Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thunee in the 1940's?

Jawaharlal Nehru, Indias first Prime Minister, said that; “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will”. I’m wondering - was he talking about Thunee?

His good friend Ghandi stayed in the heart of Thunee land during his years in South Africa from 1893 to 1914. There are no accounts of Ghandi playing the game. He was a people’s person though, and must have played the game in the middle of Thunee's rising popularity. I’m certain that Ghandi brought the game to India, where he and Nehru secretly played the game. In between their other talks, they were busy 4-balling each other.

Nehru also said; “The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all”. Did you regret not calling a Thunee, or a kanak Nehru?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thunee popularity

I’m proud to say I play Thunee. It’s a cultural heritage, and the fact that it’s a popular game makes me even more proud. But how popular is it really?

First and foremost it’s a relatively confined game played amongst Indians in South Africa only, well mostly. It seems like a gamers parallel to Apartheid and the group areas act. Ok, South Africa was a bubble during that period, but the game existed long before that and quite some time during the age of social medias. Are charous systematically blocking other groups from playing the game, unconsciously – but still?! On that note, I see this white guy (fair assumption) online complaining about complex rules, and advising to find a live indian to teach the game.

Anyway, amongst Indians in South Africa the total universe amounts to about 8 million people. How many plays the game, or are likely to play the game? Subtract children, moffies and some steckies behind the pots, then 25% maybe? That’s 2million players in a best-case scenario, but continued charou confinement. Hundreds! Converted to Rands in my pocket, I’d be very chuffed. Relative to the world population in 2015, that’s less than 0,03%. Much more likely, Kajol will run down my trellidoor and beg on her knees to marry me tomorrow!
Relative to other card games then, how popular is it? Robert Putnam reports that; “In the late 1950s, it was estimated that 35 million Americans – nearly one third of all adults – were bridge players”. In 2005, 25 million Americans over the age of 18 knew how to play bridge, according to the American Contract Bridge League. Only 3 million of these played the game at least once a week. Although reclining, players can study a hand of bridge presented in the newspapers, pretty much wherever you go in the world.

Take poker for instance. Its played all over the world and the number of players are increasing by the day. Poker players have pocketed their dough since the Wild West, and poker as a profession doesn’t raise an eyebrow anymore. People are employed to write about and broadcast the game. Anestimated 80 million people in the US played poker in 2005, and 2 millionsplayed online every month. The number of players in the world series of poker (WSOP) increased from 393 in 1999 to 8773 players in 2006 (Wikipedia). During the same timeframe, numerous Thunee players went into “brain drain exile” where they had nobody to play with.

Card games worldwide are facing a general decline in players. The exception is poker, but mainly driven by online playing. With hardly any online presence, Thunee may have a gloomy future ahead. Just a small indication before the recline hits us heavily… How often do you read about Thunee in the papers?

The future might be bright though. According to new UN estimates, India will pass China as the most populous country in only 7 years time. If Amitabh Bachan or Kajol got hooked… Thunee could trump poker!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The origins of Thunee

Being part of an Indian South African family and having lived in SA for two years, there was no option but to learn Thunee. Most social charou gatherings include half a bicycle pack - then the game is on. The catchy card game resembles another popular card game in Norway, and thus not too hard to get a general hang of.

After playing the game for quite a few years, I’ve been wondering about the history of the game. Are the similarities to the Norwegian card game just coincidental?

After serving my naval duty in Norway, I know for a fact that seafarers are avid card players. Not participating in the game, you’re considered dead meat on board. Norwegian seafarers did also reach the South African shores. The most known are the Norwegian whalers who came to Port Natal and the shores further south. Oslo beach to name one, where they even started a Norwegian church.

Just like seafarers, religion seemed to be another factor. Browsing through battle site maps throughout KZN, you’ll be amazed to find Norwegian missionary stations. I imagine they were playing Thunee in between the battles and prayers.

Another group set out from Bergen (Norway) to start a colony on the island Aldabra (Seychelles) in order to practice their religion. Reaching Madagascar, they found that the French had already claimed the island. Devastated, they navigated back to Port Natal where descendants today are farmers in Stanger.

All this happened pretty much at the same time as the indentured labourers arrived in SA... or were they all Thugs? Whether it was the whalers, missionaries or religious colonists, or a mix of all three? Durban was pretty much surrounded by preaching card playing Norwegians. Naming the game was pure logic. As the Indians in South Africa adopted the game, they were quick to name it Thunee (water in Tamil) since it came the waterway from Norway.

At sea, there was no 4-balling for cheating. Keelhauling and flogging were the usual punishments amongst hardy seamen, and kept the majority away from cheating. The equivalent in today’s landlubber Thunee, is marshal law where 4-ball is as bad as it gets. Cheating is less fatal, but has become an important part of the game. The speed, rhythm and verbal battles come hand in hand with cheating, and are major factors behind the growing popularity.

No wonder Thunee players are so religious about their game!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

“Tele2, you’re speaking to Teletubby. May I help you?”

“Tele2, you’re speaking to Teletubby. May I help you?” That’s “tubby" like in hollow sound. Knock knock, who’s there…? Shake shake… nothing in there but empty space! It’s a breed of incompetent human beings (IHB), previously found only in Home Affairs. They are oxygen thieves and should according to Darwin not be fit enough to pollute the planet… Home Affairs and various call centres have however protected the specie, causing a degenerated world population and hell for normal people... Yesterday I managed to cancel my contract with Tele2. It might not seem like such an achievement… for such a trivial thing. Nevertheless, it took me 10 years.

Years back, I had this contract with the added service; “favourite country”. I was flirting on the phone nonstop and for NOK10 a month I got 30% off on my calls to South Africa. It was a good deal and saved me big bucks. When I changed provider I somehow assumed that this extra service, “favourite country”, would be cancelled along with it. South Africa taught me something new though, that assumption is the mother of all fuckups!

A few months later I received a NOK30 invoice for the "favourite country" service. I explained to the Teletubby that I did not need this service any more without a contract. Besides, I brought the chick over here and was fine with local calls. I was assured that they would take care of it and that I need not worry any more about it. Still, once every quarter I get the same bill with the same amount. 6 times I’ve contacted Tele2, and the whole vicious circle repeats itself every time.

Even with the 30% off, I believe I was a pretty appreciated client. Numerous Teletubbies have called to get me back with even better terms. But starting off as a humoristic thing, it has grown into a major frustration. I believe Tele2 is now down to break even on my account. I alone must have increased the staff turnover and the psychiatric help expenses for the Teletubbies dramatically.

The initial excuse was that it was a bit problematic due to their technical solution/platform or something along those lines. Same thing has been repeated as a standard phrase every time, and yesterday was no exception. After 10 years, they are still struggling with the same technical issues? Somebody is seriously incompetent... On my frustrations, anger and incompetence index, Tele2 is level with Home Affairs in Norway and South Africa. That’s bad!With a Jameson on the rocks and hardcore music on my eardrums I decided to blow off some steam last night. I told myself; “chill man – TIA”. TIA (This Is Africa) has been the explanation for every frustration and increased blood pressure over the last two years. But hey, that excuse does not apply here. This is civilization for f**k sake, or was that a dream I had?

This morning however I received an SMS saying that they have credited and finished the account. I’m still a bit hesitant, but I'm starting to believe I have cause to celebrate... Yay!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Graduated with distinction

Forgot to post the story of my graduation in South Africa. Better late than never:

I have officially acclimatized and done my African graduation! You may also say I’ve been corrupted or come down to the South African level (or up to), or however you may see it. Two years in South Africa has given me the right schooling I believe, and I have done (or committed) my first fully conscious and successful bribe! The politicians here are the best examples. All your friends have exciting stories to tell! It happens on a regular basis but I’ve only been a jealous listener to all the stories up until now. It was only a matter of time…

A family member had a good bribe story from another remote part of Africa. It fascinated me from day one and has stayed with me for a long time. It’s like a true African adventure thing that you have to experience as a proof that you have really had a proper taste of the continent. Very similar to other stupid stuff one may contemplate doing in order to have a proper Africa story to tell your pals back home! “We’ve got a problem, now how can we make this problem go away?” I love that approach! It's true African problem solving, and you haven’t been to Africa without getting yourself out of a shitty situation through a proper bribe!

I’m driving my father in laws car with a trailer hooked up. Down the road, some cops are pulling over vehicles. The most shabby looking cars and taxies are always stopped! Any vehicle with a trailer is also likely to be pulled over. From afar I can see that a police woman jumps out in the middle of the road, pointing at me and the trailer in the back. “F**k, what now?!” To her disappointment the license discs are in order. A foreigner however can be targeted many ways. My driving license that has been more than sufficient in any other police, car and insurance matters is now a BIG PROBLEM! On the 20th time she explains to me her bullshit problem, I’m about to explode. Considering the badge and uniform I go through all the Bruce Banner (Alias HULK) yoga/breathing exercises to not let the monster out! At the same time I’m wondering; “What the hell are you fishing for? ...are you?!” In retrospect I realize I should have picked it up on the 6th or 7th repetition at least. I’m a bit embarrassed about how slow I was, but there is a first time for everything to my defense.
What was that line again? I’m hesitating for a moment before I hear the words come out of my mouth; “How can we make this problem go away?” I burst out laughing as I say it. Maybe I can claim it was a joke now… waiting in anticipation for the lady cop’s next move. It will either be a bribe or a hardcore African prison now I’m sure… The cop smiles and says; “Ok, R100 and we’re quits”. “You’ll have to jail me for bribing too little”; I tell her, “coz I’ve only got R50 in my pockets”. “Ok"; she says and grabs my money. 50 meters further up are two of her colleagues standing. They must know exactly what’s going on. I’m sure they’ve got a little joint bribe pot to add to their salaries. I’m free to go. Very excited now I realize I’ve made my first official bribe, and I even had the guts to haggle with the cop! How much cooler could it get! I would say that a R50 bribe is very cheap, but good for a first timer. With marlin scars and a bribe to brag about, I can safely say that my African journey has been a very successful one. I’ve got stories that will get better by the years and that will keep children and grandchildren glued to my lap!
After sharing my story with people I’ve received more professional bribing advices. You simply plant a small note in the cop’s hands, hiding the real value so that he can’t see it before he is holding it up. When the cop complains about the low amount you threaten to report him! You have bought yourself out of the situation very cheap! This is common for minor traffic offences like drunk driving when you are on a roll.
I also had help to fix a small defect on my car, and to get a roadworthy certificate. During the technical check a new problem was discovered. For all I know it could have been a way to fish for a bribe, but it was in any event a problem that now had to be dealt with. Inspired by my story, my brother in law used the same line; “How can we make this problem go away?” I copied the line myself to be honest, but already people are copying me! How cool isn’t that? In South Africa that qualifies for a MB - Master of Bribery. Its like MBE (Member of the British Empire), a very honorable distinction, but a practical and very useful degree! The problem vanished for only R100, and technically the car does not stick out in the South African car park!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Election Reflections

I’m live streaming 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Joburgs bumper to bumper traffic entertainment number one. Damn, I didn’t know just how much I’ve missed it before now. Over the next few days I will make serious attempts to catch Wackheads morning pranks. If not in the traffic, I would make up excuses to catch Wackhead before doing whatever… Just heard they run amazing (Nandos) election campaigns for ANC these days, So I’m looking forward to some juicy stuff there...

I couldn’t escape some SA election stuff in any event. I predict that Zuma wins a landslide election… duh!!! The election was over last year when Zuma closed down the scorpions (corruption task force on Zumas tail).

I also see that Shabir Shaik (corruption & fraud) is due for medical parole (although nobody can tell what’s wrong with him) less than 3 years into his 15 years sentence. I doubt he will need it. Zuma must still be thankful for the millions he received, so I predict a presidential pardon and a miraculous recovery for Mr Shaik. His corruption track record will ensure a promising political career in the years to come. Lots of old news can be brought against Zuma of course, but I do honestly believe, and I predict once again that he will reduce the rape statistics significantly! Zuma’s own rape charges (where he showered off the HIV germs) illustrate this. According to Zulu traditions that Zuma refers to, “… it’s a crime to deny a woman sex when she is ready”. No wonder Zuma saw it best to fuck her brains out. A lousy fuck must also be a felon… I’m only confused about the “readiness” factor (in a rape charge). I wonder if this could be introduced elsewhere (like in Norway), or does Zulus have extra sensitive senses to detect "readiness"?

My condolences go to the people of the African continent. SA used to be in the forefront and have some sort of development to show for. The political situation though is in my eyes going down the drain and culminates with Zuma in office. SA as an example used to give an ounce of hope for other African states. Now it seems like SA is copying… I wonder if Zimbabwe is not the ideal?! It confirms that we did the right thing to leave SA last year, but that doesn't make me very happy. Funny to think back now how I planned to get myself a crossbow and night optics only months ago in pure rage. The political situation and crime was exactly our reasons. I hope I’m not clairvoyant about all my predictions though.
The Zapiro cartoons showed above are used with permission from Zapiro, and more brilliant cartoons can be found at

Jacob Zuma on Facebook (Screenshot only)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hot Skando Babes Ltd

Scientists have combined psychology, neurology, economy and gaming theories and developed what they have named Behavioral Economics. One of the founding fathers, Daniel Kahnemann, got the Nobel prize in economics in 2002. Since existing economic models and theories are unable to explain the finance crisis we needed something new.

A number of books on the area are already out there, but Dan Ariely’s “Predictable Irrationality – The hidden forces that shape our decisions” is one of the important ones. He has asked male students to describe themselves when sexually aroused, and whether they would put dope in the drink to get a woman to bed when they are horny, amongst other things. Afterwards though, they are asked to answer the same questions whilst masturbating over an issue of Playboy. The guys were 136% more willing to participate in immoral activities. Duh!!

The founding fathers of Hot Skando Babes Ltd (HSB), myself & Beaverboosh, has suspected this since puberty, and conducted a series of similar market analyses over years, ahead of the launch last year. Managers in the biggest banks and multinational companies like Enron, Société Générale, Lehman Brothers, Citibank, Bear Stearns, AIG and Stanford Bank just to name a few contributed. The global list of participants is of course too long to include here. Our testing universe was extensive in order to make a representative selection of the entire worlds (old school) market economy. We were able to do this in such a large scale because the market analysis in itself proved to be extremely profitable. We simply put a Hot Skando Babe on the manager’s lap and asked questions as to how far (immorally) they would go in order to “get her”. Trained Skando Babes conducted the interview themselves so that a third interviewer would not affect the answers and credibility. The conclusion was that Hot Skando Babes Ltd is fit to thrive in today’s increasingly ruthless business world. Word of mouth and private networking has helped Hot Skando Babes a lot. On our regulars list of excellent businessmen who recommends Hot Skando Babes we've got Eliot Spitzer, Jérôme Kerviel, Marc Dreier and Bernard Madoff among many others.Dan Ariely used Playboy issues picturing Hot Skando Babes and similar methods as we used and thus reached the same conclusions. Our research though, was conducted on a decision making level (not pennyless students) and a much more profitable segment. Dan Ariely is clearly a copycat, and I am very hurt that we were not even credited in his research papers and recent book. Never mind a Nobel prize in economic theory!

Hot Skando Babes Ltd had however built up sufficient funds through our market analyses to do a global launch last year, and the business has been booming. Dan Ariely has of course made good money on his book violating our research copy rights and Hot Skando Babe’s good name and reputation. Hot Skando Babes Ltd has however decided not to sue Dan Ariely. Instead the board has decided to kill him with kindness and send over a Hot Skando Babe to his office.

In a pursuit to explain our fabulous success we have so far found a correlation between HSB revenues and the decline in the global stockmarkets. This is of course intriguing and our Skando Babe analysts are still busy deciphering these remarkable findings. When it comes to customer satisfaction we have achieved immediate and short term top scores. The long term customer satisfaction is however challenging to say the least, and this will be our main focus in the coming months. One of the measures is to install hidden cameras to analyze the client interaction. We believe this will provide important new information that we can use to u-turn this negative trend. In the mean while, we wish all our clients wealth and happiness and that we can avoid the brewing war. After all, their success is our success!