Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Log 287: I get up at strange hours because I’ve always been hooked on sport, all my life

My friends tell me I am completely bonkers because I frequently get up at 3 am or thereabouts, to watch various games being played on the other side of the world, like in New Zealand or Australia. Usually what I watch is Rugby, sometimes cricket, and more often tennis, minority sports in this part of the world, which makes me seem even more like a kook.

Many of my friends have hang-ups about sports in general, arguing that they are a weapon in the armory of the right-wing conspiracy to keep the public tranquilized and apathetic.

I can’t deny it, but my excuses are on a different, more personal level. I grew up in the 1930s in a society which was mad about playing games. We almost all played. I went to school every morning as early as possible to get first dibs on the fives court; I stayed after school in the afternoon to practise Rugby, and returned home usually covered in mud ; I went back happily in the evenings to perfect my cricket. In addition, I ran races and jumped longwards and highwards, and when the links were not charged, my friends and I snuck in to hit a few balls along the fairway. I don’t remember ever having to pay for any of this.My parents didn’t have to break themselves to buy the sparse equipnent involved. It was all done within the rubric that physical activity is good for the growing child, and the facilities were paid for in one way or another by the public purse.

One of my fondest memories of my childhood is of sitting up overnight beside the radio to listen to the broadcasts of the Aussie cricketers when they were in England, contesting the Ashes.

Naturally, with all this as part of my inheritance, I became a fanatical follower of sports. Of course, in those days, all these sports, even at the international level, were amateur: no money --- except for minuscule payments for food and lodging for traveling teams --- changed hands. The closest any of our star-sportsmen acquaintances came to being paid for their brilliance on the fields was that they worked in jobs that willingly let them go for three months or so while they went on tour, secure in the knowledge that their job would be waiting for them on their return. This sport was all so local that even young men in our community, friends of my brothers, could emerge as national representatives, and visit with us from time to time, just as they had always done.

As a kid I grew up with the pictures of every represntative national Rugby team since 1905 on my wall; alongside shots of the greatest international cricketers, the fastest international runners. In my teens I read voraciously of the history of cricket, and as I have told many people since, the remarkable innings of 187 not out played at Sydney Cricket ground by Stan McCabe against the fury of “bodyline” English bowling, (so unfair, although nothing to what is trundled up these days) --- though I was only four when it happened --- became a landmark of sporting brilliance for me. (Tough, though, when I have told people about it over here, I have usually said he scored 232, confusing a later innings, one of the greatest ever played, in Nottingham in 1938. Never mind: most aged reminiscences must be riddled with such errors). At least I have got it right now!)

One day when I was in high school I took a walk with my father, who asked me what I intended to do. I said, I seemed to be good at only two things, one, composition, as we called writing essays in those days, and two, sports. We agreed maybe I could think of writing about sports to make a living. And so, in 1945 I gor a job on the lowest rung of journalism, had to give up playing sports myself because I had to work on Saturdays to collect the results of games being played around me, and so became a member of the working class, which, I like to say, I have been a member of ever since.

I went into journalism with a mind stocked with information about the world’s great cricketers, Rugby players, and tennis players. Since then I have been a mere spectator. I interviewed Frank Sedgman, the Aussie tennis player, and Norman Von Nida, the golfer, and Bobby Locke, the South African golfer, who visited our town while on a tour; I scraped near-acquaintance with such great runners as Herb McKinley, of Jamaica, at that time the greatest 400 metre runner ever; and with various others who were notable in their fields.

But eventually I began to realize more interesting things were happening out there, and my pursuit of sporting stars waned --- of course, in my day, and at my level, we never thought to interview the players after a cricket or Rugby match, allowing their performances to speak for them --- but my obsessive interest in the world of sports has never entirely disappeared.

I began to watch Wimbledon on TV right from the moment I went to England in 1960,--- I listened to it on the radio in the early fifties ---and have missed hardly a year of it since --- cursing the American commentators for their petty volubility. Until the last few months when I stopped buying newspapers, the first thing I looked at in the daily newspapers were the sports pages.

So that is my defence for supporting this socially regressive area of human life. I know full well that if we called things by their right name, we would refer o Djokovic, Federer and Nadal as sales people for their various sponsors. I know that.

But I still love watching them at play. And this morning I watched every ball of the five hours and 53 minutes of the remarkable --- indeed, one might say epic --- Aussie Open final between Djokovic and Nadal.

I know Nadal is a nice boy, modest and well-spoken off he court, but his postures on the court put me off. At one moment in the fifth set, he seemed to be grasping towards victory with such ferocious obsessiveness that I found it quite off-putting, and was finally glad he lost.

He was, however, a gracious loser, one of the things you have to learn if you are to be a real champion.

It was the third or fourth morning I got up to watch the Aussie Open, and I am relieved it is all over, and I can get back to sleeping, like a more or less normal human being.

Normal, did I say?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Log 286 : First Nations/government summit leads to a plethora of expressions of goodwill, obscuring a lack of anything specific

A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo) returns to AhousahtShawn Atleo in his tribal costume Ecotrust Canada via Flickr

I don’t remember ever having fallen asleep twice in response to a political speech, but I managed it yesterday when Stephen Harper addressed the Summit, as it was called, between the First Nations and the government. While watching it on TV I nodded off during Harper’s initial presentation; I was happy when CPAC repeated the speeches later in the day, and listened attentively enough when Harper began to speak, but what do you know, I fell asleep again before he finished.

My friends often tell me I am one of those people for whom the glass is half empty, as distinct from those optimists for whom the glass is always half full. But frankly, as I heard this improbable meeting droning on, I have to confess my glass was not just half empty: it was flat out empty. For National Chief Shawn Atleo, in contrast, who had organized this meeting, the glass was positively overflowing, with optimism. Oh, well, I can hardly blame him, for having got Harper and his whole Cabinet to visit him and his native chiefs, Atleo had to get something out of it, and one could tell from Harper’s anodyne presentation that nothing much was forthcoming, if anything.

Atleo said the First Nations were making a solemn commitment to a new beginning in their relationship with Canada and the Crown, and added, “and we must not fail.” The first thing was to repair the trust between the two sides, that has been broken, and this meeting was the beginning of that long journey.

Okay, no one could argue with that, I guess. Atleo, giving a little historical background, said the Indian Act in 1876 was “built on a disgraceful premise of our inferiority.” Numerous signposts had since been erected testifying to the fact that the Act had “failed our people”, including the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, whose sensible recommendations, arising from their thorough investigation of the actual situation, have been totally ignored for 16 years by succeeding governments.

Just how Atleo can ever have hoped for a new beginning from Harper and his gang of right-wing ideologues is a mystery to me. Harper’s main adviser on Aboriginal questions has been Tom Flanagan, a Calgary professor, and Goldwater Republican who has written two books recommending a policy of assimilation, and its inevitable privatization of the collective indigenous culture, without having ever been in an Aboriginal community in Canada. Behind him is a whole range of academics and rightwing journalists who, having given some attention to the subject, have unanimously declared discovery of a path that, to them, is devastatingly novel, that is, assimilation, a remedy that they show no signs of recognizing is the very policy that has landed the Aboriginal people in their present parlous state.

Anyway, back to the meeting. Elaborate tributes had to be paid to Harper, as Prime Minister, ignoring the fact that the three ministers who spoke, John Duncan, Indian Affairs, Leona Agglukkaq, Health, and Peter Penashue, Intergovernmental affairs, had nothing to say except to recite the government’s noble works and good intentions in this field. Sixty-five land claims agreements signed in the last six years, they said, so much money spent on this and that. Of course no one mentioned that some 800 land claims are still dragging their asses through the system, that while the urgent demand for houses on Aboriginal communities numbers 45,000 --- urgent demand! --- but last year some 1400 were built. Inconvenient stuff, these facts.

Jody Wilson-Rayboult, AFN regional chief for BC, gave a nod to the potential for development of Aboriginal businesses, but said that to release those energies would require something more than the “impoverished concept of government” that flows from the Indian Act. This had led to the government’s idea that handing over Indian Affairs programmes to the Indian bands to administer was equivalent to self-government. But she said, no, sir. This was just the latest in a history of colonial attitudes, which must end. Speaking directly to Harper, she said, “You cannot legislate self-gvernment for us.”

Ovide Mercredi, former national chief (and one whose independent thinking was not to the government’s liking) said his purpose at this meeting was to speak for the Treaties. If the Treaties were properly understood, they could become the powerful force for a renewal of First Nations life in Canada. He quoted an elder who, when asked what he thought of how things were going, said, “Act Indian, not Indian Act.” (This was the second remarkable quote from an elder we had heard: Atleo had recalled how his grandmother had seized his hand when she heard Harper’s apology for the horrors of the residential school system, and said, “Grandson, they are beginning to see us.”)

Ovide quoted the well-known judgment of Lord Denning in a case brought by some First Nations people in a desperate attempt to stop repatriation of the constitution in 1982, which was proposed without any mention of Aboriginal rights or titles. Denning said he could see no reason why the First Nations should distrust the government of Canada, but if any such thing were to occur, they should know that their rights and freedoms were guaranteed by the Crown, and no Parliament would be able to lessen the worth of these guarantees, which would be honoured by the Crown in right of Canada “as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow, and this promise should never be broken.”

Ovide was the only speaker who brought his audience to its feet in spontaneous applause: he added that, if necessary, “we” would go to Britain again. “That is not a threat,” he said, “but a statement of our commitment to defend our rights and titles.”

Matthew Coon Come, another former national chief who is now Grand Chief of the Cree Grand Council of Quebec, told delegates that his group had found it advantageous to enter into alliance with the province of Quebec, and said the province’s Plan Nord, for development of the lands that once had been recognized as Cree homeland, provided a superb opportunity for the Crees to win contracts and develop the skills needed for them to take part in the exciting work ahead. Economic progress, which the Crees were experiencing, and governance,were two sides of the same coin, he said. Reform in the economic field cannot succeed unless there is reform in the field of governance.

The meeting then adjourned, for reasons unexplained, into private session, where various workshops were undertaken, on which the most perfunctory reports were delivered at the closing ceremony four hours later.

Later still, at a press conference, some journalists were able to ask a few probing questions of the participants: the most interesting of these came when Minister Duncan said that in the workshops and in their previous legislation, they had established shared priorities with the AFN. “We have accomplished what we set out to do,” he said. “We have re-established our relationship.” He posited the First Nations Land Management scheme as a signpost leading to a better future, handing over to First Nations that asked for it control of their lands, and set up a system for “sharing the wealth” from heir lands. This, he said, was already accepted by 55 First Nations, and it effectively took them outside one-quarter of the provisions of the Indian Act.

Under questioning, as to the meaning of “sharing the wealth”, did this mean they would have royalties, or simply jobs? Duncan said their primary focus was on job training, and as the questioner remarked that people were asking how there could be a profitable diamond mine alongside the social disaster of Attawapiskat, Dunan was called away by his officials, and drifted off.

When Atleo was asked the same question, he said the relationship with the federal government should be based on “partnership, sharing and trust. It means getting away from the Indian Act, and we can see that Canada is willing to work with us in this new relationship.” A questioner asked how he could be so positive about this new relationship when, out of the other side of its mouth, as it were, the federal government was vigorously defending more than 100 court cases taken to challenge their controls of Indian life; he had to admit this was an anomaly, but one that they would have to work on to improve.

It was notable that Prime Minister Harper did not speak at the final session, although he was there to mop up the many accolades delivered in his direction by other speakers. And as far as I could tell, this “new relationshop”, at least in the minds of the government, is simply the same old relationship, warmed over, and with a few steps towards privatization that remind one strangely of the “termination policies” once tried to such devastating effect in the United States.

Still, one can’t blame Atleo for trying, I guess.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Log 285: Aljazeera screens shocking film based on CSIS interrogation of child-soldier Omar Khadr when he was 16

One dead man in background, wounded youth in f...Image via WikipediaOmar Khadr getting battlefield first aid.Khadr when found on the battlefield Image via WikipediaUnited (States) Parcel Service.Image by matt.hintsa via Flickr

Yesterday Aljazeera TV broadcast a film called Four Days in Guantanamo that is of essential interest to Canada. It is based on the videos of the interrogation by CSIS agents of Omar Khadr when he was 16. The Canadian agents at first pretended to be there to protect the kid’s interests --- from the Americans, evidently --- but after a first day when the interviews were relatively smooth, the child lbegan to insist that the interrogators were not really ready to protect him, and kept asking them for assurances that they would do so --- assurances they refused to give him.

When the interrogators withdrew, the child burst into tears, and moaned over and over, “Oh, mother, oh, mother….”

The next day the interrogators were reduced to appealing to him to help them, saying that if the interview continued as it was going, they would be harmed within their unit, an appeal that an observing clinician regarded as “psychological abuse”.

Also commenting on the interviewing technique was a former US interrogator who had since given up in disgust what he had once done enthusiastically; and two or three other former inmates of Guantanamo, who had shared cells with Khadr until they were repatriated to Britain at the request of their government, something the Canadian government has steadfastly refused to do.

An important part of the evidence of the boy’s state of mind mind was that at the beginning he confessed to thinking of Canada as his home, and said he wanted to get back there --- he was born in Canada, after all, so that leaves the government with even less reason to have treated him as some kind of visiting alien, as they have done, shamelessly ---- and his insistence, right from the beginning, that he did not do what the Americans have insisted that he did do, which was to throw a grenade and kill a US serviceman.

In fact, the film shows a shot of the moment he was found, lying with a huge hole in his chest, his body covered in shrapnel, in a room full of dead people, covered with debris, at the very moment, according to the film, when the Americans were claiming he was throwing a grenade.

When the interrogators said his mistake had been to be in the room with the other Al Queda personnel --- all of whom were killed in the firefight, as far as I could tell --- he insisted that it was his father’s decision to place him in the room, not his own. The impression left with me was that the child was far from being a convinced acolyte of Al Queda, as he has been treated by the government.

Finally, the film records that to avoid the virtual certainty of receiving a 40-year sentence from the military tribunal that tried him, the young man, by this time in his mid-twenties, pleaded guilty to everything he was charged with under a plea bargain in which he received an eight-year sentence. The first year of that was to be served in Guantanamo, after which he has to be transferred to Canada, where --- the film did not actually say this --- it is understood he would serve perhaps three years more of his sentence before being released for good behaviour.

The last news on that is the transfer, although it was seheduled forlast October, has not yet taken place, which makes one wonder whether the Canadian government has not reneged on the deal it accepted as part of their citizen’s plea bargain.

Khadr is the last citizen of a Western country still held in Guantanamo, and the only Westerner whose government has refused to ask for his extradition. Many others have since been freed, and are living freely in their home countries, such as the two Britain former cellmates who appeared in the film. One of these was arrested at the same time as Khadr, and he gave evidence to the effect that when they fell into the hands of the Americans at the Bagram air base prison, the kid was treated by the Americans more harshly than other prisoners, was covered in shrapnel, and was in terrible physical shape.

This is a shocking story, and it exhibits the amorality and obsessive bias of our government only too clearly. It leaves one wondering how such a ruthless, obsessed mob ever got elected to run Canada.

For all I know, this film may already have been broadcast by the

CBC. I have asked them if they have ever screened this film, but have so far not received a reply.

I am indebted to a web site called For the Love of Freedom for the quotes filling in more of the recent background to the Khadr story:

"After his capture, Omar was detained at the notorious Bagram Air Base, where he was subject to inhumane interrogation and torture from the moment he regained consciousness. From Bagram, at the age of 16 Omar was moved to Guantanamo Bay. Here he was further subjected to harsh interrogation methods, including prolonged shackling in stress positions, solitary confinement for extended periods, beatings, and explicit threats of rendition to other countries for the purposes of torture.

"Despite the fact the he was barely a teenager at the time of his incarceration, he was not afforded any of the typical considerations for juvenile offenders, such as repatriation or being segregated from the general adult population. For much of his incarceration he was not officially charged, nor was he permitted to speak to his family or even a lawyer. Khadr was repeatedly interrogated by Canadian government officials and CSIS agents, who turned their findings over to U.S. prosecutors to aid with the conviction of Khadr, despite the fact that there were no assurances that he would not face the death penalty. This was deemed illegal in a unanimous 2008 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, who also ordered the videotapes of Khadr’s interrogation be released. The tapes were dramatic, at times showing a crying Khadr pleading to be killed and begging the Canadian interrogators to protect him.

"After an unsuccessful appeal by the government in 2009, in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled for the third time that the participation of the Canadian government in Khadr’s interrogations was illegal, stating:

" 'The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing the fruits of the interrogation would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.'

"In 2010, Khadr pled guilty to multiple war crimes as part of a plea deal worked out with the United States. Many saw this as justification for the horrible mistreatment he suffered as a teenager. Ultimately, however, it does not matter whether Khadr threw the grenade that fateful day or not – no crime is ever justification for a government to abuse the rights of a citizen. If our rights fail to protect us when we are vulnerable, when we need them the most, do they even exist at all?

"As part of his plea deal, Khadr was slated to be repatriated to Canada in October 2011 to serve out the duration of his sentence. However, more than 3 months has passed since he was eligible to be transferred, and there has been no concrete movement to begin the process to bring him home. Both the Canadian and U.S. governments claim there is no wilful foot-dragging, and blame the delay on complicated legal process. Apparently the issue is that the United States government is required to certify that Canada is a fit place to send a convicted terrorist, Canada will not permit Khadr to attack the U.S., and that Canada retains control over its prison system. This statement comes on the heels of the massive joint border security agreement signed by both governments. It is difficult to ascertain why the U.S. would sign an agreement of that nature with a country it doesn’t think is in control of its prisons, or would potentially allow a convicted terrorist to attack the U.S. An American official familiar with the case has been quoted in the press as saying the reason for the delay is 'your country (Canada) doesn’t want him back' ".

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Link of the Day:Jan 17 2012: How the Conservatives became the party of Big Oil: an illuminating article in The by Murray Dobbin, reveals why Harper is demonizing anyone who opposes the tar sands development. and why the fight against this appalling development is growing increasingly hard to pursue.(nastier all the time); and why Harper, with his policy of sending oil to China, shows the lack of a national energy policy, as well as his lack of interest in being a truly national leader. Read it here.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Log 284: Aljazeera shows the way in inviting leftist commentators to their studios to describe the state of the world

Judy Rebick in 2005Judy Rebick Image via Wikipedia

A few days ago I heard a panel discussion of a kind I never expected to hear on TV: three leftists were engaged by Aljazeera to discuss the American economy, and in particular the drastic and growing imbalance between rich and poor. This happened on an excellent programme offered by this network every day, called Inside Story.

I have been complaining for years at the refusal of our Canadian networks to give equal space --- or any space at all --- to people of a leftist persuasion. That is especially true of the CBC --- actually the only channel I watch --- which has established its own favored groups of people who are repeatedly called to comment on events. These groups are overwhelmingly rightist in their orientation. For example, Peter Mansbridge is always interviewing Andrew Coyne, Chantel Hebert, and another guy whose name escapes me --- it used to be Alan Gregg --- he calls them “Canada’s most-watched political panel.” Coyne and Gregg are self-confessedly supporters of the Tory party, having worked in their interest for many years. Hebert is neatly positioned between the parties, a rank centrist, and of other favored panelists on other programmes, only Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers Union, seems to have thea magic leftist jelly that recommends itself to the CBC brass.

I am not saying any of these people are not competent in what they do, just that the overwhelming political orientation of them all is right-wing. I think it behooves the network to tell us when they employ people who have been or are, committed to a particular political party. For example, Tom Flanagan, once an adviser to Stephen Harper, is a rabid right-winger, whose origins were as a Goldwater republican. He has written two books about Canada’s native policies, without ever having been in a native community.

I wrote this once before, suggesting all sorts of left-leaning people who should be seen at least on an equal basis along with these favored ones, people like James Laxer, Mel Watkins, Murray Dobbin, Naomi Klein, Judy Rebick, and many others, each of whom would give us more valuable commentary on the state of the nation than the appalling Rex Murphy, the darling of CBC’s National News. On that occasion much to my surprise, my suggestion was reprinted by the Centre for Poiicy Alternatives. But of course, even that had no effect: the same old dreary groups are still whistled up to give us their same dreary commentaries that are usually so divorced from the real problems of the nation.

The discussion on Aljazeera between Cornel West, a leading, left-leaning black intellectual in the US, who made no bones about the fact that the US, far from being a democracy, is actually an oligarchy, Barbara Ehrenreich, a leftist writer who has written some of the most important books critical of American capitalism and its nefarious works, and Tavis Smiley, author of a recent devastatingly informative report on the US imbalance, was like a breath of fresh air, allowing the commentators to pin their audience down with pitiless facts about how screwed the US system has become, and how dangerous it is now to the livelihoods of even people who once considered themselves middle class and untouchable.

We need more of this kind of stuff, and I think Aljazeera could serve as a kind of model to our programmers, because day after day they summon up authorities on Middle Eastern affairs especially who are unknown to Western audiences, but who have challenging things to say about the state of affairs in global politics.

Many Sundays they have a programme call Café which gathers a rich collection of well-informed, usually youngish, people in a Tunisian cafe, and lets them go, saying whatever it is that is on their minds. Very often they are shouting each other down, so enthusiastic are that at this opportunity to speak their minds. But I find this, among other programmes, immensely informative about the real state of affairs in these nations whose realities have for so long been disguised from us behind a mountain of Western waffle.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Log 283: So, we meet again, Dr. Tuli: A brilliant young doctor saves my sight, as he did six years ago.

I have been sitting here since the beginning of December, immobilized to all practical purposes, by a lack of sight in my left eye. This follows discovery of a detached retina, unfortunately my second, since I had a similar problem in the right eye in 2005.

Fortunately for me, in both cases I have benefited from the brilliant and dedicated surgery of Dr.Raman Tuli, the leading retinal expert in Ottawa.

I learned during my last encounter with this mysterious ailment that the essence is to discover it, and have it treated as early as possible. On my first run around this I succeeded, more by good luck than good management, in doing just that. In 2005, troubled by some sort of strange spot on my eye, I went to the Emergency Room at the Ottawa General, expecting it could be cleared up by a couple of drops of something or other. To my surprise, the emergency doctor declared I had a detached retina, and transferred me upstairs to the Ottawa Eye Institute, where I was examined by two doctors who each came to the same conclusion, “You have a detached retina,” and a third who added, “We need the retinal doctor for this.” And so arrived the ineffable Dr. Tuli, who explained to me that the treatment involved, first, injecting some gas into the eye to reestablish the retina in its correct position, and second, to zap it with a lazer beam to reconnect it. That was achieved by 3 pm on the same day, a relatively painless experience, but one that, within two weeks or so resulted in my getting my full sight back.

This time, concerned that I had what seemed like a detached retina, on a Monday I phoned the opthalmologist who looks after my eyes, whose staff more or less shrugged me off, telling me I could not get an appointment until a week hence. The last thing his receptionist said before signing off was, “If you can’t see anything, go to the hospital.” Is this what might be called concerned care by a doctor? I don’t think so.

I thereafter made a mistake. I tried to get through the week, and then undertake my appointment, but had to surrender and go to the Emergency room at the General on the following Friday. There I was given the unsurprising news that I had a detached retina, and an appointment to turn up for a further examination the next day, Saturday afternoon. At that appointment in the Eye Institute, I was examined by a young intern, who said I would have to be handed on to the retinal doctors. The doctor involved was a very smartly dressed young man of Middle Eastern origin, a Dr. El Kandary, if I remember correctly, who looked at my eye, and before checking out for the weekend, set up an appointment for me on the following Monday for surgery by Dr. Tuli. “I’m sorry the news is bad for you,” he said. “Your problem cannot be settled with a mere shot of the lazer. It needs full surgery on the eye.”

When I turned up at the Riverside on Monday and mentioned I had been seen by Dr. El Kandary, one of the support staff said, “Oh, he’s finished with us now. He is going back home to Kuwait. He has taken his whole training here with us, and now he can’t wait to get back home to his family, who left a few months ago.” Where, no doubt, he will become an important addition to their medical staff, thanks to expert Canadian training.

As I waited for Dr.Tuli I began to realize how fortunate I had been to be squeezed into his schedule. When he arrived he began to work his way through a thick pile of patient files, and as all the people waiting with me filed in and out of his surgery I began to marvel at the responsibility this doctor was undertaking with every patient. In essence, he was saving all of us from a future of at least partial blindness. Six years before, one of his nurses had told me he was the youngest of four or five doctors who worked on retinal problems, but because the others were older, and less inclined to undertake a huge burden of work, Dr. Tuli was undertaking most of the load. Six years before, a visit to his modest surgery in Nepean showed me how huge was this burden of patients, and the evidence this time seemed to indicate it had not grown any less in the intervening years.

Dr. Tuli performed a brief surgery on my eye, conducted under a local anaesthetic, and told me to go to his surgery the next day for a check up. They wouldn’t allow me out of the Riverside by myself: apparently there are legal restrictions against allowing patients to roam the countryside under the influence of whatever drugs they may have poured into you for such an operation, and I had to phone a friend to come and pick me up.

The next day, in his private surgery, I was able to judge that Dr.Tuli had prospered in the six years since I had last come under his care. He had moved into a very much more posh office, and given himself the name of the Retinal Centre of Ottawa, along with one other doctor, presumably doing the same kind of work. Once again, of course, there was a crush of people waiting to be served by the good doctor. When I got to see him he declared that my eye was “looking good” and asked me to return to the Riverside the following Monday, when he said he would give me “a little lazer treatment.” I told him I wanted him t know how very much I appreciated what he was doing for me, and how I thought his skills were amazing. Dr. Tuli is not a particularly gregarious man (a roll of 25 comments on the internet by his patients testifies that most of of them find him slightly too reserved for their liking), and in face of my compliment he sort of waved it aside with an embarressed shrug, held out his hand, and shook me out of his office.

The folliwing week he did his promised “little lazer treatment.” It turned out not to be the sharp, brief jab he had given me six years before, but an excruciating full-blown grinding away at my eye for what must have been almost a minute, a procedure that knocked the stuffing out of me for at least an hour. Fortunately, I had taken my friend along this time, in case I needed someone to show me the way home.

Okay, that was six weeks ago: what follows all this treatment is that a large black blob hangs over one’s eye, a blob that diminishes very slowly day by day. I had been told by one of Dr.Tuli’s nurses that it would take six weeks for me to recover my full sight. It is almost six weeks now, and I still have a smallish black blob hanging over my eye: I am hoping they are as good as their word, and that the blob is not far from disappearing.

Meantime, I feel like repeating the invocation I pronounced six years ago after my first experience of a detached retina.

All hail to Dr. Tuli! I wrote at that time, and this time I repeat it, with knobs on. I feel that I owe an immense amount to this taciturn young doctor with his remarkable skills. And if he is embarrassed to have me say so in public, I don’t care. The guy is a lifesaver, and I am prostrate before him in my gratitude. Thanks a lot, Dr Tuli, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.