Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's Been A Long Time.....

Well hello there. I haven't written a blog post for what seems like ages, but what is, in reality, about a week.

You'd think that I'd have an abundant flow of ideas for highly interesting and humorous posts, all the things you know me for, and be itching to get back to LLD and regale you with them. Sadly no, I've only got five, maybe thirty nine if pushed, ideas and none of them have even hatched into eggs yet, let alone draft posts.

There's an ongoing saga of K and what looks to be her first boyfriend. Should I tell you all about that or should I keep quiet? If I tell you I can guarantee you'll chuckle more heartily than a heart specialist at Apollo when he writes out his invoices for the week. But, there's the risk of K finding out about the post at some point in the future and then she might kill me. Or worse, she might give me a lot of grief. Not just any grief, I mean teenage girl toward her Dad grief, officially classed as the third wost type of stroppiness in the world.

What are the other two types RD? I hear you bellowing. Well the first is what's known as ex wife about a year before you separate grief. It's not nice, take it from me. Obviously the worst grief to face is something I'm reluctant to mention and put out in the universe. Even though my own one is floating around in Sri Lanka at the moment I know that these things can travel and hit a fellow right between the eyes when he's least expecting it.

Yes, at number one is Sri Lankan mother grief. PG Wodehouse wrote about aunts as the epitome of scariness, all well and good but he didn't have a Sri Lankan mother. Which would also explain why he wasn't called PG Samarasinghe and his first name wasn't Peter and everyone called him by his nickname of Panky. Or didn't call him by that name, you know what I mean.

In general it's fair to say the RD jury's currently considering its verdict on whether to tell you about K's adventures with the opposite sex yet. Well, the one boy, not that I want to even consider adventures, but, as a chap who used to be a boy, I can well imagine what adventures a fourteen year old kid might want to go on.

Reading. The act of, not the nondescript town not too far from here.

I've been enjoying the new Kindle, the e reader I told you about, big time. I look at the debates about e readers and e books with a sense of smugness. I've noticed that people who have an e reader rarely get involved in these arguments. We just get on with reading our devices and any of the many hundreds of books we can cart around with us everywhere we go. People who haven't got an e reader talk about the smell of books, the colour and the fact that e books will never replace proper books.

I agree with them wholeheartedly. But I don't think e readers are there with the aim of replacing paper books. I like both. But, fuck me, and I mean it, though not in a sexual sense, an e reader is such a fanfuckingtastic way to read fiction, as long as it hasn't got the Thompson Twins and a few Sansoni photographs involved.

And, on the matter of reading, I've started to read the Guardian. It's a newspaper, a slightly left of centre one. After more than twenty years of being a Times, sometimes an Independent, man, I've switched allegiances. Why? It's more fun, it's as simple as that. I reckon I've got to a certain level of maturity in which I'm nearly capable of filtering out opinion from fact.

Next week I'm off to Barcelona with C. This is seriously exciting, a load of firsts together. Our first flight together, my first time ever in Spain to name two of them. I've been practicing saying all the English words but adding a phlegmy throaty sound from the back of my throat. I'm told that's pretty much the basis of the Spanish language. If in dire linguistic straits I'll just shout, that usually does the trick.

And I booked a summer holiday for me and the girls. We're Serendib bound and I can't wait.

That's my news, I promise to write and tell you about it very soon.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The Closing Ceremony

I suppose we've got used to these awards in the last couple of weeks and it would be unfair to just finish things without a little round up and a word or two of thanks.

So, here are the categories for this year's awards and the winners:

1. First up, hence the number 1, was the best overseas blog. Beating off the competition with a stick and emerging victorious was JapSach with Just About Anything. My sincere thanks to Tiger Woods for his kind bit of guest judging in this category.

2. The Best Newcomer - Won by Chavie for See Chavie Run, his rather eclectic mix of a blog. Thanks to Indi for the guest judge duties and responding at such short notice.

3. The Fashion Police Are Coming For You Award - A new category this year, one that may or may not return next year. It all depends on the availability of suitable candidates. It takes a special person to be nominated for this one let alone to walk away with the first prize. This year that special person was Sanjana, with this footwear related fashion crime. Guest judge Java Jones gave us some privileged insider information on Sanjana's tastes. He's kind like that.

4. The Innovation Award - Another new category, won by the man himself, Cerno for his Top 100 Sri Lankan blog post book project idea. Everyone agreed on this one and we hope it might still see the light of day at some point. Guest judge David Blacker is to be thanked for the speech and also for putting up with me asking him endless questions about Sri Lankan life on FB chat.

5. Best News and Current Affairs - New category number three. The motherland is nothing if not interesting and news and current affairs are a reflection of the huge diversity of opinions, political views and mindsets that exist, when they're allowed to. The winner here was DBS Jeyaraj and thanks go to another intellectual heavyweight for the guest judging, Ms Britney Spears.

6. Best Photoblog - With Sri Lanka being as picturesque as she is no Lankanosphere awards would be complete without a photoblog group. Us diasporic types must spend many hours gazing longingly at the fantastic photoblogs as we sit in our respective places, as differing as they are, and become united with our pining for Sri Lanka. This year's winner was the London based Aufidius with Tableaux of Aufidius, his pictorial gallery of light from all around the world. The master himself, Dominic Sansoni, looked at the goings on and wrote some nice words.

7. Funniest Blog - This year, it has to be said, the number of candidates was disappointing but, the standard wasn't. The winner was Makuluwo with Cerebral Ramblings, a blog funnier than one of those youtube clips of old people falling over on ice. Seriously. Guestingly judged by DQ, my own personal comedic hero, well apart from PG Wodehouse.

8. Best Written Blog - One of the real big boys of the awards and carried away by everyone's favourite Gypsy, the Bohemian one. Our Gyppo faced some really stiff and brilliant competition and emerged triumphant. Or should that be triumphantly, I'm not sure. I was rather delighted to rope in Ashok Ferrey as the guest judge here and he had some highly complimentary things to say of all the candidates, high praise indeed. Thank you Mr Ferrey.

9. Blog Of The Year 2009 - The fourth winner of this, the most coveted award was our good Lady Divine for A Glimpse of Lady Divine's World. Last year she was nominated but didn't win, this year she grabbed the title and ran away with it, a bit like a shoplifter in Majestic City to be honest. She joins the roll of honour alongside Darwin, Cerno and The Missing Sandwich. I managed to tempt TMS out of blog retirement, just for a few minutes at least, to write her guest judge speech for this one too.

So there you have it, another year over, a new one just begun.

Thank you for reading and keeping up with the proceedings.

Thank you to all the judges for their input and for putting up with me hassling them, asking for a speech, then saying that I need it in about four seconds time.

And lastly thank you to all the bloggers whose blogs I continue to enjoy and have made my little connection to Sri Lanka so much stronger in recent years. I think I'll take a break from blogging for a few days. Nothing dramatic, just a short one. I always think I'll do it and never do, let's see how long I last before I'm slapped in the face with that urgent need to tell you something.

Have a good weekend all.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - Ze Big One - Blog Of The Year 2009

It's been a long couple of weeks but thank you for holding on and standing firm, if you have done. We reach the climax, the big one, the title that everyone really wants, whilst pretending that they're pleased for all the other winners.

How does a blog get into the list of nominees for the Blog Of The Year Award? Well, in order to answer that you need to start by putting objectivity aside. It's all about blogs I read, people I like and things that fundamentally make me smile. There's no rhyme or reason, it's really just the blogs I find myself returning to time and time again.

Of course one of the major influences in this is the frequency of posting. Some blogs are fantastic but kick out a superb post every once in a while and then languish lazily in the recesses of Kottu for months before they put out the next. I crave satisfaction on a far more frequent basis than that.

Then there's the question of identity, blog identity, not the whole "is he really a Sri Lankan when he lives overseas and doesn't wear jeans with turn ups?" thing. There are some blogs that change their name, look or address more often than that Anarkali woman. That's all well and good if you are that Anarkali woman but it's not going to win you the Blog Of The Year Award.

No, I like to be able to read archives, to look at history and to not have to hunt for a blog's URL like a rare bird making its first appearance in Sri Lanka for several hundred years, finding that Amila Salgado has gone to the cinema for the afternoon and having to look everywhere for him.

The smiling thing has to happen too. Make me (and the guest judges) smile. It doesn't have to be cracking up with mirth and merriness smiling either. It might be a wry smile, like when I do a fart in my office and I'm the only one aware of it, or it might be a smile with a nod of the head for a bit of intelligent writing that I understand. Rare I know, but it has happened.

If I tell you that the previous winners are such legendary bloggers as Darwin, Cerno and The Missing Sandwich, then you'll have an idea of the high standards involved. So I will tell you. The previous winners are Darwin, Cerno and The Missing Sandwich.

I think that's enough rambling, I can get a bit excited sometimes. This year the nominees are:

1. Cerno - Yes, the winner of the award in 2007 is back and better than ever. Cerno's one of the old school now, but age only makes him better at blogging and giving us interesting things to ponder on. I've never actually met Cerno but, if I ever do, I'll be in awe and probably won't be able to talk properly. This post is proof of his genius. From the layout and look of his blog to the content itself there's something wonderfully imaginative and quirky going on there. He remains one of my heroes.

2. Ephemeral Ruminations - Or Java Jones as we know him. Or, to use Sittingnut's intelligent and eloquent approach, Chickenshit bitch Java Jones. Now I know Java and I can tell you that he's one of life's good guys. He's the sort of fellow who, were I living in that sort of environment, I'd allow to sleep with my girlfriend, assuming she wanted to of course. That's how nice he is. Really. Somewhere in there is a joke about wives and girlfriends, you know that insinuation that a fellow might have both. I'm not going there though, due to some thin ice re my previous statement.

On the blog side his outpourings are that delightfully witty yet slightly nutty with a woody aftertaste recipe that we've all got so used to, like woodapple jam actually. He makes me think does Java, with posts like this when he asks a relatively simple question and posts like this when he gets cleverer than a British MP filling out his expenses which are then going to be checked and authorised by a Sri Lankan one.

3. Life In Taprobane - I plead guilty here. Guilty to never having put a link to this blog up from mine. I don't know why, as I read it avidly, eagerly awaiting a new post like a dog with a bone being dangled just above its mouth. Serendib Isle, the author, is a divorced father of two who lives in Jeddah (I think). He's Sri Lankan and writes a lot about the motherland in that very diasporic way. As a fellow divorced and diasporic Dad I feel a great affinity towards him. This post is one such example where I really could relate to the feelings and thoughts described. Or have a glance at his post about Lebanon for an example of one of those make you think about things type of posts.

4. A Glimpse of Lady Divine's World - Our Lady D was pipped at the post last year in this very same category. How is a chap to describe her and her blog? Well, I hope she takes this in the good and positive way it's intended. She isn't the best writer out there, she doesn't tell the best stories, she's not the funniest nor does she take the best photos. But, put it all together and she's consistently one of everyone's favourite bloggers. She's got the X factor, though I've no idea what the X factor actually is. She's the Kylie Minogue of the Sri Lankan blogosphere.

It might be her honesty, the heart on sleeve element that goes on. I don't know, but check out her post about getting pissed and blood tests to get a dose of it. She just has this very clever way of living her life and making all of us, her readers, feel as if we're strolling along next to her and watching everything going on. Natural and cool I say.

5. Just About Anything - The winner of this year's best overseas blog. It's another Lankan diasporic one, this time coming from Japan. There are pictures, stories of Japanese life, stories of Sri Lankan life and the best clock in the Lankanosphere. What more could a reader want? Yes, drums. I know. Other than that it's all good over in the JapSach corner.

Those, my friends are the finalists. They all follow in some awesome footsteps but sadly there has to be a single winner. Yes, the winner, the Blog Of The Year for 2009 goes to............

.........................A Glimpse of Lady Divine's World.

I pass you over to our guest judge, last year's winner of the title who then went on to retire from blogging, it's The Missing Sandwich. She had these words to say of Lady D:

"D has been around the lankanosphere (term coined by RD) since 2006, quietly pattering away on her keyboard about a myriad subjects from mothers to burps, marriage proposals to poetry and the occasional post that delves right into the soul of her, reminding us just how real and passionate a person she is. The 'glimpse' she gives us of her divine world makes me envy her and the ease with which she invites us in to take peek. Congrats LD, you are indeed the 2009 Blogger and Blog of the year. I am not allowed to express my real sentiments, so the enraged exclamations of "give me back my award bitch!" will have to be put on the back burner especially since the missingsandwich is recently retired. Oh and the best part... Shhh! Come closer, I don't want to offend Cerno. Listen velly carefully for I shall zay zis only vunce - please take that bloody 16 tonne olmec head away from me! It was too much. Really. Here you go.
( Good luck with trying to move it. (snigger)

Congratulations and thanks to all. Tomorrow we wind things up with the closing ceremony.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - Best Written Blog

Until I started blogging I never dreamt I'd be able to write anything that might get read by anyone. Then, I began LLD and found out that writing really is a skill, one that's done by other people. Here in the Lankanosphere we're blessed with a big and healthy dollop of bloggers who write with the delicate yet powerful hands possessed by the most masterful Kandyan drummers. They weave words and manipulate sentences like only a Sri Lankan judge can.

I could go on, sounding arty and chucking our similes and metaphors like a bat out of Belgium, but I won't. Today we celebrate these proper writers, we salute the heroes of the virtual written word and we give one of these buggers the title of the Best Written Blog. Last year's worthy winner was the shy and reclusive David Blacker with the Blacklight Arrow. This year we hope the standard is going to be even better.

I welcome a very new and very special guest judge for this one as well. I first mentioned him in a post here and since then I've become of his most ardent fans. I bunged him an email recently asking if he'd like to be a guest judge and he kindly replied saying that he'd be delighted and all. Of course a large amount of money has had to change hands but I've told him he can pay in installments if he needs to. I'm kind like that.

Yes, Ladies and Gs, our very special guest judge for this award is none other than the best selling author himself; Mr Ashok Ferrey. And I mean it, really, not like Britney Spears, that was actually made up. I should stress that the nominees and the winner weren't chosen by him, I don't feel he's up to that level of responsibility yet, maybe next year.

Let's get this show on the road and introduce the nominees:

1. Brandix for The Black Lullaby - One of last year's nominees has come back for more. Everyone knows him and even more people know his blog. Like DB last year Brandon is a published author and he dishes out quality posts and writings quicker than a Sri Lankan mother dishing out emotional blackmail at a wedding. Last year I was particularly taken by Phlash Fotografy - Klic One and the follow up, cunningly called Phlash Fotografy - Klic Two. Check them out for examples of his best pieces of prose.

Guest Judge Ferrey had this to say of our Brandon:

" The writer with the strongest voice here, and no surprise therefore that he is also a published author. You can imagine this accomplished raconteur sitting across from you, regaling you with humorous stories in that slightly waspish tone!"

2. Portrait - by Electra. She's a bit of a legend is Electra. Hers was one of the very first Sri Lankan blogs I discovered and one that got me well and truly hooked. I was captivated by her infectious passion, her intelligence and very clear blend of love and frustration that she feels for the motherland. Take a peak at this post to see her at almost her best. Then read comment number 5 to witness her writing at its absolute best. You wouldn't want to come against wit and clarity of thought like that in a dark alley, particularly if your surname is "nut"

The Right Honourable Lord Ferrey said of Portrait:

"A painfully honest dissection of present happenings, all the more powerful for being presented, intentionally or not, in the voice of an ingénue. I am amazed at the amount of vituperation the author patiently puts up with. Is this normal in the world of blogs? It actually makes Rajpal sound like Mary’s little lamb. (Or do I mean Mary’s little mutton?)."

3. The Bohemian Gypsy - This isn't the sort of Gypsy who goes around selling clothes pegs and crapping in car parks. This is a girly one who writes rather heartwarming and heartwrenching pieces every now and again. One day I hope I get to meet this mysterious person, but pray that "she" doesn't turn out to be a bloke with a rice gut and BO. Take a peak at this Santa post to see what I'm enthusing about. Or try this one if you want a bit more. It's the detail and the levels of description that grab me every time.

My close friend Ashok, the guest judge said:

"Beautiful use of language, nicely judged balance between the immediacy of journalism and the fanciful imaginings of creative fiction. There is a wistful feeling that runs through the bass notes of the writing, like the subtext of a Chopin Nocturne."

It goes to show that even people like him can make mistakes and spell "shopping" wrong now and again.

4. Dance In A Triangle - Another well known, well read and much loved blog that's been floating around in the Lankanosphere longer than that musty smelling jar of something that smells a bit like Maldive fish but isn't but you're reluctant to throw it away just in case. T's blog has gone a bit private and confidential lately so I'm not sure if you'll be able to read it when this post comes out. If you can't, then take it from me, it's rather good. Actually, I'll tell you what, take it from our guest judge. He read it and said these nice things:

"This blogger is patently a poet in the guise of prose-writer. Her poem Still Here is hauntingly beautiful. Her prose may be a shade too purple for my taste, but please don’t take this comment to heart – it is only a prosaic old cynic speaking."

You know me, poems delude me, I just don't get them. Unless it's got a line about a man from Brazil whose balls shot over the hill it's about seven layers too deep for me. Once I got mugged by a gang of poets, I was so unaware that I didn't see them coming nor could I give even the briefest of descriptions afterwards. But, when the Ashok Ferreys of the world say things like that about T's poetrocity, then I know that it must be good.

Well there you have, those are the esteemed nominees, a set of blogs that continually remind me how much there is to learn.

I am very

.......................The Bohemian Gypsy.

Thank you to the Gypsy on behalf of all her fans.

And a mahooosive thank you to the special, albeit in a slightly too figure hugging T shirt, guest judge, Ashok Ferrey. I'm sincerely touched that he was so kind and gracious. I leave you with his words on all the candidates:

"I’ve been asked to make a few comments on these winning blogs, and first of all, let me say how very, very good the writing is. I’m amazed at the accuracy of the grammar, the beauty of the language, the poignancy of the content. Should I not be? Well if you had been at the receiving end of as many contest entries as I have, recently, you wouldn’t be surprised at my surprise! What strikes me most is the freshness of the prose, something we writers strive for, but usually fail miserably, for one very good reason: we tend to cook our words too long. Perhaps this is the beauty of blogs though it can also be their failing. When you shoot from the hip you are usually not too bothered about form and structure. This is where these particular blogs differ: there is definitely an underlying structure to most of these pieces that raises them above the ordinary."

I think we'll just leave it there.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The Funniest Blog

Morning all and welcome to another week in the land of freedom, liberty, democracy and independence. And a big hello to those of you in Sri Lanka as well.

This is the final week of this year's event and the real big boys, the hard hitters of the awards are now looming larger than Sicile Kotelawala riding a rhinoceros and wearing an extra large Chuck Norris T shirt whilst charging towards towards us.

Humour in writing is a strange thing isn't it? When you're looking for it it's hard to find, but when you're not seeking the stuff it can jump out and take you by surprise. That's one of the characteristics of humour; the surprise element is part of what makes us chuckle and spit everywhere. So my search for funny Sri Lankan blogs is a continually challenging one. You can't just google the keywords and find the fellows, it's only when you browse a few blogs that they fall out of the blogosphere and land on the funny bone, which isn't that funny at all. Truth be told it's fucking painful, God knows why they call it the funny bone, which is probably the joke in the first place.

Last year's winner was the laugh so much I think I might have just shit a little bit inducing Dramaqueen and therefore she's excluded from this year. It's weird but true that women are generally far better at doing the sensitive, emotional and delicate writing but it seems us men are better able to make people laugh. I don't know why this is, just look at groups of people out in bars and you'll see men laughing and telling jokes and women talking earnestly about important things, like why they don't write humorous stuff. Strange no?

Dramaqueen breaks all that sexist mallarkey and cracks up her readership with witty observations and stories that have us rolling in the aisles. If I ever get to meet her in real life I'll be sorely disappointed if she doesn't make me laugh like a monkey with a big carrier bag and the key to the banana plantation.

We have three fine nominees this year. They're three blogs that have had me guffawing, lolling and farting involuntarily (more than usual). They are:

1. ASOB, NQIM - Or, the blog formerly known as A Sort Of Beautiful, But Not Insane Mind. It would seem that everyone knows Jerry. He falls off bikes and goes on trips with many in the Lankanosphere on a fairly regular basis. He also has a gift. It's that ability to take an otherwise everyday and mundane situation and tell us about it and make us laugh. Have a read of this post, his quite famous job interview with Batman one, to see what I mean.

Jerry reckons he has "a water-bed of fluff that I had between me, my mind, and the real world" and this post gives us a better idea of where he's coming from. I don't know about the water bed and fluff and mind business but I do find him funny, with a capital h.

2. Cerebral Ramblings - It's written by a girl, she's called Makuluwo and she's funny in a different and more subtle way. Her blog isn't so much of a rip roaring slap your sides as you laugh kind of thing. It's more that you read it and chuckle quietly and knowingly at her slightly bitchy, very cutting and extremely sharp observations. Check this post out. It's about pants, trousers and boys. And it's about Papareboy's Mum, who gets quite a lot of stick. I don't know her so can't say if she deserves it or not. She's a mother, she's Sri Lankan so yeah, on balance she probably does deserves it.

There's something scary about Makuluwo too. Read this, then tell me that you'd go to her as a friend for advice. No, me neither.

3. Sri Lanka Land Of The Blind - This is most definitely a side splitting thigh slapping laughing out loud blog. It's written by a bloke called Da Blogfather and is a bit on the political side. There are good big chunks of text about the Rogerproxys, I don't know what Da Blogfather means but he says that this is what would happen if they ruled the world. Check it out, it's good and funny, or that's what most will think anyhow. At some point in the future this blog may cease to exist. We'll have to see what happens with the whole censorship issue.

Well as is usual there's but one winner. Choosing has been tougher than being brown skinned and getting quick service at the Galle Face Hotel, but the panel has done its job and made a decision. Yes, the winner is................

...............Makuluwo and Cerebral Ramblings

So much for the bit about men being more humorous and all. This is the second woman to take the title in as many years. It proves something, maybe along the lines of women being better than men at everything except getting kicked in the balls and being crap at multi tasking. Men are extremely good at both of those of course.

Our guest judge is none other than Dramaqueen. She had these heartwarming and hilarious words to say about the winner.

"Not everything is worthy enough of dragging me out of the woodwork, save the chocolate sundae with extra topping from Mcdonald's. But this is rather exciting. I've never been a judge before. Well, technically I have, but that was for the Mr. Sexy Legs competition at a family do, so it doesn't count. None of my uncles are sexy.

Of course, when one is invited to judge something as glamorous as the RD blogscars, one must approach said duties with the seriousness of an eagle contemplating a paraplegic katussa. It is opportunity not to be missed. To be asked to guest judge the humour category and thereafter to consider a blog a delightful as Cerebral Ramblings for first place... well... this just makes me feel like Sarath won the elections.

Right. Niceties out of the way. To the subject at

There is funny and there is funneh. Cerebral Ramblings is neither. The blogger is in a league of her own, one that not many understand or appreciate, save the head psychiatrist at the Mulleriyawa hospital. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then her keyboard far outweighs the tickliest of feathers. She provides the reader with side-splitting guffaws on the most miserable of days with her mad wit and imagination. When Makuluwo blogs, even Gota seems tolerable. To top it all off, she saves puppies, too. She is living, breathing, blogging proof that women can be interesting beyond their curves. A girl after my own heart.

My heartiest chuckle and congratulations go to Makuluwo for keeping my undies soaked in piss everytime I read her. Long live her funny bone.


Congratulations and well done to Makuluwo. Thanks several dozen times to DQ for the guest judging and the untold emails (about 5 actually but that would be telling).


Friday, February 12, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The Best Photoblog

We end the week, though not the awards, with one of the most hotly contested and sought after prizes, that for the best photoblog. The inaugural winner of the title was Dominic Sansoni himself, only about fourteen at the time but we here at LLD can spot artistic talent early.

He went on to do great things and is now not only one of the world's best photographers but can also be seen frequently in many of Tom Cruises films (sort of). He is also responsible for a large percentage of Sri Lanka's illegal Lamprais trade but doesn't like to talk about it. On top of that he somehow finds the time to sing backing vocals on tour with the Killers, except in Scandinavia where they use a local Swedish bloke because of work permit issues.

Last year's worthy winner is the now legendary Amila Salgado, the scrabble playing bird watching long lensed maestro himself. Yes folks, it's clear that the standards in the best photoblog awards are high, in an entirely subjective way.

Here are the nominees:

1. Aamina Nizar - She's a girl who often appears second, particularly in phone books, when she usually loses out to anyone with the name of Aadvark. As she tells us in her profile she's a Sri Lankan who studies and works in India. Her blog is a heady mix of the delights and sadness of both nations. Her use of depth of field is particularly breathtaking and she has a sense of colour and dynamics that chaps like me take about thirty years to realise we'll never have.

I love the way she can take a cliched scene and make something special from it. This picture of the Taj Mahal is a prime example. It's like a good drum part, it's what's not there that makes it special.

2. Tableaux Of Aufidius - Aufidius is another Lankan student plowing his studious furrow overseas, but this time it's in the UK. He's equally adept at capturing the beauty of Lanka and the different type of beauty of London. It's a shame that the plant people grabbed it first or I'd have used "photosynthesis" as the way to describe that skill.

Some of Aufidius' outstanding pictures are Little Scholars here and Among the Roses here. I've never met the bloke but I reckon Aufidius might be a great comedian as so many people seem to be grinning like the proverbial Cheshires in his photographs.

3. Sean Henricus Photography - I assume this is his real name as it seems an unlikely pseudonym. His profile tells us that he's spent time in New Zealand but is now back in the motherland. Some of his work reminds me of Sebastian Posingis' in that it makes me want to jump on a plane, one of those Sri Lankan ones with an in seat entertainment system that doesn't work, a seat which has a cushion that slides off and lands in Colombo approximately several hours after it was due.

He's got an imagination as well as a camera. Check out these Christmas light shots as examples of his arty side. One of my favourites is this post, the second photograph specifically. There's something about the scene, the dark foreboding cloud and the warm colours in the sky that makes me feel as if I can smell the aromas, feel the heat and hear the insects as they chatter.

But, there can only be one winner. And that winner, of the best photoblog for 2009 is.................

...............Tableaux Of Aufidius


I must say that I don't really know, it's more of a feeling. Aufidius' pictures give me the most constant butterfly in the stomach feeling of all three nominations, which is ultimately how I judge a photograph. The technical bits all count but it's when you feel things that you know it's all come together nicely.

I hand you over to our special guest judge, the Lamprais smuggling king and Killers backing vocalist (except Scandinavia) himself. He had these things to say of our winner:

"How horrid of you to ask me to write anything. I neither speak nor write.

But.... intrigued by a soul that is as interested in spiders as he/she is in space and light. Early pictures like
'Stairway to my bedroom' have developed into much much more (look at 'Liverpool Dock'). I like someone who makes their own lighting (thank you mr. Mondrian), likes people, and again that insect thing.

'Image from my scrapbook' is a joy - and makes me wonder who this is. I think we have the makings of a good architect here and certainly a wonderful photographer. And the panorama of The London Eye just wishes I was back for a weekend."

There you are, a winner and a worthy one, but also three photoblogs that are worth far more than a passing glance. Thanks to all of them for the images.

Have a nice weekend out there in Serendib, I'll be back with the final three awards and more guest judges next week.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - Best News and Current Affairs Blog

One of my drum teachers used to tell me that life gets in the way of music. Well that's also true of blogging and writing. It's actually quite time consuming to plough my way through the many blogs in the Lankanosphere, trying to figure out if there are any that I've missed that should be included in any of these categories.

Ultimately, as I've tried to say, it all comes down to the blogs I read, the ones that I'm drawn to and use to formulate my opinions on so many things that are Lankan related. Serendib Isle asked in a comment here if it would be possible to have some more people power or to be able to send in some nominations. We (the extensive team of researchers and writers at LLD) will definitely have to look at that for next year, but we wouldn't want you to think that there's any danger of democracy breaking out.

We all know the dangers that can come with democracy. Dissenters being, ahem, "discouraged", corruption galore and nepotism, despotism and vegetarianism running rife. No, it seems far better that the awards are run by one man choosing exactly how things are done, that way it's so much fairer for everyone and we all get to eat meat.

What has that got to do with my drum teacher? I'll be buggered backwards with an old lamprais without too much seeni sambol if I know, but I just thought I'd chuck it in there. At the GLF last year that VV Ganeshananthan gave a very informative tip about writers and imagining you're climbing a mountain when you write. She said that anything you introduce at any point in the story is like putting a rock in your bag. You then have to carry it up the mountain, it's always there, to be used, you can't ignore it.

Well my approach is to chuck rocks out at people lower down the mountain at random points in my ascent. And there goes the drum teacher rock, with the very minor, almost irrelevant, point being a little apology from me for the fact that the awards are taking a bit longer than I had anticipated.

The Best News and Current Affairs Blog Award is another new one, one that's a bit serious for these parts. Let's face it, as far as Sri Lankan current affairs go, things are nothing if not interesting. Steven Seagal applied for the post of editor of the Sunday Leader but was turned down for being a bit of a scaredy cat and Chuck Norris considered, but rejected the idea of running in the presidential election. He ran. Frightened and with a poo stain in his pants.

There are two News and Current Affairs blogs that I read continually and the third is more sporadic. They're very specifically ones that I use to formulate my own opinions, as opposed to ones I might read to prove my preconceived ideas as correct. The three of them are the nominees. They are:

1. Perambara - It's the brainchild of a group of youngish journo types, mostly in Sinhala, or squares, as the font is called here. The best description is this one, from their "about" page:

"PERAMBARA means ‘dawn’ in Sinhala, one of the two official languages in Sri Lanka, a small island nation located at the tip of India that has been embroiled in conflict for over 25 years.

PERAMBARA will deliver stories that cover a variety of issues including humanitarian and development-related stories. We will report from the perspective of the ordinary people, communicating their views and the challenges they face. We will also be covering stories that are inspiring and that show how all Sri Lankans, despite their cultural background, can contribute to creating a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Sri Lanka.

PERAMBARA is aimed at those living in Sri Lanka, as well as the Sinhala-speaking audiences living among the diaspora. We aim to be a progressive news and information channel that is driven by a responsibility to the public and is committed to maintaining a high standard in the stories we produce.

My lack of Sinhala prevents me from getting the real benefit of Perambara, which is a major negative, but the articles in English have helped to keep me informed in the recent past. It's good, ejucashunal and positive.

2. DBS Jeyaraj - A fellow who's a bit like Dame Judi Dench in that he needs no introduction. She's that very famous actress, the one in all the films. I was put onto the DBSJ blog some months ago by David Blacker and I rapidly became a fan. If there was a shitload of comments award this year DBSJ would be the clear and undisputed winner. He gets hundreds of comments and probably has even more readers than House Of Fashions has people hanging around outside the front door on a sale day.

I can often be heard imparting news, knowledge and facts I've picked up from DBSJ's blog. Some would say that's a bad thing though.

3. Groundviews - Boldly going where only Captain James T Kirk has gone before is Sanjana and the award winning Groundviews. Yet again the best way to tell you about it is to do a bit of copying and pasting. Here goes:

"Groundviews is Sri Lanka’s first and only award winning citizens journalism website and features an unparalleled range of ideas, opinions and analyses on humanitarian issues, media freedom, human rights, peace, democratic governance and constitutional reform."

Last year Groundviews won a rather prestigious Manthan South Asia Award and the Manthan people said this:

What no media dares to report, Groundviews publicly exposes. It’s a new age media for a new Sri Lanka… Free media at it’s very best!

For the sake of clarity and accuracy I should mention that they didn't say it in red, that was my choice. They went for a more blueish hue, with some hints of yellow. My apologies if you're reading this is black and white. Or Belgium.

Groundviews is a mixture of things by a mixture of writers and the comments are often as interesting as the posts themselves. In fact most of the comments are longer than the average post here at LLD. Not as funny though.

After diplomatic deliberation, profound pontification and careful cogitation the judges have decided the winner is........

............. DBS Jeyaraj.

I feel rather insignificant as I award this as I'm pretty sure DBS Jeyaraj's knowledge and awareness of my blog and these awards is about the same as Britney Spears' understanding of the most complicated rocket science ever, things that Scotty wouldn't even know. Nevertheless I think it's a well deserved award and I'd like to thank DBSJ for the blogging and knowledge so far.
Groundviews was just pipped at the post, but will have to make do with its Manthan South Asia award for now.

I'll hand things over to our very special guest judge for this award, the fantastic and aforementioned Ms Britney Spears. She had this to say:

"Phwooaarr, that RD. I really like fancy him like. Awesome. And what does aforementioned mean?"

I think Britney sums things up rather neatly.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The Innovation Award

Hello dear reader (s). Sorry about the delay in proceedings but we're back with the next award and it's another new one. This means that the virtual trophy is sparkly, shiny and gleaming. It's never been received by anyone before and may well never be received by anyone again. We like to live dangerously here at LLD, but not dangerous in that precarious mountain walking way.

Innovation is a puzzling phenom in terms of blogging and the Lankanosphere because, let's face it, there isn't exactly oodles of the stuff seeping out of every orifice, making a mess on the floor for an old aunty to then slip over on and break her hip. Clearly that's a good thing as far as the aunt is concerned, but for the rest of us bloggers it's not so good. Not that we've got anything against aunts of course. In fact, in my opinion Aunts are usually preferable to Sri Lankan mothers, though don't tell my one that if you see her broomsticking her way around Colombo.

But there are still a few innovative blogs and ideas that have cropped up and these, as far as me and the vast team of judges here are concerned, need some recognition. Enough of my rambling, let's move on to the nominees, the bloggers and blogs who have been more creative than one of those wild, mad and eccentric types, poets I think they're called, though not the ones who write poems that don't rhyme, as they're totally mad.

1. Surani's Baby Diary - I've surprised myself with the inclusion of this blog. I'm sure there must be other blogs like this in the International blogosphere but this is the only one I'm aware of in the Lankan one. It's all about kids, two in particular, and is a huge outpouring of mother's love, which is nice. Sue, the mother concerned, has talked us through the births and growing upness of her two little girls. So far, much to my credit, even if I say it myself, I've resisted the urge to leave comments and explain exactly what two cute little girls become in about ten or fifteen years. I'm kind like that.

This year we witnessed the birth of the second girl, called Dilmi, with pictures that made us all say "aaaaah". I wonder, in years to come, if the two girls will ever read the blog and what they'll think. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

2. Talk Chalk - This is the work of that St Fallen fellow who writes his other blog here. He says that Talk Chalk is how he channels his inner retard and that he talks in the third person. Well RD hates that third person stuff, he really does.

I don't know how he does it but it's a series of cartoon drawing things with some witty lines and scripting going on. It's strangely addictive though I find, with my advancing years, that I don't understand around half the jokes and the half I do understand I don't really get. Look at this one as an example. It made me break out in a broad grin and I haven't got the faintest idea why. Also, if you have a look at his archive page here you'll see in the bottom left corner the smallest smiley ever known to mankind.

3. Cerno's Book Project - The Right Honourable Cerno needs no introduction, except to people who don't know him. He's consistently one of the innovators of the Lankanosphere with ideas like his google earth related posts as well as his ongoing study of Sri Lankan graphic design.

The book project, or T100SLBPBP as it came to roll smoothly off the tongue, was Cerno's idea of compiling some of the best Lankan blog posts and putting them out in a book form. We were all behind Cerno, mostly because we all fancied being included in a book. Well all except David Blacker and Brandon, who selfishly have books with their names on the cover already.

Sadly the project just sort of ran out of steam and Cerno decided to abandon it. It's still there for the taking if anyone wants to nurture and develop it so one day it might see the light of day. In the meantime I suppose the Kottu section in the Sunday Leader is a kind of relative spawned form Cerno's idea. Either way, it's a fantastic idea that the Cerno put a load of time, effort and creativity into.

4. Dream Into Reality - For about the last five years this blogger, Rajaratarala, has lived and planted himself, quite literally, in the motherland. He tells us on his profile that he's lived most of his life in the US and here in the UK and is now learning to live his new life in Lanka. It's a captivating, joyful and tear inducing account of his victories and losses, triumphs and disasters.

Have a glance at this post or this one to see some of the battles he's trying to fight, they make for educational reading. I've been one of his many readers for some time and I hope that the struggles reduce for him, even if he has way too many of his fair share of A's in his name. Half, yes half, of the letters are A's. That's just wrong. I know a girl who has an eight letter name and half of those are I's. They're merciless vowel thieves these fellows, thy mst b stppd bfr t's t lt.

That's it for the nominees. Sadly Sittingnut's brilliantly unique idea to do a round up of Sri Lankan blog posts didn't make it into the category.

It's my genuine pleasure to announce that the first winner of the Lankanopshere award for innovation is......

........Cerno with the Top 100 SL Blog Post Book Project.

At this point we welcome David Blacker, who has agreed to act as a guest judge. He had these words to say about the T100SLBPBP and he meant them:

"I've always liked Cerno's blog, and in fact it was one of the first I ever visited on Kottu. He's always got cool stuff, from google maps images of Tiger boats to building your own radar. But his '100 Blog Posts' book idea was one of the best, and it was a great pity that no one actually picked it up and did it. The closest it came to reality was Indi's Kottu section in the Sunday Leader. However, it certainly was an innovative suggestion, and might have raised some useful charity moolah. Maybe one day it'll actually happen, but 'til then, a little bit of blogger immortality goes to Cerno."

I must thank the other nominees, particularly Dream into Reality, which came a very close second. They've all given me many hours of stimulating reading and prove that there are some innovators out in the Sri Lankan blogosphere.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

You Thought Sigiriya Was Bad?

Check this. I swear I was an exhausted bag of nerves by the end.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who Broke Kottu?

Come on, own up, who was it?

You thought you were big and clever, with your blogstitution, fake clicks and whatever else didn't you?

Now Indi's gone away and left us to it and we're all fumbling around looking for the blogs we used to access so easily.

Nice job, really, well done.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The Fashion Police Are Coming For You Award

Morning All, I hope you're enjoying the proceedings so far. There's a lot more to come and next week is when things get all proper and serious, like a Sri Lankan election commissioner writing a letter to his mum.

Today's award is a brand new one, a category that many try and fail with spectacular success to get into.

The Fashion Police are Coming For You Award is pretty much what it says, it's about notable fashion disasters made by members of the Lankanosphere and available for all of us to see.

You can probably see the problems here. There's youtube footage aplenty of Lankan "personalities" committing fashion crimes that would have Lady Gaga cringing and Jeremy Clarkson looking like the King of mens' fashion. But, most of these personalities aren't bloggers so they're excluded.

Then there are occurrences by the dozen where I've seen a blogger dressed like they're about to go to a Freddie Mercury party and the invitation asked them to dress a bit wildly. But those haven't been photographed or videoed for all to see, or the need for anonymity has to be respected, something I'm a fan of.

A fence?

Yes. I don't want to cause one of them so have to be weary of that, which kind of excludes women from this. I've seen women with make up that looks like it was applied by Ross from Friends, shoes that Ronald McDonald wouldn't wear at Stevie Wonder's birthday party and jeans that have been taken up but not taken in at the same time, so the hang is all wrong. I know that last example is hard to believe but I swear it's true. Yet all these females are exempt. Why? Because, and I'm a brave type so I'll just admit it, I'm scared, it's as simple as that.

Which leaves us with two candidates.

The first one is a much loved blogger, a former friend of mine who'll probably hate me forever more, and then a bit longer. I watched this clip with alarm and that cover my eyes with my hands but peek through the gaps feeling. If you've ever collected a Sri Lankan from Heathrow airport you'll know the look this blogger is going for. The overall look could have been so normal and so relatively okay if it wasn't for the footwear. I can't be sure but I think they might have velcro fastenings.

Yes, our first nominee is our Dinidu, for this foot related fashion disaster.

Our second nominee is a bloke who usually demonstrates more fashion awareness than Jennifer Aniston at Brad and Angelina's wedding. Every time I've seen him he's made me feel as if I'm one of the unknown blokes who gets beamed down with the "names" on a Star Trek episode. But this clip proves that heroes can make fashion errors and gives hope to many. Yes, in with another footwear faux pas it's our Sanjana. I'm afraid I can't embed it in the post so you'll have to click on the link here. Trust me it's worth it. Smart clothes (ish) and then he goes and puts on those slippers. If I was Tracy I'd have walked off the interview in protest.

As usual there can only be one winner, though I can truly say that, in this category everyone's a winner. Yes, the winner is indeed Sanjana. He's won many awards for his courgeous journalistic feats and intellectual prowess but I'm sure this will be his proudest achievement.

I was going to ask Sittingnut to be a guest judge but had a slightly apprehensive feeling about that plan. It could turn out a bit like getting the Pope involved in judging a who makes the best condoms competition. Oh well! Instead I got Mr Sartorial Elegance himself. Yes, Java Jones, who had this to say:

"Shit man....

Sanjana’s footwear? The ones he’s wearing at the interview with Tracy are one of many – he has a whole slew of them, different styles and shit. The thing is that someone told him that he had sexy toes, and being a foot-fetish freak himself, he likes to expose his toes – just to check the reaction of folk like you. Don’t ask me why! Nothing to do with fashion, I'm sure..."

I think Mr Jones, as usual, sums things up nice and succinctly. If nothing else this category proves that these highly brainy fellows sometimes make mistakes. They're so busy thinking about serious things like politics and science, elections and words with lots of syllables, maybe even three, that they forget about footwear.

See you next week, have a fine weekend.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Independence And Irony

Both begin with the same letter.

Is that a mere coincidence?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - Best Newcomer

Hello again people, we're back with the second 2009 award and, the academics among may have deduced this from the title, we're onto the best newcomer award. Last year it was won by Kalusudda comments, that ever so simple and good idea.

Every time I think of KS I feel a little bit sad and worried. His last post was in July 2009 and he's since disappeared. We know not if he's okay or just busy or what. When I say "we" I actually mean "I", as you might know of his whereabouts and welfare. I hope KS is out there doing his thing, whatever that thing is, with the proviso that it's not too illegal or too immoral.

This year there are only three new Lankan related blogs that have caught my eye. I'm sorry that some people feel excluded, that these awards aren't representative of everything out there in the Lankan blogosphere, but they're just a bit of fun, based on what I, and the guest judges of course, like to peruse. The esteemed nominees are:

1. Go To Sri Lanka - It's a blog, but not as we know it. It's half advert for the motherland (depending on your origins), half holiday snaps and half a ton of google ads splashed just about everywhere you can imagine. There are many blogs that have this effect on me, but the quickest of glances at it makes me want to grab the nearest manbag and jump on a Serendib bound plane.

2. See Chavie Run - This blog, only in existence from February 09, has caught my eye for mushy, incoherent and intangible reasons, which of course I'll now try to explain in tangible and coherent terms. Firstly there's the cleanliness to the eye, a certain sort of BMW look to the blog. Everything's well thought out and appears exactly where it should be. There's nothing hugely radical to the look, it just feels right.

Secondly there's the writing. I don't know this Chavie fellow so I hope he takes this in the way I mean it, but he writes like a girl. There's a depth and sense of feeling to his writing that most men just don't have, except writers. Blokes write on a superficial level, Chavie gets beneath the surface and takes things several steps further. I bet he's got loads of women chasing after him because of his sensitivity and understanding. I like him, just not in a gay way.

3. Cadence - Her blog has been around since May 2009 and it's a bit of everything. There's poetry, recipes, deep posts and shallow posts. It's a Bombay mix of a blog, the kind a chap can dip into, look at what comes out and say "ooh fuck me, I didn't expect to pull out one of those." From what I can gather our Cadence is a girl with courage, in her Dear 16 letter she tells how she went out with a bloke who had a ponytail. I admire women with that kind of strength, I really do. To hell with public opinion, this is a girl with balls.

There are the nominations but sadly there can be only one winner. It is......

See Chavie Run.

I like the variety, the sense of casual talking the reader through his life, that Chavie manages to portray. His moving tag cloud is about as reliable as a Sri Lankan clockmaker, but, other than that it's all good. I may have used too many commas in that previous sentence, I'm not sure though.

Congratulations to Chavie.

The last words are best said by the Kottu Godfather himself, our guest judge Mr Indi. Praise doesn't come much higher:

"Chavie's blog feels like it's smiling. Like a young Cerno, he seems to enjoy what he's doing and doesn't get in too much trouble. In between the hate and hubris of some Sri Lankan blogs, Chavie stands out as someone who just seems to enjoy blogging. The blog is refreshingly
chilled out and his comments as well are good natured and welcome everywhere they appear."


Monday, February 1, 2010

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards - The First One - Best Overseas Blog

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome officially to this, the fourth annual Sri Lankan blogging awards. It's all just a bit of fun, presided over by me and a smattering of guest judges, some of whom are real and some whose input is just that little bit made up.

The awards are broadly based on the blogs listed on Kottu, the first port of call for most people seeking Lankan and Lankan related blogs in. I don't understand Sinhala so sadly need to exclude blogs written in the language as well as those in Tamil. Sorry about that, but I blame my parents.

The best overseas blog is seen from the perspective of Sri Lanka being the home base as such. In other words it's for the best blog written and published from outside Serendib. Previous winners have gone on to, well, nothing really.

The esteemed nominees are:

1. Mahasen does blogging - This gentleman, a Mr Mahasen Bandara, lives in the US and is a vegetarian. Apart from those obvious faults he's responsible for a very delicious and eclectic blog. His photography is usually spectacular, sometimes a bit better than that, and whether it's people or landscapes, Lankan or American the pictures make me feel those butterfly things. Which is good. He writes about politics, life and things in general, sometimes in Sinhala but mostly in English.

2. Just About Anything - Or JapSach's place as most of us call it. JapSach is a bloke, called Sach who currently lives in Japan, though I don't know how he got that nickname. For a few years he's regaled us with anecdotes and observations about his life in the land of the rising sun. He tells us of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of his Japanese existence. My Dad used to have a Triumph you know, he often tells us his tales of riding around Sri Lanka. He's (Sach, not my Dad) also got the coolest clock this side of Colombo Fort. It's not because of the size though, more the quality.

3. Rice and Curry - This blog, by an American Sri Lankan who calls himself Skiz, is a bit of a specialist one, as it's all about food. Skiz travels the world eating things and learning how to cook them. He pays particular interest to Sri Lanka and her food and wears his passion for all things foody on his sleeve. On the negative side he does possess one of those very suspicious looking moustaches as favoured by Sri Lankan Presidents and their rivals. Check out this post, which shows the programme he made with Anthony Bourdain in Sri Lanka. Mmmm....

4. DD - Old DD's heady mix of diasporic yearning, political comment, text and fonts that go all over the show and so nearly make sense at times is infectious and readable in its own strange way.

5. Darwin. - The blog written by everyone's favourite parasitologist and second favourite domestic goddess (after Nigella of course) deserves a mention. Sadly it's only open to invited readers so there's no point including it in the awards. I just wanted to tell you that it's still as good as ever, and gloat a bit that I'm one of the select few. Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh.

With no further ado I'm pleased to announce that the winner, the 2009 Lankanosphere Best Overseas Blog is........

............Just About Anything.

Our guest judge, Tiger Woods, had this to say about Sach and his blog.

"As I travel the world playing golf, living the millioniare lifestyle and sleeping with models and porn stars things can get quite sad and depressing. When they do I always glance at Just About Anything and it cheers me up and puts a bit of joie de vivre back into my day. It's a well deserved accolade and I congratulate Sach from my top secret sex addiction clinic place."

Congratulations Sach, we await your speech.