Friday, September 18, 2009

If Africa can

I read today of plans afoot to halve the Kenyan Cabinet in the face of increasing taxpayers criticism.

Kenya has a population of 37 million people and a Cabinet of 40 - one minister for every 925000 people. The proposed change, if implemented, will change the representation to 1 for every 1,542000.

One Minster has gone on record saying that it was an embarrassment that he did not know the name of a colleague, who sat on the opposite side of the house - "This showed even ministers don't know each other as their number is too big." he is reported to have said.

Debate about the size of the cabinet revolved around the fact that the bloated cabinet, which also includes the president and prime minister, had made it ineffective!

Should such a proposal be implemented in Sri Lanka, we would see our Cabinet shrunk to an even dozen - just imagine what a lean and mean fighting machine we would be

Small, I mean BIG Miracle indeed!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sri Lanka Feedom Party - having a centre-left or pro-socialist economic agenda and is often associated with hard-line Sinhala parties

Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna - a nationalist, Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party

Muslim National Unity Alliance - a left-wing political party

Mahajana Eksath Peramuna - a left-wing political party

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka - a communist political party

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party - a Trotskyist political party

The Jathika Hela Urumaya - Monk led lay-based, secular Sinhala nationalist political party

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress - represents the Muslim community of Sri Lanka.

The Tamil National Alliance a minority Sri Lankan Tamil political alliance, amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties as well as number of former rebel groups. Supports self-determination in an autonomous state for the island's Tamils

Eelam People's Democratic Party - a political party and a Paramilitary organization

The Ceylon Workers' Congress - a political party which has traditionally represented Tamils working in the plantation sector of the economy

The United National Party - a right-leaning, business friendly party

Democratic People's Front - originally a trade union, then converted into a political party. It draws support from the Tamil population of Colombo

The government coalition( Sri Lanka Freedom Party - People's Liberation Front - Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya - Muslim National Unity Alliance - Mahajana Eksath Peramuna - Desha Vimukthi Janatha Pakshaya - Communist Party of Sri Lanka - Democratic United National Front - Lanka Sama Samaja Party), as far as I can work it out, is therefore a Socialist, Marxist, Leninist, Communist, Nationalist government with, of course, capitalistic tendencies at an individual level.

Is it any wonder then that what we need is apparently to rebuild our institutional foundations to foster and preserve the new multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Sri Lanka that we wish to create?!

I need advice

I find my self in need of advice of a legal nature...

The situation is as follows

I'm a shareholder in an extremely large organization. As organizations go, its rather unique in that no single individual is entitled to more than one share - so in that sense its more of a Co-op I suppose, technically all of us have a single vote and equel rights in doing so.

As in all organizations there are various factions here to, people with differing ideologies, convictions, who inevitably jockey around for support in the hope of being elected to the Board. These individuals, and their supporters make numerous promises to the rest of us - better ROI's, all kinds of perks at Company cost etc. which inevitably get forgotten once they are elected. In fact I have the nasty suspicion that the only reason they do so is for the sole purpose of feathering their own nests at the cost of the rest of the shareholders!

For quite sometime now we were asked to grit our teeth and bear the burden of a costly war - you know how aggressive mass marketing is, right? And it was tough, for quite sometime we were actually on bended knee trying to contain the competition which was using faster, almost guerrilla tactics. We prevailed though, hats off to the Board, they got the job done, albeit at a great cost, one which I think though many of the shareholders accepted as required for us to move forward. But now, things seem to be just as bad for so many other reasons, and it seems to me that the Board of Directors are evolving into a Board of Dictators, albeit with the support of some shareholders. The problem lies in the silence of the majority though - who was it who said that "for evil to triumph all it needs is for good people to remain quiet' or something like that?

Fact is I'm not happy with my BOD, I am no longer convinced that they have the shareholders best interests in mind anymore, I'm not convinced that what they do is for our good anymore - dividends are down, and with the cost of living as it is now, every single cent counts, most of the perks they promised are are yet to come, in fact, stuff that we considered to be our rights as shareholders are in fact becoming steadily eroded. Whats worse is that any reasonable objection or question is being increasingly frowned upon and brushed aside with neigh a thought for the shareholders and their hard earned efforts that fund the organization!

Now comes my question: Can I sue them? Can I take legal action against the BOD for failing to deliver, for failing to meet our expectations?

I've tried the other way, at every AGM we have tried, but human nature being human nature there will always be those swayed by the promise of better returns, of growth of increasing wealth just around the corner.... promises if kept I am fine with.

I don't know man...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Read all about it!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses,
And all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again

Humty Dumpty as you all must know by now, had a great fall - well actually it was not a really big one at all. In fact, if you or I had happen to take the same fall it would not even be worth two half pennies - or a ten rupee note given the state of our economy now; but that's besides the point.

Anyway, Humpty Dumpty had a fall and all the kings horses and all the kings men got terribly upset about it. They ran hither and they ran thither, pointing at one another saying "it wasn't me, it wasn't me..."

Having suddenly fallen, for no apparent reason, Humpty Dumpty was picked up and deposited in another chair, but perhaps the incident was too traumatic for the Ole Egg for he departed soon there after, albeit intact...

Though no record of the incident was allowed to be kept for posterity, a little bird did tell me that several of Humpty's friends have been consulting animal entrails, the three witches of Macbeth and the heavens to see if this is a harbinger of sorts - we do live in funny times after all

The general consensus was no serious physical damage was done to Humpty's spine possibly due to the fact that egss don't have spines as one wit commented

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thumbs up

HD all the way across in Utah is one of my favorite people - she not only paints but takes some pretty neat photographs too.

These are from a recent trip she made to the East Coast, enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"‘Machang eya ape hole ekata haal kiyanawa"

I am an avid reader of Gamini Weerakone's Serendipity colum in the SUNDAY LEADER.

His most recent contribution in the paper of 13th September deserves as wide a readership as it can get, in my opinion, for this quote if nothing makes such a poignant comment about what being Sri Lankan is, celebrated differences!

Such a pity then that when we can celebrate, we chose to differentiate based upon the personal agenda's of those who walk and wish to walk the corridors of power.

Its a sad telling indeed in the context of the entire article that our Government thinks we can learn English from our neighbors on the sub continent, a glaring telling on the depth to which our level of competency in English has sunk to...

English is a language I speak and write in greater fluency that I do my 'mother tongue' of Sinhalese; that I understand even a little Tamil is a matter of pride to me and all things considered, I think it is this fact that makes me a Sri Lankan, not limiting myself to being a Sinhalese Buddhist, but a proud citizen of this country of ours Sri Lanka!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Way to go

The following is a true story - however, to protect the parties concerned, the names have been changed.

Should the story bare any resemblance to our ship of state, I maintain it purely coincidental!

The places I've lived

With time you usually find yourself living in various places - and some of them can be pretty different.

Ah, Wellewatte, the one place I've lived a significant portion of life

Los Osos in Central California, a quaint little town and one I wish I had explored more!

The Eastern Cape of South Africa

My little piece of earth is here, down south

The 'hood' in Ouaga, home for the forseeable future

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pic of the moment - my desktop!

My 'Goni'

I've finally managed to put together enough about an acquisition to be able to comment upon it with some detail. Belonging to the 'Kora" family the Goni is played by Dioula people of Burkina Faso. The instrument is very similar to Kamale Ngoni, though somewhat larger.

I got mine in June from Akili Gnouma a local musician - who treated me to an impromptu performance that day.

The tuning is also pentatonic: D-F-G-A-c-d-f-g left hand: D-G-c-f, right hand: F-A-d-f, there are 8 or 10 strings, expanding the tonal range over more than one octave.

The Goni is played solo for accompaniment of songs or together with the pentatonic Balafon of the region. Like the Kora, the Goni is played with thumbs and forefingers of both hands - played with the left thumb and forefinger and the right thumb. The dampening technique of the right thumb is used to stop the sound immediately after plucking the string.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


"Dear sir, you may be surprised to receive this e mail from me and I ask for your understanding in this matter. I am Amani Bamon Ouadrago Sullaiman the second daughter of the 5th wife of the the late Senator of the Nigerian Assembly, a god fearing woman left to fend her self against her father's enemies.

Before my father passed away - may he rest in peace - he shared with me the information regarding his wealth which he had saved up for me his loving daughter.In it he has given to me a sum of $350,000,000 (three hundred and fifty million us dollars). However due to the jealousy of my family members and my fathers enemy's I am unable to collect these funds alone and I appeal to you sir for your help. if you can do so I appeal to you in the name of the almighty god to help me, a poor orphan left to fend for herself. For your help in transferring these monies I will share with you 30% of its value after all expenses and if you are agreeable, perhaps even to share my life with you"

Sound familer to anyone? It was after an exchange of emails on this very thing this morning that it occurred to me that this was indeed a subject upon which a post could be built. I'm pretty sure that most of you reading this has at some time or the other been the recipient of a similar e mail which basically follows the same format of offering a substantial sum of money for little effort on your part. Welcome to the world of West African scams!

419 is a reference to the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code and is a popular crime with the West African organised criminal networks. There are a myriad of schemes and scams - mail, faxed and telephone promises designed to facilitate victims parting with money. All involve requests to help move large sums of money with the promise of a substantial share of the cash in return.

The most notorious origins of these scams are Benin, Nigeria, Togo and Camaroon. And I'll tell you, these guys are good! They will create fictitious websites, send you reams of formal documentation, drop the names of apparently real Government Departments along with those of the people heading them in their efforts to part you of your money.

Now, I'm not claiming that all of them are scams, but the truth is that a large proportion of them are unfortunately just that and as long as people are greedy, the chances are that the scams will go on - who after all does not want to make a buck?!

Apart from the basic email offering to share money along the lines of what I penned above are the more sophisticated Import/ Export scams.

If you are in trade, chances are that you, like me have trawled B2B sites in search of trade leads, even, like me, opened an account with sites such as ALIBABA. Sooner or later you will either receive an email asking for your product or a response to an email you sent out - to or from a West African based organization more likely than not from Benin or Nigeria.

Nigeria alone is a huge market - with 146 million people, one in every six Africans is a Nigerian - which what makes it such an attractive proposal to someone like me.

Now this organization will claim to be an important importer/ distributor or perhaps even to be an aid group or even a government office. I even had one who claimed to be the welfare arm of a Benin Political Party - the Movement for Popular Freedom Benin (MPFB)!

If its an importer the scam will then proceed along the lines of

a) Asking what your products are

b) Writing back to tell you that there is a huge demand for such products and asking for a quote for a volume which boggles the mind and makes $ signs run across your brain!

c) Agree to your price with little if any resistance, sometimes even without seeing the product

d) Offer to make 100% TT transfer on receipt of the Pro forma Invoice

Now starts the fun.

You send your invoice by email.

Then comes back a thank you mail, confirming that the transfer will be made shortly - you may even get a copy of the bank instructions!

Then silence for a few days. You write and the response is that the bank is unable to transfer the funds until authorization is given by a very impressive sounding nevertheless fictitious government agency - Center for Quality Assurance/ Department of Agricultural Imports etc. Now to obtain this authorization you are told that you need to register yourself or your products. You'll be given the name of the relevant person too who for some strange reason has a yahoo/ hot mail account!

You write to him and he responds with a detailed step by step check list with what is required and how much it will cost - anything from $700 to $5000.

Your initial contact then will write urging you to expedite the matter, that unless you do so, the funds allocated for your order will be re allocated pending finalizing the registrations.

When I first entered this region I actually spent some time and effort to follow a scam, sending samples, invoices, filling out the reams of paper they sent me, all the time checking with the Benin Embassy in the UK if such a political party actually existed.

So when it came to the sting, my response was that due to strict currency regulations in SL I was unable to transfer the required FOREX to the relevant authority. I went on to request Mr Chimbawa, my contact, to release the US$ 750 required for purpose of registration from my invoice of US$ 1,400,000/-, transferring me the balance

His reply was "As we have already allocated and held the sum of US$ One Million Four Hundred Thousand for you, our Chief Financial Officer informs me that she cannot authorize a further sum for this purpose"

I was devastated - riiiight - and immediately called Mr C, who reiterated the content of his mail. When I happened to mention that the Benin Embassy in the UK had told me they knew nothing about the MPFB there was a moments silence, and then, ever so softly, the line was cut. Mr C and I never spoke after that, his line seems to have been disconnected

What you should look for?

a) Is the email address from a free service provider such as yahoo, hotmail etc? Most legitimate entities will have their own accounts.

b) Is the only number you have for your contact a mobile number? In Benin a mobile number stars witha 9 after the country prefix

c) Benin and Togo are Francophone countries - any official institute will have a French names

d) The more elaborate the titles the designations, the bluster, the more likely it is that its a scam - Contract Awarding Committee, contract committee board, CONTRACT AWARD BUREAU, NCAC, National Contract Awarding Council, Bidding Commission etc.., the list is endless.

e) Hardly anyone pay's 100% up front - if you know anyone who does, I'd like to meet them please!

Not all inquiries or queries are scams, some can and are legit. Just be careful if you have not met the person you are dealing with, still remain cautious even after you meet him!

My rule of thumb is "If it sounds too good to be true, its unlikely to be"

Keep going

Peace of Mind

Once the Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days.

While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and the Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”

The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid.

The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to the Buddha to drink!”

So he came back and told the Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.” After about half an hour, again the Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake.

This time too he found that the lake was muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same. After sometime, again the Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.

The disciple reached the lake to find the lake absolutely clean and clear with pure water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to the Buddha.

The Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said,” See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be…. and the mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

What did the Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having ‘Peace of Mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process!

In life everything goes on................Keep Going

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pic of the moment

The things one can do when there is a power cut! No lights last night, so I ended up playing with the camera, my dancers and a candle!

Result is this!

Monday, September 7, 2009

African masks and carvings

Spend Saturday digging around for some trinkets.

The masks are traditional ones from different regions of Burkina Faso




No question what this is -a Phallic symbol!

This one reminded me of , Rascar Capac's mummy in The Seven Crystal Balls

All in all, a good days haul indeed

Memo from God

I just got this memo and since its not marked confidential, I'm pretty sure it's OK to share it with all of you.

From: GOD
Reference: LIFE

This is God. Today I will be handling All of your problems for you. I do not need your help. So, have a nice day.

I love you. And, remember.... If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do Not attempt to resolve it yourself! Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. I will get to it in MY TIME. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now. Should you decide to send this to a friend; Thank you. You may have touched their life in ways you will never know!

Now, you have a nice day.


Love is...

Tagged by DL

Love is the small things -

a shared cup of coffee early morning

holding hands

sleeping in, bodies wrapped around each other

eatting off the same plate

facing up to the tough times together

Now inky pinky polly and I tag




Gossip Aiya

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I've hit a milestones of sorts today, actually I've just noticed that I hit a milestone.

My flickr account is arranged into 7 sets, one of which is title 'Around the World". And THAT set I see has just touched 1001 photographs as at 0811hrs today!

'Around The World' carries a collection of photographs from India, Hong Kong, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Angola, Ethiopia, the UAE, almost everywhere I've been since I got my Canon IS S1 and its successor the S5

Anyways, just thought I'd make a note of the fact

A few recent ones

Blew the dust off the camera this week to go out and take a few pics. Tuesday's storm knocked the entire city to its knees, roads flooded, houses washed away - So many people with so little have lost so much, its sad to see.

An antique globe and a familer place on it - thanks to the storm we were out of power and the usually bland looking globe took on a warm feel to it in the candle light

Sunset over the lake, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Puddles on the road

Silver gray skies

It seemed like almost everyone came out to collect the sand and pebbles washed up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009