Friday, May 29, 2009

Jerry's In.

You may notice, if I remember to actually do it, that we have a new addition to the LLD blogroll.

Jerry, the insane mind fellow, has made it.

For some time the whole team here have been reading and laughing at his posts. It's a traditional diary type blog in one way, but injected with a serious dose of caustic wit as well.

And, for your information, I chucked "caustic" in there without knowing if it's in the right context, it just felt right.

And, for your further information, I've just looked it up in the dictionary and I think my use of the word is more than acceptable.

Jerry takes the place of Theena, the well and truly lost poet, who hasn't written a post for over five months now. I hope that the poet returns and I'll be the first to put up a new link to his place, probably sacking Jerry because he's no longer funny, like Steve Martin.

Jerry, please remember to post me the money we talked about. I can change a 50 Rs note if you're stuck.

The Incident With The Hostile Cheese

I found myself at home a bit early the other day and in a state of serious hunger, with a fridge half full of good things. I'm an optimist you know and my fridge is always half full. Except when it's half empty. Or totally empty, which is the norm.

One of those good things was a Pizza Express Sloppy Guiseppe pizza. They're good, in a European way. For the Lankan palate they need extras in the form of chillies, spices and all manor of those strange looking things that our parents use in cooking but we don't know what they are.

I tore into the task with the keenness of a bat out of Belgium.

I've been meaning to tell you, with pictures, of the new ceramic knife I bought in Singapore. The pictures are already taken, I think they're on my flickr account, probably saved on someone's hard drive by now and titled with the name of my brother. But I'll mention it now, I've got this ceramic knife and it's the second sharpest thing in the world, only beaten by a British MP trying to explain his expenses.

It's a piece of art to me. It's got the appearance of a white toy plastic knife, which can be deceptively dangerous when one holds and uses it. The temptation to handle it like plastic is large and the cuts are quick and deep. I was informed by a chap that these things are now being made and coated with a metallic looking surface so that people think of them as "proper" knives. It made perfect sense to me.

This ceramic knife makes me want to cut things, not in an emo way I mean, more in a 43 year old bloke wanting to test his new knife on an onion way. If you took a stroll around RD Towers on most days you'd find random bits of vegetable cut cleanly and waiting to be used. The problem for me is that, when the need comes to use them, I want to cut more. So I do.

I took the pizza out of the fridge and looked at it with my best Marco Pierre White eyes and frown.

First I chopped up a couple of green chillies and threw them on the pizza with all the nonchalance of a Sri Lankan road planner at an all you can eat tarmac buffet.

Next up was some lovely little cherry tomatoes. They were so lovely that they're called something like Pomodoro tomatoes or similar. I remember that it sounded similar to Portello, but can't recall the precise name. The ceramic knife went through them like you see on adverts for knives on teleshopping channels. Yes, it really is that good.

Then there was a large salami to be sliced, it sounds like a euphemism but it's not. The only thing around RD Towers that resembles a large salami is a large salami, disappointing I know. Slices of the most delicious fresh Italian salami were sprinkled with gay abandon on top of the base. More slicing, this time of the mushroom variety, followed, with more stacking on the pizza.

The final touch, for I was wary of overdoing things, was some more grated mozzarella and a tad of olive oil to moisten things up. I was tempted to really pile it on and use a dash of olive oil, but a tad was all that was needed. It's about discipline and subtlety of tastes, this cooking thing.

There was mozzarella to start with but with all the new toppings it looked likely that it would fade into obscurity quicker than Ranil Wickramasinghe in a guess who won the war competition. More was needed, just to create a sense of balance with the taste buds.

By now the oven was warm and the pizza base was heavy and unrecognisable. If the original Mr Guiseppe, in his very sloppy way, was hiding somewhere in my apartment watching me at work, I don't think he would have looked at my bastardised version of his original with any hint of recognition. He may have been impressed with my work, perhaps even envious, but he would not have realised that I was using his original as the starting point, it was buried so deeply under a pile of additionals.

I like to plan ahead. I can happily sit here and plan details for my next trip to Sri Lanka or Singapore or ponder on the dinner menu for next Friday evening. This time I'd messed up though. The taxing problem of how to transfer the Pizza, with all its weight, to the oven was something I hadn't addressed. If I had addressed it the only realistic thing I could have done would have been to have bought a spade earlier in the day.

I would have gone into a local shop and simply asked for a spade. I wouldn't have asked for a "big thing" or any other beating about the bush type of name, no, that's the kind of guy I am. I like to call a spade a spade.

There was no spade, there was no handy paddle shaped thing that I'd forgotten about hidden behind the curtains. It was a job for the hands.

I lifted up the RD pizza. The weight of the toppings made it sag in the middle, but I maintained my usual level of composure. I hurriedly moved to stick it on the top shelf of my warm oven.

About a foot from its destination it started to misbehave. The middle drooped and began to collapse through my small, delicate and frankly rather ladylike hands. I made a rushed move and tried to shove it onto the oven shelf.

The feast I'd almost created was having none of it. It collapsed on me, perhaps exhausted, maybe insulted by what I'd done to it. On my oven shelf lay something that looked half pizza, half roadkill.

I thought about things for a few seconds. I know now that I would have been better off investing more time in the thought process. I went to remove the specimen from the shelf.

And it died.

And it fell on the open oven door.

Oven doors, when said oven is at about 200 deg, are at about 199 deg. So you can picture my dismay. I knew the meal was a goner, I'd reluctantly accepted it and moved on. What I hadn't accepted was the fact that I'd stand there and stare helplessly as it melted on my glass oven door. I hadn't accepted that I wouldn't be able to pick it up as it was too hot, that I'd be faced with a melted cheesy mess that would get worse in front of me.

It was like an action movie, albeit a boring pizza based one. The hot oven door quickly melted the cheese and then it slowly dried into a vile looking mess. It resembled Hi ! magazine's double page spread of Colombo society women at the "come dressed as if someone's just been sick all over you after a cheese based meal" party at the Cinammon Grand.

I waited for the oven to cool down then took about forty five minutes to scrape the mess away. I used wet wipes, a sponge and a brillo pad thing. It was an emotional three quarters of an hour for me. I'd so looked forward to the pizza and the preparation, though fun, was all about the joy at the end of the task.

I ate my sausages with scorn. Not to be confused with corn.

Next time it'll be a deeper based pizza for me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Five Words, Five Bloggers, Some Tag

It's been a long time since there was a good old game of blog tag so I thought I'd start one. It's easy to play and anyone can join in providing they've been tagged. But even if you haven't been tagged feel free to whack one out.

It's my game so I make the rules, they go like this:

You write five words to describe how you feel about recent events in Sri Lanka.

You tag five bloggers.

You sit back and relax.

Mine are:

1. Hopeful

2. Positive

3. Optimistic

4. Sad

5. Exhaling.

I herby tag:

1. The Gypsy (Bohemian)

2. The Sandwich (Missing)

3. The T (Triangular Dancing Variety)

4. The Sudda (Kalu)

5. The Vice (unversa)


Letter To A Friend

One of the features about being a Sri Lankan Brit in Britain is that I'm surrounded by a vast and varied assortment of people and nationalities. As cosmopolitan cities go London is definitely up there, possibly in the top fifty in the whole world.

Through my life I've witnessed an increasing sense of awareness of Sri Lanka by the average Brit. I recall when I was a young kid and most English people would be vaguely aware that Sri Lanka was the place that used to be called Ceylon and was somewhere in Asia.

As things progressed and the huge world developed into this tiny global village linked by the internet, cricket, cheap air travel, mobile phones and MTV, Sri Lanka became the place that every British person's next door neighbour went to on holiday last year. During the eighties it became law that every third Britisher had to befriend a Lankan beach boy and send money to him on a regular basis.

These days, after events of the last few decades, everyone in Blighty knows of Sri Lanka, where it is and of course, how all Tamils are terrorists and everyone there loves cricket. A few people don't know these basics, but they're Americans.

I meander through the RD life having pretty much two different levels of conversation with what are pretty much the two different groups of people I mix with.

The first group is what I think I'll call the Lankans. You're probably in this group. It's not necessarily Lankan people, more people who have a real interest and knowledge of Sri Lanka. People who have lived there, worked there, whose parents are Lankan or who speak with a West London accent but write a blog that somehow showed up on Kottu and became a bit popular.

The second group I shall cleverly call Brits. These are the people who know of Lanka but have that limited level of knowledge. They don't have that day to day interest that others have. I spend a lot of time mixing with them, talking about things in Sri Lanka on a very different level to the way we tend to chat and write in the Lankanosphere.

A conversation with one of these types will inevitably involve details about which hotels they stayed in on their Lankan holiday, how they'd love to return and how much they loved going to "that Elephant orphanage place, can't remember the name though". Oh, and the people were so friendly.

And conversations with these Brits about the Lankan conflict are held at a much more superficial and general level than they are with Lankans. Sometimes it's like pushing a jelly up a hill or, as it's called these days, talking politics with M.I.A and Joey Tribbiani.

I thought, just for the hell of it really, I'd give you an example of one of these interractions. I was asked by someone, a Brit type, what the current situation in Lanka is, whether things are

"really looking good/hopeful is SL, or just another temporary "peak"...?"

The asker is someone with a very genuine and heartfelt interst in Sri Lanka, just that they are relatively uninformed about things. I was pleasantly surprised by the interest and keen to try to answer as accurately and informatively as I could. Here's what I said:

"This is a billion dollar question, so I shall try to give you my(reasonably) informed opinion on the matter.

The military defeat of the LTTE is real and massive. Even the LTTE themselves appear to be admitting defeat and admitting the Prabakharan is dead. Last week, in the first few days when the Government of Sri Lanka(GoSL) announced that Prabakharan was killed, the LTTE and its supporters refused to believe this, saying instead that he had fled into the jungles and was still alive.

Then later last week these LTTE supporters started to say that he had been killed, that they really were surrendering. This, in many ways was actually a bigger landmark than the GoSL saying they'd killed him.

So now I believe that the military conflict is more or less over. There is the possibility that the LTTE will have gone away and will regroup in years to come, to resume their fight. I think this is now unlikely.

The rebuilding and the like is now what needs to be done, both short term and longer term.

In the short term there are thousands and thousands of Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North East of Sri Lanka who have to be housed, fed and looked after. There is a lot of debate and argument about whether these (mostly Tamil) people ended up in their current situation because of the conduct of the LTTE or of the armed forces.

One side says that the armed forces went hell for leather to obliterate the remainder of the LTTE in the area in the final weeks of the conflict and showed scant regard for the civilian casualities. The other side says that the LTTE used these people, the people they claimed to represent, as a"Human shield", held hostage against their will so that the forces wouldn't be able to attack the areas.

No one seems to know the real truth, I suspect it's a mixture of both. To some extent the cause of the problem now is irrelevant as the important issue is helping the IDPs. If you're so inclined there's an organisation called ACT for Sri Lanka that's heavily involved in aid and you can donate money from here. I've given a bit and will hope to continue to do so.

In the medium term there are some serious international relations type questions over the conduct of the Sri Lankan authorities in the final stages of the war. Many countries are asking for investigations into alleged serious breaches of Human rights and there is talk of embargos and withholding financial aid, monies and loans.

This is a precarious issue. There are people who are quite rightly saying that withholding money and aid will only serve to harm the IDPs even more,that instead of helping Lanka this will hinder it. It's true, on a very short term level. It's also (in my opinion) true that these human rights issues need to be investigated. For me the worrying thing I see is many"local" Sri Lankans with a serious "the whole world is against us"mentality.

I see one of the possible extrapolations of this as a situation in which Sri Lanka ends up in very severe international isolation with only China and a few others as allies.

Also, in the medium and longer term, there is the issue of addressing the original problems that made the LTTE form and take up arms in the first place. The feelings of the Tamil people and the issues they face will hopefully be addressed and dealt with. Mahinda Rajapaksa has made lots of positive noise that suggests these things really will be addressed with what most people think is the right attitude and mindset. Only time will tell.

So, my summary answer is that the potential is there like it hasn't been for 30 odd years. It's definitely more than one of the "peaks" we've had in the past. What will happen in the coming months and years will be the telling thing.

We'll see.

Sorry for the extra long reply, I expect you just wanted a yes or no.


There you have it, with my apologies for some of the gross simplifications. It was an email that I wrote, then thought it might be of interest as a blog post. My attempt to give a rounded but not too detailed view of things to someone who genuinely wanted to hear it. As A + K say; JMHO.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Helicopter Vision Sri Lankan Style

In business there's a concept, phenomenon, I don't know what it would be classed as, but it's called Helicopter Vision.

Its application is in how a manager approaches a situation, how the person views and responds to it. The concept involves acting as if you're in a helicopter, not in a being sick and all excited way, more to be able to move up and down and look at the same scene.

If you're in a helicopter on the ground you see a much closer view, but in great detail. As the height increases your view becomes broader and also less detailed. You see a much bigger picture, you can put more things in perspective, perhaps knowing that behind that mountain lies a river, which you wouldn't see from a lower level. But, at the lower level you might see paths, trees and detail on the mountainside that's not visible when you elevate.

You're intelligent, you get where I'm going with this don't you? You realise that what I'm saying is that from different heights the same person can look at the same landscape and see different things.

The application of this in business is to be able to use it when you deal with situations as they crop up. To be able to go up or down in your virtual helicopter, looking at the same scenario but with differing levels of detail and overall awareness. It's a skill that I continually try to work on and I claim no level of competence in it, only in my knowledge of it.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about helicopter vision and its relevance to Sri Lanka and the conflict, how it's viewed from all around the world, Lanka included. I've found it fascinating to watch, read and hear the reactions of such a variety of people from a variety of places.

Many people in Sri Lanka have taken a ground level view of things, getting directly involved in organisations such as Action and Care Trust to get much needed aid and help to the IDPs. Some are adopting a "fuck the rest of the world" attitude and taking a view that other countries and international organisations should stop the criticisms, the investigations and the analyses and put the effort into helping Sri Lanka and her people to deal with the immediate and very pressing needs of the IDPs.

As we travel further away from Serendib it's evident that more people are looking at a broader picture. This isn't right, nor is it wrong. These people are looking at things like international relations, the possibility of war crimes having been committed on both sides and the original issues faced by the Tamil population that caused the LTTE to form in the first place. The broader picture exists, it shouldn't be ignored, sometimes one has to climb up in the helicopter to see it.

I think a certain amount of bad feeling arises when people, often like me, who are physically detached from things, start to talk about a bigger picture when we're not at ground level and we're not involved in helping the people who really need help right now.

The thing about this helicopter vision stuff, at least in business, is that no level is wrong. It's all about being able to see the different views and make decisions and take actions based on as many of them as possible, not about hovering in your helicopter at one altitude and basing every decision and every action on what you see from there.

One of the things that makes me feel uncomfortable is the prospect of Sri Lanka becoming an international outcast, something I see as distinctly possible. It's all well and good for so many of us to accuse the BBC, the Red Cross, David Milliband, the UN, CNN, the Norwegians and maybe even Switzerland and Father Christmas of being biased and against us but, at some point, if not already, it's going to be Sri Lanka against the rest of the world.

In the longer term is this what we want?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Predictable Can Be Funny

Post Clutter Divorce Clutter Post

Sort of. I just liked the symmetry of the title to be honest.

Progress at RD Towers has been rapid and we're now almost done. You may have seen the last set of pictures to prove it. The last two pieces in the jigsaw, although there were five of them, were the kitchen island and the four stools, which were assembled and installed last week, ready for my first visitor.

Ordering the red settee is an example of my sheer recklessness and an illustration of my love for that danger thing. Only last week I drove out of the car park without wearing my seat belt. You see, sometimes I just don't care. Of course I did put the seatbelt on as soon as the lights started to flash at me and the bong started to bong. The short term verdict on it is that I'm far more comfortable living with the vivid redness than I am living with the lack of easy to clean leather.

Now I don't know if anyone who reads my scribblings has been through the divorced and moved out of the family home thing. I do know that there are divorcees out there, both of the male and female brands. I'm also aware that there are many who still live with their parents, the first time around, and haven't done the moving out, getting married and staying that way for fifteen years thing that I have. Let alone the moving back in with your parents after that.

And the word of the day around here is clutter.

In all the moving out, the selling of the house, the packing, storing and throwing away. In all the "I don't want that", "I do want that" and "I'll give that to charity" I realised just how much crap I'd built up over the years. There's only one word to describe it. That one word is "ckme" Funnily enough I met a girl called Charity recently and I've been meaning to write a post about her name. Just thought I'd tell you that, but it wasn't her that I gave lots of old stuff to.

When I moved back in with the 'rents I had boxes of things in several places. Though I had done some sifting through things it had been more a case of packing my life up and moving it around a bit rather than going through everything and deciding what to do with it all.

Finally, after what seems like a couple of years but was in fact merely twenty four months or so, I feel like I can exhale. The boxes are mostly sifted through and I've advanced to go, most definitely without collecting £200.

My god, how much stuff had I gathered over the years that I really shouldn't have kept? There was the steering wheel from my second car; my much loved, but not enough to have looked after it that well, MGB Roadster. I bought a sporty wooden one for it and kept the original, thinking that it was sentimental. Only it wasn't and I'm not. I kept it in an assortment of dusty cupboards for the best part of twenty years.

There were enough unworn clothes for me to start up a branch of Odel in London, many even still had Odel price labels on. I gave them all to charity shops and have vowed to be more focused in my garment buying approach in the future. Just because it's got an expensive label on it and the price in SL Rupees is low by UK standards doesn't actually mean that I have to buy it. I'm going to be a radical and think about weird things like whether I'll actually wear it and if I actually need it?

The biggest dilemna has been CDs and books. You know me, you know that I love my music and I read more books than even the number of awards given out at a Lankan ad industry award thing. So I've got hundreds of CDs and a library of books that I've built up over the years.

I simply don't have the space to keep all my old books but it also seems that it would be pointless as I hardly ever read one more than once. So I've given away many of them, but it's a bit like giving away fragments of my memories. Of course I've kept all my Sri Lankan books, the ex got the Polish ones, it was one of my better deals.

Then I've kept the books that have what seems like the stronger emotional connections. The Jeeves and Wooster compendium that I nicked from my best mate all those years ago, with his mother's name written inside the front cover was a tough and heartwrenching call, but it had to go. I've got all the stories in other books and they're much nicer looking and feeling ones.

The scores of management and self help books were challenging. I ended up keeping my very favourite ones, those that I think I'll want to come back to, and parted with the ones that had served their purpose. It felt painful but I get some comfort knowing that there might be a needy person who benefits from it.

My approach with the CD library was different and far less mercenary. I just can't bring myself to part with music so kept the lot, boxed up and stored. In the meantime I've got them all on iTunes and my iPod. I continually marvel at the amazing technology, for I'm a chap of the age group who remembers buying my first personal stereo.

It must have been about 1980, it was made by Binatone, played cassettes and was about the size of one of today's larger laptops. I moved up to a real Sony Walkman and now, about thirty years later, I carry around hundreds of albums, yes I still call them that, in a little box that's more or less a consumable anyway.

C asked me the other day if I thought I ever use one of these new fangled book reader things, these literary iPods that can store hundreds of books and yet take up the same space as an average sized paperback. You can read the things in almost the same way as you'd use a book, without that tactile feel of paper pages but with many advantages.

I'm sure one of these things wouldn't do the job scattered casually on a coffee table, nor would it feel the same as I casually sit and poo while browsing through an electronic magazine, but the positives about it do excite me a lot.

I picture this compact unit that holds my hundreds of books, enabling me to carry around more or less all the books I want wherever I go. I'd be able to jump on a plane and just take my bookreader without having to think about which books to take. I could chuck it in my briefcase, bung it in the glove compartment or even, in extreme cases, put it in a manbag and off I go with the ability to choose from anything my whole library at any time.

One big difference between a book reader and an iPod, as far as I'm aware, is that I wouldn't be able to put my existing hard copies of books onto it. When I got my very first iPod I spent about a fortnight's worth of evenings transferring my CDs onto iTunes. I uploaded every single one except those that I thought I've never, ever, not in a million years, listen to, which was really just that album by Milli Vanilli. It was time well spent.

If I could buy a e book reader that gave me that sort of backdated uploading facility I'd be out at the shops this afternoon tharashing my credit card to within an inch of its life.

And with the post divorce decluttering that I've been doing it would have been a huge time and hassle saver.

What do you think of these things? Do you reckon they'll catch on in the way that MP3 players have?

I think it's inevitable, yet feel slightly guilty at what it will mean for the traditional bookshop. Perhaps it will change the way literature is packaged and presented but make it accessible and interesting to a bigger audience too.

I hope that the feel, the atmosphere and the joy of browsing through the pages of books in a bookshop is around for a long time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Well Known Bloggers And Little Known Facts

You probably didn't know this but:

1. Electra is one of only three people in Sri Lanka who know the recipe for the yellow sauce on Elephant House hot dogs.

2. Dominic Sansoni is scared of fridges, except Electrolux ones.

3. VIC was a ball boy at the Wimbledon Mens' semi final in 1992.

4. Four years ago David Blacker was mugged by a gang of dwarves in Yala, block two. They stole his wallet. They've never been caught.

5. Java Jones auditioned for the part of Magnum P.I. He came second, to Tom Selleck.

6. The Missing Sandwich sang backing vocals on Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Outta My Head.

7. Jerry, from the insane mind place, only travels in red tri shaws on Poya days.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lately In The United Lankanosphere....

I met a rocket scientist the other day, a real live one, honestly I did. A nice bloke, a friend of Musicbiz Bro, but I don't think we need him to write a guest post to tell us all, with the use of equations and intellect that's only ever found inside a university campus, that the LTTE has been defeated and the activity on the Lankanosphere is a reflection of that.

With apologies to all who have been omitted but this edition of "Lately" is going to focus solely on the blogs and blog posts that have written about the end of the conflict. Whatever our views, whatever our race and for differing reasons most of us would agree that this is one of the biggest single events in our lives.

I've observed how the Lankanosphere has reacted to things with a high degree of interest and fascination as well. It's a fact that computers, blogs, the internet and technology are all becoming more accessible to more people by the minute, yet it's also a fact that those of us who currently communicate through these means are probably the more privileged members of society.

For me it's important to remember that, whether it's my opinion, VIC's, David Blacker's or whoever's, we're of a social strata that can afford to blog. We're not IDPs, nor are we likely to be the brave lower level serving soldiers, though DB was of course.

One of the things I've noticed is the different trends in the posts and reactions according to where the blogger concerned is situated. It makes perfect sense and, despite what I was trying to say above, that we're not necessarily representative of anything other than the Sri Lankan blogosphere, I wonder how much these geographical differences represent the views of Sri Lankans in general.

It seems that the bloggers who have been writing with total euphoria, total celebration and unadulterated joy are, for the most part, those who currently live in Sri Lanka. Remember those venn diagrams from school at this point, I'm not saying that all the bloggers who are Lankan based have been like that, I'm saying that all, or most, of the ones writing like that have been Lankan based. There's a big difference.

VIC has published a lot in recent days, he continues to be a dichotomy. He writes intelligent and well thought out bits that I agree with on one hand, then insults people who disagree with him on the other, or attempts to. He remains a bloke I'd love to meet and have a drink with, just to see what's he really like. I have an issue of credibility with him in that I can't take some of his good stuff that seriously when he's so blinkered in other ways. His talk about being positive, constructive and forward looking is bang on the money though, in my humble opinion.

Over on Lanka Libertarian Sitting Nut is all too predictable. He's so smart and so clever that he manages to write in the style of a permanent rant. One of his comments in reply to Dinidu says:

"...your low iq still in evidence. you do not say( in spite of repeated requests ) what you would have done with ltte but preach to ppl who answer that and act on their view. that is low contemptible intelectiual dishonesty. pure and simple. do your parents know that they have given birth to a mentally challenged knave? grow a brain if you can and then be honest . otherwise go comment in places where such low idiotic lies are tolerated as in indi padshow's cocoon ..."

I couldn't insult people like that if I tried. Then again I wouldn't want to, I far prefer to attempt intelectiual (sic) conversation and exploration of new thoughts and ideas than writing like I'm a kid stamping my feet and shouting with some poo stuck in my pants.

Some people have been asking what I consider as reasonable and genuine questions about the victory.

Ravana asks the question "Should we be celebrating?" and answers by quoting the opinions of several people on the current situation. It's an insightful post, one of Ravana's typical ones that will languish casually and pick up lots of comments in time to come.

Indi has bunged out a chunk of insightful posts too in recent days. There's not one that sticks out because they're all good, accompanied by photographs and video of quite literally the word on the street. In between all the action he went to prison too. What a guy. He's the Bruce Wayne of Sri Lanka, without the money, looks and car. Well, he's got a car but it's not a Batmobile. I think it might be a Toyota.

Jerry, him of the sort of beautiful, not quite insane mine, has been perving over pregnant women on the bus, then pretending that it's all to do with the conflict. We're not fooled by you Jerry, you can't get away with this bus groping and chest staring stuff that easily. I'm not a fan of his line

"Dark skin. Prime suspect, if previous bombers are to be considered"

but I'm a big fan of Jerry's writing in general. He's funny in a sophisticated way, like me, except I don't have the wit. Or the sophistication.

One of my favourites is this bundle of words written by the Gyppo girl. She's the whipped cream of the Lankanosphere, just with a devilishly tempting shot of whisky thrown in for a kick.

It seems that those who live in Lanka have exhaled, and are exhaling, massively. Natural behaviour if you've been involved on a day to day basis in everything over the years. I think the sense of jubilation must be greater the nearer you are to the centre of things. The diasporic members of the Lankanosphere are mostly exhaling too, but in a less intense and far more consciously controlled way.

There's still a sense of euphoria but it's covered in a tint of "that's great, now let's see". I don't think this is pessimism, some do. There are also people who live in Sri Lanka who are taking a similar wait and see approach, but with optimistic hopes. The subtle difference that I see is that the "locals" are more involved in the immediate joy of the conflict ending than the diaspora.

T, in her very eloquent way has written a couple of posts that mirror the thoughts of many. The first one, written on Monday, is interesting considering events since then. The second, entitled "Blind Faith" finishes with the line

"A nation at its loudest
Isn't always a nation at its wisest"

But T has it centre justified and in italics, which I resolutely refuse to do ever. It's a little bit of wisdom for sure.

On ViceUnVersa DD's gone and written some poetry. It's always a dodgy move this poetry writing lark, DD manages to get away with it because he puts in a lot of "fuck", "bollocks" and other hideously insulting language that makes things edgy. He's clever like that. He even has rhythm and structure to his poetry. Smartarse.

Even Kalusudda's weighed in with a political type post, unusual for him but interesting too.

There have been two posts that would have won the award for post of the week, maybe even the month, maybe the century, if I'd had one.

The first, which you've probably read is David Blacker's one here. It's so brilliantly written that it will bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. My powers of the written whatsername won't do it justice so I can only urge you to read it.

The second is this one by Cynical Sach. There's a delicious irony in the fact that this journalist has managed to say what so many people are thinking, what so many have failed to portray through words.

In a picture.

Apart from that, well it's all been pretty quiet really.
I'll round off with something that I reckon sums things up for me. It's the simple fact that many are mistaking the concept of the military victory against the LTTE with that of long term harmony and peace.
I hope that the former leads to the latter.

Good weekend all.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Inheriting, Blogs, Cerno, Death And The Internet

Cerno is one of my favourite bloggers of all time.

I've frequently wondered why and have never come to a firm conclusion. There's the variety of flavours on his blog, from google Earth related posts to photographs of the graphics on Lankan buses and tri shaws. There's a sense of innovation about him that shines through his writing as well as the general feel and look of the Cernoblog.

He's funny too. Obviously not as funny as me, but he's up there with witticisms and little idiosyncratic lines that make me chuckle on a regular basis.

Perhaps the thing that's his biggest strength, is the way he so often inspires me. Not that he turns up at RD Towers and slaps me on the back in an American film sort of way and spurs me on when I'm feeling down and demotivated. To be honest Cerno's pretty crap at that sort of thing, he's never done it. Maybe if I gave him the address that might help him. I suspect not.

However, he does inspire me through his writing, as Cyndi Lauper said "girls just wanna have fun" "time after time".

His recent post here, about who will inherit our blogs when we die is one of the aforementioned inspirational ones. Oftentimes I have half formulated thoughts bouncing around in my head, but I only become consciously aware of them when I get the impetus from an outside source. That's what took place this time.

This blogging / Facebook / email age has created a vastly different backdrop compared to that which existed for people of my parents' generation and everyone before that, going back to when man was invented.

We, as part of our everyday lives, continually create records, diaries and logs of the way we live our lives. As a kid I remember watching Blue Peter, a childrens' magazine type of twice weekly TV programme that is still running.

Every once in a while they'd bury a time capsule. The idea was that it would contain examples of and information about the way we currently live. In hundreds of years time someone would dig it up and make amazing discoveries about 20th century man. Like those ologists do these days when they dig up Roman stuff and learn knowledge and stuff.

These days it's all different. In hundreds of years time I don't think there'll even be people seeking to find out about how we lived, they'll know it all already. It's a total paradigm shift but I reckon the subject of history will cease to exist, except in terms of looking back beyond our current era.

Our histories will be there for all to see, unless we've opted out. We blog, we Facebook and we email and it's all out there. Perhaps we exist in a Utopic mindset in which we reckon that because everything's password protected we'll be secure. Well that's got to be rubbish hasn't it?

Our lives are an open blog, our thoughts are there on Facebook and Twitter and our, whatever the opposite of ancestors is, will have total access to it all. I like the thought of this.

Back in the day there were famous old diarists like Java Jones Samuel Pepys and Darwin (the scientist not the scientist). They were fellows who chose to write diaries compared with the rest of the populace who didn't, well many couldn't read or write let alone choose to diarise. They opted in.

They chose to record events in a structured way. Today we take a far less structured, and far more comprehensive approach but a huge proportion of the population does it. Of course many people, particularly in parts of Wales, don't have internet access or a computer, but again, give it a couple of hundred years and that will all change.

I rather like the somewhat egotistical thought that in hundreds of years there might be some very great granchildren of mine who'll be writing in this very blog. I hope that they'll have more structure to their posts and that Blogger will have added the sexy moving tag cloud into its options. But I do think it will be cool to have generations of RDs writing here. Maybe there'll be future generations of DDs writing too, saying GM2U and all.

Often I look at blogs, particularly those of the much younger bloggers, and wonder if they'll regret publishing what they have done when they're older. I think I'm quite safe in the knowledge that I won't regret publishing the posts I've written as I only came to blogging so late in life. All that angsty and angry change the world and shout at people stuff that I had in my twenties has been replaced by a desire to still change the world, just by having a beer and talking, by intelligent debate and mutual respect.

Maybe you'll find me (del) e(a)ting my words but I think I'll be quite proud of my blog when I get old (er). Even now I'm embarrassed when I look at my early posts and see how I've sort of developed a style of writing. I make no claims for my writing abilities now but I look back at those humble beginnings and they seem like the scribblings of a ten year old child writing about what he did on his weekend compared with one of today's posts.

I'm quite proud though. I hope that someone reading these scribblings from start to finish might get a picture of me and the things I've been through and will go through. I hope that they'll get a picture of me and be a little bit proud, farts and all.

One of my less formulated thoughts is about wills. I've had fleeting ideas about letting Academic Bro know my current passwords just in case, but he can't be trusted really. He'd probably ruin LLD within a few hours.

It's a cert though.

Our blogs, our Facebook accounts, our emails and anything else to do with our online presence will be there for all to see in time to come.

What legacy will you leave?

If I Was Prabhakaran

In those last days, in danger of being captured, killed, both or worse....

.....I reckon I'd have shaved off my moustache.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One Country, A Million Perspectives

The Lankanosphere's awash with posts on the end of the conflict, hardly surprising and totally justified. We've all said our bit and many continue to say theirs.

One thing's struck me in the recent days. It's the simple truth we're all looking at the same facts. VIC's opinion may be different to mine, which may be different to DD's. VIC might read one newspaper and watch one, or several, TV stations, they'll no doubt be different to my choices and mine will be different to DD's.

Between all of us bloggers we've got more opinions than Dinidu's got dioptres. And I've come to realise that none of us are wrong yet none of us are right. They're just views really aren't they, whether we choose to portray them in Sittingnut's style or David Blacker's they're just views, just perspectives, just words and arguments.

I almost made an attempt to write a poem, but I don't understand poetry. So I wrote some lines about my recent thoughts. Here they are:

One man's happiness is another man's sadness
One man's statistic is another man's loved one
One man's goodness is another man's badness
One man's hero is another man's villain
One man's death is another man's celebration
One man's Peacenik Pussy is another man's moderate

One man's moderate is another man's optimist
One man's optimist is another man's pessimist
One man's joy is another's fear
One man's realist is another's cynic
One man's home is another man's newspaper article
One man's newspaper article is another man's fish and chip paper.
One man's dusk is another man's dawn.

That's it, there's no neat, tidy and rhyming ending. That's because it's not a poem. Just thoughts.

So many of us see the same things and draw different conclusions, but maybe, hopefully and desperately we can all see true peace.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Twelve Hours And A Heartbeat From Lanka

When I was born no one took me aside and had a quiet word, along the lines of

"Look you're going to be Sri Lankan and British, you'll be half Tamil, half Muslim and you'll spend much of your life confused about identity and much of it feeling as if you're one of few who understand the concept."

If someone had said all this to me they'd have been a bit mental, new born babies don't comprehend this kind of information and are mostly focused on breasts and farting. I'm told people grow out of it.

However, if a friendly midwife, one with very special communicating with baby skills, had given me this information, it might have prepared me a little bit better for dealing with situations like this weekend's one.

The military victory in Lanka has got me, my emotions and my thoughts stretching and pulling from pillar to post in directions and intensities that emotions and thoughts were never intended for.

Maybe if I was 100% Tamil or 100% Sinhalese I'd have a view and an opinion that was much easier to map, instead of this one that wavers between all the points of view and settles somewhere that probably makes me one of those ever so dangerous extreme moderates.

Here I sit, all these miles away in London, so far away that many people believe I don't have the right to an opinion on matters Sri Lankan and serious, and the irony is that I don't know what my opinion is anyway.

One part of me celebrates the victory over the LTTE. It praises the courage of the forces and rejoices in the fact that the terrorist organisation that has had such a big and negative effect on Lanka and her people may well be a thing of the past.

Twenty six years and over seventy thousands lives will never be regained, but I can latch onto a positive side of things and feel a sense of elation and joy that this really could herald a new beginning, one that's full of optimism, that will deal with the cause of the conflict in the first place. I can feel excited at the thought of people, Sinhala and Tamil, being able to live their lives without fear, fear that many have always felt since they were born.

On Saturday night I spoke to a few people in Colombo and they were celebrating in that way that Lankans do so well. There was arrack and baila, the key ingredients, and the festivities were showing little signs of abating. I cooked myself a pretty damn good Sri Lankan chicken curry, sank a few lagers and watched the news on TV feeling weird.

I felt as though I wanted to jump on the first available flight to Serendib and join in and watch things first hand. But, if I'd been able to get a flight, I don't know if I would have headed into the heart of the city or snuck out to the hills and joined Java at Flowerbook to relax and distance myself from things. Reality is that I don't actually know where Flowerbook is and Java probably would have thrown me out anyway, so I think Colombo would have been forced to welcome me in the way it always does.

Is this a war or a battle that's been won? Has it actually been won anyway? I have no doubt that the LTTE has been defeated in the military way, but in what's hardly an inspirational thought, I wonder what's next.

One chap tells me that the issues of the Tamil people, those going back way before '83, will now be addressed and the country will go forward, with the GoSL being fair to everyone. A nice negotiated solution is high on the agenda.

The next fellow tells me that the fight for Tamil Eelam will just go underground again, that the LTTE will regroup in the years to come to resume their fight another day. He tells me that there are tens of thousands of people who'll support and fight for the LTTE in Sri Lanka alone and that they've nothing to lose anyhow.

On Saturday morning I read that hotbed of extreme terrorist views, that blatant LTTE supporting rag, the Times I think it's called. I heard of the possibility of the GoSL being investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Try as I might I just can't get my head around the argument that these things can be justified by the fact that the LTTE have done the same. Call me an arse, and you probably will, but to me that's what terrorists do. It kind of explains why they're fundamentally immoral and illegal. It's just not what governments should do, "should" being the operative word there.

If the final weeks and months of the war had been staged in Colombo or the South I don't believe that many people would have felt the same about the tragic loss of life being the necessary price to pay for victory.

And please understand me correctly here. I don't blame one side or the other. I blame both. No way has this been one sided. The sad fact that everyone agrees with is that there has been a huge loss of life. Few can agree on the numbers involved, few can agree on who's to blame but few think it hasn't happened. It's a hell of a price to pay for a victory that may not even be a victory, for peace that may not be peace.

It's tempting to say that I haven't felt sad and I haven't felt happy, that I haven't made my mind up.

The truth is subtly different, but the subtlety is massive.

The truth is that I've felt deeply sad and ecstatically happy.

The truth is that time will tell.

With apologies for my attempt at a serious post, I know they're not my forte. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Defence Of The Creatives - And How To Mix With Them

Here's a post I never thought I'd write.

It's just to say, with all that's been going on lately, I think it's important to remember that creatives are people too.

One drop of rain on the window pain doesn't mean to say there's a train coming, as the song says.

And these creatives, not that I'm one you know, good God I wouldn't want you to think that, well by and large they're okay. You have to make some allowances when dealing with them, talking a bit more slowly, using flashier words than you would with normal people, that sort of thing.

I've also found that it can help if you get a bunch of stick on tattoos before you mix with a herd of them. They help you to blend in and can speed up the whole acceptance process.

A T shirt with the name of a classic but edgy rock band can be useful too. Maybe The Who or Led Zep, or try something more cutting edge but make sure you get that right. Go for a slightly underground but about to be big in England band and you'll be doing well.

But, in all seriousness, whatever's been going on in the Lankanosphere is NOT, in my opinion at least, any reflection on some of the good guys in the ad and creative industry that I've got to know and like.

There. I've said it.

Probably my most embarrassing post and the only one I'll have to delete in a few days time.

Lately In The Lankanosphere...

I know it's Friday and I know I'm confused.

It was Colonel Chocolate in the billiard room?

And Indi is really David Blacker, who is the person who really killed Bambi?

And Charm Bracelet's gone because she got outed by Bambi?

And DD is actually thekillromeoproject, who used to be married to RD?

Wait, I'm RD, I think. Hold on, I'll need to go and look at another blog that's got my picture on it.

But I don't actually exist because I'm John Denver.

Now Indyana's gone, which I'm sad about.

And Lady D's got swollen bits, fingers and all.

JapSach goes and chooses this of all times to go and start exposing himself.

And, in the middle of all this Kalusudda bungs up a little youtube thing that makes me think of giving up drumming entirely. When some kid can make drum sounds like that, with no drums anywhere around, then I must think about an alternative instrument.

The Lankanosphere's gone mental.

That about sums it up for now.

Have a good weekend all.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Kottucatchupiness or U.S Kottucatchupyness ('cothookachuppeenuss) n.

to be away from the Lankanosphere for a while, maybe because of work or being pissed every night or something. On returning and reading Kottu one may be described as being in a state of Kottucatchupiness.

As used by Gyppo in this example

"...don't have time to open up Kottu...if I do I know the next few hours...will consist of lots of kottu -catch-up-y-ness (sic)"

Word Weirdness

For many years I'd thought that it was just me who suffered from this quite stupid thing. Recent research indicates that I'm not alone. But I'd like to find out more, whether it's just weird people or if everyone goes through the turmoil.

It's a phenomenon I think I might call word weirdness, as that sums it up in an all encompassing way, and it happens to me exactly once every once in a while, or so.

I steam my way through life, as most of us do, reading, writing and rithmeticking and often do all of them without paying any attention to the processes involved. I drive into work in the morning and notice that driving has become one of those tasks that I can do without paying any attention to.

I'm at the level that a wise man told me once is called "unconscious competence", which simply means that I'm competent at it, so much so that I don't have to think about it. I'm at that level in driving, not everything by any means.

The art of writing is something that's relatively new to me and, as many would say, I'm trying. But I can claim to be good at spelling, shit like that. I always was, just without knowing what on earth to do with the vast vocabulary I was building up in my head.

Yet, every once in a while I get this word weirdness. It's when I start to focus on an everyday word, maybe because of a momentary glitch during which I wonder how to spell it, and the word springs out on me and starts to look different.

Last week it happened with "because". I wrote it down somewhere, stared at it and it sprung to life and began to look as if it was a word in a foreign language, as if it was alien to me and spelt weirdly. Now "because" is a nice everyday word that looks warm and friendly, there's nothing strange to it at all.

I was chatting to a friend about the phenomenon recently and she said that exactly the same thing happens to her. This was a reassuring discovery for both of us. We now exist with the knowledge that we're not alone as we battle through life struggling with word weirdness.

Does does anyone else out there experience this as well?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright For Writing

This is a mixture of a couple of posts really. For some time I've had the vague idea of writing something on the joys of the British pub. I even handwrote another one some months ago when I was sitting in a pub waiting to meet some people, but that never even made it to a draft post on my blog. It languishes, like an old sarong wearing Sri Lankan sitting on a balcony and watching the world go by, in the depths of my journal, probably spitting betel juice at passers by.

Then, last Saturday, I was in my local enjoying a quick pint. I took my journal, sat there and wrote. This is what happened, stream of consciousness stuff. I realised afterwards that this is actually my third handwritten post, you'll see that I wasn't sure about it at the time. Maybe it's just me but I find that there's something markedly different between the way I write on paper compared with something that I decide I'll type straight into draft mode as a blog post.

It might be to do with the sensation of actually putting pen to paper and may also be to do with how I think when I'm not sitting in front of a computer. In one way it's more spontaneous and in another it's more pensive. The spontaneity comes from whacking stuff down, then it's there, rarley do I cross things out. The pensiveness comes from the fact that I think more before I put pen to paper, for fear of writing even more total gibberish than normal. Here goes:

"It's 9PM and it's Saturday night, as you may have figured out from the title. This is my second attempt at a handwritten post, though thinking about it, it may be my third. Either way, as before, I'll take a picture of this and chuck it into the post after typing it out word for word, typos and all.

I've got three "local" pubs, literally at the end of my road. The one I'm sitting in now is my favourite, though I haven't really tried the other two properly. One of them is a trendied up student type of place, in which I wouldn't be seen dead, and the other is a very nice place that's been done up and gastropubbed to the nth degree. It's got a wine list and a menu and is always busy with couples and middle class England.

This one though, The Swan, is a proper English spit and sawdust pub, the type of institution that makes me feel good to be British in the same way that eating with my fingers makes me feel good to be Sri Lankan.

The Great British Pub is Great and it's British and I haven't seen it anywhere else in the world. Even here in Britain they're a dying breed and every time I come here I wonder if it makes any money and, if so, how come. It's a biggish building on a decent size plot of land yet I don't think I've even seen more than about 25 people in it.

There are no frills to it. There are board games, a clientele, though that might be a word that's far too sophisticated for them, that's always pissed and a landlady who's so ugly and lacking in style that she'd probably fail to make the runners up section in the British Ugly Pub Landlady of the Year awards.

If it helps you to get a picture of the place then I'll add something. The first time I came here was some weeks ago with Ozcuz and he was, without a doubt, the most cultured person in the pub (apart from me of course) and he's Australian. Unbelievable, but true.

Sitting here, writing in my journal, is only slightly less risky than taking off all my clothes, standing on a table and shouting something like

"I'm gay and I hate all you English bastards."

Yet funnily enough I feel as safe as houses. In other ways it's a fantastic environment to sit quietly and have a drink. You can chat to people or just keep yourself to yourself and it's got Brit Pub feeling as if you're balancing on a knife edge but having fun while doing it.

It's got painted "writing" on the walls. One phrase says

"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

Another says "If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there."

Very wise and true statements, both credited to "Anon", clearly a smart person. He's probably not the bloke sitting behind me, who I've just heard trying to chat up the landlady

"You're a good looking woman, it won't take you long to get yourself another bloke."

There's golf on the TV, a sport that I'm with Mark Twain on. If I ever start to play golf I don't think I'll deserve to play the drums too.

As I write this I'm aware that my writing's getting a bit blurred. It's not my fault. The single best thing about this pub is that it serves draft Asahi. The dry and delicious Japanes lager and it's even better served from a tap than in bottles. As things stand I'm almost at the end of my second pint.

I think I'll leave you with that. This may never turn out to be a post, we'll see. The more important thing is that I'm going to get myself some delicious Nasi Goreng from the excellent noodle bar almost next door. Perhaps with some prawns too.



There you have it, a little snippet from my Saturday night. As in those other post I apologise for the sad state of my handwriting. Also, as I typed this out I realised that there is one place in the world in which I've seen the British pub, actually done better, and that's Ireland.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chillies, Left Brain Judging The Right?

I was reading David Blacker's post about the Chillies and it set me off on a mental obstacle course of a journey. As a precursor I must tell you that I'm not a creative who's involved in advertising or that side of things. Yes, I think I'm more right brained than left brained, you may agree with that based on what you know about me, but I'm not a marketing or advertising guy.

Please excuse me whilst I patronise you for a quick minute but, just in case you don't know much about these sort of things, I'll try to give you a quick explanation.

We have the left side of our brain and the right side of our brain they are said to be two very different animals.

The left side is the one that takes care of the very logical and analytical thing. It looks after things like maths, algebra, sequencing and organisation. If a person is very left brain oriented then they are far more likely to be a scientist, a librarian, a banker or a solicitor than if they are right brained. Apparently they're more likely to be a dog loving person too, though I don't know how or why.

On the other hand brain, if a person is more right brain oriented then they are likely to be more dreamy, more creative and more of an arty type. They can be spontaneous and unpredictable and usually get restless easily. They tend to look at the bigger picture and get frustrated with detail. And they prefer cats. Why? I don't know.

I've spent the best part of my life convinced that I was a left brained person, that logic, detail and organisation were my forte and that I was to creativity what Green Day are to traditional Irish folk music. Then, about a year ago, I took a test and learned some stuff and found out that I'm actually more right brained than left. It was a bit of an epiphany for me and it helped me to understand things better. I'm not planning to rush out and start designing sarongs or try to write copy or anything, but I now know why I've so often struggled with things that I felt I ought to be good at.

It follows that most of those creatives, the people who do make ads and have all those brilliantly imaginative ideas are mostly right brained. It's the left brained fellows who judge, who criticise and who tear things apart. It's very often the left brained sorts who can take a great but unrefined idea and make it into something better and workable, even though they'd never have come up with the idea to start with.

So I was thinking about these Chillies and wondering whether it's right, wrong or perhaps neither that creative ideas and brilliantly dreamy concepts (right brained) can be pigeon holed and placed into a judging system that's fundamentally logical and analytical (left brained).

Wouldn't it be better if they could be judged in a way that didn't force a square peg into a round hole?

Or is that asking the impossible?

Would awards be taken seriously if they were given out without any logical justification? If someone won because others just felt it was the best entrant.

Or is that what happens anyway? I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but would love to know what people think.

Monday, May 11, 2009

RD Towers - The Final Stages

This is the state of play in the new pad at somewhere between week four and five. I'm highly pleased with the way things have turned out and, with the exception of a few very minor things, everything's done and in place now. I'm waiting on one of these island things to be delivered, to go in the centre of the kitchen with some trendy stools. It will be the dining table and hopefully the general sitting around and eating area.

I felt slightly anxious that I might have overdone the matching side of things, what with the wall hanging and the cushion, from a little shop on the Galle Road just near Bambalapitya that I know. But, in a I'm too interior designer for my own good sort of way I think it works and the red splashes in the wall hanging and the cushions go nicely with the red settee (compact).

I've decided that for now, against the advice of the good Lady D, I won't put a rug underneath the coffee table. I feel as if it might clutter things up a bit too much, particularly with the drum mat underneath the drum kit, which is necessary but takes away some of the clean lines of the nice wooden floor.

I had a big stroke of luck concerning the cushion covers too. The wall hanging is old and is one of a pair that hung at the top and bottom of a staircase in my former family home. The other one of the pair languishes in a cupboard here as again I think it would be too much in this small place. But, the cushions I bought about six months ago with the intention of using them when I got my nice new place.

Only I'd totally forgotten that I had bought them and stumbled across them while searching through some boxes last week, looking for that missing Sri Lankan cookery book, which I've now found as well.

I opened a box in one of my Dad's garages and found six of these so gorgeous Barefoot covers that match the wall hanging, which I never really expected to gain custody of. I had ordered the red settee with no thoughts about the cushion covers and the ever so tasteful red splashes.

It's all come together quite harmoniously I think. I'm aware that's it's a bit masculine and quite minimal but I'm enjoying the place, the relaxing and chilling in it, so much that contentment is close.

As I type this I'm sitting on the planter's chair watching boats and barges cruise by on the Thames on a lazy Sunday evening. Nice.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Luv Wimmin'

....but you can't beat the real thing.

....particularly the front crawl and the back stroke

....but I could never eat a whole one

Why the sudden gush of girl love RD?

The other day I spoke to three women I'm very fond of. They're all stylish, sexy and intelligent and I'm lucky enough to consider them all good friends.

One is an old friend who I don't speak to or see enough. I rang her, we had a long, long chat and then arranged to meet up.

Another is a newer but still good friend who called me unexpectedly. We had a brief yet enjoyable chat. Stimulating stuff.

The last one?

Aha. My secret, sort of.

But the thing is that they all made me smile inside.

And outside.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Photo Of The Moment

A bit of a stunner this one. Mr S once told me that when he takes a photograph he looks all around the viewfinder, to ensure that nothing unwanted appears in the final image and that everything wanted does. This is one of those images, where every big and little element in it makes the picture. From the greenery in the foreground to the detail in the brickwork behind and the greenish hues in the bricks.

And he ignores the whole rule of thirds thing and goes and chucks the woman's head bang smack in the middle of the frame. The cheek of it!

I reckon this Sansoni lad could go far with his photography.

Something Funny For The Weekend

The last programme in the second series of The Inbetweeners was shown here last night. It's a comedy that I think will go down as one of the Great British ones, though I wonder if it's too British to travel.

I can't embed it but have a look at the link. Java, you'll love this.

Happy long weekend all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jesus, George Orwell, Anakin Skywalker and MR

What have they got in common?

Had I asked the same question but used Henry VIII, Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun you would have known the answer immediately wouldn't you, but it would have been a different answer. The King, the bear and the, well, hard geezer, all shared the same middle name.

As for Messrs Christ, Orwell, Skywalker and Rajapaksa the answer may be slightly less obvious. If I added George W Bush and Hillary Clinton into the picture you'd probably get warmer.

Yes, they've all taken the "If you're not with us you're against us" approach. Something I've been thinking on with some effort recently. As the Lankanosphere is wild and crazy with political and conflict related posts these days I'm sure many of us have found our minds wandering into unfamiliar territory.

One of my main mindfucks recently has been this "if you're not with us you're against us" (IYNWUYAU) mindset and how brilliant it is on one hand, how dictatorial and crushing it is on the other.

I did the wikipedia thing and was quite surprised to see a rather long entry about the concept.

It tells us that

"The phrase "you're either with us, or against us" is commonly used to polarize situations and force an audience to either become allies or to accept the consequences as being deemed an enemy."

as well as some quite interesting but useless information about other people throughout history using the phrase, from Mussolini to Clinton in real life and from Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry film to Gaston in Beauty and the Beast in fictitious life. Sorry Dinidu, Beauty and the Beast wasn't real. Father Christmas is though.

Isn't it a great tactic to pull out of your hard hat when you need to garner public support?

When the going gets tough some bloke decides to play the (IYNWUYAU) card and the atmosphere changes in a flash. I wonder if there can be an acronym for an acronym or am I just getting more lazy? Even that IYNWUYAU seems like a lot of effort.

But in that flash, people who are already a supporter of Clint, Jesus or whoever it is at the time, become even more ardent followers than they were before. The real beauty is that their passions and feelings of loyalty multiply too, as they realise that it's an all or nothing situation.

Others who dare to criticise are the enemy, not so much because that's what happens in "normal" life, more because that's what Clint has decreed. In "normal" life people are allowed to question and criticise, to challenge and argue, without being classed as traitors or the enemy. And all of this means that the unit of people who are "with us" becomes strong, bonded and united, with a passionate hatred towards the doubters.

Frankly, if I was Clint Eastwood and I needed to get people onside in a hurry, I'd seriously consider using the method. I guess many would consider it a last gasp attempt to gain support, but sometimes even Dirty Harry needs to do these things.

It does polarise people and opinions though. It gives no room for the doubters and the cynics. And this in turn makes for a rather dictatorial approach, though only Clint's inner circle might actually know who he argues with within the circle itself.

Anyone who is seen to disagree with Clint is branded as the enemy. Even if a fellow were to agree in a broader sense with his ideas and methods, as soon as he murmurs even the slightest bit of discontent about a specific thing, maybe the way Clint spoke to someone or the way he dealt with a dissenter, then that person becomes the hated foe.

So not only does the loyalty of the supporters grow and increase like the spread of swine flu at a Mexican Pig breeding farm in the grounds of a hospital, but there's also little or no outlet for people to think creatively and to come up with ideas other than those that are already in use, for fear of the consequences. Only the very brave or the incredibly stupid dare to speak out about Emperor Clint and his nakedness.

Some people would say that the IYNWUYAU approach is genius, creating an almost unstoppable force. Others would say that it's dangerous, for its very nature dictates that the only voices heard are those that are already being listened to.

I say it's a card that can only be played once, that must be used with impeccable timing and very careful consideration. It can help win a war and cripple a nation or it can help win a war and unite a nation.

What say you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Parents And Kids - The Things They Say

If there was a competition to figure out who was more mad, my parents or my kids, it would be a close call. Just look at the statements and questions I've had to brilliantly defend myself against in the last few days:

"Can we bring a book?" (you know the history here)

"This is the night you were made" - My Mum told me this "euuughr" inducing bit of information when I rang to wish the 'rents a happy anniversary last week. There are some things that I just do not want to know.

"Have you got a lead with a banana plug at one end and a Jack plug on the other?" asked my Dad. There was only one reasonable reply, which I gave

"What do you think I am, a greengrocer?"

"What's a blog?" asked my maternal unit.

"So what's Facebook then?" she followed it up with.

"And then what's Twitter?" she followed that up with.

I answered with patience and just the right amount of condescension, knowing full well that she'll have forgotten the answers before most of the world had updated their Twitter status anyway.

"I'm going to report you to social services" - said K when I refused to let her eat my Magnum Chocolate Indulgence ice lolly, after she has already eaten her one.

Later that evening, after I'd dropped the girls home I settled myself to eat aforementioned Magnum bar. It was an "advert" moment. Me, the Magnum, the river outside and the sun setting as I unwound and mellowed.

Only I dropped the fucking thing and the chocolate smashed into smithereens, lots of them. K, on hearing about this the next day, thought it was funny.

Parents and kids eh.

I'm glad I'm not one.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Toughest Audience Ever

After a short intermission, during which I tried to be serious and got my fingers burnt by trying to understand the sheer intellect and brilliant mind power of some people, it's back to the less serious side of life over on on the LLD channel.

We've established that Electra and myself are the Ellen Degenereses of the Lankanosphere and that's the way it is, according to anonymous. If only I was a proper writer I'd probably know what the plural of Degeneres actually is. Sadly I don't.

So I'll tell you about Friday night, a gig night, not so much about the gig as that was average, more about the tough crowd I had to try and please. They were definitely the most hard to please audience I've ever faced.

They were A and K.

The gig was booked some weeks ago and it was a rugby club dinner dance awards type of thing, falling on a Friday on which I was due to have the girls. Cool, I thought to myself. It's a long time since they've seen me play a gig, they'll enjoy it.

"Oooh RD" I can hear you saying through hissed teeth "that was your first mistake."

Well you're right.

The only way I could have got a frostier reception would have been if I'd walked up to Frosty the snowman and asked him and all his family to come to my post wedding party, maybe bringing some ice lollies with them.

Yes, it's one thing being a cool Dad, being in a band and all, it's another thing to ask tell teenage girls that they'll have the pleasure of going to a gig, one of my ones. It's not like this was any night, this was one on which they could have being doing something special, something like watching TV or arguing.

It's fair to say they didn't approach the evening with the keen anticipation, excitement and sense of pride in their Dad that I had expected. In fact, it's fair to say that it was all they could do to pretend to be keen on the idea. I was at least grateful for that.

Their act of being half enthusiastic was confirmed to me when, a few days before, K asked me a question that gave things away. I had said to her that it was fine with me if they didn't come, that I had them on Saturday night instead, if that was okay with their mother. K said they it was fine and they were looking forward to it. I didn't believe her. I didn't believe her even more when she asked

"Dad, would it be okay if we brought a book?"

I answered in the affirmative, hoping that it wouldn't actually happen.

Friday night approached, as they tend to do, and I went to the venue to set up and soundcheck, then drove off the collect the girls. They were trendied up when I got them, attitude was oozing out of everywhere and they were as cool as a pair of cucumbers at my wedding reception with Frosty the snowman and the ice lollies, the one I mentioned earlier.

We walked into the venue and they promptly took their place, right at the back of the hall on a couple of stools. The option of grabbing a couple of spots at the front where they could be close to the stage and soaking up the atmosphere, which proved to be non existent anyhow but we didn't know that at the time, was rejected quicker than VIC turning down a free holiday to Mexico with Dinidu and Sanjana.

Our lead guitarist had his son and a strange looking mate of the son's there, probably about the same age, and they took their place in the middle of the mosh pit and spent the night making weird attempts at dancing, getting into the spirit of things and embarrassing themselves thoroughly. I fully understood and accepted that this was because they're boys and boys of that age are about twenty years less mature than girls of that age.

Also, when I say "mosh pit' I'm pushing things a bit as it was more that gap between the dinner tables and the edge of the band, it was only a mosh pit if there were people there moshing, which there weren't.

It was a gig that consisted of one set for us, about seventeen songs with an encore of about five or six more, depending on the reception and timings. As we blundered our way through the first few songs I'd squint my eyes at regular intervals to try to see the reaction from A and K.

I was nervous and self conscious and knew that my playing reflected it. I'm a musician who's usually pretty relaxed about things but this time I was more on edge than if I had been playing to an audience of world famous drummers. Each time I looked at the girls I could see that they were watching us, that much was a result, at least there was no reading going on.

Watching was almost their limit. They stood impassively at the back of the venue and any displays of emotion were unintentional. At the end of each song they'd clap and whenever we made eye contact they'd smile at me, in the way many would smile at a beggar in the street.

Nothing changed about their behaviour during the gig, it was afterwards that things got a bit interesting.

As soon as we'd finished a gang of boys converged around me and the drums. This often happens when I play and there are teenagers present. They want to try the drums and believe it or not, they seem to want to talk to the drummer. I think it's because they like the look of hitting things, that primitive thing that's so evident when you watch a drummer in action, even me.

A couple of the kids asked if they could have a go on the drums and I obliged, another two asked if they could have my drumsticks as a souvenir and I obliged too.

A and K hung around in the background, but I could see that they were beginning to feel a bit possessive of their Dad. There was something about the way they were behaving that made me realise they wanted the other youths to know that they were the offspring of the drummer.

They ambled over to me, too cool for school, kissed me and said "well played". A stared at the drumkit, a kit she's seen and played countless times. This time though, she looked at it with different eyes.

"Hmmm the kit looks nice and impressive tonight Dad" she said.

"mmmkay" I said, slightly puzzled.

"I thought you sounded really great tonight" said K.

"Yeah, Starlight was cool tonight" said A.

I was confused but you know me. I took it all in my stride with the coolness and calmness I'm renowned for.

After I'd dealt with my fans I started to dismantle the kit and the girls hung around being uncharacteristically helpful, so helpful that I had to tell them to wait until I'd put away some things before they got involved. This may have been because they wanted to get home but I was more inclined to think it was because they wanted to be seen to be involved and part of the band.

We packed up and set off in the car. During the journey I cogitated over whether they had actually enjoyed the evening or if they were just being polite, trying to be nice to me. I was unsure until A asked me to put Muse on the car stereo. I did. She then wanted to listen to Starlight, which we did.

And I heard her drumming along to it in the back seat, all enthusiastic and fired up.

It was then that I knew I'd inspired her, that once again, just for a short while, I was a cool Dad.

Of course, the next day it was all forgotten...

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Someone supports the LTTE then they support terrorism.

But, if someone wants Tamil Eelam, that doesn't actually mean they necessarily support the LTTE or terrorism.

There is a line.

Isn't there?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu And Pooh

Lately In The Lankanosphere

Things have been busy, different, interesting, good, bad and downright ugly. Now that, as a film title, would have been a mouthful wouldn't it?

A friend asked me for some advice about something this week and one of the things I suggested was the use of mindmaps to help her. Now I can't explain mindmaps because I'm no good at that sort of thing, but I can tell you that the mindmap for this "lately" post is a complex and messy looking one that resembles a dismantled black string hopper, with some lumpy bits. If I ever have to make a choice in my life between mindmaps and string hoppers, as many chaps have to, it would be a tough one indeed.

This means that you might get a nice and meaty and interesting post with lots of good things about the Lankanosphere or you may receive a pile of disorganised words, with random links here there and everywhere and no real cohesion, structure or point. I think we both know that it's going to be more of the latter, not latte, that's coffee. But, either way it'll be a long one, so you may well be better off doing some work and reading this later.

The current situation in Lanka permeates into the Lankanosphere like sothi on that very same string hopper and that's about the only level of agreement anyone will get from all of us blogging types. It's natural that the Sri Lankan blogosphere reflects what's going on in Sri Lanka and it's therefore natural that the atmosphere is different to normal, whatever normal may be.

Indyana asked in this recent post why there are hardly any blogs being updated these days and I think, if she's talking about the Sri Lankan blogosphere, that it's simply because of what's happening in the Country, the fact is that it makes everything else pale into insignificance, and quite rightly too.

The bloggers writing about politics, war, peace and conflict are presenting a plethora of opinions and views. I think it's better if I don't tell you my judgement but just pass on the links and information on some that have caught my eye.

There's David Blacker with this rather splendid article he originally wrote for the Times of India. It's a response to the famous, or infamous, article written by Arundhati Roy that has attracted much comment and criticism by so many.

DD wrote this piece that revealed a side to him and his views many of us haven't seen before. It's thought provoking and one of the comments left there said something like:

"Why don't you go and help the IDPs instead of eating/drinking/shopping (delete as appropriate)?"

I've seen this kind of thinking a lot lately and I've pondered on it too. It seems to me that many are saying that it's far more important to give help and aid to the IDPs today and tomorrow than it is for people to plan and think about what's actually going to happen next week or next year.

My take on it is that balance is needed, that we must do both.

And talking of people helping today Indi has been involved with ACT Lanka in getting supplies and aid up to the Vanni. You can read about it here and here you can read about ACT Lanka, donate and learn more here. Please check it out.

On the far less serious side of things there's a bit of a party going on at a mystery address soon. It sounds like it will be fun and I'm looking forward to it, particularly that game Dinidu was talking about with the blindfold and the cucumber.

We have some music things to report too.

Cynical Sach and T have both put up posts showing the new video from Thriloka. I've heard so many great things about Thriloka, in particular about their young drummer, but have never been in Sri Lanka to witness one of their gigs. This video left me seriously impressed with the drummer, he grooves and plays with a feel that would be the envy of many. In comparison to this guy I'm such a bad drummer that I wouldn't even be allowed to envy him.

If that doesn't float your boat check out the Lily Allen video in Sach's post. There's something so quirky about it and it's one of those videos that makes the song so much better than it actually is.

Then, while we're on the subject of drummers, there's the new drummer in town. He's called Heshan and he's mad about music. I'll be reading him regularly, but I'm not sure this drum related blogging thing will catch on.

Talking of Sachs, which I was before, the almost Japanese one wrote a nice post here, on hypocrisy. He asks us what makes a hypocrite, a question that probably has no definitive answer but an infinite number of answers. He can also spell hypocrisy correctly, which gets my admiration as it's one of those words I always stumble over.

The Whackster's out and about and asking about blogstitution. He asks if we're all just prostitutes for attention, the only problem with his question is the extra T he put in the word "prostitute". I think we're all partly motivated by recognition, but how far up recognition is in each of our individual list of motivators is variable.

Cerno continues with his T100SLSLBP, but things are slowing down. You can keep it going by nominating posts and writing posts, if you can read and write of course.

The Right Honourable C also tells us that he's given up Linux and his fuel account at Shell. It's a strange lapse in concentration from him. I don't think anyone really cares about Linux as Charlie Brown isn't popular these days and we certainly don't care where he buys his fuel from.

On the positive side he did announce the good news that Unbound Urchin, that young guy who made such an impression in the Lankanosphere and then vanished quicker than you can say "can say" is back with more blogging. It seems that the chap has moved to London and I for one hope he'll continue to write on his blog.

Also, after the understandable turmoil it looks as though Jade has decided to return to the Lankanosphere, something that almost everyone will be pleased about. We like her, even though she sees ghosts and likes Travis. I see ghosts too. Only the other morning I saw one in my toilet. When I went to wipe there was no trace of it whatsoever. These things fascinate me you know.

What else?

Electra's back with some posts, this one I found particularly mindgrabbing.

The Gypsy wrote another of her poetry that isn't poetry type posts. Just read it.

I'll tell you a little secret about Gyppo if you promise not to tell anyone. She writes every single one of her posts in exactly two minutes and fourteen seconds. No more and no less. That gives you an idea of how clever she is. She told me this, so it must be true.

And I think I'll wrap up there.

Oh, I nearly forgot. Those blind chaps have got some new pictures up from India and the Maldives. They're good, in fact they're better than that, in a "I think I really should give up photography when people can be that good at it" sort of way.

Have a very nice weekend all.