Wednesday, December 05, 2007
its an ordinary looking paperback and it was in a cardboard box in VijithaYapa Bookstore (the Thurstan Branch) (but dont go rifling through their boxes I think there was only one copy)
it cost a measly 400 rupees but I wont sell it to you for 4 laks if you ask. (although for 4 laks in GBP I may consider taking a photocopy and letting you have it)
it is the ulitmate guide.
and this book starts with the words
NOW THAT YOU HAVE FOUND THIS BOOK,
-DONT TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
It’s a charity sale – you heard me- this is really charity , and Im hoping to be able to pay at least in part for my dentures.. I mean, dental upgrades ...and next years' contact lenses and routine maintenance like that, so well, give me a chance....
No -seriously, I mean ...there will be other people there selling normal useful entirely legal things. ...
NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS – A CHRISTMAS FAIR
Date : 9th Sunday December 2007
Venue: Royal Collage Sports Complex (Rugby Grounds) off Stanley Tillekeratne Mawatha (just next to the Indian Restaurant)
Time 10.00 am to 6.30 pm
Stalkers be warned: I’m not alone. There are two other ngo people with me and we know our rights. White Rabbit: dont even think of it.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
It was the year 18 hundred something and King Rajadi Rajasinghe got Malaria and asked for Chloroquine. Chloroquine had not yet been discovered so they gave him Koththamalli instead.(Even if Chloroquine had been invented the idiots in the Health Department would have had a shortage of it! The Director of Health Services and his yes men could not tell the difference between their chloroquine, arses and their elbows!) The King died.
His last words were "AaaaaaH!"
the rest of the story,which is not mine, can be found here
http://www.crazylanka.com/historyrajasinghe.htm but this here illustration which is mine will be in Tuesday's Colombo Post .
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
plus two good friends of mine (who happen to be Tamil) were dropping me home...
so I had this scarey experience of being on pins and needles all the way during the trip...
of shuddering every time we passed an army uniform...
of wondering what to say or do ...
and mind you this is in spite of the fact that I have excellent contacts in the forces who will vouch for me and bail me out of any problem within minutes....
this got me thinking about my friends who dont have that security...who have to always worry each time they pass a checkpoint...who get stared at coldly... who even if they do have an ID card, get penalised and suspected because of their names...
this is so sad, my friends , I know how you feel and I do feel for you.How do we solve this? when will it end?
on a lighter note my buddies in the car were thankfully not too worried about the predicament I had put them in and were joking about what they would say if they were caught (they would probably be in trouble for trafficking some unidentified female object -)
* oh sorry thats just my mentally retarded domestic assistant she has let the dog chew her ID again...
* sorry officer, but the people at the previus checkpoint put her in and told us to take her to Kandana
I also just saw two people walking really briskly and purposefully with the lower half of a person on a streatcher. Sometimes I wonder idly whether this is really the priority at a time like this. I think we should have a lot more First Aid Training on what to do in Energencies , instead of focusing on body parts which ostensiably cannot be resold( but then knowing Sri Lankans - anything could have been on their minds-) shouldnt we be doing more about the half dead...
the official count is ten injured so far but i think I saw at least 3 dead on TV and this IS Nugegoda.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Really, I mean it- I don’t know what hit me. One day I was smiling, glowing, happy ,joking handling anything that came my way with the aplomb of an Amazon, my blog profile said “ contented, happy go lucky & placid” in description of me, then – suddenly I woke up at 3 am one night in a cold sweat of depression and panic, and it was officially the beginning of an all time low. My whole personality crumpled inwards as if its superstructure had collapsed. It was horrible.
Before you direct me to the nearest reputed psychiatrist, or send me links on the subject please let me assure you I have handled this sort of thing perfectly well previously and emerged visibly unscathed but somewhat older, so from afar this isn’t as serious as I make it sound; but when Im in it, this is genuine tangible depression as black as tar and as scary as Voldemort – and, what’s more , I’ve noticed this is what happens to me each year around November!
It’s when I realize another year is almost over and I can’t even remember what I set out to do this year in the first place, but there are more crows feet and less teeth, plus my toes are looking worse and there is more grey in my hair. Weight is becoming progressively more difficult to shed and my knees are beginning to act funny.
I honestly feel grouchy, self pitied, selfish, mean, low and totally anti social in November. I suddenly realize that I still don’t posses any of those critical success factors that society judges you by- a swanky residence, a posh set of wheels, a handy spouse (ok not necessarily in that shallow order) and a large impressive Doberman or two… the fact that I don’t has never actually bothered me from January to October so I cant for the life of me figure out why I feel like a total and abject failure in November….perhaps it’s the weather…if I believed in demonic possession Id say this was a classic example of standard low intensity interference and probably my friends in the medical profession would sign me up for a month of contraband Prozac. – but the good news, dear friends, is that one way or another each year I beat it, each year, by myself .
Religion has always helped me. Any religion. You sit inside a temple or a church or heck you even sit in front of a shrine in your own home ,alone with candles and beads, there is beautiful magic in that.
Empathy helps me, involving me in the problems other people have , some of which make mine seem laughable, trying to help other humans and animals in this difficult obstacle course called life, making old people smile again, and doing something small for someone which they didn’t expect.
My friends help me; year after year I find that there is always someone, it doesn’t have to be the same set , but inevitably I have been blessed with friends who go out of their way to lend me a helping hand and pull me out of this strange darkness. To scold me out of it , to drag me away from it, to distract me and cajole me – my precious friends are a formidable team that no obscure condition can ever hope to beat. Thank you all, you know who you are!
And of course, family.
There is family I had from the time I was born and there is family I discovered recently, there is family who joined me a few years before. There is also family that I have adopted. What makes them family is how dependable they are, how close, and not necessarily the ties of blood. That first and last refuge for the weary, a place to rest ones soul.
Looking at this list of precious resource I have, I wonder how I could ever possibly feel dejection in the first place - but then considering the laws of Universal balance, perhaps just to make up for the optimism I feel eleven months of the year, I must experience one month of inexplicable somberness.
That would be November.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So folks, if Ive heard it once, Ive heard it a hundred times. The account of how I was found. On a roof of all places. After two days of mewling and almost getting croaky and incoherent in the throat. How I got there no one knows (we suspect it had something to do with Colombo crows, evil , devious critters aren’t they ) but I guess something sad had already happened to my dear old mother, god rest her soul. Luckily I was picked up by a biped (that’s a two legged upright walking anthropoid of primate descendent, in case you don’t get the word ). A nice warm blooded, gullible one.
Between you and me , when you pick a biped, or, as they think , allow one to pick you, there are a few things you have to consider. Does he live alone, and does he wear baggy pants and does he look like a doggy person. See, if he has a mate, one that doesn’t like cats , you’ve had it from day one – I mean Ive heard these women wait till the chap is out to do mean things to you like throw you out of the house or forget your dinner. And they don’t think its funny when we squirt at the laundry basket. Nasty. And about the baggy pants , well its easier to climb up his legs and watch what he is cooking without having to actually sink your nails into him- they react to that with strangled-cat like howls and you may get thrown across the room by the scruff of your neck by mistaken reflex, so after a few weeks I learned only to climb their legs if they have long lose pants on. Let that be a lesson to you young, potential biped owners.
As for the doggy person look, if you have to share your biped with a dog, seriously this takes much of the joy out of life. They are noisy, clumsy and smelly and they have rotten breath and they constantly try to whine their way in to your biped’s heart by being unselfish and constantly devoted! Disgusting.
Although they are sometimes not exactly maternal,(and sometimes sit on you by mistake if you are the same color as the dining chair upholstery ,) male bipeds make much better catches than females, because the latter may actually reproduce themselves and that involves cunning little offspring bipeds who sometimes purposefully do horrible things to hapless cats, regardless of which religion they are brought up in. I have heard nasty urban legends about kittens , freezers, microwaves and Barbie Dolls…I wont go into the depressing details here. Males are also about 3 degrees warmer because of some obscure biological detail as in they don’t have to grow layers of fat for childbearing. This is good news for any cat, you will agree. When I was a kitten I would sleep in the crook of his neck until I grew so big and furry that one morning, January the 1st I think , I honestly thought I had asphyxiated him - and so decided to move onto his stomach for both our sakes.
To be honest, life wasn’t all plain sailing – I did have to train him in a few aspects of good bipedal etiquette .He now knows to pick the best chicken parts from the local supermarket and pressure cook them to that degree of perfection any gourmet would envy (otherwise I puke all over his bedroom tiles or lose my voice.) I’ve organized for a special entrance for myself, hand picked flannel for our bed and organized regular cleaning of my toilet. Also it is considered rude to move until I say so, if I’m sleeping on his chest. And I’ve impressed on him that he should STOP bringing home more cats, because this cramps my style. (Meechee and Matty Pooz are quite enough for me to feel species companionship with)
And female bipeds has been out of the question, he tries once in every couple of years but I give them a beady eyed look and sit radiating hostility at them and they get the idea and clear off . This is in spite of him being a very presentable specimen all round, or so I hear.
Afternoons are the best. My biped uses his treasured tubes of pigment to create lifelike representations of me and of larger cousins of mine and hangs them on his walls, to further revere me I suspect. And then people come over and admire the visualizations and look at me in Great Awe too, and some even supplement his chicken purchasing power by BUYING his realistic visualizations. He sure has thought about everything, wouldn’t you say?
Suffice it to say, Ah, we have a good life, my biped and I….as my hero Garfield once said “John and I have everything I could possibly want .”
But to be honest, at times I regret the selfish way I own him and wonder if it is better to let him find a mate too since he has been very nice about me and not snipped me anywhere and Im sure in time he will need those of his own kind, plus off springs to look out for him (and us) when he is old and beyond it.
So maybe one of these days I shall actually approve of one of his pretty visitors and give them my blessing.
But probably not just yet.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Ah , Sri Lankans…,
Anyway ,dear Citizen, neither the wails of the milk-less mites nor the profusion of cartoons and media critiques on the subject, nor late night political chat shows ,nor ranting nor raving nor whining nor kutukutu is going to make a jot of difference here (as if it ever has! ) so as a nation we might as well buckle up, and resign ourselves to being compulsorily weaned of the glorious substance in future . And hey, maybe that isn’t such a bad idea after all. In time honored sour grapes tradition lets blast a few of those myths about that lovely liquid symbol of love, peace and prosperity…
The Facts on Factory farms: here’s where the cheaper imported milk comes from….
Factory farmed animals are trapped inside large, stinking, windowless buildings on factory 'farms'. They never feel fresh air and their natural freedoms are brutally denied. The goal is meat and dairy products as cheaply and quickly as possible like tins of beans. Intensive farmers forcibly generate their animals via rape racks, artificial insemination, etc and this industry produces animals so cheaply that although they die by the millions - from disease, suffocation or maltreatment - profits are still not seriously hurt.
The dairy cow is forced to keep producing a calf (or two, or three, artificially, by Caesarian) every year until she dies or is killed (within 5 years).
The calves she gives birth to are taken away from her after only 12-24 hours. If it is a male calf (a 'byproduct') it may be exported and forced to endure 16-20 weeks of torment in veal crates.
In her natural state, a cow's udder produces enough milk for her calf, holding approximately 2 litres of milk containing about 3 times as much protein as human milk - in intensive farming conditions she has to produce 10+ litres. Every year over 50% of dairy cows suffer lameness due to deformations caused by huge udders (which may be so large that they drag on the ground), poor housing, and very painful diseases such as laminitis and mastitis. Symptoms of systemic mastitis include hot, swollen, acutely painful udders, fever, loss of appetite, and mammary glands so inflamed they are as hard as stones and bubble blood into the milk.
Sometimes milking machines give cows repeated electrical shocks, causing them prolonged trauma, sometimes leading to death. A single farm can lose several hundred cows to uncontrolled electric shocking. Milking machines are used anyway, because they enable a single farm worker to milk 86 cows in 2 hours.
And every year in UK alone 150,000 pregnant cows are slaughtered for hamburger meat, many approaching full term. The calves, unwanted by farmers, may still be living when their mothers are disemboweled. When the womb tumbles out onto the concrete floor, the still-living calf thrashes and drowns in the pile of bloody organs.
Source : http://www.carn-age.org.uk/
Other lactose intolerant websites you can visit:
and that mother of all animal rights sites:
So although the advertising people show you contented looking animals in lovely rolling green fields, that’s actually cow – hollywood and/or bullshit. For the most part powdered milk does not come from organic farms. For the real scenes visit any of the websites mentioned in this article and be prepared for a few unholy surprises.
Moot point- this milk of “human kindness” is extracted through a process that causes untold animal trauma on an unbelievably large scale. For a majority Buddhist and Hindu country, whose fundamental tenets are avoiding causing suffering to any living being, and indeed positive veneration of the cow, respectively, factory produced powdered milk is an abominable hypocrisy. Why then do we continue to be so fixated on it?
Myth No 1
Milk is nature’s ideal food! That’s what your mother always said, and for a nation of middle aged juveniles who still get their mothers to cook and do their laundry for them till they are fifty, mother knows best. It is nature’s perfect food—if you are a baby calf, have four stomachs, and are trying to weigh 1,000 pounds by your second birthday. Otherwise, it’s not so perfect. Think about it: No other species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species. It’s just not natural! Medical studies indicate that rather than preventing the disease, milk actually causes osteoporosis and leads to cancer. Dairy products definitely contribute to the health problems of the one billion people worldwide who are obese. Cow’s milk is also the number one cause of allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Myth No 2
Dairy products are a main source of protein! In practice protein deficiency is actually rarely heard of unless you live in a famine-stricken country. You will get all the protein that a human body needs from legumes (beans, peas, and peanuts), vegetables, nuts, seeds, yeast, and tofu.
Myth No 3
But our babies need milk!
Actually the average human female is still perfectly capable of supplying her child’s milk requirements for as long as they are necessary. The benefits of breast-feeding above expensive unhygienic indigestion inducing substitutes have been recounted at countless forums down the ages. What remains is to engender a paradigm shift towards responsible procreation where young people make long term plans for the off spring they intend to produce, which include some quality family time where young mothers do not work, but take time off for the important first years of a child’s life, and where this is VALUED. Unfortunately in our society rat race the fact that a woman stays at home lactating could set her career back by four or five years for the average two children family. Tragic isn’t it. But on the bright side, she would save quite a packet on milk food…that’s some recognition of our value at last! Not bad.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sriyakanthi was furious with her sons choice for all the usual superficial reasons. This would be a serious social let down and the girl did not have the wealthy background she had been hoping for. She had spent her life looking down on this sort of person and now chose to consider it a slap in the face from the son she had invested so much love and care in, although naturally most of the blame went to the potential bride for be-witching him.
However to Sriyakanthie’s consternation the son was adamant about his choice and went ahead and married the despised girl. She ranted and raved and caused scenes, totally rejecting the daughter in law from the start and effectively drove herself ill with this reaction to the situation. Maybe it was a terrible consequence of this prolonged hysteria or maybe some other medical condition hitherto undiagnosed, either way, within a few years of her sons marriage, beautiful Sriyakanthi lay wasted on her death bed and eventually passed away but not before uttering a final curse on her own son and his wife, to the effect that she would personally make sure they would never children.
Life for her relations was quieter after her death and she was soon generally forgotten except perhaps on anniversaries either way, the son and daughter in law who had faced so much rejection, made the best of their new life at that home.
Months passed and then Sriyakanthie’s daughter in law was with child, and then in time duly gave birth to a son. Sadly, and perhaps we can speculate here, due to the psychological tensions she had undergone, and the subconscious dread of what she had heard, her child was indeed lame and misshapen, club footed and rickety from the start, in short looking as if it had survived some terrible accident. . But being stoic Buddhists, they accepted this as their lot and never considered the child a burden but did their best as parents to take care of it.
Within another year another child was born to this unfortunate couple, again sadly, a misshapen and deformed little girl.
You can imagine the sadness in the lives of these two because their destiny according to my friend, was to give life to a third child and it too was an physically deformed and slightly mentally handicapped too. Apparently the burden of looking after the three special children was simply too much for the young woman to handle and she pleaded with her husband to shift the family and live with her parents in a different town. He conceded to this plan and Sriyakanthie’s accursed house was whitewashed to be given on rent.
The house itself was a very pleasant and presentable piece of property and many potential tenants expressed interest. Then as now , the newly wedded couples were the majority of applicants usually in their quest to evade interfering in laws or be closer to a place of work.
A young couple who was already expecting a child rented Sriyakanthie’s house
Within a few months of moving in ,the young wife suffered a miscarriage of her fetus, in a very tragic and terrible mid night drama in which she too almost died. They did not know about the background of the house or indeed have any reason to even suspect any background worth mentioning but now the neighbors were beginning to speculate about this series of events.
To be continued next week.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Al Juhara writes…
…unfortunately for you, gentle readers, quite compulsively. Be it dairies, letters, emails or heck, even the odd “To Do” list, I find an entire waffle of literary produce emerges when I lay pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard.
I remember when I was eleven and the subject at school was “My Ambition” I waxed eloquent about wanting to be a writer. How I filled a three-page essay with that basic decision is currently a mystery to me, but it must have worked as I know I consistently got marks like 99 for English. What being a writer actually entailed I had not bothered about and still do not and the dream continued as you can see from a page out of my 2004 dairy.
Have decided I must write a book to surpass “God of Small Things,” ”Harry Potter,” and “Lord of the Rings,” combined, which will shoot me to Instant Fame and Riches, so that I can buy a house, but have not decided what exactly to write, or if its actually easier to instead dictate into borrowed micro cassette, as handwriting in busses not really that legible.
But stuck for ideas.
Also not sure if grammar and syntax correct.
(Mosquitoes munching me under table – vague visions of dying tragically at young tender age of thirty three, like desert rose, five minutes off to light the ARS coil)
One thing for sure:
I need to get richer! Quicker!
Because if I go on at this pace with the librarian job in the NGO , I will need estimated four hundred and seventeen years of desperate savings and scrimping to buy myself the house of my dreams.
Which brings us to issue of “what is wrong with house already inherited”(for more details see page ….)
Am late for work today and will have to sit through long bus trip and not looking forward to it. Although admittedly gives me a lot of time to think of subject for Blockbuster Novel. Also ends up in me day dreaming and falling asleep on way to work ,and subsequently imagining derisive public speculation on what had been doing last night…
Have you noticed the amazing color in a Ceylon bus?
They are really story book vehicles
adorned with rows of Hindu Gods
Windows are stuck
Water gutters inside alongside windows (occasional drips of puke here)
Not enough leg room for a tall woman
We burn them when we get really fed up with them.(Colombo traffic ,pg…)
Give you a long time in which to think about life and being poor in a third world mega city.
Occasionally therapeutic as in when I have had a major row with 927862.
and get into a bus and go off without my mobile phone, to make him worry. I did that one poya day , went off to discover myself and having reached Dematagoda, returned all in about forty five minutes. Brother dearest admitted that was quick. He had known people who took five years off in Tibet to find them selves and still couldn’t..
Have a knack for stalling alongside garbage dumps.(For Colombo Garbage see page ….)
Every morning I pass a hardware store which is opening up for the day .There are ceramic squatting pans hung one atop the other , and colorful plastic mops, aluminum buckets and sinks and this wonderful old Turk in a white fez , who very patiently with a bucket and a small plastic cup ,cleans the ground in front of the shop. Smiling at him is pointless as he concentrates on this floor cleaning as though his hope for Moksha depends on this , and limited by the size of his plastic tea cup I am sure the process takes up at least forty five minutes each morning. A kind of Japanese Tea Ceremony in an aluminium ware background…
Checked again to see if phone has lost its charge: 927862 said he would call…
Looked over the flyway into the railroads below in Maradana and regretted it :
Then there is the Pola, in Dematagoda.
In the morning it is not the smell for sore throats. In other words, the cloying early morning stink of garbage is something alive and pulsating, kerchiefs and helmets are flimsy arsenal against this determined blanket of bio degradation. Year after year it continues to mark Dematagoda like a large in-your-nose landmark to your sense of olfactory direction.
Decided that I am looking quite hip in bus taking notes like some kind of casual social scientist . Peeps are staring at me rather curiously-
However, regretfully, sometimes that dreaded monster called Writers Block stands in your way and you go days months or even years without being able to create anything remotely presentable. Perhaps this is one of those phases. Or maybe its just that I’m cooking up a surprise…
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
As adults we know that pedophiles lurk everywhere, in buses, schools, family gatherings...you name it, we are paranoid; but like the little girl in the book says “why didn’t the people who loved me warn me about people like this?”
IF ONLY someone had broken the silence is a poignant little booklet, ably illustrated with adorable caricatures, on one of the most sensitive subjects in Asian society today- sexual violence against children.
Sensitive, professionally written books for children, on sexuality are generally limited to very expensive imports from USA and UK and available in upscale outlets mostly unaffordable by the average middle income family anyway. So I must say I have been searching for this sort of a book for ages, and its disappointing that there doesn’t seem to be any like this around in the local market, and oddly even this booklet is “for limited circulation only” .
The truth is maybe we parents do tell children about these things but just like all the other advice you give a child, sometimes it becomes difficult to make things exactly clear and to get their attention for long enough to emphasize the gravity of these problems.
The difficult subject of child abuse is approached from the first person account of a little Indian girl growing up among a typical extended family of diverse family members and relations. A theme so sensitive must be handled carefully and this booklet can be regarded not just as a work of art in its own right, and timely reading for children on ground realities of life, but as an obviously professional output.
Ms Bhasin’s little booklet can be called an excellent opening point, or conversation starter or perhaps a revision of things already discussed. Either way it’s a book that I recommend parents to invest in and perhaps the powers that be should consider translating it, because child abuse is one of the best kept secrets in local society and as Dr Martin Luther King Jr said “We Have to Repent, Not So Much for the Evil Deeds of the Wicked People But for the Appalling Silence of the Good People"
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
....to this my cold and somewhat scathing reply is "I should think not,” because considering my reputation for spending time blogging, drawing cartoons, making Facebook entries and lurking on Kapuwa, I should think she had better things to do in life , such as for example... run the frikking place
....but just last week I got to seriously thinking what life would have been like if I was indeed the president of the Republic. ....hm. in a word...if I wus the President of Sri Lanka it would be a much odder place...
Cable TV would be subsidized. Research down the ages has proven that mind numbing addiction to Hallmark and HBO will keep the citizenry off the streets and unaware of the real political implications of their franchise. It’s also a accepted scientific hypothesis that Attilla the Hun, Genghiz Khan and Hitler would never have been so intensely single-minded with destructive urges if they had other ways of keeping themselves entertained, like WWF. *
Human Reproduction would need a license and written declarations that you are entirely responsible for all the arson, looting and general rapine that your decedents may engineer. Reliable witnesses** would have to guarantee that you are indeed a responsible, experianced human who can handle the consequences of your uncontrollable urge to procreate, not to mention feed, clothe and educate it. This means you would have to intern a couple of years at least, free of charge, helping bring up someone else’s children. This would solve our domestic labour problem too. See, two birds.
Dogs would never be taxed. They are our best friends and its a downright sh*tty thing to do. Ten thousand years of defending us from wolves, marauding rival tribes and the crafty little mind tricks that cats play, and you do this to your best friend? shame! Un-neutered TomCats on the other hand should be serially taxed. Ever considered the noise pollution they cause with all that caterwauling at night, not to mention the royal pong in the neighborhood, and when you run over one you have to sell the vehicle or it is inauspicious.
Dowry would be compulsory. Yup, if you wanted to get married you both would have to pay a heavy bond to the government. That’s for putting a strain on the mental health sector, and possibly burdening us with more people who look and think like you….and it will help pay for all the milk food subsidies you expect later on…
Bullock carts would be given auxiliary motors. That’s to make them stop obstructing the traffic and go a bit faster; the only reason I would not be totally banning them is that rich foreign people think they are quaint and like to take photos of them. (Anyone knows if you are going to effectively rule the place plus strengthen the economy you mustn’t negatively repercuss tourism.)
Crows would be trained and exported in batches. They are very intelligent and can carry out all manner of complex procedures. Plus we have rather a surplus in Colombo. Either that or we have to start cooking them soon. And Ive been to Bangkok , trust me they taste like chicken! What do you mean cruel? What we do to chickens isn’t, what with all the tetracycline injections and stuff?
the Capital would be Tamil Nadu, because I like the food there ,or if they objected to that on the grounds that I am messing with their territorial integrity I would at least transfer it to Anuradhapura. This is to shake up all the Colombo 7 people and make them watch land prices plummet horribly so that they stop being so elite. Imagine: Cinnamon Gardens would be the new "Grassroots” and they would have poor infrastructure .
Local Guys who married foreign women will be forced to pay large fines and give up all their property in Sri Lanka. This is cause we don’t have enough guys here what with them being involved in ethnic conflict and the old ones all being lazy, reading papers all day and getting heart trouble so they are all becoming superior about the imbalance. On the other hand, local ladies who manage to net a foreign dude and get him to stay here will be richly rewarded. Cant help it , desperate times call for desperate measures.
Elephants would be treated much more strategically . We could farm them, you know, fatten them and export them. Just think of all the protein. What do you mean cruel? You kill one elephant its more beef than 20 cows, or 2000 chickens and its only one death! Be PRACTICAL!
And last but not least, I would appeal to the International Court of Justice to MAKE Indonesia take out third party insurance and pay a massive amount in compensation each time they start an earthquake which affects us. It’s just not fair; I just know they are digging too deep for oil or something over there that’s why this keeps on happening!
* that’s da World Wrestling Federation in case you confused it with the World WildLife Fund
** ie. Government Officials/ Heads of Pirivena’s with fixed assets of over five million…
Sunday, September 02, 2007
It is a film about an Indian lady in England who gets assaulted, humiliated, raped and generally treated very badly around her own home, by the guy who was supposed to care for her (that would be her husband). A common tale as ever, you would say but this time it had been handled by British film makers and Aishwarya Rai took the lead part; which unfortunately very nearly prevented me from watching it in the first place, although I have nothing against her, bless her cotton socks; it was just that her name at the start hinted at lots of gaudy and frivolous scenes by default and so it was difficult to imagine how this would turn out and whether I could actually stomach it.
But, since I had nothing much to do on Sunday evening I took the dare and managed to sit myself down with fruit juice, peanuts and a tub of citronella paste,(for the mozzies) the better to truly appreciate this tropical movie experience with, on my cheap pettah DVD player hooked up to our family Telly which needs to be started up about half an hour before you watch anything because a blown capacitor means it is “ bondha vela” for some time , till it does “heat up”…
I know its not the done thing to approach a serious topic like Domestic Violence with jokes, but since I find that a sense of humor has occasionally effectively saved me from self destruction and feel that if people spent more time watching comedies and being jolly they would not have the time to give their wives black eyes –its probably time to take a step back and take a long hard tongue-in-cheek look at the human race it self and why this whole domestic abuse thing is allowed to happen in the first place. …
Wife beating is an Eastern Tradition. No, hold on, it’s a Western Tradition too. No come to think of it , it’s an inherently human tradition . Even you kids reading this will agree with me that in the case of cats and dogs and swine and such like , apart from tenderly sniffing each other ‘s rear ends, male animals certainly would never be caught assaulting females animals -its just not the done thing!!! Male monkeys wont come up with a large coconut and bash a female monkey on the head with it , with a “that ll teach her !” kind of expression, neither to my knowledge (mostly gleaned the usual way from National Geographic by listing to Sir David Attenboruugh’s stealthy whispering and Crocodile Hunters noisy yodeling ..) would say a bull elephant trunk a cow elephant over the head with a tree branch or a guy wildebeestie stick a lady wildebeestie with his horn rack just to show them who’s boss: Its just so totally “no no” in the Savanah although it seems to be accepted among the Punjabis and the Brits and so on.*
Since this film was based on a true story, this one too was generally predictable; there are complex psychological terms for the various cycles in abusive relationships that you can probably google or wiki for, but the crux of the matter was : there’s a glittering Asian wedding and then boy meets girl, boy cheats girl, boy beats girl and after ten years of this, girl napalms boy, which really need not have happened if only society had provided her with feasible alternatives. It really need not end this way!
Token Bully Husband did a brilliantly convincing performance I must say, slit eyed, mean, and so unshaven and drunk that you could almost smell his BO off the screen and I’m sure if I was less educated and saw him walking the streets of Liverpool I would spit copiously in his direction and swear. (Plus he showed off truly hideous legs at one point, for which he simply cant be forgiven…)
The lady in the film paradoxically found real peace in prison which I quite understood after the in depth introduction to a English clapper that viewers were given. They have good comfortable facilities with clean decent cells, washing machines for the clothes, games hours and a library, although continuos exposure to British food may have constituted one of the more unusual forms of torture you could possibly overlook it just this time…
In come The Sisters, a bunch of feminist NGO ladies who unfortunately in spite of all the good work they do, have a compulsion to smoke cigarettes continuously and drink the nights away not to mention wear tons of mascara and chunky wooden beads, sending out a rather regrettable message about feminists as bossy painted women with lots of baggage…however I did like the very natural way they all act in this film , from the Cops to the prisoners to the Court people , and right down to Aishwarya whose “Englees… note good” , I found the acting smooth, genuine and generally very believable.
The rest of the story is on how to get her Appeal through and try getting a milder sentence on the basis that she was provoked due to years of systematic abuse, and this case is one of the precedents which changed British law on the subject so it’s a worthwhile watch for the legal people too.
Somewhere in all of this there are serious lessons to be learnt, for wives, husbands and mothers in law. I think its all about not getting pushed into corners where the only alternative is to set fire to your spouse in order to get some peace around the house. Divorce, while sometimes equally messy, is comparatively a less destructive way out and women should be given that alternative in practice by society they live in. Make it simpler for pity’s sake, especially when the fractures begin…
I find paradoxically that this is a film I would suggest the whole family watches, (or at least moms and kids together) unsuitable though it is for youngsters, since real life is generally more unsuitable anyway. I imagine moms will lecture sons by saying “that’s a very bad Daddy, isnt it , now when you grow up that is not the way to treat your wife , ok?” (The added threat of incineration should provide some incentive if nothing else does, I’m sad to say) and to their daughters, in a very Beatrix Potter tone , “Now my dears, that sort of patience is not called for in Marriage. If anyone tries to iron your face, you MUST report it to the nearest Police AT ONCE ” (duh?)
I don’t know about anyone else but its certainly what I intend to do…
*And the Chinese, and the Africans and the Latinos and so on and so fourth , you get the drift…
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Sambula Jatakaya may be taken here as an example (Amaramoli 1962: 250-258)
- source http://www.lines-magazine.org/Art_Nov04/Bindun.htm
King Bambadat of Varanasi appoints his grown son to succeed him, and makes the princess, Sambula, his consort.
She is most beautiful, with skin so lovely it glows like a lantern in a dark unlit place.
They live happily together for some time. The heir-apparent then breaks out in a terrible rash.
Informing the King it is better to die alone, he leaves his harem behind, yet as he tries his best to take leave of his wife Sambula, he finds he cannot not do so, and takes her with him.
He builds a temple in a beautiful forest, and resides there.
Saying, “My Lord! Do not fear, I shall attend to all your needs,” Sambula worships him and goes into the forest with a basket and tools to pull out roots and pluck fruit. She brings a basket of fruit to the temple daily, then fills a pot with water and bathes the king with many herbal balms and ointments. She feeds him sweet fruit, gives him scented nectar to drink, and covers his wooden bed with the branches of trees to make it comfortable. When he is asleep, she attends to all their other needs, washes herself, eats her own meal of fruit, and then sleeps next to him.
One day on her way back from the forest, she sees a rocky pond, and placing the fruit basket on the ground, goes into the fresh water and bathes. Applying turmeric to her body, she sits on a rock. The forest delighted in the beauty of her body as if the forest was covered with the rays of gold.
A rakshaya flying by, seeing a princess more alluring than all the golden women of the heavens, and falls in love with her. The rakshaya says to her, “The whole forest glistens as if gilded in gold because of you, I bow before thee! – Who art thou?’
The Princess says, “I am Sambula, wife of Soththisena, the son of the King of Varanasi, in the City of Kasi.”
“Why serve a prince so severely diseased, so helpless and alone? I will make you the favorite of my harem, with hundreds of the finest performers, dancers and musicians, you shall be their Queen, and delight in whatever you wish. I shall be your husband.”
“Rakshaya! My husband is sick; I sorrow for him day and night. What is this beauty you see in me, my clothes so rough and rude? This forest abounds in nymphs, goddesses and Naga damsels. Select one of them. What use could you derive from me? Do not pursue me.”
“What anyone most enjoys in this world belongs to me. Come with me, let us make the most supreme love. If you do not willingly come with me, I shall take you by force to live with me. If you still refuse to live with me, I shall kill and eat you.”
“This rakshaya will take me, pluck off my hands and legs like stripping sugarcane, but this will not sadden me.’ What is grief to me is if the king so sick for a long time thinks that Sambula, being so young and pretty, so much so no one’s eyes can turn away from her, is late returning – because I was making love with another…”
Sakra, the king of the gods then appears and warns the rakshaya. The rakshaya listens in fear to what Sakra says, and lets the princess go. Sakra, thinking this rakshaya may harm her, then whisks the rakshaya off to another mountain, and returns to heaven.
As the sun sets, the princess walks back to the temple in the moonlight. The king hearing movement thinks Sambula’s lover is returning with her to kill him. The king hides and watches.
The Buddha then said to those assembled thus: Sambula returned to the temple that day in the moonlight. She could not find her husband, and with great sorrow, walked here and there, crying…
Soththisena, seeing his wife in great sorrow, her heart at the point of breaking, shivering and begging for help from the gods, appears at the door of the temple.
The heir-apparent Soththisena says, “Women are fickle, and cannot be understood. Just as one cannot determine the course of fish swimming in the water, and of birds flying in the air, the nature of women too cannot be fathomed.” Sambula then performs sathiyakriya, resolute in her own fidelity.
Due to the power of her fidelity, the husband’s rash is cured. Crowned King, Sambula is made Queen.
The King, however, ignores his Queen and spends his hours frolicking with his harem. Sambula, overcome with shame and jealousy, grows weaker day by day.
cut and pasters comment : - uhm, there is a moral in there somewhere.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
thats a good headline and its really old news but I really wonderd how it was done, dont you?
and what we women could possibly market of our husbands if we set our minds to it...
ok heres the long and short of it and of course it happened because some people think that women are chattel(or was the word cattle?)
of course we are chattel/cattle if we sit around and wait while our organs are sold on the open market.
youd think one would notice ourselves a little LIGHTER and the guys bank account a little HEAVIER...gnnnn
I like to think of the dialogue which would have gone on after that say about ten years down the line, when they are old and grey and the guy is all mellow and contrite
W: you hopeless louse you, you took my thingy and sold cheap- its worth more than ruddy tractor see it doenst even have proper accelerator and its all rusty now
H : but honeypie I was thinking of our future...why you always harping on this , ok so I made a mistake , ok so I should have told you about it - I wanned it tuh be a liddle suprise !
W. its bl**dy taking up twleve feet in the front porch you asole , how can it be a little surprise...
ok ok at last - to find out how it was actually done just google for MAN SELLS WIFES KIDNEY
becos the link is too long to paste here
and I know what youre all thinking...she has TWO kidneys ...
Monday, August 13, 2007
“Why, what happened?!”
“Nothing. It was all very efficient.”
“You’re right; you definitely should blog about it!”
Well, dear Readers, at last, at the ripe old age of , well, a few years away from forty anyway, yours truly went for her driving test. Or to be precise a riding test, since I am actually aiming modestly low for the class D license so that I can legally operate my hot Caballo Negro, on the wonderful action packed streets of Colombo, and a little further out too, if possible…
So, I’ve changed my spectacles, dyed my hair, registered the bike, taken it out on practice runs, and last but not least filled my organ donar card and kept it in a easily accessible place in my wallet so that if Im found brain dead they can salvage the rest, and here I am ready to hit the streets , well hopefully not literally but , you get the picture…
The written test itself was rather an eye-opener. I have never actually seen half the signs in the Highway Code book on any of the streets I have traveled through. I believe studying seriously for this written test has given me a true appreciation of road signs. Im sure that I will sit up and point and take pictures if I see an obscure road sign somewhere in Habarana or wherever. The dubious fact that you never see orange and green together on a traffic light was impressed upon me. Nice drivers, believe it or not , are not supposed to park on the pedestrian crossing (maybe I should carry my Highway Code around everyday and read sections of it out to them politely?) and there were odd multiple choice questions like :
At night due to low visibility you should
a) Have really bright headlights
b) drive very fast , since there is not much traffic
c) drive carefully since visibility is low.
With such challenging choices one can imagine why there are quite a few failures in Colombo and also wonder how any one actually passes, considering what they actually practice...
...The exact sign for Unprotected Level Crossing is burned into my minds eye along with my tiny scribbled footnote on why such things are allowed in the first place, since they look like very dangerous situations. I wonder - does it take a messy, gory death or two for our Local Government to find the money for a small piece of wood with a stone at the end of it ? I know a lot of banks and government departments and even department stores have those little barriers, why can’t we afford them?
Wither the fairer sex?
And this is what I noticed most about the people at the Driving Test joint. There were, if I calculated correctly at least from a hundred to hundred and twenty people that morning and out of them I’d estimate 80 % were youth between the ages of 18 and 25, another 10%-15% were more mature looking guys of around upto 35 years of age as a maximum and as for the 8 or 9 females apart from myself, they could have been anywhere from 20- 40 years old, and they were comparatively well dressed and looked like they were from genteel middle income families. So what happens to the poor lower income females, like my Kusumawathi ? Is it some plot to make sure that they are always immobile, always dependant on their generally drink sozzled men-folk? Why have the Colombo guys made sure that poor women in Colombo cant at least ride a bike or a bicycle to get their work done, but must continue at the mercy of the tyrannical weirdos on buses, or in tuktuks? Or is it the women themselves, shutting themselves in with an established attitude that somehow it’s Just Not Done to get yourself a license unless you can afford a car? What am I missing here, by being so thick skinned?
And , how long will I be here?
I confess to being a total and utter scaredy-cat at heart. Coming from a very sheltered background but being compelled by a fierce lust for independence to defiantly shake lose the caring shackles of my long suffering loved ones, I find myself nevertheless praying hard when I’m on the bike, discretely trying to ride as close to the drains as possible at a maximum speed of 25 kmph, praying that some large drunk bus wont make a meal of me as it races along on its deadly business. If my life were actually in my own hands it would be bearable, its not- its at the mercy of some hairy, godless, drunk semi literate third-world public transport driver out there who just may be having a Homicidal Negligence Day. Or perhaps I will be ridden over by one of the racing non governmental intellectuals in off roaders who criss cross Colombo with important agendas and are not only sloshed but have been breaking rest too, at the local Karaoke bars till 3 am…. Who knows? I just pray that it will be quick. Ce sara sara, or whatever. My nights, then are punctuated with disturbing visions, not exactly dreams and yet, not nightmares either ,of being gently put to sleep – merciful release in a sense, but of course there is that element of the unknown which appeals to the encaged adventurer in me: where would I go from here? And yet, my friends, you know why I do this?
I guess it’s because I can.
/aka the Drain Rider chronicles
And that means, the Black Stallion in Spanish, which is what I have been trying to learn for the last 3 years, and haven’t really had the time for. Its on my to do list.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I have to then grudgingly acknowledge that many of the milestones in my humble life have in fact been previously dictated by the same bunch of nine regular suspects that affects everyone else only at a slightly different angle. Birth , Childhood illnesses, a fore doomed marriage and the exact number of offspring I will finally produce , you name it, the same set of interstellar gas balls was at the bottom of how they turned out.
I objected. I scoffed. For the last thirty six years I have successfully dismissed the entire lot of predications as the improbable , impossible rantings of ganga dazed tribal witch doctors (which for the most part they probably all were, except for my darling mum who is a qualified architect, and the best in her predictions) – but now I am forced to cringe at how diabolically accurate they all were.
About a fortnight ago, if I am correctly informed, Saturn shifted to the sign of Leo. Or some such thing. Personally I couldn’t give a fig leaf for where Saturn wants to park itself, but imagine my consternation when no less than five people I know met with accidents on that day( or perhaps this just says a lot for the type of company I keep?)
By bizarre coincidence I too have been plagued since that day, by vague but consistent discomfort in the middle region – more on that later.- apparently there are also other things I can look forward to:
My lord the Sun was generally in some house which gave me regular gastritis, my Lord Saturn was squeezed unceremoniously into some house with Venus and Mercury which meant they were all probably cramped for space and subsequently bad tempered, an that darling gentle satellite the Moon “conjectured” them and sat alone (probably laughing stupidly )across at a tangent on my Birth-chart, giving me my mildly autistic and half dazed disposition.
How could I ever hope to exercise free will over my destiny with such a formidable gaggle of cosmic debri out there to impose their effects on me and generally give direction to my life? I mean- what am I actually supposed to do?
Ill be good in what I study, they say…does this mean that I should study more? Or less? Or just relax and expect to pass by the will of Saturn? Or will I just want to study by default and pass because I happened to turn up for the exams?( I guess I wont be able to if I don’t turn up ,eh?)
Im a spender, it says, due to Kuja being in some place. Good, that means I shall have money( haven’t really seen any yet but one lives in hope) Since of course theoretically its impossible to spend unless you have the stuff (wwwwell, ok you can always spend on debt but that isn’t the same. Gulp. Lets not even go there.) Anyway I thought the whole point if earning was to spend –that would really add meaning to the whole concept of earning , right? Since if you actually had money that you didn’t spend, what exactly were you supposed to do with it? Wrap lunch? Wallpaper the drawing room? Or light bonfires on chilly November evenings?
Since it seemed like an accusation I must admit I kept trying not to. Spend that is. But then with the cost of living in Sri Lanka that’s not really easy. Even if you bank it you find that it’s been spent for you on bank charges, Withholding Tax and odd little penalties. …
Then there is my weak tummy: Im always being hit below the belt by this Shunny character and doubling up in agonies of gastritis although God only Knows I do not have worries (motto: hakuna matata-) nor am I a great fan of chillie( its ruddy expensive for one thing). Oh the Vedhas have a good explanation for this – nasty “heaty” planets in the place of my digestion. So its just me and my absurdly puny defense of a bottle of strawberry flavored antacid against some giant malicious fireball spinning inauspiciously against me some thirty million light years away. Bad show, I say- why don’t they pick on someone their own size?
And yet, destiny has it that I have a few friendly, positive giants on my side too. The Lord of the Rings is really out to teach me a lesson and not necessarily make my life a nightmare- so I will end up wiser and more decent and probably appreciate things I would otherwise have taken for granted. Like non gastric days. For example, how many of you have actually leaned back and sighed with pure happiness and thought, “what a lovely day - my digestive juices are staying down”? Jupiter will make me generous so that my spending will be on the less fortunate (so don’t look at me like I’m some sort of angel-) and Venus will force me to appreciate the beauty all around me (even in stinking Dematagoda- have you seen dew drops on a crow at dawn?) and finally that big gentle moon will keep me mildly unbalanced so that the incongruity of it all wont tax me too much….
Thirty six years after my birth chart was foisted on me, I finally believe in this whole bundle of waffle. I know I shouldn’t -I know its not logical or justifiable – that there is absolutely no basis for this (I mean they talk about the magnetic push from planets but then shouldn’t it affect us the same according to where we live?) but-
Even beginning to figure out the grandiose plan which directs the interlinking destinies of 6 billion humans and probably a thousand times that many non humans- would honestly tax my delicate grey matter beyond endurance.
So I’ve decided to accept what my astrologer says without questioning it and watch my first book come out, by co incidence in the same year foretold in 1971. I shall think of it as destiny. And if you enjoy reading what I write, perhaps you will think of it as something to look forward to. .
Monday, July 16, 2007
“The usual, Dr Rumenegge?” inquires the tomboy hair dressing assistant, by the way, and she knows I will nod. She begins to spray my hair with sweet smelling stuff and I settle into the comfort of being pampered and petted. I ask her about her degree, her mother, her latest companion.
This is my favorite place when it comes to getting my hair done and they know exactly how I like it – half way between lady Diana’s and Demi Moore, in the 80s, it’s a style that never becomes outdated : short, crisp and chic.
Business like hair, no nonsense hair because I am a modern woman in a world I have in the palm of my hand.
I studied, suceeded, met and married a brilliant Austrian professor and settled down with him in Stuttgart. I’m working in one of the city’s fore-most law firms, lecturing in Criminal Psychology, and I continue my dancing ; I have come where I never even dreamed I could and it has been an eventful journey but it began long ago in Sri Lanka. I wasn’t always Dr Rumenegge, I was a student of dance and my hair was longer then.
In dusty beautiful Jaffna a dozen years ago , my first name is Leelawathi, named after the brave Goddess Durga, and my hair then fell like a waterfall to my ankles; when the wind blew it would spread out behind me “like the tail of a peacock,” he would say , and I know that was what enchanted him most.
Jaffna 1995, one of those specially tense times in this war story-the Army had re-taken Jaffna, the Tigers were out for revenge, the streets were desperate and dangerous, we, my family and I, were refugees in an a large decrepit school building near the lagoon.
There had been a incident a few weeks back where in the thick of the war, the Army had started firing on this refugee camp too, tricked by teasing rebel strategy, an incident that may have resulted in a terrible tragedy had not one woman run out desperately with a white flag, into the line of fire.
Miraculously nothing had happened to her, and the shooting had ceased- her act had saved the lives of the refugees in the camp at the time. The woman was my mother and the act was typical of her recklessly daring spirit, she had given us all another chance to live, but we were on the edge of death and we desperately wanted to get away from this town of war.
I remember a numb state of panic, thinking this could not be happening, but it was.
My father, was a retired engineer and a man who had worked hard all his life to bring us to where we were. He could barely come to terms with the horror of having to live in a refugee camp in such basic conditions, we were not rich but we had middle class standards and as a family this was the lowest we had ever been. We were not beggars, we had our pride, we understood the state of the town but we were sinking with it and this was something we would do anything to get away from.
And I know he was worried out of his mind about the lack of safety for me and my little sister, in a city under siege. I was nineteen and I was worried about my puppies. Strange to have pets in a refugee camp where even people hardly got the bare necessities but by some strange concession we had been allowed to keep them , and they were tied up in corners howling and shivering and beaten when they made too much of a fuss, as puppies do, since they are not the priority in a time of siege. In retrospect I realise this was an absurd concession to be granted in such desperate times, but then I was too distracted to realise this. I remember standing on the second story hallways looking down into the school parade ground and crying, quietly, when I first noticed ..him.
Preoccupied as I was with my own grief, I took some time to realise then that this tall, handsome soldier seemed to be looking my way often and seemed to be around more than the rest, seemed to be more involved in the decisions shaping my life and my family’s destiny, for whatever reason, although he never spoke to me.
Perhaps in the circumstances this was wise because in the state we were in, I would have been heartily suspicious and terrified of any man, let alone an army captain, making conversation with me.
It is however an age old prerogative of the female to know when a man is tenderly interested in her and before too long I knew from his quiet smiles and from catching him looking my way ever so often, that he must definitely be enamoured with me. Yet, and perhaps thankfully in the circumstances, there was no communication, no advance, merely a kind, distant concern that followed my situation.
Within a couple of weeks then, arrangements had been made to transport our family out to Colombo. We would be escorted safely away from the war zone, an absurd concession in the circumstances and I knew that he had organized this, using whatever means he could, to obtain a safe getaway for me- my family and our possessions, down to the pet cocker spaniels were loaded onto an airforce airplane and we left one Sunday morning on a flight which would mark a bright new beginning for us all.
On my reaching Colombo and with a safe distance between us, the Captain decided it would be safe to talk to me, he called me from Jaffna one evening and put into words what I had suspected all along.
He was in love with me. He had been from the day he saw me on the stone balcony in the old school, and he had thought about me to distraction. But his life was ruled by a strict code of principles which he would not as a leader allow his subordinates to violate and neither would he bend them for himself. Firstly, he was a soldier with a mission and he could not afford to be in love.
He had, he said, thought about things carefully and he could not possibly take the risk that I would mistakenly reciprocate his feelings based on the power dynamics at play in a dangerous situation of siege, between a protector and a very vulnerable young refugee. So he had used his influence to send me safely away from him, given me wings so that I could escape from him and from the love that might perhaps be a mistake – without considering for a moment that I may feel for him too.
And that was when I knew that I truly had, but then it was sadly too late.
So in Colombo, that evening, in a moment of calm resolve, I took scissors to that hair and let it fall away from me, taking with it my innocence, my hopes and childlike dreams, to give way to new strength and determination. And so it has been since then.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Gone are those basic uncomplicated cold (blue) and hot (red) taps :the modern arrangement is a complex joy stick type of device which swivels on a plain of 360 degrees in four dimensions. To obtain water that is still constant at a humanly tolerable temperature you need to think laterally and out of the box while struggling to keep a vertical position ; it helps if you are a retired fighter pilot who regularly loops the loop while gunning down invaders. One slight mis judgement or accidental elbow jab and your poor defenceless behind gets well and truly broiled…
As a rule they get stuck when you are printing your CV on them , which everyone knows you shouldn’t be doing. They can also spew out a lot of strange sanskrit like coding when there is a room full of foreign delegates in a meeting waiting for the one little annexure you forgot to print. They can sometimes blink silently in sinister patterns of green and orange morse which could mean anything from a metallic “ the paper tray is empty ” to “we know what you printed last summer…”They would gang up with the xerox machine except for the fact that they thought it was below them. The latter knows it should get stuck when its replicating copies of your CV…
So either your food is cold and the container is sizzling and making crinkling noises - or it’s the other way around. The result is generally unsatisfactory. I also suspect some microwaves try to influence us subliminally and make up cruel and unnatural experiments we could be doing with the neighbours cat. Something this small and powerful has just got to be evil…and there is a host of stuff you really shouldn’t be microwaving but somehow, in the name of science, it begs to be done. Like damp gym shoes…. Old CDs to see what will happen. Is it our plain scientific curiosity or do they make you do things you shouldn’t? Spooky…
Uhh where do I start… apart from giving you a major headache and an awful lot of interference on your equipment they are rumored to cause brain tumors and did I forget to mention that guys are not supposed to store them between their legs while driving. And have you noticed that they invariably do? Reason? Its easily accessible. Yeah , right. How do we know what kind of human race we will have mutated into after twenty years of having these things sticking with us? I mean- there’s no previous experience with them, is there?
We know there’s an Intel inside but just how safe it is, is the question…The idea was that they should be portable. Next thing you know –they need power, a modem cable and there’s a mouse extension. And you can always drop coffee on them , trip over those cables or just lose them in a taxi. Chose your worry. Even if insurance handles your problems what about losing all that data? Yeech.
Could the guy who got in with you alone, be a stalker? Will the thin cable holding up this ton of steel be strong enough to take all the definitely overweight looking people who got on board (after all they didn’t get on scales before they heaved themselves on-) and last and definitely worst of all , will the doors clamp on your shoulders as you struggle to get out.? Could you live with the sheer embarrassment of it all?
And last but not least- Escalators
Im not exactly what you’d define as a gameh-latha, and yet escalators honestly turn my stomach. At what point are you supposed to jump on to them? Will your floppy bata slippers get stuck among one of those realigning steps, bringing things to a grinding halt and making the entire establishment lose power? Who will you call if so? (perhaps you should just forget your slipper and run away genuinely hoping for once, that prince charming is no where around) - What happens when you get to the end of it , if you just do nothing? will it help if you jumped into the air at the last minute when you are getting off ? And how can you calculate the exact moment? Has anyone else noticed how petrified you are about this? And so on and so fourth…
If you spend valuable time thinking about these scares, and trying discretely to avoid them, trust me, you are not the only one. Quite a few of us just grin and bear them too. Now you know.
" we came at 5 but no one called us so we didnt know the seminar had started - thats why we missed yesterdays sessions " PS lady looking fresh as a rose, surfacing from her hotel room on morning of Day Two and asking for the publications she had missed
" Working group? um, we missed that ...we went for a walk.-just got back: sorry " Deputy Mayor dude and male colleague when i asked them how the working group had gone (at 11 am on day two mind you - )(going for a walk with another guy? how sad can you get?)
"This loch ness monster fellow, is he dangerous ? " one senior LA representative trying to chat up Ian, the intern from Scotland...(this is the same guy who went for a walk with the Deputy mayor -Ian,watch out)
and last but not least Deputy Mayor trying to make polite small talk when I said I was the CPA librarian...
" I once knew a librarian ; unfortunatley he died: Last year."
Thursday, June 14, 2007
About two month’s back, in the course of duty I was instructed to visit Ampara which since I hardly get the chance to travel was a thrill to even contemplate. Ive seen many photographs of this dusty outback territory and these always seem to give the impression of stubborn survival amongst rather desperate odds and a desolate environment. I have sat and painted the barren landscapes and dusty ruins I saw in some photos and I really wanted to see those places for myself. Names like Ninthavur and Sainthamaruthu have, to my thinking, a wonderfully exotic ring to them, and I had practiced rolling them off my tongue while writing (admittedly arm chair based) progress reports from Colombo : so I really wanted to experience the dust, heat and live action of awesome Ampara, first hand.
First came the usual administrative hurdles of sanctioning a decent set of wheels, a cool laptop (with wireless mind you!), an old Canon digital camera, and last but not least a willing driver ** and then my hurdles of packing phone charger, biscuits, cotton clothes, extra cotton undies, and all the other luxuries that must accompany a fastidious Colombo lady on her way out to stark barren wilderness, as I thought… I had also put a stop to any interference from my own relations into where I go, with the blunt reminder that traffic in Colombo is statistically more dangerous than anything that could happen to me in Kalmunaikudy…
So there ahead of me was a trip of about 7 or 8 hours (in a excellent vehicle I must admit, one of those large off road things with humongous antennas, in case we need to radio for help from Headquarters) with nothing much to do except gossip, which fortunately I’m very good at and it turned out my capable driver cum guide cum entertainer was quite good at it too.
He was a bright cheerful character of, I estimate, around his mid to late thirties, with an attractive smile and a very honest and inquisitive personality. About an hour into the trip he knew all about my family, my educational qualifications, my general philosophies in life and thanks to how much of a dedicated gossip I am, my marital status( viz happily divorced) . This is not information I give out easily because it sometimes brings out the worst in people – but here I was trusting this cheeky pint sized guy and leaving myself open to analysis and judgment and not really feeling too worried about this…I have no idea why.
There was something about this guy, a perpetual smile of tranquility and contentment that made me relax around him, something that I don’t find in many of my acquaintances…a chippy cheerful bounce to his step and a jolly chuckle to his laugh that is not easy to find.
He had, he said, been married for a dozen years or thereabouts. He had two children a girl and a baby boy. The salary paid monthly was not enough for himself, the wife and two kids, so honestly financing life was difficult. But they had discussed things and agreed that he should not work too much overtime, because being with the family was more important.
“We have a law in our family – on Sundays we go out. We don’t spend much, but bike to the park or to the beach and sit around eating ice cones and talking, all of us. I don’t let anything interfere with that.”
Not buddies, not work , not relations?
“Its our family time, its important.” He nodded. “and I have a trick where I make money keep us together too,” he said carefully. “you see, all my income goes direct to the bank and can only be taken by me through the ATM and my wife keeps track of this,”
I asked for a further explanation on how that helped in the relationship.
“You see, then she knows what I’m up to. You see, I’m a Normal Guy,” he shrugged as though it was an incurable affliction he was referring to - “ as such I can easily be tempted to get up to any kind of mischief just like any guy. We are just humans! But too much straying is not possible if my cash flow is monitored. And I welcome that kind of monitoring. It helps me keep to the path that Ive decided to take, which is to be a good husband and a proper dad.”
“ So she controls your expenditure.”
“I have insisted she do so. I appreciate it when she tries to economise for the sake of our family and I love it when she involves herself in the day I have spent. We were talking about this in the drivers mess, and the guys were laughing at me saying I was a real kandeya for allowing my wife to control my money…but I asked them if they thought they were the Real Cool, getting themselves sozzled with liquor and wasting money they could give their kids on dissolute women….”he chuckled. “.Well- .I don’t think so,”
Neither, by gum did I ,to be honest.
“But come on, what’s wrong with a little fun once in a way?” I asked him.
“Yes, once a week or so after a lot of hard work, I go out for a beer with the boys, and she knows about it and she just smiles and says ‘enjoy yourself” ”he smiled cheerfully….
I was honestly impressed. So here was a barely literate local chap from the village who had figured out what even double degree holders in the modern day and age didn’t know: the meaning of family and how to make it work for you! I felt a small pang of regret too, that among all the educated, sophisticated johnnies I knew there didn’t seem to be even one with this basic down to earth EQ that this guy had…!I needed to think and to play my Enigma CDs to really get out of that mood I was in, and this is how we traveled up to Kandy where we were supposed to have lunch and pick up another officer..
At this point , as is usual in life , the unexpected happened and we were radioed news that a bomb had gone off in a bus in Ampara and it just may be insecure to go in right then. We were advised very seriously to turn back the mission, and I remember we picked up my other colleague and went for a very mediocre lunch in a tiny road side kiosk, before turning back to Colombo.
This was a sizeable disappointment to me after all the planning Id done. But that wasn’t the end to the day’s adventure. On the way back we just had to stop at one of those colorful roadside clay pot joints which sold vases, water pots, door chimes and all manner of lovely fired clay items. I had the idea that I might as well buy something to remember this trip with and I had always wanted a gurulettuwa *** so that’s what I got, (after considerable haggling with the clay store owner who wanted to charge international rates based on the size of our borrowed land-cruiser !).
Our driver smiled sheepishly and bought a small clay vase which he said he knew his wife would like. It may have cost about 100 rupees, but then I knew that it would mean a lot to this lucky woman- it meant he had thought of her…
Well, alak and alas I never did get to see Ampara!
But the trip was certainly not a waste of time and will not fade from my memory easily: I had a laid back Sunday cruising our beautiful country and I spoke to a wonderful and cheerful character who somehow gave me back some faith in an institution I had totally given up on.- that of marriage!
And so while there are sunny types like that around, I guess we womenfolk still have hope!
* Her real name. Not to be confused with the powerful, serious stateswoman of the same name, this one is a little younger and generally more giggly.
**Not all of them think the possibility of being caught in cross fire and shelling out there, is exciting and bloggable,– they have families to feed and so on
*** traditional clay water cooler.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
some people have told me they could not stop thinking about this story for days, it had moved them so deeply.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Christmas Day 2004. When I was at home by the beach ,in Matara, with my father and Dieter, they would be discussing philosophy as usual, and I would sit watching their faces at the dinner table , listening not to the words but to the comforting cadence of their tones.
Dieter was soon to leave our country, to go back to his own, to gracefully relinquish a dream that could have been, because we knew it should not. Dieter was leaving me tomorrow and we knew this.
We loved each other, we knew this, but we had never spoken about this. There would be too much upheaval caused in the lives of the people I loved. He did not want to cause this. Although I was his student in a language and in his way of thinking too, and I had learnt well about his culture and he about mine , there still would be obstacles too difficult to overcome when it came to the reactions of my people . He did not wish to cause problems to anyone, no matter how right it seemed to us. And I could not hurt my beloved parents.
Somehow the beach has always been therapy to me. It is where I go to cry, to sing, to think, to dance. On the 25th , it was where we went to spend a final evening together, and it was a beautiful evening that I will never forget. We walked that day, over wooden bridges to a place among the islets where an ancient and ruined Buddhist monastery stood surrounded by the waves. It was a place of ordaining monks - a place of peace among the crashing surf. A moment of nostalgia, of the end of an era and hope for a new one. We hung on to every minute of this last evening of ours , made it count because we knew it would be our last together, possibly for ever.
There is a church in the area , no less than a hundred years old, beautiful and white among the sand.
I knew that he would want to go to church, and he knew that the child in me wanted to play in the carnival. It was an ancient, creaking merry go round on the beach, but that was something Ive always wanted to do, playful and lighthearted as it sounds, and somehow I had to smile this last evening. And to make him smile
That night after dinner we decided that we would leave for Colombo in the morning.
I remember waking at about 7.30 preparing some tea for my father and our guest, and telling them it was better to leave as early as we could. My uncle who lived next door was walking about with some bananas that he had just cropped and agreed to drop us at the bus halt in his wonderful old Hilman. He would have gone to the market later in the morning but since he was taking us there, he finished his marketing early and returned home safe we heard.
It has always baffled me how very mundane decisions or distractions can mean the difference between life and death. Do people realise that the two minutes they lingered to kiss a loved one goodbye could mean the difference between catching or missing the train that takes you to your death? Just how much of our action is our own free will and how much of it is predestined?
I remember that bus, it was the everyday air conditioned inter-city Rosa bus you see racing along the Galle road routes. We had very little in the way of luggage and our bus began its trip at 8.35am . I settled back into the seat to read a little book of verses, the curtains were half shut against the lovely blazing sunlight of that Ceylon Morning, and I remember thinking how strangely relaxed I was feeling although I was heartbroken that I was losing him.
Eight minutes into this journey it began hazy and unreal like a nightmare that you cannot grasp.
People talking , then shouting , then keening in panic, and through the wind-screen in front the sight that met our disbelieving eyes was something simply out of this world. A part of the ocean seemed to have lifted itself vertically up towards the skies, like a great shimmering , judgmental wall of death and was racing in towards us . The breath struck in my throat and I could not speak.
(End of part one)
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Rajapaksa offers less autonomy than Wickremasinghe to the northeast, home to most of Sri Lanka's 3.2 million ethnic Tamils. His narrow victory was arguably engineered by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who want Tamil Eelam to be an independent country. The LTTE boycotted the election, thereby preventing thousands of Tamils from voting, and so Wickremasinghe, whose election promises included a Federal state to the North and East, from taking power.
thoughtprovoking to say the least. makes you wonder what would have happened if the LTTE had not done what they had done...perhaps we would all have gotton SOMEWHERE?instead of goin round and round ?
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
* the term ELBOOB is copyright Urban Dictionary
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Robert Knox from - An Historical Relation of Ceylon
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Archbishop of Canterbury
By telefax to: 44.20.7261.1765 and 44.20.7898.1369
Most Reverend Sir:
International Educational Development (IED) and the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL) write to express our profound shock over your comment of 11 May 2007 that “surgical military actions against terrorism should take place” in Sri Lanka. Besides evincing opprobrious ignorance of humanitarian law, this comment will surely encourage Sri Lankan President M. Rajapakse in his genocidal assault on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and, in turn will forward the geopolitical interests of the United States and other international actors who eye the port of Trincomalee, the airfield at Palaly and the exploitation of resources in the Tamil part of the island.
Sinhala policies have oppressed the Tamil people from the day the British flag was lowered and the Tamils were taken by surprise when the new flag was raised featuring the Sinhala lion. Early protests by the Tamil leadership fell on deaf ears, and the Sinhala majority and their political leaders began an all-out assault on the basic rights of the Tamil people from that ominous day. After more than thirty years of negotiations and peaceful protests failed to improve the situation, the Tamils began talking of severing their area from the Sinhala part of the island and forming their own militias to protect themselves. In 1983, severely shaken by the 1983 massacre of Tamils by Sinhala mobs, the largest of the militias, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), began a full fledged war that, except for intermittent periods, has continued to rage. This armed conflict is fully governed by all applicable rules of humanitarian law, and the combatants in this war, as in any war, are allowed to have land, sea, and air forces and to carry out military operations. Our organizations have been involved with monitoring this war since we first addressed the United Nations human rights expert body about it in August 1983.
Armed conflict is not terrorism. People still have the right under international law to resist oppression and racist regimes. The right to use force as a last resort to achieve freedom and restore human rights is fully protected. What is allowed for Kosovans is allowed for Tamils. While we always regret when any situation deteriorates to the point of war, we can attest that the Tamils clearly had the right to use force long before they actually resorted to it.
The LTTE, the only current resistance force of the Tamil people, is not a terrorist organization. This does not mean that one is siding with the LTTE in the armed conflict or that one has to “like” the LTTE (or the Tamils for that matter); it merely recognizes the obvious -- a war has broken out -- and places review of that war properly under the humanitarian law regime. As should be patently obvious, terrorist organizations, unlike the LTTE, are not in military uniforms, do not carry out military operations using the instrumentalities and materiel of armed conflict, do not control territory, and usually do not even have an identifiable chain of command. We are well aware that the term “terrorist organization” has been applied to the LTTE by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, but this has been to forward a political agenda, is not in conformity with applicable humanitarian law and is clearly wrong on its face. Many legislators, experts, and human rights and humanitarian law organizations, including our own, have protested this false, politically-motivated designation.
We understand that some, if not many, are confused by the terms, in part because of the purposeful obfuscation by the United States in its operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo, and by its desire to be able to decide at will who is a “freedom fighter” and who is a “terrorist” based on its own interests -- as it has since World War II. We also understand that most ordinary people are intimidated by the labeling. However, we would expect that a person of your stature, traveling in a country at war, on a mission that you claim was to help bring peace to the island, would know better. Instead you contributed to the orchestrated confusion and, even worse, openly sided with the Sinhala in the Tamil/Sinhala war. This is reinforced by the fact that you did not visit the Tamil areas. We wonder if you even asked to.
Perhaps the worst outcome of your remark is that it fosters the notion that the Geneva Conventions and the laws and customs of war do not apply to this war and makes the dire situation of the Tamil victims of this war far worse. The government has clearly taken advantage of the lack of international review of this war using applicable humanitarian law to carry out serious war crimes with apparently no fear of international consequences: attacks on hospitals, children’s schools, churches, camps for internally displaced, villages and towns and aid workers; wholesale disappearances and murders of Tamil civilian; the denial of food and medicines for the Tamil civilian population due to blockades; -- to name a few -- receive little or no mention. Those who dare ask about the fate of Tamil civilians are instantly attacked by the Sri Lankan authorities for supporting “terrorism.” The government of Sri Lanka has even backed the United Nations Human Rights Council and its mechanisms into a corner, making a laughing stock of them and threatening to destroy human rights systems carefully built up since 1948.
We are not aware of remarks you may have made privately to the Sri Lanka authorities, so it may be that you spoke candidly, if not forcefully, about the need to reopen all ground routes to allow food and medicine to all Tamils in the North and East or about the need to cease bombing civilian targets, or the need to call off the “white vans” that scoop up Tamils every day, or the need to allow full humanitarian aid to all victims of the armed conflict, or the need to allow proper monitoring of the situation, and other highly pertinent topics. We would certainly hope so. However, the fact remains that you made a highly offensive public comment for which the international community, especially the Tamil people, needs a full apology. The Tamil people were clinging to a ray of hope in their ordeal for their rights, but instead received cruel disillusionment. We also expect before your next “peace” mission to a war torn area you study the conflict well in advance, and bring along texts with the rules of humanitarian law.
We also send you a copy of our letter to the United Nations Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in light of the situation of Tamils. We are happy to provide other pertinent material we have submitted to the United Nations if you so request.
Yours most sincerely,
Karen Parker, JD
Chief delegate of IED to UN
Co-Founder and President, AHL
 Under current United States “definitions,” Ethan Allan and the Green Mountain Boys and, indeed, even George Washington’s Continental Army would be terrorist organizations and the Boston Tea Party a terrorist act.
 We note, that in spite of the repeated use of the term “terrorists” by Sri Lankan officials when referring to the LTTE, and the governments active role in seeking a “terrorist” label by other States, the government has not officially labeled the LTTE as a terrorist organization.
 Please note that under the Statute and Elements of the International Criminal Court, restricting food and medicines for the civilian population is part of the crime of extermination. See ICC, Rome Statute, Articles 7 (1)(b) and 7(2)(b); ICC Elements, Article 7(1)(b).