Saturday, June 27, 2015


I once read that more than 80% of blogs are dormant, meaning that ambitious online writers set them up with overflowing enthusiasm only to abandon them shortly after, letting them rot away slowly in cyberspace.

In a bid to save this blog from heading down that dreary path, I present to you my first post on here since February 2014.

A lot has happened since then.

Although I promptly failed to make it to my own convocation ceremony, I graduated with honours from Carleton University's famed School of Journalism and Communication.

I  also got engaged to a wonderful young woman and completed a full year working as a multimedia reporter for a dynamic sports publishing company based in the UK.

Furthermore, I suffered the most serious sports-related injury of my career. Bizarrely, however, I was still able to continue playing golf completely unaffected and that, good friends, is what this blog post is on.

Although you're probably itching to read all about my personal life, this post is about how I was able to play the best golf of my life with a horribly torn rotator cuff.

Injuries are never fun, especially when you play as many sports as I do.

Ultimate is an awesome sport. Try it out. 
I picked up this bodily grievance while playing the wonderful game of ultimate frisbee. To save you the trouble of reading how I got hurt, watch this video. I basically did the exact same thing except a) I dropped the disc b) I tore the rotator cuff in my right shoulder in the process.

At the time I had no idea how bad my injury was. In fact, it hardly hurt so I played another game right after and even completed the winning catch to seal a memorable last minute win for my team.

The pain would arrive like a freight train the next morning.


I knew I was in trouble when I woke up the next day. I couldn't so much as lift my right arm without letting out a gasp of pain.

I was scheduled to play in the foursomes leg of a Ryder Cup-style tournament later that day with my community golf group at The Track, Meydan Golf.

"Not a chance," I grimaced to myself as I barely managed to slip my right arm through the sleeve of my t-shirt.

The day passed in agony.

If menial tasks like holding the steering wheel of my car and raising objects with my right hand were sources of excruciating agony, surely there was no chance of me swinging a golf club without passing out in pain.

But before I called up my captain, I gingerly picked up a lob wedge at work and rehearsed a gentle chip shot. No pain. I turned it into a half-swing. Still no pain. I proceeded to a full swing in slow motion and much to my amazement, I still felt no pain.

It was settled - I was going to play. A few more full-swings confirmed my decision.


I nailed my drive down the middle on the first hole and ended up parring what many call the most difficult opening hole in the Middle East. My partner and I would eventually triumph over our opponents 4&3 to a secure an invaluable point for our team.

Just so we're clear, I'm not a great golfer. I play off a 17 handicap and I'm lucky if I get one full round in a week. Oh, and I can't play out of a bunker to save my life. 

A few days later I played at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club where I won the longest drive competition on the monstrous par four seventh, splitting the fairway with a tee-shot that measured 268 yards.

The week after I carded a hardly believable two-over par gross 38 on the picturesque back nine at Al Badia Golf Club (although to be fair, it was the end of a corporate day at the course and all the tees were placed more generously forward than I had ever seen them before).

I wasn't only able to fully play the game with a rotten shoulder, but I was striking the ball sweeter than ever before.


Yep, my shoulder is pretty messed up. 
My failure to do a couple of simple exercises was enough for my doctor, Dr. George John, to diagnose my condition.

"Badly torn rotator cuff. Get MRI and then we see how best to treat."

Dr. John is a renowned sports surgeon who has worked with athletes from all over the world. He admitted this was the first ever frisbee-related injury he had treated. I could not have been more proud of myself.

I told him about my new found success on the golf course. Was I making my shoulder worse?

"If it's not hurting you then there's no reason to stop," he said with a small shrug.

"The muscles in the shoulder's rotator cuff allow the arm to make overhead and pulling motions. The golf swing is a lateral movement."


Unsurprisingly, the MRI revealed a severely torn rotator cuff (two of the four muscles were ripped to shreds).

In addition to being prescribed physiotherapy, I was given hyalgan injection shots to help regrow the muscles and boost circulation in my shoulder.

Just for the record, undertaking an MRI for the shoulder is an incredibly uncomfortable experience. It was like being stuck in a plastic coffin for 45 minutes while listening to an overloud symphony of diseased whales. Not fun.

So the moral of the story is this - if you're looking to lower that handicap, try tearing your rotator cuff. It did the trick for me, who's to say it won't work for you?

Your truly,

PS. Although I am not a medical professional or a sports physiotherapist, I speak from experience. 

Friday, February 7, 2014


Centretown News is a biweekly community newspaper with a circulation of around 17, 000 in Ottawa's Centretown neighborhood.

What makes Centretown News unique is that it is produced and published exclusively by Carleton University's school of journalism through a couple of courses available to third and fourth year students, as well the department's handful of master's students.

Under the watchful eye of our professor and publisher Klaus Pohle, we the students are the editors, reporters and photographers of the paper. It's also our responsibility to lay-out the pages and solicit advertising.

For the first two issues of the paper this semester, I took on the post of sports editor. Curling seems to be the go-to game when it comes to Centretown's small sporting scene. Some of the best curlers in the country hail from the two curling clubs in the area, the Ottawa Curling Club and the Rideau Curling Club

In addition to ensuring that my reporters are doing their job, part of my duty as editor is to write a column for my section for each issue. I had a crack at writing a column during my stint at the Golf Digest Middle East last summer, and had it published in the September issue of the magazine. (Click here to check it out)

But much to the amusement of my colleagues at Centretown News,  I chose to write my first column on the state of cricket in Canada.

Over the last few years, the sport of cricket has seen as an explosive rise in Canada. In my column I argue that more needs to be done to accommodate the game here in Canada, starting with creating more places for people to play the game.   

You can read my column on cricket in Canada here - 'Cricket in Canada needs a shot in the arm.'

My column for the second issue was on Ottawa's new professional basketball team, the Ottawa SkyHawks. Now in the middle of their inaugural season, the franchise is struggling both on the court and off it. Currently they play at the 20,000 capacity Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, a venue which even the city's NHL team rarely sells out.

In my column I put forth the proposition that in order to create a fan-base, the team needs to play their home games at a venue, or venues, closer to town and not way out in the suburbs of Kanata (which is a 20 minute drive from downtown).

You can read my column on the SkyHawks here - 'Ottawa SkyHawks need to come to town.'

You're probably wondering what the title ('S-Column') of this blog post is all about. S-Column was the slug for both my columns. A slug is a brief name given to every story by the editor and its purpose is to makes things easier when its time to edit stories and paginate the paper.

'S' stands for sports. 'N' would stand for news, and 'A' for an arts story. The word after describes the story in one word. For example a story on the Rideau Curling Club could be slugged 'S-Curling.' A news story on a man with a tail, like this one, could be called 'N-Tail.'

Friday, October 4, 2013


With this being the fourth and final year of my degree (who woulda thunk it?), I'm taking a science reporting class that's taught by the Globe and Mail's science correspondent, Ivan Semeniuk.

For our first assignment, we were to write a story about a new discovery in the world of science.

I did mine on the recent discovery of a new chemical compound that supposedly acts as an invisibility cloak for us against mosquitoes. What's even cooler is that one of the chemicals in that compound is found in human skin. Read my story (below) to find out more!

Side note - You know, reporting on science is fun. From Mars to mosquitoes, there are so many cool things out there to talk about and no shortage of fascinating people to talk to. In fact, next week I'm meeting up with a particle physicist right here at Carleton to discuss the work she's doing with experimental particle colliders.

By Mohamed Suleman

Imagine this: a chemical that’s found right in your skin that when mixed with a bunch of other chemicals, renders you practically invisible to mosquitoes and other blood-sucking critters.

That’s what a group of researchers from the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture (USDA) presented at the American Chemical Society conference in Indianapolis last week.

The chemical is part of a newly discovered compound which redefines the function of the traditional mosquito repellent.

“The compound that was discovered was not so much a repellent as it was an ‘attraction inhibitor’ because they caused the mosquitoes to behave in a different manner,” said Dr. Natasha Agramonte, a co-author of the study.

And boy did they behave in a different manner.

The intimidatingly named chemical 1-methylpiperazine acts differently from other chemical repellents like DEET because instead of deterring a mosquito from a particular smell, it quite simply doesn’t let the mosquito smell its dinner to start with.

“A repellent would normally cause the mosquitoes to move away from the source of the repellent chemical, as DEET does when you apply it to your skin, said Dr. Agramonte.

“1-methylpiperazine appears to interfere with the mosquitoes’ ability to smell which causes them to have difficulty locating humans to feed on.”

The discovery was led by long time research chemist at the USDA’s Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, Dr. Ulrich Bernier. In order to improve a mix of three chemicals he had previously found that were successful in attracting mosquitoes, Dr. Bernier was initially on the lookout for more chemicals that would attract mosquitos.

Instead, he stumbled across something very different.

Rather than making the chemical blend more attractive to mosquitoes, when 1 –methylpiperazine (which is found in small trace amounts on human skin) was added to the other chemicals it made the mosquitoes unresponsive to attractants or to human skin.

Commenting on the discovery, Neal Dawson, a comparative biochemist at Carleton University, said that while the compound ‘definitely has promise,’ the team still has a long way to go and need to consider some of the possible roadblocks of their new discovery.

“The potential pitfalls are the ability to mass produce it, and the potential side effects this would have with sensitive skin and reactivity with other drugs,” Dawson said.

“There is also the issue with reactivity to address and how it would interact with skin products like lotions, creams and cleansers.”

But Dr. Agramonte said that her team were still many tests and lots of time away from introducing their compound to the market.

“Even though the chemical is found in small amounts on human skin, toxicology tests will also eventually be done to insure the safety of the chemical on human skin in higher concentrations and to make sure it is safe to inhale,” Dr, Agramonte said.

“At this stage I can safely say it’s an interesting discovery,” said Dr. John Arnason, a chemical ecology professor and specialist at the University of Ottawa.

“But people have been doing this kind of stuff for some time now and before getting too excited about it, I would wait and see how well it works outside of the lab and out in the field.”

He also said that another challenge that Dr. Bernier and his team faces is the fact that insect repellents are usually subject to microscopic and often lengthy approval processes before they are put on the market.

The team’s next step, as Dr. Arnason suggested, is to test the compound in a larger field setting and see how well it is able to hide humans from mosquitoes outdoors.

Whether the discovery of this fascinating new compound will spell the end of DEET or not, the thought of a mosquito ‘invisibility cloak’ sure makes those long summer days all that more welcoming. 

Monday, September 2, 2013


The entrance to the clubhouse
With my days in Dubai winding down to a close, my dad and I made the pilgrimage to Abu Dhabi to play on a course many consider to be the best and most scenic in the Middle East.

Yas Links Golf Club is on an island called Yas Island. A 2500 hectare tourist destination, Yas Island is home to the Yas Marina Circuit, the venue of the Formula One UAE Grand Prix since 2009. There's also a Ferrari theme park (Ferrari World Abu Dhabi) and a huge water park on the island.

But we were going there to play golf and our tee-off time was booked for 6:30 AM, forcing us to leave home obscenely early at sunrise, around 5 in the mornings.

Once we reached there we were joined by a tourist from Sydney who was staying just adjacent to the course at the Raddison Abu Dhabi. He shamelessly told us that it was his wife's birthday and that he was celebrating it by sneaking out of the hotel to play golf at six in the morning.

So off we went, with the sun still not truly out and a little bit of morning mist keeping the fury of a Middle Eastern summer at bay (we would feel its true wrath later in the day with temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius).

Yas Links is a fantastic course to play on. While it is not a true links course like St. Andrew's or Muirfield, it's as close to a links course as you'll get in this part of the world.

Wildly sloping fairways, island-sized greens quick as billiard tables, acres of ugly cabbage awaiting errant tee shots, short par threes fraught with danger left and right - it's truly a golfing treat.

There weren't many holes where the brilliantly aquamarine hued water came into play but all but one of the four par threes were water-ridden.


- Our Aussie playing partner, James, is a former 3 handicapper (for those not familiar with golf, that's a stone's throw away from being a pro). It was a treat watching him play and work his way around the course.

- On the opening hole, a short 350 yard par four, I landed my approach shot four feet from the pin and went on to gleefully tap in for birdie. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't a sign of things to come. James started the same way and unlike me, it was a fitting start to a round in which he carded a three-under 69 - brilliant stuff, mate.

- My editor at the Golf Digest Middle East, Robbie Greenfield, had one piece of advice for me when I told him I was going to play at Yas Links - "Take lots of balls."

Miraculously, I played with the same ball I teed off with on the first hole, a Titleist 2, until the eighth hole where I promptly pulled a drive into the middle of the lake.
Teeing off on the par three seventeenth

- The par three seventeenth is the kind of hole that marshals will ask you at the end of your round, 'How many balls did you guys lose on 17?'

But thankfully things weren't that bad for us. While James and my dad found the deep bunkers that guarded the front of the green, my 7-iron tee shot, hit with a slight fade, was right on line. In landed softly close to the pin, rolled a little, and then inexplicably disappeared from view.

"Er-did that go in the hole boys?" I asked a few seconds later. Their murmured replies were inconclusive.

My old man hitting from the fairway
We drove our carts to the green, me thinking I've surely just hit the first ace of my life - something my dad has failed to do even once in the twenty odd years he's been playing the game. But alas, my ball wasn't sitting in the bottom of the hole but rather it lay twelve feet from it. We couldn't see it from the tee because it had rolled down a small plateau on the green.

Hole-in-one or not, it was still a memorable day of golf and I think it'll take a lot of courses around the world for me to play on before I can say I've played at a better and prettier one than Yas Links.

Parting tidbit - Click here to watch a clip of me putting for birdie ... it was such a good putt that James dropped his putter. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I’m currently back home in Dubai visiting my family and interning at the Golf Digest ME, the region’s most widely circulated golf magazine. I'm also doing some stuff with Stuff Middle East, a hip gadgets and technology magazine.

Our office is in Media City, which is quite far from where I live. So instead of driving the 40 odd kilometers to work every morning,  I drive to Rashidiya Metro Station, park my car in one of the 2,714 parking spots available there, and hop onto the Red Line which takes me all the way to Nakheel Station.

Yesterday it struck me how many touristy landmarks I pass on my way to and from work everyday. So below is a list, in no particular order, of the top seven (ten is too mainstream) materialistic monuments I sleep through every morning (naps on public transport are the best): 

1 – Airport Terminal 3 – Number one on the list is an airport terminal. 'Big whoop', you think. But at 1, 713, 000 square meters, Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 is the largest building on the planet in terms of floor space. 

2 – Burj Khalifa – 829.3 meters. That's how tall the tallest tall tower in the world is. Developed by Emaar, the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors which hold offices, apartments, restaurants, and even the first ever Armani Hotel

3 -  Emirates Mall – Probably the only mall in the world where you'll find a fully functional ski slope. In the summer while the temperature outside can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius, inside Ski Dubai it’s always a chilly -3.

4 – The Dubai Mall – This creatively named mall is the biggest in the world. Nuf’ said. Oh, and this one has an Olympic sized ice rink inside it.

5 – Emirates Golf Club - As prestigious as golf clubs come, the Majlis course at the Emirates is home of the Dubai Desert Classic, a marquee event on the European Tour. It's where I got Tiger Woods' autograph five years ago, and where Rory McIlroy thanked me for finding his ball in deep rough as a marshall. 

6 - Burj al Arab - Welcome to the only 7-star hotel in the world. Royal suites go for as much as $18,000 a night, but if that's a little pricey, you can always opt to stay at one of the cheaper rooms which can be anywhere between, um, $1000 to $2000 US a night. They also do stuff like this every now and then too. 

7 – the Lost City of Atlantis - Okay technically it's called Atlantis, the Palm. It's the first resort to be built on the Palm Jumeriah - you know, Palm Jumeriah, one of those funny shaped man-made islands where people jet ski to their neighbour's house for dinner.

Atlantis features several high end eateries and there's also a water park where legend has it, there is a slide in which you actually pass a hungry bunch of hammerhead sharks on your way down.

So there you have it - a small glimpse of the craziness that makes Dubai ... Dubai.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


A couple of weeks ago on the golf course I got paired up with a Canadian engineer born and raised in Ottawa.

As we waited for our turn to tee off on the par-3 sixteenth, he asked me, "Do you play any other sports other than golf?"

When I mentioned I am an avid cricketer, he told me he had no idea cricket was played in Ottawa, and that he had been thoroughly confused the few times he had seen the sport on the television.

"I think it's sort of like baseball, but there just seem to be so many rules," he said.

The lingo of the game itself is enough to make an outsider fear for his sanity - wickets, stumpings, no-balls, short-legs, silly mid-ons, gullys -  the list goes on.

But cricket does, and has thrived in Canada for a long time, and the capital is no different. There is a governing body (the Ottawa Valley Cricket Council) which oversees three fully-fledged leagues featuring nine registered  teams.  

Just a few of days ago, CBC's The National did a story on the 'explosive' rise of cricket in Canada. It said that cricket in Canada has reached a point where it's not a matter of weather or not people are interested in playing the game. It's if there are enough places for them to play that's the issue.

The report said that in Toronto, the need for cricket fields has easily outweighed the demand for places to play football.

You can watch the report here.

Canada's national cricket team, unsurprisingly made up mostly of players originally from the sub-continental, is pretty decent. They are not sanctioned to play Test cricket (the sport's elite format) but have competed in the last three World Cups.
Here in Ottawa, I play for Nepean Cricket Club (no we don't keep our website up to date). They are a great bunch of guys made-up mostly of Sri Lankans and south Indians. We practice on Thursdays, and play matches against other teams on the weekends.

With my ability to swing the new ball both ways, I open the bowling for my team and am a sturdy bat in the middle-order.

Those of you unfamiliar with cricket are probably feeling rather lost right now.

Matches are played at Lynda Lane Park, and Rideau Hall, where the century-old English tradition of playing the gentlemanly game of cricket in the precincts of the gardens of the Governor General's residence is still well and truly alive.

In the winter, we play a three-month winter league inside Carleton University's Fieldhouse. It's a much reduced format from the outdoor version, but it's still cricket.

So listen up soccer and hockey: move over - cricket is here to stay.

Btw - apologies if you've been receiving random emails from my blog. The service is automated, and rather glitchy as I've found out. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Perils of Procrastination

Now for a dose of exam-time randomness - below is an article I wrote on effective time management.

There’s a mountain of stuff you need to get done, and you’ve finally found the time to do it. But more often than not in a situation like this, you find yourself putting that work off until that precious time you had is gone.

 “Oh well,” you say with a small shrug of your shoulders. “There’s always tomorrow.”

Procrastination is the natural enemy of productivity.

It’s almost normal for us to turn to more enjoyable activities when we’re faced with something important to do, or something that requires a little bit of muscle flexing by the mind. 

Time is valuable, so in this article, I'll explore how you can get more value from your hours.  

The first step is to admit you have a problem. There’s nothing worse than fooling yourself by saying you know what you’re doing when really, you don’t.

Once you’ve pleaded guilty to procrastinating, the next step is to find the reasons behind your putting-off of tasks. Is it because I can’t stand the sight of paperwork? Or is it because I just don’t know where to start? Maybe it’s because I’m just not motivated to get these things done.

By identifying why you procrastinate, you can come up with the most effective strategies to kill the habit.

So now you know why do what you do, the next step is to adopt, with open arms, the best strategy:

If you struggle for motivation, tell yourself that after you finish a certain task, you will  treat yourself with a little incentive.

"I’ll eat the left overs of that butter chicken in the fridge if and only if I complete that sociology essay." Or I’ll only watch another episode of Breaking Bad after those forms are filled.   

Another useful strategy is to eat an elephant beetle first thing every morning. No, don’t worry. We’re not telling you to start feasting on exotic insects for breakfast just yet.

Eating an elephant beetle means to tackle your yuckiest, most difficult task first up. The philosophy is simple – once that’s out of the way, everything else will seem like a piece of cake.

And remember, the mind is freshest early in the morning, so take advantage of it!

If it's organization (or a lack of it) that’s making you procrastinate, then pull up your socks up and smarten up. Have a to-do list posted somewhere you can access easily and check things off with a flourish once you’ve got them out of the way.

Also, try to prioritize your tasks so know what needs to be done before what. Setting time-bound goals is another effective strategy. Tell yourself that by 3:00 PM, this inventory will be done and dusted – no excuses.

Finally, if you’re putting tasks off because you just don’t know where to start and are overwhelmed by the mountain that stands before you, try breaking things down into smaller, more digestible chunks, and then tackle each one as it comes.

The last time I tried, I failed miserably in my attempt to devour a twelve-inch sub in one bite.

If you don’t like the taste of elephant beetles, then start your day with something small and easy. That way you’ll feel like you’re getting things done, and you’ll carry momentum through your tasks.

Lastly, just think of how much better you’ll feel after you have finished something that’s been nagging you for weeks.

That ‘it’s-finally-off-my-chest’ feeling is pure magic, and you know it.