Showing posts with label Lankanosphere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lankanosphere. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On That Cartoon

I glanced at Groundviews yesterday and saw that some sort of girls' fight has broken out between Sanjana, David Blacker and DD. And, when I say "girls'" fight, I really mean a fight that girls wouldn't actually have.

If I've got it right (which is rare) then it's all because Groundviews, in this case the esteemed Mr Hattotuwa, called for the sacking of the cartoonist concerned, possibly his public hanging immediately after having his balls smeared with dog food and set upon by hungry canines.

Why? Because the cartoon has (was) deemed as insulting to women by Groundviews, as well as plenty of others.

Then, quicker than you can go and worship your mother every morning, DB and DD jump on the submit comment button and start a virtual fight with GV, along the lines of "how can you advocate free speech then say that things like this should be censored? And by the way my Mum's bigger than your Mum."

Before we know it it's handbags at twelve yards. If a real fight broke out between Sanjana, DB and DD I reckon Sanjana would emerge victorious. It's obvious really, he's the only one not weighed down by the ink of hundreds of tattoos and could run the fastest. The other two are a bit fat also.

The thing is the original Groundviews opinion wasn't about censorship, it was about taste, sexism and what's acceptable to the public to be published in a national newspaper. And, the cartoonist here just drew the cartoon. It's the editor's judgement that should be questioned.

My already limited understanding of the issue gets even more hazy next, but I think Groundviews then reviews its opinion on the cartoon, deciding that maybe its initial reaction was a bit harsh. I stand to be corrected, but with Tweets, Facebook, blogs and so many different types of media involved I just can't keep up.

If I'm right, then fair play to Sanjana. It takes an intelligent person to look at something and admit that perhaps they were wrong. If I'm wrong, then I won't admit it.

As for the cartoon itself, I just don't understand it. It's not really very funny and I'm continually confused by Sri Lanka's attitude towards gender and women. I mean really, people can leer at women, touch them up and do all sorts of things on buses while going home to worship the matriarch. And just about every Sri Lanka family has some sort of matriarch sitting there at the head, dishing out orders and perceived wisdom. Of course sometimes the matriarch is a man though.

Yes, the cartoon might be seen as degrading to women, but it's not as degrading as half the advertising in SL with its inherent sexism or many of the other behaviours that go on every day.

And strangely there's a whole load of blog posts saying nasty things about Sanjana that all have broken links, or it might be that Kottu's playing up.

Indi's got an opinion, though full of Americanisms like, and if you're bothered, you can read the explanation by the editor of Lakbima here.

I suppose that's it really. Oh I seem to have joined a punk band too, more about that later.

Monday, February 27, 2012

So RD, Are You Still Blogging?

I visited some old friends the other day. I don't mean that they're very old in terms of age, just that I've known them for a long time, like probably longer than you are old.

We chatted about all things Sri Lankan, about the fact that the things that are generally good for the country; hotel prices rising, cost of living going up (debatable), more tourists everywhere etc, are not necessarily good for the individual, yet that is progress. At least it is according to most people.

And then J said to me "Are you still blogging?", which was a major surprise of a question.

Why, I hear you ask. Well firstly because I was totally unaware that J knew about my blog. My memory can be weird, so frankly I can't be sure when or if I'd ever told J about it, but at that point I'd hadn't realised she knew. So, and sorry if I'm rambling incoherently here, she had been happily sitting in the venn diagram circle containing people who are unaware of my blog until asking the question.

But, you know me. I'm used to reacting quickly, like a bloke with a super agile and highly trained what's it called. Brain, that's it. And within minutes, a mere thirty or so, I'd regained my composure and looked calm and collected, albeit in a not being able to think of an answer sort of way.

Then I realised that I had to think of my answer.

"Are you still blogging?" The question echoed around my head. Had it been flung at me a few months, perhaps even weeks ago, my answer would have been an emphatic and resounding yes. But these days I'm just not sure.

The Lankanosphere has changed and morphed into a very different beast to the one it was a few years ago. The new Kottu is great, I really like what Indi and his team of Neeks have done to it, but the blogs, apart from the old favourites like LD and Cerno, just don't interest me. I'm not making judgements or criticising, it's just that not many of them grab my attention. Are they good blogs? Largely yes, they are, just not for me.

And most people these days would rather whack out a little Tweet or put something up on Facebook than take the time to write out a nicely thought out blog post, one with proper words and sentences.

But I quite like the thought of being one of the last men standing. Blogging seems to have shifted its position in the cyberworld, from something that everyone was doing because, well, because everyone was doing it, to something that is now only done by the specialists and real enthusiasts.

My answer to the question?

Yes, I'm still blogging.

I just need to think about some things to write about now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Praise Of Lady Divine

LD, as we all like to call her, is five years old. Well, her blog is. And she deserves a whole post.

There are blogs in the Lankanosphere that come and go, there are neeky (a word I got from the girls) ones, Action Man ones, photographic ones and those that say "come and stroll through life my with me and see what goes on". A Glimpse of Lady Divine's World is the market leader in the latter group and I'll be bolloxed if I know why.

But it's my first call blog. It's the one that I check every day, just to see what's happening. How's our LD doing in her new job, has she been to have her eyes tested, her teeth checked or has she gone and lost her bloody keys again?

What about her Mum? She sounds scary, but scary in that Sri Lankan mother sort of way; hard to define and explain to anyone who hasn't experienced one first hand.

And that tattoo? We all thought her Mum would go mental about it but she seems to have taken it pretty well, all things considered.

There's poetry too, I won't link to any because I'm scared of poetry, it confuses and perplexes me. Put me in a room with just a poem for company and we end up backed into opposing corners staring at each other nervously.

And men!!! My God, I wish cupid would just get a move on and sort things for our LD, ideally getting a fellow that both LD and her Mother approve of, which may prove impossible come to think of it.

We know that LD misses her Dad tremendously. But, from what I know, I reckon he'd be mighty proud of her and her achievements so far. If she was my daughter I know that's how I'd feel.

I've never met her, but I thank LD for all the words and posts in the last five years and raise a glass of something to her and to the next five years.

Happy five year blogoversary LD!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Am NOT Sri Lankan

Groundviews and the Sri Lankan blogosphere in general are full of interesting posts, comments and rhetoric about identity, Sri Lankanness specifically. Where it began, who started it, no one knows, but it's all around us and I feel a need to add my two cents' worth, identity being one of the things we're all interested in.

This post on GV by Guru caught my eye yesterday. My first impression was that it looked interesting, if only I could understand the bloody thing. This is an issue I have with these academic sorts; their use of huge words, some with as many as three syllables, makes it hard for regular people like me to immediately relate to and understand the content.

And it's not only the number of syllables in their words, it's often the words themselves. In the very early stages Guru casually throws out my first unknown word; "praxis". I looked it up and, well, let's just say that I found even its definition confusing. It's not a word I'll be sprinkling into my everyday conversation, unless my local Indian starts to serve a chicken praxis in the near future. Of course if it's one of those Suddha dishes with loads of cream and nuts I won't touch it with a bhajipole. (did you see what I did there?)

The academics say and think that their use of these words helps to define and portray their ideas and that they understand each other anyway. I guess it's true, I just think that it adds to the "elitism" and inhibits progress. But, I digress. The thing is, I read the post, looked up the words I needed to, reread the paragraphs that I needed to in order to understand, then thought that what the brainy chap said makes a lot of sense.

In recent weeks I've battled with the things I've read, heard and seen. Sangakkara's stance, echoed by Indi on many platforms; on reframing the issues so that it's about being Sri Lankan, not Tamil or Sinhala or Burgher or whatever, has some very logical positives. Sangakkara delivered it in an eloquent, intelligent and well received manner whereas Indi did the opposite. Whether he likes it or not, the whole comparing the plight of Tamil people to that of elephants thing was insensitive and had the effect of alienating a lot of people.

To many it shattered Indi's credibility into smithereens. How can you say you're sorry, that "we are all responsible" etc and then expect people to think you understand when you do it with all the sensitivity of an elephant rampaging through a village that's been built on a pathway that his family have used for centuries?

Despite all that I thought that there was a point in this being Sri Lankan thing, not that it fully made sense, more that with some stirring, some adding of ingredients and a bit of baking at gas mark seven for about forty minutes, it might make sense. To me.

Then Guru's post, or one small part of it, impacted me hugely. And I'm glad. The lightbulb moment came when I read this:

"Let us come back to the case for a ‘Sri Lankan identity’ and delver a little deeper now. Those who stand for a Sri Lankan identity are only half way cosmopolitans. Indi and Romesh will be at a loss to explain what’s so special about the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity as opposed to a more universal identity – why not stress our identity as humans. Why? Does it sound too na├»ve? Those who rely on a strand of universalism but still are adamant about ‘Sri Lankan’ as the universal are closeted statists. They can argue that they are dealing with Sri Lanka as a historical/ sociological reality. This is true, but so is the Tamil identity and equally the Sinhala, Muslim and Upcountry Tamil identity"

Well I don't actually know Romesh Hettiarachchi and should also point you to his response to the statement here, in which he says he's not at a loss to explain. But what Guru said made me think that he's pointed out an undeniable and fatal flaw in the line of thinking of Indi and Sangakkara, namely that the being Sri Lankan instead of Sinhala, Tamil or whichever, can be extrapolated to the nth degree.

Why don't we forget about nationality altogether? Instead of being Sri Lankan let's call ourselves South Asian. And while we're at it let's forget about the problems that are specific to Sri Lanka and look at the issues faced by South Asia instead. Hell no, instead of South Asia, let's be Asian, or just global citizens in the big mess together.

And the answer to the question of "why?" is plain and simple. It's because identity, however we choose to define it, matters to all of us.

Take me as an example. I think of myself as a Sri Lankan Brit, or a Brit Sri Lankan (I still haven't figured out which way round I should say it, or if it even matters). When people ask me what I feel I usually say that I feel about eighty per cent Sri Lankan and about ninety per cent British. Does it make sense to you? Probably not I guess, but it makes perfect sense to me, saying that I feel a strong sense of identity with both elements of my upbringing, that nature and the nurture sides.

But it's personal. That's how I my identity and it may be wholly different from how you choose to define yours. One thing's for sure; it's not for Indi or Kumar to tell me how I should define myself. As far as I'm concerned they can go ahead and choose how to define themselves all they like, just don't do it for me, any more that I have the right to tell them to forget about being Sri Lankan and think about being Asian instead.

Guru also writes about Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, how he links the concept to an ideology far more than he does to a people or community. That struck a chord with me. There are people I know who are not Buddhist, who are not Sinhala, yet seem to be bonded by a mindset. The post made me realise that the mindset is the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist one and it's not one that promotes value pluralism.

I'm not going to bluff and pretend that "value pluralism" is one of my everyday phrase either. I learnt it from the Guru's post too. He says:

"Value pluralism is the view that many different activities and forms of life, which are incompatible, are valuable."

Which is interesting isn't it? It's the acceptance that certain things are good, even though tension and conflict may result from their existence. I thought of recent tragic events in Norway, of the tension we have here in the UK from many towards the influx of East Europeans, and it dawned on me that these things are examples of the negatives associated with value pluralism. Yet there are many positives and I like being part of a society that, as a whole, chooses to accept the positives and try to deal with the negatives.

As a final note I should tell you that I firmly believe that the things said by Indi as well as the content of Sangakkara's Cowdrey lecture were delivered with the best of intentions and positive motives. Perhaps the deliveries could have been better though.

I am Sri Lankan. I am British. I am also Tamil. Well half. I am actually proud of all of them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lately In The Political Lankanosphere....

If all has gone according to plan you'll be able to look at my mindmap above and see the structure of this post. It might be on the left though, I haven't decided yet.

It's a complicated mindmap, there are links, lines and bubbles all over the shop and even I, who sometimes can read my own handwriting, find it hard to get to grips with.

The crux of the matter is that the Lankanosphere has suddenly launched itself into a round of politics and political posts, the likes of which we haven't seen for some time.

To quote Jack Point

"After a very long sojourn, politics seems to have returned to the local blogosphere. What is more interesting is that it has sparked some reasonable debate, something that has been missing for a long time. "

Where and when did it all start? My thoughts are that a lot of it was catalysed by both The Killing Fields and Sangakkara's Cowdrey lecture. I'm uncertain how things began in the Sri Lankan blogosphere, but certainly the first post that caught my attention, very probably yours, was this one, by Indi. Entitled "The War Is Over. Tell Your Friends" it created lots of feeling.

The main theme of it can be summed up in this quote:

"For a long time Sri Lanka was defined only within the war frame. Indeed, many local people/publications (like Groundviews) have trouble adjusting to a post-war mindset. They’re still all war all the time while the average Sri Lankan is like, ‘breakfast?’"

Indi then tried to prove his theory with some of those word cloud things, showing the most commonly used words on some websites, including Groundviews. A bit of a bitch fight between Indi and Sanjana threatened to break out but nothing came of it really. Disappointing. I'd quite like to see a proper physical fight break out. In fight between the two of them they're both so lacking in the Chuck Norris / James Bond / Sly Stallone stakes that I suspect they'd both lose. David Blacker would probably win without being in it or even being near the scene.

And lots of people, including me, took a different view to Indi. Some commented on Indi's blog, some wrote posts.

I wrote this little one and it generated a bit of discussion too. It seemed to annoy a lot of intelligent people, which wasn't my intention. DD threw all his toys out of his pram and left me staring at my monitor in disbelief with some of the things he said. I put it down to the fact that he must have had a particularly busy week dreaming about killing muggers. Muggers that is, who sound like Dick van Dyke trying to do cockney.

"Cor blimey guv'nor, I'm a cockney don't you know, now hand over yer frickin' wallet. I've got a chimney to sweep."

I do get frustrated when I see the diaspora being tarred with one brush, as I tried to explain in this later post. One of the ironies is that I was criticised for tarring people with one brush with what I said.

Then, with my apologies if I haven't got the chronology totally accurate, we had the great Indi vs Guru debate on Al Jazeera. It was a bit of a let down when Indi's connection got lost for an important chunk of the segment, but it was interesting. Many thought that, in the win / lose context it was billed, Guru emerged as the clear winner. I agree, yet feel disappointed that it had to be billed and presented in that context. Indi has said on too many platforms to link to that he was trying to reframe the context of the debate rather than engage in it.

A couple of now rare yet much welcomed voices entered the arena. First we had Electra, showing us that she's still around and lurking with intent. This post was a very specific response to Indi as well. When I first read it I thought that Electra has said some similar things to my thoughts, just with bags full of intelligence, eloquence and detailed knowledge that I don't possess. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so simple.

I smiled to myself at the fact that a load of comments have appeared on Electra's post advertising cheap made in China sportswear sites.

And Cerno chipped in his two cent's worth too. He says:

"All those clever arguments seem far removed in the un air-conditioned reality live by most Sri Lankans (I’m only partially air conditioned). The war and its political fault lines (both current and historical) seems far away from the grinding business of life."

Which I suppose is one of the key points that many people are trying to say; that while some go on about sanctions, inquiries, international bodies and punishment, many in Sri Lanka are trying to deal with some very harsh realities of daily life.

I know only too well about these day to day trials and tribulations. I was looking at the price of Dominic Sansoni's new bags in Barefoot only the other day and thinking that there must be a small percentage of the population who can't even afford basics like these.

There's an element to Cerno's post that I don't understand; it;s the bit when he talks about the irrelevance to the Sri Lankan blogsphere. I'm unsure if Cerno is saying that the Lankanosphere is pissing in the wind by talking politics or that us bloggers aren't interested in SL politics. If it's the former, then I see it differently, but I'll come to that at the end. If Alanis Morissette writes another song, perhaps calling it "Ironic two" she should bung this line in it:

"That Cerno, ooh ooh,
Could have the time ooh ooh,
to write a blog post, ooh ooh,
saying that he envies those who ooh ooh,
find the time to blog (big drum fill here)"

Jack Point, the most serious court jester to ever exist, put out this post which told us his thoughts on things. He was one of the many who reminded us of the evil, terror and despicable actions of the LTTE. For what it's worth I reckon these actions should be remembered by all, to help put things in perspective.

Groundviews published a bit of a round up of the state of play at the time, specifically on the "Sri Lankan identity and race relations" theme that has run consistently while everything else has been going on.

Meanwhile over on the all comments are closed blog owned by Rajiva Wijesinha, the man who makes my accent sound heavily Sri Lankan, things are carrying on as normal. His approach, of attempting to shatter the credibility into a zillion pieces of anyone or any institution that deigns to criticise the GoSL, continues.

Finally, let me tell you my current concluding thoughts. These are subject to change without notice.

Yes, the war is over. No, the memories and consequences of it are not and they need to be dealt with.

Talk, when constructive and positive, is good and needed. Someone told me the other day that my opinion, me saying things, won't change anything. I agree. But someone, somewhere will be the person with the millionth or billionth opinion, blog, comment or statement that just might break the camel's back and cause change.

Apologies for the long post, the jewellery shop's worth of links and the crazy jumble of fonts and quotes. One of these days I really must change over to Wordpress!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Agreement Is Exciting

Is it just me who finds agreement stimulating and exciting?

I ask this because I've noticed something in life that bothers me tremendously, something that I think is also reflected in the blogosphere and the Lankanosphere.

It's exemplified by this; I write a post like this one, in which I take issue with the content of another post by Indi and it generates a book's worth of comment and more debate, argument and generally heated discussion than you'd find in a barbecue showroom when it catches fire and they can't agree on whether they should call the fire brigade.

Much of that discussion is good though, certainly for me it has helped to learn, to understand viewpoints and respect where and why they originate. Much of that discussion is bad, as I also reckon that argument is fundamentally a counter productive concept. It has its uses but, as a means of solving a situation, of coming up with solutions and moving forward, it's pretty crap and ineffective.

Before anyone accuses me of being negative I'd like to tell you that I think there are better methods of finding solutions. The six thinking hat method, invented by Edward de Bono is one such example, something I've instigated in my company and has, in a very short space of time for us, had hugely positive results.

Why do I say this?

Simply because, in an argument, often people get so fixated and focused on winning their point that they take polarised positions and then fight for them. They do all they can to beat the other person, to win and therefore make the other party lose. And no one really ever wins and argument. If you win, you lose, if you lose, you lose.

On the other hand, I write a post like this one in which I agree with Indi, and it generates nothing. No comments and very little interest, though I'm assuming the bit about the interest from the non existent comments!

So I wonder. I find agreement to be genuinely exciting. I often feel butterflies when I talk with someone and we find areas of agreement. They're like little stepping stones with mini trampolines on them from which can spring forwards, hoping not to land on our head and break our neck!

But it seems that most of us prefer to have a good old fight, to try to gain the satisfaction of winning and forcing the other person to lose.

Does it get us anywhere though?

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Praise Of Indi

I believe in praise where praise is due, which is why I write this. I give Indi enough criticism when he says something I disagree with so I feel I should also do the opposite.

This post of his contains words and thoughts that I think we could all do with reading and pondering on, including me. We all do it, we group bunches of people together. I think it's very commonly done regarding the diaspora, but it's also done with the "local Sri Lankans", as if you who live in Sri Lanka all have one group opinion, thinking the same thing along every front.

As Rajiv and N pointed out in my recent post, I sometimes do it and I apologise for that. The sooner we start to realise that the diaspora contains about as many different views as it has people, that the local Sri Lankans hold more different opinions than even Hi!! Magazine features photographs of its own editor, the quicker we'll make progress.

The counter to that is that there are certain groups of people who are bonded by some communal thoughts and views, but one view shared doesn't mean all other views are shared.

Some people supported the LTTE's initial reasons for taking up arms, which doesn't mean that they supported the ongoing violence and warfare and terror. Some didn't support them from the start and others were forced to contribute financially because they wanted peace. And of course, sadly in my opinion but true, some supported them from start to finish.

Others may have supported the GoSL to different degrees. Some were okay with some things, not with others.

Many in the diaspora, many within Sri Lanka hold many views. There are stupid, ignorant and downright unpleasant people in all corners, but there are also bright, intelligent and sensible ones. Not only that, but there are people who can be every combination all in one.

It's a mad and mental world and that's just the Sri Lankan side of things!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ignorance - Is It A Defence For Colonialism?

I'll start this by setting my stall out; I'm fundamentally against the principles of colonialism. To me, in this day and age, in just seems wrong.

I've also witnessed, mostly in the last few years it seems, an increasing degree of animosity and antagonism towards the British and their colonisation of Sri Lanka from 1802 to 1948. Truly, I question the motivation behind some of this animosity.

My questioning comes from the fact that I just don't hear much said against the Dutch and the Portugese, both of whom, as I'm sure you're aware, also colonised Sri Lanka. The Portugeezers were there for around one hundred and fifty years, the Dutch then for about one hundred and forty years followed by us Brits for about one hundred and fifty years.

It remains to be seen how long the Chinese will be in occupation for, but it's fair to say that in previous times each occupier was there for about the same time. But these days it's the Brits who get all the flak. Call me naive, which you probably will, but I don't hear much anti Dutch talk or sentiments about the harm that the Portugese did, yet from all I can find out they raped the land, the people and the resources as much as anyone. Though of course the Dutch left lamprais and the Portugese left the baila.

Of course there is one thing that has hit me; the fact that these days the Dutch and the Portugese aren't that vociferous on their calls for investigations and inquiries into things that may or may not have happened in Sri Lanka. The Dutch are usually too stoned and the Portugese may be just too worried about their own place going bankrupt to be at all bothered about little old Sri Lanka.

A cynic might conclude that much of the anti British colonialism thing is actually a way of attacking the credibility of the British, rather than a real problem with the effects of colonialism.

The thing about colonising other countries is that it's a thing of the past, isn't it? Those days, from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, it was all the rage in Europe. It was the means by which many nations built prosperity, power and profit. It wasn't right, it was exploitation, but we know that now, which is why it's not up there along with surfing the net and getting my phone hacked by News International as one of the hobbies of most European leaders.

I compare it with smoking. Slightly.

You know when we see all those old adverts about smoking, the ones where a company says that most Doctors recommend Marlboro as the best fag to smoke, or where they extol the benefits of smoking Benson and Hedges. Well, in the cases where we've later found out that the tobacco companies actually knew about the evils and perils of smoking but ignored them or chose to lie, then that's downright despicable behaviour clearly.

But, in the cases where we just hadn't discovered the dangers, when people really thought smoking was good for you, then we don't actually get angry with those responsible do we? Sure, we would get angry with people if they tried to do the same now, with the knowledge we have.

And that's what I wonder about. Colonialism was the done thing. It's not now.

A wise friend told me something that has stuck; that every colony, once granted independence, goes back in its development to some point between when it was first colonised and the point at which independence happened, then continues to develop from there. It's a bit like a post divorce marriage. I reckon a country takes some years to get its bearings, to figure out where it wants to start from, and I think that's what Sri Lanka is doing at the moment, whilst dealing with all the other things going on as well.

It's no mean feat is it? Colonialism, for Sri Lanka, wasn't all bad. There were some positives as well as lots of negatives. It's going to take time to figure out the negatives, let alone get rid of them.

So shouldn't we, Sri Lankans, in which I include myself, be more angry, concerned and worried about China's behaviour which is actually happening today and now, than towards what the British did over a hundred years ago when I'm not sure that they knew any better?

I don't know the answer, just thinking aloud really. What do you think?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Guru vs Indi Fight Debate

I watched it and, even if you didn't, you've probably seen it by now. I know both of the chaps, though not that well.

Guru is a good friend of The Auf's and I've met him, conversed with him and generally enjoyed his company. He's fucking scary, well his intellect is, and I felt a bit like Bertie Wooster did whenever he bumped into Jeeves on one of his rare evenings off down the local pub.

I'd also count Indi as a friend, scary too, just for very different reasons, mostly to do with his dress sense and accent.

I like both of the esteemed fellows. My own opinions are closer to Guru's than Indi's but, in following both of their online presences, I've learned a pretty large bag full of information about Sri Lanka.

But this Al Jazeera thing, well it was so wrong wasn't it? It was like watching the USS Enterprise fight against Mike Tyson in his prime. I'm pretty smugly happy about that simile, because I mean it with no disrespect to Indi, hence the Mike Tyson in his prime thing.

My first issue with this was that Guru is a heavyweight sort of bloke. The Auf was telling me the other day that, as part of Guru's academia, he has to write four books a day, or something like that. He knows his stuff, he quotes facts and figures and has the knowledge to back up his opinions.

Indi, on the converse hand, not that either of them would wear Converse, is a different kettle of fish, simplifying things, comparing the plight of Tamils to that of Elephants, something I think is insulting to many, Elephants included. He has a much listened to, much argued with and much agreed with voice in the Lankanosphere and is one of the most widely read Sri Lanka bloggers, though not the funniest. I think we all know who that is.

But, as fights go, this was a mismatch.

And then we have my second issue.

Why was it a fight in the first place?

It was pitched as a debate. It was advertised by some on Facebook and elsewhere as a confrontational situation between two people holding opposing viewpoints. As Guru representing the Tamils and Indi representing the Sinhalese. I suspect neither of them would have wanted that, neither would have been aware of how it would be advertised.

That post I wrote the other day showed me something along similar lines. Fighting just doesn't help progress, whether it's verbal or physical. Why pitch Indi against Guru and see who wins?

Wouldn't it have been more productive to have got the two of them together and got them pulling in the same direction together?

Isn't positive discussion so much more powerful and solution driven than people rearing up against each other and trying to win their point, to "cancel" out the other person's view?

Just my thoughts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Lankanosphere And The Killing Fields

I'm a helpful sort of bloke so I thought you might find it useful if I wrote a little post with links to several of the other posts that I've read about the Killing Fields documentary.

By now I think it's safe to say you'd have to be a total arse if you weren't aware of the documentary, or perhaps a regular run of the mill person who has little or no interest in Sri Lanka. Because, believe it or not, to those people, Sri Lanka isn't that important. Unless they're worried about having to cancel their holiday.

I present this round up to you on a platter, but it's a platter that is in no particular order and by no means definitive. It's just a platter of dishes that caught my attention, some of which I like, some I dislike and some that make me wonder how on earth someone so stupid even figured out how to write and work a keyboard.

First on the platter is the Blogfather, Indi, with this post. It's not the longest or most detailed of analyses, but at the time of writing our author says himself that he hasn't watched all of it, that he has to rush off to do a poo or something, so there's little room for us to moan about the briefness of it.

He does however, kick off with some sentences that indicate his view as being different to mine.

"So far I find it biased and framed completely wrong". Well strictly speaking of course I can't disagree with that, if that's how he sees it, what I meant was that I feel differently.

"Channel 4 frames......and the war ending as a horrible thing". Well that wasn't my view after watching it either.

"They set it up like Eelam was a good thing". Again, I didn't get that from the programme.

The thing about Indi's post is that it's got over a hundred comments. I'd love to write a post that gets that sort of interest. These days I'm lucky if a post of mine even gets a hundred reads and I'd do serious things to be able to write one that kicks of an argument between other fellows that I don't even have to get involved in. What is it about these chaps?

Secondly on our platter is the legendary David Blacker with this well composed piece. Strictly speaking it's not actually about the Killing Fields but it's a close relative, a cousin brother I reckon. Entitled "Why does the Darusman Panel Ignore Evidence of War Crimes?" though the title changes depending on where you read it, it's a quality piece of work in which our legend explains why, in his opinion, there is actually no bona fide evidence of war crimes having been committed by the GoSL.

Some would argue with our DB, but his logic and evidence, including photos with writing and arrows (in red as well!) and his quotations from international law books that I probably don't have in my library ensure that he's presented us with a pretty watertight case. There's a bit of an argument brewing in the comment section as well, though my money's firmly on the legend in the fight stakes.

The thing about our DB is that, although I find myself often disagreeing with his opinion, I respect his knowledge and I know that he comes at these things with a level of expertise that many just don't have.

Representing an entirely different perspective is the ever eloquent and frank Scrumpulicious with this little postette. I like this sentence in particular and wonder if there's anyone, whichever side you may be on, whatever your view, who disagrees with it.

"Let's face it - the end of the civil war in SL was a bloody one. I mean wars usually are. And the defeat of the LTTE signifies hope and peace for the beautiful island but it was at a big cost to the civilians that were caught in the no fire safety zone."

For me, the Scrumps' last paragraph puts things in a nutshell. Check it out.

Gehan, he of Darkside Daily fame, wrote, or rather didn't write this post called "Killing Fields: Why Are We Not Talking About it?" I say "didn't write" because, well have a look and you'll see what I mean. But he finished with a sentence that looks to be a cynical one, yet I'm not so sure. It's worth a glance. He makes some intelligent and wise points, though would probably be a bit pissed of that I, of all people, have called them intelligent.

The blog called Libertad, written by someone called Purpleboxers publishes a post belonging firmly in the "this documentary is a fake made by the western imperialist wankers and biased foreign media" group of thinking. (with thanks to my anonymous friend). It takes all sorts I suppose.

In my virtual travels I stumbled upon this piece, by a fellow called Raashid Riza. He reminds us of the attrocities committed by the LTTE against the Sinhalese and Muslim people and concludes with what seems to me to be a popular mindset; that things like the Killing Fields "will only keep the embers of this conflict burning" with the insinuation that that is a bad thing. For what it's worth I think he's right about the embers burning, but I think, to continue the metaphor, that sometimes you have to put the fire out but also figure out what caused it to stop another one.

Groundviews, in its customarily fearless way, gives us a round up of narrative around the world wide web. You might not be able to read it if you're in Sri Lanka, but I'm sure you can find way around that obstacle if you really want to.

Those are the ones that caught my eye. As I said there are some I like, some I dislike, some I agree wholeheartedly with and some I think are a load of piffle. I hope it gives you an idea of the plethora of opinions shooting around the Lankanosphere.

It certainly seems as if the Killing Fields has kicked off a new round of debate and that the vast majority of the writers think the end of the long and bloody conflict is a wholly good thing.

Everyone seems to be extracting their own question from it and my one is this; Yes, it's fantastic that the conflict is over, but at what price?

Monday, June 6, 2011

David Blacker's Book, David Blacker's Stomach

With apologies, for I'm truly sorry to bring you a title like this on a Monday morning, very possibly as you eat your breakfast.

There we were, last week at the Cricket Club Cafe, when the legendary David Blacker turned up. I wouldn't normally use the word "legendary" to describe someone but he specifically requested it, so it's in.

He kindly gave me a very wonderful present; the copy of his book above, complete with personalised message. I kid you not when I say it's something I'm truly grateful for and I promise to read it very soon.

He sat down and we chewed the cud for a while. It was mens' talk, of cars mostly, why the Ariel Atom could only ever be a third car for most men, something C seemed to totally fail to understand yet surely must be obvious to the average man.

After a bit I asked him what he wanted to drink, as you do. For the last couple of weeks the chap has been moaning incessantly about having a stomach upset of sorts. I'm sure any of his other friends will tell you the same, give him the slightest opportunity and he's been going on and on about it. Tales of how he's had to stay in, tone down his wild life, eat simply and drink next to nothing have been pouring out of him like nobody's business.

So it wasn't really a surprise when he turned down the offer of an alcoholic beverage because of the gastro thing and said he'd just have something simple and plain. He perused the menu before making his carefully thought out selection.

I reckon I'm a normal sort of bloke, well, you know, perhaps a bit shorter and a bit more stupid than average but on the whole quite normal. And, when I've got an upset stomach I do exactly the same, I eat simple things, meals and snacks that will settle, not antagonise my stomach.

DB, as we call him in these parts, placed his order and we carried on conversing. I thought little of it as his chosen food and b. arrived at the table some minutes later.

But, about ten minutes later, it hit me.

"Hold on DB" I said.

"You're supposed to have gastroenteritis, or whatever. How's food and drink like that going to help your stomach?"

He looked at table in front of him, as did C and as did I.

"WTF?" We all thought. Simultaneously. Even DB, who had chosen the stuff.

His "simple" stomach settling choice?

Was it some plain grilled chicken with a glass of water? Was it a portion of french fries with a glass of Coke?

Like hell was it.

It was a glass of iced tea, with an accompanying dessert consisting of papaya, chocolate fudge and ice cream. He wolfed it down anyhow.

He's mental that bloke.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Lady Divine

Today is the birthday of just about everyone's favourite blogger.

Many happy returns LD, I hope you get everything you wish for.

It's also my eldest's birthday today!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'll Show You Mine....

If you show me yours.

According to the Right Honourable Cerno we all have to put up our first blog post. If he says we have to do it, then that's what we do.

And a happy fourth blogoversary to the esteemed man.

Fuck me, I'm nearly five.

Come on then, let's see yours.

"Give me time - and we'll see what comes of this."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Thirty First Night

Hello Reader,

It seems fitting and appropriate, though a good Thesaurus will probably tell you that the two words have the same meaning, that I write the last post of the noughties while sitting in the garden cafe at Barefoot. It's almost 2PM and the place is buzzing with people; a wealthy mix of tourists and Sri Lankans who have returned for the festive season. There is of course the traditional white bloke in a sarong, going through the whole trying to look cool and relaxed whilst desperately hoping it stays up thing.

I've been doing all sorts of things. I had my first ever trip to the Dutch Burgher Union the other day, for a wedding reception. It was a blast, with C putting in a rare appearance in a rather short and head turning dress. Dominic Sansoni, who more or less runs the DBU singlehandedly, was startled by the sight of C's legs so much that he was thinking of changing the constitution to include a minimum dress length for women.

The morning event saw yours truly cut a rather elegant dash in a very British suit and tie. I felt like a twat in the heat, every sensible chap wore a loose fitting shirt and nice airy trousers while I roasted so much that at one point I nearly loosened my tie and undid the top button. I maintained my dignity though, as I felt as if I was representing the Brits and needed to show some stiff upper lip stuff.

It's my first time ever in Sri Lanka during the Christmas season and I'm observing and absorbing as much of the detail as I can. I'm amazed at the heaviness of the decorations everywhere, that certain lack of subtlety looms large in the Sri Lankan approach to Christmas trees and lights. The outside of my hotel, the one on the lake, looks like the result of a traffic accident involving the Hi!! magazine graphics designer and a huge truck on its way out of the white light bulb factory.

The buzz around what people are going to do tonight is tangible and mounting. Every hotel and venue is getting ready, putting up stages and decorations and getting staff and fixtures in place for the big night. I've wanted to experience a 31st night here for years and finally get to do it. Mine and C's choice is to head over to this thing at Park Street Mews. It's a bash with bands, DJs, dinner, breakfast and a good crowd of friends, so should be fun with a capital g.

There are more stories to tell, particularly the tale of Java and the missing crisps, but time has got the better of me and I'll leave you with wishes for a good New Year, whatever you're doing in whichever country.

Somewhere in Kingston there's a sixteen year old having a few friends round to her Dad's apartment while he holidays in Sri Lanka. You've got to wish that Dad a lot of luck haven't you!!

See you in the next decade.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lately In The Lankanosphere

Yes, it's back. It's been a long time since the last "lately" post in these parts, mostly because there just hasn't been much in the Lankan blogosphere that's caught my reading eye. Most of my regular reads have gone quiet or now prefer to splash out quick 140 character tweets or Facebook status updates, usually saying how much they hate Facebook's latest look, instead of sitting down and putting the effort in to write sntces + wrds tht arnt abbrvted.

Many of these former bloggers are so outrightly selfish that they concentrate on their own lives, never thinking about the enjoyment of us, their readers. And Kottu has morphed into more of an aggregator than it ever used to be. Say what you like about fixing the most read lists but there used to be a sense of interaction and community on Kottu that's no longer there. It's become like a band that have split up but get back together now and again to do a tour just for the money.

And then this week there was a shift in the Earth's vibrations, a sneeze in the Lankanosphere and my interest was captured.

First Java Jones whacked one out. Then he wrote a post. There are many blogging youngsters who are unaware of the legend that is Java Jones, of his widespread influence among many of us, not to mention that he's a cat only matched in coolness by TC. Or Huggy Bear, but he's not a cat. As a young up and coming blogger all those years ago I'd read Java's posts and wish I could write with his fluidity and sheer fucking sense of craziness. They tell me that copious amount of drug taking helps with this.

These days JJ has semi retired and spends most of his time living in the hill country. He blogs only occasionally and spends the majority of his time practicing the vuvuzela. He's one of only a handful of professional vuvuzela players in the world and is a first call session player for most of the world's top gigs. He'll deny it though, he's humble and bashful like that. You thought it was a saxaphone at the beginning of Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street didn't you? Well it's not, it's JJ, doing his vuvuzela thing.

His post is only a brief one, on his thoughts on the Wikileaks cable saga, but worth its weight in gold and it got my attention immediately. I urge you to check it out and comment demanding that he writes more.

Then Dramaqueen, usually as elusive as a huge big invisible and soundless monster who's decided to have a game of hide and seek, decided to spurt out not just one, but four posts, all in one day. Somewhere in there lurks a joke about four poster beds. I wish I was wittier, as you do probably. About me I mean, not about you. You probably think you're quite funny as it is.

The thing about DQ is that she's funny, in a slightly animal loving and sensitive way. I can imagine that an evening with her, involving drinking games and farting would be incredibly good fun, until the point that an innocent fellow cracked a joke about killing cats or breeding Christmas trees for commercial reasons. Then all hell would break loose and the farting would stop.

Grab yourself a few minutes and read her posts, my favourite is this one, the story of her first full body massage. (insert smutty joke here......) Any girl who can write about farting gets my vote every time.

DD also came out with a quickie. His blog isn't one I find easy on the eye, what with its various adverts blaring out at full volume all the time, but I'm always keen to read his perusings. The latest one is entitled the £600 haircut and it's about, well a £600 haircut. At first glance I saw the opening picture of him and assumed that he was showing us the "before the haircut" situation.

"Not a problem" I thought, a decent hairdresser should be able to tidy up that mess and do great things with it. I read on and, without giving too much away, I'll only say that I hope DD got a receipt!

Also catching the RD eye lately has been this new blog called I am. I've mentioned it before but it deserves another shout. It's an eye and earcatching combination of images and narrative, all about Sri Lanka's regional identities, told through the eyes of some highly thought provoking characters.

Dominic Sansoni himself told me the other day that it's much, much harder than it appears to put images and sound together and come up with something so special. I noticed that he was talking to his mouth was actually making the movements for the word before the one I was hearing. So it must be true then. Check it out and see for yourself.

Groundviews has gone to the shops and got itself a sexy new look for the festive season. I must admit that I can't figure out if the logo is new or if it's always been there, but I wonder if Sanjana, at the merest hint of a rights violation, rushes into a phone box, does a spin and emerges with a T shirt with the GV logo on, some extra fast slippers and his pants on the outside. Actually, as I think on it I realise that's how he was dressed last time I met him anyway. Presumably he must have been rushing to an emergency.

This post by Michael Meyler tells us Suddhas about the word "goday". I just wish I was able to pronounce it correctly without you guys looking puzzled and then laughing at me once you realise what I'm attempting to say. The esteemed Mr Meyler tells us that the nearest word to "goday" in contemporary English s the word "naff".

With the utmost respect to him I disagree. I reckon it's "chav" or "chavvy". Just ask the Auf, he'll back me on this. And talking of the Auf I've heard it on good authority that there may be a little bit of Auf love in the air. I won't tell you who's involved but let's just say that myself and Pseudorandom are currently busily writing our speeches.

The channel has been particularly busy of late. He points out in this post that the noughties is almost over. The fact had escaped me until I read it. Bloody hell, that's another decade gone. In my life it's fair to say that it was a pretty big one, how was it for you?

Rajaratarala, him with all the As, published this post, all about eggs, chickens and the possibility of them being imported for the festive season. Clearly it's a chicken egg situation. That's all I have to say on the matter.

That's pretty much it for now. If you want more you know where to look. It's ever so slightly awash with posts on how to make your blog look like a Christmas tree, film reviews or out of focus pictures taken on someone's mobile of Murali dancing at a party but, once you filter through all of that stuff, there are some gems to be found.

As they say in France, this isn't goodbye, just bonjour.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks And The Lankanosphere

I'm one of millions who have been captured and enthralled by this Wikileaks business. The unspoken question on the edge of everyone's lips sounds a bit like:

"Cables? I thought they went out years ago!"

Because, in this high tech iEverything age, who the hell, apart from electricians, uses cables? I really didn't even know they still exist. My parents used to use them, mostly when someone had died, and frankly even I'm pretty old compared to most of my readers.

Everything these days is secure, password and PIN number protected. To penetrate a careful person's email account you need the advanced computer skills of Harry Potter after he's been to some evening classes on hacking, or a fourteen year old Nigerian fraudster.

The Americans chose cables to communicate these highly sensitive bits of information. Surely they weren't surprised when something sprang a leak?

They were, and don't call me Shirley, with my thanks to Leslie Nielsen.

The reaction of the Sri Lankan blogosphere has been surprisingly subdued. I don't know why this is the case, perhaps as more leaks specifically related to Lanka are released the momentum will increase or maybe people just aren't interested.

There have been three main blogs and a few posts that have caught my eye.

First, and undoubtedly foremost, there's Groundviews with this fantastic precis of the situation to date. It's got even more graphs, diagrams and flashy charts than a piece of homework submitted by my fourteen year old daughter and it explains things pretty clearly and succinctly. There are links galore and it tells you everything you need to know, everything if you're me that is.

The only thing it's missing is a good pie chart. Perhaps Sanjana might want to use the one I've shown below, the only pie chart ever worth using IMHO. By the way, the invention of the pie chart is often credited to Florence Nightingale, her of Florence and the Machine. She didn't invent it, sorry about that.

Moving on we've got Sittingnut on Lanka Libertarian with his take on things. It's his first post for months and it's good to have him back and active in the Lankanosphere. His approach demonstrates his usual degree of level headedness and wisdom with his unparalleled ability to see things from the perspective of a large bird with a very long neck.

He asks "Who will be most embarrassed in Sri Lanka when these cables come to light", something I think is an interesting question. Sadly I think the answer, at least where Sri Lanka is concerned, is a resounding "no one", as so many things are so shameless there anyhow.

In the updated section of Sittingnut's post he reports on the Commonwealth turning down Sri Lanka's offer to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting because of "concerns about lending international credibility to the Government's actions".

Sittingnut's response to this is to ask who cares about the commonwealth anyway. This response is akin to a child who, on being told he can't join in a game with his friends because they think he might have cheated last time, retorts by saying he never wanted to play anyhow. He then goes and plays with a bunch of Chinese kids and......

Lastly we come to Indi with his views on the matter at hand. He's given Wikileaks quite a chunk of attention with three posts at the time of writing.

This one informs us that Wikileaks has 3166 documents to be released on Sri Lanka. They'll be released in forthcoming months so we don't yet know what secrets they contain. Here in the UK I expect their release will be carefully planned around the X Factor and Cheryl Cole's scheduled appearances, possibly synchronised with her clothing.

Indi's first post about the thing starts off by showing us a picture of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks' founder, doing a hand shadow puppet thing. He's evidently not very good at it, but I reckon he'll attain fame in other ways.

Indi uses this post as a platform to argue that the over 100,000 deaths in Iraq revealed by Wikipedia recently are far more than alleged in Sri Lanka and that the US has lost much of the trust from the rest of the world because of this. It's undoubtedly a valid view, with one major flaw.

There isn't a massive body of people in the West saying that the actions of the US, the UK and whoever else are correct and justified and that it's just little old Sri Lanka who have done wrong. No, there's huge public opinion here in the UK that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, that the public was misled and that the troops should withdraw. People here are allowed to say these things quite freely too.

His post here demonstrates the Indi thinks it's a positive thing that Julian Assange and Wikileaks exist, I'm inclined to agree with him.

Indi has a lot more readable stuff on his blog about the whole Wikileaks saga, check it out.

Finally I must tell you what I think. I guess it would be a cop out to criticise others without revealing my thoughts.

The first thing that struck me, on reading Indi's and Sittingnut's opinions was that they shared a view, perhaps a first. They both demonstrate a lack of consistency. They both believe that it's okay for these secrets about the US Government to be revealed, thereby showing us its real face and giving us a true picture. Yet they both think that it's perfectly acceptable for Sri Lanka to keep certain things secret as it's in the interests of national security.

Indi says this

"Their logic for dialling back these leaks works on a local level in the same way that the white flag story works in Sri Lanka. These are our secrets and we keep them to protect our country."

Sittingnut tells us

"It appears that american state is run by arrogant hypocrites who care nothing for ethics and morality when they want to dominate others..."

My stance is that Sittingnut's take on the US is, or maybe was, correct. But, if it's good that these things are revealed, then it should be good if all atrocities are revealed in all countries.

Fundamentally I feel it's a good positive thing that this information has been made public. I care not one iota for the arguments about patriotism, national security etc. I think that, if the Americans, Brits and whomever else have behaved this cynically then they deserve what they get.

But I wonder on the wisdom of Wikileaks in revealing all of this. There are cases when people have been named, people who have been motivated to pass on information to the Americans for genuinely good reasons, and some of them may now be in very real danger.

In the longer term this may discourage others from coming forward to people in not just American but all diplomatic circles, that can't be good.

The whole thing makes the Americans look cynical and arrogant. If I had a friend who was an American diplomat right now I'd be wondering if he really was my friend and whether I could trust him. It's a stroke of luck that I have no friends in these circles. Apart from Condoleezza and Hillary that is.

In the UK, at least at the time of writing, our main concerns have been the plainly stupid and bigoted views of Prince Andrew, as well as his very dodgy choices on when to air them. Most of us think he's an idiot anyway. I'm sure there'll be more to come though.

I leave you with the last word quoted from Groundviews, in itself a quote from Kusal Perera:

“The first is that, in Sri Lanka, it would never be possible for any one to play “Julian Assange” and dare face an open media briefing in Colombo, to justify his or her claims on war crimes and torture. Right or wrong, excessive or not, that “democracy” is nowhere within the shores of Sri Lanka and would not be, for many decades to come. There is also no possibility of any lawyer, any public litigant, requesting Courts to “order” relevant authorities to begin investigations into allegations of crimes committed during war, as in Britain. Relevance if any on such democratic practices, is almost naught.” – From WikiLeaks to WikiLanka: War Is Definitely Savage Though “Accusations” Differ, Kusal Perera

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Auf, The Guru, The Diaspora And The Sex Shop.

And so it came to pass last weekend that I found myself sitting in a workshop, a serious one. It was about the role of the diaspora in the rehabilitation and development of post war Sri Lanka and, being the serious minded person you know me for, I was primarily concerned about my choice of footwear for the thing.

I'd gone for my white Converse Jack Purcells, a nice variation on the more traditional and common Chuck Taylors that all the world and his wife, as well as their kids, are wearing these days. My worry; that I wouldn't be portraying a serious enough image to fit in, dissolved as soon as I saw the state of the other people there.

Scientists have established that if you took a sample of about a hundred academics only one of them would be trendy in his appearance, probably Academic Bro actually. If I owned a university I'd have some kind of dress code, one that didn't involve long gowns and hats that are only good for pigeons to land on.

My second major concern was the correct pronounciation of the word "diaspora". I mean, what's going on here? It's "dee ass porer", it's "die ass pora", it's "dee ass pourer", in fact it's any combination you can think of. These things should be sorted out when words are invented to avoid confusion.

Honestly, I really don't know how I came to be invited to this thing, but I was and it was a highly interesting day, with a bunch of quite diverse and thought provoking people. There was even a Professor there, giving a presentation that I found very informative.

I sat next to The Auf, a nervewracking position to be in. It was like going to a new school, being placed in the gifted and talented class because of a clerical error, then finding myself sitting next to the brightest kid in the room. Not only that but The Auf's mate, The Guru, was one of the people speaking.

At one point The Auf mistook my doodles for mind maps and thought I was busily making notes and taking it all in. I let it pass and then hastily started to do some mind maps to keep up the pretence.

At the end of it I found myself wandering the streets of London with The Auf and The Guru, heading to a bookshop the former was keen to investigate. You can imagine my consternation. As the fast living rock 'n' rolling type of chap that you know I was reluctant to be spotted by one of my fans walking with these two rather serious looking fellows.

The Guru, having just landed a few days earlier, was entirely unused to London life and spent much of his time strolling into the path of oncoming vehicles because he hadn't heard a horn, leaving shop doors wide open, that sort of thing. The Auf, having been here for a few years, has morphed into a Londoner of sorts. Of course he still dresses like one of the blokes in Machang going for an immigration interview, but apart from that he's more or less a cockney now.

We strolled, me feeling like I was auditioning for a weird film, them feeling, well, probably like they were auditioning for a weird film. At one point we stopped to take some pictures, doing that whole grabbing a passing stranger and asking him to take a picture then wondering if he might run off and nick the camera thing. Unfortunately I managed to look gay in one, putting across a slightly mincing impression that I hadn't intended.

After a visit to another bookshop, in which I found a little treasure of a book on drums and the other two bought all sorts of serious works, we parted company. I confess that I was surprised and startled, nay disappointed, by their intention and felt the need to leave, to distance myself from their frankly sordid influence over me.

A dinner invite, perhaps a non alcoholic drink, a museum or an art gallery would have been perfectly good for me. Maybe a meeting in a club to discuss some serious issues, perhaps more about the diaspora and its involvment with Sri Lanka would have interested me greatly.

But no. The Guru and The Auf, formerly my heroes and role models, had decided that they wanted to go and visit shop. I wasn't going to be part of this, sullying my own good reputation for the sake of seediness and dirty, filthy stuff.

Would you adam and eve it, as The cockney Auf would say. You just never know.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spitting Games

As the founder member of the We hate Snow Patrol apart from Spitting Games club I feel that the title is entirely appropriate. Though I quite like that other one, Take Back the City, as well.

Picture the scene. I was out on a pleasant dinner last week. There was me, kind of obvious really, there was the Auf, rather The Auf and there was a friend of his who I'd met a couple of times before as well as her twin sister.

Things could get confusing here as both of the twins have similar names and they begin with the letter C. If I was to go off on a coded name thing, as first invented and utilised by Darwin back in the day, chaos may well ensue, what with C being the original C, that one that, well, you know, the one that is my, well, you know, ahem, girlfriend.

So I figure it's best to refer to the twins as T1 and T2. T1 is the one that The Auf knew first, T2 is the newer one, who's also the older one, albeit by only two minutes. I must tell you that I found it most amusing that T1 calls T2 Akki when there's only two minutes between them. They just looked at me weirdly and laughed in that "he's a bit creepy but let's be polite" way when I mentioned this though.

We were in a restaurant in the heart of the West End, it was a gorgeous sunny summer evening and I was excited to be meeting new diasporic Sri Lankans. If you imagine our table to be a rectangle, which most tables apart from the non rectangular ones are, then I was sitting in the bottom right segment of the rectangle.

The Auf was occupying territory in his majestic way in the top right, T1 was in the bottom left and T2 was in the top left. That just about sets the scene for you. Oh, and the tablecloth was white.

It's an interesting thing when you go for a meal with people you don't know very well n'est-ce pas? When I'm familiar with them there's rarely any awkwardness about bill paying. It's either split equally between all parties or someone picks up the tab knowing that another fellow will pick it up next time, but not really being bothered about it anyhow.

Were I alone with The Auf I'd have had no hesitation in buying dinner or letting him buy me dinner, feeling quite fluid about it, but this was a new group and things were different. As we perused the menu I found myself going through that mental stuff, wondering what people would order, if we'd split the bill equally and therefore if it would be bad if I ordered more than the others and all those permutational things.

I'm not sure if other people have all of these complicated issues going through their mind or if they just read the menu and order what they want. How can I know this stuff when I rarely understand what's going on in my head alone?

I did a bit of asking around and established that everyone was going for a noodle type of dish, perhaps each person was waiting for someone to say the words on the tip of my tongue:

"I think I'll have the spicy lamb curry, the mixed fried rice and just some vegetables. Oh and a small salad as I like to be healthy."

I didn't. The words remained on the tongue and I held back and ordered pad thai. I followed the lead of T2 and asked for some extra chilli.

We carried on with our chat and the food arrived. And this is where it gets interesting.

I did that thing of mixing chilli sauce and peanuts and all sorts of random crap into the pad thai to make it taste better and commenced on the eating, interspersed with nuggets of good quality conversation.

You know when you're with someone, happily chatting away and enjoying things with not a care in the world and then inadvertently something solid comes flying out of their mouth and lands nearby? Something like a chewed up bit of food and it always lands in the most awkward of places like in an eye, on your face or in your food.

Well that's exactly what happened. I turned to T1 and saw the object out of the corner of my eye as it exited the mouth at the same time as a word. I'm sorry but I can't recall the precise word. The missile landed about an inch from T1's plate of uneaten food.

Ever the gent, I continued the conversation as if nothing had happened. The little lump of chewed food sat next to the plate looking totally massive but doing nothing whatsoever. I'm pretty sure The Auf and T2 had also spotted the episode but no one said a word. It was all very British as we deliberately ignored the incident and carried on as if nothing had happened, ironic considering not one of us had an ounce of British blood running through our veins.

The worst thing was that I'd caught it in my peripheral vision as it was launched. I knew exactly who'd been the spitter and where it landed and I so didn't want to be the culprit.

But I was.

That's how I remember that the tablecloth was white. For I spent every available second glancing at the remnant hoping that it would evaporate or dissolve. It didn't. It just sat there looking like a Maldivian atoll in that bright blue water. I felt sorry for T1 but what's a chap supposed to do in these situations?

I couldn't be sure that anyone else had seen it happen so a confession followed by a quick wipe might well have seen me confess to a crime that no one knew had taken place. We weren't familiar enough with each other for one person to go

"Euurrrgh look what he did" and make a joke.

T1, had she seen it, which I'm sure she did, probably didn't feel comfortable to wipe the thing away, risking embarrassing me.

We carried on eating but I'd been so put off my stride that I couldn't finish my food. I had to go to make a phone call and, when I returned, T1 had placed her napkin on the table covering the offending object. I don't know if it was deliberate or just because she'd finished her meal but I cared not, the thing was concealed, that was the important issue.

When the bill came I resisted the urge to ask to pay less as I'd spat so much of my food out and we split it four ways. The maths was complicated but when you hang with The Auf you know there's a chap present with the brain to handle it.

What was it my Mum used to say about not talking with your mouth full?

And T1 occasionally reads my blog I believe. So if she didn't spot it happen at the time she probably knows now.

Apart from all of that it was a damn fine evening. At least no one spat at me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sandwich Is Missing, Long Live The Queen

Remember that Sandwich lady, the one who we all read? The one who won prestigious awards and was a bit mad?

Well she stopped blogging and I'm one of the many who've missed her and her random ramblings. Apparently she's been off discovering new avenues and rebranding herself, doing paradigm shifts and other specialised gear changing techniques.

Why am I telling you all of this?

No reason really, but I discovered a new blog yesterday. It's called "In the Lost Queen's Eyes" and it has a warming familiar and comfortable ring to it, a bit like a favourite old mobile phone that's been left in an airing cupboard a bit too long.

Check it out. There's a link on the left too, one of those ones reserved for special people with special blogs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Blog Is Not Dead, SL2G And England.


It's just that everyone seems to be writing posts about their blog, how it's alive and still in existence. I like a good bandwagon and I like jumping too.

Here are a few random jottings about things going on in the RD life.

Tomorrow (Thursday 24th June) a group I'm involved with called SL2G is hosting a screening of a fantastic documentary called "Do we really want to live like this?".

It's in central London at 7 PM and will be followed by a (hopefully) stimulating discussion and social intercourse. ( I said "social") If you want an invite let me know, numbers are limited but we'll do our best to squeeze you in as long as you tell us you're coming.

If the screening and the discussion isn't enough to get you interested then let me tell you that you'll get to meet the legendary man of architecture, photography and general intelligence. The man that James Bond, Geoffrey Bawa, Dominic Sansoni and Stephen Hawkins all cite as a major influence. Yes, The Auf will be there, signing autographs and breasts.

Here in Londinium things are in a different reality mode. We're all getting ready for the match this afternoon, the usual England playing football and needing to win thing. It's going to be one of the hottest days of the year in temperature and in atmosphere. Which is cool.

I'll be picking up the girls and rushing to my apartment to get there for the kick off. Tomorrow morning the nation will be in a spiffing mood or a terrible mood, like a country with PMS. I know which one I want.

I've found these buckets of small cheeseburgers at Tesco. You chuck them in the microwave and end up with rather delicious burgers. I'm going to buy bucketloads of these buckets to accompany us in the match.

Last week I played what was almost definitely the worst gig I've ever played, only beaten by the one a week before. Lack of audience, lack of involvement and lack of England being able to score against Algeria contributed to the badness. Do I regret the gigs? No. That's the thing, we didn't know beforehand that's how they'd turn out.

It's K's fourteenth birthday on Friday. I asked her what she wants and, after a bit of thought, she's settled on money. Funny really, it seems like she's been fourteen for ages. In just over a month I'll be taking the two of them to the motherland for what I've realised will likely be our last holiday together, until they get much older and it all comes round again. That makes me a bit sad and a bit happy. The cashiers at Odel should get ready for them though.

I've been asked to be a guest on Ashok Ferrey's new chat show. We're at a bit of a stalemate because of a couple of my demands on my rider. They've told my people that a couple of drum lesson with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins is okay but they can't stretch to supplying so many string hoppers (white).

I have a story to tell you about some Dad envy too. A has a friend, a boy, which alarms me as there's lots of chatting to him and all, and his Dad is in a band. Can you believe that?

I'm trying to find out what type of band, what he plays, whether he's any good and all the relevant details, will keep you posted on that.

That's it for now.