Friday, July 25, 2008


Quote from C.S Lewis 'Chronicles of Narnia':

'For in Tashbaan, there is only one traffic regulation, which is that everyone who is less important has to get out of the way for everyone who is more important'

Sounds familiar Sri Lankans?


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tradition? To Hell With It!

I was one of the many [somewhat sad] people who stayed up till late to watch the Sirasa Dancing Star final last night. Its not cause I'm an ardent subscriber of Sirasa, just that I was bored and the dancing was entertaining. I thought the artistes did a good job of keeping to the beat, looking graceful and not looking like they were trampling mud during their performances. Personally, I think the other actresses (not the finalists) have a tendency to over gesture with their limbs and features in order to copy their Indian counterparts. Sometimes it comes off as a bit OTT.

Anyhow, quite late in the show, the lights dimmed, and out came three Kandyan dancers decked out in all their regalia with their accompanying drummers.

'Oh how nice, they've decided to incorporate some culture as well' I thought to myself.

I thought it brought the show some well roundness when they showcase the talents of the artistes for western, sri lankan and indian music and then do a professional performance of traditional dancers.

What a shock! They made the dancers strut their stuff to a bass filled, RnB beat[ed], shrilly song. You couldn't hear the natural drums. The dancers were not in synchrony half the time. And to be honest, I thought they looked a bit lost. The beat they were dancing to was, I'm pretty sure, not a part of traditional bera pada at all. Sirasa then went on to leave no stone unturned and brought out low country and Sabaragamuwa dancers. Again, they performed age old dances to this ridiculous music.

I understand how Sirasa and whoever choreographed that atrocious segment wanted to bring traditional dancing to the future HOWEVER, I think somethings should be left as they are. If the dance was carried out to its original manner, it would have been more enjoyable.

Ironically, one of the types of dancers brought out usually dance at devol madu or thovils, by the look of it through the camera lens, the staged looked like a right thovil at that moment. The yak vesmuhunu [devil masked] fellows were standing there trying to get the beat, the kandyan dancers at the edge trying to do their thing, the drummers who couldn't be heard by us at home, the low country fellows doing that wonderful turn flip dance in the middle. In the background we had all the lights flashing and that nonsense song playing.

Surely, some taste people?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Week..

Black July. 1983 riots. Formation of the LTTE. The beginning of official war.

25 years. SAARC Summit. Malignant Leader. Hikkaduwa Beach Festival.

Err.. what? Yep, Hikkaduwa Beach Festival. Our great leader in the month where we should be remembering, learning the lessons, focussing on an end to this eternal crisis we have been thrown into has organised two massive fests for his subjects.

One, for the people who want to stay in Colombo, the great SAARC summit which has caused innocent people to become homeless, traffic to rise to unbearable levels with the Great Road Renovations (of course, its only the major roads and not the smaller roads that really need reparations) and the future Road Closures (so that these roads that are been made can not be potholed again by the horrible Sri Lankan populace).

Second, because Colombo is not the economic capital and it is okay for all the offices to close because of the SAARC summit, the people can leave the Leaders of the Asian World to discuss their important matters and head over to Hikkaduwa for the beach fest. Since our economy is flying and can afford both these extravaganzas, we can really take advantage of this great offer.

Now, who can say the Great Leader doesn't think of his people?

I wonder if the Dematagoda housing scheme that His Highness made for the people who was driven out of Slave Island in time for SAARC is ready yet? I wonder how many houses could have been made from the billion odd rupees thats lost through Mihin Air? How many salaries could have been increased by the amount thats been wasted on SAARC?

July really is a Black month for Sri Lanka.
It was Black since 1983...but since 2005 its gotten a whole shade darker.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Whose Blog Is This? - Conundrum

I wrote about blogging anonymity in 2006. Since I am wondering about it again, I shall naturally write about it again. Since my entrance into the Sri Lankan Blogosphere aggregated by Kottu, I've read a large number of posts by fellow Sri Lankans. Most I'm sure living and working in Colombo. Now as Colombo is so small, I begin to wonder do I know any of these people behind these posts?

I personally am at a dilemma. Do I write about everything I feel like writing about? Am I ok with someone I know stumbling onto my blog and realising Hey this sounds a lot like what [insert name] was saying the other day. Oh wait, a lot of this sounds like [insert name]. Why It must be them!!!

Do you, the reader, if you are a blogger tell people about your blog? Or use it as an anonymous venting hole?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why are there NEVER any 'GOOD' jobs?!?!

About once a week I get this email from Princeton Review exclaiming 'Interested in [Insert Profession Name]... why not try [Insert Course Name]' and each week, I delete it. Ever since I left school, I've been searching for the 'right' job. Why is this so elusive?

By the 'right' job I don't mean a fantastic CEO like position at a Fortune 500 company. As a part time worker during my university years, I doubt I could have been too excellent at such a position. By 'right' I mean, something I enjoy. Something that doesn't make me want to run for the hills at the thought of going to work and something that inspires me to do better. I've worked numerous part time jobs in London - at WH Smith at 5 am as a sales assistant, fund raising on random Wimbeldon streets at 9pm in November, kitchen staff (this didn't last too long - i literally ran out on my first day after seeing the red hands of the dish washing guy) and teaching.

In my final year of university, I went through the applications process for the graduate training programs at financial institutions in London - an agonisingly lengthy process which in hindsight is a severe misuse of time. After going through this arduous process, finally recieved an offer from a large financial services firm. The last 6 months of university and the summer holidays afterwards, were spent in a wave of hope and pride for the future. It was my goal to perform excellently at my job and work the necessary hours and put in the greatest analytical skills to the job at hand. Once started however, it turned out that the salary did not (AT ALL) compensate for the work involved. My great analytical skills were rusting away whilst i ticked and checked away at spreadsheets that even a monkey could complete.

Disillusionment struck. I threw down the towel and huffed away asking myself 'Is this what I want from my life?!'. A lengthy respite later, I was yet again lured into the world of graduate training programs, this time at an investment bank and thus I put on my hopeful hat yet again and marched off into the world of Canary Wharf. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself amongst people whose personalities do not resemble those of undertakers and was carried with the tide. Did I mention that the tide wasn't made of water but of alcohol? Weeks and Months tumbled by and I was enjoying myself too much to realise that the actual job description was not very enticing. Plodding away at a computer screen or rather two computer screens was not helping anyone other than the CEOs and MDs at that bank.

The final nail in the coffin was a transfer to a certain country where the local employees were hideously racist. To me, it was return to the world of the undertakers. So now, I have thrown off this hat once and for all. All these experiences have made it very clear to me that I will not be happy in a role that does not entail helping others less fortunate than myself. Also, I will not be happy in a role that means paper pushing and sitting behind a desk. Maybe its my spiritual side but I feel I'm wasting a lot of time by doing this. Also, to negate my selfless heroic impression that you may have gotten from my previous sentence, I also hate to be told what to do.

Like any normal human being who has the ability to ask 'why', I start thinking further and asked 'why do we even need jobs?'. After university, and for some straight after school, we are thrown into the obligation and the cultural (this is a global culture) necessity of getting a job. At school we barely know our lefts from rights - Im still not entirely sure on that one - and we are meant to decide upon and lay the foundations towards our future careers. Needless to say 80% of these students, after coming out the other side from their chosen university degrees have no clue what to do with this piece of paper they have obtained. Really, what DO you do with your BSc in Zoology? Or that elusive degree BA in International Relations? How many people actually do enter the UN to carry out any internationally related work?

OF COURSE we must work. For the best part of our lives we must spend 25 days (24 if you're in Sri Lanka and its a Poya on a weekday month) a month at work and earn money. We do this because someone (very intelligent Im sure) decided it is important for us to earn money. That money is truly necessary. This rant will be a whole new post altogether. I digress.Our sometimes unfavorable educational and employment choices is mostly due to this assumption that 17 year olds are fully capable of making an educated decision on what they want to do with the rest of their lives. For some that may mean the next 43 years. When you are at home, mollycoddled for the best part, how will you know whats out there? How will you know what your personality is like till you leave the nest that is home and travel outside your comfort zone?

Where am I at now? Well I have decided to take up a very noble profession. I will probably be quite old by the time I graduate and am able to practice however I feel I would be able to work hard but use my brains at the same time. I think its important to do what you ENJOY. Not to take shit from mindless idiots but to find what you are good at and attempt to reach that place so you can really make a difference to at least a few people during your lifetime. And its important that you dont let the mindless idiots to take on the important jobs else we will have a situation like the current Presidency of Sri Lanka. Pity, I'm scared of public speaking else I would have given a try for that role :)

The Journey

One of my first aquaintances in this blogging world has given up his blog and gone off to the land of MySpace. Ever since my return after the long hiatus, I have felt his and my other original blogrends presence to a large extent. This made me want to track the journey that I have made with this blog since 2006.

I am not a constant blogger. I have to feel an inspiration on a subject before I write a post. Else I will ramble on unnecessarily. There are several such posts on this blog through the past few years. More often than not, I get an urge to write about a topic and I write about it, probably why my posts are usually quite short and to the point. (As i like to think). I think like most other bloggers, I return to the blog to find comments that may have been made on my most recent post and to read others' posts which then inspire me to write further.

I started this blog as a means to jot down my thoughts. It served its purpose to a greater level. It allowed me to vent my thoughts on most subjects - love, life, politics, anger, travel - all my feelings on any subject I pleased. This is not a hugely trafficked blog however the few bloggers that did come in and read my posts, hopefully enjoyed them and wrote down their thoughts in the comments areas. My friend blu was a great participant! I think he inspired a lot of newbie bloggers and many others by encouraging our blogging attempts. I miss his presence sorely. I hope he would have enjoyed my Harry Potter rant! :)

I want to use this blog as a means to encourage people to live their lives and as a means to draw international attention to the goings on of my country. As with life, this blog has changed as I have changed. Its shared my successes and my pitfalls just as a close friend would. I hope I will be able to continue in this manner and would be able to find other great friends like Blu in this large blogosphere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Opinion Poll - Conflict Resolution Effective Methods

We see a lot of NGOs and other organisations start up in the name of Conflict Resolution here in Sri Lanka. However, 25 years on, we still have a war and a conflict worse than ever before. Under an incompetent leadership, we face a severe economic struggle with no respite in the near future. A large percentage of the budget of this developing nation goes on war expenses thus allows no space for economic growth. In fact, we are at an economic recession. The rupee has no value amongst the world currencies. The people can't afford a daily meal.

Last week's general strike's failure to evoke a response from the public shows something fundamentally wrong in this system. The people who needs to be targeted in order to stop this war are not being targetted. The grassroots carry on as before merely complaining about the cost of living issues but not rising to action. They may not be aware that this cost of living rises out of incompetent leadership however may believe that it is the cause of the unsuspecting tamil population taking their jobs.

I personally believe that conflict resolution begins with educating the masses. The politicians only visit the villages at times of election. Then, they fill them with lies and extort their vote. The NGOs only preach to the choir. The state media is biased and journalists that do speak the truth are been hunted down.

In this light, what do you feel is the best method for conflict resolution to be succesful? Who should we be targetting? In what methods?

For e.g. utilising the fact that Sri Lankans have a very high literacy rate and distributing pamphlets at bus stations, railway stations, cafeterias.

Pls comment! Moderation is what is needed and pls no extremism. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Harry Potter and the Sri Lankan Crisis

YouKnowWho aka Voldemort seems to have made a reincarnation in our splendid isle as none other than the Leader of this Beloved Nation. The Dementors are most definitely swooping very close as hope is driven out and despair rises each day. Muggles are being killed in abductions, kidnappings and bomb blasts which occur weekly. People seem to be Confuded regularly. The members of the government media appear to be Imperiused. Especially those at the 'Daily Noise' as they clearly haven't got a clue what's going on. Those that are in private media organisations are cleverly evading a heavy rain of 'Avada Kedavras'.

One glaring difference stares back at us in this eighth edition of Harry Potter. We do not have a 'Boy Who Lived' to whom we can turn to for salvation. In fact, all those who could have possibly been candidates have become 'Boys Who Didnt Live' such as Honorable Gamini Dissanayake, Vijay Kumaratunga, Lalith Athulathmudali, and R. Premadasa to mention but a few. The closest we have is Neville Longbottom in the shape of Ranil Wickremasinghe who needs to be coaxed into definitive action by Dumbeldore's Army. The Order of the Phoenix and Dumbeldore himself does not appear in this version. Dumbeldore's Army in the shape of Mangala Samaraweera, S.B. Dissanayake, Rosie Senananayake and numerous others in the UNP and associated Opposition parties do not seem to be able to rise to the challenege without the whispered intelligences of Dumbeldore and Harry Potter. We don't have the ultimate hero, Severus Snape either.

However we have multitudes of Death Eaters. The 109 ministers, the party affiliates, the masses that voted for these persons and still uphold their honor by conducting their various illicit activities for them are strong in numbers. Death Eaters and Snatchers rule. I wonder if Ms. Rowling did some research on Sri Lanka before she wrote the book. Where else could she have come up with such a similar situation albeit with no sense of hope.

It is a depressing time indeed. Someone will come to our rescue. At somepoint. Else we will also carry a wheelbarrow full of cash to go buy the loaf of bread from the local shop in the very near future.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bone China

I came across Bone China as I was browsing through the fiction section at Crosswords, Bangalore. Reading the summary in the back cover, I was immediately convinced I should buy this book if only because it was a book about Sri Lanka if nothing else. I waited about a month to read it, but once I started reading, I found unable to shut this book by Roma Tearne and get on with other activities. I finished it in two days.

Set first in Sri Lanka and then in London, it follows the lives of three generations of the De Silva family. It carries the reader through the British occupation and its effects, the Tamil bourgeouis in the country and their downfall with the ending of the Crown Rule, the civil unrest and the accompanying exodus of an entire generation of Tamils from Sri Lanka and finally the challenges facing immigrants.

The prose is lyrical and elegant. The writing is beautifully simple and does not drag on this three generation novel into one of epic proportion. The reader is able to identify and get acquainted with each character in all three generations thus enabling the sorrow and loss that meets these characters to be felt as the reader's loss. Due to this close relationship between reader and character, the deaths that take place at each point of the book is felt strongly. The loss of the 2nd generation family members towards the end of the book makes the reader feel forelorn and strangely reminscent of them. Not only does Anna-Meeka, the third generation main character, able to think 'if they were here..' so are we, the readers.

Tearne is successful at conveying the complexity of emotions that accompanies migration. The eternal feeling of homesickness, not belonging and the struggle to fit in is depicted perfectly through her writing. The longing for the wide beaches, the palm trees and the Sri Lankan soil even though it is rife with civil war and unrest is common to many immigrants. It is a feeling that is captured so beautifully by her writing. In Jacob, we have the character that is shutting out the beauty of home and embracing all that is his new homeland however forever acceding that there is a limit to the happiness and contentment one can achieve away from ones homeland.

Tearne may have not got some of the details of the Civil war in Sri Lanka right. Like many of her contemporaries, as Sri Lankan authors living abroad it is difficult to truly comprehend the degree to which Sri Lankans living at home are affected by the war. Tearne speaks of suicide bombers in the 60's however suicide bombings are a sympton of the crisis with the LTTE and did not begin till the 80's. Similarly, the thoughts of the De Silva's on returning to Sri Lanka are negated due to the curfews and constant fightings on the streets. As maybe the impressions of lots of immigrants, Colombo is not constantly under fire and people living inside houses with doors bolted. Life goes on. In 'Bone China', life went on for Grace, Aloysius and Frieda amidst growing turmoil. Their eventual experiences were perhaps not completely understood by the rest of the De Silva family as all horrors become magnified as they sail abroad.

All in all, 'Bone China' was a magnificent read. In the same genre as 'July' and 'When Memories Die', this book captures the essence of Sri Lanka. What it is to live here, what it means to leave it and the sheer joy of the eventual return.