Thursday, January 26, 2017

Your Job or Your Man. Which would you chose?


Yesterday, friends, was one of those days. I was rained on, shat upon (by a crow) almost had about two and a half road accidents and had my lunch breach into my handbag, karola hodi and all. It was bad. You could say it held a series of irritating little incidents for a working woman and certainly they are nothing much to write home about since they were little but they were indeed irritating and as such built into one single day I was rather amazed. Was it me or the country or the planets? Does this sort of thing happen to you too?

The crux of my day was something like this – after a local TV station was set fire to and I was woken rudely at 5 45 with a text message on the subject,  I dozen off again into a rather sad nightmare that I was fighting with my dear brother, which is strange and quite disturbing. IN the first place, touch wood, I hardly have nightmares and in the second place he is not  a fighting man so we hardly ever squabble…then there was the confusing vision of a helicopter landing in my back yard which I shall skim…so: I woke late..dressed in a hurry, raced to work and found that the road was closed…took a detour and found myself dodging annoyed traffic in Bambalapitiya at nine forty five..

In the meantime my line manager and another fussy client I had promised to meet early in the day were calling me and demanding justifiably where I was. Stressful. Saying Bambalapitiya would not have worked since that is nowhere near my office..

By close to ten I was getting quite hysterical and speeding around the one way lanes in desperation, plunging along at about double the speed I usually do and narrowly missing not one but two tangles, and getting yelled at in dubious Sinhala (justifiably mind you) by fellow commuters. Office, when I reached it was a blur of high pressure assignments which I cant remember except that at one point a lady acquaintance  called me on the phone and said rather hysterically that I was a fool for having "let my husband go" which cause me to pause everything and smile. I had let him go about ten years ago and been happy ever since, and the problem was that she did not want to let hers go although she could not live with him either , so she was judging me seriously.

Im not often called a fool to my face and while I appreciate her point blank honesty I did a short and sharp analysis of what she was talking about and found it an interesting paradox. I have a total of  four close women friends at the moment who are going through the most amazing painful emotional tortures (amply complemented with generous dollops of physical domestic violence) simply to somehow "hold on to their man" meaning of course to prevent some other woman from taking him. They give complex supposedly sentimental reasons for this attachment but since these are interspersed with randomly voiced desires to have their prince stoned to death, voodoo-ed away  or at least mildly amputated* I assume it isn't actually old fashioned romantic LOVE that keeps them together. In fact I have a serious suspicion that the critical factors are more about inertia, social expectations and economic benefits. But the results of these conflicts are disturbing. I honestly think Sri Lankan ladies take this whole man-holding thing way too seriously, until it becomes an dark obsession.  In turns I get the most brilliant SMSs updating me on their valiant efforts to track the male icon of their lives, to infiltrate his communications (ie hack his mobile or analyze the bill, track his evening travel, frame his girlfriend, what have you) to monitor his movements, to beg, whine, threaten, scream  and occasionally cajole sometimes with promises of unusual sexual favours, the man of their lives into staying with them, and sometimes to kill themselves or their man or both and the Other woman too,  in various very creative ways.

It seems a never ending battle involving tears, violence and hysteria , observed continuously by the traumatised bug-eyed off spring who huddle crying and praying under beds…and culminating in partial insanity for both spouses not to mention the unfortunate children who will need impressive amounts of counseling later on. And as for the Other Woman, really is it so difficult to find a man of your own? **

Each time I listen to these stories I thank the stars for my job.

It's a tough job, it's a demanding job and sometimes its an annoying job which makes me put in lots of extra hours - but it means that I don't have to depend on a man. I have been blessed with understanding superiors and pleasant co workers so far so it's a fairly "do able" job with bearable income. So Im lucky. And Im actually occupied!  Perhaps if I was a rich heiress and didn't have to do a job I would have time to latch myself onto some unfortunate male, make his life claustrophobic, and sit around busily fending off Other women but, no I don't. There's paperwork to handle, the occasional article to write and I have too many interesting hobbies to list so the whole full time man-holding thing will have to be bypassed. I honestly can't be bothered. J


* you know where I mean, ladies.

** Or to come up with some amicable time sharing agreement or something …

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saving Munchi PART TWO

Part 2

Part 1 at  this link

Munchi is a small stray cow who was running around Salawatte injured and frightened for a number of months, with no one able to catch her to medicate her. Citizens had called vets, govt departments, the police, no one had helped. With the help of village cow-handlers, two working housewives from Wellampitiya managed to organise the rescue but now the issue was how to save her from the other people like butchers and cow thiefs who could be watching the situation.

Wellampitiya  is known in Sri Lanka for it's drug addicts, criminals and underworld gangs. Shootouts, drug stashes and mysterious disappearances are rife. Men came and stood in rows staring at her and some fed her absurd amounts of bread which constipated her pitiably. I had to draft a notice against such.And Zeenath and I would surely lose our jobs and be bankrupted if we had to feed her so many kilos of fodder a day in the city.

So we needed to transport her out to safer pastures. I picked Hanwella because the original cowboys who rescued her were from that area and because it's a pastoral area ideal for a retired bovine. There were rolling stretches of greenery where she would be allowed to live in peace.

But there was massive red tape to go through.

The cow was presumed ownerless but I didn't want some butcher to pop up and get me arrested for cattle theft.

The last thing I needed was to have to beg people to get me out of jail. So I asked my neighbours to confirm they had no objection to me removing her to a safer location. Twenty signatures and a grama sevaka approval later we needed 1) veterinary certificates of health 2) traffic permits once the lorry was approved to transport her 3) Vetinary approval of the lorry we would use 4)approval from the divisional secretariat that she could be transported. Each of these documents needed a set of sub documents or things for approval, for example the cow and the transporter had to be inspected by the veterinarian etc etc

It's not as easy as it sounds on a tight budget ...the lorry from hanwella, one of the very few who agreed to transport a live animal especially a bulky and unpredictable cow...was charging 7500 and that was just to take the cow there. It was busy at that time (30th December 2016) on some other work and could not come to Colombo for the agriculture office to stamp their approval

We had just a few hours to get through all this red tape before govt offices closed for the year....the lorry was still in hanwella 2 hours away...roads were clogged with last minute shoppers...govt offices were closing and the vet was saying he would have to go in the field in the afternoon...which was of course a euphemism for I've-had -enough-of-this-I-want-to-go-home-early-it's friday-the-30th...

We begged and grovelled for him to stay.

My rescuer  partner Zeenath hit on the idea of getting the photos of the lorry watsapped to us. Certain relevant officials noted that I had a media identity card and subsequently decided to understand the difficulty we were in and that it was inadvisable to keep her in Salawatte on the night of the 31st. They agreed to bend rules and sign the approval on printed photos of the truck. The truck driver on the other hand was struggling bravely with technology and took about 45 minutes to wire the photos.This is not the first heroic thing he did

And by the time the transporters photos came in, the owner of the communication store in front of the agrarian office had gone out to lunch...

I nearly burst into tears because it was almost 3 pm ...time to close counters in govt offices… I grovelled at a large flaccid young man sitting in for the communications operator and he gave me a very cool rude look of "no-can-do-dumb-cow-now-get-your-knickers-untwisted-and-go-somewhere-else-with-your-stupid-sob-story."I am not imagining things, I know attitude when I see it. And here I was taking attitude from a man who claimed he did not know how to check email…

I gave up with it and took the phone along to the vet, who looked at the photos and signed the form,sternly telling us that we must use that particular truck and no other. We pelted, in a stand by tuk tuk, to the Divisional Secretariat office in Kolonnawa.

And then a certain guy at the divisional secretariat, whose task it is to officiate the matter of cattle transport,   rudely and condescendingly told us that the counters had closed at 3 pm and didn't we know it was 3 26.. Sarcasm rudeness patronising condescension everything out public sector employees are best known for all rolled together with derision for two stupid women who were trying to save a I don't have to look at your cow photos he sneered adding that the payments counter was closed so they could not process the matter. And the official payment was 50 rupees ...the price of one Cheap local cigarette.

He was ready to insist on this formal payment- and make my friend, a woman on a crutch, go back home.

We knew that if Munchi was kept in Salawatte over the 31st a lot of uncomfortable things could happen to her including cownapping and slaughter. Her purported owner the hindu Oracle had allowed her free, she was technically ownerless, butchers had been eyeing her..We had to keep her tied due to the medications we were spraying on her...but the very fact she was tied mean that here was about a hundred thousand rupees in unsupervised walking beef tied to a jak tree in the seediest, most criminal infested area in the marshes of Wellampitiya.

Also my friend Zeenath  and I had taken the last of our annual leave and vacation and were at the ends of our budgets…so Zeenath pitifully begged the chubby DS man to help and with much attitude and pomposity he went through the motions.

Then just at that moment a very distinguished looking slim young man with files in his  hand came over and greeted Zeenath and talked to her. Unlike the rude cleric he listened to our story and with serious concern looked at the photos of our silly cow.The snooty cleric in the background looked rather shaken when he saw this and shuffled his papers with more genuine effort. It turned out his enthusiasm was because the gentleman who was talking to us was a Western Province UNP provincial counsellor....

So at 4 pm on the 30th after about 6 hours of going round and round we got the cattle transport permit to hand went and gave Munchi some food and went home to frankly collapse with exhaustion in my case and Zeenath limped home to cook for her husband.Tomorrow was Saturday December the 31 and we had to get Munchi up into a small truck and onto the noisy streets of Colombo. She was young, traumatised, hated men, and weighed half a tonne…

I worried a lot because I had no idea how this could possibly be done. Munchi was terrified traumatised no nonsense determination....we only had a small Mahindra truck to put her in. That's a bit like putting a large and angry muzzled bulldog into a kitchen sink...there could be more trauma.Down came the Hanwella Cowboys Lal and another fellow led by the Honcho Prasad and things began to happen so quickly we were spellbound like watching a movie.One of the boys expertly lassoed our grumbling girl which happened in a blink of the eye too quick for us to record. The rest of the process is on a resisting angry traumatised bovine anxiety was gently but firmly trapped and pulled towards the truck.Then miraculously she was in and on her way to greener pastures! Prasad was in the front of the truck with the files of official documentation and Munchis yellow ear tag and worm spray bottle.

And I followed in a bus biting my nails.

Munchi is now retired in a large beautiful land in Hanwella. She didn't like the look of her first adopter who was a dark very bulky man with a rather startling face. If you shut your eyes and thought African Butcher whatever picture you come up with is what Lal looks like. Practically a doppelganger of the late Ugandan Idi Amin. I don't think it's polite to judge people by their looks but clearly Munchi had not got that memo because each time he touched her rope she charged off like a runaway rhino until poor Lal got tired of the rope burns and being dragged for miles and returned her in disgust. So now she lives in quiet pastoral retirement with Prasads mother and niece who are allowed to stroke her head and hand feed her so long as they don't touch the rope which she is touchy about.

There are three important lessons I have learnt from Munchi's rescue

1 There is no official organisation in Sri Lanka mandated to help a distressed domestic animal.

2 Regular housewives can sometimes succeed at a task that has confounded strong men. you just need to be positive.

3 Even if you are born destined to be barbecued if you have the right attitude you can be brave take no bullshit and drag yourself to freedom, as this stubborn little brown cow had.

And of course- that there are a lot of loving positive people around to be found in the unlikeliest of places <3


Wound healed fast due to very professional attention of SKYPET vets

healing with her friend.jpg

Here she is recovering with a small furry friend


She recognises me and comes close - sometimes . othertimes she runs a mile

free to roam the jungle.jpg

In her element the jungle