimpier sister’s name is T-20 and what you will be watching on Sunday is the climax to its most recent World cup. Clear as mud?

Image courtesy ICC and under Creative Commons License

2. The T-20 World Cup is being held in Bangladesh which is to international cricket what the Jacksonville Jaguars are to American sports. Bangladesh is mostly irrelevant, mostly incompetent and gets to host the odd event that in turn helps get their vote in favor of whatever the league’s Dallas Cowboys want. In reality, India are the Dallas Cowboys of the cricket universe and the president of their cricket board N. Srinivasan is a Botox-free Jerry Jones but we can get to that story another day. India will play Sri Lanka in the final. Weather and the playing surface play a huge role in all formats of cricket and the conditions in Bangladesh are similar to the conditions in India and Sri Lanka which makes it no surprise that India and Sri Lanka are the last two left standing. These two teams neither have a historic rivalry nor do they hate each other. If anything, they play each other way too much in many-a-meaningless match that in many ways this is the most boring matchup you could have gotten for a final. You are welcome!

3. A T-20 game is split into two innings in the same way a baseball game is split into 18 (You see what I did there? Cricket fans don’t say top-of and bottom-of and deny the existence of the half-inning). Teams are part of a coin toss where the winner of the toss gets to pick if they want to pitch first or bat first. Late evening dew has made batting late a better proposition in this tournament. Expect this fact to be drilled into your head a few more times during the game. Once the toss is done, what you will watch is eleven batters of one of the two teams face 120 pitches from 5-7 pitchers where each pitcher cannot throw more than 24 pitches and not more than six pitches in a row. Also in cricket, the pitcher runs in from anywhere between 5 and 50 yards. The eleven batters will attempt to score as many runs as possible via hits between and around and over nine outfielders. Each batter however can be dismissed or be out once which then makes him not a batter for the rest of the game. As soon as the 120 pitches are done, teams swap roles and the team with more runs at the end wins. Any fan of the sport will tell you that there is considerably more nuance to what I just described but will confess this is kind of all you need to know.

4. Enjoy each pitch! Cricket fans call each pitch a ball and the pitchers as bowlers but who cares? Cricket’s bowlers deliver the ball over 22 yards with exceptional variance in speed, style and angles unless their name is Vinay Kumar. A good way to kill time during the game is to imitate the action and stride of the bowlers you see on-screen. Don’t hesitate to really roll that arm over.
Image courtesy Creative Commons license

5. Enjoy each hit! Cricket’s hitters are called batsmen and the top of the lineup typically has better batsmen. These batsmen pick up the speed and deviation in the air and off the pitch to guide the ball along the ground and in the air away from fielders. They do this with great hand-eye coordination, nifty footwork and rules skewed to favor their tribe. A good way to kill time during the game is to drink a shot every time silly analogies are used to describe what the batsman just did. “Tracer bullet”, “meat of the bat” and “flashed hard” are just some of the terms used to describe otherwise normal movements of the batter.

6. The median cricket game has more stoppages of play and commercial breaks than the median American anything. Use the gaps wisely to refill your brunch bowl, use the bathroom and to google the terms “googly”, “chinaman” and “N Srinivasan”. If you have kids tell them cricket has fewer concussions but more mosquito bites than any sport known to man and ask them if they want to play cricket. Their answer might surprise you or startle you. If your spouse wants to watch something else, tell her/him that what you are watching is something unique and rare and may never happen again on American cable television. Soak it all in and if at 11 :30 AM EDT you have an inkling of what is truly happening and who is likely to win, congratulate yourself. You now are an American cricket fan and a better human being than all your friends or neighbors. Welcome to this great sport. It comes in three flavors and offers you in return a lifetime of joys.

Yours Sincerely,
A cricket fan.