1. This business in Mumbai is beyond description, my sympathies to Indyana and anyone who is affected by it.
2. Thanksgiving was good and interesting. I'll tell you more about it at another time. I stuffed my face, but drew the line at eating cranberry sauce that was sliced. On balance I'd rather have had a good rice and curry.
3. It's seriously hot here today. I woke up with the sunlight streaming through the leaves and life felt good.
4. This morning I bought that light I told you about, probably as a Christmas present for A, though I'm unsure right now. It is the most exciting purchase I've made for a while, so good that it will have its own post with photographs of the different shades of light for sure.
5. I'm off in a minute to take some pictures of random things. I'll be wearing combat style shorts, my almost favourite 69 T shirt and my too cool for school Croc flip flops. Stop me and say hello if you see me.
Sometimes, sometimes a chap just has to do a list.
The Singapore research and discovery continues. Only five minutes ago I saw a huge fat bloke get out of a van. One of those fellows that waddle rather than walk, usually because it's a struggle to walk with bended legs. As he levered himself out of the van I watched as its suspension relaxed and moved up a good few inches. To cap it all off nicely the chap was wearing white Birkenstock style slippers. Unbelievable!
And, for the first time in my young life, I'll be off to celebrated Thanksgiving tonight. To us, in England, Thanksgiving is something that the Americans do and always a good episode in Friends, which is the source of all of my knowledge on the matter. I don't know if there'll be praying and religious bits involved, I do know that I've got a hell of a lot to be thankful for, though am wholly unsure who I should thank for it.
Is it arrogant to feel as if I should thank myself for many of the positives in my life? Is it cocky to say that I'm a firm believer in the old saying that the harder I practice the luckier I get? Would it be way more humble and decent if I chose a God or two to worship and give thanks to?
I don't know the answer to these questions but they have got me thinking. Isn't being religious a bummer in that you'll never know for sure until you die? Imagine what it must feel like for someone to spend all their life being devout and pious and then, upon their death, to be told by St Peter that there's nothing here anymore. Or to lie on the old deathbed and then go nowhere after the event.
Anyway enough about that. One of the reasons I was thinking about death is that I read yesterday of the sad death of Michael Lee, a thirty nine year old drummer. He was an outstanding player, had toured and played with Page and Plant and I had seen him play with Thin Lizzy. In fact one of my very early blog posts covered my views on the gig in March 2006.
Last night I had a quick look at the post and was amazed and slightly embarrassed by it. It was as if it was written by a different person, I can't describe it in more detail really. There was no feel to it and it reminded me of a school chemistry experiment write up. These days I write a post or two and there are lots of things going on in my head, things more than the simple "what happened next" element.
The fact is I've got a thousand thanks to give and I'm grateful to anyone who reads this blog too. So I'll thank you to start with.
I know that I'll have to eat a whole turkey and wear expandable trousers, the rest I'll play by ear. In fact I'll probably opt for the new blue grandad top I bought and the jeans that make my arse look quite good.
Happy Thanksgiving all!
PS - Fat bloke's back in the van now. He's texting someone. I thought you'd want to know.
Something about the symmetry, the lines and the lighting of this so tacky that it's so classy window display caught my eye. Sadly I had to ramp up the ISO to 800 to be able to handhold the shot so some of the detail has been lost.
I've been taking a few pictures in these past days and this post is really just for two reasons, a bit of a vanity post.
Firstly it's to stop Noorie going mental, doolally or whatever term she used. I can't quite remember her choice of word, but I do remember that it was something I don't want to be held responsible for, honoured as I would be in one way. Secondly it's to whet your appetite, if that's possible, to give you some snippets of what I've been up to, without giving too much away.
One of the things I've been paying lots of attention to in these recent days is Singapore's approach to retail and the quirky and simply wicked things that one can buy here. I think it must be how the retail environment evolves in any country. A bit like Maslow's hierarchy only applied to shopping.
The first stage is when the shops sell only the essentials. I guess that would be things like food, basic clothing and iPods. The clothes would be those of the simplest variety; things like Marks and Spencer and Calvin Klein, nothing too flashy or expensive.
At the next level the shops must sell much more variety, but of the same basic items. This is when you can go out and choose from any number of brands of jeans, a vast array of T shirts and maybe even more than one kind of ladies' hair removal device.
The most advanced level is only achieved after many weeks. It's the stage that Singapore is in and it's all a bit mad.
It must take a country literally weeks to get to this stage and it surely is the dream of many an up and coming nation to get its retail industry to this advanced level. It's the level at which all needs are fulfilled easily and cheaply and people start to focus on wants. This means that all manner of totally stupid but fascinatingly interesting things become available in all the shops.
You more than likely know enough about me to know that I really do love shopping. It's taken me a while to accept the fact, I went through a long period of denial and was racked with guilt for many years, particularly being born into a Sri Lankan family.
The British are more liberal about things like this and I knew it would be a struggle for my parents to accept it. All in all they've been surprisingly good about it but I don't flaunt it. For example if they have people round for lunch and I return laden with shopping bags, I'll usually hide the bags and pretend I've just come back from football or the pub. I'm not totally okay with this but I do it out of respect.
But here in Singapore I've been unashamedly browsing through row after row and shop after shop of totally useless paraphernalia and I've been loving it, as that Justin Timberland fellow would say. I've been buying some of the things too.
Yesterday I successfully procured some more of the jelly type things that I like so much. Little bundles of joy and crap that taste like heaven and gelatine. I shan't tell you too much as I've taken some pictures of them and will do a separate post complete with said photos. However, I will tell you that I ate eight of them at about five in the morning. That will give you an idea of the level of excitement contained within me.
I found myself gazing with awe at a light, but not just any light. This was a special one that shone in an infinite number of colours, well perhaps slightly less than infinite, maybe ten or fifteen. But it was the lighting equivalent of fuzzy logic and you just touch the bit on the circular switch, like a circular rainbow with different colours on it, and the bulb instantly emits light of the selected colour. Fanfuckingtastic I think, the only question is how many of the things and for whom should I buy.
And I've spent time looking at these advanced retail concepts with interest. I've marvelled at Christmas decorations that are so bright, so tacky and so completely in your face that I want to go to House Of Fashions and stroll around the mens' trouser section just for its peace, tranquility and general feeling of calmness. Christmas decorations and heat are an uncomfortable mix for me. I'm used to cold and wet and darkness everywhere at this time of the year.
So I'll tell you more about all these things in the weeks to come. For now I'll carry on with my investigations, sampling and pondering.
Hello. So here I am, basking in the heat and warmth of Singapura, as Java calls it, chilling, relaxing, eating and drinking.
The flight over, my third in the new A380, was performed with the Singapore Airlines calmness, serenity and quiet efficiency that I am rapidly becoming seriously accustomed to. There's something pleasantly effortless about the way an SQ flight operates, as if it's a gentle river flowing steadily downhill. Everything slots into place nicely and one thing smoothly follows another.
This flight was late taking off, something that anyone who flies Sri Lankan Airlines regularly will be used to, but the tannoy announcement while we were all sitting at the gate raised some eyebrows, four to be honest, those of the woman sitting opposite me and my own black rather nicely formed ones. It went like this:
"Blah blah blah we are sorry for the late departure of this aircraft, this is due to the late arrival of the cabin crew".
Then, they said it again. It was a clear statement of responsibility, of almost shaming the crew to their customers. I could imagine some poor steward rushing out of the hotel while hurriedly doing up his trousers, probably with toilet paper dangling, all because his alarm hadn't gone off at the right time. The result was that he brought shame on all his colleagues, probably to their families and friend as well. Mass suicides and lifetimes of dishonour would no doubt ensue.
At least I think that's what me and the woman opposite were thinking and that's why we looked at each other and did a raised eyebrow thing. Well, that's what I thought, she may well have been flirting with me, I wouldn't know really, I'm crap with all that stuff.
The smoothness of the flight was jolted ever so slightly by two of those calls over the aircraft's PA for a Doctor. I've only ever seen this happen once before in my life, when I was with Academic Bro, so twice on one flight was exciting.
The first time (on Friday's flight) was because some young fat Aussie woman about four seats in front of me had managed to pass out briefly as she was walking to the toilet. All evidence was that she was fine so I feel justified in writing about it in mocking tones. I didn't see her fall but I saw the scene a little while afterwards. There were some people huddled around her and she was loudly trying to convince everyone that she was fine.
I'm no Doctor but my Mum is and Academic Bro is, though he's a Dr of Geography or something, but I feel that I was qualified enough to know that Oz bird was okay. She was too loud to be ill. The aircrew felt differently and put out the call for a Doctor. I assumed they found one but lost interest and went back to my iPod and the Pendulum album I've been listening to.
You can imagine my surprise then when, about two hours later, they put out another call for a Doctor. I thought it was a bit strange. Wasn't the previous one good enough? Did the patient die so they figure they better use a different fellow for the next emergency? Did the first Doctor say that he'd only do one emergency? Or what? Then, in slightly tangential mode, what would happen on a plane if they can't find a Doctor? Maybe they lower their expectations and ask for a vet, perhaps if there's no vet they go for a mechanic. The possibilities are baffling.
Then, about fifteen minutes later the call for a medical person was repeated, with another surprising twist. This time they said:
"If there's a Doctor on board please come forward, there's a sick passenger" none of that was surprising, the next bit was
"In seat 55c."
A whole planeload of passengers subtly did what I did; turned as if I was casually stretching to see what, or who, was going on in seat 55c. If I was a Doctor I would have done the sensible thing, checked out the occupant to see if they were good looking enough to warrant treatment from me. If I was a smart member of the cabin crew I would have chosen a particularly good looking seat occupant to use their seat number just to find a Doctor. Then I would have grabbed the Doctor and sent them over to the ugly sweaty bloke having a loud heart attack in the corner.
As it happened I couldn't quite see the poorly occupant of seat 55c. I imagine he or she was focussing on dying / throwing up / fainting and a bit pissed off about all the people suddenly turning around and staring at them. I left them to it and settled back into my seat.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. I read some masculine literature, not even porn. I bought a particularly testosterone filled book at the airport, all about some kind of super hero called Jack Reacher. This book, evidently one of a series, probably won't be up for a Man Booker prize, but really should be up for a Man prize. Our hero, a fellow called Jack Reacher is about fifteen times as hard as James Bond, Indiana Jones and that Bourne fellow put together. On top of that he's got the intelligence of a Nobel prize winning scientist and the woman pulling abilities of Joey from Friends.
I suppose it's fair to say I see something of myself in him, but I don't want to brag. Anyway, the book's crap but more addictive than nicotine, betel and a few string hoppers all mixed together.
The plane landed, I strolled out into the Singapore heat and will tell you more later....
I'm off for a while. No big drama though, I'm just mooching to Singapore for a week or so. There'll be no deleting of my blog or anything like that.
By the time you're reading this I'll be firmly ensconced on a nice Singapore Airlines A380, my new favourite plane. My inflatable pillow will be operating at its limits and my iPod will be repeatedly blasting out the songs that I need to learn.
Drumming magazines will be read, the Samurai book will be devoured with the hunger and eagerness of an out of work Japanese actor about to audition for a remake of the Water Margin and I'll be as relaxed as a fellow after a night out with Java, something I know a little bit about.
As I right this, at 8.40 on Thursday morning, I'm faced with a burning issue. I know that I'll be leaving London when it will be cold, maybe snowing, and the question of what to wear on the plane looms large. I know that it will be my slim jeans (not skinny, just slim) in "half wash blue". They do have a slight tendency to slide down my arse a bit but the old Rhythmic bum looks good in them as long as I keep them pulled up.
The chocolate brown Converse (s) cut offs will accompany but I've yet to decide on the socks and pants. You know me, I like to live dangerously.
On the pants front I was disappointed the other day, as I pulled out one of my many pairs of Odel pants from the drawer, to see one of those gaping rips across the seat. Fortunately this wasn't one of the brightly coloured and prettily patterned pairs, just one of the stripey ones, but the frown on my face was deep as I contemplated whether I had done one too many stealth farts.
I know that I'll be wearing a particular scarf, the orange and brown striped one. Isn't it funny how the world today is about the size of a whole country from thirty years ago?
I'll be flying from London to Singapore, something I've done many times recently. I'll finish work on Friday, dash off and change and shower, then go. I'll be wearing pants and a scarf that I bought in Odel only a few months ago. Cool.
The big issue is my choice of shirt and or jumper. Do I wear just a shirt knowing that it will be warm enough on the plane? Or should I wear a T shirt with a jumper, giving me a mixture of warmth with the ability to take the jumper off as I near the equator? The downside of that is the whole carrying around the jumper thing.
I don't know, but I do think I'll have figured it out by the time you read this.
I might do a post or two while I'm away, I might not. Sometimes these breaks are good to fill the mind with inspiration and observations, especially if one detaches from the very thought of observing and just enjoys the moment.
One of the little chunks of wisdom I read in my Samurai book the other day is that life is just a load of moments strung together and happiness can come from focusing on enjoying each moment as it happens, without thinking about what's next. Well, as soon as I figure out the shirt and jumper thing I might just do that.
Well I think the time has come. Although I love his blog and his writing Unbound Urchin, or at least the link to his blog from here, is going to have to go.
It's now five months since his last post and, even though one of the latest entries tells us that he's busy with Uni things, I think it may well class as a dead blog. I hope Mr Urchin is keeping well and will welcome him back with open arms to our little family of links when the time comes.
Of course, in the meantime that creates a vacancy for a new blog to step up to the challenge. At the moment, off the top of my head, there are no obvious candidates. I'd like to link to a blog that's fresh, that has a Sri Lankan element to it and that is interesting to read. I'd also like it to be a blog that I read regularly, or at least that I would read regularly. It seems that all my current regulars are listed here anyway.
At about 11 yesterday morning I got a phone call from K's school. The nice lady told me that K had been sick and was now in the medical room. She asked me to go and collect her to take her home.
As most parents would do I steamed off with the speed of a Sri Lankan bus driver on acid. I did the twenty minute journey in about, well roughly speaking, world record time and presented myself at the school reception area.
Now my experience of Sri Lankan schools is virtually non existent but I would guess that the security procedures involved in getting a child out of school early are very different in the UK compared to Lanka. Here people are worried about children being abducted (quite rightly) and all kinds of things, so there's signing of forms, pressing of buzzers and proving of identity to be done before you can grab your child.
They're the sort of procedures that all parents go through quite happily, knowing that they're for the safety of the children rather than just because some idiot in an office has had a bad day with his computer and decided to put a nice system in place somewhere just for the sake of it.
So I happily did the signing, proving and buzzering and the nice helpful lady made a phone call to someone somewhere who I assumed would accompany the prisoner to me. K is a robust and happy go lucky sort of kid, as you well know, and on the phone I had been told that she had been sick but now appeared to be fine, so I expected a beaming and slightly smug kid to arrive.
Remember that feeling, when you were a kid and managed to get a day off, with the knowledge that you were getting one over your parents and going to have a nice day? Well, nor do I, but I could see that was how K was feeling.
She bounded up to me.
"Hi Dad" she almost shouted, then remembered that she was ill and quietened the general demeanour a bit.
"Hi K, how are you feeling?" I said with genuine concern.
"Oh I'm fine, I got sick earlier but I'm fine now, just a bit of a tummy ache."
"Ok. Well where do you want me to take you? I can drop you at Archa's or take you home, it's up to you." I pretty much knew the answer.
"Would you be coming to Archa and Appa's or would it just be me with them all afternoon?"
"Well I'll drive you over there and check you're alright but I'll have to go back to work, then I'll drop you back home in the evening after I get back from work." I replied.
"Erm, in that case can you take me home, I'll be fine on my own."
"Of course I will."
We walked towards the door and I felt a little bit pleased that she wanted to be with me, a little bit annoyed that I had to go back to work and rather pleased that she was not very ill.
As we walked down her school corridor there were some yellow hazard cones around an area of the floor. K pointed to them and said to me.
"Dad, see those cones there?"
I looked at them, they were hard to miss. Only an ambulance chasing parasite could have not spotted them.
"Well they're marking off the area where I got sick, just there."
"Oh cool." I said.
"You mean you actually got sick on the floor?"
"Yes, I was running to the toilet from my maths lesson but didn't make it." She replied, with a definite sense of pride in her voice.
"Nice one K." Said I, glowing with that fatherly pride.
I dropped her home, saw that she was settled with drinks, TV remote and all the necessaries, I texted her mother to let her know what had happened, then drove back to work.
I checked on her regularly by phone and she was fine. The last field report from her informed me that she was on the settee and had watched two films on the pay per view cable thing.
A nice afternoon at home, some films and some girl time!
Oftentimes I find myself comparing life here in London with life there in Colombo, or at least the bits I know about each side. The musical elements of each city are specific qualities I compare frequently what with music being such a big part of my life.
I'm not talking about classical music at all. Sri Lanka is rich with her traditional music and drumming in particular is such a big part of the musical backdrop that I can only compartmentalise it as one of the fundamental differences between the countries. Comparisons would be fruitless, useless and pointless.
No, I'm referring here to good old fashioned rock 'n' roll. Well, not strictly rock 'n' roll but just modern music, the whole band and rock thing, the popular beat combos as Java would call them.
In Sri Lanka and in England I've seen fantastic bands and I've seen totally crap ones, along with pretty much everything in between. But, the main difference is the sheer number of people who play music.
Here there are rehearsal studios all over the show. You can pop into any one of these studios any night of the week and listen to a cacophany of muffled rehearsal sounds wending their way through the not insulated enough walls.
My impression, and correct me if I'm wrong as I'd genuinely like to know, is that in Lanka there are fewer bands, fewer studios, less venues, smaller audiences and of course, smaller people. And frankly, I prefer being involved in the British music scene.
Now don't get me wrong. I prefer the Sri Lankan weather, the Sri Lankan food, the cost of living, Sri Lankan sarongs and many other things. I love that I've been allowed to play a song or two in Barefoot and the Library over the years and that I can genuinaly class some of Sri Lanka's best musicians as friends.
It's the opportunity and spread of music here that I adore and continually feel grateful for. Colombo has a smallish pond of pop / rock musicians, a mix for sure. The talent and variety is there but it's a small pond. London has a vast ocean of the same. The total mix of quality and the huge quantity mean that the opportunities for a strictly amateur but totally passionate average drummer like me can fly at me and hit me when I'm not ready or looking. Which is nice.
And there I was, happily playing a gig with the covers band some time back when the idea of a splinter band came up. There's this girl singer / guitarist you see, well not so much a girl but a woman. She liked my drumming, though I'm used to the whole thing when they use that as a devious way to get me into bed (I wish), there's a great bassist who's keen and the guitarist from the covers band is up for it too.
We had a meeting last week and a chat about what we would each like to do, in terms of gigging, choice of songs and rehearsals. It was quite informal and we've all got the same attitude of giving things a go and seeing how it turns out.
I'm particularly excited at the prospect of playing behind a decent female lead singer and this one of far more of a "rock chick" type than the previous one in Mimosa. She's got that Alanis edgy thing to her which could be fun and also might be scary if she suddenly decides to hate every single man in the world. I don't reckon the last bit will happen though. She also wears a leather jacket, essential for the genuine rock chick image. She's totally passionate about music too.
We decided on five songs to learn and try out at our first band practice, which is scheduled for a couple of weeks' time. They're all quite melodic but with a grooving feel too.
That I can get plateloads of pleasure from both Sri Lankan and British cuisine. I must confess to considerable pride in the title of this post actually. It just came to me and I think it's got that rather poetic ring to it, like receiving a phone call from William Wordsworth, William Shatner, Theena or one of those other bards.
I like food and I'm quite the food whore. The only things I shy away from are snails and anything else I don't like. All else is fair game to me. Except fish of course, but that's understandable. My favourite food, without a doubt, would definitely be rice and curry. I'm not sure what exact dishes but a generic description of "rice and curry" should cover it.
On the other side of the world I also love lots of British food. To some the term "British food" is an oxymoron. To me it's a wonderful world of cuisine, some I like and some I'm not so enthusiastic about.
English breakfast, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, roast beef with Yorkshire pud, pie and mash, bubble and squeak, they're all delicious and just the thought of them makes my mouth water.
But you know the one meal that I don't think I could live without?
Sausages, mash and baked beans.
Actually, in all honesty I could live without the mash and beans but not the sausages. Whenever I'm away from England for too long it's sausages that I start to miss. Good proper English sausages, none of your European "Frankfurter" types stuffed full of meat and with that texture that makes them all bouncy and bendy. No I mean proper English ones made with pork and pepper, bread and bollocks and eyes and things.
I avoid Sri Lankan sausages like I avoid salad. I know the reasons for their popularity in Sri Lanka but frankly, if God had meant us to eat chicken sausages then he wouldn't have given us KFC or chicken curry, would he now?
The Great British sausage has got a skin and should be cooked so that the skin gets crispy. It shouldn't be pierced before cooking, too many amateurs make that mistake and end up with some sort of health sausage with no juices. In my worldwide investigations I've found that most countries have a sausage or two of their own. The Spanish have got their chorizos, the Italians have their salamis and the Germans have their wursts. They're all quite nice but they're not the same as the good old English banger.
The meal of sausages, mash and beans is one of contrasting textures and warming taste sensations. The meatiness of the sausage finds its perfect partner in mashed potato, not just any mashed potato either. It has to be smooth and creamy with lots of butter and each bit of sausage must be coated with mash as it's raised to the mouth.
I can't claim to be a baked bean snob, I don't reckon I could taste the difference between Heinz beans and other inferior ones if I was blindfolded, though, were I blindfolded, I could think of many far more exciting things to do than eat baked beans. Of course I only buy Heinz baked beans though, which probably makes me some sort of hypocrite, or a has bean.
The beans provide a third texture to the already interesting mix. We have the crumbliness of the sausage meat, the smoothness of the mash and then the sauciness, slight firmness and interesting shape of the baked beans. Different folks add different sauces to the mix. As a tribute to my heritage and background I usually go for chilli sauce but, even in the house of RD, there may be found a plate of sausages, beans and mash with nothing more spicy than a dollop of tomato ketchup or brown sauce on the side.
Each mouthful is a little symphony, all the elements blend and make for a gastronomic synergy that is simply delicious.
Next time I'll tell you about the joys of a great Cornish pasty. Mmmmmm....
The Sri Lankan in me is good with and used to condiments. No meal is complete unless it's accompanied by something that tastes of chilli and rarely is a meal classed as finished until I've poked a bit of wood between every gap I can find in my teeth and made a lot of sucking noises.
Tomato sauce, brown sauce, mild mustard and the like all have their uses. But, if it doesn't have that kick to it then it won't be a staple of my diet. And mustard is a a recognised supplier of that kick that we all crave. Not your mild mannered French variety, nor the mild mannered French's variety, I mean good old English mustard, the bright yellow stuff that makes so many good things taste even better.
Yet it's an enigma for me too. I love its taste and you'll find me adding it to any number of bland but good meats. Roast beef, ham, sausages and even scotch eggs all taste so much more special with a dollop of the bright yellow. But I can never, even now at my ripe old age, gauge the correct amount to add to a dish. This isn't such an issue when there's a pile of it on the side of a plate and I can add to each mouthful as I go. Ongoing fine tuning can be done and things usually turn out quite nice.
No, it's sandwich making that foxes me. I'm sure it's a scene you're familiar with and a conundrum that you've had to deal with many a time too. There we all are, making a nice meat sandwich, it can be any type of meat or perhaps a fish based one if you're that way inclined. Then, when we get to the adding English mustard part of the assembly process, the spoon of mustard gets applied.
If too little mustard is used there may as well be no mustard at all. It just adds a vague mustardey aroma and the mildest of tastes, useless really. But the line at which the correct dose is measured is a thin one, hard to find and therefore usually marched straight over. That's when the problems can arise. As we bite into the sandwich the mustard just goes up the nasal passage and hits the back of the throat, that bottom of the nose area, the part where bogeys land when you sniff really hard.
It's a tear inducing feeling, as if you might gag or not make it through to the other side. Every time it happens I feel sympathy for chaps who have been affected by mustard gas, though I'm unsure if it's the same sort of mustard or even if it's made by Colemans. Perhaps the English mustard gas is much stronger than other nations' attempts and the American version tastes exactly like the cheese gas that they also do. I know not and can only speculate.
Either way, the mystery of using just enough Emglish mustard remains one of life's eternal quandaries.
On the radio the other I heard a newsy piece saying that Obama was considering moving his, and I have to breathe deeply before I say it, Mother in Law into the White House.
I was one of the millions who had such high hopes, such feelings of optimism and excitement, but this has made me reconsider. My experience of mothers and mothers in law is quite vast, though I'm pleased to say none of the mothers in law have been vast.
And I mean no disrespect to the average mother in law. My last one was quite nice, in that scary way.
Can you imagine it? The President of the free world and all that, arguing with his Mother in Law over Cuba or whether he should invade Australia or another place that can't run itself?
Or getting in trouble with the old bird because he forgot to tell her that he wasn't going to be in for dinner that night.
The White House will suddenly become one of those places where you have to take your shoes off at the front door.
It's a recipe for disaster. Don't do it Mr Obama, we warned you.
Well, I was woken by a strange dream, that and an alarm clock.
I'll be up and about in a minute to go and collect A and take her to her drum lesson. Our routine is nice now. We stop at a local Starbucks on the way, I grab my Latte Grande, then we drive the minute's journey to the drum teacher's place. A goes in and I sit and wait in the car.
Today my choice of reading material will be the latest trashy novel that I'm devouring. It's another book that's written for what one could describe as a slightly less masculine reader than myself. It's all about glamorous women, money, sex and designer labels.
I've got two new CDs to listen to in the car too. They couldn't be more different and are both a bit fantastic. The first is by Pendulum, a drum 'n' bassish outfit. The more I listen to it the more I'm drawn in to it. The drumming is by a guy called Paul Kodish. His playing is as sharp as a needle, really on it. I think this CD will be a new regular listen for me.
The second is the Rev Al Green's newest. The music is played and produced mostly by the guys fron the Roots. Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson is one of the funkiest drumming cats around and this record, with Rev Green's voice behind him, is the perfect vehicle for his tasteful and grooving drumming.
One can take negative or positive views about things that happen in life. I try to do the latter, finding that I feel happier that way. It's a cunning plan I know, but it usually works.
Not living with my kids means that I now treasure and cherish all the time I do get with them. Each telephone call, each little interaction and every moment take the form of segments of time that I wring smiles and laughs out of.
And there we were last night. At the 'rents' place, but the 'rents are still at Fidel's place so it was just the three of us. A, the 14 yr old, was on the 'rents' desktop doing revision for a maths exam, or math exam to you lot in the US. K, the 12 yr old, was sitting at the dining table and was on her laptop doing homework, a project on Sri Lanka which pleased me immensely.
Isn't it so last season when people talk about someone being "12 but going on 21" now? Every time I hear one of these statements it's made by a proud parent trying to put across the impression that their precocious teenager is precisely that, precocious. Well, in the case of K, as you're aware if you read here, she's 12 going on some kind of force to be reckoned with.
I digress though. I was sitting in the comfortable armchair reading my current beau. It's called "The Art of The Samurai" and is probably the most beautifully tactile book I've ever come across. I remember when I read Java's great post about sex with "unusual" partners. I chuckled heartily at the tales of chaps fornicating with bikes and traffic cones. Not the same chap I hasten to add, that would be perverse. I laughed with the rest of you at the bit about the guy caught making love to an underpass, wondering whether there was a good back passage joke in there somewhere.
Now I'm reading this book and have just a bit more empathy with these fellows than I did before. There's something about it that might just get me arrested. I find myself stroking the pages to feel the rather sexy texture of the paper, I often sniff and inhale the aroma of the print and paper and gaze at the quite lovely pictures with a faraway look in my eye. I think a whole separate post about the book, maybe with some photographs, will be out soon.
The music was interesting. My life, and the lives of the girls, are full of music. Every car we travel in, whenever we have the option, has music blaring out. A room with one of us in it and no music present is a rarity. Or a library. Life, in the minds of RD and the junior Diasporas definitely feels better to music. It's the same in the minds of the senior Diasporas too I'm pleased to report.
As we did our respective things each of us were in our own world but we were in the same world too, kind of like a venn diagram, it was nice. I rose above the scene and observed it for a minute. A was happy. She had her iPod on and was working, humming to herself and moving around a bit. K was working and had something music playing through her iTunes on the laptop. It was the Ting Tings, I was good with that. After a bit K and I opted for some Smashing Pumpkins as part of our joint drive to learn more about Mr Corgan's outfit. We changed the format, from K's laptop to her Grandfather's Bose iPod dock, and proceeded in the direction of contentment.
K was asking random questions about Sri Lanka and her project and I was only too happy to try to help. About a week ago she had asked me about famous Sri Lankan photographers and I had named that Sansoni chap and the Posingis fellow as examples of the breed. K had spent time with Mr Sansoni when we were in Lanka last so was quite pleased about that.
She shouted something about him, about his photographs of Sri Lanka beign very nice. I agreed, then felt that shiver of nerves and jitteriness that K is so good at making a parent feel. My mind worked quickly and it must have taken me a mere fifteen or twenty seconds to wonder what she was looking at onscreen to make a judgement about Dom's pictures. With the speed it takes a container ship packed full of elephants to turn full circle I stood up and peered casually at K's laptop screen.
My hunch was right. She was sitting there happily looking at Dom's blog, peering with admiration at his photographs, specifically the Sri Lankan ones. And, about 3 inches away from her cursor on screen were the links to other blogs, one of which said "London, Lanka and drums".
My blog gets a few hits these days and that means I have a few readers. However, there are some people who I hope never come across it for differing reasons. Then there are other people who I know will certainly come across it at some point and will probably read it with some interest and cross examine me about things. The girls fall into the second group, but I didn't expect that "some point" in time to be last night. I was unprepared and, just to stress how bad it was, I was unprepared too.
K is the inquisitve sort. She approaches life with wide eyed enthusiasm and a brain like a sponge. I knew that she was only a mouse click away from Kottu or from her Dad's previously unheard of blog. I knew that she might have read the words "London, Lanka and drums" and thought that they look like the kind of thing I'd be interested in. Then in seconds she would have been reading about things that the blogger's daughters did, who are referred to as "A" and "K". You can understand the fear I felt, there would have been some explaining, perhaps a certain amount of deleting of posts and the like.
She asked me more questions about Mr S and his photography, I tried to steer her away from peering at the screen and I felt like a hero in a film, hiding behind a curtain as the enemy searched the room for him. Only I was unsure who was the hero and who was the villain.
Finally, after what felt like days but I know, through a combination of age, wisdom, instinct and my watch, was in fact just about a minute, K navigated away from the page of fear. She was back peering at youtube or something less potentially dangerous.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
It was short and temporary. It's only a matter of time until my sordid blogger's life gets found out.
So many people rave about them, but they just taste like average hot dogs, with that peculiar bright yellow looking sauce and a sausage that looks and tastes as if it's got less meat content than the average string hopper.
Some of the newer models look better but, by and large, they're old man's cars to me. Good, but not my thang.
They've written a handful of good songs, then rewritten them and remixed them, given them new names and made millions in the process. Good luck to them with their sad and melancholy sounding nuggets of musical mayhem.
4. I Just Called To Say I love You
And Lady In Red and Wonderful Tonight.
They may be packed to the rafters with meaningful and romantic lyrics. But they're crap songs. If I ever become President or Prime Minister of a country the first thing I'll do is to ban these from being played. Ever.
Well I think I do get her, but had to mention the subject. I was watching an episode of Friends the other night. It was the one in which Joey's Dad stays with him for a few days, there's an ongoing battle between the six of them to try to see each other naked and Chandler double dates with Joey but his date turns out to be Janice, who he's dumped twice in the last three months.
Janice has got to be one of the best supporting / cameo roles ever hasn't she? She's the acting equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard with the addictiveness of nicotine thrown in to get us hooked.
New York is the clear number one on my list of places to see that I haven't yet. This evocative and striking image by Naren is the pure NY. Even though I've never been there I can smell the atmosphere and taste the Big Apple. I'm no expert but it would seem that Naren has done a bit of post processing here, adding some colour and fiddling with things a bit. Whatever he has done is just enough to add the right things to the picture.
If you look really closely you'll see Joey from Friends crossing the road too.
We've covered the important topic of how to do a stealth fart in some detail. I think, in my modest way, that the post was useful, particularly to my younger readers who are starting out in their young adult lives and looking for useful information and pearls of wisdom.
The ability to do a competent stealth poo is crucial for a person to be able to impress others in social situations. Obviously these aren't situations where you're out with good friends, the sort who will hold you down and fart on your head. We're talking about situations with older people, maybe prospective in laws or the lie, around.
You might be scratching your head and puzzling over what exactly a stealth poo is right now, if you're a woman that is. If you're a man you'll be scratching your balls and puzzling of course. For the benefit of the uninformed I'll explain.
A stealth poo is one of the big ones that catches you short. It almost always happens when you're being entertained at someone else's house, though can also happen when you are the host, and you realise that there is a big log that needs to be released. You know that the dam of your arse won't be able to hold the waters of the log in until you've got home or your guests have left. You are faced with the propect of pooing in the, or one of the house toilets.
In a big sprawling Colombo 7 house this is one thing. You can go off to one of the many bathrooms and no one will notice your absence, hear the pooing or smell the odour. However, an average London house or a more middle class Sri Lankan one will potentially cause embarrassment, both for the pooer and the others.
In one of these small house everyone hears everything. The people in the sitting room will hear the farting from the bathroom, so obviously some stealth farting can be handy. But, they'll also hear the straining and crucially they'll hear the poo splash as it hits the water. Occasionally a chap will push out one of those extra long logs, the type that will hit the water before it breaks off, then slide gently and silently into the water like a snake in the undergrowth. It really is a beautiful and special thing, but rare and unpredictable.
A stealth poo is needed here and I feel it's only fair that I credit music biz bro for this idea, though he exists in blissful ignorance of the fact that I even have a blog, let alone that he's being written about even as I write.
The principle behind stealth pooing is to avoid the splash. Odour can't be helped, unless you decide to eat bland food for the twenty four hours before social intercourse, hardly practical for us lot who can't eat anything unless it's been fried in onions, garlic, curry leaves and chilli powder before the ingredients are added.
Music biz bro, the practical tinkerer in my family, came up with this clever idea when we were kids. It still works and I'm sure he still uses it, as should everyone.
What you do is to "line" the toilet with toilet paper before commencing excavations. About three or four sheets of paper, folded neatly and dropped gently into the pan usually does the trick. Any more than that will help with the silencing but vastly increase the likelihood of a two flush job, always awkward when out and about.
The paper acts as a cushion and the log, or logs, even small ones, always hit it gently then slide into the water with that snake like action, making less noise than a Sri Lankan Aiya sitting in the business class section of a flight because her employers have paid for her to look after the kids.
It's that simple.
A word of warning. In the event of a multi log poo there is a danger of the logs piling up on top of the paper, on rare occasions the backlog can go right up to your arse. Ensure that this doesn't happen by frequent visual checks on the work in progress. If it looks as if the poo is stacking up on the bed of paper then poke it down with something. You will usually find a toothbrush or hairbrush in your host's bathroom and these are ideal for this and will save your arm from getting wet or dirty.
This was a public service post from London, Lanka and drums.
I'm more pleased with my moving tag cloud than a bloke of my age should be really. It's now a pleasing shade of blue, or 6131BB as I like to call it and I think I've got the size about right.
Many have asked how to do it and I've seriously contemplated writing a post in which I pretend I did it myself, giving technical details and what nots. The plan went the way of many of my plans, mostly because I wouldn't fooled a single one of you techno machans.
The truth is that I stumbled upon it here. It's a blog by a very helpful woman call Amanda and I followed her instructions to end up with the marvel of magical movement that is my tag cloud. Somewhere in her blog there's the first cloud that I did, which had the issue of not appearing sometimes, or perhaps appearing sometimes, depending on whether you're a glass half full or half empty type of person. The newer version that I have linked to works perfectly and the instructions are so simple that even a total techno fuckwit I could follow them easily.
Thanks and kudos to Amanda at www.bloggerbuster.com/ for the cloud. I've favourited her site and reckon there's lots of perusing I'll be doing in the very near future.
As the girls get older it's becoming clear that just being stylish, good looking and playing the drums in a band isn't enough for me to be classed as a cool Dad. No, it's becoming clear that the only way to be a cool Dad is to be the father of other children, not in that way either.
What I mean is that so and so, a friend of A, might have a cool Dad, but the friend concerned won't think so. Or, one's own children will never think that their Dad, or Mum for that matter, is cool.
Indyana's recent post reminded me of this. I'm in a similar Facebook situation. K rather begrudgingly accepted my friend request, then embarked on a spree of scorn and criticism. A has flatly refused to be a friend, even though Academic Bro (her Uncle) and just about every other relative you can think of are all friends with her. Academic remarked to me last week that "I see A is planning to dye her hair green" and I had to sheepishly admit that I didn't know this as she isn't a friend.
But Indyana's post reassured me, in a very scarce "two wrongs DO make a right" sense. Phew, I thought once I'd read it, all kids turn their noses up at parents, it's not just my kids.
Last Saturday I was driving with K in the direction of Kingston, our local fairly large shopping town. We were going to meet A there and the girls, handbags stuffed to the brim with pocket and spending money, were going to go off and buy things while I mooched in a mooching father sort of way.
K's knowledge of music is vast and mature, in a way that a chap like Theena would probably smile approvingly at. It's both unnerving and freaky when you see things in your kids that remind you of yourself at that age, this is one such example.
"Do you like the Smashing Pumpkins Dad?" She asked, out of nowhere.
"Well I'm a bit unsure about them to be honest" said I.
"I've only got one or two of their albums and I've never really listened to them properly but I seem to like a few of their songs a lot, then not really like the others much. There's a song called Today that I love, all about positivity and things." I continued.
"That's funny, they've also got a song called Tonight, haven't they?" She said. This is the kind of smartness she possesses.
"Yes they have, that's true. " I said, ponderingly.
I then told K about Jimmy Chamberlain, the Smashing Pumpkins' drummer. I told her about his battles with drugs, him being fired from the band but then reinstated after a few years because of how integral he was to the sound, as well as the fact he'd cleaned himself up. I told her that he was a really brilliant drummer and that, for that reason alone, I should listen more to the band.
She listened to each and every word with interest and keenness. I knew that she was listening, not just hearing me. It was one of those bonding moments that I actually have quite a lot of with K, but are less with A since the divorce.
A few minutes later we were in Kingston. I asked K what she was intending to buy. She answered and then asked me the same question. I told her, almost without nerves, that I was going to have another look at a leather jacket that I had seen before and that I might buy it. My nerves were justified, though K could probably smell the fear and only pounced because of the smell.
"Uuuuurgh you can't buy a leather jacket."
"Because you're too old."
"What do you mean I'm too old?"
"Because you can't wear a leather jacket at your age Dad. Anyway how old are you? You're about forty five or something now aren't you? That's way too old for a leather jacket."
"No actually, I'm not 'about forty five' I'm forty two." And I said it in that mocking sarcastic tone, the one that the two girls usually use towards me.
"No, I reckon you're about forty four or forty five, wait what was it Mum said?"
I was getting a bit annoyed. It was like quibbling about the cost of an expensive meal. It wouldn't matter that much anyway, it would still be expensive whatever the end result.
"No, I'm forty two, honestly." She looked like she was starting to believe me. I won the battle.
"It doesn't matter, that's still too old to wear a leather jacket."
"So how come Appa can wear one then?" I asked.
"He's cool, that's ok." She threw, casually and quickly, in my direction.
"It's fine if you don't care about my opinion, just go ahead and buy it if you want, but I'm telling you you're too old."
"Well K, I listen to your opinion but I don't have to do what you say all the time, do I?"
She considered this for around three nanoseconds.
"No of course not Dad, you do what you want to do."
I waited, knowing that there'll be more to come. I was right.
"But you can forget about all this bonding stuff we've been doing."
The girls went off in one direction, we'd arranged to meet up in an hour or two. There was an awkward bit when we found that we were all walking along together, even though we had parted. They solved this by ducking into a shop that they weren't in the least bit interested in just to get rid of me.
I marched to the leather jacket shop. I tried on the jacket. For some reason it didn't look as good nor feel as comfortable as it had the last time I tried it on. I left it.
K won the war.
But I know that it was entirely my decision not to buy the jacket.
Band practices are one of those enigmatic experiences that only chaps in bands can really understand. Even if you sit in on a band practice, perhaps as a friend of one of the band or even a wife or something, you'll get an idea but won't see the full picture.
Seeing, understanding and appreciating the full picture requires the full knowledge and information. You need to know what happened last week, which might just explain why there's a but of tension between the drummer and the guitarist this week. You need to understand that the singer always forgets when to come in on that song, which is why people are a bit impatient this week.
Probably more importantly you need to understand that there is always tension between drummers and guitarists and singers always forget when to come in, then look around at the rest of the band with their "which one of you lot came in at the wrong time?" look. Such are the laws of music and band practices.
One of the other laws is about how the first half hour or so of any practice is meant to pan out. Every single band I've been in has followed roughly the same routine. Just ask Confab or any one of those muso types and I bet they'll vouch for me on this. I'm sure things are different if you're a member of Oasis or the Stones but we're talking about street level bands here.
Now most bands operate a Sri Lankan approach to punctuality. A 7PM start means that the members will arrive anytime between about 6.30 and 8.00, that is if I'm in the band. In other bands it the range will be from about 7.30 to 8.30.
There's usually a jovial atmosphere of setting up, mutual carrying in of things, setting up and tuning. It's a cacophany of noise but one that is enjoyable to be a part of. In a covers band there's usually talk about doing new songs, have you heard their new single, what do you think of doing that Kings Of Leon's song and that kind of banter.
In the case of my covers band, which is full of captains of the creative industry, as well as me, conversation often revolves around the lastest scandal in the world of media and advertising, who's about to be fired, hired or arrested. DD would love to be a fly on the wall for sure.
Last week the conversation began with a detailed run down of C's latest luxury holiday. C is a singer and many of our practices begin with a precis of someone's holiday. This time Egypt was C's choice of venue, the details about it are not important unless you're Egyptian or a tour operator. Or both.
C told us descriptive and interesting tales of the holiday. He finished with the sentence
"do you know I think it was probably the best holiday I've ever had, well nearly. I think Sri Lanka was the best place I've been to."
Class, I thought. We have discussed Lanka many times. It's a five piece band and four (including me) have been to Sri Lanka, unusual for a band, but an anomaly I like.
Conversation shifted seamlessly to Mother Lanka, aided not insignificantly by me asking C what he liked so much about Serendip. I'm devious like that.
Something about the conversation felt very weird. All of a sudden there were three egos in the room, all fighting to demonstrate who had the greatest knowledge about Sri Lanka. And inexplicably, one of the egos was mine.
C started to talk about Sigiriya. It's an amusing story that I've heard before, how he climbed it but got scared when he got to the Lion's paw bit, so waited there while his wife trotted up happily, then came back down and told him how great it was. After he'd finished I pointed out that both of my kids have climbed it several times and weren't scared of the height or overcome by vertigo, probably the same thing I know. I thought it was kind of ironic that one of the songs we do is Vertigo too.
You probably aren't aware of the way these English blokes, most likely other Suddas too, talk about things in foreign countries. I get to hear it from both sides of the chasm. On the one there's RD the Sri Lankan who writes a blog that's read by a few in Sri Lanka and all. On the other there's Rhythmic, the drummer in the covers band, who has a West London accent that's more cockney sounding than the distinctly middle class public school accents owned by the others in the band.
My identity compass, the one that has worked so well in my later years and points firmly in the direction of both Sri Lankan and British and is totally comfortable pointing that way, went totally absofuckinglutely haywire. If it was a real compass rather than a metaphor, the needle would have been spinning wildly and not knowing which way to point. Fortunately it is only a metaphorical one so I just got a bit confused. That confused look is hard to spot on the average drummer, it's normal for us.
It's the pronounciation that causes the issues you know. In my head I can pronounce Sigiriya perfectly. The emphasis is placed on each syllable exactly as it would be by a Sri Lankan and I can do that rolling of the R that you lot do so well. When a Sri Lankan says an R you form it by doing something with the tongue on the roof of your mouth and making the sound as if you're a Lion going "Grrrr", but without the G. Us pseudo cockney geezers make an R by using only the teeth and the lips, there's no tongue movement going on at all really, the story of my life, but I digress. It comes out as if it's an R with all the blood sucked out of it.
But when I actually try to say the word out aloud confusion reigns supreme. I say the syllables with the right emphases, I so nearly get it right, so nearly pass myself off as a fully qualified Sri Lankan. The only things missing are the ability to pronounce Rs with my tongue and a need for me to jump through hoops or bribe someone before I can visit any other country worth going to outside Sri Lanka. On balance it's probably quite a good deal to get a passport that allows me fairly free movement and that I have problems with Rs, but given a choice I'd quite like both.
So it was annoying when I would say the word "Sigiriya" and they wouldn't understand what I meant until one of the others said "Sigger reeya" to be greeted with nods of understanding all around. Fuck it I though, I'll just write a blog post about it at some point. I probably never will though.
Then the conversation moved on, to "that place with the reclining Buddha." None of them could remember the name and I knew I'd have to step up to the podium along with my dodgy accent. I let them try to remember for a while but had to interject when it became too painful.
"You mean Polonnaruwa?" I asked, with the now familiar to you good syllables and bad Rs.
B, the guitarist, and C looked at me. Then one of them said
"Yes that's it, Poloner roower"
for all the world as if I had got it totally wrong but had done just enough to remind him how to say it properly, a kind of the natives are alright but don't get too close to them sort of thing. I shook my head silently, Charlie Chaplin would have been impressed, and we decided to play a song or two. We started with Tempted.
It sounded fucking excellent.
Sometimes these Suddas can be good at things, particularly with a Sri Lankan drummer!
I managed to chuck the floating and moving cloudey feature into my blog, it's over there on the left.
It wasn't easy for me. Copying code, pasting and then backing up my original template in case it all went pear shaped might be second nature to the Cernos and Kalusuddas of the world but it's fearsome territory for me. Every step was accompanied by feelings of "shit what if I accidentally delete my whole blog?" and some stealth farts that were so good even I didn't I was doing them.
There were no major disasters. I guess those two words are pointless when used together, what would a minor disaster be when it's at home? But, the first attempt resulted in a label cloud that was so big and messy that it was more of dark and foreboding thundercloud than the light and frothy cumulonympho I had hope for. It wasn't the fault of the bits I had copied and pasted, it was because, since I started tagging my posts, I have been way too tag happy.
If there was a tag to be applied I chucked it in, as if they're going out of fashion. So my cloud, filled with every tag I had ever used, was just big jumble of text. It took me hours to find out how to delete some of my tags from the blog, then more hours to do it. Now I'll have to be a bit more sparing with labelling, no longer will I be the tag happy johnny I once was.
Still, there it is. I'm sure you've seen these things before. I like it lots and you may be one of the chaps who even has their own tag too.
I could have taken the easy route, writing this and linking to the hundreds of posts about Obama, that's in just the Sri Lankan blogosphere. But no, I'm not going to do that. You know about all those posts and you've probably read and commented on them already.
I'll take the harder option and talk about important things.
As I wove my way delicately through the Obama posts yesterday morning I bumped into this short beauty. No, not the writer, though she does have the reputation of being everyone's favourite Muslim Mama. I mean the post itself. It's a clip from Friends. I've seen it a million, maybe a billion, times before but it still made me laugh so much that a tiny bit of pee might have come out. Check it out, you'l know exactly what's about to happen every step of the way. You'll laugh too. I guarantee it.
Java, who seems to be posting infrequently these days, put up one of his compilation posts. It was called "Cricket Sledging Classics" and it's about cricket sledging classics. He can be so predictable sometimes! Check them out if you're bored or have a few spare minutes. Though I'm not a huge cricket fan I do know that sledging is part and parcel of the game and many of these had me in stitches.
My newest almost favourite blogger, young Noorie, had an encounter with a cockroach of some sort. If you're a cockroach reading this I would strongly suggest that you steer well clear of Noorie's place. It may look tempting what with all the cakes and desserts made there almost every day, but it's a trap and you won't get out alive. She's got feet the size of a Colombo suburb too. There's even a picture that proves it.
The Right Honourable Lord Cerno of Cernosville Towers published one of his fascinating posts. This one was about the possibility of the Czech Republic supplying anti aircraft systems to the Sri Lankan Government. It's a bit technical and I didn't understand most of it but the bits I did understand were full of juicy links and made for chin scratching reading.
Up North of the border, well north of the English border, everyone's favourite parasitologist regales us with part deux of her Greek adventures. The skies are blue and the sea looks rather lovely. The buildings all look a but old and ruined though. A bit of demolition and a McDonalds drive thru with a cinema complex here and there would make the place a lot better.
Dinidu kindly informed us that his "ass" is fully insured, complete with a picture to illustrate the point. Over in these parts of the world, where we speak English, not Microsoft, an "ass" is a donkey type creature, I think a cross between a donkey and a snake or something. So I think he's probably referring to his "arse". Well I heard on good authority that Dinidu was refused insurance on his arse because it had a crack in it, so I reckon he's lying. Just my little joke.
There's been some sleep, or lack of, related posts here and there as well. T, over the pond, tells us about a dream she had in which Java and Mr and Mrs Chaarmax made an appearance. I know little about Mr and Mrs Chaarmax but I am familiar with Mr Jones. I know that many young women dream about Java on a regular basis but must admit the thought scares me shitless.
Then, over in the heart of Colombo, Gutterflower has had a bout of insomnia, so bad that she couldn't sleep. She's also been creating a few poetic sounding posts, full of words, verses and things like that. I reckon it's love related.
Kalusudda's been quiet for a couple of weeks, but we know it's because he's been very busy with work and car crashes. I'm sure he'll be back soon before we can say "He'll be falling down the mountain as he comes."
But he hasn't been as quiet as Unbound Urchin, who hasn't posted for months. His last post said he was doing pre entry readings for his University course. I hope he's around and alright, but a nice little post or two from him would be enjoyed by quite a few of us.
Back here in the city that is London old DD has been continuing to amaze the non creatives among us with ideas, ads and stories that seem to add something different to the Sri Lankan blogosphere. I was looking at the top 5 list bit on Kottu and trying to figure out why DD gets such a large readership. Well I haven't got a clue, but I'm one of the regulars and have learned a lot from reading his bits and pieces. Perhaps that's the key to his popularity; we learn from him.
That's about it for now. I'll leave you with a little push towards the Godfather of the Sri Lankan blogosphere, Mr Indi, or Mr Ca really. His blog continues to be the one to look up to and his writing continues to make the reader think and laugh, though I reckon he's got slightly more than one reader. If you're one of the few who haven't read his slice of Sri Lanka then check it out.
I wish you a good weekend. I'm thinking of adding one of those label cloud things into LLD, they seem to be all the rage at the moment, just thought I'd tell you.
Dinidu asked a great question here, what will the election of Barrack Obama mean to Sri Lankans?
He wants to know how things will change in the Paradise Isle because of Obama's election, a valid and interesting question that can and probably will be debated for many hours. Ultimately it's only time that will give us the real answer, but we can have some fun until then speculating and attempting to prove each other wrong. This is my attempt.
One of the things Dinidu says in response to my comment, in which I ask who said Mr O's election would change things in Lanka, is that
"I haven’t seen people getting this excited over our local elections. Facebook status, chat status and everything."
His election is a signal of hope and optimism from the American people to the rest of the world. It's a sign that they, or the ones who voted for Obama, want change and they want it now.
It's fair to say that the direct impact of a new US President will hit the UK harder, quicker and bigger than it will hit Sri Lanka. Over here we live so much in the economic and cultural shadow of the US that it's obvious, even though they don't actually have culture there.
Frankly I don't think Obama will have much of a direct impact on Sri Lanka. He's not going to "invade" the island to sort things out nor is he likely to do that much in other ways to help achieve peace and stability there. My feeling is that no Sri Lankans are going to stroll around with the belief that Obama's going to change things on a local level in the island we all feel so passionately about.
But I think Dinidu and all others who ask the "what's in it for me?" question are missing the point. It's not about how he'll lower the price of bread in Sri Lanka or bring inflation down to two figures. That won't happen until the people that run Lanka PLC start to put the Company ahead of their own interests.
It's all about the feelgood factor. It's about hope and opportunity. I think that's what all the Facebook status lines (mine included) and the various blog posts are all about.
Obama's got it all to do now, winning the election was probably the easy bit. But it's such an indicator that if enough people want change then change can happen. It's such a message that hope can be found and optimism and good feelings can move and change things, that I'm content to drum my way through my days, weeks and months with the knowledge that good things will happen.
I don't know about you but I feel as if there are two groups I can belong to. I can be cynical, ask what's in it for me and think that things are crap, or I can feel positive and optimistic and really believe that good change will and can happen.
I've been lucky to have witnessed a few historic days and events in my years thus far. Some have been good, some bad and a few have passed by without me realising their magnitude until years later.
I recall, in the days even before Dinidu was a sperm his Dad's nether regions, the death of Elvis. It didn't mean much to me, he was just an old singer that people who were much older than me were keen on then. By "he" I mean Elvis, not Dinidu's Dad. I don't even know if he sings.
When I was about fourteen John Lennon was murdered and this time I was half interested. I was into music, just not "old" bands like the Beatles, though my knowledge was sufficient to know of their importance and impact on modern music.
A couple of years later I bumped into Pope John Paul the second in London, sort of. I was walking my Grandmother back to her flat in Victoria, we turned a corner and walked into a crowd of thousands, literally. We were outside Westminster cathedral and the Pope was inside giving a mass. As the half Muslim, half Christian, fully heavy metal loving kid that I was, I did the logical thing. Aforementioned Grandmother and I joined the throng and waited for the chap to make his appearance.
He appeared on a balcony, made some cross signs in the direction of the crowd, mumbled some words and then disappeared. I thought he might have played a couple of songs, perhaps an Alanis Morrisette number or two, but there was nothing, just some prayers. It was ironic, I think. After the wait of about an hour the Grandmother and I continued on our way. She, fully Christian though not Catholic, was quite chuffed to have seen the Pope. I knew it was big but didn't see what all the fuss was about. It wasn't like we were seeing God or something.
The death of Princess Diana is something I feel as if I really lived through too. Some people talk about where they were when Kennedy was killed. Here in the UK many talk about the Princess' death in the same tones. I was up really early that morning as one of the kids wouldn't sleep. I can vividly recollect how I saw it on the TV news, probably about five or six in the morning and how I felt that it must have been a dream or something. Then, when it became apparent that it was reality and big news, I rang a couple of people to tell them. Even as I type this it feels strange to think about.
I've never been a great Royal Family fan. To be a Royalist over here means something entirely different compared to Sri Lanka. Over there you go to the match once a year, maybe a dance or two and you beat up Thomians at every opportunity. Over here, being a Royalist means you buy lots of different mugs with pictures of the Queen and her family on them and you spend Sunday afternoons looking round palaces and slagging off Australians who want their own monarch.
I'm against the idea of the Aussies having their own monarch. Shane Warne as a King doesn't float my boat, though Queen Kylie has a ring to it. I bet she'd look good at the coronation too.
But yesterday I felt as if I was living through and witnessing a little chunk of positive and life changing history.
I know little about politics and I'm aware of that, which gives me a slight advantage over a person who knows little about politics and isn't aware of it. But that's like comparing a one legged fellow's chances against a two legged bloke's chances when they're both running, or hopping, against Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren.
I do know that the enthusiasm and feelings of elation about Mr President Obama were felt around the world. I spoke to people in Australia and in Singapore, in Sri Lanka and in the UK and all felt optimistic, all were buzzing and excited and caught up in the euphoria.
The blogosphere was positively infected with posts about Obama, not really saying much, just posts that more or less said "Whoopee, he won." They were the blogging equivalent of cheering and clapping, of putting two fingers in your mouth and doing that loud whistle thing that some people can do.
There's something reassuring about his election. It's a sign that the world, or the American one, wants change. It's the signal that they want to move forward and not live in the past. It might just be the biggest big thing that's happened in the world for quite a while.
Unless that supervolcano thing in Yellowstone goes off before this gets published. That would be a bummer wouldn't it?
Assuming it doesn't go off, this Obama being President business.
The 'rents have gone off on a holiday to Cuba, or Coooobah as my Mum insists on calling it. And it's all a bit weird and slightly freaky.
At the ripe old age of forty two I find myself excited and chuffed at being on my own in the house. I remember when they went away a few times when I lived there and was about sixteen or so. It feels the same. This concerns me.
Before the grand departure my Mum insisted an attempting to give me more instructions than you get in the average Bible. Frankly it took all my brainpower and effort to ignore them. There were so many different things that she felt necessary to tell me, so many rules, regulations and procedures that, at one point, I felt as if something might go into my head and get memorised.
Last night, as I tried to suss out what the exact procedure is for leaving rubbish outside, I was reassured to find out nothing had sunk in, not even the bit about what to do with the food in the special food bin. It made me feel good, like one of those fellows who has been thrown back into his home town after being away for twenty years and is relieved to find out he still knows his way around.
The departure, on Saturday morning at 7.30 AM was interesting. I had decided to do the honourable thing and woke up early, showered, changed and even did my hair product to see them off properly. I could hear, as I changed, that the olds were up already. My Dad had probably been up for several hours as he's quite paranoid about lateness, a quality that I've inherited and I'm not entirely at ease with.
I did the dutiful son thing quite well. I carried their suitcases down, sat around and said things when required. I also had to do a lot of last minute ignoring and that's not easy.
They had booked the holiday through one of these companies and the cab was due at 7.30 to pick them up. But, in a bit of logical thinking and quirky organisation that I have only ever seen in Sri Lanka before, they had been instructed to call the cab office if the vehicle wasn't with them by 7.20.
When I first heard this I was confused. Not in an outright and obvious sense, like when K is trying to explain something about My Chemical Romance to me and I get lost in scientific detail. No, more like when I get up from a chair and stretch something and think I might have farted. I had that puzzled feeling but couldn't quite figure out exactly why.
Then, as I was attempting to narrate the tale of their departure to Academic Bro, I realised where the plan went wrong. It was like a time trap, a vicious time circle, two time flavoured mirrors pointing directly at each other.
If a car is due at a place at 7.30 then it's due at 7.30, in normal countries that is, obviously not in Sri Lanka. So, if the instruction is to call at 7.20 if the car isn't there, then actually it's due at 7.20. But then, if the car is actually due at 7.20, surely the call should be made at 7.10. And on it goes, out of control. What is the point of panicking before there's a problem? Isn't it like wearing a belt and braces but then not wearing trousers just in case the belt and braces don't work?
On the other hand it's probably good for these elderly people to feel reassured and calm about things.
So, at 7.19 and 58 seconds my Dad was on the phone to the cab company. The conversation was predictably comedic, particularly when the chap on the other end of the line asked my Dad where he was. His answer couldn't be faulted for accuracy or reliability, though I have the feeling that it didn't give the chap the full information he needed.
"I'm here, at home."
Once the cab chap got through my Dad's obstacles and barriers he managed to find out that the car was on its way and would arrive in the next few minutes. It did, about five minutes before it was due. I sat there shaking my head in disbelief. It still doesn't make sense to me.
The cab was a Mercedes Vito van in silver and black. The bodywork was silver, the leather, the glass and the driver were black. The driver looked like he was on his way to act as a stunt double for Samuel L Jackson. He wore a sharp suit, sunglasses and a bluetooth thing and managed to treat my parents with just the right mix of friendliness and condescension. That means to patronise someone by the way.
If he had behaved towards me like that I would have been quite pissed off. So annoyed that I may have hit him written a blog post about it. But, to my parents he was warm and helpful, the fact that he spoke a bit slower and louder was a positive not a negative. They got in the van and Samuel closed the sliding door. I watched as they drove away, their faces barely visible through the dark tinted windows. I felt a little pang of something, probably wind, and went back inside the house.
They were gone and it was time for me to rebel, to kick against parental authority and behave badly and disgracefully. It's a long time since I was in this situation and I would waste no time.
I walked upstairs to commit two acts of rebellion.
The first one was to open a window.
The second was worse. I threw an old envelope into the wrong dustbin.
Let's just pretend I have a house. I live there and everyone knows where it is, it's a distinctive sort of place with lots of other people in it.
One night you decide attack it. You want to break in a do a bit of vandalism. You creep up, I'm sitting there quite happily watching TV or porn or maybe practicing. You do a bit of damage and generally make me feel a bit uneasy.
So I turn the lights off. Then various people in their own rooms in my house turn on their own battery powered torches anyway. They don't want to deal with the discomfort, but it doesn't really matter that you might see the lights in their room because my house is the biggest, perhaps the only big one around anyway.
I stand in a corridor, I run around the house and hit people randomly. I might hit you, the enemy, but you've probably gone, I might hit my family, my kids or anyone else in the house. It doesn't matter, I just want to show that I'm doing something.
It's a vague sort of plan.
I reckon it would be far more effective if I got myself a good burglar alarm and some warning systems.
One of the blogs I read often is Cerno's and I often talk about it, about how his writing inspires me and makes my mind go off in tangents, frequently resulting in a post or two.
His recent scribble about how he writes and thinks of things to write was yet another one of these. It got me thinking.
The thing is, as I've started to I suppose fall in love with the written word, which is the appropriate but frankly a bit too poncey for my liking, way of putting it, I find an increasing fondness in writing purely for myself. I'm lucky in that I've got my journal and add pages and words to it on a frequent basis, I'm not faced with a new desire that requires me to get a ball rolling each time the urge to write something grabs me.
But it's like that tree in the forest and the question of whether it makes a noise if it falls down. If I write bits and pieces in a journal and said journal is only ever intended for my own eyes, what exactly is it? Is it writing? If it fell on someone's head in the forest would anyone hear it?
A blog post like this is read by some people. In the back, or middle if I'm honest, of my mind, as I write these very words, I'm aware of you, the reader. I'm conscious of what your reaction might be to this post. Will it make you think or will you dismiss it and move on to a post about sex?
It's similar to something that plays on my mind in music too. I'm a firm believer that playing and learning an instrument is all well and good but one must play with other people. In a band, an orchestra or even solo in front of an audience it doesn't matter, but there must be more than just playing in a bedroom.
But I enjoy playing to myself too. Whenever I practice drums, which is often but not often enough, I stick on my headphones and get in the zone. I'll work on purely self indulgent things, solos and little seedlings of ideas that I have that may turn into fundamental building blocks of my playing in the future or might get thrown out with the rubbish. The trick for me is to figure out which is which.
As my love (uuurgh) for the written word grows I find that it's the scrawls in my journal that represent the truest and most honest me. There's not so much of that great wit I'm renowned for in my journal either, which is probably unsurprising. I guess Eddie Murphy doesn't wander around his house alone and naked cracking jokes to himself, even in the days when he was funny. Not that I write my blog naked. Or my journal for that matter.
Lately I've been looking at the details about the Galle Literary Festival with eyes and feelings that I've only had for things like drum magazines and Sri Lankan restaurants before. This is a sure sign that I'm beginning to enjoy writing in a way that can't be good for me. It would be alright if I'd got the bug for swimming or jogging, but writing isn't going to help me to look good. Though I sometimes get a tinge of cramp in my right wrist when I've written in my journal a lot.
I have a good friend who is quite at ease meeting Prime Ministers and Queens, Presidents and Sri Lankan Mothers. The concept of meeting these superior people doesn't phase her at all. I'm different though. The first time I met Java Jones I was drooling quite a bit and shaking with excitement. Java acted normally and put me at ease but it wasn't easy for me.
I've met many very famous drummers and it's an ongoing struggle for me to speak normally and not hyperventilate, dribble and spit as I talk. Looking at the GLF website I lick my lips at the prospect of chatting with Aravind Adiga, of asking him where he got the idea to write his book in the way it's written. I have to say that my jury is out, I'm not sure if I loved or hated the book. It's one of the two though. My mind convinces me that I'll meet these authors and chat happily and gaily about their influences and motivations, their ambitions and regrets. But I know that the reality will be me staring at them with huge big eyes and being too excited to get a word out.
While I'm thinking aloud does anyone know if there'll be any blogging related workshops or seminars at the GLF? I'd love to find out before I book my ticket and choose which pants to bring.
I sometimes go off on a daydream and think that my journals might get discovered in hundreds of years' time. By then they'd be the journals of a chap who was a prize winning author, not just plain old RD, the blogger. I probably would have won the Odel Booker prize several times and my first book "Colombo Revealed" would have been made into a film that had starred people like Brad Pitt and Nimmi Harasgama.
So there you have it, just some emptying of thoughts really. It's an unusual post as it's one I normally would have written in my journal.
Without the slightly witty bits of course.
PS - I lied about the pants, I already know which ones I'll bring.