Thursday, May 22, 2008


Just to prove I have something of a personal life too, I went over to Sumathys yesterday for her “BOOK SWAP EVENING” and had a lovely time meeting a whole host of new contacts in the “NGO Field” (mind you the fun part is meeting people you already knew who already know people you know , slightly FACEBOOKY if you know what I mean )
Not only was the food great but I found some fantastic books too including STUPID WHITE MEN (Michael Moore) which as the critics say is right up my street , written as it is in PLAIN ENGLISH (ohhh so hard to find) which Im on to now. ...

The concept of BOOK SWAP EVENING is so simple I wonder why I never thought of it before– your kind host/ess arranges the ambiance and snacks and you bring any books you have which you are tired of and everyone else in the circle brings whatever they have, you throw it all in a pool and take what ever you like .
It really works.
Drop me a line if youd like to be invited next !


If there’s one recurrent trait I notice about Sri Lankans, its our Gross National Propensity to lie.

I figure this tradition started about two thousand five hundred years ago when a rascally Indian exile said “I love you bebes, and I Swear I always will” to a local wench with his fingers crossed behind his back; since then we have simply fine tuned fibbing into a National art…financial standing, number of Exes, boob size, age, you name it , we seem to compulsively alter it and present anything but the truth.

Even really mundane day to day facts get twisted with the calm aplomb of dedicated professionalism. Concepts like “ I only had one glass” or “Im just passing Borella (and how many times I have heard that in the Kosgoda bus!)not to mention the mother of all small corporate fibs “Im at a meeting , can I call you back?” from guys on the way to a bit of afternoon diversion…
Passive lying (which is when you have to listen to ground splitting inaccuracies being vocalized in front of you and have to shut up and let them go on) is almost as important as the original sin and I confess I have not had the courage to stand up and object to my moral space being thus violated, which fair makes my skin twitch.
You see, when I was a kid I was told that if I lied the ground would crack and Id fall through and end up in really hot water .To add serious worry to my juvenile concerns there used to be a sizeable crack in the concrete in our front driveway which seemed to expand each time I attempted to so much as stretch a fact or two, circumvent the absolute truth,, or even slightly waiver from the straight and narrow.
I have since figured this was faulty masonry but thanks to this crippling fear I have never been able to polish my fibbing skills to even a remotely passable national standard.
I paint and write passably well, or so I think , but unfortunately professional pretense is a talent I have not been able to master to even a half presentable level compared to the local pros, somehow coming from me, it just dosnt work. I honestly find myself marveling with respectful awe at some of the poker faced, effortless gems of linguistic misrepresentation I see around me on a daily basis..[1]
Mindboggliingly, considering the murder , corruption child-trafficking and an entire list of offences from grave crime to civil misdemeanor (and lots of good old fashioned garden variety adultery too) which goes on around us and is entirely impossible without the use of effective lying , it would appear that this is the one talent this nation excels at
--And this in spite of the fact that Sunday Schools and daham paasals are packed with earnest cherubic little patriots being lectured against lying till teachers and students are both blue in the face…which is a pity because if you consider very carefully, isn’t it obvious to you later on that the better you lie the higher you go!?
And I don’t mean to be a prissy little hypocrite here- so I assure you, that were I actually capable of remembering the facts, I would very much value the strategic advantage in being able to lie my way through life. Unfortunately some bits of wiring seem to have malfunctioned and the few honest attempts I made at properly perjuring myself led me to such obvious red faced perspiring embarrassment that I was forced to give up and retire to the comparatively safe ground of being entirely honest (or at least staying mum) because it was that much easier to remember the facts if they were true. I have trouble remembering things that DID happen (genetic, what with Grandma Isabelle) so trying to make up stuff which didn’t would probably be the giddy limit. So in my case its sheer necessity that makes it important to stick to the truth.
As a nation where we have collectively become so used to subtracting the exaggerations by default, and adjusting for dishonesty, the problem then is that if someone were to go around actually telling the truth , the strain of it all would probably be too much for our lie conditioned hard discs to handle and we would freeze and malfunction.
This does have a funny side, if like me you have given up trying to convince people anything. Sometimes the urge to lie is tied up with the urge to defend yourself against wholesale inquisition leading to large scale gossip- so a good way to nip things in the bud would be to quell speculation at the start and for example give them the information exactly the way they want it, before they have to fish and dig for it .

Try some of my unusual answers guaranteed to make people thoughtful:

· Oh, him ? he’s my Secret Paramour
· Thanks for the complement; I think I’m looking fairer today because I had my monthly bath…
· I’m sorry I got late; I was looking for dry underwear….

Now obvious truths like that should certainly seal the cracks in your masonry if nothing else…
[1] “But I SENT you the spreadsheet last Friday; just check your junk box it may have fallen there”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Consider Gautama.
Two and a half centuries ago in a land called India, a great land of traditionalist thinkers, there were alas people who then as now treated their women as chattels, as merely beasts of burden, to be bartered , trafficked , used and disposed of as convenient, …there were powerful people who wanted this to go on.
But consider Gautama who was a Radical, a Extremist Pacifist if you must, a fearless and staunch feminist, daring enough to give us equal rights , to recognize our humanity and potential and ensure women the respect and honor they do admittedly deserve.
No other religious leader has quite elevated the childish and capricious, reputedly confused female human to such a position of esteem and honor in society.
Some have given women equal rights but Gautama placed them higher. Some considered them too immature to know their own minds, deemed them an inconvenient distraction to men, for which they were restricted, penalize and disadvantaged.
Gautama elevated the mother to the head of the household , the divine force within the house.
Consider Buddhist women today.
We are not restricted by undignified rules over our freedom, our dress codes, our choice of whom to marry or speak to or be seen with, we don’t have to dress in carcinogenic colors to please our men-folk, the rules which apply to us are exactly the same as those that apply to our men.
Thanks to this great and gentle feminist we can learn, study, work, be ordained, marry, divorce and basically live the lives we chose. With freedom comes responsibility and if some of us do not recognized this it is perhaps because we do not stop to actually consider how comparatively lucky we are as Buddhist women and respected citizens. The respect is ours to keep or lose through how we live..
Women are welcome to find solace in places of worship, unlike in some faiths where they are considered unclean or unfit, we are welcome to leave the lay world if we so decide and be ordained, unlike in other cases. Recognizing the spirituality within us and the potential for greatness, no where have equal rights been so equal.
A Buddhist mother is the divinity in her household;but this is not to say she exploits the position and abuses her gentle reign.
We are not ostracized of blamed for the misfortune of being a widow.
There is no “love and obey” clause because a Buddhist marriage is a partnership of mutual respect..
There is a clear and beautiful constitution which governs the marriage contract , a set of simple rules which if followed faithfully are guaranteed to make earth like heaven, the famous Sigalovada Sutta. Touchingly a man who takes on a wife is instructed to provide for her and see to her comfort and in turn the wife is supposed to make his home a peaceful shelter from the outside world, so that he can concentrate on earning a righteous living.
Marital fidelity is a responsibility of both parties and so monogamy is our benefit there. …if you ask a woman of any race if she wishes to share the attention of a husband and in her heart of hearts the answer would be a resounding “No”. Amazingly, in India which prized glittering splendid harems as veritable trophies, this quiet, thoughtful teacher with the persuasive personality caused a strong paradigm shift when he laid out a clear foundation for marriages of mutual respect, giving women dignity and self worth. More amazingly he succeeded in a time without mass media, PR drives or body guards, in an environment of the usual hostility without a single life being taken in support of his doctrine.

In a era full of fear and uncertainly Gautama was in fact the first world leader to say to us, “Yes , you can win if you want !” and then point the way.
Its up to us to follow.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Strange and True

here, for the benefit of all good Colombites are two things I learned yesterday

1. It IS possible to collide with a crow. I used to think that the kamaikazi dives they make into the middle of traffic were precision timed foreys of daring skill, but it turns out they are just greedy dimwits like the rest of us and if they see some food speck on the road they go for it with wretched single minded concentration , and that not on the traffic. I dont know if this has happened to other people but I tangled with a CROW near the General Hospital mortuary and the only reason its lived to fly another day is that I was doing a modest 40 kmph and riding near the drains as usual. Im lucky to be alive too, because, for someone who loves all things furry and feathery it was quite distracting to be mixed up in lots of shiney black feathers and small bits of tripe it had picked up from the road...

2. Sri Lankas Police uniform makes then WELL NIGH INVISIBLE at night and they think they have the right to JAY WALK all over the place, so the most hazardous traffic I have seen by far is cops jaywalking in unlighted areas of Flower Road at night. Yikes.

I also did enjoy Ashok Ferreys article on traffic in this months MONTAGE.
Happy reading, folks

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

dont you love Chinese?

Im sorry about this , be careful if you are the sensitive type, but ,pass it on.
Perhaps we can make a difference , or perhaps this world is too far gone.Perhaps there are better worlds elsewhere. Makes you start to think.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


There are lots of things we hate about this country, but at the same time I love Sri Lanka for many valid reasons like my friends of all ethnicities, the lovely sunlight and color and the wonderful food; Beautiful though it undoubtedly, is there are lots of things wrong with Sri Lanka like people killing each other at the drop of a hat and other people not seeming to mind this at all.
So over time Ive had this increasingly uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong and this is not how people in the rest of the world live.

Finally last week I found the proof I was looking for- yes its true, Ive always suspected this but never had it in print and here it is; Foreign Policy Magazines ranking of Sri Lanka as among the top 32 “RED ALERT” locations of possible failed State :

You read me right - Sri Lanka is officially up there among the crap countries list, last among equals like Niger, Iraq and North Korea, and steadily gaining foot hold! The conclusion is drawn from a list of twelve selected indicators, a few of which are uncannily familiar -

The list includes, “Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples” “Chronic and sustained human flight (including brain drain of middle class professionals…) uneven economic development, endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation, widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes and Progressive deterioration of public services (some things like hospitals and public transport would seem to have hit rock bottom, you will agree) and last but not least … (drumroll)…. widespread violation of human rights….