Friday, December 31, 2010

Thirty First Night

Hello Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in the next decade.

Friday, December 24, 2010

You Scumbags!

You maggots.

You cheap lousy faggots.

Happy Christmas to everyone who's read, commented and been a part of the great thing that is the Lankanosphere.

I wish you peace, prosperity, love and everything you wish for yourself and your loved ones.

See you in London or Lanka.

RD x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Dreaming Of A Grey Christmas

Two things I've had enough of; snow and the American Government, neither of which it seems I can do anything about.

There's good stuff to do with snow, I admit. Snowball fights, tobogganing and that whole Christmassy feeling. And that rather magical atmosphere, the way everything sounds muffled and more peaceful than ever.

On Saturday I walked into Kingston. It sounds a bit braver than it is, for I do actually pretty much live in the middle of Kingston anyhow. I spent a couple of minutes fighting bravely through a blizzard, feeling like Scott or even Ralph Fiennes as I tucked myself into the folds of my parka and let my almost brand new Timberlands do the walking.

Then, when I got to the Bridge, I saw that every car approaching it was getting stuck, unable to get the traction to climb the smallest of slopes and get onto the bridge. Without exception every single car was slipping, sliding and wheelspinning as they went nowhere.

The result? That Great British gung ho spirit poured out of passers by by the gallon. Every single one of us stopped and helped push a few cars before we went on our way. It's weird how us Brits do that in times of need. We, a term I'm hesitant about using, can be cold, unfriendly and downright miserable to each other for most of the time. But, give us a time of need, and we're the friendliest and most warm and helpful people around.

I pushed one car to freedom, along with about two or three other strangers. Then I moved along to the next car and did the same. Both drivers shouted their thanks and tooted their horns as they went on their way.

As the third car loomed in my vision I felt a bit uneasy. There was a whole queue of cars coming, all of which would suffer the same predicament. What was I to do? I might have spent the weekend pushing them. The Christmas shopping would have had to wait, none of the drivers would even have known that I'd been pushing cars for hours. So I legged it after just the two, feeling as though I'd done my good deed times two, so things were okay.

Driving into work on Monday morning was more treacherous and risky, more hazardous and filled with heart stopping moments than the last time I went to the Barefoot Colombo Pub Quiz. At one point my car told me, in its silent German tones, that the outside temperature was minus 9.5 degrees. Mentale!

Then there's the flights. One of my girls at work failed to fly to her home town of Prague because of the disruption, though she's now hoping to go on Thursday. I've been checking the Sri Lankan Airlines website regularly as I'm booked to depart on Boxing Day. Occasional snow showers, little bursts of the stuff have made me moan and groan and hope like buggery that it turns into grey and dull rain, the very grey and dull rain that I hate so much at any other time.

I can't wait to be destined for Serendib. To feel the plane take off and know that I'm on my way. Boarding and even being in my seat won't be enough. The radio waves are bounding with stories of people who've boarded then sat around for hours on end only to be told they have to go back into the airport and wait, or worse still sent home.

The only question is a book dilemma facing me. I've started reading Chinaman and have been forced to read that so old fashioned type of book, the sort that is printed on paper, with ink and whatnot, for it's not available on the Kindle. It took me a while I must admit. I'd thought, after reading and hearing so much about it, that it would grab me within the first forty two, maybe even forty, words. It just didn't, yet I ploughed on.

Then at about the one hundred page mark, it captured me. As I write this I'm waiting to rush home and find out what Wije has been up to for the last few hours and exactly where the story's going to lead us. The characters, the language and the Sri Lankan nuances, some of which I even understand, have got me spellbound.

The dilemma is about whether to take the book with me on the flight or to just take the Kindle and read one or some of the many others I'm currently involved with. It seems wrong to have an e book reader but to then carry a paperback with me, a hefty one at that.

Vut too doo?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lately In The Lankanosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More On Wikileaks

This whole Wikileaks thing is good for us bloggers isn't it?

Let's face it, when the world ticks along nicely, when life is treating everyone well, something that happens infrequently I'll grant you, there's fuck all for us to blog about. Wikileaks, or the recent cablegate thing has given us all endless possibilities, with the promise of even more to come for Julian knows how long.

And, while we're on the subject, isn't it annoying that anything big these days gets the word "gate" bunged on the end of it. I hope there isn't some big event to do with Bill Gates in the future or the copywriters will have a field day.

The stories of espionage, of bumbling British Princes who should really keep their mouth shut, of Politicians exchanging favours for votes and votes for favours are seriously interesting and will almost definitely change the way many view the world of international relations.

But so far there's been one story, and one story alone, that has caught the RD imagination and is trapped, like a fart in a colander, in my head.

It's about Ahmad Zia Massoud the former Afghan vice President. You've probably heard it anyhow but it's about the fact that, in 2009, when visiting the UAE, he was caught carrying $52 million in cash. The fuss in the media relates to the probability that he was money laundering and that US and UAE officials stopped him then let him go with his cash and no explanation of where it came from.

I guess it's bad, bad that he was let off and all. But the simple fact is that this chap was carrying $52,000,000 in CASH, yes CASH. I mean how does a chap actually do that?

I've put quite a lot of thought into this, even doing a mind map which you can see here in front of me. When I began to think about it I couldn't comprehend $52 mill in cash. Would it be a suitcase full of sponds or a huge fleet of suitcases? Perhaps it would be a small bag containing a mere 52 of those 1 million dollar notes.

And how exactly does a chap go about carrying this on a flight? If it was just the one big bag I suppose old Ahmad would have bought himself a really good one, like one of the medium range Samsonites or perhaps even some top of the range Balrin Parris (sic) ones from the Pettah. If he could afford it of course. I've been wanting to write a sentence with (sic) in it for quite some time you know.

He would have faced the issue all of us have to face at times. Do you buy a hard case, giving more sturdiness, security and protection but also more weight, or a soft one, with less of everything including weight?

Would he have got one with a combination lock or a proper padlock with a key. When carrying around $52 million I think a combination lock is probably better and it's a good idea to use a number that no one will think of, like one of his kids' birthdays or perhaps his wife's. Had he gone for a soft case then I'm told anyone can open one by poking the zip with a biro. He'd have to hope none of the baggage handlers knew that cunning trick.

Then, once the luggage choice is sorted out, how would he have checked it in? It's probably fair to assume he went business or maybe even first class but it must have still been a nervewracking episode to check it in and watch it disappear along the belt at the desk. As you probably know I lost a case once when I went to Barcelona so I know how it feels.

My case only contained pants (Odel ones) and some clothes. I can only imagine the hassle in trying to fill out the lost bag form when you have to write "$52 million in cold hard dodgy cash" in the appropriate box. I hope Ahmad hadn't put his pants in the same bag as the cash. I had to wear the same pants for two days in a row.

All blokes know that it's perfectly normal and acceptable to wear pants for several days in a row when there's no woman around, but I was with C at the time so had to pretend it was something unusual, making that face as if I hated doing it. Had I also lost $52 million at the time I reckon things could have been a lot worse.

All the permutations and comedic possibilities were driving me mad so I did some googling and wikipediaing.

I found out that there has never been a $1 million dollar note that has been legal tender. Though there were some $100,000 notes that are not legal tender anymore, the highest in circulation now is the $100 note.

So old Ahmad would have had to use $100 bills and the weight of one of these is about 1 gramme. Therefore $52 million would have weighed about 520 Kg. That's a fair bit of weight and I reckon, allowing for 20 kg a suitcase, it would have meant 26 suitcases. Let's round things up a bit and say that he may have taken 25-30 suitcases.

Well that's a lot of excess luggage, even taking into account the extra baggage allowance (about 10kg) you get on business class.

It's all been kept quiet, even on Wikileaks.

I don't think we should accept it.

I demand to know who paid his excess luggage bill. I bet you it was the Americans.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Invalidation

I saw this and thought of you.

Any musos out there, but also normal people, will see this and think of many they know.

Enjoy your Monday morning. It's bound to be a snowy / icy / rainy / hot / cold one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks And The Lankanosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indi says this

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

Sittingnut tells us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A One Poo Post.


So here I am, back in London after my briefest trip so far to the motherland. It's Wednesday morning as I write this, I arrived back at around nine PM last night after landing over your way on Friday afternoon.

Truth be told I feel just that little bit dazed.

Of course there are lots of bits and pieces to tell you. Stories of colour, light, sound and smell. Theories on the body and heat, on the arrogance of SriLankan aircrew and how some friends left me to the wolves, well a wolf, well a wolfess actually. There's also an instructional story about the best way to steal a laptop from a Gypsy.

They're all noted in my new and swishy Barefoot notebook, one of those with lines drawn by a person with a crap ruler. Funny really that, a crap ruler could be a device to draw straight lines that doesn't work well or it could be person running a country badly. Or I guess it could be a fellow in charge of a crap table.

This is a bit of a poo post though, something that has been lacking around the Lankanosphere of late.

My itinerary was set as follows; land in CMB lateish on Friday afternoon, spend three days mooching around, doing that romantic thing that I'm so renowned for. This was with C, not just with random women that I encountered. Then leave on Tuesday morning, get back in London in the evening and go back to work on Wednesday morning.

By Saturday morning all was going well. All except one thing; I hadn't dropped a log since before I left London on Thursday. And neither had I done a poo. As you'll be aware this isn't wholly unusual for me. I can sometimes go for three or more days without opening the back gates and am often approached by camels seeking advice on how to do it.

But I began to wonder if it was at all possible that I could manage a whole sojourn to Sri Lanka, albeit a brief one, without the turtle poking its head out at all.

It was going to be a challenge. After some thought I decided that I was the man for the job and accepted it.

However, there was a condition and had to outline it to myself. It was to do with food, that all important aspect of any trip to Sri Lanka. It was all well and good trying to leave the country without pooing but it had to be done without cutting back on food, without existing on a diet of salad or bland food. Accepting and rising to the challenge would be useless if it dented my enjoyment of the trip. I explained the situation to myself and I accepted things. We both did actually.

Saturday was a breeze. I barely thought about things and ate like a British tourist at a Sri Lankan beach hotel buffet. One of those tourists with a yellow wristband, not just a blue one.

Sunday was a slightly different matter. C and me had some lunch and bumped into the Gypsy and another friend at Barefoot. I could feel a bit of a build up occurring, rather like a dam with a a steadily rising water level. My control was good, managing to talk to the Gypsy and tensing all my stomach muscles at the same time. It was hard work, that much I'll admit to you, though I'd be obliged if you don't tell the Gypsy about it.

I figured it would be smart to eat my way through the discomfort, so had a main course and a dessert. With hindsight that might have been a tad unwise. Thank God for belts with more than one hole and Diet Coke. By the evening things had got so uncomfortable that I could only eat a whole lamprais for dinner. And some of C's rice and curry too.

Monday morning saw C go off to work and me alone at the hotel. I was still a man on a mission but that mission meant that I also had to enjoy all that Serendib has to offer. I ate my breakfast of string hoppers, chicken curry, parippu and some pol sambol, with some seeni sambol too, with the zeal of a man eating his last meal before the electric chair.

As I sat on my very own special chair shortly afterwards, though this one wasn't electric, I feared for the plumbing and sewage systems of Colombo, more than normal I mean. As one man to another I can tell you that this poo was one of those eye watering types that leave a chap slightly breathless, admiring his own work and wondering about gay sex a bit. Michelangelo would have looked up and admired his work, I looked down.

I completed the paperwork, flushed and ran to the window of my room. I peered carefully over Beira Lake expecting to see it pop up at any moment, perhaps I'd see some guys in a rowing boat have to swerve to avoid it or a small crowd of onlookers pointing and screaming. Nothing happened. I was probably looking at the wrong place. It must have come out next to the Beach Wadiya into the sea there.

I'd been defeated by the challenge but that was okay. The rest of the day saw an RD with a lightness in his step and a large amount of air in his stomach, or semi colon or whatever it's called, the poo storage place.

Without even trying I lasted all the rest of the day with no further movements. I left the next morning, lasting the journey without going. I hate to poo in strange places but there's no place stranger than an aircraft toilet.

The first thing I did when I got home, after calling my Mum of course, was another satisfying log drop.

And, even though I failed the challenge, I do consider it to be a success. I went to Sri Lanka and only did one poo in my time there.

There's a prize for anyone who can beat that!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Like most authors say at regular intervals, I started a new book the other day. The difference with me is that I'm not an author so I'm talking about the reading thing, not the writing part. It's called "Our Tragic Universe" by Scarlett Thomas and it captured me within the very first pages.

I think my reading, my appetite for all things literary and my sense of confidence in my own ability to appreciate books, has grown in recent times. So much that I find myself giving up on books that don't hold my attention. It feels like a reflection of my reader's maturity, gone are the days when I absolutely had to finish every book I began in order to judge whether I liked it.

It's kind of mad as well, the amount of time I, and you, must have wasted in reading books we didn't like. We spent those hours ploughing through only to get to the end and decide it was rubbish. If I could figure out a way of eliminating doing things in my life that I subsequently discover I don't like then I'll not only make some serious money but I'll also have total fun in spending it.

But would there be any joy without joylessness? Which came first, the chicken or the tree falling in the woods?

I digress, the thing is I had started another book a week ago. It was a book called "The Ask", in fact it still is a book called "The Ask", by a fellow called Sam Lipsyte. The reviews on Amazon led me to believe it's the funniest thing since The Inbetweeners or that story about no civilian casualties. I kid you not when I tell you that I wondered whether I'd feel uncomfortable reading it in public as I'd be laughing out loud so often. Sorry kids, laughing out loud means LOL, just so you know.

Halfway through this book I bailed. It just wasn't doing it for me. Yes, there were a few occasions when I'd lolled, albeit very quietly, but it seemed overcomplicated, as if the author wanted to come up with brilliantly wordy and sophisticated sentences the scholars would marvel at in years to come. The only snag being that old RD couldn't understand them.

I contemplated the abandonment for a few chapters, then did it when I was least expecting to. My sentiments, now at least, are that I might come back to the book at another time, one when I'm more intelligent and sophisticated, or I might just dip into it now and again to see if if grabs me. Such are some of the advantages of owning a Kindle.

Our Tragic Universe, which I've only just begun, isn't a ball grabbing tension filled fast paced page turner type. No, but it did get my attention, more in a gentle and sexy way, one that took a bit of effort then had me hooked.

The language is very British, the sense of self deprecating humour and understatement seems to be there and it's already flung several new and brilliant similes at me, ones I've forgotten straight away but may just be wallowing in my subconscious ready to spring out at a moment's notice. Like a thing, out of a whatsername.

I started this post because I wanted to share this one with you, it made me stop, gasp and think. It's really rather lovely and goes like this:

"Living forever would be like marrying yourself, with no possibility of divorce."

I'm off to the Motherland tonight.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Pregnancy Test?

I slightly introduced Marc to you here. Well he's still around at my work, the only difference since we last checked in with him was that he's since got married and has a young baby.

He's from the Ivory Coast is Marc and is one of life's gentle but mean looking mothers. He resembles a gangster, well a gangsta, wearing the style of clothing made popular by P Diddy and Snoopy Snoopy Dog Dog, those kind of chaps. His accent is a strange mix of African sounds with French, English and deep gruff noises. The technical term is "fucking hard to understand at the best of times".

He's also one of my best workers. Here's a little story that happened the other day.

It was about 7.45 AM and I was sat at my desk pretending to work. Marc, who starts at 8 AM, rang and I answered the phone, though I didn't know it was him until I'd done so. I listened very carefully in my attempt to decipher what he was saying. The gist of it was that his wife was vomiting and he was running a little bit late because of that but would be at work shortly.

I said that that was fine and asked him not to call me "shortly".

He arrived soon after that, came up to my office to explain again and I told him all was fine, that the main thing was that she was better now. Then, being the joking cad that I am, I asked him if she might be pregnant again, that this could be one of the signs. He went pale, quite an achievement for him, laughed in a slightly forced way and looked more nervous than a Qantas passenger who, casually gazing out of the window, spots some oil staining on the A380's engine, the one with the flames coming out of it.

And off he went, downstairs to his lair in the warehouse. I chuckled at my wit and good humour.

Some time later I went downstairs to the warehouse, because that's where it is. I saw Jay, my right hand man, and told him about my joke with Marc, adding that he might want to wind Marc up a bit about the situation. He burst out laughing and told me what had happened some minutes before after Marc had come to speak to me.

It turned out that I had misunderstood Marc from the very beginning of our conversation. It wasn't his wife that was being sick, it was actually his young baby. So, when I'd asked him if the wife was pregnant again, what with the sickness being a possible sign, Marc had thought that I'm the owner of some wisdom and knowledge and that it was a medical fact that a young baby being sick might be a sign of the mother being with child.

Marc, being concerned, had immediately phoned his wife to ask if she was expecting, as his boss had told him it was likely. She'd told him to stop being an arse, that there is no such old wives' tale, or words to that effect. I don't know the ins and outs of his love life and I don't have any plans to find out, but there seemed no doubt that the good lady knew her stuff.

We all found this mightily amusing, so much so that I might even write to Readers Digest about it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Panic Post

So I've never done this before but it's 3.56 PM here on Monday afternoon and I've given myself exactly one hour to come up with a post, one that you'll read in the morning. That is if I churn out anything even half worthwhile.

My currently active journal has a list of potential blog posts. There are twenty items on the list, though four or five of them are crossed through because the post has been written and published. None of them grab me at the moment, none are screaming out to be written.

Ah, here's something though; I'm not eating very well at the moment. Truth be told I'm a bit fucked off with food. This living on my own and cooking for one business has got me a bit pissed off. It's a lot of effort to cook when the only person eating is moi. Cooking when the girls are with or when C is with me is cool and fun. But they're not with me most of the time.

There's practically the same amount of time and effort involved in cooking for one as there is in doing it for three or four, it's only when one deals with the dinner party occasions that things get more serious. And a party of one is getting boring. You know, I can sit there and give myself compliments about the food. I can write a blog post telling you how lovely my chicken curry was the previous night. I can tell C or the kids about it.

But the thing is I might as well make up my reports. Whether it's you reading a post or anyone I tell personally there are no witnesses. I could be living on pot noodles every night and regaling the world with glamorous stories of sweetcorn and creme caramel with trifle.

So I've been eating lots of rubbish takeaways recently, rubbish in a tasty and unhealthy way. But I've even started to get bored of them. Take last night as an example. I was hungry, I was tired and it was a bit cold and miserable outside. I decided, after a discussion, perhaps more of an argument with myself, to make my own dinner. Only the contents of my fridge and cupboards would have made the average university student wince with pity.

There was French bread, some tins of Green Giant sweetcorn, some chocolate biscuits, a creme caramel thing and a one person trifle. I had been watching some Jamie Oliver earlier that day and was feeling inspired. What the hell I figured. I can make a meal out of these things, it can't be that hard if I set my mind to it.

I thought, I pondered, I browsed through the various smells in my spice cupboard and peered hard into the dark recesses of the other cupboard, in case I'd missed anything good lurking there. I hadn't. Stocks were that low and the situation was that desperate.

I started with the French bread. It was fresh and I had some nice French butter to go with it. I spread the butter on the bread, then ate it. Mmmm.... I thought.

Next I opened the Green Giant sweetcorn. It's important to get the "Green Giant" bit in there, for that branding somehow really does make sweetcorn taste that extra bit delicious. I poured it into a bowl and ate the stuff, being careful to eat those last few pieces. Revenge is a dish best served cold, which is how I'd opted to serve the sweetcorn, quite a coincidence I thought.

My French sojourn continued and I went for the creme caramel. They're clever these Frenchies and this one was the sort I could turn out onto a plate perfectly, with it's darker caramelly section on the top and that mouthwatering sugary juice floating around the plate. At first, when I upturned the container, the dessert stayed stuck fast but a quick snap of the little plastic tab attached to it and the contents get released as if by magic. I continue to be marvelled by the ingenuity of our Gallic cousins.

And then I ate it.

There is no better dessert than trifle. Ever. In the world. And I mean proper British trifle, not one of your Sri Lankan hotel buffet ones with everything tasting that bit too sweet. Definitely not one of those American ones that have mincemeat in them either. I realised recently that my problem with a trifle is that I like not only each individual ingredient, the fruit, the jelly, the cream, custard and spongey bits, but I also like every possible combination of each of the ingredients.

A mouthful of jelly with some custard is lovely. One of fruit and cream is delish, one of jelly, sponge and fruit is, well you get the picture.

So I wolfed down a trifle (individual portion) too.

That was it, that was dinner. And frankly I felt shallow and cheap and used, rather like a chap must feel after being seduced by Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. At least it was healthy, though Lady Gaga's average costume contains more meat.

For some time I contemplated nipping out and getting a takeaway. No, I was stronger than that. I mooched around a bit feeling sorry for myself then skulked off to bed with a good book, about thirty of them actually because it was my Kindle that I took with me.

Tonight I'll get a takeaway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Don't Do I Don't Do

I like the English language. I like the Singlish language too, maybe because that's one way in which my cultures come together and mix with all the ease of oil and water.

But I can't claim to be a fan of the things the Americans have done to English. They change things for no apparent reason, they simplify things that never needed simplifying and complicate things that were nice and simple in the first place.

What was so wrong about a lift that it became the four syllable mouthful of "elevator"? Why did our good sturdy pavements change into sidewalks and, the most troubling of the examples for sure, why did an arse trade places with an ass and confuse the hell out of donkey fans and arse kickers everywhere? Can you imagine the confusion if you lived in the US and wanted to hold an arse kicking party?

My most recent gripe is the continued unnecessary use of the phrase "I don't do...".

I was listening to a radio programme, or should that be program, the other day. There was a jokey feature in which the roving reporter had to go on a rollercoaster and sing a song, for the listeners to guess the song and win prizes galore.

The presenter introduced the feature, sensationalising it as they always do, and added that it was extra hard for the reporter to have done because "you don't do rollercoasters do you?"

I hate this fucking phrase, really I do. It's grammatically incorrect, it's overly dramatic, it's almost always factually incorrect and I believe it's jumping on that very American obsession about being obsessive. Everyone these days has to be "a little OCD" about something.

In my day it was perfectly acceptable to decide not to like rollercoasters much. We felt no compulsion to make all our dislikes into major psychological disorders, ones that Miley Cyrus and the cast of Glee all have.

I was at home with K the other day and making dinner. I asked her to chop some onions. Her response?

"Oh Dad, do I have to? Only I don't really do knives"

"You what?" I said, while screwing up my face in that confused, puzzled and disbelieving Dad look.

"You don't do knives?" I asked.

"No I just don''t like them" she replied.

I shook my head with exasperation, then I chopped the onions, that's how annoyed I was.

I was chatting to David Blacker the other day and the subject of pants came up. That's pants in the proper British way of underwear, not the American trouser thing. I told DB about the recent tremendous pants I've bought, the extra strong ones in Odel. His response?

"I don't do pants"

I frowned and then listened to his rather sad and poignant explanation.

Apparently when he was a young lad he was assaulted in the pants section of House Of Fashions by a gang of middle aged Muslim women. They stole his packet of cigarettes and his membership card for The Library, that nightclub in the Cinnamon Lakeside, though it was of course called the Transasia in those days. He's never fully recovered and so, to this day, never wears pants. If you see him just have a quick grope if you doubt me.

Keep all that to yourself though won't you.

Bloody Americans.

That's why I don't do I don't do.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Search Me

Once in a while I like to peruse the statistics, or stats if you're American, for my blog. It's interesting to look at the words and phrases people have typed into their search engines that have led them to these parts, it often throws up some surprises and never ceases to makes me laugh.

One of my biggest claims to fame, in life in general, is that I'm the number one match if you search for "Elephant House Cream Soda". Well, I am on the UK Google site but have been relegated to third on the Sri Lankan one. And curiously, like many bloggers whom I've seen comment on the phenomenom, I get a good few hits from people searching for sex related phrases that I'm not aware I've ever written about.

Here's the recent top five, finishing off with a number one that I think you'll agree is quite possibly the funniest search term ever:

5. "Condoms in Colombo" - Well it's not funny per se, but it gives me a feeling of pride to know that my blog might be giving advice to hapless fellows looking for raincoats in Serendib.

4. "Sri Lankan big boob young girl" - No, I don't know why. Puzzling, slightly strange.

3. "Why do hairdressers wear black?" - What sort of a person needs to search for the answer to this question? In fact what sort of a person needs to ask it in the first place. Just to clear things up it's so the hair doesn't show up all over the hairdresser's clothing. Fuckwit.

2. "Peeing in urinal for long time" - This is a chin scratcher of the highest order. So some bloke goes into a public urinal, pees for a long time then googles the matter to see why? Or is it another chap who witnesses the event and wonders why it's happened? Perhaps it's a curious woman, trying to find out the secrets of men, the things we do in a urinal. Which is just to pee really, unless of course you're name is George and you used to be in Wham.

1. "Rearranged furniture and dog crapped everywhere" - I don't need to patronise you with narrative about this and why it's so funny. But I will. Imagine what I think can be the only explanation for this. Some random bloke decides to move some of his furniture around a bit. No way was this a woman, I don't know why, that's just the way it is. He puts his settee over there, the chair over here and turns the coffee table ninety, perhaps eighty five degrees.

Then, on his return from a hard day's work, probably at a furniture shop, perhaps a pet store, he discovers that his dog has taken a dislike to the new arrangement and crapped everywhere. So, he googles the situation and ends up reading about Sri Lanka, some drummer bloke and his mad daughters.

Brilliant. Totally.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Am

For the first time in a while there's a new kid in the Lankanosphere, one that I'm captivated by and excited about.

It's less of a blog, more of a project, one that is accessible via a blog and is listed on Kottu.

Kannan Arunasalam, the maker, is a friend of mine. In the short time I've known him I've been bowled over by his still photography. In fact he's rapidly becoming one of my favourite photographers. Most of his images give me that butterfly in the stomach feeling, the one that's my first point of reference in deciding whether a photograph is brilliant or not.

This project, called I am, is a combination of photographs and audio. Here's what Kannan says himself:

"I wanted to find out whether there were people around who still remembered that time or spoke in those ways. My journey took me to Jaffna, Kandy and Galle, where I met a generation of Sri Lankans who helped to shed light on these questions.

"wise men and women"I captured their stories in sound and pictures and the ‘i am’ oral history project was born.

‘i am’ tells the stories of 36 Sri Lankan elders, about their lives and work, and their connections to their hometown. These wise men and women also reflect on the positive and negative changes that have taken place over the years.

With the movement of people away from their hometowns, particularly from Jaffna and Galle, I also spoke to the so called ‘internal diaspora’, about their longing for their hometowns and their sense of belonging to their adoptive homes.

I found storytellers who were willing to share their lives with me, and from the collection of narratives, I chose 36 characters to showcase on this site. I also wanted to encourage those I met on my journey to tell others about the project, and in turn, encourage them to tell their own stories.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting these narratives three at a time and take you through my journey.

I want you to engage with these stories of community, identity and coexistence, to see how different or similar they are, and to think about what we can learn from the past, and take forward, and what is better left behind."

Check it out, it's rather brilliant, very fascinating and makes a chap feel proud of his heritage. Well, if the chap is me, not some random fellow from Uzbekistan. There's even one about a drummer, though it's not me and I'm guessing he can't play anything by the Killers or Muse.

This was a public service announcement from RD, with slightly messed up formatting because of a combination of copying, pasting and ignorance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adventures Of A Sri Lankan Son

Picture the picture; there we were last Saturday night. It was my Dad's birthday soiree and most of my parents' good friends, those that are in London at least, were there.

They're getting older these people and I find it poignant, disturbing and worrying to think of the people who would have been there a few years ago and who are no longer alive. It reminds me of how lucky I am that my olds are still around, even though they're both more mental than a bag of psychotic extra strong mints.

On top of that there are a number of their long term friends who've now retired to foreign climes, foreign that is, if you're based in the UK. Many have returned to the motherland where their sterling goes a bit further and some have brightened other areas of the world with their presence.

The crowd was very white with a small smattering of Lankans and other internationals, yet the flavour of the evening was distinctly British. I couldn't help comparing it with how it would have been if my parents had been in Sri Lanka and held it there. Even in their seventies I reckon there would have been much more alcohol, music and generally joyous behaviour. Music played very much a tertiary role in this party. There were some notes wafting around randomly in the background but the volume was so low that I can't tell you what it was.

The conversation was decent and polite. In my case there was lots of telling people about A and K, what they're up to (at least the bits I know about) and quite a bit of telling people about C too. One or two more adventurous types even asked about me.

Much amusement was had by me and Academic Bro as we witnessed some of the older crowd thinking we were each other, or Music Biz Bro, who couldn't be there because of a work thing.

Through all this polite Britishness my Mum managed to produce one of her more golden moments, a chunk of pure Sri Lankan motherness that, for once, I wasn't on the receiving end of.

There was myself and Academic Bro talking to Uncle K. You know Uncle K, he's the oldish retired lawyer with three grown up daughters. Nice bloke, very into cars and most captivating to chat with.

Well we were chewing the cud about something, with my Mum hovering dangerously on the fringe of the conversation when it veered towards the matter of A, one of Uncle K's daughters. Strangely I've never met any of these daughters but I know a bit about them. I believe they're roughly the same ages as myself and my two brothers and that they're mainly married and have kids and that sort of stuff now.

One of uncle K's daughters, the one called A, appeared, not in real life but as subject matter in the conversation. I mentioned that I'd never met her and Academic Bro mentioned that he had met her, though didn't know her very well.

At this point my Mum decided to do some damage and pounced.

"Yes you remember A, you used to quite like her didn't you." she accented the "quite like her" bit.

Us men exchanged glances. Uncle K, the father of the girl concerned made a polite attempt to shift the conversation, but my Mum was wise to this and planted it firmly back on course.

"Yes yes, remember you used to fancy her" she said, just to clear up any doubt.

Uncle K and Academic Bro, had they entered a competition at that moment to find the most awkwardly embarrassed people in the world, would have come joint first. If, at the same time there had been a competition for smug git, I reckon I would have been in with a good shout and, had there been one for most blissfully unaware of what she'd done, my Mum would have been making a thank you speech.

Academic Bro had a sheepish look on his face. This made me wonder if he might have slept with the girl and added to my feeling of smugness. He was in a seriously precarious position. What should a fellow do when faced with this scenario?

Does he deny all? Perhaps saying that he wouldn't have touched her with a bargepole and thereby incurring the wrath of the father. Does he admit to things and say that actually she liked things a bit kinky? Or jump out of the window.

He's not called Academic Bro for nothing. Actually in reality he's not actually called Academic Bro at all. His large brain ticked over, recalling his years of study, critical thinking and knowledge gathering. Then he came out with his response. It was a brilliant example of lateral thinking, pushing the envelope and running fish up the flagpole to see if they swim.

He pursed his lips and made a hissing sound. A bit like a child making spit bubbles when they've just discovered the concept. Then, as a follow up, he did it again.

Uncle K, quite a diplomatic sort, moved the conversation on this time. I haven't a clue what about as I was laughing inwardly too much.

Later on, as I dropped Academic at the station he said to me:

"Just for the record I never fancied A you know."

We chuckled and he said how relieved he was that his newish wife wasn't part of that conversation. Both of us knew that our Mother would have said exactly the same thing if she'd been there.

It was a close escape. I almost felt for the fellow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Man's First Car

I saw a friend on Facebook the other day who had bunged up an old picture of his first ever car. It was a beaten up mini with character, memories and no doubt oil too, oozing out of every pore.

Said friend had written a little thing talking about the car; the parties he used to go to in it and the good times, stuff we can all relate to. Then, he'd rounded off with the all important sentence, the one that made me think and made me write this post, not that I've written it yet. He said

"And it was surprisingly fast, it went like a bomb."

I did a double take at the photograph. In fact I did two double takes, then thought "hmmm". No way did this little Mini, with its engine that probably wouldn't be sufficient to power the fellow's hairdryer these days, go "like a bomb".

And said fellow is bald as a coot these days too.

But I chuckled, for this isn't a criticism of the particular fellow, it's more a prod at all men, for we all do this. When it comes to cars, driving and men there's some sort of link to our ego that doesn't apply to women.

You'll never catch a man (and I include myself in this) tell you how his first car was actually a heap of crap that would get overtaken by bullocks and milk floats. You'll never hear a man tell you how his first car was cheap, nasty and devoid of all character. You never hear a member of the male species tell you how his first love car was old and unreliable.

Oh no. The correct way in man world to put across these points is to say that the car went like a bomb, that it was full of character, probably with a name, something only women continue to do with good cars. And old and unreliable becomes "I used to do all the work on it myself you know, in those days you could work on a car yourself".

Somewhere in the recesses of the automotive world, is a hidden fleet of crappy cars. Things like old Minis, Beetles, Ford Fiestas, Nissan Micras, in fact any old Jap cars, and they've all been secretly fitted with Ferrari engines. No one knows about them openly but, when a chap buys his first car, nature's car fairies covertly supply one. I'm not sure what the situation is with gay men though. I can see that somewhere within the framework of car fairies and gay men is a very funny joke, I just can't pinpoint it.

Women never get given one of these car, except Vicki Butler Henderson, the exception to every rule about men and cars.

As we men get older, usually increasing our wealth and buying cars that are better, faster and more damaging to the environment, our first car becomes more legendary, faster and more stylishly full of character.

Women use cars as a means of getting from A to B, always doing it more quickly than men because, mysteriously, they think it's perfectly acceptable to stop and ask for directions within a few minutes of getting lost. Yet every man without exception thinks he's the next Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber or Benjamin Button's brother just waiting to be discovered.

Mad no?

For the record my first car was an orange VW Beetle, registration HRY 113L. I never had to do any maintenance on it, I called it Henry and it was a beauty.

Oh, and it went like a bomb.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dominic Sansoni - Simple, My Arse!

I was checking out Dom's photoblog the other day and came across this post. In his reply to some complimentary comments the Honourable Mr S says:

"Very simple, fly over something nice and just point camera out the window"

I read and made a noise. The noise went like this:

"Pah" though I was on my own watching a football match on TV and no one heard me, so I could be making it up, or exaggerating, something I do all the time.

My "Pah" was because his "blah, blah just point and shoot" comment reminded me of a story my Grandmother used to narrate. You know how Grandmothers, in between their sporadic outbursts of total madness, can pass on nuggets of wisdom that stick in your head waiting for the appropriate moment to show themselves.

In my experience the nuggets have a tendency to sleep through the one point in my life when they should have revealed themselves and helped me, then they wake about a month later and find they've missed the boat entirely.

Well this story, as told by aforementioned Grandmother, went like this:

A chap, we'll call him Alphonso, as it's a name I like, have heard often but never come across in real life, well, apart from in the world of mangos of course, goes into a garage. He's accompanied by his car. I don't know exactly what car it is as my Grandmother never told me and I wouldn't want to make things up. There's a knocking sound coming from the engine.

The mechanic asks if he can help. Alphonso tells him that there's a knocking sound coming from the engine and he wondered if the mechanic could take a look. You already knew about the knocking sound but the mechanic didn't, for he didn't read my blog.

He looks, he hisses, tuts and takes a good few sharp intakes of breath, the first things they teach you at semi skilled tradesman classes.

"Can you fix it?" our hero asks.

"Yes I can"

Alphonso instructs the mechanic to do the business. Our skilled manual labourer walks over to his tool kit and grabs a hammer. He heads to the engine bay with it and smacks a part of the engine just once, then asks Alphonso to start the car.

Alphonso carries out the instruction and finds the noise gone and the engine sounding sweet as a nut. He's pleased about that, though wonders why the saying exists as nuts aren't really sweet, and asks the semi skilled labourer how much he is owed.

"That'll be a hundred pounds" he says assertively.

"£100! You're joking aren't you?" Alphonso says. It's interesting to note that Alphonso always said numbers in digits whereas the mechanic used the full written words.

"How can it be £100? You only smacked it with a hammer, anyone could have done that"

"Well that's the price and you're paying it"

"Okay, in that case I want a breakdown of the bill, there's no way you can justify that price"

The mechanic ambles off towards the office area, does some stuff with a pen and paper and returns a minute or two later. He gives the paper to Alphonso. It's an itemised bill, it says:

"Hitting engine with hammer - £5

20 years experience, knowledge and training to know exactly where to hit with hammer - £95

Total £100"

Alphonso paid the bill. He was faced with a mechanic with a hammer after all.

The moral of the story. Well there are two; Firstly that when these fellows say something like "just point and shoot" they're actually being bashful. The difference between them and us is that they've put in all that effort, work and practice into knowing exactly where to point, when to shoot and which settings to use.


Never take your car to Dominic Sansoni to get it fixed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of Cards And Mothers

A fellow I know, definitely not Academic Bro, definitely not him at all, who got married recently told me a story that made us chuckle.

His mother, definitely not my mother you understand, forwarded a congratulations card, specifically a congratulations on getting married card. It was from a friend of the fellow's mother, a friend the fellow has met only a couple of times, whom the mother plays bridge with.

The mother, and I do hope you're managing to keep up with the complex character mix here, forwarded the card and enclosed the address of the sender, presumably so the fellow could send a thank you to the bridge playing bloke.

Mothers, Sri Lankan ones in particular, are like that aren't they?

"Did you ring Aunty X and thank her for using your toilet?"

"You must call Uncle Y and thank him for letting you lend him that money."

"Are you going to call Uncle Z and thank him for coming there for dinner the other night?"

And on it goes. Feel free to add your own ridiculous but totally true examples. It's all because the mother feels that the behaviour of the child is a reflection of her. Fathers, in my experience don't really think like this.

I have a mother, though I won't identify her specifically, who often tells me, when I complain about her treating me like a child, that I'll always be her child. I was always stumped by this, until about a year ago.

Then I came up with an answer: "Yes, I may always be your child but that doesn't mean you have to treat me like a child."

But I digress. The thing is that this thanking people business can go on to the nth degree. Thank you cards are statistically proven to be the fastest growing seller in the UK and Sri Lankan card industries. Last year more were sold than birthday cards and the growth is expected to continue.

I'm going to capitalise on this and get in on the ground level, at the beginning of the product life cycle graph.

Before you know it you'll see the launch of the RD "Thank you for the thank you card" range of cards. Of course, after that there'll be a further generation, because one can't receive one of these cards and not thank the sender.

Remember you heard it here first.

PS - Some of the statistics in this post might be total bollocks, made up entirely.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Open Minded Parenting

I reckon I'm fairly liberal and open minded in general, but also in terms of parenting. I'm unsure which way round it is but I think, in order to parent A and K, one has to be, the alternative is just not worth thinking about.

Things can be a test at the best of times. That boy Z still sticks to K like some sort of extra strong glue and I have to to try to draw a line between allowing, disallowing and not being in a position to stamp my authority down anyhow. A has now started college and is busy trying out tobacco and God knows what else and I'm lucky to get more than "fine" as an answer to any question these days.

Their time with me consists of me providing food, money, shelter and of course power; power to juice up their laptops so they can be online and talking to their friends, the ones they've spent all day with.

There are the occasional moments when we come together in a meeting of interests but, truth be told, they're few and far between. The last one was going to see Muse about a month ago, when we all got into the moment and had a blast. The next? Who knows.

But, these are mostly the things that all parents have to deal with at some point. I do feel a little bit sorry for myself when I dwell on my theory that it's not only different for Dad of girls, but that's it's even more different for Dads who don't live with their daughters.

Everyone I talk to says that I shouldn't worry, that all daughters have a special bond with their father. Well yes, I know that and I've seen it, it's just that it takes a while, usually once they grow up and hit adulthood. Teenage girls and their mothers are as close as a President and his war winning army commander, that's just the way things are. Even when I was living with them I often felt like I was a male teacher in a girls' school who'd accidentally found some of the pupils having a slumber party.

These are just things I figure I have to deal with and get on with.

But yesterday my tolerance was pushed and tested to the very outer edge of of its limit. It was a casual phone conversation with K and went along the lines of:

"Hello Miss K, what are you up to?" said I.

"Well, I've got a whole list of jobs to do before Mum gets back from Sainsburys" she replied.

"Oh okay, that sounds nice, where's A then?"

"She's at work" she said.

"Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that." said I. A has started her first job, at a local garden centre on Sundays you see.

We had some more chat, about her new contact lenses and how she's getting on with them, detail that I'm sure won't interest you, and then she hit me with the bombshell.

It's hard to prepare a chap for a bombshell, particularly a surprising one like this. I thought I'd brought up A and K as well as I could, to be respectful and "normal", to operate within the parameters of decency and be content.

"And in a minute" she continued.

"In a minute I'm going to walk down to the shop"

All well and good, you're thinking. You'd be right, so far.

"And buy myself a.......


"Buy yourself a what?" I asked incredulously.

She repeated the P word, one I'm reluctant even to type here.

"What? What's wrong with Coke?" I pleaded.

"Well it's just that Pepsi's got, kind of, well, a bit more bite to it" said K sheepishly, as sheepishly as she ever gets, which is not much.

I could tell that she was aware of my disappointment, though I did my best to disguise it. I've tried to teach them that life is about perspectives, opinions, more about different realities that right and wrong.

But I must admit I'm struggling to come to terms with this. A daughter of mine thinking that Pepsi is better tasting than Coke?

Whatever next?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RD is.....

...putting a status update in the wrong place.

...rather enjoying the speed and smoothness of Google Chrome, even compared to Firefox

...playing with another new bass pedal

...pining a bit

...singing Cheryl Cole's new song's chorus, thanks to PseudoRandom for telling me the words!

...learning and practicing some great sixteenth note fills

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 4, 2010


I saw this over at DD's place and it reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write for a while. I hear it a lot, from my kids and many others who are younger than me, a vastly growing group!

It's when someone makes a mistake and people tease and mock them and say something like:

"a ha!"

The "culprit" then feels suitably embarrassed, crawls into a nearby hole and is never seen again. It was a long time ago but I'm sure that we didn't tease people with this particular word and strain when I was younger. And, by younger, I'm talking about people in their twenties as well as teens.

You see, I'm a believer in failure. I'm a fan of it. I reckon all great bands and musicians make mistakes when they play live, that it's their ability and musical greatness that enables them to get out of things seamlessly, so seamlessly that often it's only the artistes and not the audience who even know what's happened.

It's the way a band fucks up and gets out of it successfully that shows they've pushed the boundaries, made mistakes and learned from them in the past.

A and K now mock me when I say things like this

"Oh here goes Dad, 'mistakes are good, it means we're pushing ourselves' blah, blah, blah" are the kind of things they say.

But I mean it.

Repetitive mistakes are a bit crap though. We must learn and improve.

I used to have a friend who boasted that she was always right. At the time I admired her for it, thinking that I'd love to be an always right person. Twenty odd years later I feel entirely different. Always right signifies a person who isn't stretching themselves, who isn't trying new things and is always operating within their own circle of safety.

In my humble O it's far better to be a person who's sometimes wrong, though I'd prefer not to be always wrong!

So I challenge you. The next time you hear someone say something like "ha ha ha...epic fail" just ask them what's wrong with that. The next time you're about to tease someone for "failing" themselves, just pause and think on it.

Failure is good.

If you don't believe me ask Michael Jordan:

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Sexiest Car Ever!

The Ferrari Dino that is.

RIP Tony Curtis, one of life's true geezers.

You've Got To Have A Dream

If you don't have a dream how are you going to make a dream come true?

So the song goes, though I think, if I was being picky, I'd say "how you gonna make a dream come true?" But I ain't no American fake gansta kid so we'll stick to the Queen's English in these parts.

The thing is I'm a firm and ardent believer in objectives, aims and goals. From work to drumming to even writing this blog I have objectives and goals. Often I lose sight or forget about them, sometimes for months, and lapse into a state of "being" in that specific area of my life, just existing on autopilot and wallowing in the current.

And that's where I also face a quandary.

Goals are good, objectives are obligatory and aims are all important. Yet I've realised that they can be barriers, barriers to enjoying the moment.

In recent years, while gigging, I've got into the habit of enjoying playing a song and looking down at my set list to try to mentally prepare myself for the next song. I'm sure it's something many musicians do. While playing one song I switch into "autodrummer" mode, which many might say is an oxymoronic term anyhow, and start to think of the groove, tempo and feel of the next song.

The result is that I'm better prepared for what's to come but that I also lose out on some of the enjoyment in playing that song that's going on at the time. It's a small scale example of the life quandary I'm referring to; that of being so focussed on what's in front of you, so set on achieving the target that we forget to relax and enjoy the now.

But how do we strike the balance? It seems to me that enjoying the now is pretty much in direct opposition to planning for the future.

In the drumming thing I've started to try to leave my glancing at the setlist thing to the last possible moment, to enjoy the current song as long as I can before I then look down and plan the next one.

Is that the answer?

And a merry weekend and a merry October to you out there!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Hate Java Jones

"But why RD? I thought you were quite friendly with the old fellow?" I hear you asking.

Could it be because old Java's way too cool for school? He's slinky, like a cat, and cool, like a cucumber. Or a fridge. But he doesn't look like a fridge, unless Smeg now do a fridge that looks like Java, something that's quite likely.

Could it be the way he walks into bars, restaurants and the like and usually has a fleet of sexy women following in his wake?

Could it be because Chuck Norris seeks his counsel?

Well it could be any of the above, but it's not.

It's because I can be sitting there, well here actually, at my desk, casually pretending to work whilst in actuality I'm perusing the Lankanosphere and the drum world, which is distracting me from getting down to the serious business of writing a blog post about the state of the Lankan blog world, when I get an email from Mr Jones.

It's not just any email though. It's one with a link. It's not just any link either. It's this one.

It takes me to a blog, one with a collection of those gorgeous old postcards of the motherland.

There I was, feeling rather pleased about the fact that I'd booked a ticket only a few hours before for the New Year period. Then the link Java sent me made me go all yearning and whatsitcalled, all you know and whatever.

That's why I hate Java Jones.

Here's the link, one more time:

Check it out. Tell them RD sent you, but that Java sent him.