Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And The Box Contained......

I battled bravely through the mental trials and tribulations and managed to take home the box without opening it and revealing its contents. I didn't even, as Rikaz had suggested, bung the barcode numbers into Amazon's website and deviously find out the answer. Nor did I go down the DQ route and open it using the old "this is all for the greater good, be a man" excuse.

Also, while we're on the subject, I'm not lying to you, I'm not using the widely utilised "write a post pretending I hadn't opened it" tactic when in actual fact I had. The truth is out there and it's in here, truth be told.

I found out the answer on Christmas day. I did a bit of unwrapping, something I'm fairly good at, and discovered one of the best presents I've ever received; an Amazon Kindle, one of these rather fantastical book reader things.

In case you don't know or haven't figured it out a book reader is not a bloke who follows you around reading books out aloud, or even silently. No, it's an electronic device that enables a fellow to buy and store up to about a thousand books or so. Then, that same fellow can read them on a screen, a clever and pin sharp screen that kind of has the solidity to it that the printed word does.

The screen's not like any screen I've viewed before. It's a tough thing to explain, what with my lack of descriptive powers, but it's got a total lack of flicker and movement to it. You know as you read this on a monitor there's a brightness and sense of animation and illumination to it, well the image on the Kindle screen justs sits there in a kind of high definition greyness. I mean that in a good way, it's really rather amazing.

You view a page, press a button to go to the next one and the image changes in an instant, to another page that stays totally and utterly still, stiller than a barman in a Colombo 5 star hotel tomorrow night.

This device has got its own wireless built in somehow, I'll be buggered if I know how it works. What I do know is that I buy a book from Amazon then it gets sent through the airwaves directly to my Kindle. There's no syncing with a computer like with iPods and iTunes and the like. According to the blurb the global wireless thing operates all over the world, probably why they call it "global wireless", so in theory I can even do it in Colombo.

I have to go to the site rather than the UK one, a bit of a bummer I must admit. These American readers lean towards self help, motivational how to beat everyone around you books and novels by chaps called Jack or Chuck. It's only a minor negative and I assume that, in time, Kindle books will be available on the UK Amazon site too. The price of books is about the same or less than the real thing, so I'm not forced into a situation where I have to pay through the nose for the things.

All in all it means I can take a shed load of books around with me in a smallish package wherever I go. This is exciting, good and fun. Of course coffee table books are nigh on impossible to reproduce in this format. Even if the scientists could make a screen that would be colourful and high enough in definition the smell, the feel and the sound of a real book would be missing. Not all books are currently available and most of my shelves full of books on or about Sri Lanka only exist on paper in ink.

At first I thought that reading text on a screen, pressing buttons to turn a page and generally moving around the Kindle would be a big change, perhaps too drastic a one, from reading paper books. I was wrong. After about a day of reading and feeling very conscious of the new medium I realised that I'd begun to do ita naturally and was as engrossed in my e book as I would have been if it were a book book. I've still got some things to get used to but I know that they'll follow.

For example there's no such thing as page numbers as we know them. Why would there be? I can change the size of the text to suit my liking and therefore the number of pages in any given book is a moveable feast. Instead of page numbers there are locations to each point in the book, like Stardates as used by the Captain of the USS Enterprise.

I've been buying books just for the fun of it, the need to chuck them on the Kindle will die I hope, though my bank manager and Mr Amazon are both quite happy about it. I've bought, for next to nothing I might add, the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes and all the Jeeves and Wooster stories ever written. I'll probably never read the Holmes stuff and I more or less know all the Jeeves stories backwards anyway, but they seemed like good things to have.

Well there you have it, a truly stunning present. You know me, I love a good gadget.

See you in the next decade. May your celebrations be banging and your year be a fine one.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cous Cous - So Bad They Named It Twice

Hello all, welcome back on this, the first Monday after the season. It's been a good one over in these parts. C's here, A and K have been in and out, and things have been fun, festive and food filled.

Cooking has been a thread, and a pleasant one at that. I'm fond of attempting to do my thang in the kitchen and, even if I say it myself, I'm getting reasonably good at some dishes. Truth be told the dishes I'm better at tend to be the ones that have a second name that sounds like "curry", it must be something in the blood I reckon.

I'll tell you what though, cooking for one, as I usually do, is a pain in the arse. On Wednesdays and alternate Fridays I get to cook for the girls, which is nice though not conducive for stretching my culinary abilities.

The rest of the time, when it's only me hovering round, cooking a decent meal involves a lot of effort for the satisfaction of one person's enjoyment; me. And when it's only me around it doesn't really matter anyway. I could lie, just pretend that the meal was gorgeous and no one would know anyhow.

Having C floating around means that I get to try out new recipes, I can flaunt my prowess on the cooker, flex my culinary muscles and generally make attempts to tickle her taste buds with my delectable dishes. She can attempt to do the same to me, and has.

The other night she made a lamb thing, a tajine I believe it was called. It was seriously delicious, in one of those melt in the mouth sort of ways. But there was a problem. It came in the shape of cous cous, surely the most evil and unnecessary invention ever, second only to the service charge on a restaurant bill.

I can't stand cous cous. It tastes of nothing except the little flavouring that's sometimes added to it in the cooking process. It has the texture of sand and the succulence of feathers. You may be interested to know what it's made from and exactly how it's made, I'm not though.

I say all of this from my position as a general lover of all things carbohydrate. Rice, noodles, pasta, hoppers and string hoppers are some of my best buddies, some of the friends that accompanied me through my formative years. Cous cous is the old enemy, the class idiot that no one ever liked.

C cooked this tajine thing and asked me whether I'd eat cous cous with it. She'd smuggled a packet of the stuff into RD Towers earlier in the week. I felt as if my kitchen had been violated but, even now it lurks in a cupboard just behind me. Knowing my strong feelings C kindly offered to make me a separate portion of rice. That was cruel, I couldn't say yes to it, I know about these women traps. I gallantly said that I'd eat the cous cous, even though I hate it.

We served our food and the cous cous had that dry and dangerous look, as though it was teasing me with little whispered taunts.

"Look at me RD, I'm so nearly rice, but I'm not". I could hear hear it saying.

I put some on my plate, added butter, salt, pepper and sauce, then tasted it. I'd managed to persuade C to add some chicken stock to it in the cooking process so I did quite enjoy the sensation of chicken stock, salt, pepper and the sauce from the tajine, it was only the dry feathery nothingness of the cous cous that was the problem. So much so that I could only eat about two, perhaps three platefuls of it.

It was strangely satisfying. Strange because all the flavouring was delicious, it was just the substance that wasn't. I suppose it was like watching and enjoying a film when the lead role is played by the actor you most detest in the whole world. I couldn't help but enjoy it yet would so much have preferred the lead to have been played by Tommy Lee Jones, Miley Cyrus or one of those other thespians types.

Despite that I shan't be repeating the cous cous thing. When C does leave here I'll probably make her take the packet of cous cous with her, or give it to charity or something.

While I remember why on earth is it called "cous cous'? I mean why the same name twice? It's not New York, which in reality isn't so good they named it twice. Rice isn't called "rice rice", I can't think of any other food that's got a doubled up name. I suppose Reggae Reggae sauce might squeeze in but you're unlikely to have heard of that.

I'll leave you with that question. I've got a sublime beef and potato curry on the go, courtesy of Channa Dassanayaka, and I must go and put the rice on. Mmmmm....that's more like it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas To You

There we were, me and C, watching TV. I know that rhymes but it was coincidence.

In the middle of some documentary about flies or something, which I was paying next to no attention to as I was busily writing a blog post about old age farts, this advert showed up. For obvious reasons it grabbed my attention.

I felt proud, there were butterflies in my stomach and excitement and joy oozed out of me.


Sri Lanka, what a great country to come from.

A happy Christmas to you all, whatever your views, whatever your style, whatever you think of me I wish you the best and thank you for reading LLD this year.

I'll be back soon, with the Lankanosphere awards and more of the same. In fact I'll probably be back before the year is fully done.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's Happened To Humour In The Lankanosphere?


I've been doing a lot of browsing around the Lankanosphere as research and development for the forthcoming awards and, as far as sidesplittingly funny writing is concerned, there's a distinct lack of it.

The only single blog listed on Kottu that makes me smile, laugh and fart involuntarily is DramaQueen's, but she went and scooped all the awards last year and only writes a post on Thursdays when Halley's comet is clearly visible, occasionally Wednesdays.

There's no shortage of blogs and bloggers who can make me laugh. I've chuckled heartily, like Father Christmas after a night when he's smoked a few too many, at posts by Cerno, Indi, Java and others, but I wouldn't class their blogs as ones that are funny per se.

I've laughed like a demented Hyena leaving the dentist after having some fillings on that troublesome tooth at the back at some of Sittingnut's comments and posts, but something tells me he's not actually trying to be funny.

The "troll" type blogs, those HH Zoltan and Pada Show ones are hit and miss, usually the latter and I fundamentally think that to gain attention by piss taking is quite cheap anyway, far better to create something oneself than mock others.

I've found myself a new funny, no make that hilarious blog. I've been trawling through its archives and I wince and chuckle with equal and copious amounts at just about every sentence. Have a look at it here, I guarantee you'll find it funny. The problem with it is that it's about as Sri Lankan as one of those Great British dishes, like curry.

JCP has morphed into a purely political place and the once clever satire has been replaced by insults and name calling, not my thing really.

I think I'm going to end up with a funniest post award instead of the funniest blog one as I can't find a blog that fits.

So I ask you dear reader. Which Lankan blog posts have you read that made you laugh, that made you pee just a little bit and put a smile on your face in the morning?

Answers on a comment please.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Involuntary Emissions Of A Gaseous Nature

Good morning all on this, the Christmas week, the penultimate week of the decade, unless you're one of those new fangled fellows who believes a decade hasn't begun until the year is one with a one as the last digit in its name.

It's been a while, but events in my life dictate that the time has come. Yes, it's time for a fart post. You see, at the grand old age of forty three I've noticed that the muscles, those in the posterior region, are getting somewhat lazy. This has taken me by surprise for, as you probably know, they're quite well trained and well used, which may actually be part of the problem.

I've discussed the matter with some other chaps of a similar age and they've given firm indications that it's a common issue in us more mature types. Frankly, at the most unexpected and inopportune moments, my inner workings can get together and conjure up a fart out of nothing.

The first time I met C, at Barefoot actually, we were sitting in the garden and had a brief conversation. After some minutes I stood up, laughed at something, as a fellow does, and farted. I had no control over it whatsoever, it just slipped out like one of those phantoms; a ghostly and eerie experience indeed.

When this happens, particularly in front of a sexy piece, the man is left in a quandary. Do you confess to the crime before it's even been discovered, knowing full well that it may not get unearthed anyway? If the wind is in the right direction, quite literally, then there's every chance of committing one of those victimless crimes.

Or do you keep quiet, taking the chance that you might have unleashed a beast and in a matter of seconds all around you will be holding their nose and asking who's dropped one? There's no easy answer, it's a question of judgement that needs to be tackled on a job by job basis.

On this one, in the Barefoot Garden I chose to confess for a couple of reasons. It seemed to me that C would be the sort of woman to be impressed by some fart talk, she had that air of sophistication about her persona. Also I wasn't sure if she had heard the noise or not, so it was better to be upfront than to take the undercover approach. I was right. She laughed and is sitting next to me as I type this, feigning disinterest.

What I've noticed is that as I strain other parts of my body I can inadvertently let rip. Last night I was bending down to get a saucepan out of the cupboard and laughed at something. It was too much strain on my body and I popped out a little one.

The other day at work I was bounding up the stairs with the eagerness of a dog chasing a cat with a bone tied to its tail. As I hit the last but one step I coughed. It was like a car backfiring. The cough made the engine splutter just a bit and the exhaust popped one out. No one was around, I got away with it and continued my bounding happily. The next person on the stairs may have been in for a slightly unpleasant surprise though.

At this age the audibles aren't a worry. All the involuntaries tend to be silent, at worst there's only a small amount of noise and it's usually only heard by me. But what worries me is what might happen with advancing years.

Will I end up as one of those old blokes who strolls around the place farting loudly with every consonant? As I get even older I'm sure that the little muscle control I have in that region is going to reduce. Is this something I should just accept and deal with or can I fight it with muscle exercises or special tablets?

You young kids won't believe that this will happen to you, but it will, you just have to wait about twenty years.

Which reminds me, I must give DD and Java a call.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rhythmic Diaspora (C) - DO NOT TOUCH

The first line, the name on the address label says the above, without the "DO NOT TOUCH" bit. "DO NOT TOUCH" is the phrase in my head, most definitely in capital letters too.

The address label sits, stuck happily to a box about fourteen inches away from me on my desk. How do I know it's about fourteen inches I can hear you almost screaming in a mad frenzy. I know it because I have just measured it with a tape measure. Accuracy means everything in these parts.

The box is an one and it contains my Christmas present from C. I know this because she told me that she was going to get it delivered to my office. It was my smart idea to put her name in brackets on the delivery address label so that I would see it and realise that it was not for me.

"Just get it delivered to my work", "just put your name in brackets", "no, of course I won't open it, don't be silly", "I'll be so busy that I won't be tempted" were all the things I said to her.

Now, as I write this post, the little box is staring at me, daring me to do the only decent thing. Boxes are made to be opened aren't they? C would never know if I deftly opened it, examined the contents, then resealed it and proclaimed innocence and surprise on Christmas day.

I keep glancing to my right and it's there. If there was a huge big red button with "Do not press this button" written on it I'd have to press it eventually. It's not a question of whether I open it or not, more an issue of whether I can last long enough.

I've already interrogated the outside of the box at some length and extracted no information. If I were a machine, one who understood barcodes, I'd be pretty clued up. I'm no machine though, just a mere mortal. Well, I say mere, but I guess I'm blessed with good looks, intelligence and humour, but I don't like to brag.

The box is teasing me and sneering at me. It knows it's got the upper hand, that it's going to win the battle, that my willpower is about as strong and committed as HI!! Magazine's political column. But it also knows that I'm going to waver, I'll hover on the brink of doing the wrong thing and I'll eventually make the right decision.

What will it be though?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Wicked Things

They're different, but here are three random phrases that I've read in recent weeks that have stuck with me.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." - Charles Mingus.

"It's sort of like the fort railway station suddenly becoming an exclusive members only club." - Cerno

"You wouldn't know subtlety if it punched you in the face." - Someone on Twitter who I can't recall.

Words can be very beautiful, particularly if they're put in the right order.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ooooh Oooh This Sex Is On Fiyiyerrr

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but I play in a covers band, the drums you know.

It's quite a kick arse rock band, playing songs like The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, The Foo's Learn to Fly, The Jam's A Town Called Malice and The Killers' When You Were Young. We also do some songs by bands whose first name isn't "The", but we keep them to a minimum. We don't do any songs by The The and, much to my dismay, there are often a couple of Snow Patrol songs in the set.

Since I joined we've done Kings of Leon's Molly's Chambers, one of their best songs I reckon, and it's always gone down well with people. And some months ago we decided to add in Sex On Fire to the set. I say "we decided" but it was more a case that if we didn't bung it in the set we'd be in severe danger of getting attacked by irate drunken revellers after each gig, well more attacked than is usual.

We had so many gigs in which people would be asking if we did Sex on Fire that it became a necessity, of course it was nothing to do with the fact that's it's dead easy and dead popular. Each time we play it we witness a crowd singing along to the chorus, waving arms, pointing fingers and generally at a point of euphoria that makes me understand how fellows like Hitler and the like could get so many people to follow them and hang onto their every word.

It's the epitome of great songwriting skill in a pure pop/rock genre, perhaps not up there with songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Paranoid Android and Lunu Dehi as all time greats but I'll guarantee you that, in years to come, it will be as popular as songs like Hi Ho Silver Lining and Summer of '69.

It's a short song with sexy verses and an anthemic chorus. The phrase "sex is on fire" is a memorable and catchy one too. I've never heard it used before as a way of describing sex, yet it's blatantly obvious that it means good things about the copulation concerned. Mr Leon could easily have used another phrase like "this sex is fantastic" or "this sex is outrageous" but they just wouldn't have had that same sense of edginess and kickarsity.

And the real beauty of the song is that, when we get to the chorus, every single fucker ( a word I choose most deliberately) in the house is standing up, singing along and doing that pointing with one arm thing in time with the s in sex, the i in is, the o in on, the f in fire and then the y in fire.

As I drum along I sometimes look at their faces and I can see and sense what's going on in their minds. Us drummers are renowned for our sensitivity to other people's feelings and thoughts you know. Yes, what I can pick up is that each punter, whether with a partner or not, thinks that the description is about what's it's like to have sex with them. They're fooled into believing that the song was written for them and that all the other people in the room are bad at sex.

How cool is that?

I would love, absolutely love, to write one song in my life that could be as memorable and impactful as that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards Are Coming...

No, wait, it's not happening just yet but this is a little heads up to let you know about what's going to be happening oh so very, very soon.

It's that time of the year, the one of that bloke who comes once a year down the chimney. Here at my office we have a twelve inch high moving Father Christmas, not that unusual you might say, and I'd agree with you. The unusual thing is that he's black. I don't know how we got him but I like him and I'm quite proud to be the "keeper" of the chap. He dances too. Anyhow, just thought I'd share that snippet with you.

Things may be a bit quiet around here in the short term as I'm putting most of my effort into the forthcoming 2009 blogging awards. This will be the fourth year that I've done this and it's about as nepotistic and undemocratic as, well any Lankan election could be really. It's hopefully going to be a bit of fun, a chance perhaps to discover some Lankan related blogs that you may not have seen before, to catch up on some that you'd forgotten about.

Sadly I have to exclude blogs written in Sinhala or Tamil, simply because I cannot understand those great languages. It's not something I'm proud of but it is life, or current life. So we're limited to Lankan related blogs published in English. Don't ask me what Lankan related means, as the definition is as fuzzy and complicated as one of Sittingnut's better arguments.

The only other rule, which I might change if I fancy it, is that last year's winners don't win the same title this year. It's potentially a little bit unfair, but I hope that it makes things a bit more varietical (my own word).

This year's awards will see more guest judges and hopefully a little more input from you, which is where we start.

Last year the categories and winners were as follows:

Photoblog - Amila Salgado
I wish I hadn't written that - Dinidu (for his religion post)
Blog of the Year - TMS
Best Newcomer - Kalusudda
Best written blog - David Blacker
Shitloads of comments whenever they post - Voice In Colombo
Best Overseas blog - Dance In a Triangle
Funniest Blog - DramaQueen
Funniest Post - DramaQueen
Legend of the Lankanosphere - Indi

I'm not going to ask you for nominations, though you may want to send some in anyway. I am however, going to ask for your ideas for any new award categories. I've decided to get rid of a couple, namely the funniest post and the I wish I hadn't written that ones. The former gets the big boot because it's too related to the funniest blog awards, the latter goes the way of all previous presidential candidates' promise to abolish the executive presidency because so many people have deleted posts that it's almost impossible to judge.

I have to go now. There are some chaps trying to deliver a red carpet for some awards ceremony. Send your suggestions in please, if you want to nominate a blog for an award don't even think about it unless you write the nomination on the back of a large cheque made payable to me. Or I will accept payment in sex, though not from you Sanjana.

Have a fine week.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A Bit Of A Mystery

Can anyone give me an explanation about this? I was doing a bit of googling and came across it. It's the weirdest thing ever. My work, but not my work.

Please tell me what it is. One of you computerish nerdy types must know surely.

And have a good weekend out there, I'm gigging tonight if anyone wants to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sansoni Al Pacino

It's the time for a quick search term post. A sporadic glance through the stats for my blog always throws up some interesting, some puzzling and some fascinating bits of information. The things people have searched for to get here are no exception.

Here are some recent juicy gems:

1. Psychology for bum wiping.

2. Do people in London wear willies?

3. Audit chat up lines

4. How to do absofuckinglutely nothing forever

5. Are very tight flare jeans gay?

6. Sansoni Al Pacino

7. Mock Wattalapam

8. Sri Lankan Astronaut

And here are some of my thoughts about them:

1. There are people who look into the most everyday things to levels of mad detail. Somewhere there's probably an academic writing a paper on this.

2. Yes, mostly men though.

3. Was this an accountant looking for chat up lines? What would be the accountant's version of Joey's "How you doin?". Perhaps something like "Fancy a bit of double entry?" or "Can I put my column in your spreadsheet?"

4. Why?

5. No, but wear them and people will probably think you are. Though I know DD wears them quite often.

6. Finally they're making a Hollywood epic about the photographer and Al is playing the lead. About bloody time too. Morgan Freeman will be Java and Nimmi Harasgama will play herself.

7. Is this sometime who has a big bowl of wattalapam and wants to tease it mercilessly?

8. Frankly it just makes me smile. All the jokes about the spaceship pulling out in front without indicating, about it needing a horn, perhaps no lights, you get the gist, well they all spring to mind.

What's happening over your way then?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Women Are From Mars, Men Are Normal

C's here for the Christmas period, which fills me with feelings comfort and joy, comfort and joy, feelings of comfort and joy.

Yet there are going to be some complications. The girls will be with their mother and her family on Christmas day itself and so, after a wild moment of mad uttering, I find myself in the situation of having my parents over for the Christmas dinner. All well and good, I'm sure it will be nice and cosy, but I haven't got the faintest clue how on earth to cook a roast dinner, let alone a full Turkey and all the trimmings Christmas one.

Give me the job of conjuring up some rice and c and I'm up for it, ask me to cook a spaghetti bolognese or microwave a ready meal and I'll stand up and be counted. The Christmas dinner is going to be a challenge, one that I'll no doubt keep you, the reader in this saga, informed about.

That wasn't the thing I wanted to tell you about though. Today's topic is about women, presents and the tests we men have to face. C told me some weeks ago that one of the things she'd quite like for Christmas is a watch, "not an expensive one", she added. You'll understand if, by the time you come to read this, these words have been deleted, as I don't want C to read it and realise that I've told you all about it.

The younger, perhaps less experienced men among you, will wonder what the fuss is about. You're probably thinking right now that it's all quite simple and straightforward, just do what she says, buy her a watch, one that isn't expensive, and the job will be done and everyone will be happy. Frankly I shake my head and roll my eyes, which is easy for us drummers, at people who think like that.

You see, women do these things, they throw out challenges like this and it's never as easy to respond in the correct way as it may seem. Often there is no correct way to respond, making it slightly harder to do the right thing, a bit like an election in which neither candidate would be your choice and you end up voting for the one you think will do the least damage, an unlikely scenario I know.

In the world of the female predator I'm like an innocent grazing deer; enjoying myself and munching on some foliage whilst remaining in a state of receptiveness and awareness.

Now the very first important issue to be tackled in this situation is whether I should buy a watch at all or go for something totally different. No way am I going to fall arse over wallet at the first hurdle, this has to be pondered and cogitated on. On the one hand, I go out and buy a watch and gain kudos for doing what was requested. An easy win? Nope, for doing what was requested may in itself be a bad thing. Some women, you'll find this hard to believe but I assure you it's true, want men to think for themselves.

Then, if I go down the alternate route and get something other than a watch, it's a potentially risky situation that even Barrack Obama would steer clear of. My instincts tell me that buying C a nice snare drum instead of a watch would be a lovely and thoughtful present, using my imagination and courage to their limit. But no, my head tells me that she wouldn't want a snare drum, women are weird like that. As men our job is to deal with it.

So the snare drum option, or any other drum related present for I'm open minded about these things, is out and the watch is the favourite. What direction do I go in next?

"Inexpensive" she said. Well, what the Bejeezus does that mean exactly? And, before you even think about it, asking her is the second worst idea in the world, the worst being to ask my Mum. The only thing that the word "inexpensive" indicates is that I probably shouldn't go online spend many hours browsing in jewellers' shop windows and buy the most expensive top of the range Breitling, Rolex or Raymond Weil I can find, nor should I get the cheapest thing money can buy.

This leaves me with a large range in which to operate, particularly worsened by the fact that I'm not really sure about the whole not buying a Bretling, Rolex or Raymond Weil thing. The word inexpensive, I've decided, should be banned and sent off to the word graveyard, to be replaced by more man friendly words, ones like £200, £150 and £50 and similar.

I forgot to tell you the other "useful" bit of guidance C gave me. And, when I say useful, I mean useful in the same way that the button to call a member of the air crew on a Sri Lankan Airlines plane is useful, or in the way that a roundabout lurking on a Colombo road at night time is useful.

"You know the sort of thing I like, you choose" was the thing she said, when I asked what sort of watch she wants. I managed to bluff my way through, nodding with an air of wisdom as if all women are predictable and men know exactly how to read them, as if I had won an award for my ability in this highly scientific field.

I remain as confused as a tourist in House of Fashions mens' T shirt section.

Vut too doo?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Language And These Highly Intelligent Fellows

I know a few of them and these brainy coves are all well and good. I can often be found in the company of a gang or two of them, I'm the one saying very little and listening with all my ears fully open, trying to learn, but more importantly trying to understand. Thinking about it, it's impossible that the collective term for academics would be "gang", no it would have to be "school" wouldn't it?

But something I've noticed with these brainboxes is that they often talk and write in words and sentences that are beyond the level of comprehension of us regular and normal types. It's a phenom that genuinely perplexes me, one I've asked Academic Bro about quite a few times, the problem being that I've failed to understand his answer.

Academic Bro often writes papers and articles, books and things and I get to read them. The thing that has always struck me is that they're written in a language that is so different to my everyday speaking one, or my writing one. Yet it's language that many academics find familiar and comfortable, it's words, phrases and sentences that they really say to each other. Mad.

I wonder if this two tier liguistic approach is a way in which the brainy chaps try to keep themsleves separated from us lesser mortals, or is it the fact that the language happens and that's what separates us?

Why exactly did I start on this rather rambling introduction? Well it all came about when I read this review of The Travelling Circus on Groundviews. It's by Sanjana himself, a good pal of mine, but, fuck me, as we commoners say, it's hard to make sense of. It's well written, with grammar worthy of one of PG Wodehouse's better known characters, though not Bertram W himself, and, though I haven't analysed it mathematically, I feel sure that he's probably used at least eighteen, maybe even nineteen, of the letters in the alphabet.

There are words in English that I've never heard before, let alone the ones in obscure foreign languages, like Italian and French, that leave me with a puzzled frown and lines in my forehead. The first paragraph starts lightly, presumably to get the reader's interest and persuade him to pursue things. The only two controversial words are "juxtapose" and "highfalutin". Even I might use the former sometimes.

The second paragraph is where the big guns come out firing. As early as the second sentence Sanjana makes adroit use of the Italian "commedia dell'arte." I only use the word "adroit" in a vain attempt to prove my own intellectual credentials, the truth is that Sanjana uses it later on and that's where I got the idea. I know that "commedia dell'arte" is Italian purely because he helpfully wrote it in the language of the Italians; Italics.

As we progress muddily through the paragraph we encounter "inflorescence" and "insouciance", words I'll get around to looking up soon, with the benefit that they'll be within a few pages of each other in the dictionary. Mr H tells us that

"The Travelling Circus, in this respect, was a technical tour de force"

Now come on. I'm not totally stupid, I've read things, watched a bit of sport of TV and I've got a trendy green bike, one of those ones with brakes so good that I'm constantly in danger of flying over the handlebars. I know the Tour de Force is probably the hardest and most famous cycle race in the world, I know about the yellow jersey and all, I just don't think one can compare The Travelling Circus to it.

The review continues with complicated, confusing and mind boggling language, though it's spelled correctly and our Sanj, as I like to call him, puts all his apostrophes in the right places, never confusing an it's with an its. He uses the word "denouement" and even puts an accent above the first e. How clever is that? I can do an ê, but an e (with an accent) evades me. Mind you, I bet Sanjana can't play Sex On Fire on the drums, particularly the middle eight.

It took until I got to the very last line for me to figure out if he liked the play or not. Even I got the gist of it.

"This is theatre at its best".

He could have just said that really.

I must dash, I'm trying to cook beef with jus in bello, it's a recipe Sanjana mentioned to me the other day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Parody


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Presenting My Conditions For Political Support.

Dear Your Excellency,

With the forthcoming Presidential election looming larger than a huge thing hovering over a tiny thing, perhaps even larger, I think the time is right to outline my conditions for my support. According to Blogger I have the grand total of sixteen people who are now official followers, I feel that my support for any candidate could gain between ten and fourteen of those votes, a large sum by anyone's standards.

Here they are:

1. Embarkation cards - You know when Suddhas leave Sri Lanka, well there needs to be better signage to tell them / us that we need to fill out an embarkation card. Otherwise they queue up to get their passport checked, making the queues longer for all of us, only to be told to go over there and fill out the form.

2. Odel - Please sort out the mens' department. And also we could do with a down escalator. Why is there just the one, why does it go up, then get us to the wrong floor? These are important issues.

3. Freedom of speech - I reckon it's a good thing and should be encouraged. Dissent is usually constructive and helps people to formulate decent opinions and ideas. Violent protest, terrorism and hateful behaviour aren't good things, most people would agree, not that I've spoken to most people. Get rid of the "if you're not with us you're against us" mentality, start a "you can be with us and disagree" one.

4. Barefoot devilled King Prawns - Please get rid of this delectable dish from the specials menu. It's all well and good to enjoy when a fellow's there but dwelling on the taste and the aroma from my desk on a December morning in West London is quite painful and makes my mouth water. It's not as painful as nailing your balls to a wall but you probably get what I mean. Just ask DD, he'll no doubt agree with me.

5. A Sri Lankan passport - May I have one please? My parents are Sri Lankan, as were their parents. I feel Sri Lankan and love the place, for all its madness and sheer frustration, for its beauty and serendipity. I'd quite like to get one without the need for thousands of pounds to change hands and be verified by all sorts of people, most of whom we're all related to anyway.

6. Release the IDPs.

That's it really. I suppose some of these things are easier for you to do than others, but just imagine if you lost the election by ten votes or so. To be honest with you I'm not too fussed about the whole embarkation card signage business. I actually find it quite funny to watch the tourists get turned back after queuing up.

I'd be happy to come to your house sometime if you want to hear more, I think I know roughly where it is. I can't come on Friday though as I'm on a diabetes clinic thing.

Good luck and all.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Diabetes Diaries

Indi's post here reminded me that I haven't told you the state of play with my whole peeing in a test tube and diabetes thing. Well, basics, as my kids would say, because to say the word basically is just so time consuming, the results came back and are that I've got type 2 diabetes, something I take as good news.

It's good news because I now know the illness that's causing the symptoms and can get on with treating it and moving forwards, in my own little backwards way. I heard on the radio the other day that there has been a fifty per cent increase in people with type 2 diabetes in the last five years in the UK. I also heard that the chances of getting it if you're a South Asian male over forty are about as high as the chances of a lead singer, in a gig, forgetting to go to a chorus and then turning round and glaring at the rest of the band as if they've played the wrong thing. Which is to say, pretty much a dead cert.

So having this type 2 diabetes thing means that, and please forgive me if I get the technical stuff a bit wrong as I'm not Jennifer Aniston or one of those other scientific types, my body isn't particularly talented in the field of extracting sugar from my food and making it into energy. I think that's because the RD body in question isn't very good at producing insulin, which is what helps it to do all the converting sugar into energy stuff.

Apparently fellows can have it for months, maybe even years before the symptoms accumulate and they got to their Doctor's because they're concerned about them, exactly what happened in my case. If you know me then I think you'll agree that it's fair to say I'm not a fat bloater type of chap. I eat a reasonably balanced diet, I get a fair amount of exercise from drumming and I don't drink much alcohol.

So I'm now on drugs, to do stuff, and after about a month I'm getting a full night of sleep without a barrage of toilet trips. I'm not getting through an ocean of Evian water each night, bad news for the mineral water industry but good news for me, and I'm not getting cramps in my legs at the most inopportune moments; drum solos and the like.

I'll tell you what, sleeping through the night after months of nights feeling as if I've had a dozen short naps, is exhilarating, luxurious and a teeny bit of a mindfuck. It's much harder for me to wake up these days as the alarm clock has to do the job of raising me from deep instead of light, might need to get up and pee at any moment, sleep. Then, once I'm up and have done the whole scratching my balls, rubbing my eyes and farting ritual, I'm all bright eyed and bushy tailed. I hit the day with the enthusiasm of a forger who's just been asked to do a load of new Lankan Rs 1000 notes.

I have to eat breakfast, something I'm not used to and therefore a large change in the routine. Each morning, were you to be one of G's many sexual partners, you'd be able to witness me in my apartment munching furiously through a bowl of cereal, a couple of Ryvitas or some natural yoghurt.

Just in case you didn't know G is the bloke who lives in the apartment directly opposite me, with a boat, a 911 and more girlfriends than Hugh Heffner in a good year. I've discovered that he's also a captain of industry and sold one of his companies some time ago for many millions. Frankly I don't understand what these girls see in him.

Cereal, Ryvitas and natural yoghurt are somewhat girly breakfasts but this has to be done. I'm talking about cereal that doesn't even have a plastic toy in the box as well. No dinosaur or tiger anywhere to be seen. I've always liked ryvitas and natural yoghurt is just curd but made under hygienic conditions, so there's no big hardship there but I could kill for a big English brekkie or some strings though.

And that is the state of play. It's also been quite a good reminder to me of the many good things about the UK National Health Service. The treatment has been good and serious, though I do get a bit annoyed with some of the red tape and bureaucracy. On Friday I'm going to an all day thing where they teach us about diabetes, what to do, eat and all. It might be a bit boring but I reckon it will be useful information. I've been given a flu jab, a swin flu jab and I now get free prescription medication. How cool is that? The drugs are on me!

It sounds all good and it largely is.

Except for my Mum. You know her, the Sri Lankan mother who's also a Doctor.

I shake my head in despair, you can probably imagine what I'm going through.

By the way, did you know that the word "yoghurt" come up as an error when you run the spellcheck thing here? That's Americans for you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Passing Of Time

Taken in the hills of Kandy, same place only about ten years apart. The top one was this year. Interesting eh?