Friday, July 31, 2009


I think I just set a record, 30 posts in one month?

And this makes it 31, one for each day.

I wonder how much was crap and if any made any sense at all...

I can only plead that it was a slow month at work

Two tales

Why bother?

A successful business man was taking a a vacation on a beautiful island and as he was walking along the beach he chanced to see a man standing in the water fishing.

Stopping to watch he became intrigued by the fact that the man cast away his rod after catching just a fish or two.

Following the fisherman, he got into a conversation and asked the man what he planned to do next. The reply was "go home, clean and cook the fish and go to sleep". But why said the businessman, there is still so much time left, don't you know that if you put in more effort you could catch more fish?

"And then?" asked the fisherman.

"Catch more fish you can sell them and make more money was the answer, with that money you could perhaps buy a boat, hire someone to go with you and catch even more fish"

"And then?" asked the fisherman.

"Why, you could make more money, buy more boats, hire more people, eventually even build a factory to process the fish"

"And then?" asked the fisherman.

"Well after 20 - 30 yrs of hard work , when your business is thriving you could sell it for a huge fortune"

"And then?" asked the fisherman.

"And then you can retire, retire, live on an beautiful island like this, fish.

"I do that already" replied the fisherman


The Starfish Story
Original Story by: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”
I made a difference for that one.”


An wonderful tale from the Island of 31-7-09, one we can all take a lesson from.

I'm posting it as it is here with a link back to where I read it


The new bridge spanning the Mahaveli Ganga at Katugastota, declared open by the President has relieved the people of the suffering they had endured for nearly a decade. The perennial traffic snarl that was in front of my house on the Katugastota road has disappeared overnight! Naturally, the new bridge has 4 traffic lanes with a long island in the middle. It has dispelled our nightmares what it would have been once the A9 was re-opened for normal traffic.

The purpose of this letter is to recall a fascinating story that my mother told me of the old bridge, when I was a little boy. My mother died in 2007 having lived 102 years.

She said, in those days, when the work on old bridge (then brand new) was completed and before it was formally opened for traffic (mainly bullock carts then), the British engineer who constructed the bridge wanted to test its strength. On an appointed day, he arranged for 2 long processions of bullock carts full with a load of rubble drawn by two elephants to cross the bridge. People had gathered in their hundreds on either side of the river to watch this spectacle. As the procession of carts entered the bridge from the Katugastota end, on the Kandy side of the bridge sat the engineer on horse back with his revolver aimed at his head! The message was clear. The situation was tense. And the people watched this rare spectacle all aghast. The engineer finally put down his revolver only after the last bullock cart had slowly cleared the bridge in front of him. And the tensed people broke into cheers lighting crackers. "Ol warasan dunna" were my mother’s words.

Much later in life I realized that this story was about Accountability so rare in our country today. One day, while crossing this bridge on foot I related this story to my son. Now I have got an opportunity to tell it to the whole country, especially now, where 30 bridges on the new Southern Highway are reported to be badly constructed while one has already collapsed on the head of a student killing him. The wheel of accountability seems to have turned a full circle.

Gamini Gunawardane

To fullfill a vow

A majority of Sri Lanka's, I presume, sooner or later make vows - be it in respect of education, success in a venture, even in building a home.

The general format, irrespective of religion or ethnicity remains basically the same - a journey to a place of reputed spiritual power, to strike a deal with the incumbent deity for divine intervention. This plea is usually made accompanied by an offering of fruits, flowers, incense and a few rupees.

In return for this the devotee undertakes to make further offerings, to express his/ her gratitude

Now, said offerings are supposedly, or traditionally meant to made as a result of your own striving's, your own efforts. Traditionally.

But times change, now, and this applies to those that rule the roost, the offerings are those which belong to the state - land, elephants for example - Do these count is my question, is a vow really fulfilled if you end up giving something which isn't yours to give in the first place?

George Orwell and his 11 rules for making the perfect cup of tea

Towards the later part of his life, the author of 1984 wrote an essay titled “A Nice Cup of Tea”, at a time when tea in fact was a scarce item because of WWII

Ceylon Tea was in fact the preferred choice and formed the grater part of what was available in GB.

His 11 rules for making the perfect cup of tea, “golden rules” for “golden tips.” were:

1. Use Indian or Ceylonese tea
2. Brew tea in a china (ceramic) or earthenware pot
3. Warm the pot before adding the loose-leaf tea
4. Use strong tea
5. Place loose-leaf tea directly into the pot without a strainer, muslin bag, or other device to ‘imprison the tea.’ Take the teapot to the kettle to pour water that should be boiling
6. Stir or shake the pot
7. Drink the tea out of a cylindrical cup
8. Decant any cream off of the fresh milk before using
9. Pour tea into the cup, then pour in the milk
10. Drink tea without sugar

Sadly, today, most of the tea drunk in Great Britain originates from East Africa and Pure Ceylon Tea now accounts for about 5% of what is consumed.

Post Independence and with land reform,in 1971-1972, the government nationalized the tea estates owned by the British companies and later in 1975 nationalized the Rupee and sterling companies too.

This saw many of the Expat Planters returning to England or Scotland, migrating to Australia or moving to East Africa to help in the development of tea plantations there. From that time onward the demand for Ceylon Tea was gradually replaced by EA teas

How times change

Perhaps this is how its meant to be

Recent events have encouraged me to look for meaning, to try and understand the going on's when people in whom we have placed our trust, act in a manner that in reality is nothing less than a betrayal.

The Buddha preached a life of moderation, his Middle Way — a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. In doing so he drew our attention to the Four Noble Truths of The Nature of Suffering(Dukkha),Suffering's Origin (Samudaya), Suffering's Cessation (Nirodha) and The Way (Mārga) Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

The Middle Way was preached through the Nobel Eightfold Path of 1) Right view, 2) Right Intention, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Action, 5) Right Livelihood, 6)Right Effort, 7)Right Mindfulness and 8) Right Concentration which in turn helps one acquire Knowledge and Liberation

It should be saddening to consider just how far the monks of today, the preachers of the Dharma have in fact moved away from the very teachings they were entrusted to protect.

Simplicity of lifestyle, uncompromising integrity, impartiality, and active responsiveness to the sufferings of others, these are foundations of Buddhism

They may mouth the words but in reality a majority of them in fact chose to live in a manner that is a far cry from a life of moderation. Why enter politics, aquire wealth, go around in a mercedes,apply for a driving license?! Are these not the material things that the Buddha preached we should try to separate ourselves from?

But, apparently, this is the nature of things, and this was foretold by the Buddha himself, that there would come a time that the only thing to distinguish a Buddhist Priest from a layman would be by a colored thread tied around his waist and that he would be found fishing by the sea shore.

It would seem to me that our monks indeed are striving to bring us to those times, assisted by like minded laymen who encourage them to move away from the preachings for their own selfish gains.

Saddened we should be to see this rot in so obscene a manner as the use of force, in the accumulation of wealth, of double standards and I am a shamed.

But there will come a time, when another Buddha will walk upon this earth, Maitreya's coming is supposed to take place when the teachings of the Gautama Buddha, the Dharma, are no longer taught and have in fact been completely forgotten.

His (Maitreya's) coming is to be characterized by many physical events - shrinking oceans apparently being one. His coming, the event will also allow the unveiling of the "true" dharma to the people, and the construction of a new world.

I'm no expert in this area, but apparently the appearance of Maiteya Buddha will also mean an end to low point of human existence.

A light then, far away, to hope for, at the end of this deepening darkness that is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recent events

The removal of two baby elephants from Pinnawella just goes to show the depths to which we have stooped to in SL. I don't know if this is common news yet in SL but certain 'banned' sources have been reporting on this during the last three days.

The most recent update is to the effect that the Malwatte and Asgiri chief priests have issued a press statement

They have stated that the baby elephants were taken away from Pinnawela on cabinet approval.
The press statement issued by the Malwatte Chief Priest, Ven Thibbatuwawe Sri Sidhartha Sumangala Thero and Asgiri Chief Priest, Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharkhitha Thero further state that the two baby elephants were identified to be given to the Ubhaya Vihara of the Malwatte and Asgiri Chapters and that they had been identified on July 16 and is therefore inappropriate to say the elephants were smuggled out.

According to the Theros, while there are about 120 tame elephants in the country about 90 of them have reached old age. Therefore, the number of elephants to be used for religious activities including peraheras has seen a decline. The cabinet after understanding the situation had granted approval for the two baby tuskers to be given to the temple.

The chief priests have further stated that the objections raised by animal rights activists against the two baby tuskers being taken by the temple have been silent on the large number of elephants killed annually. They say that the activists are therefore against the continuance of traditional religious events in the country.

Its kindda sad, I know for a fact that a juvenile elephant nurses for 5yrs, and these two young ones are apparently just two and three years old. Elephants are very social creatures and family ties crucial to their mental development.

What the heck eh, this is Sri Lanka after all and those that can will do as they please while the rest of us remain dumb

Pic of the moment

An old one actually, taken in Conakry, Guinea two years ago. One that I still like for some reason.

This is what a typical West African wholesale market looks like, crowded, full of people, vehicles,, congested.

A Lankan lament

"Do I know what it means
To stand in the queue as a mere 13 year old,
Collecting charity for my younger brother
and widowed and aching mother,
a wound in my stomach which hurts and oozes.
With no one to care for the pain
To live on, not knowing why or the reason or meaning of hope...”

Sumathy R

Extract from the Sri Lanka Guardian

(July 30, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian)These are the opening lines of a poem by Sumathy R, who worked as a volunteer for a few days in a Tamil refugee camp in Sri Lanka. She describes the travails of the destitute and the orphans living in army-controlled camps According to reports, about three lakh Tamils displaced from erstwhile LTTE-controlled areas by war are treated like prisoners in these camps in North Sri Lanka. “Hundreds of thousands of Tamils remain locked in camps almost entirely offlimits to journalists, human rights investigators and political leaders,” The New York Times reported on July 12 after meet some refugees in one of the camps.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Does not auger well

I don't know if it.s just me but I can't but help notice that a sense of intolerance seems to be becoming more and more prevalent.

Browsing through a recent post I found myself becoming more and more saddened about some of the comments and how easily people resort to making threats, promising retribution if someone or the other did not desist from voicing their opinions! Don't they realize that they are threatening the very freedom they enjoy to make those very same comments? Of course this does not mean I condone such threats, violence is no solution to anything.

Somehow, somewhere along the line people seem to have come to the conclusion that everything that the GOSL is right, that any commentary to the contrary is unacceptable. Have we forgotten that we are supposed to be a Democracy, that we all have a right to express an opinion?

Are they not worried about the direction we are going in - extra judicial killings, politician using force, be it to intimidate or have their own way, children driven to suicide, our society becoming increasingly intolerant and we as a country apparently marching back in time?Are they not worried about how we Sri Lankan's are going to pay the IMF for the 2 billion dollars we just got on top of all the other loans?

I am.

I hope that I'm wrong, I hope that those that walk the corridors do in fact have all our best interests in mind, not that of a select few.

Sheep are easily lead and Ostrich's bury their heads in the sand... and in bad times even the wise man keeps his mouth shut

Sri Lankan Cops Useful Tips to up-date your general knowledge

Got this by mail.... not sure just how accurate it is, but hey, someone could always try them out and let us know!

1. A single Cop, CANNOT stop you on the road! (it's prohibited and you are not suppose to Stop either !)

2. A single cop CANNOT seize your driving license !

3. Only a 'traffic control' cop has the authority to request anything MORE than your NIC when you are behind wheels.

4. A single traffic cop NEVER can press charges against you. HE MUST HAVE A WITNESS IF DOES SO.

5. That's why you always find 'two' cops together

6. Police is a peace controlling force. NOT AN ARMED FORCE !!!They are prohibited by LAW to carry anything more than a BATON! (but due to the prevailing WAR, they are issued Guns by a supreme court ruling,till the war ENDS)

7. So, if a Cop pulls a gun on you, YOU CAN sue him !!!

8. If a COP claims that you are drunk, you have the FULL right to ask for a 'balloon test', if they DO NOT HAVE it in their possession on the time of your request, you can GO.

9. Only Traffic Cops have the RIGHT to stop any moving vehicle. (that's why you find at least 1 normal cop in every checkpoint even though they are manned by Army)

10. COPS, CANNOT ENTER YOUR HOME OR WORK PREMISES without a court Order. You have the
FULLEST right ASK for it, if they try to enter and also DENY their entrance if you 'feel' like it.

11. A traffic cop CANNOT seize your driving license UNTIL he fully states the crime you have committed and the relating penal code violation. If he is unsuccessful in stating them, you can go free

12. If a traffic cop seizes your license by force and ask you to come to the police station to collect it. DO NOT GO! Lodge a complain directly to Police commission or the 'Provincial IGP', YOU can get the cop SACKED for his misconduct and unruly behaviour.

13. (for girls), If a COP asks for your Identifications and (if you think he's doing it on purpose to harass you) you CAN deny his request. He cannot arrest you ! you have the RIGHT to request for a Female Police officer.

14. (for Girls) If you are asked to be Body checked, it's your right to get it done by a female cop. If they don't have one in present, DENY their action.

BTW, if you also happen to get arrested/ beaten up etc. as a result of trying any of the above. pls do let me know - I'll post an update to this post then

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The road to Niger

Work took me to Niger Monday morning, a trip I usually make by road from Burkina Faso. Its 490km to Niamey from Ouagadougou, 45mts by air, 6hrs by road. There is a $300 reason for opting to travel by car, the difference between the cost of a ticket and how much I spend on fuel.

Left home at 04:30 and I was soon up to speed, bowling along at the customary 120km plus which should get me to Niger around 11 local time.

That's if all goes according to plan.

The drive is a pleasant one, I love to watch the sun come up when I'm on the road. The noise of the wind, the sound of the rolling tires.

My route takes me from Ouaga to Koupella from there on to Fada, then Kantchari which is the border with Niger.

The stretch between Fada and Kantchari is one better not traveled at night, armed bandits are reported to operate here, and judging by the number of army patrols I've seen, there seems to be some truth to it. I have one rule, never travel at night; leave early but avoid deserted stretches after dusk.

Travel by road in Africa, especially when crossing borders requires various checks. The first on the road to Niger is at the Police Post about 1okm this side of Kantchari where its obligatory to show the car's documents. There is no recording of this information, just a cursory glance at the papers by the Police there.

At Kantchari there are two points, one a customs point and the other the Immigration/ Emigration point, two km apart. Remember, this road is a life line to Niger for it is along this that the bulk of the imports come by, be it fr0m the sea ports of Tema (Ghana), Lome (Togo) or Cotonou (Benin), so it is a well traveled road with much traffic.

Which reminds me of the car convoys - second hand cars from Europe, landed at one of those ports are driven in convoy, signals flashing, 10, 20 to convoy speeding along either to Ouaga or the other direction to Niamey.

This is also the route for long distance buses, to Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger and even Chad.

At the customs point, depending on the mood of the man in charge, your particulars will be logged or not. Either way, its generally a five minute stop.

Pop back in the car and on to the Police post to get an exit stamp on the passport.

The Frontier as it's called is another 5km from that point, and Niger's counterpart to Kantchari, Makalondi a further 15hm - a buffer zone between the two countries.

Makalondi is a small community that has grown around the Police and Custom's office. As soon as you stop one or two customs officers will amble up to check your vehicle, after which in a most lordly manner they will direct you to the shack across the parade ground where a usually scruffy looking official will painfully note down all the details pertaining to your vehicle and you.

Then its to I/E where after again noting your passport details you get stamped in.

Now, after the visa stamp the singular most important piece of paper you need if traveling in your own vehicle is the Laissez-passer - French for "Let Pass". This paper allows you to temporary import the vehicle into an adjoining country and gives me the freedom to travel.

Now considering that every non Niger registered vehicle requires one of these the least you would expect is that there would be enough of them right? Wrong. I'm told that they have run out of the permits, the books are finished!

I'm told that I can get one 25km further on, at Torodi. So I drive on, reaching Toradi at 10:00hrs. Its started raining by now, but hey, I'm on schedule, or so I thought.

Lots of people around in uniform, little work going on, all of the sitting around chatting. And the guy who handles the permits? He's out back in his quarters asleep, why, cos its raining!

C'est l'Afrique!

A Lexus SUV drives up, a senior office, I expect things to happen. He gets out,uniform, rubber slippers, walks across to the chatters and joins in.

A mercedes next, another officer, sandals this time, same outcome.

Eventually, 11:30 the combined efforts of three people gets me my paper.

In Niamey I get pulled over - Laissez-passer, s'il vous plaît, permis de conduire.

I am so glad I stayed to get it.

Work done I left Niamey at 4am... this usually means I'll wake up the guys at Makalondi and since they don't have power it means fumbling around with a torch getting the entry record canceled, passport stamped.

Dawn breaks and the sky is beautiful. I'm at peace

One thing about these roads, accidents are frequent and usually fatal. On this trip I came across a container truck that had run off the road at night, driver fell a sleep I suppose. The other accident was a toppled bus, goods strewn all across the road.

Sleep is a killer, which is why i do at times pull over, lock the doors and catch a few winks...

I'm back home, another 1200km on the clock...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Choco calculator - nicked

Don't tell me your age; you probably would tell a falsehood anyway
-but the Hershey Man will know!


This is pretty neat.

It takes less than a minute.

Work this out as you read.

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50 - yeah, better go get the calculator

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759 ..
If you haven't, add 1758.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number
(i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are?

YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Safety Instructions

Bored sitting on my butt on the tarmac ( i was in the plane, the plane was ON the tarmac) in Accra, mind ran off on its own, and then it struck me - just how apt those instructions were in respect of our own lives!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Trio of Ableptic Rodents

Nursery rhymes for smart kids, something someone nicked off the web - enjoy

A trio of rodents of the species Mus muscula suffering from acute
A trio of rodents of the species Mus muscula suffering from acute
Observe the peculiar manner in which they ambulate!
Observe the peculiar manner in which they ambulate!
The entire group, with one accord, pursued the agricultural engineer's
She, in turn, retaliated both quickly and effectively by amputating
their posterior appendages with a large blade typically used in cleaving
the muscle tissue of animals which have been prepared for ingestion by
In all your existence, have you observed such erratic behaviour as that
just described, as
A trio of rodents of the species Mus muscula suffering from acute

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pic of the moment


Its three thirty in the morning and I'm sitting here waiting for them to start the checking in procedures for my flight back to Ouaga. Tired and a little disoriented, haven't slept in 24hrs, and this trip has been a physically demanding one - or I'm just getting too old for this shit.

Bamako, Mali and a new experience. Its said that if you haven't seen Bamako's night life, then you have not really seen Mali. So this time, since I had to be at the airport early anyway I decided to do just that.

Route 216 AKA Rue Bla Bla is by day just another street connecting two parallel ones. But at night, after 10 pm this road comes alive as the bars and restaurants that litter it light up. The road derives its name from a Bamako institution - the Bla Blah Bar which is quite hip by African standards! Le Terrance is a few doors away, and up stair a bar restaurant. Lovely place, great ambiance and music I could related to - Staying Alive seemed most popular this evening. The crowd here looks to be relatively well heeled, at XOF 1500 for a small beer, well the same one on the road costs 600 - 800.

Rue Bla Bla was also the River Bla Bla for a hour or so today after a thunder storm.

Africa has some incredibly good looking women, and the nicest thing about them is attitude really, open and willing to strike up a conversation with even a nerd like me. This evening I met an exceptionally sweet one, Ethiopian/ Cote d'Ivoire parentage.... something about her, something intangible but so apparent about her, a sweetness, a demeanor that was both gentle and bold. I have to confess that I'm having trouble forgetting her!

Another hour or so before check in, two hours for the flight to take off - I'm tired, and truth be said a little depressed.

I just remembered that the last time I sat here I did so convinced that I would not survive the flight... irrational, no basis to that at all, but I felt it strongly that day.

I was supposed to make this trip last month, but was told to put it off so that a company VIP could accompany me. I did and then subsequently told that he is too busy this month, that if I wanted to I could go ahead.

Well I got here and managed to make the crucial meeting I wanted. Alas, just a week ago the people I wanted to see had signed an agreement with a competitor and were no longer open to any new offers.

This, if it had come through was worth something in the range of a million dollars to me... and lost now due to a factor beyond my control, annoyed, pissed, demoralized - many things I am usually not.

I need some sleep and food too, beer on an empty stomach sucks and the last meal I had was about 14hrs ago.... the last beer i had was three, figures eh?

Ah, she was sweet

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Missed a bus

I was reading this fascinating piece about the Moon Landing by Groundviews and the messages of good will carried on that mission

I've spent the last 30mts reading those letters even from countries such as Sierra Leone, Upper Volta, Togo and Afghanistan.

Sadly Sri Lanka is missing from this list and in a fashion seems to be a reflection upon us and our tendency to isolate ourselves from global participation.

Why is that? Is it that we carry a chip on our shoulders in spite of all that we have achieved? I can understand it if missed the dead line - but to decline it?

Apparently this is what I am...

My Profile

You Are an INFJ (Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeler, Judger)

INFJs represent between 1 and 3% of the U.S. Population

INFJs inhabit a world of ideas. They are independent, original thinkers driven by their strong feelings, and personal integrity. Sensitive, committed, hardworking, and perceptive, INFJs are often excellent listeners, skilled at generating enlightened and creative solutions to people’s problems. Thoughtful and careful decision makers, INFJs prefer to have plenty of time to let ideas “percolate” before taking action. Because they value harmony and agreement, INFJs like to persuade others of the validity of their viewpoint. They win the cooperation of others by using approval and praise, rather than argument or intimidation.

INFJs go to great lengths to promote fellowship and avoid conflict. They are also often perfectionists highly focused, and driven to accomplish their goals. Rather formal and reserved, INFJs can be difficult to read, but it is critically important to them that their values, needs and concerns be understood and respected.

Its not quite off the mark actually

Friday, July 17, 2009

Elephant House Ginger Beer

I grew up on Elephant House Hot Dogs and Ginger beer, of a quality that does not exist anymore.

As children our mom used to take us once a month for a hot dog and ice cream to the back of Fountain Cafe where the hot dog stand used to be right next to the little merry go round and swings - this used to be the highlight of the month and I can still close my eyes and see things as they were then.

A meal at Fountain Cafe was a special treat, and not to be taken lightly. This was where I had my first Spider - Lemonade and Ice cream, happily munching away at a grilled pork chop with chips to be followed by vanilla ice cream and nuts with chocolate sauce... Fountain Cafe got its name from the beautiful ornate fountain that graced the garden in front of the building.

Fountain Cafe was subsequently moved to the front of CCS, with the snack bar tacked on to the side of it - the little merry go round was gone. But the food remained just as good and for many years later we would still make our way there, now taking our mother there for a meal instead of her taking us.

Sadly there seems to be no place for nostalgia in the world of big business and soon economics took its toll on what was for many years a family restaurant and Fountain Cafe and its signature hot dog was no more.

An Elephant House Hot Dog made a come back subsequently, but for those of us who had had the real thing, it was a sad imitation of a great product. I remember talking with a young urn working for Keells at the time who, in exasperation, threw her hands up and proclaimed that she just could not understand this eloquent waxing about a sausage in a bun! Cant blame her being from another era, not knowing what it used to mean - to them it was a product to hype through sales and marketing...

It was therefor really no surprise to see Ginger Beer become branded as EGB - apparently to make it more appealing to a younger generation. It stuck me at the time that it was just a bunch of people with too much time on their hand fiddling with what was a really good product!

EGB I was quick to point out could also stand for "Eke Godayate Bon de" an interpretation I dont think many people involved with the product liked to hear! But I really thought it was stupid to go play with something that worked!

This afternoon I happened to be looking up ginger beer and it was indeed a pleasant surprise see that its been re branded to what it should be, Elephant Ginger Beer.

I'm wondering now if the Hot Dog will be back too? Not the one that they serve at the ODEL Food Court, oh no, I'm talking about the real kosher Fountan Cafe Hot Dog with that awesome sauce!

I'll end with two things

First a comment by Sanesh Fernando which I niked off someone's blog which describes well what a Fountain Cafe Hot Dog should be

The Elephant House HotDog is nothing compared to it’s previous Owner “Fountain Cafe” in Slave Island. I was very sad when Elephant House acquired ”Fountain Café” and closed it up. The Softness of the HotDog Bun and the Creaminess of the Special sauce they make is no more. Just the thought of it makes my mouth watered. It was those days that I gave Hot Dogs to Millennium IT staff, from “Fountain Cafe” for my First Salary Treat and for my Birthdays.

And to end a few of what I consider to be Colombo specials

a) The Original Fountain Cafe Hot Dog - now extinct

b) A Buriyani at Hotel De Buhary in Maradana

c) A mutton Chinese roll from Nippon

d) A Green Cabin Cream Bun and Lumprai

e) Lime juice and Coffee from Pilawoos

f) A Cheese kotthu from the place NEXT to Pilawoos

g) A kothu (regular) from Gihan's in Delkande(?)

h) Nan from Nana's at Galle face - Old Nana is no more, murdered one day as he sat in his wheelchair

i) The Crab curry they used to serve at the Chinese Restaurant (cant remember the name anymore) next to Alerics in Wella - Apuhamy was our favorite waiter and he gave us royal treatment.

j) A good malu pan

k) A string hopper buriyani from Hotel De Majestic

Be nice to see what else is there - feel free to add

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My childhood was a happy one I'm pleased to say, in spite of all the trials and tribulations my mom had to deal with she always made sure that we were OK - it could not have been easy being a single parent bringing up three boys especially considering the scraps we got into.

Once I inadvertently stepped across the flight path of a dart which lodged itself in my skull. My two brothers followed up by then rolling on the ground hooting in laughter - this is the earliest recollection I have of them trying to kill me.

In retaliation, a few years later I set a mattress on fire while evil sibling #2 was asleep on it. My mother returned to find her 3 pride and joy's dousing the damn thing in the kitchen with buckets of water.

Then there was the time my elder brother, who should have known better, the bastard, removed the brakes off a push bike and got me to try and set a new speed record. I ripped my arm open trying to stop the bloody thing which then required stitches - in the process of being treated I managed to kick the Doctor too.

My younger brother is stubborn sod, we once had to sit on him to try and get him to stop yelling, he didn't, my mom heard the little shit all the way to the top of the road and came hope to rescue him from the two of us.

We used to fight like two rabid dogs, drove my mother nuts. She used to cut whatever we were fighting over in half and give them back to us, we would fight over which half was better.

The last fight was a memorable one, we tried Maters tolerance to such an extent she brought out a cane one day while we were at it and pronounced that the first one to stop would get it. We went at it with gusto but after 15mts were reeling like drunken sailors. I finally got the upper hand by straddling my brother who then bit me on my testicles, ending things for once and for all. We haven't spoken much since then.

Evil brother #1 went on to set my hair on fire a year or so later and to hide the evidence, removed each singed hair by hand. I smelt for days after that and still look like Worzel Gummidge.

Back in the village the "Maha Gedera" is situated on a small hill - I remember it to look so steep in those days, and our biggest fun would be to ride this old tri-cycle down it at breakneck speed. The old house has a "Made Midula" which we used to block up during the rains and turn into a swimming pool, there was nothing so fun as splashing around in that, turning a deaf ear to our gran, and then to sit on a 'Bankuwa' by the 'Dare Lippe' drinking "Koththe malli" wrapped in towels.

"Amma" as we called our grand mother used to have an alms giving every year, for upto 20 priests at a time... this was a high light of the year for us, not only because of all the food but because we used to have awesome pillow fights in the garden, while the cushions were being aired.

I wonder if kids do those things anymore...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oh Mak's!

Ever since I woke up this morning and had my daily dose of, I've been trying remember if anything quite as gross as Mak's putting her hand into the toilet bowl had happened to me.

It is kind of gross right, a voluntary toilet bowl hand insertion thing - even if was flushed, or so Mak's claimed, its just kind of well, "Ewwwwwww!".

The best that I can come up with is to confess to having swarm in the Wellewatte Canal one day - an extremely short immersion I hasten to mention, and only undertaken as it was a rescue mission.

I was crossing the canal near Kinross, across the railway bridge - this was way before there was any Marine Drive and the only way across was the rail tack or swim.

As I crossed, eyes and ears open for a train from either direction my Frisbee slipped out from under my t and down between the sleepers into the canal.

Now this was no ordinary Frisbee, it was a Championship one weighing in at 2.3 ounces and 'frizzed' like a dream - it could bounce of the ground, go up and away and come back to me, soar through the air like an eagle, pass over my shoulders, between my legs; this was My Precious

Well it slipped out and down and the next thing I know is that its been tossed and pummeled by the waves spot in the middle of the damn canal!

So, I stepped in, I walked to the end of the bridge, clambered down and slid into the water, breast stroking my way, head held high till I reached it.

That's still not as gross as Mak's and her toilet bowel, right?

And so it goes - Billy Joel.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows.

PS: My thanks to Delilah Says for introducing me to this haunting piece of music

Friday, July 10, 2009

Facets of Sri Lanka

Surfing the lankan blogsphere I eventually ended up a blog that had very descriptive post about Barefoot. Now I like Barefoot, Paradise Road, The Saffron Warehouse as much as anyone else does but there were elements of that post that kind of got me thinking about the social structure of Colombo

The post was a good one, one of the best 'reviews' I've seen of Barefoot and was obviously written with first hand close up experience - you have to have that to know that Suresh is the guy to help you with the curtains!

Certainly an ideal post to promote SL as a destination, but to say that it offers "A true insight to the untroubled life of Sri Lanka and its people’s philosophy." seemed a little too broad.

The place most certainly is a calm oasis in the hustle and bustle that is Colombo but whether it reflects the general populace and their lifestyle is most certainly debatable. To many of us such boutiques are places most often seen as haunts for the 'Colombo 7 types", the nouveau riche, the spouses, off spring of politicians and the expat community - their 'reality' of a life of leisure and Hakuna Matata.

I suppose it happens everywhere, a minute strata enjoying a life style that is far beyond the imagination of a majority of people, dropping on a single meal what could feed another family for a week. The irony is that most of them, designer wear and all will still haggle a couple of rupees with the pavement hawker over a mango! There was I recollect a recent post in a smiler vain

Colombo has a select group, perhaps 300 - 400 souls in the age group 18 to mid forties, a group that seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in one club or the other depending on where the beat is. I'm not saying this is wrong, its a life style choice, but one that I find difficult to come to terms with.I can understand partying all night in your late teens, easing up as you go into your 30's, but to keep at it weekend after weekend, just how much is enough? How do you spend 10k on a night out? Why would you do that when perhaps you could pay for the education of a child for an entire year with that?

That part i don't understand

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Of things to come

I'm reading with a sense of disbelief an article saying that the Sri Lanka Tea Promotion Board has been barred from talking to the media.

I'm sure that the Mandarin's who walk the corridors of power in Colombo know exactly what they are doing when this was decided upon, but I have to confess that I'm at a loss as to what the exact logic was.

Tea has been my life, its been my passion and my career, living and breathing tea lore most of my adulthood. Its taken me from Sri Lanka to China, from the foot of Adam's Peak, all the way to Tiger Hill in Darjeeling from where I've watched the sunrise over the Himalaya's.

In all that time, information has been a critical element, to promote, to plan, to develop strategy based upon how things are. Just stop to consider the manner in which tea flows from the gardens to your cup.

Usually, the tender tea leaves harvested today are converted to a drinkable for withing 24hrs. From that point a sample is drawn and sent to one or more of the 7 Tea Brokers in Colombo. From them that sample is sent on to any of the 400 odd registered tea exporters, who based upon quality, demand and need place a value upon it. When that tea comes up for sale, all that needs to be known about that tea is know - it's quality, the quantity available, when it was made where, by whom and most importantly a value has already been set on it.

This process takes place almost every week of the year and has been going on for over a 100yrs, and it works like clock work.

If the GOSL begins to tinker with the way things are I wonder where we will go... in the face of growing competition from markets such a Vietnam and Indonesia who are producing teas far cheaper than SL does, in the face of increasingly easier trading conditions in competing countries, the trading restrictions faced by SL tea exporters places them at a disadvantage global markets.

The cup that cheers may no longer be that in time to come for us in SL

Beneath the surface

I've always was eloquently about the peace and calm in Burkina Faso and how its stability was one of the prime reasons for me selecting it as base camp.

That sense of confidence was shaken a little this morning as a small riot broke out in the Ville Central, around the Grand Marche.

Life, the heart of commerce takes place around the Market Places of Africa and any disturbance causes ripples around it.

A few years ago the Grand Marche of Ouaga caught fire and was completely destroyed and it was only recently that its successor was opened not with out some controversy. You see the powers that be had decided that there would be a restrictions to the entry of traffic - so Police Boxes were set up at all four corners an the four roads around the market were virtually closed to all traffic - not the best of ideas I was thinking, after all, a market needs free access on foot and vehicular too.

Since the opening thee have been meetings and some breaks in the peace as the traders agitated for the removal of the barriers - met with some success last week after a showdown with the Mayor.

Ill feeling still prevailed though which was sparked off this morning following a death in Police custody. From what I hear a young man died as a result of being run over by a truck apparently as he was being lead away by the Police for some misdeed or the other.

Within an hour, crowds surrounded the Marche in agitation and just as quickly the surrounding shops put up their shutters in anticipation of the worse. The token Police presence was jeered and hooted at, with the crowed of men becomingly increasingly more daring. As things got to the point when two of the Police pill boxes were set alight, the riot Police descended, firing of a few smoke canisters... time now I thought for me to remove myself from the scene.

This incident I think speaks of more than just this particular issue, it stems from the general unrest that the populace feels. A change to the constitution in 1991 saw the creation of a semi-presidential government consisting of a parliament and a President of the Republic, who is elected for a term of seven years. An amendment n 2000 reduced the Presidents term to 5 yrs, taking effect during the elections of 2005. This should have prevented the incumbent from taking office again, however it was argued that it did not apply retrospectively and M. Blaise Compaoré returned as the President with reportedly 80% of the votes in an election boycotted by the opposition.

The President of Burkina Faso has been in office since 1987 following a coup in which he was implicated in the assassination of his predecessor Thomas Sankara a charismatic and popular president with masses who however failed to win over the support of those in positions of influence - his policies toward fighting corruption, promoting reforestation, averting famine, and making education and health real priorities sadly did not go well with the elitists of the country. It was during his tenure that Burkina Faso was so named, replacing Upper Volta.

As things stand now, the next election is due toward the latter part of 2010. It should be stated that since the coup of 1987, BF has become one of the most politically stable of the West African countries albeit it seems at the cost of civil rights. The country remains one of the poorest in the world, ranked number three according to the UN

What will happen next year is anyone's guess, the only real opponent apparently is Benewende Stanislas Sankara, who in the 2005 election received 4% of the votes.

Irrespective of who wins, ultimately it is the Burkinabes who need to benefit from all of this - a gentle polite people, they deserve to have things get better for them; I hope it happens soon

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

MJ's dead?

Woke up this morning to the news that MJ's ghost is on the prowl - Bloody inconvenient that must be you know, after all, shouldn't you be dead for that to happen?

Ah, I can still remember the day my uncle, fresh off the boat from Old Blighty, giving me a copy of THRILLER - die hard MJ fan I was, growing up on a diet of Ghouls and Beating It and BJ. And wasn't she cute, Michael s movie date in thriller?! For a while there was a fierce competition between her and the girl in Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" video for a spot in my soul.

But I digress...

Why have people been so quick to bury Micheal, and now to spread the terrible tale that he's ghost is on the move?! NO I say NO!

After all, we all know that The King (of Rock N' Roll) is alive and well - what do you mean you don't?! OMG

OK, Amazon Dot Com, shop around for "Mostly Harmless" by Douglas Adams, its all there people.

But I digress...

The King lives, both of them, Rock N' Pop, long live The Kings!

Oh and by the way, that's a shadow people, all of us have one, unless you're the devils spawn, and it usually hangs around in front of you, behind you, well somewhere around you OK?

Ta ta

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Of WWW and the people you meet

I've been thinking back and its dawned on me that I've met some darned good people over the last couple of years and its all thanks to the internet.

Its rather strange that I feel so close to some of them especially since the truth is I've never really met most of them anyway!

There's the people I 'look up' on through my blog and by extension through Kottu, there are those crocs across at Kimbula and then the people I met through flickr - which brings up an opportunity to mention JA. His photo blog of Ouaga initially attracted my attention and I used to make it a point to check up his latest pics. We eventually discovered a mutual liking to beer and, eventually, after a few months actually met up for one - imagine this, an American and a Sri Lankan meet on the internet and hook up for a beer in Burkina Faso - cue 'Its a small world after all"

I've met in real life some of these wonderful people, with others I've exchanged mails, while keeping in touch with all through their various cyber space presence.

Point I am rambling towards is that its unlikely that I would have ever met most of you out there if not for the Internet... and so far, the experience has been a positive one for me.

Take care all

Friday, July 3, 2009

An optimistic pessimist

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged I guess, the last few posts have been harried ones, spruced up with a few photographs cos we all know that a picture’s worth a 1000 words, right?

But I really should make an effort, its not as if what passes of as my brain has gone into hibernation, I can still surprise myself with a thought or two.

What happened to rubber slippers, you know the kind that people used to refer to as “Bata’s”? I was reading about someone’s ‘Urban Thongs”, got all excited when I saw the word and galloped on to read the post… was I in for a surprise? Since when did people stop referring to a thong as a thong and start calling good old rubber slippers thongs? A thong goes around the waist, not on your feet – well, it may pause for a little on the way down and out, but you are not supposed to wear them!

Gas gone up again in SL, and as usual the powers that be in GOSL have hiked up petrol, to a greater degree than diesel and kerosene – even more reason to shit on the environment with high powered SUV’s and Fishermen and Farmers using even more of the later to power boat and agricultural equipment. Kerosene is the most expensive of the three refined products and yet is supplied cheaper than the other two, thanks to those wonderful people in our government – and poor lame assed tax payers like me have to foot the bill so that the fat cats and the super rich can haul their neither regions around encased in luxury!

And then what about carrots?! A cabinet minister no less, saying that we should switch to cheaper vegetables - rabu and kekiri I presume - as a strategy towards reducing the COL. Small Miracle indeed if he practiced what he preached! Ain't the government responsible for the state of the economy? And if they suck at it should they be allowed to go on? I have an idea, lets privatize the government, with bench marking and best practices and remuneration based upon performance!

The general direction of things in SL does not seem to auger well, day by day whatever rights the common man had, seem to erode further and further. The President’s words to the effect that one was either for one Sri Lanka (double speak for his government) or not – in plain language if you disagreed you were a traitor, a terrorist etc. I wonder how many people actually heard what he said.

The celebrations I hear go on, at least the majority continues to celebrate the demise of the LTTE. It should dawn on people though that a significant percentage of the population remains silent…

We were told that with the end of the war, expenditure on defense, in fact total expenditure would come down. But one hears that the Army Commander requires a 50% increase to ensure security in the liberated areas – that’s another 100,000 soldiers! And of course, politicians with dubious track records – murder, rape, general mayhem – keep getting promoted, I read today of two new ministerial appointments….

Oh how soon people forget their roots, the current incumbent when a minister under CBK was someone who supported media freedom, championed the down trodden, albeit sotto voce. Much hope’s were there about a future SL under his steward ship, instead what we have seen are things never seen before in this beautiful country of ours.

I love SL, and I consider myself a Sri Lankan, my ethnicity and my religion come second. AND that is the only way forward for us, for all of us to see ourselves as Sri Lankan’s first and last.

Whether it will happen I doubt it.

I’d like to think that we are going to grow as a people, as a country, that poverty will reduce, that there will be harmony amongst us, that the quality of life of every Sri Lankan will improve, that our future will be a bright, prosperous, peaceful and calm one, that we will have country that our children will be proud of.

I’d like to think that, but I’m a pessimist; who would like to be proved wrong

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Feeling the pinch

I'm beginning to feel the effects of this global financial crisis and it worries me!

Last year, Apr 2008 to Mar 2009 was a good year for me, the area I am responsible for exceeded expectations, setting a whole new set of bench marks.

Of course a good performance is a double edged sword, everyone, realistically or otherwise, expects that to be out-done come hell or high water in the year that follows.

Going into April this year I was not too concerned, in fact the projections for the month indicated a marginal increase on budget. This sense of well being was shattered in the following two months with a 5% and then 30% decline leaving me 33% behind at the end of the 1st quarter.

My own projections for the next three months look a disaster, I'll be lucky to achieve 50% of budget.

A constant headache, nights spent tossing and turning are taking a toll on me and I find myself increasingly despondent, becoming more and more lethargic. That back-office does little to support the front line is another cause of frustration, one that is a constant thorn in my side.

It ain't easy to deliver when the back up does not share a mutual sense of pride in perfection and meeting, nay exceeding, client expectations!

This is a rant, one that I am not really apologetic about because I am pissed and worried. On a personal front I cannot afford a change in status qou, and a change I'll have to call for if I cannot justify my existence in this position.

God I so badly need a break, just one break to ease a little bit of the pressure, buy me sometime to re group, to step back and recuperate, charge up the power cells, take care of some repairs.

Yeah, my health sucks too right now, shit, when it happens, it pours...

Oh well, c' est la vie!