Wednesday, December 31, 2008
You have enriched my life, opened up new worlds to me and I am grateful for that
Black Stiletto's, Lady Divine, DeeCee, Gutter Flower, Pissu Perera, Drama Queen, Sach, Queen From Another Planet, HUG
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I detest seeing caged animals and my heart cry's to see a bird caged - how can you cage something that can fly?!
Yesterday on my way back we came across a tree hung with tiny bird cages, in one a little bird, desolately peaking away at a dried corn cob...
My thoughts were on it as we ran our errands returning to the car to drive home... the engine turned once and died. Not a light to be seen, not a sound or a hum....
Sitting around waiting for help to arrive, we ended up buying the little prisoner; no good deed goes unrewarded because a few mints later as I desolately poked around the engine, the damn car started!
I had yet to hear the little fellow sing, it looked so sad...
Arriving home the cage was eventually dismantled and our new friend persuaded to come out... amazingly as it flew to a branch close by it began to sing!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Truth is it is justified, its been a while since I've posted here and now when I think about it, I'm not sure why I haven't either.
In my defense is the excuse that nothing much has really been happening to me - I've settle down into a routine of sorts, up at 430 to coffee, toilet, shave and shower; at my little desk by 5am, to wait in anticipation to see if I actually have internet access. Its a good day if I do which means I get to down load my mail, load around in cyber space and get into verbal exchanges with DP about cooking and driving.
Sometime after breaky I amble off down to the market place to hang around trying to look busy - which am mostly not really.
Its strange that not a day goes by when I don't think about 'her' though... last week, on the 10th to be precise I suspect that something was happening with and around her. I had switched on the radio here, to listen to as I worked and during the space of a couple of hours I hear songs that I had come to associate with what was/is us. Music that she introduced me to, music with lyrics that touched what we were... music that is us. And when I heard Dido's White Flag playing, I knew that there was more happening at that moment.
I'm waiting for the year to end, I'm waiting for an opportune moment to ask for leave so that I can haul my ass back home to SL to see my beloved Kos, to play with my dogs, to see the lush green that is SL.
And travel! Plans afoot for a a drive to Accra and then on to Lome, perhaps Nigeria and if the gods kind, to South Africa and Mozambique too! Toes crossed!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Anyway, reading my own effort a little while later, one line leaped out at me and touched me - I've loved you forever
I have, I always will
The last few months have been one day after another, going through the motions of an existence.I miss her and feel the awful pain of knowing that I had my chance and lost it.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Correspondence takes up a couple of hours, a drive into town kills another three, after that?
Hmmm... opportunity I guess
Friday, November 28, 2008
First 1st was driving cross border from Burkina Faso to Niger - a distance of some 360 odd km covered in 6hrs including stops for breakfast, border controls and toll gates.
1st number two was changing a flat tire in Niger - I've changed punctured tires before, just never did it in Niger till yesterday
Number three was a ride in a pirogue along the Niger River... paddle by a boatman who promised me hippos.
Returned home this afternoon, feeling rather pleased with myself and the fact that the car survived the trip too. That I drove there and back again, navigated the streets of a new city and managed not to get copped (well I did, twice but talked my way out of it)
And best of all two photographs I've been wanting to take for quite sometime - a Baobab tree at dawn and the border between Niger and Burkina Faso.
The two countries maintain their respective cross points about 10km apart, each one well withing the borders of their country. Perhaps its got to do with advance warning if an army invades I don't know.
Towards the center though are two boards, one welcoming you to Niger and the other to Burkina - and yet they are far apart.
The real point as far as I am concerned is the road. The two surfaces are discernible to the eye! www.flickr.com/photos/sigmadelta/3065879217/
Take a look, to the right is Burkina and the left is Niger
Monday, November 24, 2008
The weekend was spent in the outskirts of Ouaga, a little hotel in the village of Koubri.
A guest of my client here I was part of a group of 30 people who meet every year in celebration of birthdays and anniversaries.
For a loner such as me, such events can be painful and I am glad of the excuse I have to hide behind my lens...
Sunday morning I woke before dawn to stroll down to the lake and out on to the water. The next couple of hours were pure magic as I alternatively sat and stood, watching the light emerge, the sun come up. As I treated myself to this outrageous sunrise I listened to Ali Farka Toure, the ideal music for the moment.
My thoughts drifted into the past, the present and I wondered where my path would take me... certainly not where I thought it would six months ago... for that seems a dream now, that which seemed so attainable now so far beyond my grasp...
There is a new future ahead, I have to believe that, and I have to believe that I can make it, whatever it is
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I employ a cook - a girl of about 25 who came highly recommended - and truth is she is good. The deal is pay plus lunch provided.
This afternoon I decided to have cous cous as an alternative to rice. The fare was cous cous with diced tomatoes and sardines in a sauce - wholesome, tasty fare.
Tempted as i was to tuck in, mindful that there was one more to eat I restrained myself - you can imagine my surprise a little later on when I was asked for money to eat from out. The reason was that she did not eat cous cous! I was flabbergasted to say the least. Cous cous here eaten often enough, I could have understood it if it was a food completely alien to the culture, but its not!
Its attitude I presume, and its sad because I see it as an impediment towards bettering oneself... if you aint gonna manage with what you have how do you get the things you wont? This afternoon I got into a discussion over a jobless man washing windscreens at traffic lights. As I made to tell him to stop, my companion stayed me saying its better he does this than rob. I see the sense, but what he is trying to do is of no value to me, so why would I pay? because he 'worked'? I demonstrated my disdain for the argument by running my wipers and asking my friend to now pay me as I had performed the same service
Sunday, November 16, 2008
- Sharp knives
- Coconut milk and the powder ( I still don't know where it all fits in, but I'm sure it makes a difference)
- For all things fried!
- For dishwashers
- for all the things relating to cooking that I don't know
I've just made rice boiled with salted water, cloves and a chicken cube - it looks like kiri bath, I'm sure its supposed to be fluffy, drat, its burnt!
I'm boiling pieces of pork in salted water into which I've thrown in curry powder... I have this vague idea of frying after that with tomatoes, onions, garlic and parsley... having survived a premonition of a plane crash I might just do myself in trying to cook.
Wait, no need to panic, I have beer at home... a few of those and anything I cook should taste good - always, ALWAYS have a back up plan.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
'Talking Timbuktu' is a collection of music that "....shoved Ali Farka Toure to the forefront of African music paradoxically isolated him from his African roots and drove him to retreat from the world for years after its release. It was also, incidentally, a long-overdue synthesis that connected the dots between Delta Blues and West African music, with the help of co-conspirator Ry Cooder...."
One video link on the right
This is my forth time through this airport, the last not too far back, in October. Not much has seemed to change. Its a strange feeling to be thinking that I'm on my way home, to Ouagadougou Burkina Faso and not Colombo Sri Lanka - I don't know when I'll see the later... depressing, I've always loved SL, in spite of or perhaps because of my travels I've always loved coming back. Perhaps the only time I felt otherwise was returning for the last time from South Africa.
Plagued with respiratory problems for a year now, suffocating to death, unable to draw a breath has occurred to me - and given my occupation, the chances that if it does happen I'll be all alone even more morbid.
A few months ago I had a dream in which I was told that 'my end was near'... it must have been playing at the back of my mind for last night I dream't along the same lines where this old woman predicted my death today! Somehow the sum of Rs 250/- came up and, as the dream went, there was a chance that I might avoid the fates if someone were to give me Rs200/-.
And in my dream I received it - two hundred rupee notes from two people, old woman included. Two people who obviously could not afford to give such a sum. That I live in a part of the world where life is cheap, that death during the course of travel is not unusual is not a help. That I am scheduled to fly this evening is a little scary, given that I flew in on the same airline to one of the worst landings I ever had.
On giving, I am a believer in doing so, in what manner I can, however small it may be. I am not indiscriminate in doing so, choosing to evaluate carefully the impact more often than not.
To return to my dream; I woke up with these images in my head and to the thought that I had 200 bucks in my bag, that I needed to carry it with me. I probably sound real silly for doing so, but I just stuffed the two notes into my wallet; just in case they do help.
If shit happens, and someone reads this, well I guess there is a thing called premonition after all. If it does happen, I just want you to know that I so wish there had been another way of proving it and living to tell the tale too.
Friday, November 14, 2008
A meeting this morning, another later this afternoon, one more tomorrow - I wonder if time permits me to do a little site seeing? Have found an amazingly interesting Taxi Driver by the name of Alpha who's history is colorful to say the least. A Emerald trader now fallen on hard times. Fluent in English after many years in Zambia plying his former trade, deported now, legalities separating him from his Zambian wife and children he dreams of going "home' to them one day. In the interim, he ekes a living driving on the streets of Bamako.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My last Sunday was easily one of the most depressing days in my life, one where I found myself questioning my decision to move out here into Africa. Alone at home the entire day sans stimulation of any sort I raced into the bluest if funks leaving me curled up desperately trying to keep myself from screaming.
Imagine if you will finding yourself alone in an empty house, empty of books, music, a television, even decoration.Imagine being all alone with no one to talk to, the heat gradually rising to the its norm of 34c, not a soul around, not a sound but that of a buzzing fly. Imagine if you will, this situation for hours on end, endlessly slow hours one after the other. It speaks volumes that my mental status was such that it did not even occur to me to find oblivion in a bottle!
But I survived.
Me thinks the lack of work was it. Fortunately I am off tomorrow to Bamako Mali to see some clients.
Hopeful by the end of this week or early next I will have a car to call my own, ti sit in and pretend I am on the road somewhere.
PS: By the way, I had my first complete conversation over the phone in french today. So ok, it was like how are you and I am fine and by the way, I'm leaving for Mali tomorrow for a couple of day's. I'll call you when I get back... and no, I'm sorry but I will be out this evening kind of conversation - but hey, it was in french!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Time now perhaps to pen a few words about where I find myself - Ouagadougou (wa gaa doo goo), in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
The geographical heart of the region Burkina is a land locked country sharing its boundaries with 6 other nations - Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire. It may be one of the poorest nations in the world, but it's also one of the most stable in the region.
My markets, well the ones I'm responsible for are here in West Africa - Ghana, Burkina, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Senegal, The Gambia, Togo... Over the last three years I've traveled here, once a year for four to five weeks, awhile wind tour, meeting clients, looking at how things fare.
Along the way, I decided to make this hope and was rather surprised when things actually worked out in that fashion!
So here I am, and I am wondering today if I made the right call! Its damn hot, it was 40 this morning at 10am, and I just found out that the max temp hits 45 - 50 in May!
Truth though, I'm kind of happy... I like Africa and to live here is a just so great. Have rented a house a few km away from the city center, a decent enough it is - three rooms, living and dining, a small garden. I'm not gonna stave for I found a cook, though I've also discovered a liking to potting around the kitchen.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Castle beer in hand, I found myself living Brooks and Dan’s Neon Moon as it played in my ears – it was not long before I found myself lost in my memories.
T’was an hour or so later that I looked up a rather well endowed lady, who wanted to know if I would like some ‘companionship’. It was only after I had responded in the negative that it dawned upon me that there was more to the Avenue that I had realized in spite of the fact that I have been here so many times before.
It was kind of genteel really; a courteous question, a polite answer and life went on. I have to confess that I sat there downing one two many beers as I watched the activity around me, it certainly was an eye-opener!
Rolling to bed around mid night I, all was well till I decided to wake up the next morning to the mother of all headaches! I must be getting old if three bottles of beer do this to me.
Later that morning, walking back from the market place I was exhausted. The combination of heat, dust and my late night carousing found my energy sapped.
Damn landlady is still clearing the house up! I kind of had a nasty feeling that this would happen, but this is now and I am still penning yesterday down.
This was probably the first time in all these years that I’ve traveled Africa that I actually felt the effect of the heat – a combined effect I hope of my hang over, the lack of sleep, the heat and possibly age?
This morning (Friday the 1st of November) was spent picking up the bare essentials for survival – but I anticipate a few hungry nights ahead of me till I sort out the cook.
In a few hours from now, I’ll sit back and let my mind drift 11 months into the past and the 1st of December 2007. To a night that is indelibly a path of all that I am… I’ll never have the words to articulate that night, no matter how many times I draft the words they can never capture the essence of those hours and the path that it was to take me a long. If you read these words, know that I love you in ways that I can never love anyone else.
The arrangement was for me to take possession of the house this afternoon at 1530. Well I was certainly on time, regretfully my landlady not. I think I threw a spanner in the works for her by refusing to turn back, I’ve basically forced myself into the house and taken over a bedroom while they solder on! Damn if I’m gonne fork out another 80 bucks on top of the rent I’m paying for the house.
Been looking at vehicles too, a car is essential not only for work but for day to day existence. I’m too far away from the main road to be able to make hiking an option – a reason why I suspect there will be a few days that I go hungry for no other reason than having forgotten to plan my meals. Ce la vie and eat well when I can!
Sunday morning and I am mighty pleased with my new home. I’m yet to have it completely to myself but I have a extremely good feeling about the place – this feeling augers well for the future indeed.
Cook/ maid required, Night watchman required – two recommended, but at double what I was told to expect to pay…
I’ve wished I could write lucidly, passionately, meaningfully, alas, this ability seems beyond my reach. My attempts at prose have been, staid I would say with some qualification, that it has be uninspiring closer to the truth. It matters not really, for though I could not write a story, I do believe that I can write a missive of some elegance.
I must tell thee that as I tap away at the keys of my laptop I am nibbling away at what is an exquisite chocolate – a Mirabell. Soft, creamy, sweet…..
It’s hard to imagine that we are seven months through this year…. The days, weeks and months have flown and it seems that we are rushing pell mell towards the dawn of another. I wonder what our lives will be like 12 months hence. It’s a year since my return to this fair isle of ours, though that fairness is fast becoming tarnished given all the skull drudgery taking place.
The month of July has much to offer – the final Harry Potter, the third Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers last week, a weekend down south, roofing timber for the retreat and an invite up to the cool climes of the hill country, the proverbial cherry upon my cake!
I envy westerners; I envy them for their ability to enjoy life. I seem to spend far too a great proportion of life on everything but life. It was Lennon I think who said that life is what happens while one is making other plans – isn’t that true?! So, what do I intend to do about it? For one thing, I think I will try and give greater expression to my creativity through prose and the capturing of images. And for this, I believe I should hold thee responsible…
Monday, October 27, 2008
It does get tiresome I grant, especially the sitting around twirling my thumbs waiting on someone else. But that's just the boring part.
lets start off with Airports. They are kind of fun to hang around if a) there is free wi-fi and/or b) you have a good book and or c) its got stuff to look at and or d) there is air conditioning.
Watching people provides one with insights into people and some entertainment is wondering where they come from and where they go.
With advancing age, economy class airline seats are getting rather painful I grant. And somehow, all that neatly packed food they serve no longer quite does it for me anymore. I've lost the desire to consume alcohol on a flight preferring to stay with fruit juice and water with perhaps an occasional white rum and coke to help me sleep.
What still makes me high is walking along the street of a place I know is so far flung that there is hardly a chance of seeing a fellow countryman, and then, seeing in my minds eye, an image of me walking there, zooming out into space to show my location is relation to where I was born - a mental google earth if you like
So yeah, travel I do like. Different food, new people
Friday, October 24, 2008
Left Colombo on the 22nd, amidst a monsoon shower, I have to confess to feeling rather sad at the time, not knowing when I’ll be back next. Strange, in all the years I’ve taken a flight from there, this was the first time I felt so. Lot of things left behind this time, a less than perfect relationship with a mother who I adore but cannot seem to get along with, a rather dysfunctional family, one dear friend whose physical presence I will miss sorely and of course that path I wish I could walk with that one person.
I am trying to understand, how fates twisted path brought us so close and yet threw every possible obstacle in front of us. Was it to test our resolve, was I finally found wanting? I tried, god knows I did, bring my entire life to a point that I was tethering upon a step into the unknown. But she was not with me, her actions confusing, placing her self in situations that tore at me, fraying the edges of my soul; leaving me wondering if I was soon to find myself all alone, after risking it all for her!
I guess what ultimately broke me was when she asked me to go back, to try and make a go of it; did she know what she was asking of me when those words were written? I never got to see her after that; I haven’t seen her in months… I don’t know when, if at all I’ll see her again… a chapter done? Time will tell, One thing though, what was always, will always be, and that is how I feel about her.
4 odd hours to Dubai from Colombo, and a 15hr stay before my connection. Self imposed I have to admit, taking an earlier flight rather than having to make a mad dash from one gate to another with a mere two hours between.
Business Class lounge access makes the stay less than painful fortunate.
A small detour, to write a few words about laptops… My first one was a HP NX2500 which I got configured to my specifications. This was state of the art at the time in 2005 and one I was mighty please to lug around with me as I went about my work. Wife number one as it was fondly referred to. Over the years I’ve seen them getting smaller and smaller, and airports the best place to see what’s around… As I type this I see a Vaio bigger than mine to my right and a smaller Dell to my left.
Since getting up at 5am on the 21st I remained awake till around 10pm on the 22nd due to a combination of different factors. The tedium of the long hours broken by a shower, food, and a lot of time surfing the net down loading porn.
Landing in Accra, re united with my suitcase I was on my way to the Blue Royal Hotel in Ossu. I’ve taken to staying there as it’s a pleasant enough hotel, with Wi-Fi, close to the main road with friendly staff. I usually get a decent room with a large bed, comfy enough for me.
Ticket to Ouaga sorted out the next item on my agenda was to meet with a couple of clients… One a Ghanaian and the other a Guinean with whom I do business with in Guinea’s, Senegal and possibly Ghana in time to come.
Last evening was a bad one. I need to avoid such situations again. Sitting on the terrace of the food court drinking a beer I was suddenly struck by a terrible sense of melancholy… my thoughts drifting back in time as well as across the distance and of things that were, that are not.
Such moments are bad, there are dark soul ripping moments where I am utterly lost. It’s an effort at the best of times to hold the emotion back, when I am weak, I can be lost easily.
In an hour or so, my flight to Ouaga should take off. Shall post this as soon as time and a connection permits.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
I feel stupid when I get it wrong, and as I get it wrong more often than I get it right, this is really not good for what little ego I have.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday spent getting re oriented and then the summons - to be in India before the end of the week.
Visa in record time and I was soon off aboard a SriLankan flight direct to Mumbai, arriving there at the ungodly hour of 0230am after a 2hr something flight.
Its 1628 as I type this now and things have happened with almost unseeming haste - back to Africa I am to go, to set up the base for a permanent presence!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Flew in on the 14th from Accra arriving after sunset which was cause for some apprehension given the typical ‘Nigerian’ stories that you hear.
Except for a rather peculiar system of having your visa checked by one person who makes a note of how long you wanna stay, then going it to another guy who in turn passes it to another, meaning that immigration formalities require three people the rest was straight forward – oh yes, you get a trolley to haul your luggage only on payment of a small fee!
Another, pleasant surprise, the Naira is roughly a 117 to a USD, which kind of makes my rupee a, relatively, stronger currency.
First impressions of Lagos I have to say were rather bleak…. Tar, concrete, fly-ways, highways…. Most in a state of some disrepair or the other… Perhaps its my perception, given the cities I’ve been in during the last few weeks…. Lagos is too NYC for me.
The market place, typical of most African ones, the hustle and bustle of retail and wholesale business… again though, I lacked the usual sense of oneness I have with such places.
Day three and I was off to Kano, located in Northern Nigeria this is the hub for trading! The city sprawled across the arid landscape, the hot desiccating air, the dust blown from the deserts… certainly more Africa than Lagos was.
My first port of call o arrival was my reason for being here, to see the markets and what sell’s in it. Dele my guide was a refreshingly bright and articulate, a man I found to be immensely personable.
Kano apparently is a dived city between those of the majority followers of Islam and the minority following other religions. This division has tangible examples from parts of the city dominate by minarets to parts where the sky is broken by crosses. Where one to, and you hardly avid not doing so, cast a look upon the ground, the difference still prevails in the condition of the roads, tarred roads, lined by well maintained buildings in on quarter, rutted, dust tracks lined by shabby dilapidated concrete blocks. In one part Sharia law rules, in the other life lived to its fullest.
That evening I was treated to a few hours of jazz, followed by western pop and eventually leading to Afro beat music by a group that was a certainly enthusiastic.
I’m sorry that my stay is just one day.
By the way, another oddity, NONE of the toilets in the bathrooms seem to have seats!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
00:40 and I am in one of the most luxurious rooms I have ever been in - Its approximately the size of the living room back home, there is 45" flat screen across from where I sit, wifi, a jacuzzi in the bathroom... LOL
I'm well, a mite tired but happy with what has been achieved so far. Since leaving Guinea, I've been in Accra for a night before moving down the coast and across the border at Aflao to Lome this morning. I return to Accra tomorrow, and then on to Nigeria on Sunday for the last leg of my trip.
Sleep calls me, a call I heed more out of duty that desire this evening for I find myself contemplative, of my life and the turns it has taken.
I sense a decisive moment in time coming ahead....
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Africa is a great place; I want people to know that. Yes, you do hear awful tales of this scam, that scam or the other. But these are the things that grab headlines, the things that you need to be aware of but not let that spoil your experience of Africa.
I’v3etraveled on and off this continent since 2005 when I spent up to six months at a time in South Africa for two years. This included short jaunts into Kenya and Uganda subsequently followed by my annual whirlwind trips in WA – out of 17, I’ve been in 10 – Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo and further south to Angola. Yet to see are Mauritania, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, The Ivory Coast, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The people are friendly, genuinely so, even if they are begging. They are warm hearted, quick to laugh, most always with a smile, traits to be admired all the more given the extreme poverty the majority of the live under, the harshness of their lives and the challenges they face on a day to day basis. Poverty, inadequate health care poor economy’s are all challenges that they face as they try to get through each day on a little more than a couple of dollars a day.
But they are friendly, warm, easy to strike a conversation up with, curious about who you are and where you come from.
Use your common sense, don’t be a smart ars, carry a smile and patience, this is se l’afrique after all. Be aware that most people will try to make a buck off you, its up to you how you negotiate conditions… at the worst you’ll end up paying 50 to a 100 more perhaps. So read up, ask people how much things are generally. Travel guides are great guides; worth the investment if you are gonna spend more than a few days in one country.
I love art and try to pick up a piece each time I travel. I like bargaining too. Rule of the thumb for me is counter with 30% of the initial price. You’ll work your way up, the seller will work his way down. Eventually you end up at a price that you are as happy with as he is, even if he still got the better of you. Smile, its only money and what you just paid probably will feed him and his family for a couple of days at least.
It’s easy to love this place. If you come with favorable economic conditions then you can truly appreciate the beauty of Africa. If you have to fight for each day, then your perspective will certainly be different, that I grant.
Guinea’s airport certainly lives up to its description in Lonely Planet as chaotic – it was the usual free for all to claim your luggage and get past the security not paying any happy money. Confess to being in such a foul mod that I was willing to sit there and insist that my bags me looked at rather than pay a couple of bucks to be cut loose. It an indication of how pissed I was hat I was willing to do this with a smile and a laugh, just to prove a point.
I had asked my client to make a reservation for me and the truth is I was a mite concerned he might land me a in a hotel where the charges would be frowned upon by the ones who bear my costs – I really should not have. What I should have done was brought bug spray.
I’ll leave it there – I need a room to sleep in only. Though I am not looking forward to spending four days here, including a Sunday to my self.
That said, today, Saturday was an awesome one – It just so happened that my arrival coincided with the arrival of the first order that I had done for this client. The look on his face when the container was opened when he turned to me and said “you know to load a container’ was perfect. Its always been my mantra to have a ‘wow’ factor, to provide the client with what he wants and then something more. In this case, at our initial meetings he had mentioned almost in passing that he was not happy with the manner in which he’s previous supplier had packed and loaded his containers.
This was one was packed tight, almost 35 cartons more than he was used to, making his unit costs that much lower – wow factor!
Sunday morn in Conakry – did I mention that this city suffers from chronic power shortages, that usually there is NO power between 8am and5pm, that usually most hotels run gen sets? My hotel runs their set ONLY at night; I’m faced with a bleak day ahead of me once my battery runs down, this part of the city is incredibly short of anything to do – the only three things of interests so far are a) the Total Gas station, b) A Chinese – Vietnamese - Thai restaurant which I am yet to locate and c) a mini Super Market. I suspect that before the day is through, I will out of sheer boredom go eat yogurt. Let me go do some work…
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Ouagadougou International, waiting for my flight to Bamako Mali.
Its awfully hot in here, all the doors an windows sealed, AC knocked off; and to top it off I just sat down to a overpriced cup of Nescafe in the restaurant!
Damage/ lost so far one broken suitcase, a lost t shirt and one pair of broken spectacles – fortunately I carry a spare. But I am thinking that in future, for theses trips at least I need to have a pair with more robust frames.
On the plus side a fruitful trip so, and the most pleasant stay I had in Ouaga since I started travelling here.
To look forward to is a possible issue with my visa to Mali, its been over written and the guys here like to pounce on that when they get the chance. I got played out on my visa this time, in trying to procure a one year multiple entry I was over charged badly…. Now lets try explaining that to the office shall we?!
Last night I decided to treat myself to a decent meal. With hunger pangs like a starved hyena I eventually braved a break in the rain to make a dash down the main street on little motor-bike – riding one after ten years at least. The person riding pillion was in fits of laughter as I re learnt the manipulation required between breaks and gears. Destination reached in one piece, beating the next round of the down pour by mere seconds.
The restaurant of choice was one that served predominantly Italian cusine, pasta’s and a variety of grilled meats and pizza. T’was only after placing my order for a spaghetti cabonara that I realized that the pizza oven was an authentic wood fire one – next time!
My guest chose a grilled fish, accompanied with tomatoes and a sauce which had the gentlest hint of garlic to it, tantalizingly so.
As we dined the evening away in idle chit chat an unexpected bit of drama enacted across the open room from us. Seated alone at a table was a gentlemen who reminded me a of dear friend back in SL, an author of no mean repute, world traveler and the point of contact for all nationals form his home country in the entire south in the event of an emergency. But I digress, back to the Frenchman across the room.
A few minutes after having settled him self down and fastidiously cleaning his cutlery on the table cloth, he ups himself and commences to perform a rain dance, or the reverse of one as he explained later by prancing counterclockwise around his table jangling a pair of bells! This he continued to do so for all of seven complete circuits, oblivious to anyone or anything else. On the last round he stood by his chair a little shaking his hinny and then to plonck himself down with a flourish.
Our own meal came to an end a few minutes later as we lingered over coffee, when it happened…. Ever so gently the rain eased off till it stopped completely. As we walked out our rain man tipped a finger at us with a grin and wink and a suggestion that we hurry if we wanted to take advantage of the break!
Now I am an old fart, rather cautious, forever pre planning trying to anticipate all possibilities – a real stick in the mud. Fearing the worse it was decided that my guest take advantage of a taxi while I rode back upon the little pony. A few precious minutes spent in locating a chariot and we were off, me pell melling along the broad avenue that cuts through the city center, pursued by a chariot. I would have made it, if not for the three red lights in someone else’s favor. Half way home, the heavens opened and I was drenched even before I got 50ft!
Now I must hasten to add that this in no way detracted anything from what was a pleasant evening, if at all, it was the final twist to an evening which was spent in a most congenial way, dining on good food and conversation, spiced up by the antics of a wonderful old man!
I am sorry to be leaving Ouaga this time around. While one set of circumstances forced me to stay longer that I usually do, another set in play gave me an opportunity to see facets of this city and its people that I had not experience before.
This morning I was on my way to the Marche when I was buzzed by a ‘moto’ upon which sat a grinning Michele, my chauffer from the journey to Niger. Having exchanged pleasantries I was invited to hope on board for a speedy trip down and around to my destination.
Its those friendly, spontaneous encounters that warm my heart that make me like this place. Yes there are the officious, petty corrupt parasites lurking in the corners, but by and far the people are gentle, most often than not with a smile than a frown. A begger on the road will only follow you up to a point. The same applies to the touts, the sellers of telephone cards you don’t want, the shoe shine kid, the guy trying his luck at making a buck. Usually a smile a polite no thank you and a shake of the heard sufficient to be left alone. The occasional limpet pried loose by no more than a sterner no thank you.
By all means travel in Africa if you can. Enjoy the sights and sounds and people that make this such a wonderful place. Do so with a smile, some common sense and a sense of humor. Politeness, courtesy can get you almost anywhere you want, if you have the patience to do so.
I love this continent. And as I grow familiar with the lay of the land, even the countries that I feel uncomfortable with become less so with time. I have been lucky I must state, in the years that I have been here, traveling on and off since 2005 I have not had a single bad encounter where I have been threatened or robbed. Luck certainly, some prudence on my part too, judicious use of common sense and practicality. Its best not to tempt fate by tying to prove ones bravery.
I have a new love now. My old beau Freetown, Sierra Leone replaced by Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
I leave her with a multiple entry visa valid for a year with the fervent hope that I will be back soon.
PS: Immigration in Mali was a breeze, the fastest I’ve ever past through!
Monday, September 1, 2008
I've been teased about my ability to dance, in fact the comments have been bordering insolence, voicing in terms which leave little to misinterpret that I in fact cannot shake a leg at all.
Since it was all in good fun I decided to pick up the gauntlet and find a carpet to cut.
This then is how I came to find myself at the Calypso Club in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso at 1am in the morning of the 1st day in September 2008.
Over the three years I've stepped into three clubs in West Africa - Le Byblos in Bamako Mali, Makumba in Accra and now Calypso in Ouaga.
The nicest thing about all these clubs is that not only do the girls usually out number the men, but they also have no inhibitions about dancing with anyone who asks them to. Of course, some of these ladies are of the type that would like to become your high maintenance friend, even for a night, but that in no way affects the good humor that prevailed in all of them.
Another thing that the three had in common was the presence of a giant mirror adorning one wall. And for some peculiar reason, its not unusual to see a number of girls dancing by themselves in front of it, swaying to the music, seemingly lost in a world of their own.
I enjoyed myself, it seemed the perfect ending to a lovely day spent in good company. I conducted myself, I was told, in a manner which laid to rest any doubts about my abilty to move to rhythem, in fact, all things considered, me thinks me did alright!
A word of advice for anyone following suit - either go with a crowed, or a local... Africa is still a place of violence, walking the streets alone at night is not recommended
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Burkina Faso is one of the regions poorest nations and while the elite enjoy a life style that is unimaginable even to me, the majority live a life which is more or less a struggle.
Salli lives in a 'gated community' but no where near the one that those words conjure up to a middle class Asian. This community is a collection of two roomed houses, one against the other in a single compound.
What immediately struck me was the cleanliness, the almost pristine cleanliness of the compound within and without each individual home.
While money was obviously not something in excess, the smiles certainly were as people greeted each other as they went about their Sunday chores - fixing doors, re adjusting antennas, cleaning, cooking.
It struck me how fortunate I am, how much in excess of the basics I actually have and how my desire for one thing or the other are really wants and not needs anymore - not if I went by with how little so many can actually manage.
Lunch was simple wholesome fare, chicken and spaghetti, cooked out in the open, prepared over a period of no more than 30 minutes.
Over and after lunch animated, warm conversation of this and that, simple things that affect life at its basic level.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Sometimes it takes a comment to really appreciate somethings, and this one got me thinking about what I do. Fond of claiming that if you found a job you loved you would never have to work a day in your life, I really have not voiced the fact just how much I do love what I do.
My roots start 20yrs ago and on a tea plantation a long long way from where I am right now. For the next decade I was to be found tramping amongst the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, first in Maskeliya and then in Bandarawela. A sudden realization that the world was changing and I was left behind the driver to make a change and exchange my stout walking shoes, long socks, shorts and short sleeved shirts for a tie and stiff collar and a desk in a poky little office in Union Place trying my hand at selling what I had learn t to grown!
Five years, and the initial forays overseas on work taking me to Europe, the US and Japan in search of markets. It was then that I took the next big step in my life by leaving my employer of 15 yrs to join a new company just starting off. In the first three months I found myself traveling more than I had in the previous five years going to China, Hong Kong, India and the Maldives seeing the Himalaya's, the tea gardens of Darjeeling, Assam, the Nilgiris and China.
In year 3 a two month assignment to conduct market research became a two year stint in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and one I would dearly love to live in, South Africa. That first exposure kindled my love for this 'dark' continent, little suspecting at the time how intimate I was to become with it in time. From South Africa to Kenya then Uganda before eventually returning home.
The winds of change blew again, following a briefly frustrating period warming a seat in Colombo and I was now en route for West Africa and the countries of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Angola.
This my third visit to the region with a new destination on the cards in two weeks - Nigeria.
So yes, I am lucky, I am fortunate, I am blessed to be doing something I love, in a continent that I love being in, Africa.
Traveling by road can be pleasant and not so pleasant depending on how things pan out. Border crossings can be fun too and I do enjoy crossing these borders. The two I don't look forward to are entering Mali and Guinea Conakry.
The trip to Niger was a good one, my meetings went off well. The stretched into another day that I had not planned for, but the stay was worth it given the end results.
Come Monday I need to get a visa for Mali and then plan to leave Wednesday
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Burkina Faso is no paradise, it is one of the poorest West African nations in the region with a majority managing on one US doller a day - keep in mind that a pint bottle of fanta is around $ 1.30.
The truth is I thrive away from my office. The day to day monotony of warming a seat, gazing into the blue screen of a computer, irrespective of what is actually on the screen, gets to me and tires me to the edge of my tether. I dislike office politics, having to watch the stream of long tongue practitioners ply their art to get through just another day, the power plays of the insecure, the whip cracking authority figures who have to just because they can. And I hate that I am looked upon as an oddity, disliked merely because I refuse to toe the line and march to the beat of the drum everyone else tries to conform to. My creed is simply that I do my job to the best of my ability, deliver what is expected of me when it is, and to ensure that what I do, is sustainable.
And I am away from the tensions of my personal life, of the emotional pulls that drag me in all directions, that critique my feelings, the agenda of so called well meaning souls refusing to understand that I deserve to be happy, that ultimately no one lives my life but me alone.
I am away from it all, and I would be the lighter for it if there was one I did not miss...
I have fallen in love with Ouagadougou, with Burkina Faso, with the dust and the flies and the poverty. With the almost incomprehensible francophone chatter all around me as I try to maneuver my way through the market streets from one client to another, from one place to the other. The initial day here is usually a blur, followed by a gradual immersion into this lovely god forsaken place. The telephone card sellers, the petrol pump attendants, the old man by the mosque steps eventually become accustomed to the sight of me lagging my stuffed laptop bag on the way to the market place in the morning, back to my hotel in the afternoon with a repeat performance again at 3. The staff at 4 Seasons start to treat me as a regular, sooner than later learning to anticipate my "Une Castel s’il vous plaît" each evening as I step in for a leisurely dinner. Unlike at home, I spend close to an hour over my meal, sipping my beer watching the wo rld go past, looking with care at the menu, rounding off my meal with a cup of cafe o lay and then ambling back to my bed...
I could grow used to this life, living away from it all,,drawing in my orders moving around the region on a regular basis, breathing in the beauty that is peculiar to Africa!
And I have been fortunate, two orders fallen into my lap, another one on the verge of confirmation and two more to clinch in the course of the next two weeks. And then the new market that I am looking at, Nigeria.
Perhaps I can lose myself here... that sounds pretty good to me, it sounds right to me, it may sound right to someone else too...
Monday, August 25, 2008
Its the close of the day, I am back in my room after a day spent out in the markets.
The day has been a quiet one, marred by the fact that I was unable to secure my visa to Ghana - an officious suited gentlemen decided to demonstrate his importance by waving a letter in my face! Never mind, I can wait till the morro.
Good news from back home, of sofa's and tv tables, light green covers and soft cushions... it sounds scrumptious mate!
I hope to be on my way to Niger come Wednesday, will see soon if that happens.
Till tomorrow.... ciao
23rd August 2008
Well, I am rested, and well so if I may put it that way. My sleep was deep, lasting for almost ten hours uninterrupted and awake I did come most refreshed.
The day has been a good one, except for one thing which concerns me deeply. More on that later.
This morning was spent in the company of one of my clients, a jovial man whom I have come to respect as I have got to know him. My dealings with him, as with all my clientele, have been transparent and if at all, all I can be faulted with it for being to o trusting.
Work discussed I broached a matter which I have been tasked with – to consider the possibility of setting up a permanent presence here in
There are reasons.
In spite of an attempt to sound cheerful, I know that it was a mere subterfuge to spare me any pain. But while words can try, a voice finds it harder and I am so attuned to the nuances of that voice that I know. What can I do? I am helpless in this matter, I cannot stand up and protect. That this is how it is pains me considerably, leaving me feeling impotent, raging at my inability to do what must be done.
Three square meals I have partaken of this day, tomorrow I intend to revert back to form, avoiding the noon meal, if I can!
Lunch spent in good company, eating what I easily can call the best tomato soup that it has been my fortune to have in my entire life – it was really good.
Dinner was a pizza royal, washed down with a pint of Castel beer. The evening topped of with an unexpected meeting and a ride back perched on the back of a little scooter – my second ride for today on such a mode of transport!
I am of relatively good cheer, my spirits weighed down only by my concerns back home. I am worried… in my dreams perhaps I will find comfort…
25th August 2008 – 0130hrs
Well Sunday was a quiet day. Spent almost all of it in my room reading except for a brief trip outside for lunch. My clock is a little off still – a short nap taken ay 1830 lasted till ten minutes ago!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
20th August 2008 – 0600hrs
Well, it worked out and I am out of the airport and in the city. Right now I’m sprawled on the bed playing with my new toy – a Canon S5 IS, my replacement for the S1 I had.
I need to head back to the airport in a few hours, taking off to
21st August 2008 – 0500hrs
Well, alls worked out so well, and I am now waiting for my flight to
This is going to be interesting and I will find out if I made a good decision or not. A dearth of seats to
22nd August 2008 – 0500hrs
I’ve been up since 3am, tired, not much sleep last night, not much sleep since the 19th!
1500hrs and I am tired, annoyed and angry. I’ve finally reached my destination,
Due to a lack of seats I was forced to look at alternatives if I was to stick with my schedule.
A 6am departure was delayed for an hour due to bad weather at destination. Eventually landing in Tamale,
It’s the rainy season here in
This was my first real experience of corruption at the lower levels of administration – and that it was by the BF border guards rather than the Ghanaian ones interesting. I was met by “Transport Manager” an English speaking gentlemen who ushered me into a vehicle saying that the charge was CEF 4000/ - about US$ 11/- from the border to Ouaga. Too good to be true I thought settling myself in the car. Then came the rider – that we need wait for another nine people to join us, if they ever did. OR, I could pay CEF 35,000/- and be on my way! Faced with the possibility of spending the night in the rain, I eventually agreed, then to see 5000 of the 35,000 handed over to the TM as his commission.
It’s been three days since I’ve left
Ouaga eventually at 3 something in the afternoon. Nine hours in all! The hotel is adequate, central and in close proximity to a high speed internet café. Checked in, a long needed soak in a tub full of hot water and I crawled into bed at 1630, planning on a couple of hours sleep before looking for something to eat.Just as I dosed off, an amazing experience, the sensation of not being alone... I'll leave it at that, for it was an exquisitely intimate moment to savour.
I did wake up, turned over and slept again, eventually coming wide awake at 2am, which is about 730 in
Unable to fall asleep again, I’ve sorted my accounts out, re packed my bags, thrown my laundry out, edited my photographs and typing this before taking another snooze. I think I’ll post this today, carry on later.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The week has been another difficult one. Absence takes its toil affecting my ability to look at the world with a smile.
Very few understand, and the many that don’t, seek tangible reasons of anything that is acceptable – they don’t understand.
It makes me angry, it also saddens me for it merely highlights the sheer vastness of the gap that exists.
An opportunity has appeared upon my horizon, it may be the door that I seek, a path to take me where I desire to be. But alone I cannot do that, one other must chose to walk with me. The path requires patience, the ability to remain calm in the face of the storms that rage.
I sense that it will be, in the distance I see it, I still believe.
It will happen
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Absurd as it was, this was not only a dream that I remembered but one that left me curiously happy too!
A row of apartments constructed along the model of a train station(?!), housing residential as well as the commercial.
The obvious highlight was the anticipation of spending an evening with my dearest friend, who was visiting, staying over at my bachelor pad (those last few words crafted with care for they convey personal circumstances most desirable).
Interwoven into this tale was a discussion with my mater about my antique furniture, said furniture having been sold by her to make space for the arrival of my elder brother on a one day stay – that my furniture was retained by my ex three years ago was somehow an inconvenient reality.
So there I was, the proud owner of a apartment/ flat, independent in more ways than one, busy, coffee with my friend, all good.
That I forgot where my flat was, that my friend was already there, that the commercial tenants included a grocery and a meat shop were mere trimmings to a dream that put a smile on my face.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
I feel a sense of calm, I feel a comforting presence reaching out to embrace me across the distance... the time is right, perhaps it is a reality and not the makings of a wishful mind.
Its these moments that make it all worth while - this is where my strength is drawn from, this is my distant shore...
Apparently the stars have mis-aligned themselves against me and all is not well in the realms of my life; and, unless I do something about, I am basically in for unspeakable horrors.
Which is why, after a not insignificant periof of time, I found myself back in the vicinity of a Hindu kovil. Now, a lesser known fact about me is that I was at one time the chief custodian of a kovil, officiating at all the pooja's taking my place amongst the devotees each day. A role unlikely of a half kandyan, govigama buddhist for sure, but one that I played with piety and devotion.
Truth is, it was like coming home again as the smell of incense, burning oil, the sounds of the drums, bells and chanting spilled over me. It was certainly with a lighter heart that I worshiped that morn, asking not for material gain but for the strength to deal with the consequences of my actions.
There is only so much that can do about where my life goes. Perhaps all I can do is walk it with head held high, stoic if need be in the face of trial.
That my anchor has come lose a cause of concern, for without it I am at the mercy of the elements. I see my shore in the distance, barely glimpsed through the darkness, the wind, rain and waves that rage around me.... but I see it. I will reach shore or die trying - no shame in that
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
For the longest time we lost touch, but never forgot and in recent times she stepped up to walk with me in my troubled times.
Her most recent words to me I share with you all.
Hi my friend!My friend, thank you. You have always been there for me, never letting time or distance get in the way.
Today I read: Four rules for happiness
1. Try to get what you want - but don`t demand it
2. accept yourself, what ever happens, for this moment
3. Give Love and stand to attention even if you don`t get what you want
4. respect and take care of youself, whatever happens
and the final meaning is: luck didn`t depends on, who you are or what you have; it depends only of what you are thinking!
I know, that`s nothing really new, but sometimes it`s good to read such easy lessons for living
I send you lot of light thoughts and hope you feel good - life is waiting for you
Monday, June 30, 2008
It took a significant effort on my part, sitting crossed legged upon a sofa, silently compartmentalizing each and every issue that I am faced with. The darkness in and around me, silence except for the moan of the wind my only companions in this hour.
But I discovered somethings. I realized what can drive a person to lunacy, I discovered what could prompt someone to take ones own life. There is an edge around us all that we could fall over, and it seems that in my mind, that edge is not so far away after all.
I'm pulled in every direction... by well meaning people certainly; by people with their own agenda's, by people in desperation, my own desires in conflict with my responsibilities, culture, society at large, even by people who are not people - a cryptic comment upon which, regretfully, I cannot elaborate any further.
And in all this, there seems no one for me. The one that I depend upon, who is the source of my better humours, unable to be there. I am, truly alone in this. I have two who have in their way tried to help, and I suspect that it is their presence so far that has helped me along.... but as developments occur, with each passing day it becomes harder and harder for me.
I am having to face upto my own inadequacies, my failings. And in trying to find my way out into the light it seems that the very elements are in against me
Soon, something must happen.... this cannot go on
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Over the months, total strangers have left comments, the majority of them touching that people cared enough to just say something positive.
No one knows what really goes on and no life runs as well as the next. Shit happens. What really annoys me though are the anonymous comments people leave with that 'holier than thou attitude'.
Most of us should consider ourselves fortunate that our lives run in a mediocre fashion, that the day is pretty much the same as what it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. But, the world being what the world is, some of us get caught in things that, well are things.
My own life has not been the perfect one, it has had its moments. I realise that there are hoards of well meaning people out there, who kind of have an idea of how the world should be, according to them.
I am going through a trying period in my life - not the first, not the last but certainly one that is draining me and wearing me down. By everyone book, what I am thinking, feeling, contemplating is wrong, is not acceptable and will as someone put it, provide many with much to talk about over coffee after dinner on a slow night.
If it happens.
Right now I don't know where I stand. All I can say is that I am pulled in two directions - one which is so 'wrong' and yet so right and the other which is 'right but wrong.
I don't need advice... I know all the arguments for and against, I know what is right, what is not, what is acceptable and what society accepts - I am not stupid for crying out loud.
Somewhere, somehow there must be a place where all will be well.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe --
I've always admired that quote by Goethe and tried to live my life along those lines - I suspect that it was the inclusion of the word 'magic' that had the most impact on me as an impressionable lad in my mid teens when I first read it.
Whatever the reason, the sentiment stuck with me and I have tried. Choosing to experience a year on a student exchange program in a culture considered to be so different to my own, deciding upon a career that was rather out of the box for me...
Do I dare more? Dare to challenge the norms that keep us on the straight and narrow? I argue that I have but one life, one life to experience all that life can offer...
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
meanings for common words.
The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run
over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up
onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish
Friday, May 2, 2008
The music that I hear, rejuvenates me, calms me, tells me that I am not alone. The words I hear touch me to my core an I can almost reach out and touch...
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Of the city that I was born in, I have no recollection except for those memories gathered subsequently. The Kandy of 1968 is probably very different to what it is today.
From Kandy we moved to Colombo, Davidson Road, Bambalapitiya and a few years later to Wellewatte and the house that I have spent most of my life at.
I’m looking back now, across the years, it’s had its moments.
The last five months have been some of the most turbulent of these years. At the most unexpected moment in my life, I was touched to the core of my being in a way that I never thought I would be again. The emotions that ran through me taking me back 20yrs into the past and another one such as this. It was prophetic of me that I wrote in mid January this year that I would look back on the previous five weeks and consider them to be the happiest of my life. I was happy, content, touched, and moved, I was me.
Right now, there is very little around me that is good. Both in my personal and professional life, I am at a low point, possibly the lowest that I have ever been.
The most recent crisis to develop happened barely 24 hours ago forcing me to possibly forget ‘me’. It seems likely that my own meltdown is on an indefinite hold.
This brings me to the strength of my mind. In spite of the depths of despair I have found myself to be, I was never quite in danger of loosing it all. I cannot take complete credit for this; the extent to which the fabric of my brain was frayed caused me some concern. But a greater part of that credit I attribute to two factors – the penning of my thoughts and the presence of friends, who over the past five months have made an effort to be there for me. Two of them specifically in their own indomitable manner kept me from running aground. Awesome and Black Stilettos, thank you
In this I have been a fortunate man. Over the years I have been blessed with having friends who have stood with me. Some of them go back 25yrs, others as recent as a year. All of them with no exception have been true. Well, perhaps with one exception – my ex wife! We were friends for over fifteen years; it took just three years of marriage to discover the dark side.
My wish for this anniversary? In truth, I wish to be alone. I wish a life of solitaire. But this is now unlikely to happen. For a completely unexpected reason it seems that my life is not going to be the one that I would wish for, that I will have to live another’s.
And with that, all I will have for the rest of my life are memories of five weeks and a love that has always been, always will be.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Tuesday, the first day after the NY hols. The drive to office made in 20mts cruising along Baseline road doing a 100, my favourite SOB CD playing away. Office all to myself till almost nine, solid work done, great stuff. Gym
Wednesday pretty much sucked. A favourable annual performance review marred by the shenanigans of an incompetent insecure twit who is not only my line manager but ceo too. The day was more than made up for however by an encounter with Black Stilettos. BS’s presence has been long missed and this meeting was too long coming. The face to face was preceded by a lengthy chat over the phone to discuss knick knacks, some paddy whacks as well as photography. Add to this, a lead to a fascinating article in a Daily that day about a canoe trip. From this I ended up corresponding with the author and an invite to join me for a chilled beer on the river bank. By and by check out AFLAC - link on the side bar.
Thursday boring, saved only by the presence of Awesome on-line. That was the day that I found myself on Kimbula - http://www.kimbula.com/. Now I’m usually not the forum, community chit chat social animal type of person – I am a morose, grumpy old fart, set in my ways and hell bent in self destructing in pursuit of a dream. But let’s get back Kimbula. Recently launched, has a straight forward navigation board and so far seemingly populated by a group who seem comfortable with each other… I felt like a little intruder, but they have made me feel welcome. Gym
Friday, TGIF! Don’t you just love Lite 89.2? I do, have it running all day listening to them on-line (http://www.lite892.com/liveradio.html). Their morning and afternoon shows help keep me sane from 1000 - 1400 and again from 1400 - 1700. Gym.
Saturday. Annual New Year ritual, worshipping elderly family. Kos will not see me this weekend, sadly. I miss this
Have I found a light? No. I am just, just.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The gym has been seeing me since Monday, and the ache in my body as a result of my workout, satisfying in some twisted masochistic way. But it hasn't calmed the waters. Immersing myself in a tome has not been effective either as I soon find myself blankly looking at the same page, long after I've read it.
3am and I am conscious again with barely 3hrs sleep, a regular occurrence now, abnormal for someone who has insisted upon a minimum of 8hrs sleep from the age of 21.
For some reason as I surfaced from what passes as sleep for me, a song that I heard recently was playing in my head - Lost.
There I lay, in that place somewhere between sleep and awake, Michael Buble singing in the background and me lost in a world so far from my reality that its scary sometimes. Its a strange sensation this, living two lives, one the reality a mere existence, the other, rich in color and sound, a life that fills me completely where I am happy, all that I can be, yet just a fantasy.
The ringing of church bells gradually drew me up and out eventually, to shower, dress and leave for work. I am still mildly disoriented, almost like an out of body experience... I know that the edges of my existence are frayed, I can almost feel the hanging threads, see the ends drawn out... the integrity of my cloth compromised... I wonder dispassionately if it will bear the strain, after so many washes the material is kind of threadbare, the strands not as strong as they used to be, the colors look quite faded...
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
My weekends are spent lolling away in a hammock in spite of all my good intentions to either get on with waxing my floors, sandpaper the bathtub or finish drawing up a company profile I agreed to prepare for a friend's new business venture
Take this Saturday for instance... I had a friend staying over, who was to leave that evening, returning to the city in time to spend the New Year with his parents. We had retired for an afternoon snooze, him to a bed and me to the varandha and Capt. Sunils' wonderful hammock. I awaken a few hours later, to find R all ready to go, which he does as I wave him a languid adios from the depths of my cradle, asking that he call me on making it safe home. Two hours later the phone rings and me, I am yet to even consider the possibility of stirring from my spot!
Surrounded by at least a couple of books, a pillow, my camera, a beer or two and Kermi to keep me company, my needs are catered to. The flow of life around me draws me up frequently from the depths of what I'm reading. The troop of monkeys as they come to forage, a pigeon bent upon stripping a branch of its twigs, a pregnant monitor lizard making its way across the yard, a flight of bats taking aloft with the setting sun; none of these an intrusion, rather part of what this is. There is a calmness around me, the ripple of water, the sound of the wind in the trees, a dogs bark in the distance, the shrill cry of a Brahmin kite as it skirts the lagoon edge. Bliss.
This is a place of dreams. It is a place to rest, to contemplate life. The pace of is slower, the wind and the waves are gentle, the only intrusion the sound of a bus belching its way along the road.
Retuning to the city always a chore, always undertaken reluctantly so.
I hope that with time will come some direction to my life. I know what I want... will I get it is what I don't know, what remains to be seen...
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Home that evening to shower, dine and retire early with a book, to sleep peacefully, deeply, well. Happy I may not have been, but relieved, content I was.
Tuesday afternoon and a change in the wind, bringing me back by evening to square one; cumulating in a cry of the lost and despair, a feeling of having stepped back into a trap. I do not think I can do this in spite of me trying to follow my head over my heart.
Time will tell….
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
All that I expected of it and perhaps even more. Friday evening saw me on my way down the coast, car loaded with provisions happily bowling along the coastal road.
Destination reached closer to 22:00hrs than 21;00hrs under a crisp clear night full of stars. The temptation was too strong, I had to...
Kayak pulled out and set afloat, a few paddle strokes out and there I was adrift on the lagoon, lying on my back gazing up into a tropical sky filled with stars. Across the water I could faintly hear Cafe del Mar and except for the noise of an occasionally passing vehicle, the moment was perfect. It's been a while since I've indulged myself like this, taking a moment to sit back and enjoy a night sky, is not too often the clouds keep away and then there is something about city living, one hardly looks up.
Saturday morning and I was out again, armed this time with a book for it was my intention to follow Madiba's life story. A shaded cove, craft backed up and loosely tied.... time flew and twas the rumblings of my tummy that brought me back and to shore for sustenance. Sadly, reluctantly I was to return to the city that night, driving like a lunatic according to a very reliable eye witness.....
Sunday morn, 5am is a perfect time to leave.. and leave I did for the cooler climes of Bandarawela 0n an errand.
A trip I looked forward to with a certain sense of anticipation for I was visiting old haunts, a place that I had lived in for four years, a time where things were less complicated and somehow happier times. A time where elephants, sustainable agriculture and a Sunday lunch packet from the YWCA were highlights of my week. Of the Fox Hill races and drives to N'Eliya in aid of a smitten friend, of long walks through the mana and illuk grass, warm bottles of beer in rucksack, nights spent making love under the stars at the edge of Diyaluma... but I digress.
So, Bandarawela, the cool climes, lovely.
The road has been resurfaced almost all the way, which was a pleasant surprise... good fun.
The trip was made with one objective in mind, to find out what the stars have in store for me. Well, apparently Saturn is in a malefic mood (old news), but Venus and Mars are doing a tango which for some reason has got old man Pluto ticked off. Now Venus happens to be my ruling planet which explains my desire for pleasure, sensuality, personal possessions, comfort and ease. Pluto as you may know is a changer, bringing buried desires and needs to the surface, even at the cost if destroying the present.
In a nut shell, interesting times for me..... thou I must have words with Old Fonny, for he had most clearly indicated a different course of events ahead.....
Enroute back I was treated to one of those famous mists that Haputale is known for... Haputale itself has remained relatively unchanged which was kind of nice. The view across the plains as magnificent as I recollect it to be, looking across the land south south east.....
Ice cold beer at Belihul Oya Rest House, a lovely rice and curry for lunch, Colombo for dinner and CSI - all good stuff
Monday, April 7, 2008
Since of late though, I am becoming more and more engrossed with his walk in the desert.... I feel a sense of affinity to that.
The last few months have certainly lead me to this desolate place I now find myself in. Each measured trend taking me further and further into it. But I've managed to stop now. I haven't looked back yet, but what I can see around me is rolling sands, scorching in the heat of a blazing sun that saps away at what little reserves I have. No further will I walk, for I have done enough to myself as it is. What I do next, is what I wait to see. Find myself out or sit...
In my musings I've made little if any reference to one sphere of influence, the one person who is affected the most. Truth is, that presence has managed help me, slowed me down before I lost myself completely. That this person is an innocent, and yet hurt so deeply by the events of these last few months, a cause of deep regret to me. I did not wish this to be so
Friday, April 4, 2008
Age perhaps, a change in priorities perhaps, a need to slip away from it all to recuperate... what ever the reason, I look forward to my weekends and any holiday that extends for more than 48hrs.
I get restless being in the same place..... which is so why I enjoy my road trips. Living out of a suitcase week after week, sleeping in five different beds in the course of one week, these matter not. The road sustains me and I gaze forward over the next hill, around the next corner.
The downsides are having to eat and sleep alone... two things I detest doing.
But the reasons for my Friday's is a little closer to home actually... my little shack down by the stream...
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
I love balloons and I dream of drifting across the Masai Mara one day. So, look forward I did to this event, proudly sponsored by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board - 22 Hot Air Balloons lit up and on display!
My first intimation that all was not quite right was when it dawned upon me that this was in fact an invited event.... not one open to the public as I was initially lead to believe. Ye Gods, large and small, what was I to do? For I had been enthusiastically spreading the word and even gone to the extent of even offering to take someones off spring for the show!
A few rounds around the university grounds and a bit of linguistical leaping saw me past the security and inside the grounds that afternoon. Fortunately I came across a very understanding person from the organising committee who very graciously handed me the required number of complimentary tickets. That was about the height of the entire day.
Arriving that evening we were greeted by the sight of many sheds,chairs, Sri Lanka's own Police Band and two wicker baskets, forlornly sitting on the grass.
To cut a really awful story short, we were treated to a parade of people lead on to the field by six mounted policemen, a lot of drumming and dancing. The only thing to really reach the sky that evening were "1000's" of helium balloons, released to celebrate the festival. The 22 Hot Air ones were a no show.... way after the sun set there were some efforts to blow a couple of them up, but alas, vain indeed the efforts were for they soon collapsed like... well they collapsed.
It was about then that I decided to call it a day and go home. Another well thought of and badly executed effort.
Now what possibly could have been done was to have the balloons already up and tethered to the ground before the start.... but I guess brighter minds than mine were at work.
Its kind of sad, for this would certainly have been an impressive sight if executed as it should have been done. Why is it so difficult to plan and coordinate something like this? Why make such a dance about it and fall flat on our faces? All it really takes is a little effort, truly.