Saturday, August 30, 2008
It started at 8 this morning when I was woken up by an East European cable engineer. Not under the circumstances you're thinking, this was a Polish chap that had been dispatched by the Indian call centre to fix my broadband. He arrived at 8 AM, which gave me an early start. The broadband was fixed and I rose with the lark, well the Saturday morning lark.
I showered and then strolled down to my little shopping parade at the end of my road. It's not actually my shopping parade, other people use it too, but it feels like mine. That greasy cafe was my chosen destination. I ambled past the flower shop, the one with the slightly sexy, slightly old and slightly rough lady (that's all in the one person, not 3 women). I said "good morning" to her, putting on my most charming smile. I can tell she wants me from the way she feigns total disinterest in me. It's obvious.
A quick stop at the Indian open all hours shop to buy a tabloid and then I was in the Turkish cafe ordering a full English breakfast. Reading the bad news and the sexy news in the tabloid as I ate my eggs, bacon, sausages, beans and bread and watched the world outside come to life made me feel as happy and sparkling, like a big glass of Diet Coke with ice.
I debated with myself on the merits of an English breakfast against a Sri Lankan breakfast. Which would I never eat again if I was forced to make a choice? The perfect Sri Lankan breakfast for is white string hoppers, chicken curry, pol sambol and some white potato curry. The perfect English breakfast is eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and white bread. The two couldn't be more different and yet I can devour either with the gusto of a Sri Lankan traffic cop picking up the 500 Rs note you accidentally dropped when stopped for speeding.
The answer to my breakfast question is still to come. Luckily, as C pointed out to me, I don't have to decide. Do I like rhetorical questions?
Some practice this afternoon and then I'll be off to Reading for the Mimosa gig tonight. Thurday's rehearsal was the dog's. Tight, funky, sexy and slick. The rest of the band were pretty good too.
My excitement about the gig is tinged with sadness. It will be my second last one with them, but enjoying it and floating in that feeling will be my objective. I know I'll do it.
There isn't much more to tell you really. If I could have had Colombo and the girls in my day it would have been perfect. I'll tell you more about the gig as soon as I know.
Which breakfast would you sacrifice?
Friday, August 29, 2008
I looked at the waiter, he looked at me, he walked in my direction and I said to him.....
"I'll have a lamprais and a bottle of Lion Lager please"
Now, over here in London, a night out or even a night in, is often accompanied by a curry. Curry has become the most popular food in the country and it's relatively cheap and highly accessible. I can walk out of my house and there are two curry houses in the parade of shops at the end of my street, about thirty seconds walk away. In an average high street Indian curry house here you can get a rice, a curry and a vegetable dish for about ten pounds, less if you're in Southall or Brick Lane or somewhere similar.
So, for me to be in Sri Lanka, even in a five star hotel, the prices are still cheap, even though I'm aware that they're expensive by local standards.
This is part of the dilemna of a Sudda in Sri Lanka. I mean a diasporic Sudda like me, not a normal tourist one. A normal tourist one just swans around their hotel, paying 500 Rs for a lamprais and marvelling at how cheap Sri Lankan things are. A diasporic one, like moi, continually struggles to deal with the knowledge that 500 Rs for a lamprais is totally over the top by Sri Lankan standards, yet it's the price of a dodgy prawn sandwich in London.
I just ordered the thing anyway. The tough battle going on in my head between conscience and hunger was fading off into the distance and being overtaken by beer and things. Hunger was winning the battle anyway. It was a no brainer and rice and curry was involved, well a lamprais was involved, something that I consider to be about one step away from an orgasm in terms of pleasure. If they could make orgasms that you could tidy up by folding the leaf over then they'd be up to the level of lamprais. Until then I'll have a lamprais please.
The chap returned with my beer and I sat there as happy as a man can be. A cold beer, that lightheaded and merry feeling, a lamprais on its way, the girls tucked up and fast asleep upstairs and me in Colombo. Things can't really be much better for me, all that was missing was Britney Spears and a drum kit.
Then it happened. I smelt something, slightly unpleasant. It didn't seem to be a big deal. I looked around me and couldn't see anything that might have caused the smell. I sniffed again. What was it? (you've probably realised by now)
There are only two things in the world that smell like this. My eyes, now in a state of high alert and as sharp as a conversation with Barrack Obama, looked everywhere but I couldn't see a Durian. I hoped that there'd be one on the seat next to me, perhaps smuggled in by a chap and unnoticed by the staff. Maybe Java had hidden one in one of my pockets earlier. I checked but there was no sign anywhere.
My mind, that powerful weapon that many are so envious of, came to its conclusion. If you're a regular around here you'll know about my incredible speed of thinking. You'll understand that it only took me about five minutes to deduce all of this.
Dog shit. Somewhere in the immediate vicinity. Fuck. Bollocks. I had to do the obvious. I checked my Converse (s). There it was, on the left one. It was hardened and drying, which was good. It wasn't covering the entire sole, which was also good. It was dog poo, I was in a restaurant and about to eat. Not good.
To tread in dog poo when you're at home is one thing. Most people would go and remove the offending shoe, perhaps after shooting the offending dog, chuck it in a garage or a garden or something, the shoe that is, not the dog, then carry on with their life with the good intention of cleaning the shoe at some point in the next ten years.
When you're on holiday and staying in a hotel it's a different ball game altogether. I felt as if I was standing in a meteor shower and the things comings at me were problems, dog shit and holiday and converse (s) flavoured problems. It's weird because, even though I've watched a lot of Star Trek (Jean Luc and James T) I've never actually stood in a meteor shower, not even a golden shower for that matter.
As Cerno would say. Vut to doo? I couldn't run up to my room and change footwear. That would leave a number two encrusted Allstar (cutoffs) in the room with the girls. Germs would be everywhere and I wouldn't be able to sleep or wear clothes for fear of contamination.
I was in a hotel so the option of removing the shoe and chucking it somewhere out of the way wasn't viable either. I contemplated asking one of the staff if they might "look after my problem" for me. I was sure that they would have done it for a price and I was sure that the price would be worth it, but couldn't go through with that option.
Taking off my shoe wouldn't work either. The staff would all look at me and smell the evidence.
The lamprais was about to arrive and I couldn't reject that could I, certainly not without appearing to be ill. Or worse, English.
Whilst my head was still computing all the information, with the speed of a ZX Spectrum, the lamprais, complete with waiter, turned up.
"There you are Sir" said the voice.
Mmmm... a talking lamprais I thought, how clever. But I digress.
The lamprais was placed in front of me. I was ravenously hungry, like an, erm raven I guess. I could smell that warmish lamprais smell, of the rice and the assortment of curries that these fellows bung in there. The leaf had the rather sexy slightly oily sheen to it. It's a special sheen. It makes the mouths of members of the Sri Lankan diaspora, those reading this, salivate and pine.
Over here we get these tins of paint. They're white paint but with a very slight tint to them. So people might by "hint of peach" which will be white paint with a very slight peachy tint to it, or they might grab a can of "hint of apple" because they want their front room to be white but to feel a touch warmer than it would if it were just plain white. Apologies for the rather patronising explanation but I don't know if you get them in Lanka or not.
The reason I tell you about the paint is that it's a good comparison or simile or metaphor about what I was going through. The lamprais was sitting there and steaming away in front of me, with all of its aromas. But it was like being in a room painted "hint of apple". Only my room was painted in a new colour that may not make it to market. I call it "Lamprais with hint of dog shit".
It's fundamentally a gorgeous and appetising aroma, just with that hint of doggie excrement going on in the background. It made me contemplate my plan of action for a nanosecond, perhaps a millisecond if I'm honest. But I knew what I had to do. I knew that I had to eat, enjoy and savour the lamprais. I knew I had to use this as a learning experience and that it would make me a better man. I knew that I couldn't waste a lamprais.
But I wouldn't want you, particularly if you're my stalker, to think of me as a man with no scruples, a savage with no sense of hygiene, the type of bloke who doesn't get out of the shower to have a pee. I casually mentioned to the still hovering waiter that I was just going to the toilet. I nipped off to the mens' room and washed my hands, up to the elbows actually, most thoroughly. And I used soap.
Then I returned to my table and went for it. I used every ounce of my willpower and positive thinking to focus on the enjoyment I was feeling through my taste buds, not the smell that wafted up from my Converse (left side) every so often. I did enjoy the food too. I drank my beer and finished up quickly. Dessert isn't usually anything more than a waste of stomach space as far as I'm concerned. Decidedly un Sri Lankan man I know, but I like to go against the norm.
I paid, tipped and went up to my room. The cleaning operation was about to begin.
Luckily the girls were still fast asleep when I got there. There was nowhere to leave the offending Allstar so I knew I had to clean the thing in preparation for the next day of frantic Odel browsing. I went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, there was one of those special poo washing shower things so I used that, figuring that poo is poo and, even though the thing is designed to wash the poo off a chap's arse after a clingon, cleaning dog mess off a Converse wasn't too far from the inventor's original idea.
I had taken my shirt off, it's one of my favourites and I didn't want it to get ruined. I thought, in a rare moment of self adulation, that the scene could have been one from a slightly weird porn film. A chap's muscular torso, stripped to the waist and cleaning dog poo off a trainer. The market for these films might be limited but perhaps I could sell them to those people that will be queuing up to buy the new paint I'll be bringing out soon. I'll probably have to reshoot the scene when my stomach's not swollen by lamprais and beer as well.
The cleaning operation was successful and I managed it without the need of my hands, just the force of the water and its heat was sufficient. I ended up doing it in my pants (the new flowery ones from Odel) as there was too much rebound of water to start with. Fine tuning as you go is part of the process.
Then I chucked the thing out on the balcony to dry during the night. I half expected crows, or men, to steal it in the night. They didn't. I cleaned up thoroughly. I gave the shower a shower and washed myself as if I was due out on a hot date with a smart and sexy woman, like Paris Hilton, Amy Winehouse or Celine Dion.
Then I slept.
As I imagine all the male commenters on 69's blog would love to say to her.
Sorry that it was so long, but it's all real.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I've never been through this before and it's an interesting experience. I decided to leave them because of various things, most of which I don't want to go into any great detail about. But, at the time I decided, the band had a couple of pending gigs in the diary. I told them I was leaving and said that I'd be happy to do the gigs that I'd committed to and come to band practices as required. I also said that I'd be happy to jump now if they had another drummer lined up.
They asked me to stay for the gigs and here I am, going to band practices every week, a gig on Saturday, then my last one with them about a month later. I'd quite like to tell you that I'm going to concentrate on my solo career or something and, in a funny way, that is my plan.
I've got the covers band, which I'm enjoying immensely. The music in a covers band isn't as challenging as playing originals but it's often more fun to play live. The guys are fun and interesting, with little band politics or "issues". It's also more relaxed in terms of commitment, which suits me too.
In the short term my plan is to just play in the one band and do some woodshedding. I know the term woodshedding sounds like something one of Soixante Neuf's boyfriends would do about twenty minutes before she's due to arrive at his place, but that's not what it means in drummer language. No, it means serious practice on one's own, not necessarily in a shed but I guess that would be the proper definition.
I intend to use much of my freed up time to improve my playing and go back to some more studying of the drums. Since I started playing I've strongly believed in the value of getting out there and playing with others. There's no substitute, you can be the best drummer, or the best on any instrument, in the world, if you play alone in your bedroom. It's only when you go out and play with others that you move up some notches and learn certain things.
For the last couple of years I've been doing so much band playing that I haven't had much practice time, nor much desire to practice. It's ironic. I was talking to a creative friend the other day who told me that he spends so much energy on being creative in his job during the day that, when he goes home, he's kind of spent. He can't write a book because his creativity is used up by being creative during the day.
It's like that. I spend so much time going to band practices that I often don't feel like practicing. My playing still improves and moves on from the practice I get in band practices, but it's only certain aspects of my playing. The improvements are in very specific areas. I might be able to play half decent funk or sound like Taylor Hawkins (neither of which I can do) but I won't learn how to play jazz from the bands I'm in. Sometimes the only way one can find out what's over the edge is to jump, or be pushed of course.
I think that with the covers band will satisfy my need to play with others and the practice will help me improve and learn new things, until I start to yearn for more.
That's where I'm at now and the thing is this working my notice business is quite hard to deal with at times. I've never done it before to be honest. All the other times I've left bands it's been a sudden thing, either me leaving or the unit disbanding.
The biggest challenge is that the guys' hunt for a new drummer really tests my sense of abundance. Mimosa is a really fantastic band and I've been involved since day one. The drum parts on each of our original songs are mine, written and thought up by me, played by me and sometimes developed by me or all of the band. They're not complicated or technically challenging but they are mine, like little babies that I've had and nurtured.
And now I'm half in and half out. I'm trying to be open and abundant and interested in how their drummer hunt is going, yet a part of me feels pretty damn scarce about it.
Abundant Rhythmic is all adult and sensible. Abundant Rhythmic wants them to find a drummer who's much better than me, who might come in and have his (or her) own ideas and might make them sound better. Abundant Rhythmic wants them to find someone who improves the band. Abundant Rhythmic wants to watch them with the new improved drummer and to enjoy it and feel good about it.
In the other corner Scarce Rhythmic feels a bit differently. He wants them to struggle to find a replacement, or to get a crap one. He wants them to audition loads of hopefuls and turn them all down because they're not up to the high standard set by the master (that's me in case you hadn't realised). He wants to go to a gig and watch them crash and burn with the new pillock, the total idiot who they don't even like. He wants to hear the audience say that the band is good but the new drummer lets them down.
For the past weeks I've been there at band practice as always, playing the songs we've done for the past three years and getting them wrong in the same place as ever. Abundant me has been asking how the recruitment drive is going, while Scarce me has been all angsty and narky to hear that there are now three people interested and they might be auditioning next week.
Abundant me tells them that they should just let me know and I'll make myself scarce on that day. Scarce me feels that I'd love to suggest I sit in to give them my "expert" opinion on the hopefuls. Scarce me knows what I'd tell them anyway.
A band practice tonight and the last but one gig is on Saturday night. And I finally think I've found my perfect balance of scarcity and abundance. I know exactly what I want them to do.
They need to find a brilliant drummer, one who I think is fantastic, who I think makes them sound better. Then they need to tell me that they think he's fantastic and brilliant, only not as good as me.
That'll suit me.
After all they're my drum parts.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Soixante Neuf (whom I'll refer to as 6 from now on) has a blog. It's quite the novelty in the Sri Lankan blogosphere and each of the few posts has generated a lot of comments. Why? I hear you ask.
Because it's well written? Yes, it most definitely is. 6 has a way with words. Her tongue is most definitely her weapon. Each post is interesting and thought provoking and presented in a way that a master story teller like Chuck Norris would be proud of.
Because it's full of eye catching images? Yes again. The blog is decorated with pictures of beautiful and sexy people. Sensual black and white photographs of two women about to do some serious bean flicking, dimly lit almost abstract images of a neck about to be kissed at the same time as the custard truck is unloading at the other end of the motorway. They're all there.
But, the most fascinating thing, the thing that has caught all of our imaginations, is that each of 6's posts, of which there are confusingly 6 so far, talks about sex. 6's blog starts off with an introduction, as many things do. It would be so confusing if we started things off with saying goodbye then introduced ourselves just before walking out of the door. We'd spend the whole meeting not knowing who the other chap was for a start, or for an end.
I digress, 6's opening line, her entry into the blogosphere (as far as we know) is
"I have always been intensely curious about sex"
Bang! Now that's what I call an opening line. Guaranteed to get the attention of every red blooded male who reads the odd Sri Lankan blog. I can't be bothered to look it up but I suspect my opener on LLD was something like
"Hello, my name is Rhythmic and I play the drums and live in London."
If 6's opening line goes Bang! then mine goes pfffft, like a balloon deflating into a swamp.
Then 6 goes on to tell us, in language that is vivid and elegantly written, some of her thoughts on sex. She gets five comments, with David Blacker being straight in there with a warm hand upon her entrance.
Her second post succeeds in not failing to disappoint us. It's a delicate and sexy little number about 6 being kissed on the neck for the first time. With lines like
"And let me just say, quite appropriately: Fuck."
it continues to tantalise the male regulars on Kottu, as well as a few of the fairer sex too.
The foreplay is over by the time we get to post 3. The introductions are done, the gentle neck kissing is done and we move on to full scale hide the sausage in the bushes stuff. It's no holds barred as 6 tells us about adventures with her date
"I returned the favour and blew him till he came, crying out, in my mouth"
Again the language is poetic and precise, but surprisingly this time there are no comments. Maybe because none of the blokes were left waiting for more after this one, they all turned over and slept or something.
Post number 4 kicks off with the line
"Earlier this year, I slept with a woman for the first time."
Just when you thought she'd climaxed she goes a bit further, teasing us, her hot and sweaty male readers, about her first sexual encounter with another woman. You may have guessed that from my quote of her first line. It's well written in every possible way, even to the extent that she's got one of those little accents above the second e in cliché. I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do that, but clichés are about as rare as pink elephants in this blog. She tantalises us as she gives us the background on her experiences with female on female sex, finishing the post by promising more.
More is only ones of three things to come in the next post, Femme Fatale. This is the climax in which our sexy heroine describes her first experience of girl on girl action. The writing is as good, if not better, than her previous posts and predictably there's a bucket load of comments, all from admiring male readers. I would imagine half her readers are trying to figure out who she is and the other half are trying to figure out who her female lover is. At the same time the other half are trying to figure why they didn't try just that little bit harder at maths in school.
Miss Neuf's descriptive powers continue to delight us as she regales us with details and information that most blokes understand from watching porn films. Women probably wouldn't understand, unless they bat for the other team.
The final post (so far) walks and talks us through the act of 6 losing her virginity. It's as sexy, as vivid and as erotic as her loyal readership have come to expect.
And here we are. I'm a firm 6 fan. I think she writes rather brilliantly, so much that it almost doesn't matter to me if the stories she narrates are true. But, it does matter. I find myself wondering what's going on here. It's almost too good to be true. A twenty something girl who loves sex and feels that it's good and healthy. And she's got a brian too. If I was
Could it be a journalist or writer trying out their skills on an unsuspecting public? Or is Miss Neuf really some bored 50 year old fat bloke sitting in an office somewhere and having a bit of a laugh at our expense?
Maybe it's one of "her" regular commenters in a different identity. Perhaps it's JP's alter ego, perhaps it's me, this post being an even deeper level of bluff in my evil game.
Perhaps it's all as it seems. In which case there's a queue of men who want to meet her. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind Miss Neuf that drummers can do different things with different parts of their body at the same time. No reason, just thought I'd say that.
Check out the blog though.
It's really rather sexy and it's really rather good.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
To those of you that think of me as a father figure and a island of wisdom in an ocean of pillocks I apologise. I hope you'll still be able to think of me as that person, even after hearing the tale. To those of you that think of me as a sex symbol and a DILF I apologise too. I know that will change. I'm ready, this is in the public interest. Let's go then. This is the most disgusting post I've written and sadly, every word of it is true. It's going to be a two parter, the details are important.
Whilst in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago I was invited to a fellow's birthday thing. I say "thing" because it was more of a gathering than a party. Some would say that I could have just said "gathering" to start with, but that would have been too easy. I say a "fellow" because I don't want to mention his name specifically, he might prefer to have his identity kept out of the frame. We'll just call him Dom, the photographer. If it's anonymity you want I'm your man.
I had left the girls at the hotel watching TV. They'd promised me, in that way that neither they nor I believed for a split second, that they would go to sleep at about 11. They were fed and watered, well spaghetti bolognaised, ice creamed and diet coked, and as keen for me to go out as I was.
I headed off in a hotel cab and arrived at Sansoni Mansions. There were quite a few well known Sri Lankan blogging and society faces milling around and all were having a highly jolly and sociable time. Java was there with the Dancer, Indi was there and Mr Posingis was around too. I've lost count of the number of occasions I've been in the company of both Messrs Posingis and Sansoni and I can't believe I've never asked one of them to take my picture, then I moan about the lack of photographic knowledge in passing Indian chaps whom I do ask to take my picture.
Interesting anecdotes were being shared with that customary Sri Lankan laughter ever present at these things. Oh, and no one understood my South West London accent, all quite normal.
In the middle of the proceedings one of the house canines approached me and started to sniff around. I tried to bluff my way through the situation but I can't claim to be comfortable in the vicinity of dogs. Ever since I was a young boy and a video of Lassie Comes Home fell on my head I've felt uneasy in their presence. Going into a video shop for me is a traumatic experience and driving past the Isle of Dogs here in London can bring me out in a rash and shivers.
Java spotted the situation developing and, remembering that I've blogged about my lack of dog fondness before, he laughed and teased me a bit.
"Ha" said Mr Jones. It was one of those "Ha"s that have a few exclamation marks. If it was music it would have been in staccato.
"You don't like dogs, do you Rhythmic?" he teased.
"Erm, well it's not that I don't like them, I'm just not a dog lover" I bluffed unconvincingly. I often find it hard to appear convincing when something's sniffing my balls. I expect David Blacker's used to it and can carry on a three way conversation with something or someone under the table doing its thing, but I'm not that up to that level of expertise.
"Pardon" he said, as he hadn't understood my South West London drawl.
Over the years I've gleaned considerable skill and knowledge about how to make myself understood to you foreign Johnnies, or Javas in this case, and I put all that to good use. I said exactly the same words, only about three times as loud. I find volume helps people to understand.
It did, though I'm not sure I managed to convince anyone in the room that I was going to be the next owner of Lassie. The dog continued to sniff around me as if I was an African going through the "nothing to declare" channel at Heathrow while my suitcase was leaking talcum powder and I smelled of old fish.
After a little while the thing lost interest in me. These things happen. At least this time there were no kids and houses involved. The animal moved on to other things and people and I carried on conversing with the guest list. It's important to be on your guard in these situations in case a Hi! mag photographer jumps out from behind a pillar or something. I made sure my hair was cool and my stomach was sucked in at all times. No paparazzi were evident, but what with Naz and the Dancer there the stomach sucking in was still worthwhile.
I guess glamorous women like them have a false view of mens' stomachs. They must think that we all have thin six packish stomachs all the time. Little do they know that the second they've gone we all relax and let the paunch hang out.
As the night drew to a close I phoned a cab, dropped and smashed the phone, reassembled it (with Mr Jones' help), said my goodbyes (Sri Lankan style over about half an hour) and then strolled out into that balmy Colombo night feeling slightly the worse for wear. I found my cab driver and got into his chariot.
Now I don't know about you but, as far as cabs are concerned, I'm a tourist. By that I mean that, if on my own, I'll always sit in the front passenger seat. I can't do the back seat thing unless I'm with a guest. I think, in Sri Lanka at least, that makes me a tourist, or a driver.
Well my cab driver was Barry White, the dead singer, clearly not dead as he now drives one of those 2688688 cabs in Colombo. It was him for sure. A bit heavier but the same voice, the same look and dark sunglasses too.
The lovemobile was an oldish Japanese car with tinted windows. There's a type of fellow who doesn't quite get the concept of glass. While most of us accept and understand that one of the purposes of glass is for us to be able to see through it, there are a few that just fight the principle. To them glass is just another thing to make walls from. In some societies they'd be hailed as revolutionaries and non conformists. In Sri Lanka they're usually drivers and they tint their windows so heavily that night driving becomes like one of those laser games in which you aim for the specks of light.
And that's what Barry did. He drove me to my hotel peering through the deeply tinted windscreen as if our lives depended on his ability to spot obstacles in the road, totally against all the rules of Sri Lankan driving. The only thing that mattered was his ability to spot the checkpoints, which he did. I was pleased about this as it meant we didn't get shot, always a bonus.
The journey was pleasant. Barry and I chatted as he aimed the Japmobile towards the lights, then slammed on the brakes each time a light became a bus or a building. In the best Sri Lankan cab traditions the brake discs grinded like fuckerry each time he applied the slightest pressure on the middle pedal so he reserved the braking for emergencies only, of which we had only twenty seven. That's good for a ten minute journey I reckon.
Ten minutes, twenty seven emergency stops and four checkpoints after leaving Sansoni Mansions we pulled up at my hotel. I handed over some cash to Barry and gave him a tip for which he was genuinely grateful. The thing about taking the hotel's in house cabs everywhere, which I often do out of laziness, is that the drivers are used to massive tips. Give one of the chaps a tip less than about 500 Rs and they say thank you and all those words, but they're said with derision and scorn. I blame the barmy army myself, going round befriending and spoiling the natives.
Barry was different. He was a religious man. I could tell from the cross dangling from his windscreen and some of the conversation. At times his liberal use of good quality swear words made me wonder if he might be a moonlighting priest. When I gave him his tip he said "God Bless you", shook my hand and bid me farewell as he steered the Barry/Jap/Lovemobile off into the night. I felt as if he was one of those characters in a book, one that was just passing through in this chapter but would be crucial at later stages in the story. I was wrong, I don't mind telling you that now, but that was how I felt.
I sauntered into the hotel and went up to the room to check on the girls. I half expected to catch them up watching TV in bed and eating whatever they'd ordered from room service. But, I was wrong. They were fast asleep and that meant I could slope downstairs to grab some food.
I went down and took a pew in the coffee shop. It was quite empty, unusual I thought for a Thursday night in Colombo, but fine by me. I sat down and pretended to peruse the menu. I pretended because I already knew what I wanted, but ever the Brit I wanted to be polite to the staff and make them feel that giving me a menu was worthwhile.
I looked at the waiter, he looked at me, he walked in my direction and I said to him....
To be continued...........
Monday, August 25, 2008
There's a Thai massage and reflexology type of place that's opened up a few local branches lately and I thought I'd ring them, book myself in and go. So I did.
The phone call was made and I booked myself in for a one hour back and shoulders massage. The tone and demeanour of the phone call suggested to me that booking in advance was an unusual occurrence. The lady was helpful and pleasant on the dog, but, when she responded to a request for a booking with
"What time would you like?"
I figured most people just walk in off the street. Perhaps they are so new that they're not at that you must book a week in advance stage just yet.
I drove over there and parked my car. Parking is something we do over here, unlike in Sri Lanka, where I've noticed the tendency is to just abandon the car somewhere near the side of the road. Let's be honest here. To a Sri Lankan driver the concept of parallel parking, where you use that gear that makes the car go backwards, is about as alien as the idea of stopping at a zebra crossing to let someone cross the road.
I strongly suspect that, when a member of the Colombo 7 crowd takes delivery of a new car, in the manual that has been specially written for these types, it says that reverse gear must only be used by the Driver, never the owner of the vehicle.
A short walk to the massage place and I was ensconced in that dodgy music, the weird stuff that sounds like a load of whales and dolphins browsing around an underwater shop that sells Japanese wind chime things and has a very small guitar section. Not guitars that are very small, for monkeys or something, I mean it has a small section that sells guitars. Besides, monkeys can't swim, so that would be just stupid anyway.
The woman, who was the one I had spoken to on the phone, gave me a pair of those dodgy slippers and asked me to fill out a form. Now, if you're like me, a man of the world, or even a woman of the world, you'll know a bit about massages.
You'll know that there are massages and there are, ahem, massages. You'll know that I wanted a massage, not a massage. If I wanted a massage I would have asked for one, or gone somewhere else that did massages. However, all I wanted was a massage. It's logic that a man would understand.
I filled out the form. My name, length of penis, that kind of basic info. It's a good thing "ten" is easy to spell, though I often get stuck on "centimeters". I went through the rest of the questions feeling as if I might fail the exam and be sent home without a massage, or even without a massage. Which is better, do I say yes or no to the question on whether one leg is slightly shorter than the other? Come think of it I think I'm the exact opposite, that one leg is actually slightly longer than the other one.
At the end of the form I signed and printed my name and then read the small print, though it wasn't small at all, in fact it was in a bigger font than everything else on the form. I don't know what font it was, but it looked suspiciously like comic sans MS, one of my personal favourites. The bit that caught my attention was written in a font size of about 16, maybe that was why it caught my attention, as if it was screaming out to be read.
"Please note, we offer genuine Thai massage services only. NO SEXUAL SERVICES"
Well what the hell was this all about? I didn't want sexual services, a sentence I don't say very often I'll admit. But, the thought of a "happy ending" or a little "extra" or two hadn't even crossed my mind until I read this. My mind immediately flew over to sexual service territory. I started to wonder if they did offer extras, if the little bit of big small print was a just a front, to deter massage parlour inspectors from inspecting further.
Off I went for the massage itself, which I must admit was decidedly average, made a bit more average by the surroundings and conditions. The room had no massage table, there was only a mattress laid out in the floor and there certainly hadn't been a vast amount of time and money lavished on decorating it to make the clients feel as relaxed as possible.
As the massage went through its course I find my mind drifting off, not into the realms of relaxation, whale noises and Japanese wind chimes, but into the world of seedier massage establishments, with extras and things. Men will tell you that it's all well and good to let your mind drift like that during a massage when you're lying on your front, it's when you turn over that these things can be embarrassing.
The massage finished, with no offers nor no requests for some off menu items. This, I think, suited both the masseur and me.
The whole problem was that the small big print was the thing that had put all these thoughts into my mind. It was a serious lesson to me in the power of positive thinking and of suggestion, something I've been interested in for a while.
If you tell a fellow, it could be anyone, not to think of something, then the chances are that said fellow's mind will go off on one and proceed to think of that thing as if that thing is the only thing the fellow has ever had on his mind.
If I owned a massage parlour and wanted to tell my clients that it wasn't a brothel I'd do it by telling them what my establishment DOES do, not what it doesn't do.
Now have a good week all and, whatever you do, DON'T think of a pink elephant will you.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
1) - How many pairs of jeans should a person have? I mean "active" ones, that is, ones that you would wear happily Not old out of fashion ones lurking in the back of your wardrobe, current ones that you'd chuck on at a moment's notice and walk out in, without feeling as if everyone's pointing at you because you've got a pair of your Dad's (or Mum's) jeans on. I'm currently on about five and thinking that it's a few too many for the normal metrosexual man about town that I am.
2) - Sarongs. When you get into bed, if you're a sarong wearer like myself, do you undo your sarong straight away and let it float around freely or do you fall asleep with it tied?
3) - Facebook friends. These people on FB who have thousands of friends. What's all that about then?
4) - Why is it that, here in England, we so often get such crap customer service?
That's about it for now. Hopefully I'll sleep, rest my weary head and dream of Colombo and Serendipity.
Oh, and many happy returns to Dinidu. It's his birthday you know.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Keep this to yourself but I noticed on my stats that I yesterday I had a hit from someone at NASA. That's the proper NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Association, not some other tinpot agency masquerading under the same initials.
The most exciting thing was how the person got to my blog, by googling "Chocolate Biscuit pudding recipe".
How cool is that. Maybe they've got a Sri Lankan astronaut lined up and they're sending him some CBP. Perhaps they've found life on Mars and it's a bunch of Sri Lankans.
It's big news.
Keep it quiet though.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Here in Blighty the average woman spends 78% of her income on tanning products and skin stuff. It's true, I read it in the paper, the one that also said 98% of all statistics are wrong.
White skinned women spend a vasts sums of money, time and effort on trying to look darker. There are tanning salons, there are products to make skin darker, moisturisers that do the job and fake tans galore. I have been told, not that I've seen them myself of course, that there are even mens' moisturisers available that add a certain dark suntanned look to the man's skin.
In Sri Lanka half, maybe even 50% of the women, want to look lighter.
"My her skin's lovely and fair no?"
Being light skinned, or at least light in skin tone, is seen as attractive. The TV and press are full of adverts for skin lightening products and the like. Recently in Sri Lanka I saw an Indian TV ad for a mens' moisturiser that makes the skin lighter. It was centred around some Indian chaps in a changing room, packed full of testosterone and mens' things. Our hero insists on using the skin lightening moisturiser rather than the "normal" one offerred to him by a friend.
It makes me wonder if everyone's trying to get to the same colour. Perhaps in several generations' time, if the Human race hasn't gone the way of other extinct species like the Dodo and the honest politician, there'll only be one colour of skin available on the market. As we move around the world, settle and breed with the natives perhaps we'll end up with one race, a mixture of every race before.
If it all goes well and Darwin's thing about survival of the fittest is correct then this super race might have the efficiency of the Germans, the friendliness of the Danes, the sexiness of the French, the diplomacy of the Swiss, the drive of the Japanese, the hospitality of the Sri Lankans and the culture of the British.
And every person would be about the same colour. The Indians, Sri Lankans and other Asian types would have spent generations' of wealth on skin lightening products and would all be about four shades lighter than today's lot. The whiteys would have spent so much money and effort on holidays and tanning products, as well as some serious interbreeding with us Sri Lankans, that they would all be about four shades darker.
And that colour, well there's no easy easy or pleasant way to put it, but it would be the colour of Italians.
Can you imagine?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Back in the day when Java and Cinemod were young lads the term R + B meant something very different to what it does these days. When most of you bloggers were mere sperms in the apple of your father's eye, when digital was a type of watch that hadn't been invented yet, when R + B didn't involve rappers and huge arses shaking like the Sri Lankan economy, there were songs like this.
They had things called geeetaars and pyanners in them. Ronnie Wood was about the age that his Russian girlfriend is now and Rod Stewart sang proper songs, not crooning crap.
Lately I've been learning this song for my covers band. Every time I listen to it I smile. It's real music played by real musicians, a five minute nugget of pure joy without a ton of Timbaland prodution behind it. It doesn't "feat" a guest appearance by someone else and it sure doesn't involve a remix of a Coldplay song.
I've got a strong feeling that once we've learned it properly it will be one of the most popular songs in our set.
The lyrics are about as politically correct as a night out with Mervyn Silva, but they're from the days before women had rights, votes and minds of their own.
Check it out. I would particularly recommend you have a look at the dancing after about 4.09. That's how it was done in Java's day, that's proper dancing for you. If you watch it and it doesn't make you smile then you must be under thirty.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Despite the past, despite the spurious and well documented practices of publishing many of us Sri Lankan bloggers' scribblings without seeking permission nor giving credit, I actually do like a glance through Lakbima News, at least the online edition, most weeks. It's a nice light read and gives a cross section of bits and pieces to peruse. I must add that I in no way condone what did happen in the past, of which I was a "victim" too.
It certainly would appear that all is under control now. Tempting fate? Time will tell.
But, I read this article the other week and it sat in my mind and stewed for some days. Why? I don't know, but it has. Now I don't know the technical qualifications that are needed to make a good writer, in the same way that I don't know if a painter is technically good but I know if I like their work, particularly if they can do walls and ceilings without dripping emulsion everywhere.
I do know that I quite like Ms Algama's writing, wherever I've come across it. I think she writes with a certain feeling of freshness and a spring to her words. I also know that her and a certain Missingsandwich are hardly bosom buddies and that she has rubbed a few people up the wrong way.
The thing is, it may well be the case that her content is questionable at times but I do like her style of writing. It's clear that in Ms Algama is a person who loves to write and that she does it very well. It's also clear, in certain videos, that at certain times in Pamela Anderson there's a drummer. That's another matter though.
When I read this piece about everyone's favourite New Yorkers I thought that she's lost the plot. Let me start, or middle, by saying that I love Friends. I know I'm a man but I still feel something for the six of them. Here in England we can turn on a TV, about the only thing I can turn on these days, and pretty much guarantee to find an episode of Friends somewhere. There was one series that I didn't like as much as the others, I can't recall which, but I still laugh at every episode regardless of the fact that I usually know what's coming.
Friends is / was brilliant. From the way we got to know the characters and really felt as if they were our best buddies to the way that we sang along to Smelly Cat and so understood Ross's position about being "on a break", unless you're a girl of course.
But let's face it, Friends was the most unrealistic thing to have ever hit the small screen, even if you include Tom and Jerry
To start with six people that good looking and trendy just wouldn't exist as a group in real life, unless they were a bunch of sitcom actors on a shoot or something. Then, a masseuse, an out of work actor, a chef, a paleontologist (which just got through my spellcheck at the first attempt!), a Chandler and a Rachel would never be able to afford the lifestyles depicted in the programme.
One of the things that captures us in Friends is that we all think we're a bit of each character don't we? In my head I'm a man with the looks and sex appeal of Joey, the wit of Chandler and the brains of Ross. Reality is very different. I'm aware that I tend to have the Tribbiani brains, the Bing way with women and the sex appeal of the Dr. On reflection I don't even think I do have Ross's sex appeal.
Women probably go through life thinking that they have Rachel's looks, Phoebe's eccentricity and Monica's organisational skills. Girls take it from me, you don't. Unless you surname is Aniston and your first name rhymes with Zennifer. I think I might have a cousin with that first name actually.
Central Perk is surely a masterpiece of scriptwriting too. What a superb way of creating a regular place for all the characters to get together without making them live in the same place. Can you imagine how the characters' breath must stink from all that coffee. Chee, is all I can say.
And they always get that settee, except for the episode in which Ross and Chandler got "bullied". If I go into a coffee shop I usually struggle to get a seat, then end up sharing with people I don't know. Then if I even think about putting my feet up on the settee I get stared at and made to feel bad.
Whenever we see Ross lecturing to undergraduates he's talking about things in such simplistic terms that even I can understand it. It's dinosaur knowledge for twelve year olds, which is nice but wholly unrealistic. Whenever I've spent time with academics they talk in words and phrases that make my head hurt and I have to narrow my eyes to concentrate. I don't know why I do the eye squint thing but it does work.
I could go on, I could make this a slightly bitchy post about why Friends is crap, because it's so unrealistic. But it's not.
It's brilliant, it's funny and I think it will be watched by students of the Arts, not Paleontology, in years to come as an example of great TV humour.
Which is why, when I read Ms Algama's article, in which she says that the programme is "White supremacist", I laughed and shook my head. And I meant it to hurt and to patronise.
It may well be my favourite comedy of all time, it may be yours, but it's hardly going to win awards for its accurate portrayal of real life is it?
Totally unrealistic, each episode crammed full of more good looking people than most of us see in a lifetime? Yes.
Wholly unbelievable with situations and characters that just wouldn't happen in real life? Yes.
White supremacist? No.
Too bloody right.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I've been looking after an African Land Snail and a cat. The contrast has been great and fortunately they're in different places. The cat is because the girls have gone away with their mother to the Isle of Man so they asked me to feed the remaining living cat, since the other one died. I suppose it's kind of my ex cat, since the divorce. I like to think that the fellow still recognises me when i turn up, maybe my smell or general demeanour, maybe just because he knows I'm the provider of all things that look like cat food.
The African Land Snail is courtesy of one of my business partners, Gaz. He went on holiday a couple of weeks ago and, the day before, turned up at the office with a cage like thing. To make things simpler I'll refer to it as a cage from now on, though it really is a tank, but not the type that they use in the army, unless there are people in the army who keep snails, then they might use one of these things. Of course this could cause problems for the army chap who's sent off to clean the tank, but that's for another story.
Anyway, inside this tank was the mother of all snails. A huge big fuck off type of thing that is apparently an African Land Snail, owned by my partner's son. He casually mentions that "we" are going to be looking after this thing while he's away, we being the people in the office. You know those great big smails that you get in Africa, well this is a baby one of them. "Only" about six inches in diameter around the middle bit and with all the speed of a waiter at the Galle Face Hotel.
The looking after invovles spraying the fellow's shell with water once a day and bunging some vegetable of sorts into the cage every couple of days. I asked whether the thing has to be taken for walks or anything and was mightily pleased to get a negative response to my question. At first I was reasonably excited by the prospect of snail sitting. The girls in the office were all decidedly disinterested so I stepped up and assumed the responsibility. I contemplated taking Bully, for that is his name, home to show the girls.
After a couple of days I got bored. Bully doesn't do much, he's slimy and smells and his tank is a bit fly infested. Yes, he's low maintenance and in that context makes for a good pet, but all in all I think I'm happy to remain petless. As of Friday he was still alive and hadn't escaped, not that he could have got far if he had. I've rehearsed my speech to Gaz just in case he does escape. I figure it will be something along the lines of
"I'm so sorry Gaz, I didn't see how he did it, it all happened so fast"
Well I've been getting slowly packed. I'll be moving out of this house in a few weeks' time, back to my parents' place for a bit. A move of mixed blessings. On the good side I'll be fed with great food, have my washing done and get all that parental love that Sri Lankan parents smother their kids with, no matter how old they are. On the negative side, well, see my previous line.
So I've been making boxes, thinking about what I'm going to pack where and generally feeling half totally pissed off and half excited at the prospect. My life is an ongoing journey and this house was merely a stop.
And I've been falling for Ashok Ferrey. Not in that way. In fact he seems to have a liking for tight fitting shirts. Everywhere I go there's a picture of him wearing a shirt that's a couple of sizes too small. If I was his
But, I've been falling for his writing. His wit and style of observational narrative is right up my street. I was going to say alley there but all the talk about his pecs and shirts might give you the wrong idea.
I suppose the other thing I've been doing rather a lot of is investigating Facebook. It's quite rewarding and fascinating. I've got about thirty friends on FB, which is about twenty eight more than I have in real life. This is cool. I can read the walls of people I hardly know and find out what they had for breakfast and what they think is a highly humorous way of telling me about it. People who are quite boring in real life are the life and soul of their wall on Facebook.
The best thing about Facebook is that it's the perfect thing for Sri Lankans isn't it? Instead of that dreadfully old fashioned thing of meeting someone and asking who they know, who they're related to and then finding out that you're brothers or sisters, I can now look at their friends on Facebook and know exactly how we're related and who we know. In true Sri Lankan style there's about one, perhaps two degrees of separation between me and just about every other Sri Lankan on Facebook as well.
That's about it for now. Thanks to Dinidu for his concern, I'll alive and well.
Happy Monday all.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Well lately I've been on a bit of a health drive. Nothing drastic, I'm not doing marathons, or Snickers as they're now called, I'm not going to the gym every day or doing anything overboard. All I'm trying to do is to eat a bit healthily and do lots of sit ups every day.
One of the good things about playing the drums is that it keeps up the old cardio vascular stuff quite a bit, though I must confess that I haven't really got a clue what that means. I do know it sounds impressive.
This eating thing is just common sense really. I'm trying to cut down on quantity, you know, only have three servings of rice instead of five. I'm trying to eat just one sandwich at lunchtime and I'm trying to savour and enjoy every mouthful of food. This is a useful tip that I read somewhere. We often stuff our faces and don't think about what we're eating, resulting in eating more, just because we haven't thought about and cherished the taste of the food.
There's only so much cherishing you can do with a Tesco sandwich but I'm sure you get the point.
And one of the eating things I'm doing, honestly this really is true I promise you, is to try to eat some, ahem, salad. There, I've said it. I know what these fellows who come out must have to go through.
I should explain for those who don't know or aren't familiar with the concept.
Salad is a mix of vegetables eaten by white people and women. It consists of vegetables, usually crispy ones, served raw and cold. There are no spices, no chilli powder, no curry leaves and no carbohydrates involved.
The health implications of eating salad are disastrous and serious. It can make you slim, totally without paunch, it can give a glow to your complexion and reduce cholesterol. Often when you eat it you don't even feel all bloated and full up afterwards. People have been known to eat a salad and then work, instead of sleeping. It's so deadly that advertising of any saladey type stuff is banned in Sri Lanka, a country respected internationally for its approach to banning things.
There I was at lunchtime in my local Tesco, though the word local is quite relative I know. When these blokes come to terms with their sexuality and go to a gay club for the first time they probably feel like I did as I browsed the salad section. I kept a low profile as I furtively glanced at vegetables and green things. There were a couple of times when I could feel panic and fear building up within me. I dealt with this by dashing over to the meat section and browsing at sausages, chops, chicken legs and steaks. Each time the smell of vegetables got too much a quick walk to the comfort of one of the meat aisles sorted me out.
Being the adventurous type I decided to really go for it as far as the choice of raw, and I mean raw, materials for my evening salad was concerned. Throwing caution to the wind, something I usually have a lot of, I went a bit wild, a little bit mad and totally reckless.
I bought some of those tomatoes and half a cucumber. Do vegetables begin with a capital letter? Mmmm I'm not sure.
I bought a pack of sliced ham, (honey roast no less) and some cheese with blue bits in it. People would look at me strangely, I was possibly going to bring shame on my family, but I was ready. I did ask the lady at the checkout if she could hide the things in an Ann Summers bag but she couldn't help me on that one.
That evening I went home. The short drive was filled with feelings of nerves and excitement. I knew what I was going to do, I knew that I'd go through with it but a first time of doing anything is always nerve wracking and angsty and usually quite adrenalin fuelled.
I watched a bit of Walker, Texas Ranger to help fire me up and get motivated. It did the trick and I went into my kitchen to "cook". I sliced green things, I sliced red things and chopped chunks of cheese. I rolled up slices of the honey roast ham and splashed a dollop of mayonnaise. It was done through a barrage of vegetable and watery odours, overpowering at times. The dreadful smell of the cucumber, that green and light stench, the juiciness of the tomatoes.
To tell you the truth I was sorely tempted to chop some onions and fry them up with a bit of garlic, mustard seed, curry leaves and chilli powder just to get rid of the salad odour that would hang around for days afterwards. I didn't though. I kept strong and resolute knowing that a lesser man would have fled the scene. Chuck Norris can influence a chap like that. It might be the beard.
Eating the salad was easy. I did it with the deft touch of a wannabe Hollywood starlet who hadn't eaten anything but salad or sperm for years. Half a slice of cucumber, a bit of ham, some mayo, then bang, in my mouth. The next mouthful would be different combination of things and there were some points when I thought it tasted quite nice. I had succumbed to my Sri Lankanness slightly and grated some salt, pepper, chilli and garlic onto the plate.
Before I could say "king prawn vindaloo, mushroom rice, brinjal bhaji and a plain naan" I was finished. There was a small pool of watery stuff left on my plate. I guess white people keep that in a small container in the fridge and use it in a sandwich the next day or something. I threw it away defiantly.
Five minutes after eating and clearing away the evidence I felt empty. Not in a deep and thinking way, I mean in a hungry way. When I used to smoke I'd occasionally have a cigar and as soon as I'd finished it I'd want a cigarette. That's how I felt. Not that I wanted a smoke, but I wanted a rice and curry, or even a burger and chips. Something involving carbohydrates, heat, meat that I had to chew and more salt than the Red Sea at the very least.
I knew I wasn't really hungry, that my mind was going through some sort of illusion. Perhaps it was like Walker Texas Ranger when he gets shot and doesn't show any sign of pain. Maybe my special talent is to be able to stuff my face with green and red crispy grass, water and leafy flavoured crap and to not feel the faintest glimmer of repleteness. If David Blaine can make all that money from just holding his breath underwater for a minute or two then I could make millions from this I thought.
What is all this about though? To eat a meal, to know that I'd eaten a fair good plateful of stuff and then to sit there and not feel bloated as if I was fifteen months pregnant, to not feel as if I need a sleep. It's just mad, it's kind of why you never meet someone who smokes those herbal "no tobacco" cigarettes, and I'm not talking about Java's ones here, I mean the ones you get in health shops.
I sat and waited, thinking loving thoughts about the Indian takeaway at the end of my road. If my doorbell had rung I'm sure that the walk to my front door would have been all the impetus I needed to go that extra bit and walk to the Indian. Sadly the bell remained silent. I might buy some batteries for it soon, though I never get any visitors so there's not much point.
Nothing happened. The world didn't change and I woke up the next morning ravenous. I felt cheap and used, a bit dirty and ashamed.
Every meal since then has been full of badness and full of flavour. I'll just do more situps.
I'll probably eat another salad sometime. The desire to be like one of them will overwhelm me. But, until then I remain a good old fashioned Sri Lankan salad dodger.
And proud of it.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I'm quite the voracious reader. From drumming magazines to gadget magazines to novels to self help books, I devour them with the appetite of one of you lot at Hikka fest at about 6.12 AM.
I also don't really have any taste in literature. No one who knows me would describe me as a discerning reader, I just grab whatever takes my fancy and try it. Of course books on Sri Lanka, whether they're factual or of the novelistical variety, exist on my bookshelves in abundance. I buy them, read them, digest them and learn from them.
The pile on my bookshelf, if pile is the collective term for some books, which it probably isn't, sits there and calls me at various times.
"Oooh Rhythmic, come and read me" screams a book sometimes
"Mr Diaspora, please take me to bed with you and fondle my pages" begs another book, of the female type, occasionally.
"Oi, I wouldn't bother with me if I were you. I'm boring and not worth reading until you're really desperate" said the big one whose voice I totally ignored the other day.
They all talk to me in different ways at different times.
Some weeks ago I bought, on a whim, a book written by an English guy. A dangerous move you may say. You're right, say I. But I felt in a risk taking mood, I felt like living dangerously and was in a devil may care mood. Only that morning I had driven to Kingston at about thirty five mph in a thirty mph zone. I even drove through an amber light (nearly).
It sat on my shelf for a while and then I ignored the warnings, picked it up and read it. I never got into it, never got taken in and swallowed up by it in the way so many good books can do. But I got interested in the storyline. What a bummer. I felt nothing for the characters. It was set in the 1950s in London and was all about the situation with African immigrants at the time. Hardly one of my areas of interest but I had thought that the London bit would suffice.
I fought my way through the book, just wanting to get to the end to see what happened to the characters and also not caring in the slightest. Somewhat disappointingly they all lived happily ever after too. If the author had said that at the beginning I could have saved so much time and effort. If I ever write a book I'll make the first page also the last page, a kind of palindrome of a book. Now that would be smart, like a rotavator.
The experience left me feeling bitter and somewhat cheated. I knew that my next choice of book needed to be made with due diligence and I had many candidates from which to choose.
I perused my bookshelf. The first candidate was Jools Holland's autobiography, given to me by K for Christmas. No, I thought almost instantly, it can wait. I've heard that it's a great read, that it's well written and full of funny anecdotes and he's one of my favourite musicians who also used to be in one of my all time favourite bands, Squeeze, but it didn't grab me.
Then I looked at a crime novel and rejected that too. Then I looked at the Sri Lankan books. First up was Tissa Devendra's On Horseshoe Street. No, I started it some months ago and struggled, it wasn't right to come back to it just then.
The next book shortlisted for the RD which one shall I read now prize was one by Paul Harris. It's called "Delighfully Imperfect - A Year In Sri Lanka At The Galle Face Hotel" and, though not the punchiest and most concise of titles, it pretty much does what it says on the tin. It's that book with the picture of the old fellow who's now retired I believe on the front of it. The chap with the moustache.
It looks like it will be highly interesting read, but it didn't appeal to me for the moment either. This one took some pondering and deliberating before I came to my decision. I picked it up, glanced at some random pages and paragraphs and stared at words and sentences before it got dismissed with a bit too much care and attention. If it were a woman, one of those ones who wanted to go out with me, I would have said
"Look, I like you. You seem like you'll be very funny and interesting. I think we can have some good times together, I'll even take you to bed if you're lucky. But now's not the time. I can't figure out why but I feel it. It might be to do with your moustache but I reckon I'll feel differently very soon."
Then again, I'm not that good with women. Or moustaches.
Next in the queue was Ashok Ferrey's Good Little Ceylonese Girl. I didn't know much about Mr Ferrey. I'd seen him in every page of Hi!! Magazine looking quite the muscular sort, at the opening of everything, but I hadn't read Colpetty People nor anything else by him. I checked out the book. I sampled sentences, I read the blurb and I felt something. There was an intrinsic Sri Lankan feel to it. From the photograph on the cover, which I later discovered was taken by one Dominic Sansoni, a chap I've never heard of, to the snippets I read.
Then, as I glanced at the inner sleeve, something caught my eye. It was the dealbreaker, or maybe dealmaker. I can't remember the exact words but it went something like
"This book takes you...
blah blah brilliant blah
blah read it now..."
Sachini Perera - LT Times (I think)
That was the tipping point. It was only our Sach, the cynical one, quoted on the inner sleeve of a book. Honestly, if she thinks it's good then I figured I'd like it. It was a sign, the book wasn't just calling me, it was screaming to me in urgent tones and begging me to read it. I had no choice. Well, I did have a choice but I chose that one.
I began to read and within about five minutes Ashok Ferrey became my new superhero. I laughed out loud at two little lines in the first story alone. I was drawn in to the world of each story, from Brixton to Negombo I was there. Rarely have I read a book that has been so vivid in its detail and so alive in its language.
Mr Ferrey wrote of Barbara Sansoni sarongs and I thought
"cool, I own several hundred of them."
He jotted about two people meeting at the Sunday Jazz at Barefoot. I read it and felt it. To think I've had the good fortune of
I don't want to sound too fawning and too nice about Mr Ferrey and his book, but it's caught my imagination in ways that books rarely do. As I read each page and each story I find myself relating to the way he uses words and wit. If I could be ten per cent as funny as him I'd be quite a happy chap. Lines like
"It was a case of infidelity waiting to happen"
just make me chuckle like a pirate. Not that pirates read Sri Lankan fiction of course, though Sri Lankan pirates might, if they could read.
I haven't finished it yet but I can tell you with authority that his writing on Brixton is as brilliant and evocative as his writing on Colombo. It's evident that this is a series of stories written by someone who has seen many of the things first hand. I think I'll finish the book and may even read it again.
Or I might start the one with the moustache.
If you know Ashok Ferrey please tell him he's got a new fan. If you haven't read this book then do so. Trust me. You'll love it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It's all rather quiet at the moment. Everyone's away doing things in other places and other countries. But, as always, that means a chance to check out some new blogs, or at least ones that are different to the usual crowd, which is nice.
There have been two main topics floating around Kottu in recent weeks.
The first one
It's also given everyone an excuse to chuck out a post or two with that word that rhymes with prawn in the title, thereby gaining readership and hits from all those people that must search for the P word everyday.
The post by everyone's favourite sexual rights activist here explains it neatly. I guess no more online porn for a sexual rights activist is a bummer, rather like Pradeep Jeganathan being told he can't cook or use his camera anymore. I guess that saying something's a bummer to a sexual rights activist is some sort of crime too.
Java's take on the subject is this post. While I'm being politically incorrect I may as well go for it and tell you that everytime I even think of this I chuckle to myself. It had never occurred to me that blind people would have the need for the P stuff, though it makes perfect sense. But it's such a visual concept to me that I find the whole idea of porn in braille quite fascinatingly confusing. Don't you need two hands to read braille anyhow?
The ban has even spawned a blog dedicated to it. The blog of the Pornography Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, is full of well presented advice on how to avoid the dangers of the many rules in place and due to be put in place in Sri Lanka. All Sri Lankan women should read this blog on a regular basis to avoid falling foul of regulations.
Lirneasia has a serious (of sorts) post on the subject with a nice handy list at the bottom of links.
The second big topic going around the blogosphere with the speed of your food arriving at the Gallery Cafe (not) is that of the Hikkaduwa Beach Fest 08, if that's what it was called.
Skurj's (or is it Scourge's) one is one of the best written. But you can read Ahamed Nizar's one, which would win the award for the most detailed Hikkfest post, you can also read this post on my alternate life, a blog I haven't read that much, about it. Alternately, if you can't be bothered to read any of those posts I'll summarise them and tell you what you missed and what everyone did:
Leave Colombo. Arrive down south. Go out to Hikkaduwa and spend ages looking for a parking space. Go to rave, get pissed and stoned while dancing and looking at the opposite sex. Pass out at some point. Wake up, go back to hotel and eat massive breakfast. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat until you have to go back home. Blog about it. That's it. Sounds like a grand time was had by all.
In other of the regular blogs there have been some juicy bits taking place too.
Darwin has returned from the motherland and the people of Glasgow are on their guard again. After several weeks of relaxing they now have to return to watching their behaviour to avoid the full force of a Darwin rant. I had the pleasure of a dinner with Darwin while in Sri Lanka and was disappointed to discover that she really does have a pixelated head. That really is what she looks like you know. Nice body, but a blurry and rectangular shaped head.
The Missing Sandwich put up a post about the frustrations that
Kalusudda, who's freezing his little bollocks off in Alaska these days, has been a little quiet. Perhaps it's because his Blackberry struggles in the cold, maybe it's just busy in Alaska. We miss him though. As Dinidu said his blog has become one that we all look at regularly to see what's going on. It's new, perhaps he got the idea somewhere else, but it's new to me and I think it's great.
Over in Canadialand Ian S has, we hope, bought and moved into his new property. The team here at London, Lanka and drums hope that he's happy in the onetruecoolpad. When I say "team" I actually mean me.
Other than those snippets all's fairly quiet in Kottu land. Studenty types are busy celebrating finishing exams, worky types are mostly on holiday and over in the West Country Bea's making a house.
I'll leave you with a couple of Nimmi's beauties, courtesy of viceunversa. Laugh, I nearly peed myself. Really. As did Nimmi. Every Sri Lankan has an Aunty Netta.
Oh yes. I'm on facebook now. I've joined you on the dark side. Catch me if you can.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
That was about it though. I was never one of those fellows who looked at globes or maps with any more than a disinterested kid's level of interest. This may explain why I went on to play the drums and try to run a company whereas Academic Bro, my academic bro, went on the study geography or calligraphy or whatever he does. As a child he was always highly interested in globes, maps and pens.
Now, as an adult, I'm one of the many who "love" globes. It's not that I've got a collection of the things or subscribe to "Globe Collectors Monthly" but I just find them fascinating and eye catching. Not only that but I keep bumping into other people who feel the same way.
At Christmas I bought a small globe for Music biz bro. A little hand held one, no mounting or stand, just a ball really with countries and oceans painted on it, about two or three inches in diameter. When he opened it he said
"Oh great I love globes" and he meant it. It's not as if a globe does anything either. You can't use it to drink from or to throw in a chicken curry to make it taste better. A freestanding one would be no use as a paperweight. It would just roll off and all your papers would go flying everywhere. Then you'd have to crawl around and find the missing sheafs as well as find the globe, which will be rolling around the floor in a random way.
The chances are that the country that would have got dented, when the globe hit the floor, would be a good one like Sri Lanka or Denmark. It's never a big lumbering country that gets dented, one that no one would be bothered about if it changed shape a bit, like Australia or the US. That's why people use rocks, lenses and things ot hold down paper. You heard it here first.
A couple of days ago I received a slightly bulky looking package in the post. I opened it and found that it was a mailing from a company, complete with a globe. It's a smallish one, about four inches in diameter, but it immediately took pole position on my desk, just pole position, not North or South. Not that there's much competition. There's the remote control for the office stereo, one of those tools that looks like a pair of pliers but has a million types of screwdriver built into it and an old fully wrapped Cadbury's Flake bar that I haven't eaten yet and is probably way passed its eat by date.
This globe is rather cool because it spins on both axes. It small and mounted and you can spin it the conventional way, through its y axis, but also the other way, around the equator. In case I've done a poor job of explaining I'll put it another way; if you put your thumb on the South Pole and your middle finger on the North Pole there are two ways to spin it. You can either twist your hand up and down or turn it to the right or left. Got it?
It's such a great little thing. I've been staring at it for hours and learning where countries are. For example I never knew the name of that little teardrop shaped island just underneath India. It looks nice, though access to porn looks limited.
There's also no land at the North Pole. Did you know that? I didn't. I knew that Antarctica was that bit at the bottom, that it covered the South Pole but I assumed there was the same sort of thing going on at the top. But there isn't, it's just sea there or desert or chocolate biscuit pudding or something.
The three dimensional aspect of a globe compared to a map on paper is what makes it so intriguing for sure. Looking at the relative positions of countries and places and discovering things I didn't know is always interesting. I've been contemplating doing something adventurous. At first I thought I'd spin the thing with my eyes closed and travel next to the country my finger stops the spinning with. A few attempts of that and I decided to play another game but, if anyone wants to join me in Tajikstan next year, then please get in touch.
The most surprising thing is that about five or six people in my office have asked about and been captivated by it. One person even asked me if they could have it if I didn't want it. It's made me realise, even though kids aren't fussed about a round spinning thing with a map drawn on it, us adults are all totally drawn in by the concept.
How about you?
Can you resist a globe?
Monday, August 11, 2008
I went to collect the girls the other night for our Wednesday evening. K said that she just had to run upstairs and get something. She returned with what looked suspiciously like a large wad of money. It was a large wad of money, well not real money but that Sri Lankan stuff.
"There you go Dad"
"What's that?" I asked rather stupidly.
"It's the 6000 Rs I told you about." She replied.
One of those bells rang in my head, then another one went off about a semitone lower. The first bell was the one that told me she had mentioned it before, the second was the "This is going to cost me money that I'll pretend to mind spending but I don't really mind spending" bell.
"Actually there's 6129 Rs there." she said with a squinty look in her eyes.
"Okay cool." I said, knowing that there was more to come.
"That means you owe me £50."
"Eh! How? Why? How did you work that out?" Came my somewhat squeeky reply.
"Well the rate at the hotel was 206 Rs for a pound yeah?" she said patronisingly.
"Yes, about that I think."
"So I'll do it for 200." she said.
I knew I was going to win this one and could see balloons going off, party streamers and ticker tape parades, Winning against K is rare and memorable, as you well know by now.
"So you owe me £50 then."
"No I don't, I owe you £30."
"No Dad. It's £50. It's £30 for the rupees and you owe me £20 pocket money."
"Aaah right. I'll give it to you at the weekend, I don't have that much cash on me now."
"Ok Dad, that's fine."
Friday, August 8, 2008
But people are doing it, here's my list:
I remember - a time when being Sinhalese or Tamil wasn't relevant, when being Sri Lankan in itself was enough to make people feel united.
I don't - think I'll ever choose to eat cous cous over rice. Never ever.
I want - to travel around Sri Lanka taking photographs.
I hate - Nothing. I really can't think of anything or anyone. The thought of eating snails, that's it.
I wonder - where all the people who used to go to Galle Face Green on a Sunday evening go at the moment.
I have - way too many clothes to be a man.
I know - I have way too many clothes for a man.
I wish - I knew then what I know now
I love - The soundtrack to life in Sri Lanka
I won't - ever stop learning
I think - Anyone can do anything if they want it enough
I hope - Life never becomes boring
I can - make all my limbs do different things at the same time. It's not very useful, apart from in drumming and sex.
I enjoy - see above
I truly - thank the people who make me happy.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I know this as I own several of them. Admittedly none of them are written with my curious mixture of British and Sri Lankan wit, but what about to be or recently divorced father wants to read a book on how to deal with what's to come, or what's happening, in his highly traumatised life when he gets hit by a poo joke every third sentence?
But it is my blog after all, so it seems that you'll probably allow me to be a bit self indulgent occasionally and chuck out a post or two to try and tell you what's been happening and what's going on in my head.
Divorce is a painful thing, probably even for my ex. I suppose if I was to run a class on the subject, well first I'd charge a shitload for the lessons as I currently need the money, but secondly I'd tell these fellows to expect the unexpected, which I guess you can't expect anyway. It's a lonely road at times, littered with "friends" letting you down, with idiots suddenly coming to the fore and acting like you wish your friends had been.
As a father the biggest shock for me was the physical separation from the girls. For thirteen and eleven years they had been in my life virtually every day. I had been able to tuck them into bed, to kiss them goodnight and to shout at them whenever I wanted to. If I wanted to sit on the settee and watch TV with a daughter there was often one around. If I wanted to fart there was always a child to go
"Uuurgh Dad, that's disgusting".
All of a sudden we've had to try to get used to seeing each other for about four hours on a Wednesday and on alternate Fridays until the Saturday afternoon. It's bloody hard for me and I'm an adult who chose this. My heart creaks a little bit every time I ponder on how it must feel for the girls. If I want to see them outside the normal arrangements it can feel like I have to walk through hot coals to do it and that's something that's awkward and painful.
I often go to bed at night and lie there wondering what they're doing and what they're thinking. Will they forgive me for the pain I've caused them? Will they ever understand that sometimes you have to save yourself before you can look after others?
The week in Sri Lanka was spectacular, massive and a powerful catalyst in our healing process. I realised that the time we had together gave us the contact we would have got from about three months' of time at home and it was such good quality time too.
It took the first few days for all of us to "settle in" with each other, or more accurately for the girls to settle with me. There were some strops, hissy fits, tantrums and sulks and the girls were a bit volatile too.
One of the interesting yet annoying things about having them at the weekend or on Wednesdays is that they take a bit of time to adjust to being with me. I've read that this is normal for kids in this situation so I don't worry about it, but I have to deal with it. They usually take some time to relax and, during this bit, things can be a bit tense and edgy. Once they're relaxed, everything's fine and dandy. Then, at some point before they're going to go back to their mother, they start to get a bit tense and edgy again as they get ready for the return.
So, if I have them for four hours, it may be the case that we only get an hour or two of quality time together. Of course the specifics vary and time is the great healer in all of this, it's getting easier and the quality time is getting more.
In Sri Lanka everything was condensed and concentrated. They didn't go back to their mother so the time and the relationship evolved and rolled forward continually at a faster than normal pace. We shared a room in the hotel. I had asked them some months ago if they wanted separate rooms or to share and I genuinely didn't have a clue what they would choose. At fourteen and twelve they're in that awkward age range when they're half grown up and half child, often both and so often neither. To compound things I'm a man, almost the complete opposite of a woman.
But they considered the question of room sharing for about two seconds and then said they'd prefer if we all shared a room. This warmed the cockles of my heart a lot. All the bravado of being grown up and big but they still wanted to share with Dad.
During the first days I started to question the wisdom of my decision to take them to Lanka. They've both been going there since they were six months old and are very familiar with the country and the people. They have many friends and cousins there and feel more at home than they do in other countries. I know and I feel lucky that the girls been exposed to a privileged lifestyle there that many can't afford, I wouldn't be pompous enough to think that they know a lot about life for the average man on the street. Yet I'm pleased that they're comfortable with the bits they've been exposed to.
So it seemed that taking them to Lanka on our first post divorce holiday would be good, that the familiarity with the country and people would negate the pain I knew they'd feel from going through the healing process.
But, for the first few days, that familiarity just reminded them of being there when there were four of us. I could see and feel the sadness as they went to places, saw people and did things that they used to do, only with their mother as well. I couldn't do anything about it though. This pain, that everyone feels in a divorce, is necessary and essential to make things better, just so hard to watch when it's your kids going through it and you've caused it.
Just as I was thinking my choice of destination was one I'd regret, that it would have been much better if we'd gone somewhere "new", the cloud started to lift. Maybe it was the power of Serendipity, perhaps it was a dead grandmother trying to help me and her great grandchildren or it might just have been the passing of time. I know not, the likelihood is that it was a combination of all the possibilities anyway, but it happened.
The girls started to relax, I started to relax and we all began to live the moments and enjoy our time together. It may be a coincidence but I noticed this was after the night they met Java. They both kind of fell in love with him, even though he's about eighty five or something.
For the last few days, as we evolved, we developed a bit of a routine. In the morning we'd go off shopping to the usual haunts. Then we'd grab a spot of lunch somewhere and the girls would spend the afternoon swimming. I'd hover around and mix swimming with emailing and general hanging about. The evenings were spent mostly discussing where we'd have dinner, then going there, eating and getting stopped at checkpoints on the way back. All the traditional Sri Lankan things really.
As we hit the last couple of days I felt sad at the thought of the end of our time together. It had been only a week because of the feelings of people, though I would have preferred to have gone for two, and once we got to the end I know another week would have been pure joy, possibly negated by the SAARC conference but that's a different matter.
I observed myself feeling sad and knew that it was best to forget that feeling and make the most of the remaining time. I did and I loved it. The last day was one on which we did last day stuff. A last trip to Odel, a last lunchtime drink in the Barefoot garden and a last swim in the pool. We'd taken lots of happy and smiling pictures of each other but none of them are as vivid as my memories.
In the evening we went to Galle Face Hotel to watch the sunset. They didn't have a sunset that evening, I assume it had been diverted or banned but it barely mattered to us. Like so many places in Sri Lanka there's something just magical and special about the atmosphere at the Galle Face Hotel. I can't figure it out yet it's so obvious too. It's hardly up there as a hotel in terms of its facilities or food or service or architectural splendour but it's steeped in history and feeling.
Is there a better way to spend a few hours than to sit there with a beer and a person or two that you love with all your heart?
Yes, of course there is. So we had some battered prawns and chips which made it just about perfect. The girls, Colombo and that setting are all I need to be happy. Maybe a drum kit or two would have rounded it off nicely.
I asked a passing tourist to take a picture of us. I chuckle to myself at the whole asking someone else to take your picture concept. Why can't my victim, on the rare occasions when I ask someone to do it, be a photographer or at least have an interest in photography? Why can't they be someone who knows and understands the rule of thirds? Why can't they have been a passing Sansoni or Posingis?
I end up with a nice and helpful Indian chap who takes one picture and chucks our heads exactly halfway down the frame. Luckily, in these days of digital photography we can view the image and ask the Indian to take another one, which I did. Unluckily you can't keep pushing the chap for too long, it's just not polite.
Can you imagine how it must have been years ago for the unlucky tourist who asked Amila Salgado to take a couple of shots of him and his kids. When the bloke got back to his home and finally got his pictures back from the lab he would have seen the most stunning macro picture of the caterpillar that he hadn't known was crawling on his shoulder or the most detailed image of the headlice in his young son's head. Nightmare.
We headed off to our hotel and ate our last Sri Lankan dinner. The day had been special, the week had been great, the journey had been eventful.
At about six in the morning I woke, showered and watched the city come to life through the hotel window. I watched the girls as they slept and was consumed with gratitude that I have them. I looked out at the skyline and felt as if I was watching one of those documentaries where they've filmed over a month and then sped it all up so you see it in a few seconds. Colombo getting ready for the day is like that. I saw people sweeping tennis courts, chaps washing their vehicles, tri shaws start to multiply in their numbers and the sunlight come out and paint the city with it's daylight coloured glow.
Off we went, back to the day to day bits for me and the rest of the summer holiday for the girls. We landed on Sunday evening and I dropped the girls back to their mother's and said goodbye. The week had been a mix of everything but it had moved the three of us on more than I had imagined.
Suddenly it was over. The girls were okay, they were back with their mother and had plenty of stories to tell and catching up to do. An hour later I was alone again. I thought of the girls and the times we'd had.
It was a mixture of happiness and sadness that made me cry.
Just for a bit.
Then I had to poo.
That's how my week in Sri Lanka with the girls was.