Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Things About Being Brown

This whole being brown business is quite good isn't it?

Growing up and going to school in London in the 1980s meant that I witnessed a fair bit of racist tendencies; the rise of the National Front and a few racially lead riots and skirmishes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I witnessed any of the riots first hand, god no, we were far too middle class for that! But there was a bit of "racism" at school, which people grew out of after they matured a bit. They're now all politicians, heads of police forces, newspapers and those other places where racism, bigotry and corruption just don't exist.

Since those days though I can honestly say I've always felt quite glad to be a brown fellow.

It's not one of my favourite colours though. I like a decent pair of brown shoes, preferring them over black except when the need to be very formal crops up. I do own some miscellaneous brown clothes, but I can't see myself ever buying a brown car. Red, as far as cars go, and usually they do, is my most bestest favouritest choice.

In as much as skin colour goes I'm pretty pleased with the brown option. Black is nice. I prefer the look of brown but I'd quite like the natural rhythm of a black person. Instead most of us brown people are born with a natural ability to dance like a pissed up Sri Lankan Uncle at a second cousin's brother's wife's daughter's wedding. Which is a bummer. On the other hand we don't have the big nostrils, which is good.

I fail to understand why some people buy and use all these products to make themselves whiter. Seriously, what's all that about, we've got the perfect tone already, why do you want to look white?

I see white people sunbathing, working on their tans and spending days and weeks trying to look more like us. And, though some health freak will no doubt comment and say that we should do, we never have to use all that sunblock and whatnot, because we don't get orange in the sun. Not that we sit in it for hours anyhow.

The other day, which is why I started to write this in the first place, I saw a friend, of the white variety. It was in January and she'd just returned from a Christmas holiday in Goa. She'd evidently spent a large part of this holiday doing some of that aforementioned sunbathing (which means I mentioned it before).

How do I know this?

Well I'll tell you how I know this.

I will so.

She was bright fucking orange.

I kid you not.

Bright luminous intense orange. I mean so bright and so orange that if I was looking for a nice juicy orange to play the part of a nice juicy orange in an advert I was filming for some new orange juice made from special genetically modified orange oranges, then I'd use her as an example of how orange I'd need him (or her) to be. Then I'd day, well actually we need him (or her) to be about half that strength of orangeness.

And she was clearly proud of the colour too. I shook my head in that bemused fashion.

It's good to be brown. Even if we can't dance.

Monday, February 27, 2012

So RD, Are You Still Blogging?

I visited some old friends the other day. I don't mean that they're very old in terms of age, just that I've known them for a long time, like probably longer than you are old.

We chatted about all things Sri Lankan, about the fact that the things that are generally good for the country; hotel prices rising, cost of living going up (debatable), more tourists everywhere etc, are not necessarily good for the individual, yet that is progress. At least it is according to most people.

And then J said to me "Are you still blogging?", which was a major surprise of a question.

Why, I hear you ask. Well firstly because I was totally unaware that J knew about my blog. My memory can be weird, so frankly I can't be sure when or if I'd ever told J about it, but at that point I'd hadn't realised she knew. So, and sorry if I'm rambling incoherently here, she had been happily sitting in the venn diagram circle containing people who are unaware of my blog until asking the question.

But, you know me. I'm used to reacting quickly, like a bloke with a super agile and highly trained what's it called. Brain, that's it. And within minutes, a mere thirty or so, I'd regained my composure and looked calm and collected, albeit in a not being able to think of an answer sort of way.

Then I realised that I had to think of my answer.

"Are you still blogging?" The question echoed around my head. Had it been flung at me a few months, perhaps even weeks ago, my answer would have been an emphatic and resounding yes. But these days I'm just not sure.

The Lankanosphere has changed and morphed into a very different beast to the one it was a few years ago. The new Kottu is great, I really like what Indi and his team of Neeks have done to it, but the blogs, apart from the old favourites like LD and Cerno, just don't interest me. I'm not making judgements or criticising, it's just that not many of them grab my attention. Are they good blogs? Largely yes, they are, just not for me.

And most people these days would rather whack out a little Tweet or put something up on Facebook than take the time to write out a nicely thought out blog post, one with proper words and sentences.

But I quite like the thought of being one of the last men standing. Blogging seems to have shifted its position in the cyberworld, from something that everyone was doing because, well, because everyone was doing it, to something that is now only done by the specialists and real enthusiasts.

My answer to the question?

Yes, I'm still blogging.

I just need to think about some things to write about now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blokes I'd Like To Beat Up

You know me, I'm not a violent type. If I was, then my lack of technique would deem me to be an unsuccessful one. But now and again I come across a chap, or some fellows, who bring out David Blacker type feelings in me. By that I mean I just want to beat them up, not other things along sexual themes, before you wisecrack. And I don't mean I'd like to beat David Blacker up either. If I even dreamt of beating him up I'd have to apologise when I woke up.

There I was the other week at a meeting. It was one of those quite boring yet quite interesting industry meetings; the sort in which the content can be fascinating but the delivery and the people who do the delivery can induce sleep in the most insomniacal of people. It's a meeting that I go to about once a quarter and, as a result, I've got to know the other people there quite well.

There's one bloke in particular who makes me have violent thoughts. Every little thing about him, from the way he walks to the way he talks to the way he forks, they all get on my nerves.(I couldn't think of any other word to rhyme there, sorry about that) He's the human equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard; intelligent and bright yet annoying like a fuckpig.And of course, as is the case with these annoying types, he loves the sound of his own voice. Give him the slightest chance to talk and he'll take it and run miles carrying it in his arms before anyone else has the slightest chance to catch up.

We came to one point on the agenda, as yes, it's one of those meetings that even has an agenda, and he began to pontificate. Then, he started to talk and I'll quote him word for word:

"Blah, blah blah murmur, murmur, blah blah, blah, hissy fit, blah reciprocity"

"Eh" I thought to myself. For I've read it a few times, but as far as I could recall, I'd never actually heard the word "reciprocity" used in real life. I never even knew that the last two syllables in the word were pronounced like "city" instead of "kitty". But seriously these types who chuck in big flashy words when simple ones, albeit more of them, would do just as good a job, what are they like?

Then, not a few minutes later, though it was a few minutes later, he went off on another one, this time talking about something else, and topped the previous sentence. It went like this, verbatim:

"Blah, blah blah, murmur, murmur, blah blah, blah, hissy fit, blah symbiocity"

Seriously, I kid you not. Presumably just in case anyone hadn't fully grasped what a wanker he is from his use of "reciprocity" he wanted to make sure by using "symbiocity".

I'd like to beat him up. Simple really.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pet Linguistic Hates

I'm quite fussy about my words I am. I'm not very good at them, nor do I proclaim myself to be some kind of authority on all things wordy (except in private of course), but there are things I like and things I abhor.

I like a good apostrophe, one thats' thrown in at the right place (did you see what I did their?), and proper and correct use of the words "there",  "their" and "they're". But, as Mr Wittekind, my rather inspiring old English teacher used to say, it's all communication and the point of it is to make people understand each other. So, as long as that happens, let's not get too anal about things.

Some things though just get on my fucking nerves. Simple. Here's a list of them, one that I reserve the right to change my mind about at any point in the future, or in the past, but only after, perhaps before, we've sorted out time travel:

"Can I get? / Can I ask?" - You know when someone says "Can I ask how old you are?" Well the only proper way to answer the question is to say yes or no. Perhaps "of course you can, go on then?" might also be used. And when you're in a coffee shop and say "Can I get a cappuccino, hold the tomatoes?" Well I'd just love the server to say "Yeah of course you can, it's over there, help yourself".

"It's a big ask" - The most frustrating thing about this phrase is that I've caught it creeping into my own language recently. Well I don't want it in my arsenal of phrases. It's not an "ask", it's a question, perhaps a request. As far as I'm concerned the word "ask" is a verb. Is it really that much more effort to say one more syllable and use "question"? I request you. And seriously, why is it that so many black people can't say "ask"?

"Is liking" - This is a dodgy one. Of course I blame that Justin Timberland and his McDonald's adverts, but that's another issue. I suppose, taken to extremes, if a person likes something but on an ongoing basis, like the weather at the moment or the pants I've been wearing for the last few days, then it's okay to use, as the act of liking has happened but is also continuing to happen. And, while I'm on the subject of the weather, it's bloody freezing here right now. But, if you "liked" something you saw yesterday, then just don't say that you're "liking" it. Why? Because it's wrong and we're not Americans around here now are we?

"International standard" - I reckon any Sri Lankan will understand why this fills me with strangely mixed feelings of frustration. It shouldn't be the case that some things made and / or sold in the motherland fall, or don't fall up to "international standard". The very use of the phrase implies that there is one standard for things sold within Sri Lanka and another for those sold outside Sri Lanka. Yet so often it's true and I wish it wasn't. I suppose it's entirely correct in terms of linguistics, I just wish it wasn't used, that's all.

"Safe haven" - A haven is a safe place. So why on earth is everyone's current favourite phase the aforementioned one?

"Overused cliche" - My dictionary tell me that a cliche is "a word or expression that has lost much of its force through overexposure." So, by definition a cliche is overused. Just say the word "cliche" then. The time you save in not using the word "overused" can actually be put to use when you start to use the word "question" instead of "ask". There's a thought.

What are your pet linguistic hates then?