Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Refreshingly Sri Lanka - more


I went to see what it was all about on Saturday.

I turned up, complete with 2 pre teenage daughters in tow. They are at the age when I am never sure if they really want to do something or if they are just going along to be nice. I have to be permanently on my guard as a innocuous comment from me can cause mood swings, tears and shouting. They are not like their mother one bit!! We had had about 65 arguments in the morning already but I thought that the mood might get better. It did.

Trafalgar Square was buzzing when we arrived at about midday. The band was starting to soundcheck, the usual stuff with a bloke counting into all the different microphones, the drummer doing a bit, the singer poncing around on stage trying to look natural and pretending he is unaware of the people watching him from the crowd.

I am sure there is some kind of checklist that people have to go through before they are allowed to call themselves singers. At the top of the list is the ability to turn up very late for rehearsals, followed by the complete inability to demonstrate any kind of guilt about it. About halfway down the list is dodgy fashion sense and, right at the bottom of it (in brackets), is the ability to sing. There is a similar list for drummers, but it only has two items; must have a drum kit and must have a car. The drum kit thing can be waived under some conditions and the car thing can be talked about too.

Anyway, we spent a good while ambling around. There were stalls run by Barefoot, Odel and many other well known Sri Lankan shops and businesses. There was a food stall selling Sri Lankan goodies. Lamprais, patties, cutlets, all the favourites. I think there are probably some people in Trafalgar Square still queuing for this. There was a stall selling fruit and vegetables, with Rambutan and Mangosteen. We bought loads as Mangosteens are my daughters' favourites and Rambutans are mine. Loads wasn't enough as the little buggers ate them all and I didn't get anything. Damn!

There was a big screen in one corner showing the match, interspersed with adverts for all the cultural attractions of Sri Lanka too. I saw the High Commissioner wandering around serving Ferrero Rocher to all and looking glamorous. She had even arranged for the Red Arrows and a few other aircraft to do a flypast at 1 o'clock. Those moments of sunshine, red buses, Trafalgar Square, and crowds of good natured people all looking up watching the planes were brief but memorable, particularly for pickpockets.

I would imagine the only person to feel a bit aggrieved about the flypast must have been the Queen. Half a mile down the road she was trying to have a 80th birthday party and the noise of the planes must have forced her to turn the music up.

We had to leave before the band started and, from what I have heard, we missed most of the partying and the fun. Pre teenage girls have a low boredom threshold and they get hungry and hot and bad tempered. I wasn't hungry at all and I didn't eat one of those massive steak Cornish Pasties that they sell at Waterloo station in about 3 seconds. Okay.

All in all it was great. It was just a shame that whole thing was overshadowed by recent events. There was a strange dichotomy in celebrating the beauty of Sri Lanka and trying to encourage people to holiday there while knowing that the country is on the brink of all out war.

I'll still be there in September though.

It made me proud to be Sri Lankan / British / a drummer / crazily mixed up / all.


boycy said...

you do realise the red arrows were for the queens birthday right ?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Yes - I was joking!

greenchilie said...

An event of that nature was long overdue.The official tag line of the event was " During the Tsunami the People of Britain helped Sri Lanka immensely and this show was to say Thankyou for that help and give you a glimpse of Sri Lanka. We invite you to visit us to enjoy our hospitality"

However you pay for your own airfares!!!!!!

Such a shame that the UK based bloggers on Kottu could not have met up that day.

I enjoyed myself to the max. My little son of 15 months came along and after a while I sent him home! But I think he liked walking about with a helium filled baloon attached to his arm.

I had to do the translations for the Fortune tellers and they were doing well. It was free so no money was paid hence the queues were really long

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

I only wish I could have stayed longer but I had to go and pick up one of my daughters' friends from a school fair in Putney. It was quite funny to see the contrast as the school fair couldn't have been more English. Brass band, cream teas and gym display, all in a Churchyard!

I was wandering around Trafalgar Square looking to see if I would recognise any of the bloggers but I realised that I didn't know what anyone looked like. That kind of put an end to my quest.

We should organise a UK meet sometime, it would be good to get together.

As for the fortune tellers and the long queues, you would have thought that they would have known beforehand!

greenchilie said...

The fortune tellers one was rather creepy as the guy I was translating for was quite accurate. Did you attend the book fair at Foyles. It is on till Friday so please please go if you like Sri Lankan litreature. If you are out of touch with it.. then please go as there are loads of news authors who are excellent. If you are going tell me and I will reccomend some. The launch of that was packed to capacity with Christopher Ondaatje, Romesh Gunasekera and Shiromi Pinto. The film festival in contrast was a complete flop! No more than 30 people turned up.. perhaps not good timing with the UK-Sweden match on at the same time!!!

On friday the small businesses at the trade meeting at Malborough house will be selling their display products. There is one section called rising from the tsunami where 4-5 businesses affcted by the tsunami but have somehow come up are showcasing and are desperate to sell their wares. So please tell all and come and support them. They need our help. If you want I can give you more details.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

I'm hoping to go either tomorrow or Friday. I'll try to get to Marlborough House too, but daughter's birthday party may rule it out.

greenchilie said...

Good my reccomendations are:

A cause untrue - David Blacker
Potholes and Monsoons - Maneka ( can not remember the surname)
Zilij - Ameena Hussein
July - Karen Roberts
The Road to elephant pass - Nihal De Silva
Ginirella Conspiracy - Nihal De Silva
A murder in the Pettah

These are good. Well I like them. Better to buy from here than load you suitcase with books from Colombo. If lots sell here they may have them permanantly and get more titles in which will be good!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

I just got back and was a little bit disappointed. But I bought Trussed by Shiromi Pinto, Zillij by Ameena Hussein and Monsoons and Potholes by Manuka Wijesinghe as well as yet another SL cookbook to add to my virtually unused collection! Most of your suggestions I have read, July is one of my favourites as I was in CMB at the time and remember it well for all the terrible reasons she describes.

greenchilie said...

why were you dissapointed with the book fair would love to know so that same mistakes would not be made next time

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

greenchilie - If you give me your email address I'll be more than happy to tell you my thoughts. If you prefer not to then I'll be happy to put them up on here.

childof25 said...

Cheers for the pics R! Really enjoyed them and looks like you guys had some awesome weather.

Monsoons and Potholes is hilarious, my grandparents actually know Manekha from Africa and apparently shes as kooky as she appears in the book! Did Romesh Gunasekera's new book get launched? forgot the name...Also would recommend at the waters edge by Pradeep Jeganathan...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

CO25 - Thanks for the nice words, most of the pics were just me trying to get the hang of my new camera. I looked for RG's new book but couldn't see it, i'm not sure if it had sold out or isn't out yet.

pradeep-jeganathan said...

I enjoyed reading your description of the festival, and the book show. wish i had been able to visit.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Thanks a lot, I was talking to my brother about you the other day, I hear you two know each other.