Monday, May 31, 2010

Colombo Condom Buying

I won't go into detail but I a very good looking friend of mine had the need to purchase some condoms while in Colombo last week. For ease of writing and because I quite like the use of acronyms (with thanks to DB, an acronym in action) we'll refer to the friend as AVGLF from now on. It'll be best if you try not to confuse AVGLF (a very good looking friend) with AVGGLF (a very good Galle Literary Festival).

Here's AVGLF's story, as he wrote me an email telling what happened.

Take it from me, to the average man buying condoms is a total nightmare, some would say a total fucking nightmare. If you're a virgin, a woman who's never bought any, a man who's one of those irresponsible types or your surname is Durex and you own some factories then you've probably never been through the sheer mental turmoil that the rest of us face whenever we have to pop into the local chemist for a three or twelve pack.

For me buying the old rubber raincoats even in a liberal place like London is a bit of a turmoil. Some years ago I was with RD's Academic Bro and we were catching a flight somewhere. We'd checked in, were airside at Heathrow and he casually said that he needed to buy some johnnies. We went into Boots the chemist and he procured some, with an air of nonchalance, ease and comfort that I've only ever felt when buying Superdry clothes.

I was impressed. To this day I don't know if he was faking or if it was genuine. Since then further investigation has revealed to me that most men find it easier to go and buy a book on multitasking while doing several other things at the same time than buy condoms.

Buying them in the UK, where we have them on display on shop shelves and pubs sell them in vending machines, is a walk in the park compared to doing the job in the motherland, a country where condoms are only used by perverts and weirdos, the type of people who actually have sex.

I made my way over to Crescat and headed downstairs to the Food City bit. I like going there anyhow, a browse around the shelves to look at the wonders and delicacies of a Lankan supermarket is trippy and exciting for me. I got there and did my mooching, picking up an oily yet tempting looking jar of brinjal pahi as a present for my parents. No one can accuse me of being stingy. Then the fun started.

I ambled, in that casual way, to the chemist shelves, the ones that hold the shampoo, toothpaste and deodoranty things. I peered at the dazzling display of goods, paying particular patronising and laughing attention to an array of lotions and creams that promised to make you darkies turn into glamorously good looking white people within about five minutes. I thought of old aunts, those ones who talk about anaemic types and say "my she's lowely and fair, beauuuutiful girl, and she makes a delicious pineapple fluff too."

As all men can relate to I pretended to look at the other bits and pieces, in reality my eyes were scanning the shelves busily looking for the little rubber raincoats. One of the tricks is to make your eyes do the scanning without other people realising that's what's going on, like when you look at a good looking woman someone in the rear view mirror of your car but you don't move your head so they think you're still looking straight ahead.

I scanned and found nothing. I moved, pretended to look at the soaps and scanned some more with the same level of success. I moved again a few times until I ended up uneasily browsing the ladies' sanitary towel and tampon. No joy and I figured that they must be kept at the proper pharmacy place, that bit at the front where you can get all the medicines and antibiotics that require prescriptions and other such ridiculous Doctor's recommendations, here in the UK.

So the brinjal pahi was paid for and two minutes later any passers by would have seen RD's friend, had they known what I look like, peering at ventolins and other inhalers, staring at rows and rows of tablets as if my life depended on it. They would also have seen a pharmacist who looked a bit like a brown Derren Brown, amusing considering the surname, leering and sneering at me with that look, the one that said

"I know exactly what you're looking for and, purely because I'm a virgin / I'm currently getting no action / both (delete as appropriate), I'm going to make you sweat and work and I'll torment you because I've got a crap beard and because, well because I can."

Or something roughly along those lines.

After about nine, perhaps ten minutes too much browsing I plucked up the courage.

"Excuse me" I said.

Brown Derren looked at me. I checked my slipper to see if I'd trod in dog shit or something. I hadn't.

"Excuse me" I said again. This time his left eyebrow jumped like a kangaroo, one that can jump about a quarter of a millimeter very slowly.

"Have you got any condoms?"

"Uh?" he said.

"Bastard" I thought, but I'm not sure if I should have put it in inverted commas or not.

I repeated my request. Brown Derren had forced me to say it loudly enough for his spotty assistant to hear as well. Then he let rip with a burst of helpfulness unusual in Sri Lankan shops.


And there was silence, quite a lot of it, maybe a couple of kilos' worth.

"Ermmm, well where are they?" said I.

Brown pointed to a distant and hazy place behind him. Some would have called it a display cabinet. To me it was about as tangible as platform nine and three quarters. I looked at the cabinet and Brown Derren looked at me as though there we were in prison and he was Walker Texas Ranger on an undercover assignment. When I scrunched up my eyes I could see some boxes of condoms, cleverly angled in such a way that I couldn't read the packets or make out any detail.

I ask you, what does a chap do in these situations? Courageous examples of the male variety would brazenly demand to look at the things, perhaps try a few on for size and comfort before making a final decision. By now you know that I'm not one of them. I thought through my options carefully, pointed in the direction of platform nine and three quarters and asked for a couple of packs of "them".

In his final attempt to humiliate me Brown Derren forced me to ask again by pretending he hadn't understood me. My desire to ask if he had any in extra large, buy some and then go somewhere else and get extra small, my real size, was only beaten by my desire to get the hell out of there. At least I knew that I'd be out in a minute.

"How much is that?" I requested.

"What's that?" I said when he presented me with a piece of paper.

"You have to take this there and pay." he responded.

I was frustrated but figured that I was on the last lap and could see the finish line so took the paper and joined the queue. In England, when you buy these things they're normally listed as "chemists' goods" or something similarly innocuous.

When I got to the till the young girl took the paper, typed the number and up on the display flashed the words


I squirmed some more, paid my money and moved on quickly, back to beardy Derren and his assistant. I did what you are probably very used to; showed the receipt, got the goods, got the receipt stamped and exited, in a split second five minutes or so. I'll never get fully used to the Sri Lankan way of using labour in this context, it always amazes me and just seems wrong.

That was what happened. I hope that one day I'll get to use the things. Next time I buy some in England it will be a gentle flowing breeze in comparison. Mind you, I bought six, that should last me a good few years.

And so went my good friend's story.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rentals In Sort Of Law Arrival Pending

You recall I told you that I've got C's parents coming to stay with me for a few days? See point number 8 on this post.

Well the thing is that it's happening, and it's happening tomorrow. And, when I told you in the aforementioned point number 8 that I was shitting large bricks, I was pretty much misunderexaggerating. I reckon I'm a calm sort of chap, in possession of a set of feathers that don't often get ruffled, but this has ruffled the RD feathers.

You see C won't be around, it will just be me and her 'rents in RD Towers and I'm going to be doing my utmost to impress them. There was I, not too long ago, telling you about K's rather successful attempts to impress me with that boy Z, with his tales of drumming and music, and now here I am on the other end of the fish.

The Father, we'll call him Dr T, is a rather well known Colombo gynaecologist. I've got another post in the pipeline in which I'll tell you more about that but my point here is that I can't really strive to impress him with tales of my "expertise" in his choice of profession. For starters I even had to spell check the word "gynaecologist", or actually "gynocologist" as I'd written it. Then what would we discuss? If he's seen any good hoo hoos lately, or what?

It's not like drumming either. I don't envisage him and me bonding over tales of my amateur gynaecology, particularly when it concerns his daughter. There'll be no chat about what sort of sticks we use, who our influences are, that sort of thing. Don't get me wrong, we've met many a time and chewed the curry flavoured cud quite happily, but this is different.

C has kindly emailed me a long shopping list of food to buy for them and this is going to be particularly useful. The mother, we'll call her Mother T, is a vegetarian and not even a proper one who eats fish and prawns and most meat. No, she's one of those weird extreme ones who don't touch anything that has lived.

If not for that I'd have been quietly confident in my ability to impress them with a bit of rice and c, but my culinary skill with vegetables is on a par with the average woman's ability to be totally crap at multi tasking. RD Towers will be bursting at the seams with microwave vegetable lasagnes and all manner of things on the list, lentils and whatnot.

I've had my car cleaned throughly by some local East Europeans and am hoping that might look good on me. I've organised that my parents are going to have them for dinner on Friday night and I reckon that will be successful. Four oldish Sri Lankan people getting together and bitching about their kids is always a recipe for an enjoyable evening.

The scariest thing?

Only a few hours after they arrive they'll come up against meet A and K for the very first time. Even as I write this I get a butterflyish feeling in the very pit of my stomach. C's parents are going to witness me, their daughter's boyfriend, as a Father. A and K, those little lovelies you now know so well who know me as their Dad, are going to see me as, well you know.

The only variable I'm confident in is Mother T. She's a sound old bird in the best traditions and I know her and the girls will be fine. God alone knows what will happen with A and K and the good Dr T.

Wish me well please. I have a feeling I'll need it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Leaving Again

I'm leaving Sri Lanka again and I feel a bit sad about that.

It's 4.30 PM and my flight is late tonight. I've got the window in my hotel room open and can hear the Colombo soundscape. It's one of crows and other birds, one of whom is packing and asking me how to tell if a bra fits properly, the wind rustling through the trees, the distant sing song sounds of prayers from a mosque and the rumble of diesel engines interspersed with horns. I wish all the bastards would shut up so I can think and write properly.

The week, though wet and grey, was a fine one. I think I'll regale you with the details laters, but there were things like music, quizzes, drums and stories of buying condoms. There was a ride, not a ride, in David Blacker's love cruiser mean machine and meeting some great interesting and fantastic people.

I got to try out the new Odel water, a must for every blogger about town and I bought my first ever sarong from Paradise Road, a purple, pink and reddish one that is my new favourite, despite my slight feelings of unfaithfulness towards Barbara Sansoni. I'm hoping Dom will forgive me and let me come back.

I took not a single photograph and it felt fine, like they're in my head instead of my memory card.

So that's it for now. Bye and thanks and see you in July when I'll return with A and K and unleash them onto you lot. It feels like I get that bit more attached each time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, Here We Are

Back in Colombo and things are the usual frenetic hustle and bustle. I left London on Saturday morning and got here to discover how lucky I was to be able to even take off from Heathrow. This ash cloud looms largely over air travel doesn't it?

Then, once I hit Colombo I witnessed rain like I've never seen. Well, I've seen this sort of rain before, the downward heading and wet variety, but never for so long and so continuous. Each morning as I gaze out of my window with the AC on, it looks as though I'm in the UK, except for the fact that it's blistering hot there this week.

Sunday afternoon was pleasant, chilled, relaxed and mellow. That's what Barefoot jazz does to a man, even a slightly jetlagged one who had that dazed with tiredness drunken feeling going on. I played a funky song or two with the Speldewinde chap, they let me do this now when they want to clear the place I think, and hung with friends, shot the breeze, not that there was any, and felt the warmth on my skin.

Java's not in town and I miss him. I know he'll moan about me not going to see him up in his lair, but I will do it eventually, I promise.

And, while I feel a bit narked about the rain and the weather, I was just told something that puts things in perspective and makes me feel humble, well a bit of a wanker actually. It's the fact (unverified but from a trustworthy source) that 100,000 people have been displaced by this weather in the last few days. That's just mental and wrong.

It seems the most of the literary types here are raving about chinaman, not the little yellow fellow who delivers your takeaway but the book by Shehan Karunatilaka. A few feet away from me is a carrier bag with five copies of the thing inside it. That's how excited I am about reading it.

I know bugger all about cricket but I'm hoping my knowledge of Sri Lanka and chinese food will be sufficient. I've been looking for a fantastically stimulating can't put it down until you've read that next bit book to read for a while and I think this could be the one.

It's 8.40 AM as I'm about to hit the publish button. Just to wind up people like the Auf, DD and T (the NY one) I feel a need to inform you that my breakfast of string hoppers, chicken curry, pol sambol and a touch of that red chilli sambol is sitting rather heavily on the stomach. It's nothing that won't get dislodged by a good rice and curry lunch somewhere though.

Laters all.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Change, Democracy, Pomp And Police

Over here in the UK we've now had our change of Prime Minister and government and, for the first time in my life, I've watched the events and proceedings with a certain sense of optimism and hope about the state of British politics.

I drove home from work on Tuesday night and listened to the radio. The friendly but slightly arrogant presenter told us that the negotiations between the conservatives and the liberals looked to be almost at their conclusion, that there would possibly be an announcement that night on a coalition government. At worst the feeling was that things would be sorted by Wednesday morning, even the barrage of "experts" being interviewed every few minutes agreed with this.

I got home, did a poo, as a man does, then did some sit ups and relaxed. Then I turned on the TV and, lo and behold, my expected trip to Albert Square, E20, to watch Eastenders was rudely interrupted by all sorts of fascinating shenanigans representing many of the good things about Britishness and not a few of the (m)/(b)ad.

Gordon Brown was just leaving Downing Street and heading off to Buckingham Palace to tell the Queen that he was resigning. His timing could have been better. One can only hope the Queen doesn't watch Eastenders or she would have been as pissed off as the rest of us. As I listened to the commentary it became apparent that he'd decided to do this before the conservatives and the lib dems had formally agreed on anything, an interesting twist, maybe his last attempt at some sort of a powerplay.

His car was swanked by a couple of Police bikes and a few cars and they stopped the traffic with the ease and seamlessness that most people who've lived in London will have witnessed many times. It's a highly effective sort of relay in which one to three of the Police bikes go ahead, stop traffic at the next couple of junctions, then let the VIP through and overtake his car and repeat the whole process.

I've heard stories that in some countries, even when it's not so much a VIP but more a distant relative of a slightly VIP (cerno would call them a DROASVIP), the whole area is closed down for a period of several hours to let the person through and this happens many times a day because so many people want to be seen as important. Well we have none of that over here, where British understatement and head down behaviour is all the rage, not that we have rages.

It was funny to watch. The pomp and circumstance that is part of our monarchy, the way in which Gordon had to officially go and see the Queen to tender his resignation. The helicopter camera followed his five minute journey and then other cameras showed him entering the Palace. After that we waited and the TV anchormen, desperately seeking things to say while we all waited, speculated on what exactly the Queen would say to him and how long things would take.

The level of detail that the presenters talked about was astounding, yet I couldn't help find myself being caught up in it and being interested in things that, on balance, probably weren't relevant to the running of a country.

My mind, and you won't be surprised about this, went on a wild extrapolating spree. I wondered if the Queen would have made some sandwiches for Gordon, if he might have asked to use the toilet before he left. Would she, at the end of the meeting, ask if he wanted to stay for some pot luck? And, seeing as he did work for her really, would she accept his resignation and, if so, what sort of reference would she give him?

Some time later he left, clearly not being asked to stay for dinner, he'd probably stop off at an Indian and get a takeaway on the way home, not that he had a home anymore. I thought this was a bit thoughtless of the Queen to be honest, but then she's not Sri Lankan and she might have been keen to see Eastenders, which was on hold until things had finished. She may have let him use the phone at the Palace to ring the Indian and order his food, that would have been the decent thing to do.

As his car pulled out of Buckingham Palace the commentators remarked on two things that were so British and insignificant yet strangely important. The first was the fact that the guards at the Palace saluted Mr Brown when his car entered the gates but then, when he left, they also saluted him, which they shouldn't have done.

Our esteemed commentators told us that it was correct protocol to salute the Prime Minister but he left as a common man and therefore didn't warrant a salute. Perhaps they had decided to throw protocol to the wind and act a bit madly. In royal circles giving a chap a salute he's not entitled to is like dancing the baila with your sarong folded up at the back to reveal your bum to everyone; a little bit crazy and mad but something we've all done.

The second thing was along the same lines. He arrived with the aforementioned Police escort and outriders but leaving as a civilian meant that he wasn't entitled to all of that. So he exited the grounds of Buckingham Palace being driven in his car with no privileges whatsoever. The helicopter footage showed his car on its own with no entourage, getting stuck in traffic and queuing with the rest of the plebs, most of whom were travelling home blissfully unaware of who was sitting in the back of the car next to them.

After that was all done it was the turn of David Cameron, the leader of the conservatives and now our new Prime Minister, to do the same thing, but in reverse. He turned up at the Queen's house in his solo car, battling through the London traffic like any civilian, to "be invited" by Her Maj to form a government.

I reckon this "be invited" terminology was an interview of sorts. She probably asked him about his previous jobs, why he left them, what his strengths and weaknesses are, that kind of thing. Of course whether he lives locally and if he's ever run a country before would have been taken into consideration very seriously and they might have haggled over the salary a bit, maybe Cameron held out for a slightly higher specification car or a longer lunch break.

Finally, before offering him the job, she would have asked him about his personal interests, what level of badminton he actually plays, just to establish if he'd bullshitted on his CV, standard stuff.

Whatever happened it was enough for the Queen to give him the job and the new Prime Minister left, with Police escort. I can't recall if the guards saluted him, but he headed to Downing Street where he gave a quick speech and went in, presumably to meet his new staff. His wife was with him. I guess she wanted to have a look, see where the hoover's kept and what redecorating she wants to do, that kind of thing.

Why am I optimistic?

Well I'm not a fan of the conservatives per se. But most people I've encountered have expressed exasperation with Gordon Brown and the labour party. It hasn't helped that Brown isn't a charismatic looking leader, if he went out on the pull with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair it's a safe bet that he'd be the one going home alone at the end of the night.

On the other hand, while it seems so many were disillusioned with labour and Brown, there weren't many who strongly backed one of the alternatives. I was one of these types; a fundamentally labour person who had doubts if labour under Brown was the right choice but didn't want the conservatives in and didn't think the Lib dems would get in anyhow.

What we've got, with a little bit of wind in the right direction, could just be a government with hints of everything good. At the very least, in my world that is, it's a government that seems to reflect what the public wanted, except those people who wanted labour.

As the bloke who fixed my watch said; time will tell.

And it all dragged on for so long that they postponed Eastenders.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Trouble With Sri Lankan Food

Like most of us around these parts I love Sri Lankan food. In fact, like most Sri Lankans I just love food, with a leaning towards anything Sri Lankan.

I read Lankan recipes and food blogs and look like a dog with a cooked cat being dangled in front of its face. I suspect I drool, I make no apologies for that. There's no better smell than that of some garlic, curry leaves and mustard seed frying, just waiting to become the base for whatever curry is dish of the day.

Indian food is just that; Indian food, though very nice. Sri Lankan food is rice and curry, the real deal.

But there is a problem with Lankan food, one that I've put my finger on lately. I feel like a doctor who's diagnosed an illness that a fellow's had for years but, instead of wondering what's been wrong with him all this time, the patient has had that vague feeling that something wasn't right.

Yes, I ask you to bear with me on this one, the fact is, and I so hate to say this, Sri Lankan food is NOT photogenic.

"Don't be so stupid RD, there's nothing more appetising than a good photo of a plateful of rice and curry." I hear you shouting at the monitor.

Well the fact is that the photo isn't appetising, it's our knowledge of what the food tastes like that makes it feel that way. Particularly for us diasporic types, stranded in remote, savage and lawless territories like the UK and Japan, where we pine for all things Sri Lankan and would prefer a glass of Portello to a crate of the finest champagne.

There are foods that look good, they're the international supremodels of the food world, the Claudias and the Elles of gastronomy. Of course the Italian and meditteranean varieties rank highly in this chart. A picture of a nice Spanish Paella is full of colour and texture and looks good in its own right, a nice photo of a lovely pasta dish can be bursting with reds and greens and convey a feeling of freshness and Latin lusciousness.

An image of some sizzling British sausages with the skin caramelised has an appeal that I feel yet can't explain, there's no level involved between the picture and my mind, I could eat the picture.

And then we give the world our staple; parippu. I love a bowl of dhal as much as the next Sri Lankan, I'll eat it for breakfast with toast or on its own with rice or grab a few spoonfuls out of a cold portion sitting in the fridge. But, like so many other Sri Lankan dishes it just doesn't look good.

Face it, it you were a white person with no knowledge of Lankan cuisine, you'd hardly see a recipe for parippu with a picture and feel like you want to try making it, would you? Once we know what it tastes like things are very different. Mallungs and pol sambol are usually quite bright in colour but usually there's just the one colour blaring at us at a level eleven. Artificial food colourings have been banned for less.

String hoppers are the culinary equivalent of a night with (insert name of ideal partner here....) but they don't look great, resembling plain noodles thrown at a wall until they stick together a bit. Murunga tastes like heaven on a plate, but if Indiana Jones stumbled across some in the jungle he'd be scared of it and probably push the girl in front of him towards it first.

I was reading that cookery book the other day, the newish one by that Peter Kuruvita. It's fantastic, full of seemingly easy to follow and delicious looking recipes, interesting anecdotes and tales about his life and family in Sri Lanka. The photographs are stunning too. But I just don't think the great food of Serendib is easy to portray in a way that makes it look appealing.

Unless of course you already know what it tastes like.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Random Bits And Pieces

1. Sometimes it's nice to write a numerical list. I usually start with number 1.

2. I'll be heading your way soon. "Your way" is relative and largely dependent on where you are. But I think you know what I mean.

3. Today I have taken delivery of a highly trendy Wassily chair. Well, it's not an original but a copy. It's dark brown leather and the newest addition to RD Towers.

4. I've been rehearsing with a fantastic band, or collective, of musicians called Solskala. I'm very excited by this project. We have a couple of gigs coming up in the next month or so. The music is grooving Latin funk influenced and fun, with a capital F, so Fun. Check out the choons, you'll love them.

5. I've been watching quite a few other drummers recently and have been very conscious of a half baked theory floating around in my head, threatening to become fully baked at any point, but never quite getting there. It's about chaps who can do all the technical things, flying around a drum kit with dexterity and fluidity that I can only dream of, yet they just don't groove. What exactly is groove? I don't know, but I feel when it's not there.

6. On the listening side of things I can't find any music that grabs my attention. Plan B came close but hasn't done it.

7. My sister in law did the London marathon. I'm full of admiration for her about this.

8. C's parents are going to be staying with me at RD Towers for a few days. I'm shitting large bricks about this.

9. I've been buying lots of Superdry stuff.

10. There is no number 10, it's vacant, like the number 10 on Downing Street, sort of.

Friday, May 7, 2010

General Election - British Style

So I voted. It's 6.08 PM on election day as I write and, by the time you read this, the UK will have a new, or maybe the same, Prime Minister.

It's quite good voting in a country like this one. First thing this morning I dug out my electoral register voting slip thing and peered at the map on it to try and figure out where my polling station was. Off I went. Winnie the Pooh would have enjoyed the sun and blue sky and hummed a little ditty, something along the lines of

"Dum dum di dum di dum"

I'm not a fucking talking bear so I didn't. I just did my usual thing; walked and tried to look cool in a not trying to look cool way. The polling station was the local library and as British as chicken tikka masala; quiet, calm and understated.

There wasn't the slightest feeling of impending violence, no white vans lurked suspiciously and things were generally quieter than on one of the library's normal working days. As I walked towards the entrance a sweet old woman asked for my polling card number and made a note of it, they do that to look at turnout I think, and then I went in and did my thing.

X marked the spot and I had two votes, one for the Parliamentary election and another for the local council election. I read the instructions on the wall of my booth, trying to convey that air of knowing what I was doing, as if I was glancing at the wall with disinterest rather than reading the instructions before my maiden parachute jump.

Then I jumped. Well, I bunged a few Xs in the appropriate places, hardly a parachute jump to be honest.

As I left I was accosted by the chap at the front, the one who'd watched to make sure I put the ballot paper in the box properly. It sounds easy but you'd be surprised at how nervous I was about doing it correctly.

"Excuse me, can I ask you a question" the chap said.

I baulked that little bit, thinking that it was inappropriate for one of these official fellows to ask who I'd voted for.

"Have you got a brother?" he continued.

"Erm yes" I said. Cleverly. Not that either of their names is actually "Cleverly", like Beverley, which seems to be a name strangely popular among Sri Lankan men. Why is this? I've never met a white man called Beverley but have known three Sri Lankan males with the B moniker.

Turns out that the chap went to school at my old school and was a classmate of Music Biz bro. We had a little catch up talk and then parted.

And that was it. On the way out the sweet old woman asked me the same question as she had on the way in, then realised her mistake and apologised profusely.

Off I went with a total lack of ink marks applied to any of my fingers, or even those of my grandmother.

As I write this the country has been enveloped by a certain eerie calmness. Campaigning is over and I guess many people are still to vote. It's three or four hours until the post election results programmes begin on all the TV channels and each of them attempts to parade the most eye catching technology and the best analysis.

Once the counts start to come in all hell will break loose. Every expert in the country will be predicting all sorts of things and swingometers will be swinging more than King Louie out of Jungle Book on a banana hunt.

But one thing I reckon is a certainty.

Tomorrow, or today, whatever the result, whoever we decide we want in charge of the country, and it will be our decision, the loser won't be arrested and charged with, well, unknown charges.

Hmmm....democracy. I think I like it, though I prefer string hoppers.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lately In The Lankanosphere....

You know what? It's been almost six months since I last did one of these. Sorry about that, I blame it on the sad loss of my moving tag cloud, which has now been resurrected, thanks to the Goddess like Amanda Fazani and her highly advanced huge big massive brain.

What's been going on in these months? Well in life there have elections of the Presidential and Parliamentary variety. Much to the surprise of, well, no one really, MR won everything, though he failed to win first prize in the under ten section of the Petersham Flower show in 1976. Oh yes, that was won by me, for my balsa wood ship.

On the Lankan blogging side things have been subdued. I've been pondering on the future of blogs quite a bit and have a draft post about the matter soon to be finished, but it's clear that the old favourites now surface sporadically, a word I rather like to use. Sporadically.

Indi has abandoned the popular post feature on Kottu and the message at the time told us that it was because of misuse. In all honesty I wonder if this has has an effect on the Lankanopshere, at least the element of it that's listed on Kottu. Misuse and click abuse, assuming those are what Indi referred to, are bad, evil and false but Kottu lost a bit of interactivity and a certain sense of friendly competition when those "most popular" posts and blog things went.

I guess that no one has been able to come up with a workable suggestion as an alternative, which might be a huge help to Indi. It certainly seems that Kottu is a bit of a list of blogs these days, too objective for some? Pray tell, what do you think on this?

And talking of the Kottumeister, well he's been off travelling for a bit and has regaled us with some fascinating observations and stories of his adventures. However, I was blown away by one of Indi's pictures, this one here. Check it out, it's special, one of those that makes me feel all excited. On the writing side this post, on Sri Lankan driving made me chuckle like it's going out of fashion and smile in that patronising way, the way we all smile when we spot white people in their van on their way from the airport and see the look on their faces as they witness Lankan roads for the very first time.

Drama Queen, or DQ or Hissyfits, whichever moniker she likes, has been back and as funny as ever. Her post here gives us mere mortals some helpful and brilliant advice on how to deal with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Among other things she suggests we fight, drink, become a nun, see a psychiatrist, poo or do any mixture of them. Read the post if you want to laugh.

Darwin, probably the best parasitologist I know, has finished her thesis and is sort of enjoying the freedom. Good luck for tomorrow Darwin!

Lady Divine, who recently won the much coveted Blog of the Year award in that highly prestigious awards ceremony, has just celebrated her twenty sixth birthday and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Her mother has been doing her utmost to marry her off but our LD has resisted bravely and is still with us in the world of single people.

And on the same day The Auf, that legendary figure who even Chuck Norris admires, celebrated four years of blogging. It seems that May 3rd is a celebratory day all round. I've had the privilege of getting to know The Auf recently and he truly is one of life's deep thinking but nice fellows. I reckon I could take him in a fight though.

Makuluwo continues to churn out funny posts in her unique style on a regular basis. This post about writing is particularly good but you can pick any one of her nuggets and be sure to get a good dose of hilarity out of it.

T, the Dance In A Triangle T, not the other one, has been getting used to life back in the US of A, but also delving into her memory banks and giving us some stories of her travels in Sri Lanka. This postlet contains some photographs that have captured the Sri Lankan light brilliantly. The bluer than blue skies and the warmth of that sun just seem to shine through. Then there's this post, with its picture of what must surely be the best named Police post in the world. I might ring them just to hear the way they answer the phone.

Of course in recent months the Lankanosphere has been filled with posts on politics, Generals, Presidents and the like. I won't tell you much about them, on the one hand because it all seems so in the past now, on the other hand because you've probably read the ones you wanted to.

It's a bit old but this post by Serendib Isle caught my eye big time. I actually disagree with SI's take on the matter but he's one of those mature bloggers who I always feel I can disagree with without running the risk of falling out or entering into a war of (swear) words and insults about my mother and heritage in general. The graph he has included is very thought provoking and, for me, one of the biggest things it shows is that Sri Lanka's level of corruption is pretty damn high whichever way you look at it or whoever you ask.

There have been a lot of new blogs hitting the Lankanosphere and frankly most of them have been unimpressive in my humble O. There is one that grabbed me by the proverbials as I was doing my usual morning routine of pretending to be doing important stuff at work whilst actually reading blogs. It's this one, called Shooting Up The Place, by a fellow called Geeshan.

He tells us that he's a photojournalist and by golly he really is. The Lankan blogosphere is rife with chaps who can narrate a damn fine story, some even as wittily as myself, and even rifer with other geezers who can paint with light and some glass and some bits with Nikon or Canon stamped all over them. But it's rare to find someone who can do both and Geeshan is one of these examples. Or two of them.

I might be biased for I've always been a sucker for a decent picture set against a black background. Check his stuff out for yourself though, I guarantee you'll like it too. I'll be checking into his blog regularly.

And those are the ones that have captured my imagination lately. Click on the links, peruse the blogs, leave lots of comments on them and argue with people in a polite non name calling fashion. If you want more then set your browser to warp factor Kottu and explore there.


PS - I've just been told that my first prize in the 1976 Petersham Flower Show under ten section is "being investigated". Damn, I knew it wouldn't last. Some bloke with a big moustache has complained that the ballot was rigged or something.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh No, Another Boy!

You know how I told you about K and the boy Z here? Well he's still around, more than ever actually. K spends about twenty six hours a day communicating with the fellow in some way or another. Most of the the time it's via MSN or Facebook, with breaks in which they resort to phone calls or texts.

After some reluctance and failure to accept things I'm now getting used to the situation. It's one of K being physically in the room but not really in it whenever she's with me, or not with me, if you see what I mean.

Z is seemingly quite a decent sort of kid, in that grungy hasn't washed for some weeks but only looks like that because he really washes every day or his Mum will ground him big time, sort of way. And he still plays the drums. So he's alright, in as far as boyfriends, a word I use with the greatest of discomfort, for one of my daughters go.

For fourteen years I was the most important man in K's life. I got used to the position, that of authority, wisdom and influence. I got used to being the man in her life. Then, even though this whatever you might want to call it with Z, might only last for a matter of the tiniest fraction of K's life, I became redundant. Redundant that is in all but the supply of money, it seems I'm still good for that.

Still life sailed on with me getting used to my new position with the comfort of thinking that girls and their Dads are always okay in the end. As I told you here there are positives to the new situation anyhow. Then, some weeks ago, I became ever so slightly conscious of A, the older sister, getting just that little bit more moody than normal.

Most of you girls will know that to notice a fifteen or sixteen year old girl becoming a bit more moody than normal is akin to spotting that driver, the one on the Galle Road in the rush hour, using his horn a bit much. Or to spot a Leopard and criticise him for being a bit evasive. So I hadn't paid much attention to A and her change in behaviour.

Then she mentioned him, several times in one morning. In that casual, dropping him oh so nonchalantly into the conversation so my Dad will get used to it but won't suspect anything kind of way. He's called F, he likes Muse, but I don't fall for tactics like that, and for several weeks he's made guest appearances in conversations between A and I that he's really had no right to be in.

As well as being the birthday of the legendary Lady Divine, yesterday was also A's birthday, her sixteenth, which, as Indi would probably say, kinda freaked me out like. In the morning I popped round there to say happy birthday, to A's place that is, not Lady D's. The door was opened by A, dressed up to the nines because F was coming round as he wanted to "talk" to her about something.

She was wearing more make up than one of those perfume girls in a department store who's decided to go for an interview to be Ronald McDonald. She was glammed up, as her Dad it shocked me, in a nice way.

As the father of girls this is what we have to contend with; the thought of some teenage scamps sniffing around your offspring, trying to do all the things that we used to try with girls and being all manly when their voice has barely broken. It's weird. We want them to grow up, we feel proud of them and happy to watch them mature. But damn, it's a challenge sometimes.

Oh well, at least F likes Muse.