Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photo Of The Moment

It's by me, so I might be accused of bias, nepotism or cronyism, but I'm quite proud and pleased of it and thought I'd share it with you. Taken in the hills of Kandy it makes me hear the sounds and feel the atmosphere. I think, if I was the type to give titles to my pictures, I'd call it "Lush".

K And The Drinking

I got up on Saturday morning and made my toilet, as is the habit of many. Then, I sat on it and did a poo, nothing unusual there.

I meandered into the sitting room, which is combined with the kitchen area and drum practice area, of RD Towers and made myself a cup of tea. I used the pack of Sri Lankan tea bags. It's one of life's little dichotomies; the tea bags are Sri Lankan, I don't want to waste them and I want to be patriotic. Unfortunately they taste exactly 0.14 times as good as PG Tips pyramid tea bags. I know this because I've measured it.

So I'm working my way through the box of tea bags, wishing that I could throw them away and buy a box of proper PG Tips, knowing that such an act would probably make about fifteen tea pluckers redundant. I have a social conscience. Next time the chimps get my business though.

As I plunged into the golden nectar I opened my laptop and went to my usual places, ending up staring at my home page on the book. One of the first things to catch my eye was the status message of A, the fifteen year old. It had got about twenty comments from other people and it caused me great concern. The comments said things like

"What happened?"

"She must be in so much trouble"

The status said

"My little sister (that's K to you) got caught drinking"

You know K. She's smart and dangerous. It was only a matter of time before this happened but I hadn't expected it so soon.

I knew she had gone out to the cinema with friends on Friday night and guessed that she must have returned pissed and got in trouble.

As a person I was tempted to chuckle heartily at the situation and brush it off with humour and a good natured shrug. As a parent I wanted to tell K off, to make sure she didn't do this again for a while and that she kept on the straight and narrow. Then, as a divorced parent, the one who doesn't live with them, I wondered if I'd even get to officially find out about this. There was every chance that the girls and their mother would close shop, not telling me and keeping it amongst themselves.

And being a FB friend of them is a tricky business. JapSach's post about his mum on the book made me chuckle as I could totally relate to it from both sides; the child and the parent. It's a great means for me to keep a track of what the girls are doing, but if I do too much with the information I run the risk of being deleted as a friend, then having no further access to that side of their lives.

This situation made me decide that the last thing I should do was to ring up and say that I'd just seen this on Facebook and demand explanations and the like. They'd close ranks and I'd end up with nothing.

I called them and, after a few attempts, got an answer. I chatted with A, she told me nothing. I asked for K and was told that she was still in bed. "Hmmm... with a hangover" I thought, but didn't say, there was a definite element of A covering up for her little sister.

By midday K still hadn't been raised from her slumber. I texted her and got no response. Then I got a phone call from their mother. I expected a very serious "you need to talk to her about this" type of conversation. Instead their mother seemed to be amused.

"You'll never guess what happened" she said.

I told her that I probably would as I'd seen it on A's FB page. She told me the rest of the story. It went like this:

On Friday evening she'd come home from work to find their living room in a total and utter mess. There was paper all over the floor, evidence that someone had been cutting up paper and left the remnants everywhere. It was a shambles. A was the only child around and she grabbed her and told her off, to be told in believable tones that A wasn't responsible, that it was all down to K, who was out.

A little while later K waltzed back, plonked herself down in a chair and said nothing. Her mother said to her

"Well Miss, you're in serious trouble, what have you got to say about this then?"

K looked at her with a startled and scared look and, after a bit of hesitation, said

"I'm really sorry, I didn't mean it. I just tried a bit and hated it anyhow and then spat it out."

Her mother was confused, her sister was equally confused.

"You what?" said her mother.

"I just tried a mouthful from yours and didn't like it"

"Of what?"

K realised that there was something wrong at this point.

"Ermm, of your vodka bottle"

"I was talking about the mess in the front room"

"Oh" said a rather crestfallen K who now knew that not only was she in big trouble for a crime she had committed but she was also in deep doo doo for a crime that she'd just confessed to that hadn't been even uncovered.

I lost track after that, mostly because I was laughing too much. I agreed that I wouldn't say anything to K, as she was on the bus on her way to see me.

I couldn't resist a couple of jibes that afternoon, just to keep K on her toes. It was funny to watch her eyes, when I asked her if she'd like a beer or something, almost hearing the cogs turn in her devious head as she wondered how much I knew.

I must admit I was pleased that my initial fear, that she'd gone out and got drunk with her friends, was unfounded. In this case "caught drinking" meant that she'd had a swig of vodka and hated it.

The worry is the next time. K learns quickly and I'm sure the lessons from this episode will be most valuable to her.

By Sunday morning all evidence of the episode, the status on A's facebook page and the many comments, had mysteriously disappeared. I'm certain that K had protested to her sibling and, in a rare case, said sibling had felt pity and deleted the evidence.

Sometimes these sisters can stick together.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Had An Arranged Marriage But Am Very Happy

Laughter is a wonderful thing isn't it?

There are occasions, many of them in an average RD day, when I laugh heartily and smile broadly as I do it, as though I'm using all the muscles in my face. It's usually at one of my own jokes.

But there are also those chuckling moments. It's not that they're not as funny as the bigger ones, just that they're a different kind of laughter moment. They involve a gentle chuckle, a sort of laughing inside of myself, often at a joke or something funny that I think other people around me won't appreciate.

And as I looked through the stats for my blog the other day and saw that someone had arrived here by googling the above phrase, I did one of those gentle chuckling things.

"I had an arranged marriage but am very happy"

Is it funny for you too?

For me it's the use of the word "but" that makes this chuckleable, combined of course with the fact that someone's actually had to search the internet for the phrase. It's as if they've been taken by surprise that their arranged marriage is a happy one.

Or is it that the person had an arranged marriage that didn't work out and now they're happy?

Arranged marriages are a phenomenon that I've changed my opinion on over they years. Despite the fact that most of my family on one side have had them, I used to be dead against them. As I've got older and garnered more knowledge and experience I now believe they're perfectly legitimate, though I'm fundamentally opposed to the "forced" ones.

I know, from personal experience, that any marriage can last and any marriage can end in divorce. I think whether it's arranged or not probably has little bearing. The only difference may well be that arranged marriages might be more likely to last because of the western compared to the eastern approach to divorce.

On the other hand there may also be an argument that people might be less happy within an arranged marriage yet more likely to grin and bear it.

Which is worse, which is better?

I know not, I don't think there is, or needs to be a definitive answer.

I do know that the search that got to my blog made me chuckle though.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Colours Of Lanka - The Blues

My most recent sojourn to the motherland is over but far from forgotten and I feel as though it's the first proper holiday I've had for a couple of years, which might sound a bit arsey but is true nonetheless.

You see there have been more short trips than I can actually count, for which I'm grateful. Quick three or four day dashes to Singapore to see C, a long weekend in Colombo, even a week or a bit more. But this was two weeks, still not enough time but longer than I've had for a while. I got to see just about everyone I wanted to, got out of the metropolis twice, not for long but it still happened, and returned feeling mellow, relaxed and chilled.

And one of the things that struck me was the colours of Sri Lanka, specifically the contrast between the blues of the coast and the greens of the hill country.

Going to Hikkaduwa was fun, despite PK at the station, which was kind of fun anyway. As we sat on the train and the thing chugged its way out of Colombo I did something I love to do; I gazed out of the window and watched life pass by. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that the lives were just happening and the train passed by, I suppose it's all about perspectives.

I'm one of the many who adores that feeling as Colombo gets left behind and its urban hustle and bustle dissolves into the rural tranquility of the countryside. It happens so quickly and also so slowly.

By road, if you're heading south, it starts after Mount and Ratmalana. Little glimpses of the ocean through side streets and between buildings in the city give way to the vast expanses of beautiful blues. High rise blocks and diesel fumes are replaced by palm trees and, well diesel fumes. The incessant Colombo horning surrenders to the background roar of the sea, the frequent Tsunami damaged buildings serving as a harsh reminder of the power and danger that lurks within its beauty.

In the train it all takes place just that bit quicker. As the railway line hits Bambalapitya the scenery changes. On the land side there's the city but on the sea side there's the sea, which may be why they call it the sea side. I looked out of my window and saw the twin towers in the background, the ocean on my left and Galle Face fading away. It all felt quite wonderful, a reminder that Colombo really is built along the sea.

I never fully forget, in a normal day in the city, that the sea is there. It peeks through all the time and makes its presence felt. Jump out of a tri shaw at Majestic City and you see it there at the end of the road. Or have a drink at the GFH, watch the sunset and it looms large, making itself as obvious as a Sri Lankan at the baggage carousel.

But at other times, if you're not careful, it can become a background that gets taken for granted, like a nice wall in your home, one you like and enjoy but sometimes don't notice. It still holds the ceiling up, provides shelter and gives an atmosphere, it's just that you don't always sit and look at it. Sitting in a train, with its vastness occupying the biggest area of my panorama, I couldn't help but take note of it. I mean the sea there, not a wall in my home.

The journey is one of blue, dotted with sporadic greens, occasional browns and splashes of red. It's the blues of the sea and of the sky that dominate the vista, never aggressively, but if there was a battle going on, between the blues and the other colours, then the blues would be winning it.

As we continue our journey things become more rural and more colourful. Grey is a city colour, it rarely exists in nature, apart from elephants and other grey things. There must be a reason God didn't make grey flowers, I suspect it's because they'd look a bit crap or that people might think they were elephants from a long distance away.

I peer at the lagoons, the old iron bridges and the people, with the interest of a young child just being allowed to go to the shop on his own. I know that, at forty three, I should probably be a bit more mature but I can't help hanging my head out of the window, feeling the wind rush through my hair brush the top of my head as I smell and taste the atmosphere.

I love the way the railway track and the road appear to fight for the whole journey. One minute the road is winning and gets to be next to the sea, the next there's a level crossing, with its queue of vehicles and everyone trying to get to the front, and the train line zips in front of the road and gets the sea view. When I'm in a car I want the road to win the competition, when I'm in the train I'm on the side of the train. I'm just so fickle.

Pulling into stations adds another dimension to my visual feast. I watch people get on and off the train. There are commuters from Colombo, school kids going home and people going about their business, each in their own world. For me this is a trip, an event. For some of them this is an everyday commute, no big deal, just like me going to work in the morning.

There are a few Suddhas, heading to Hikks, or Ooonerwartooner, perhaps Galle. They look a bit hippyish though and in need of a good wash. Frankly, if I were in charge I'd hose these people down at the station, just to keep things a bit clean and tidy.

While the people and the specifics change and mix there is that one constant; the blue in the background. It stays with us for the journey and, when we get to Hikkaduwa and get off the train, it gets off too and follows us around.

It's a bit special. It's a little bit of Sri Lanka.

Like the greens to come.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meeting The Birdman

I've made many friends through writing this blog and reading other ones and Amila Salgado is one of them. I've read and gazed at Gallicissa since before birds were invented and have never failed to be mesmerised by Amila's inspiring and stunning photographs.

In the past we'd spoken on the phone, texted, emailed commented and communicated in just about every way you can imagine. We just hadn't met face to face. That all changed week before last as we'd arranged our first "proper" meeting.

Nerves, tension, excitement, fear, butterflies and apprehension. These were all the things Amila would have been feeling as he waited to meet me. He's lucky he's not a woman, or he would have had to deal with the whole swooning at RD thing too, though there were a couple of moments when I caught a glimpse of a slightly lusting look in his eye.

We'd arranged to meet at my hotel and C was there too. We sat in the place formerly known as the coffee shop and ate some food, waiting for the Birdman to arrive. It's a strange thing meeting fellow bloggers you know, if you've done it you'll understand. C asked me how I'd recognise him and I realised that it had never crossed my mind that I wouldn't, despite the fact that I couldn't really recall what he looked like.

I'd seen his picture on his blog but my failure to describe him was spectacularly successful.

"Well he's Sri Lankan, and about average really" was my quite detailed way of outlining what I knew and could recall to C.

"How will you know it's him then?" she asked.

"I don't know, it's not as if he's going to turn up in full birding gear with binoculars and all, I've just got a feeling we'll find each other." I retorted, unsure if it was a retort or just a response.

We waited for a while. I did that thing where you look at everyone passing by with an air of expectancy, waiting for someone to catch my eye with the matching quizzical look. Then I saw someone and I smiled.

He wore green, the green colour that trees are made of. It was a good thing I hadn't seen him in a jungle or I never would have found him. Though come to think of it I might have seen him in a jungle, just without knowing it. He looked like the lovechild of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee and Mervyn Silva, though he was carrying binoculars, not a gun.

There was little doubt in my mind that this was the Birdman. He saw me, smiled and headed over. I reciprocated, without the heading over bit.

For about the next hour I had one of the most enjoyable and interesting about the next hours ever. I love people who have a passion and Amila is one such chap. His enthusiasm and joy from birds and birding is infectious, I say that as a person whose love of birds is quite limited to a good chicken curry.

He had me and C enthralled with bird related tales. I remembered some of them, a testament to the way in which he captivated us. For example I now know that there are thirty three species of bird that are indigenous to Sri Lanka but some South American countries have thousands. I know that the most successful birder in the world has seen about ten thousand species and the second most successful one has got over eight thousand and Amila has taken him around in Lanka.

At one point in the conversation he grabbed the binoculars and looked out of the window at some bats of some sort. This is a man on a mission. My mind veered off at only one point, when I wondered if there any chaps in the world whose hobby is looking at binoculars and how they would view them.

As he told stories of birds, birders, forests and foliage I hung on his every word. I felt as if I was about to give it all up, rush off and buy some binoculars and become his apprentice. I didn't though, what with still having to pay the bill for my lamprais and all.

Then we went our separate ways. If he was half as pleased to meet me as I was to meet him then I'd have been twice as pleased as he was. As he strolled off the world felt like a good place and birding, just for a minute mind, took on a new and totally different meaning to me.

I was reminded that I've made a load of interesting and good friends through blogging. Amila couldn't make it to the bloggers' get together because of a seawatch. Stormy weather brings rarer sea birds closer to the shore. I know that because he told me so. It seemed totally right that he chose birds over bloggers, a no brainer really.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Perfect Con?

For over a week I've known that I'll be writing this post. I've thought about it a lot and some have heard the story directly. It's one of those tales that, in all likeliness, won't survive the translation, mostly because it's me that's doing the translating.

I'm sure Ashok Ferrey or JK Rowling would be able to tell you this story and make it sound as fascinating in words as it was in real life. Mind you, if I was JK Rowling I'd probably have far better things to write about, like wizards and how much money I've made. If I was Ashok Ferrey I'd be writing about that bloke with the squinty eyes who was looking at me strangely at the airport on Sunday, the chap with the little Odel bag full of model tri shaws and some drum sticks poking out of his bag.

Those proper writers would give you a big build up and then hit you with the twist at the end.

I won't though. The fact is that I was conned and here's how it happened.

Friday before last saw me and C heading down to Hikkaduwa for the weekend. We were doing the slumming it thing, two rucksack type bags, not a laptop in sight, the most basic of clothes and we were off. I was travelling so light that I contemplated going without my L'Oreal mens' moisturiser, but a chap has limits.

At the appointed time we arrived at Fort railway station. This was particularly handy as we'd decided to go by train, I wouldn't want you to think we'd just gone there randomly. We headed for the ticket booth thing, fending off a couple of those touty type chaps who hang around, and bought our tickets.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a wise Sri Lankan Kalu Suddha fellow. I know that these chaps, the ones who hang around places like stations, rock fortresses and hotels with "International" buffets can smell tourists with the all the keenness and skill of T being blindfolded and put in a room and told to find a member of Thriloka. So I try to bat them off like flies, as if I had one of those tennis racket insect swatting devices these blokes are selling at the roadsides everywhere.

You, who probably live in Sri Lanka, probably don't notice the fads with the roadside sellers as it's just part of your day to day existence. I see the changes everytime I come there. I recall when the inflatable things became trendy and for the life of me can't figure out why Lanka is litterred with roadside stalls selling the things. In recent weeks I've seen these chaps with their fake tennis rackets. It took me a few days to realise what they actually are as at first I thought they really were tennis rackets, which to be frank with you, confused the hell out of me.

There we were, at the Fort station. After purrchaysing the tickets we realised we had quite a long wait ahead of us. The train wasn't due for about an hour and a half and, for once, it wasn't my fault we were so early. The time we had been initially given for the train was wrong and the train we were going to catch was running late. C so wanted to be angry with me but she couldn't, how cool was that?

We hung around, took photographs, drank Elephant House cream soda and had a cool but hot time. At one point a bloke materialised next to us and made some signs. I looked at him in a clueless, gormless and helpless way. C, being the highly intelligent and developed person that I'm not, said that he was talking in sign language. She tried to answer him and told me that he was one of the chaps at the ticket booth earlier. He was smartly dressed and seemed intent on helping us by showing us where to stand on the platform and how to get the train and all.

He was deaf and dumb.

We chatted for a bit. Sign language isn't one of my skill sets and talky soundy language wasn't one of his, but we managed. We used a pen to write my name and C's name on his hand, though I must stress that he offerred said hand, I hadn't just grabbed it and started writing on it. To tell us his name he pulled out an ID card of sorts. It told us that his name was PK Priyantha and that he was registered deaf and unemployed.

He seemed nice enough and once we'd got our spot I slightly reluctantly offerred him a couple of hundred rupees, as a thank you and I'm sorry you're deaf, dumb and unemployed kind of gesture. He steadfastly refused the money and then disappeared. I felt bad and warm. Here was a chap trying to help us for no reward, just pure and genuine kindness I thought and he'd even appeared insulted at my offer of money.

He had gone off empty handed with only the satisfaction of helping us. If there had been a nun around I would have kissed her and skipped a bit. There wasn't and, for some reason I had the Who's Pinball Wizard running through my head all the time. I'm not sure if nuns like the Who.

We continued our wait and PK was nowhere to be seen. Then he materialised, like he'd been beamed there from the USS Enterprise. He started up a conversation again, asking where we were from, whether we were married, where we live and all that. And then he was gone again.

About five minutes before the train was due PK was beamed down again. He showed us exactly where to stand on the platform. As the train pulled in I was amazed at the way in which the inoffensive looking other passengers on the platform were transformed into hustling, bustling and rather violent stampeding cattle. We Brits like a good queue and rarely is a day complete for me without a queue or two, often with only me in it.

I wrestled with my rucksack (with L'Oreal moisturiser inside), my girlfriend and my British "sorry, no really, after you, I'm sorry" attitude. Whilst I was busy doing all this wrestling other chaps were pushing their way past me to get in the train and get a seat. In my peripheral vision I saw my old mate PK Priyantha shoot passed me, with the speed and agility of a leopard chasing a pack of Sri Lankans coated in a meat flavoured paste onto a train.

I did the gallant thing and let C fend for herself as I got on the train. All the seats were taken, except the two that were being guarded and shielded by PK. I grabbed one and C followed some minutes later with the bags and things. It was apparent that PK had jumped aboard and saved a double seat for us. Kind no?

We made ourselves as comfortable as poss and again I tried to give the saintly fellow some money. Again he refused. My God I thought, kindness reigns supreme yet there still wasn't a nun in sight.

Just as the train was leaving we said bye to PK. He wanted nothing, he was just happy to help.

Then, he pulled out a newspaper cutting and showed it to me. It was one of those sports pages from a newspaper, the type with out of focus pictures of school sports teams when they've won something, where you can't actually make out the faces but mothers all around the country carry round in their purses with pride.

He showed me a picture. There was some sort of caption that said the name of a deaf school. He pointed to one of the faces, indicating that it was him. I smiled, thinking that he was proud and wanted to show me this before he left.

He pulled out another bit of paper, an A4 sheet this time. It had a handwritten list of names on it. They were white names. They were in blue though, not white. By each name there was an amount and a country. These were the people who'd "donated" to his school. I peered at the list.

The last line said that Eric Larsen from Sweden had donated Rs 4000. The line before said that Mark Weston had given Rs 2000. Well I was too smart for this sort of thing. A deaf school maybe, a deaf and dumb bloke maybe, but I wasn't falling for all this.

I wrote down my name in my worst handwriting. I put "UK" as my address and, in the "amount" column, I rather scrappily wrote Rs 200. I'm a local I thought, and we don't get done like this do we?

I sheepishly handed over my Rs 200 with the list, feeling embarrased but brave, small but big.

Then C said, in that way.

"I think you should give him a thousand bucks".

So I did, but not without making sure I'd changed the figure on his sheet to reflect it and also making my writing a bit neater so that the next person would see my name properly. PK took the money and the list then cheekily gave it to C to see if she'd give some too. Then he was gone.

As the journey progressed we both thought about PK. Over the next few days we realised something that is now so obvious; we'd been totally and beautifully conned. Every step, every bit of the episode was a part of it and I didn't know whether to feel lucky to have witnessed it or foolish to have been done.

Let's go back.

He wasn't even deaf. The way in which he had known we were going to Hikks can only have been from hearing it when we bought the ticket. He never asked where we were going but knew anyway.

In order to show his name he showed his ID card. Nope, this was an excuse to show that he was deaf and unemployed, to gain sympathy. Otherwise he would have written his name on his or my hand, like I had done to him.

His sign language wasn't real. It was a pidgin version of sign language, using symbols to make us understand, more like charades than sign language. And he added sound effects. I'm no expert but I don't think dumb people can make plane noises.

His turning down of previous offers of cash and frequent vanishing acts made us think he was the real thing. Then, the piece de resistance was his timing as he got off the train. He made us think he was in a rush to go, so we had to think quickly and deal with the guilt. He didn't even say that we were giving a donation to his school, he just implied it.

So that's what happened.

If you're at Fort station and a deaf fellow comes and helps you beware, it may be him.

Deaf and dumb?

He wasn't deaf, he wasn't dumb.

But he sure played a mean pinball...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Too Fucking Right

"Can you wear a sarong if you are Sri Lankan and you are a man?"

was the phrase someone in South Africa recently googled that led them to my blog.

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

I ask you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Meet Up - The Story

The great, or not so great, Lankanosphere blogger meet up finally happened last Friday. I feel, in my position as the thingamajig, some might even call me the whatshisname, of the Lankanopshere that I owe it to you to give a brief outline of events, people and the evening in general.

You know, one of the things about my mixed up identity is that, where timekeeping is concerned, I'm strictly a Brit. I just struggle to take that Lankan approach to the time of something and an always early. Even, as on Friday, when I try to be cool, Lankan and lateish, I end up early, uncool and British.

A start time of 7.30 PM saw me and C stroll into the wonder of the Barefoot Garden at about 7.10 on a balmy, rainy and warm Colombo evening. I know it gets its fair share of "exclusive" press and that, from a balanced perspective, the Barefoot Cafe is out of financial reach for the man on the street but I adore it and consider it one of my top five places in the world.

We eased in and sniffed the air. It was delicious, that mixed aroma of the Galle Road, the sea, the rainfall and that heat as it wafted its way around. Rain does something to green things, that's the technical side.

I was a bit worried though. I didn't want to give the impression that I was hosting a big get together, like I was a King, or even a Rajapakse, meeting and greeting people. I wanted just to organise a bit of a meet while I was in town. And, truth be told, TMS was the person who had kindly done most of the organising in terms of getting people to attend. She'd been emailing and calling people and I'd just swanned around in the hill country and sent the odd text asking people if they fancied coming on friday. Not that swans can text.

But I was concerned. Would this be an evening of non attendance? Would the crowd be tiny and geeky?

We sat down and then Java phoned me. He didn't know that we'd sat down though, I just added that in for effect. My initial fear that he was calling to cancel was allayed as he said that he'd be there in a couple of minutes. That, in itself was good enough for me. He arrived, followed closely by Dom and Naz and Kaiser Sebastian Posingis. And here I must apologise, for as I regale you with tales of who turned up and the like I'm sure to forget a blogger or two. It's only because I was rather excited to meet so many.

We had Nisadas and a friend. Now I must confess that I'm not a regular over at the Nisadas place, though have read it a bit. But, from an almost casual remark I discovered that his friend was actually Angel with a Pitchfork, the Doctor blogger whom I think many of us read regularly. To use the correct Lankanistic approach I should really say that she's actually the Doctor (Mrs) Blogger we all read regularly.

Then there was T, the Dance in a Triangle T, not the Gypsy T, and the blogger formerly known as Child of 25, along with their bubbling sexual tension. I'd bumped into them the previous week so this wasn't our first meeting but I was pleased they were there.

TMS of course was there, along with Jade and St Fallen. TMS was exactly as I'd expected her to be. We'd emailed, texted and communicated in all ways except that so old fashioned face to face one. This was our first meeting and, I think it's safe to say, TMS was suitably impressed with me.

St Fallen slouched everywhere and was ever so slightly different to the way he portrays himself through his writing. I guess that's what these teenager fellows do these days but conversation with him wasn't what some might call effortless.

The Blacker bros were there too. It was the first time I'd actually met TKRP and I hope not the last. At one point I looked at the fellows and their heads reminded me of a couple of snooker balls. There's just not much in the way of hair going on and I pity the unlucky person who goes around town with the title of "hairstylist to the Blacker Bros".

It was a bit awkward to introduce people to each other when I didn't actually know them, I'm not good with these things, and the big barrier caused by thinking you know a person when you actually don't was sometimes evident. We could have done with some name badges, special ones with the person's real name, their blog name and also a link to their blog would have been handy.

At one point a bloke arrived and told me he was the Jester. I feel so bad to confess but I thought he meant Jerry, the Jester of ASOB. Only later did I discover that he was actually Jack Point, the Court Jester. JP's one of my old and much liked regulars and I wish I'd had more time to listen to him and talk to him. So sorry about that JP, I hope we can meet again. Tall, dark and handsome eh? Well I've heard it said that it's not only you that thinks so, you charmer. You have fans, female ones.

Java's famous and often blogged about friend Mr Zippy was there too. I was disappointed in him to be honest. With a name like that I'd expected a punky and edgy chap, with zips all over him. Turns out he's called Mr Zippy because he owns a Zippo lighter. I've decided that I want to be called Mr Briefcase from now on, maybe Mr Biro, though not because I invented the thing.

Later in the evening Indi ambled in casually in his understated I hardly ever wear shoes way. I was glad about that as no Lankan bloggers' get together would have been anyway near complete without him, even if his sentences are sometimes missing a word or two, kinda.

The new drummer arrived as well. That was great for me, we got to talk about drums, drummers, sticks and pedals. He even asked me for some advice and I had to pretend that I was a proper and good drummer and make stuff up. I think I managed to fool him.

There were some notable absences, people who I would have loved to have met and people who I'm sure would have loved to have been there. DD, you were one of the most popular subjects of conversation and, though not there, your presence was felt.

The Gypsy and Amila Salgado were sorely missed though I was lucky to have met them both before. Cerno was absent but had sent a sick note in beforehand.

All in all I think the evening was a success, though I'm blissfully ignorant of the expectations I had beforehand. It's funny to say so but I met some people who I'd already considered friends and just had a bit of a laugh.

Thanks to all who came, particularly to TMS for the publicity and Dom and Naz for the venue.

Oh, some of us ended up at R+Bs later on. Me and Java played pool.

He thrashed me.

Which probably proves that the bidet spray is the way to go.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Warning

It has been brought to my attention that someone, or some people, are leaving rude, insulting or derogatory comments on various blogs under my name.

I'm hopeful that those who know me, either in person or through reading my blog know that I just wouldn't do such a thing but I'm sorry if these comments cause any offence.

Normal service here will continue.


Oh Well

I'm back, at my desk with a heavy heart and a lighter wallet.

Did it happen, was I there?

On Saturday night I was drinking a nice arrack at the Galle Face Hotel, watching a medium, perhaps low quality, sunset, which was still good, and chatting to C about life and things. And there may have been a surplus of commas in that sentence, I know.

Last night I was being driven through the beauty that is Feltham, West London, heading back to RD Towers. It's good to be back and to see the girls, it's nice to be back at my pad and back in my car.

And that's about it.

There are a million stories to tell you, from the blogger meet up to being conned, to almost meeting Ashok Ferrey at the airport. I'll start in a bit.

The trouble with this bloody island that is Serendib is that it sort of absorbs a man, it feels as though the more I go there the more I leave behind.

Sausages tonight... and not those stupid chicken ones either.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday - The Final Details - Important

After a quick and nifty intervention from Java and Dom we have a last minute and welcome change of venue.

The great Lankanosphere get together is confirmed and the details are as follows:

Date - Friday 18th September (which is, like, tomorrow you know)

Time - 7.30 until 11.00. (which is, like PM you know, the evening time)

Place - Barefoot (by which I mean the one in Colombo, not the Galle one)

Oooooh....I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Cunning Plan For Friday

Is to meet up at that Inn on the Green pub place in the evening. Barefoot isn't open in the evenings these days so we've gone alternate.

Many people have said that they'll probably come, in fact it's fair to say that there are a serious amount of definite maybes, from Java to Indi to Amila to TMS.

I'll be there, to try and keep the conversation focused on politics, governance and the Lankan economy and away from the trivial toilet related matters that Sanjana and the like are always so keen on.

So come, I lied about the cunning element, but it is actually a plan and anyone is welcome.

NB, come on down. Let's see how genuine you are!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Let's Meet Then Shall We

I'm trying to organise some kind of bloggers' meet up for Friday evening. So far there are a few of us up for it and we're planning to meet up at an as yet undecided venue.

Anyone else is welcome.

Don't know where, don't know exactly when, just that it's Friday evening and you'll be mad as a Nibras to miss it.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sick In Hikks

So I went to Hikks with C.

The plan was so good. Catch the train there, an adventure in itself and I'll tell you more about that later, spend two nights chilling, relaxing and soaking up the sun, then return.

It was looking good.

Then I caught food poisoning after the first night. I spent the whole of Saturday in bed. Detail isn't that necessary but let's just say that I could have done with a bidet spray or any other assistance you can think of.

C ended up watching the sunset on her own. She was stuck in a room with no TV, no wireless and not much in the way of entertainment and resorted to watching all the music videos on my iPod. I've now discovered that she's quite good at the whole nursing thing, if a little domineering at times.

It's been chaotic and good. Monday morning sees Kandy beckoning and Tuesday evening it's back in Colombo to meet one of my heroes.

There's so much more to tell you later too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RD is.....(part 2)

Recovering from the pleasant shock of meeting THE Birdman, Amila. He may well be my newest hero, he certainly needs a post all of his own. There's passion and then there's passion. Amila had passion, not that he leapt all over me, I'm talking about birds here. It was like meeting a real life Indiana Jones, just better and didn't involve whips.

Practicing saying Biennale. Bee en arlay, that's it, easy. Just don't say Buy en ul, whatever I do don't say Buy en ul.

Looking forward to Dom's presentation at Barefoot tonight with baited breath. 7.30, Barefoot, be there, or don't be.

Listening to some Pearl Jam and getting ready to hit the day with a bang, perhaps a pfft.

Lovin' it.....

In the words of that Justin Timberland fellow

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

RD is......

Floating around Colombo in a slightly dreamy state

Getting lost in the changed around Odel mens' department. What's going on there?

Meeting bloggers like G12 and Blackers, making DD jealous, ha!

Having long relaxing lunches in the Barefoot garden and getting good ideas from Mr S on tat 3. Copyright is an issue that has now been addressed.

Looking forward to seeing a certain Mr Jones.

Intrigued about the Colombo Art Bienalle. I just can't get the pronunciation right but am looking forward to seeing what it's all about.

About to call those relatives that I must, the old I'm in town thing.

Going to write in much more detail at another later time.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Love Is.....

I was tagged by DD in this love, this whole what is it business. It's an unusual and interesting one and I'd like to thank the oldest emo in town for the honour.

I've been thinking on the question for the last day and a bit. I could wax lyrically about the many examples of love we all see and experience on a daily basis. I could tell you about the love I felt for the girls a few hours ago as I told them off again for fighting, the way I genuinely felt angry with them, wished they'd bicker a bit less and wished I could tell them off more often. But I won't.

I could tell you how I love a person, some people, some countries, some cities and some instruments. But I won't.

I'll tell you what love is to me.

It's simple.

It's when it feels like home.

Anyone who's interested can consider themselves tagged.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Friday Smile

All Systems Are:



Depending on your perspective.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Arse Wiping And Java's Balls Of Steel

It's been a while. With so much that's been going on lately I've hardly even thought about writing and arse or poo related post. And, just in case you're unsure, when I say "arse and poo" I'm not referring to a donkey and a talking bear that lives in a wood with a piglet and some other talking animals. I'm talking about the real things here. And we all know Winnie's got an h on the end of his name.

There are some bloggers who don't write as often as they used to, but when they do, I feel as if a ray of sunshine has drifted into a cloudy day on a picturesque beach. Java Jones is one such fellow and when he writes a post about arse wiping it's a bit like Jennifer Aniston doing just one more episode of Friends but insisting that it's a porn version.

After reading his post I had to leave a comment to ask Java what he meant by the term "bidet spray" and I was somewhat disappointed to hear that he meant exactly what I had thought; one of those shower head arse washing type things.

I have some experience of these things as my parents have one installed in the spare bathroom of their house, the one that I had when I stayed with them for those months. I feel that it's my duty to warn any of you unsuspecting people of the dangers of these bidet sprays.

At the outset I'm sure we're all agreed on the need for a clean poo dispenser. There's ongoing debate and discussion about the best way of achieving such a goal but no one aims for a dirty target.

Even Sittingnut, whom I imagine wanders around frothing at the mouth and spitting in all directions with each sentence, has probably got an arse so clean that he can see his face in it. The less polite types would crack a joke here about him talking out of it, I'm more refined and won't resort to such cracks.

Java tells us that he's a fan of bidet sprays in preference to bidets themselves. Less cumbersome and better for the environment he tells us. Well Mr Jones, I hereby invite you to come and take a crap at my parents' place in the downstairs bathroom, then let's see what you think. I'll try to explain.

For those who aren't aware a bidet spray is a legal way of installing a deadly weapon into the average bathroom. It sits somewhere near the toilet looking all innocent and waiting to pounce. Now, if you're of the female persuasion you probably won't get any of this. That's because you don't have balls, a clear display of irony. Women have balls and yet they don't have balls, mad isn't it?

These bidet sprays have a trigger thing that lets water out at a dangerous pressure. Some of them are decommissioned, the strength of the water jet is reduced, and they're then used by armed forces in less developed countries, like Australia, to quell riots, demonstrations and protests by those dangerous extremists, the ones who might have a different view to that of the government.

My first, and fifty per cent, which is nearly half, of my experience with the bidet spray went like this. If you're eating breakfast while reading this I would advise you to put down your seeni sambol, black pudding or whatever you're eating and then continue reading. Or finish your breakfast first.

The downstairs bathroom at my 'rents' place is about the size of an airline toilet, economy at that. If you step out of the shower cubicle without concentrating you can easily find one foot in the toilet and the other in the basin. There's really not enough room to swing a penis, let alone a cat. It's fortunate they don't have a cat.

They do have a bidet spray hanging by the tank thing though.

There I was, I'd done my absolutions or whatever that term that writers use is, I'd dry wiped and felt the need to do some more. I peered at the bidet spray and it stared back at me with its air of don't careness. I picked it up and half squeezed the trigger.

If I were a bidet spray maker I'd have a little set of printed instructions for people. It's not that obvious really. Do you hold the thing at the top of your arse pointing downwards? Do you go for a full on "into the cavern" attack, which may be good for swishing but surely inhibits the rinsing away side of things? Or do you adopt an underneath pointing upwards advance? These things just aren't intuitive, not like using a Mac.

I chose the underside pointing forwards attack.

I stood there in the sumo wrestler stance holding the bidet spray behind me with it pointing towards my rear. The head thing, the bit where the water comes from, was at the bottom of my bottom, the handle was above it. I pressed the trigger and hoped.

"Vdoom" went the noise and I instinctively released the trigger. I felt as if I'd been shot in the balls from behind by an eskimo with a gun whose bullets had frozen solid, not that I really know what that feels like. The jet of water had hit my balls and continued in the direction of the bathroom door. Girls you'll never understand the pain involved when we get hit in the balls. Periods, childbirth and all may make your eyes water a tad, but getting a nasty in the nasties is the real thing.

I looked at the bathroom door. I didn't care if the water had removed any excess poo from the arse area, I was more worried that it might have removed my balls. I stared and was relieved to see a distinct lack of RD balls hanging on the door. There was no cartoon like scene, you know, when Bugs Bunny hits a wall then slides down it slowly, featuring my nether regions. A quick visual check confirmed that they were still hanging in their intended position and the willy was intact too. Result, with a little mental note that, if I'm ever in a demo and the water cannons come out, I'm off.

I tried again, repositioning the angle of attack. This time I missed my genitals, missed my bum and water went everywhere. Here in England, when water gets all over a bathroom, we have to clear it up, we can't rely on tropical heat to make it evaporate in seconds. I did so and then resorted to good old fashioned toilet paper on the RD derriere. Arse wiping is a bit like a business venture, you have to know when to cut your losses.

Some weeks later I made another attempt. It wasn't quite as disastrous as the first but it was no less successful either. These bidet sprays are not made for a man with my lack of finesse and inherent clumsiness and impatience. A fellow like Java is a precision made instrument, the jewelled Swiss mechanical movement of the arse wiping game.

He's probably been practicing with these things for years, he must either have balls made of steel or they must be attached to the Jones perineum with some sort of industrial staples.

You've got to admire him.

It's paper and Andrex moist wipes for me all the way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How To Understand Women

TMS' post, about what women want, inspired me to write this. It's a breakdown of all the things I've learned over the years on how to understand women:

My New Piece - Is It Sri Lankan?

This may not look like much to you but I'm quite proud of it.

If it were an antique it would be a bit of a result. It was passed down to me by my Grandmother and because of that it's nostalgic and quite magical.

I remember it in her flat in London when I was a youngster. I remember it full of pens, pencils, paper clips and musty smells. Since she died over twenty years ago it's gathered dust, waiting to be exhibited in various flats and houses, all of which I lived in.

Now it's out and proudly on display in my hall and I'm a big fan. It contrasts in style with the modern and quite masculine things I have in the rest of the apartment yet still seems to fit nicely.

But, I'm no expert on furniture at all and am wondering if any of you out there might know if this looks like a Sri Lankan piece or if it's British. There's a tiny chance that it's from another country but I reckon it's very unlikely.

It might have been bought in London or there's a strong possibility that my Grandparents brought it when they left Lanka in the 50s.

Thanks for any help.

EDIT - Sorry about the huge gap between the pics, I don't know what the hell happened there.