Friday, November 1, 2013

Paddy Fields of Sri Lanka

Paddy (similar to rice) grows in the hill country of Sri Lanka, a small island just underneath India and run by China. White flags made of old material like T shirts, trousers and sometimes even sarongs; a traditional form of dress worn by locals and tourists, fly in the traditional manner. Ancient hills, soon to be demolished to make way for a shopping mall, are layered in the background.

Taken with a camera and a lens at f4.67 and 1/500th of a second.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awkward Coincidences

I had a gig last week with the Tina Turner tribute band I've been playing with for about a year now. It's not the most taxing gig in the world musically but I enjoy it and figure it's a step on my musical journey into obscurity.

On the afternoon of the gig I noticed that a friend of a friend (we're talking Facebook here so they're not real friends of course) had put up a link to the event. I glanced at the friend of a friend's profile and saw something strange; we had two mutual friends, one of whom was the singer in the Tina Turner band and entirely expected under the circs. The other though was a girl I used to go to school with, going back, and I hesitate before saying this, but I'm a man renowned for my bravery so I will anyhow, about 32 years.

This old school friend, for the purposes of this post, we'll refer to as FS. But, this being Facebook and virtual life, meant that of course I wasn't really a friend of hers at school even. No, she bunged me a friend request on FB some time ago, I responded in the affirmative and we've been mutual stalkers ever since, even though I'm not sure if we ever exchanged a word at school.

You see she was one of those sorts who hit puberty about twenty years before the rest of us did, around the first year when she must have been about twelve. There were about 4 or 5 girls who suddenly got breasts, high heels and boyfriends who had failed the audition for Grease, but only just. The rest of us were content to focus on our masturbatory careers and cultivate an interest in music. Things, I'm pleased to say, that have stayed with me all my life.

But the thing is, we just looked at these 4 or 5 girls with a mixture of lust and admiration, while they just looked at us with a mixture of scorn and, well, scorn. Then we left school and went on to live lives.

Fast forward to 32 years and some hours later...

We finished the first set and I went over to chat to the landlady of the pub. She was blonde and loud, she probably still is even five days later, and I had discovered that she was the person who put up the FB post, the one who knew FS.

"So how come you know FS?" I asked, in that making conversation sort of way that chaps like me are so good at.

"FS?" she said. "Do I know FS? Blimey, she's my niece."

She pointed to a bloke a few feet away and summoned him.

"B, he knows FS" she said, pointing to me.

B then told me that FS is his niece, that she was in the pub only last week and all sorts. They were actually around the same age and good friends, because of a long complicated story that I won't tell you.

I was fascinated by this coincidence and ready to finish the conversation and go off and retune my floor tom. You know how it is when you've put new heads on your toms but you're just not quite happy with the tuning.

Then, before you could say "Odel car park" B had pulled out his mobile and was calling FS. I held on to the vague hope that it was just to tell her the story, but it was just that; a vague hope. He handed me the phone, totally oblivious to the rabbit in the headlights look from me.

Well me and FS had a chat, both of us pretending that we had been friends at school, catching up on things that:

a - neither of us were really interested in
b - we more or less knew from FB anyhow

At one stage I even apologised to her, saying that I'd told B we weren't good friends and this is a bit embarrassing. Well at least I didn't go all British on her.

Surprisingly we didn't finish the phone call promising to keep in touch or go out next Wednesday.

But I did think that I should be a bit more careful about these things in future...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Still Here Cerno!

Thanks for remembering me Cerno. And I am still around, just resting. I even started to write a post yesterday, my first one in months, then abandoned it as I froze. Not literally of course. Well it was literally, in that it pertains to writing, but not literally in a hot vs cold sort of way.

I miss the old Sri Lankan blogging days too, the blogs of interest, written with wit, sarcasm, intelligence and drugs (hello Java!). But times change and blogs seems to be left for the conscientiously dedicated sorts, the specialists and the professionals like Indi.

Lots of things have been going on in the RD life since we last met. A, the eldest daughter, is about to begin University in Sept and is just about to finish her gap year. K is halfway through her A levels and currently on "holiday" in Malia, that place where The Inbetweeners film was set. If I remember correctly they were probably about ten and twelve when you first encountered them.

The post divorce father's life is one of continual surprise and evolution and I think it's reached a certain level of balance. The hardest thing for me is not being involved in day to day events and happenings in the girls' lives. As teenagers they of course don't do conversations unless they're by text or messaging on their devices with friends, so I don't get to 'soak up' that knowledge about them that I probably would if we lived together. But it's my bed I know, so I'm just telling you how it is.

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of Black Monday and it's fitting to write some words. Groundviews has published a special feature which is almost compulsory reading.

My relationship with the Motherland continues to evolve. Love, hate and everything in between those two extremes continue to feature heavily in that relationship. Above all I remain glad that Sri Lanka is such a big part of my life.

Oh I finally had that tattoo done as well. Here it is:

With apologies if I put you off your lunch!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Back To The Grind

Monday morning and I'm back at my desk after a week in the motherland. Damn.

Yesterday was evidently my honeymoon period of being back. The weather was lovely in that very British clear blue sky with a crisp cold to the air way, I was pleased to see K, who popped round to see me and, though I missed C, I felt abundant about my two "home" countries. Which was nice.

I've reached a new mindset that helps me understand my thoughts and feelings about Sri Lanka. I can't tell you about it because it might offend you, but it's a mental framework that is enabling me to look at Sri Lanka, at how life goes on and people behave there (here), in a way that I accept things without getting wound up and pissed off by them.

Food is a funny old thing isn't it? Overall I'd take Lankan food over Brit food any day, yet there are definitely a few things I miss when in the Paradise Isle; a decent burger being one of them.

I still haven't tried one of Burger's King's highly rated offerings but other than that I think I've tried most of the well known ones. Last week it was the turn of the Sugar Bistro's famous Sugar Burger, a name I've always treated with suspicion for it just sounds wrong to me, the type 2 diabetic.

I was warned that I'd probably be disappointed by it when ordering,but felt that I needed to try it for myself. And, while the rest of the party tucked into some delicious looking and even more delicious tasting steak sandwiches, I tried my utmost to enjoy my Sugar Burger yet failed with huge success.

The problem? It was the burger or the beef bit itself. It was mushy and somewhat paste like and had none of the hearty meatiness that you find in burger patties here in the decent places. This might be to do with the local palate, as it's a phenomenon I've encountered frequently, I just don't know. The fillings were okay, no more, no less and the cheese was awful.

Enough complaining though. I had rice and curry that I can only dream of when I'm here in London, I gorged myself with string hoppers and prawn curry as if, well as if I was only going to have a week there before flying back home, I had one lunch that consisted of two Lamprais followed by chocolate biscuit pudding ( as a diabetic I have to hold back sometimes!) and I generally ate a delectable feast of food that I'll pine for as I steam into my Tesco's sandwich at lunchtime.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

You And Your "Little" World


I wonder what you might think of this; I often ask my girls what's happening in their life. And, I usually say

"So, what's going on in K's world?" Or "What's happening in A life?"

To me, those specific wordings sound good. I feel as if they give attention to the people concerned and usually generate an interesting (to me) response. Except of course when the TV is on or when one of them has a laptop, iPad or mobile phone to hand. Which is hardly ever, as you'll know if you've ever spent any time with teenage girls. If you're American then at this point I strongly suggest you look up the definition of the word "sarcasm".

The other day someone, someone who I think genuinely cares for me and whatnot, asked me an almost identical question yet it angered and annoyed me. I say "angered and annoyed" and I mean that in an internal sense. I didn't erupt or show any outward anger, I just inwardly rolled my eyes and sighed a little bit, then replied rather nicely. Nor did I dwell on it. Much.

The actual question?

"So RD, what's been happening in your little world then?"

It was the one word; little, that pissed me off. I found it patronising and belittling. As if "my" world is a small one that has no relevance to the real world. Which of course is true, but one doesn't just go out there and say  it. I wouldn't meet a fellow and ask him what was going on in his insignificant life, even if I don't care much for what has happened to him lately.

And yet I realise it's not very different to the way I'll ask my girls the same thing.

What do you think? Would it affect you too?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oooh David Blacker, You're So Cute!

Yes, a bit of an attention grabbing headline I know. But still, we're here now.

I have a question for you; why is it that women, or females as they're often referred to, continually congratulate each other on their beauty and looks (mostly on Facebook admittedly) whereas as us blokes never do?

Time after time I see photos of ladies and time after time I see lists of comments and likes, some of which will be by men but most will be by women.

It's rarer than a tax concession on importing racing cars to a recently war torn country to find a picture bunged up by a bloke of himself that's adorned with comments by other chaps saying things like:

"You're so beautiful boy", "You've got beauty both inside and outside", or simply "3>" or however the hell you do those heart things.

I'm seriously thinking of spending a day writing these soppy messages on all my male friends' walls, just to see what the reaction is.

Why do women do it?

Please tell me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year, New Post

Now that I've joined the ranks of infrequent bloggers, those chaps who crop up on your feed every now and again and you ignore anyhow, I struggle for inspiration in things to jot about.

It's definitely nothing to do with a lack of things going on in my, or your, world. There's plenty going on all over the show. Only a few hours ago we had this helicopter crash in central London and all the associated shenanigans. And of course if I'm ever really in need of a post I can always bung something out that either slags off Muslims or Islamaphobia. Either one works.

But no, it's just that I'm out of practice in the art of looking at life as it goes by and trying to pass on my observations to you, the reader. I'll keep trying, in this old fashioned blogging format that kids these days have only heard about from their grandparents.

I spent the best part of last week holed up in the recording studio of a rather famous band whilst The Breaks recorded an album of sorts too. We had a huge amount of fun and I learned loads of things about my own playing as well as things I need to work on.

The end result will be (touch wood) a mini album of eleven songs, all of which I know I'm going to be very proud of.

This was the third time I've been in a studio to record and for as many bands also. Was that a really crap sentence? I'm unsure. Anyhow, each time it's been a fairly major event for me and the people with me. I don't know if you've ever done it but I'll explain in case you're one of those that haven't.

You see first of all you bond in a way that famous touring bands get to do every day, or at least every day they're on tour. The thing is that most of us musician types aren't famous. We work, have families, jobs, mortgages and day to day shit to deal with and we fit in our passion for music around it all. So when we gig it's something that slots in between all the other stuff.

Going away for a few days with bandmates gives a rare chance to feel what it must be like to go on tour for an extended period when you're a proper music star. Except of course we don't have groupies and our choice of drugs was based around daily vitamin requirements, managing diabetes and dealing with morning headaches caused not so much by copious volumes of alcohol but by a couple of glasses of lager followed by one of wine.

And even after a few days, even though I'd have classed us all as pretty close friends anyhow beforehand, we became closer, more tight both personally and musically.

But really, it was fucking brilliant. Getting to record, to analyse my own playing in a studio environment, is so different to listening to and analysing a live recording. Gigs are moments in time that pass and are then left behind in history. Sure there might be a recording on a camera phone or a video of a gig but they're just images of moments gone by.

There's something different about recording songs in a studio. You want to do the absolute best you can for the sake of posterity. Whatever is on the final cut is there for eternity, or maybe even longer, and it's got to be good. That's just my opinion and others might differ, but I want my recordings to be good. Not perfect though. I'm not sure if I believe in perfection in music. One of the beauties in music is in the imperfections, the  gaps, the ever so slight shifts in tempo, the things that fall in the cracks rather than always on the beat.

And you also want to do your best for your bandmates. It's not spoken about as the sense of team overrides that of the individual by a large margin, but I'd be lying if I said there was no sense of competition. All of us wanted to get our individual parts done as competently and quickly as possible and no one wanted to be the class dunce, the one who just couldn't keep up to scratch. On this occasion we didn't have a class dunce. Next time it might be different.

I got back home on Sunday night and I'll confess that I felt a bit sad. All the others went back to their families; the wives and kids, to catch up on what they'd been doing, how their rugby and football, guitar lessons and things had gone. I attempted to make contact with my girls, who were both wholly uninterested in what I'd been doing anyhow, then rang my parents who bizarrely enough seemed the same. C was in Singapore and eight hours ahead so there was no chance of any interaction there. Long distance relationships would be so much easier if it wasn't for the long distance bit.

But that is one of the things I've observed about post divorce life for a mid forties bloke in London in a long distance relationship; everyone here has their nest, their castle and it's as if they're attached to it by a long piece of elastic. In Sri Lanka it's different and I know not for why. Perhaps the weather is a big factor. It's so much easier to go out and socialise if it's warm and sunny and you don't have to consider which overcoat to wear and how many layers you'll need underneath it all.

Still I booked a flight to the motherland the other day and can't wait to see so many people.

Isn't it funny. I spend the whole of my life living in London and all of a sudden I realise I have more friends in Sri Lanka, a country I've never actually lived in, than I do here.

Weird shit. Or vut to doo as you would say.