Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nothing much to report...

...except that
* I weighed David Blacker's book and it weighs exactly 600gms and
* its official : I will be joining the Red Cross. This means I wont be blogging for a few years. Sorry, guys.I will really miss life at the Centre.
The spirit is willing, but cash is the issue...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Spooking people ?Ill do it MY WAY,thanks!

Ten things I wouldn’t be caught dead doing:

Having been a steadfast fan of ghost stories and horror films for the last 30 years, I have decided to face the fact of my inevitable mortality and subsequent passage onwards with some creativity on my part which I hope will continue to confuse and intrigue people long after I am dead and (at least nearly) gone.
Once a geek always a geek though and technology is going to play a large part in my afterlife too, you can be sure.
For example here’s a list of ten things I just won’t be caught doing, in the afterlife, because Ill be doing it my way:

I will not walk through doors; just to be sure I’m not invading anyone’s privacy , Ill knock cheerfully first and identify myself before blasting my way in with a borrowed machine gun: beat that for cool.

I will not hover, wave or materialise shakily because I think that’s a sign of an insecure ego (or worse, low cellular signals). Instead I will appear solidly accompanied by the sound of Windows starting up and speak clearly and unmistakeably, when I warn people about impending doom or whatever message from beyond I’m supposed to deliver.

My presence will not be announced by a vague feeling of cold and dread. Instead there will be a positively warm fuzzy feeling when I enter the room: and animals will simply love me, as always.

I will not visit the dentist every six months. I won’t have to. That’s one of the perks of being dead.

I will not be answering my email. Lord knows, I’ve wanted a plausible excuse not to have to.

I will not posses innocent Catholic teenagers. There are, instead, a few corrupt local politicians and unkind extremist terrorists whose lives I would like to plague. But I will not paste them on the ceiling and make them froth at the mouth because it just looks silly. Instead I’ll mess up their backup drives and cause them to lose valuable data which will definitely traumatise them much more.

If I’m ever caught on camera , I will make sure that it looks like a crude Photoshop paste job gone wrong plus I will positively ensure that my hair is tied up into a neat pony tail and not hanging wetly over my face no matter how good it is!

I will not tolerate sombre orchestral music in any cinematic reconstruction of my manifestations .Instead there should be something with beat like Ricky Martins Livin La Vida Loca or the frog song.

I will not hang about haunting my family or home. Sweet though they are, that would be dead boring.*and I have been trying to get away from them for years. I will instead board a world cruise and visit all the places and countries that I couldn’t afford the tickets to, for the first 300 years of my new existence. Then I will get on a space shuttle and head out to see what life is like wherever they are heading.

And finally, whilst not scaring and not boring people I will also not be using my powers for personal gain since Im dead. But I will be involved in a lot of mysterious and irreversible funds transactions that mess up the civilised world’s perception of electronic money. That way Sub Saharan Africa and Bangladesh will suddenly find that they are two of the richest nations in the world and the USA will have to borrow from Latin America. Paris Hilton will have to attend collage and get a job, most of her wealth having inexplicably been donated to the Cambodian “Save the Orang-utan” Fund. And neither will Angelina Jolie nor Mrs or Mr Bill Gates in anyway be affected. However the latter will not be able to figure out what happened, or how to reverse it.

· Pardon the pun. Well, no, actually on second thoughts, its quite a good pun if I do say so myself, so don’t.
more ideas on doing the afterlife thing your way? add comments here!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


... and other feline tales.

Cats plague me. They greet me with vibrating purry meows when I get home, track me excitedly around the house when Im looking for my sandals, spray my motorcycle jacket cheerfully with nauseous civet musks and drop suddenly out of the ceiling onto my dining table when I’m entertaining important guests….

I look around and wonder to myself how I ever got so surrounded by this many smelly mewling mangy excuses for former Egyptian Gods.-the answer is I love my kids and they love playing with string and kittens. I also love kittens, I admit, and from garbage dumps and temple corners they all seem to be asking me to take them home. The problem is these kittens I bring in mutate within six months and for the next decade I’m hounded (no other word for it) by large, obnoxious feline predators calmly decimating the crockery and waving insouciant, in – your –face balls, or “cutlets” ,as the kids call them...

My cats embarrass me and stink up my house but keep me warm if ever I am cold or lonely(admittedly not often).However there’s good reason to believe I may be in future: I have had to reject at least three perfectly good marriage proposals (not easy to find for a middle aged divorced broad in Colombo-) due to the fact that I just knew/ or found out in the nick of time that the otherwise excellently moneyed and suave suitors hate cats and such marriage would probably end in catricide- and/or worse.

Cats hypnotize us. My worst cat is a half Persian Garfield –wannabe with a tail like a Christmas tree, named Patchy because she is black with tabby patches and has a yellow eye patch rather like a pirate in negative. She will not lower herself to the level of common cats who use the sand patch in the front yard. She uses our bathroom instead. I have Nokia videos of her pissing leisurely in the bathroom sink, which I always wanted to send to Atapattama but am not sure if they will clog bandwidth, or actually what their email address is.

Solid waste is quietly deposited in a corner behind my laundry bucket, and followed by a brief absence from the domestic scene. That is until she gets lonely and broody and wants to do the kneading thing.

I call it that from want of any more scientific term but what Im referring to is the slightly psychotic purring /kneading /claw digging Massage scenario that cats subject you to once they get you under them in the evenings. Evolution has mutated a whole totally weird group of sub-humans who actually tolerate being pinned under a heavy cat, and being pawed and kneaded firmly and rhythmically- and I admit to being one of them, perverted as it sounds. I do believe, thought scientists have not researched this, that they include a mildly hypnotic and decidedly sedative chemical in the substantial clouds of fur they release in the process otherwise why would I be under my cat for stretches of up to even 15 minutes? Some one tell me I’m not the only one that does this?

PLAYBOY style T Shirt Spotted in Dematagoda

On the Back :

and on the front :

quotes I cant help but quote...sorry!

Unbloggable content usually implies me.
Darth Teddy to Kahuna, attempting to amass rights to all questionable content.

these guys are a scream...where have they blogged all my life? who are they ? what kind of software must they be writing?(shudder!)

I need to go through the archives, durnig the weekend I guess, so Im recording the link here, but hey- it doesnt mean all my readers can abandon me forever....ok?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


MY FIRST LESSON and other embarrassing moments
Leading Colombo driving schools do offer ladies motorcycle lessons and this means you have to get on a bike with a strange dude and after some time he sits behind you.

From my 2004 diary,then:
3rd jan 10.00 am
I’m sitting in the neatly painted but nevertheless shabby third world office of a Colombo driving school.. As a rule I notice, the Driving Instructors are grey haired, casually dressed fiftygenarians, who give the aura of being totally drunk and gregarious but hopefully are neither The one I saw first was no exception-and shot me a very stern and dignified glance , more of a glare really, before yanking shut his fly with the determined , pointed air of someone ready to get down to serious business. …
However, to my heartfelt relief he strode past me and then it was that my designated instructor came out searching for me. It so happened (oh the relief-) that he was neat (had all his clothes buttoned on), clean (no ear hair or carbuncles), young (normal eye colour, not rheumy red and most of his teeth intact) and –beat this-even tall dark and good looking too (well, ok that’s totally besides the point, but one must be thankful for large mercies…)

He spent a lot of his time looking over the room which was odd, as I was the only person there, and I looked all over the room behind him, since it was obvious from his behaviour that it was not me he was looking for- until it sunk into him, painfully I must say, that I was to be his instructee. The co-ordintor with the registry book clinched matters by gesticulating in my direction and I swear there was a secret half smile on the faces of at least 3 other staff in that room-my doomed instructor however looked at me as if I was something disgusting the cat had left on the bedside floor mat and I was later to find out why…I beamed cheerfully at him and he scowled at his feet, and then we went down to get aboard a motorcycle – at last.
Ok girls- time for some embarrassing moments (well, this is not as bad as a visit to the proctologist but) – yes, I had to sit behind this strange bloke and he took me on a spin to a nearby churchyard- and I could not hang on to his waist or shoulders (which I believe only friends or relations can do – neither did I actually want to -) but had to grip desperately at some kind of handle below my seat , while whining cravenly for him not to ride too fast …
He took about half an hour to explain carefully ,like dealing with a total drooling idiot, the accelerator, brakes and gears and what the dials meant -and then got me to sit in front , after which very genteelly and without any unwanted physical contact, managed to take me on a few test loops followed by (really scareeeey-) the point where he let me steer .That accomplished ,he proceeded to hand me total control of the handlebars , and a few ,jelly like wobbles away I was riding.
…the next thing this impossible person was suggesting, barely an hour after id met him –was that I practice on my own. Before you know it, he was lounging happily under a tree, checking his inbox, and I was being allowed out there on my own, describing happy somewhat rabid circles in the dusty church car park!

Ladies and gentlewomen, there is nothing I can think of that will beat this feeling (well, ok, nothing printable) - you are in the pilot seat, the wind is in your hair and you are responsible for your own direction, and speed, not to mention keeping your teeth, knees and elbows intact:
You are in control:of your destiny and your destination.
You are at one with your surroundings and a living part of a powerful machine.

Needless to say this is an adrenalin rush that can become highly addictive.

No amount of being the model pupil would make the instructor so much as grunt a positive comment, until he had withdrawn to a prudent distance from me and watched me do my thing for about an hour- after which he sheepishly admitted that many of the women he taught had no sense of balance and had put him through about half a dozen nasty falls, which is why he had been dreading this as much as me. …have you ever experienced gravel rash on your elbows or knees? Its crippling....

What can go wrong? Plenty. But you can be prepared. Insure your bike fully , that way you need not worry about parking it somewhere and going home in an emergency. Third party insurance means that if you knock one of those expensive lights out on a passing Prado, you will not have to work as an indentured slave for the next ten years to pay for it (or marry the owner which is, of course, worse). Insurance is quite affordable coming to just about 5% of the bikes value.
Follow the usual technical advise about petrol and 2T oil and go easy with the experimenting- do not listen to the tykes next door who suggest kerosene or sunflower oil. Carry a first aid box with antiseptics, stay away from lose gravel because its like oil to bike wheels, always have your tools nearby so that if you are stuck at least someone who passes by can help you. Memorize where the repair joints are – there is one almost every 200 yards in Colombo and be prepared to use your marketing smile to get things done. The strange thing is that although or because women on bikes are not yet common to Sri Lankans, they are also tolerated with a good deal of instant affection. There is nothing like riding up on a bike to open doors for you, you get treated amazingly akin to royalty or at least with indulgent smiles which means you can get almost any kind of assistance you politely require, from people who would not glance at you twice if you came in a three wheeler….You may also have to push the bike for a few miles if you get a flat tyre- or if you have a spare fifty rupee note you can simply pay a more manual looking passer by to help you by pushing it themselves.

You will tumble which is another good reason to wear thick denim pants and if possible Xena like breast armour. Falling is pretty much compulsory but happens when you least expect it. If you are going at 20 miles an hour, near the drains, you will not have to worry about something large running over you after you do. You will also hit a few pedestrians if you keep staring at SHOE SALE signs, so don’t. As for ogling well built male pedestrians, well, you deserve what you get if you do (but don’t let that stop you)

Insure yourself too but accept that you are responsible for your fate. Your life is in your hands so don’t ride no hands. Pray three times a day to every deity that will listen and take one day at a time. Never ever start out late, or worry about reaching your destination dead on time. Answering cel-phones on the ride should be out of the question.

Finally if you are killed randomly on the spot, remember to be happy because it means your troubles are over sooner rather than later. That’s what you call win win. Hakuna Matata!
The author affectionately remembers her mentor Gaya, who practices archery, owns a 600cc Suzuki and taught her not to be afraid of bikes. You go, girl!
She also reiterates she will not be held responsible for casualties resulting from decisions to follow in this extreme hobby based on this article series.

(ps the above graphic is probably copyright Daily Mirror )

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Moped Diaries. part 2 No license- no helmet - no underskirt…

The Moped Diaries. part 2 No license- no helmet - no underskirt…

This is not a technical article - technical advice you can get from just about any guy you know who rides a bike, or from the friendly salesmen at joints selling them. What follows are the kinds of tips you won’t hear from the guys: stuff like how to choose road friendly feminine underwear and what parts of your riding trainer it is better not to grab on those early test runs. Also please understand, first and foremost you need to know how to balance on a foot-cycle as its called, it’s a pre requisite without which you make life a living nightmare for the poor soul who has to teach you, since he will be worrying about how many tumbles he has to take with you and gravel rash on ones elbows hurts to the point of being crippling, trust me.

Helmets are a good idea whether the government requires then or not, since we only have one grey hard disk and damaging that could have embarrassing permanent repercussions. I was given this polite advice by a fatherly grey haired gentleman while waiting in traffic in the middle of Town Hall and I remember him with affection to this day. Have a helmet with a tinted face visor so you don’t need to get distracted smiling at anyone or have a sore throat every day.
As for what to wear- well, the less female you look, the less traffic you will snarl. If you really want to hear the regular hair rising screeching of truck brakes right behind you and feel a thousand eyeballs so tangibly fixed on your rear end that they seem to be arguing for space amongst themselves… then by all means dress like Barbie on the Malibu set of “California Dreams” . If on the other hand you just want to get safely from point A to point B with the least amount of hassle, blend in. Flesh as innocent as exposed calves is rare and delectable fodder to some of the desperate househusbands on Sri Lankan roads, and if you don’t have a bloke in front of you, it’s assumed that you are advertising its availability. I am personally pretty sure that if I pasted my phone number on my bike, I would not only get at least 100 calls a day and be able to market whatever I wanted- but also cause a sharp spike in traffic mishaps in the greater Colombo area due to people focusing on all the wrong things …occasionally I admit, I do toy with the idea of placing the number of the Dehiwala Zoo, on my rear luggage carrier, just for kicks ;-)…moving on:
I’ve tried lots of stuff (except skirts which I really don’t want to) -colourful blouses and shalwars just end up looking absurd, in my humble opinion, high heels are never practical, covered shoes are much better if you wish to actually recognise your toes at the end of the day, and a dust jacket is a good idea- it actually keeps the dust and diesel fumes out of your cleavage (oh ,is that another reason why the guys go first ?)and camouflages the consistency of your bust- for the same reason, make sure those under supports are nice and firm. None of the lacy, flexible stuff you find at fancy Colombo department stores: to take on the potholes of Colombo your valuable assets need to be strapped into the type of coir reinforced lingerie that Mrs Trunchbull wears to netball practice. (She is, for my dear readers who have missed the fun, the 175 kg, ex mud wrestler now tyrannical school principal in Mathilda who throws children out of school windows by their plaits, a creation of Roald Dhal one of the most wonderful and honest children’s authors this world has known.)
Which reminds me, if you have long hair ,for Pete’s sake tie it up- you don’t need that getting caught in the spokes or passing bullock carts. This again is why shalwars shawls and saris make unsuitable riding gear although we have been conditioned to think that if there is a male creature in front of us anything goes .Think about it? How many chances will you get to reverse stupid mistakes like this?
Finally do not think of hanging your groceries on the handle bars. Riding through Colombo needs 150% of your concentration and you don’t want to be worrying about whether the tomatoes are getting squishy by being slapped about against passing private coaches. Guys regularly get away with doing this because they don’t really care about the tomatoes (no matter how much they assure you that they do)-and there are some guy motorcyclists out there who look as though they would not notice it if one of their kids fell off, you will agree. For any kind of luggage you must install a proper luggage carrier and lock it so that at least that is out of sight and out of mind.

Now: onto the subject of the young male road audiences of Sri Lanka: they will as a rule, hoot, whistle and howl, if you look the slightest bit unsteady, or go slowly enough to be noticed, wearing eye catching feminine clothes. It’s a Sri Lankan thing, as unlike in India, women on two wheelers are not yet socially accepted. This decidedly chimpanzee-like pedestrian behaviour goes on for the first couple of weeks but peters out once they figure that you are not bothered and you are handling it better than they would ever. It also helps a lot if you are about 2 inches taller than the average local teenager and are yourself, large and in charge like me. My policy is to focus on every third guy who makes a noise, turn the bike around slowly , take it close to him, look him in the eye and gently say, “monowahari PRASHNAYAK thiyenawaadha?" with a sweet smile. Chances are he will get a glazed uncomfortable look and start wriggling uneasily. So you continue staring him down with the same sweet smile and make your voice firm and slightly metallic and say “ no, seriously, does my back tyre look flat to you ? is there anything odd you noticed…?”while giving the bike a few noisy revs and if he has nothing to say, smile honestly and move calmly off back the way you came from. If he answers you with anything spunky, park the bike and stand up. This is where those Fie Quando classes* come in handy, as they take away a woman’s natural paralysis when it comes to handling potentially uncomfortable situations. Nine times out of ten, the average street gang respects a woman who stands up for herself and will end up cringing and smiling cravenly…and saying “naa naa mukuth naa” because they never expected you to confront them and are feeling mighty foolish about it.
Don’t forget these are the same gangs who will bend over backwards to help you, if you are in trouble, (it has happened to me and resulted in a world of new contacts: I now have useful friends in low places) so never take the hooting personally enough to get annoyed by it! □
• another story altogether

Motor-biking in Colombo although affordable fun, can be injurious to your health, not to mention, final. The article is merely a nostalgic account of personal experiences and the author does not take responsibility for any damage sustained by readers, female or otherwise, who take up this dubious sport subsequent to reading same. Next week: my first lesson and what can go wrong.

Monday, January 01, 2007

the Moped Diaries

The Motorcycle ok,ok,- *MOPED*.. Diaries part 1

Two years ago, around this time of the year, I bought myself a shiny new Chinese moped from a very user friendly joint in Kohuwela. There was, I recall, a significant amount of family opposition to the idea of me riding a “motorcycle”. Notably most of the negative attitude was feminine. My best friend, a lovely, most lady like creature I have known since grade 7 in Lindsay BMV, wrote me a 234 Kilobyte email from New York, expressing in detail, her delicate horror at the idea. My long suffering mother called me IDD from Nairobi, to vocalise a pleading monologue on the subject and from something like 13,000 miles away and without a web-cam, I could clearly picture her wringing those lovely hands all over the place and getting red nosed with emotion.(Failing to change my resolve, she lapsed into prayers to the entire Hindu pantheon, which is generally something she has had to do for many years now, since it’s the only way she can resign herself to my fate….)Another of my very dearest friends did her best to dissuade me and failing, blasted me dutifully in three languages, to my awe, after which she reminded me that she would be my friend to the bitter mangled end. Last but not least my daughter told me, bluntly, to go take a long hard look at myself.
I have, dear people, trust me, I have.
I’ve worked it out on my trusty Citizen calculator , how much time an average Sri Lankan woman spends contorted into osteoporosis-inducing shapes on local buses and it works out to about a month per year, if you only have to travel an hour to work and an hour back: that’s an entire month of contortion, suffocation and cheerfully rejecting pineapple salesmen, jokers with banjos and kassippu scented, rheumatoid beggars with weeping eczemas. A whole article can be written about fending off lurid expressions of interest from the hairier, smellier sex, but I wont because I’m sure you have already read or heard all about life on buses :pretty much everything that happens anywhere else, the whole circle of life thing, can and does happen on buses- mating, pregnancy, birth, puberty, old age, death, and tax collection, so I wont bother going into it here.

A word, though, about what happens before you even begin your commute:
The double bus cha cha
Musical chairs, the bus way. You sit in one bus at the station and its getting late, everyone is waiting watching the clock- suddenly this little Hitler look alike dude in cargo pants comes along and says “who told you to get in that bus, its not the one – it’s the other one”. The whole herd of you, neatly dressed office going people stampedes to the other bus and there is a desperate and unsightly musical chairs thing to get a seat. You manage and then a different Mussolini lopes by and says the same thing…not this bus it’s the OTHER one. Makes my jaws stand out in grit, Ill tell you.
The bus halt tease.
Local bus halts involve about 30 feet of area. If they judge it carefully enough the drivers can appear to break about ten feet ahead of point A so that a sad desperate crowd of already late, sari clad women have to run en masse to the projected point of halt. A truly expert bus driving tease will then not bring it to a complete halt but continue to drag it temptingly about twenty feet more so that the bright little crowd has to run following it. Ive often speculated idly as to whether this feeds the drivers desire for power , for the need to control, to have a little herd of respectable working class citizens panting and tripping about in their wake ….I have idly concluded that these men were probably always nondescript and had domineering mothers and never were able to make an impression on society when they were young. Thumb sucking infants they may have been, with bed wetting issues and difficult protracted puberties. ..

The Total Avoid

That’s when you are the only desperate human standing at a bus halt waiting for a bus which comes every 15 minutes and it’s the only one that comes to the lordForsaken spot- and the bus in question zooms past, half empty , totally ignoring you because it has to get somewhere fast and you don’t count. On an average Sunday you can stand about 45 minutes waiting this way until the voices in your head start suggesting evil things, like how good it would feel to be done with it and throw yourself under the next one in revenge. Sadly at most they would probably not really notice you and wonder if it was a new speed bump and at best you may delay them a bit.

. All this hassle and women still think that a bike is dirty and rough? Really who makes us think this way !? well…I personally havnt got that many rich uncles who will write me into their wills and die leaving me enough doh for a modest little maruti(actually yuk) neither will I get paid more than enough to hold body and soul together in this interesting somewhat journalistic profession I work at (never mind the wicked job satisfaction) and finally, I m done with the marrying for money thing, since it didn’t work last time- so at the end of my tether: I decided to get me a bike.

Oddly enough, I have to say, the guys in my life have been actually approving and totally supportive, and took my declaration as no big deal, which was pretty comforting: I was accepted into hitherto male only office conversations on the price of different models of Kawasaki (not that I could ever dream of affording one since they cost more than the average car, these days )and various swapped experiences on changing a front tyre on the fly, not to mention Recounting Worst Tumble Taken competitions( which was incidentally won by a guy who ended up with scratched knuckles, alive and happy, albeit rather smelly, under a municipal muck truck).Tuk tuk driver blokes I know, instead of cold shouldering me, welcomed me like a true heroine, and continue to provide the odd screwdrivers, pliers, nuts, and plastic my cola bottles of petrol anytime I so much as say the word, not to mention bending over backwards to help me when I pretend that I cant change my signal lights or tighten my brakes….

This also means that I could casually introduce words like “alloy wheels ” , “four stroke” and “triptronic suspension*” into my day to day parlance, which I found rather ego boosting, I must admit, for an average Colombo housewife whose social standing had hitherto been measured by the weight of her( alarmingly underweight but happily active)toddlers or if she could get the yearly kavum to manifest symmetrical buriyas ( which I admit I never could, though all my excellent sisters in law can:oh the shame of it!) in fact as Ive often told anyone who would listen, getting a bike was pretty much the most legitimate fun I have had since my honeymoon…!
Next week:
Handling hooters and what not to wear.
* ok,I admit Im pulling your leg. Triptronic suspension doesn’t come with bikes but with some very expensive cars and the occasional Nasa shuttle.sorry...:-)

Weird Local Beliefs -made simple

Good times, Bad Times and other Weird Local Beliefs
Made Simple.

well, I'm back: I survived the recent holiday and the astounding sense of boredom and anticipation that Nationally relevant times like this carry with them, and did not actually get hit by the chikun virus ,perhaps because, like in Jurassic Park, I already harbor viruses which are ten times nastier and crunch up the chikuny ones on sight...old Picky, my unfaithful canine friend paid me that bi annual visit he does because he wants to escape from cracker noises by hiding under my bed...and I steadfastly continue to maintain the grinchy theory that compulsory breaks are a pointless waste of time involving loss of focus, something I’m always trying to hang on to.

IN the meantime I got to thinking about so called "auspicious times" .Aren’t we a society totally happy with leaving things to a nakath welawa? Isn’t that why we love being absolutely depraved until around New Years eve and then following it up with a list of goody goody resolutions on New Years day? Waiting for the Correct Time has never been so official as in Sri Lanka, and these strange , mind boggling theories start apparently start with geckoes. Yes, you read me. In Sri Lanka if one of these small sticky pallid house hold pests make a short room -to room call, we humans actually stop whatever we were planning and go back to the drawing board!

You also dont set foot out of the house if its currently a so called "Rahu " Time which is a temporary half hour planetary configuration that occurs, inconsiderately , every day but at slightly different times. I remember from my distant youth , the local newspapers had a page each year featuring these no go time zones and my parents dear would organise to stick the centerfolds conscientiously on the kitchen door, and glance at them before stepping out to work .If the time was wrong they would hang about gossiping and wasting time until it was clear. That a country's respected vehicles of media would stoop to seriously setting out in black and white, timings coughed up by hairy tipsy local soothsayers guiding us on the correct planetary line up to (among other things) have the first bath of the year, rub grease on our heads and set out for work etc.... never fails to amaze me. That a country so obsessed with timing things accurately to ensure prosperity and success, remains so consistently dirt poor, too in food for thought, although I have to admit that , judging from the smiles, we must be way up high on the informal Happiness Index anyway.

Then there were a lot of "bad" times that I was personally warned about during my adolescence. A newly " grown up" teenage girl was supposed to watch out specifically for certain times (and places) where she should never be alone- noon was very bad, and dusk was creepy ,the bottom of the garden was out at these times of the day unless you wanted strange and bad things to happen to you , and I later read that junctions (!?) and bathing spots are strictly no- no places and the times are called the "Four watches " Hence the local legend of poor Tikiri Liya who was molested by another semi domestic reptile-and there's also was a whole rule book about the correct days to bathe and to avoid bathing , which is odd for a race of people who make it a national pastime... Try explaining the rationale to a budding 16 year old writer/artist who just only wants to be left alone to write and paint and day dream about Prince Charming...the ugly truth was only hinted at vaguely to me and involved a rather horny dark local demon who was out to spiritually ravish you and leave you a gibbering white haired wreck. Also remember that if by unfortunate chance , you were out there alone somewhere at a junction , near the well or lost in a jungle (fat chance considering that I was manually so well chaperoned that it almost amounted to house arrest), and you met someone walking about with their head on back to front , you were supposed to look at them "under your arm" (!?) or you would have to be exorcised, perhaps painfully .( Of course in Wellampitiya ,as I explained a few weeks back, we are quite used to a lot of strange and wonderful characters and would probably just shrug if we saw someone running about with his feet on back to front ....)Looking back, it was just not worth the stifling restrictions I had to undergo particularly considering that the end result was a gibbering white haired wreck anyway.

Ikky superstitions were simply rife in our family. Dead pets immediately lost their furry charm faster than body heat and became "kili" (sort of unhygienic ghost magnets) ie, stuff you had to get rid of pretty darn quick unless we wanted to attract evil and greedy spirits. Ok, I guess no one actually wants to keep old Ringo or Poospatty around for days after they have gone into rigor and started making gassy noises, not to mention jettisoning hoards of ticks, but the inference that your furry friend was now just a potential host for malignant forces was kind of hard on a 5th grader apart from the natural depression at having lost a partner in was plain freaky, if you ask me.

Neither least nor last on my list, I must mention the awful fear of "Pretha Balmas"(lit Hungry Spirit Looks) ...the theory here was that if you ate your food outdoors or with someone hungry watching you or if you walk about at one of those bad times having eaten fried stuff and without washing your mouth, you get visited or boarded if I understand correctly , by stubbornly clingy ghosts who would (perhaps like hookworms?) absorb whatever nutrition was rightfully yours and leave you to wither away and become skinny :a decidedly unfashionable demise.
My dear gentle friends, let me tell you , since gym equipment and membership is so darn expensive these days and I am a couch potato at heart , I have tried this a few times but it just. does. not. work. Eating hot Isso wade and walking slowly past the local cemetery shouting " over here: come and get me: all yours" does NOT make you lose weight...

As you probably noticed by now, the end result of thus being subjected to so many frightful myths and old wives tales during your youth and having to fight your way above them, means society now has a generation of truly hardened cynics in its midst.
This is probably very bad news for soothsayers, insurance reps and horror movie producers among others. The latter have to keep coming up with more unusual stuff to hold our attention. Severed heads (Army of Darkness) or the Walking Dead (Interview with a Vampire) have just become such common ideas that they are almost silly and movie producers are resorting to more subtle-and-creepy ways of turning our stomachs, such as water logged contortionist cadavers (the Ring) or odd pulsating boluses of human hair in the drain (the Grudge) and if all else fails, shaky, motion sickness inducing cameras (Blair Witch Project) (gulp!).
The bad news is that whereas I am a steadfast fan of good old fashioned horror movies, I do compulsively continue to totally spoil it all for everyone else by cracking silly one liners and comic suggestions at what should be critical heart stopping moments.... Guilty as charged I must regretfully admit. Its part of how I grew up...

From Wellampitiya, with love, al sends her readers best wishes for this New Year 2007.Keep smiling!