Friday, November 26, 2010

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. State how many you've read in the title. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte  
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling  
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible                             
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte  
Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell  
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman 
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulkes
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy           
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - A thur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown    
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan          
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel         
52 Dune - Frank Herbert             
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy       
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce              
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
 80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rainy season

The last month has been spent more or less on the road, and the last two days were spent in finding my way from Freetown in Sierra Leone to Monrovia in Liberia. With no direct flights between the two cities even though they are adjoining countries I had no option but to take the land route, an interesting trip I was told

The drive from Freetown to Bo, SL's second city with a population of 150,000 was uneventful and would have been singularly boring if not for the landscape along the way. This trip by the way was done in a Mahindra Bolero, a vehicle that seemed to have been built sans a suspension - the seats reminiscent of those little wooden chairs we see in pre school class rooms. Bo is a commercial town, spotted with diamond merchants who buy rough stones and then sell them on to clients in Europe and Dubai.

                                                      From Freetown to Bo, Sierra Leone

                                         Everyone works, irrespective of age -  Sierra Leone

                                                 Colored bolts of clothe - Bo, Sierra Leone

From Bo the next morning we set off for Kenema, a 30mt drive from Bo, where we needed to take a ferry across a river. But this being the rainy season the ferry was grounded forcing us to take an alternate route through a 'lightly' populated part of the countryside and jungle.

For the next 8hrs we rocked back and forth, left and right as Alfa battled the Bolero and the muddy road that meandered its way through a lush green countryside, thickets of forests, paddy fields and neat little villages along the way. These little plots of habitation, many miles from anywhere struck me most for their cleanliness, neatly cleaned yards, swept paths, smiling people and children absorbed in their own little worlds as they played under watchful eyes. These are little kids with big responsibilities, carrying water, minding livestock, planting crops, taking care if even smaller kids. They carry knifes and axes with a dexterity that even I dont posses!

                                                        The road to Liberia - Sierra Leone

At Sierra Leone's immigration & emigration facilities 28km short of the actual border, we were greeted with smiles from everyone including a barefoot man in the traditional grab of a Muslim carrying an infant in his arms. As the officers flicked through my passport this amiable man strolled across to jest with me about my name. It was only then that it began to dawn upon me that this man was in fact the senior office of this post!

The actual crossing was over a bridge and a river that had broken its banks to flood the adjoining areas, including the Sierra Leone police post on the border! On the Liberian side were met by 'Big Dada' the immigration officer dressed in desert battle fatigues a patch with the Liberian flag sawn on the sleeve of his right arm - this made an impression upon me as it was so similar to a US flag barring the fact that it bore one lone star as opposed to fifty

                                                  Border crossing Sierra Leone to Liberia

                                             The Liberian flag at  Bo Waterside - Liberia

The drive to Monrovia Liberia's capital was on a well built tarred road, our journey interrupted only by frequet 'check points' which offered the officials manning them an opportunity to make a pass for gifts. This is something to be expected in a country where the population is supposedly getting by on an average of US$ 1.30 a day. And the economy is the USD, the most used form of currently everything is priced in US$ in spite fo the fact that Liberia has its own 'Liberty' dollar.

The effect of the civil war that raged across this country from 1989 to 2003 devastated the population and cities, refugees streamed into adjoining countries, US warships anchored off the coast, an ECOWAS Peace keeping force tried to keep the warring factions apart. Charles Taylor ironically is being tried not for what happened here but for his role in Sierra Leone's civil war even though it was his 1989 Christmas Eve invasion of Nimba Country with a few hundred rebels that tore this country apart.

The UN's military force (UNMIL) and a number of NGO's still manage a large part of the country, though Liberia's government is headed by Africa's first elected female president - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who came to head the nation in 2005.

There are still bullet holes to be seen in the facade of many buildings, abandoned buildings sit along side occupied ones, not much a difference between one or the other really except for a fresh coat of paint. Last night after dinner I stood by my hotel's door watching a torrent of water rage down along the street under the weight of a rain storm which lasted for three hours.

All said and done, there is yet a sense of liveliness in the people, smiles and animated chatter fills the streets, kids commandeer side streets for games of footie, like in the rest of Africa, the people still laugh and smile and face each day as a new one

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Its not that I disappeared...

but you know how it is, sometimes there just does not seem to be enough time to do all the things that you wanted to.

I've been a mite preoccupied, with work, with myself, just so that while I've been wanting to sit down and pen a few words, there just has been no spark as such to get me to do so.

Since Bamako I've been to Niger on a relatively uneventful trip - done that so often now that I tend to take it for granted. More recently I've been to Angola, Ghana and Togo with stops in Ethiopia just to make things interesting. Right now I'm in Lome, Togo penning these words as I wait for our client to free a few minutes to sit down and talk to me.

Over the last three weeks I've been in flights that have been mysteriously re routed adding three hours to what should have been just a 70 minute flight, taken all of two hours to cover 5km thanks to traffic in Luanda, and oh yes paid $260 for a hotel room!

On the fun side I've now added Ethiopean beer to the list of "All the beers I've drunk" - it was pretty foul - watched the action in an Addis dive bar, exchange pleasantries with two guys who spoke only Amharic, got through four different customs and immigration checks without getting hassled even once and drunk a spirit made of honey which I was told is quite similar to mead.

Tomorrow will, I trust, see me on my way back home for a couple of days before setting off again, this time to tour Niger, Sierra Leone and perhaps Liberia too if all goes well as planned.

All in all, the last two months have been busy ones and it looks like it will continue to be so for the next two... some R&R needed I think

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Surreal at times

Dinner last night was a surreal experience for me...

Too many hours in the sun yesterday left me with a light head and the lack of sleep in the previous 48hrs not much help anyway. But here I was sitting in this restaurant called Le Logon a few km outside of Bamako with my client and his brother.

We had met up again after spending almost the entire day in his office and walking the market in search of information. Conversation was general, bordering on the personal when he mentioned his intention to seek another wife - the two biggest issues he was apparently faced with in this quest was a) whom to select from a large number of potential mates and b) the need to build a second house - which he intended to share with just his new wife as opposed to his currant residence which includes wife #1, two kids of his own, his two brothers and their respective wife's and children.... the problems people have eh?

From what I gathered the quest was progressing well, and he seemed in no hurry to make a decision...  but surreal really kicked in once the conversation slipped into religion; in this instance Buddhism and Islam

Now I'm one of those easy going types when it comes to religion, live and let live I believe and unless I am witness to an act of cruelty as defined by my perceptions, I tend to treat people the way I would they treat me.

And generally, when the person I'm talking with edges on intensity, I prefer to resort to nodding my head and making appropriate noises at appropriate moments.

When I mentioned that Buddhists did not have gods to believe in (yes I know, we have the Hindu ones) and that there was a cycle of re birth and accountability, things got interesting; I tend to be amused by people who while trying to convince me of the merits of their argument are unwilling to conceded that there might be other options - is this due to my practice of Buddhism and its call for compassion and tolerance? But then I know of so many others who claim to be better Buddhist and yet seem unwilling to be tolerant.

Take for example the issue of Buddha Bar and the general usage of the Buddha's image as art. I freely admit that I am quite taken up with his image used as art - in my own home I have wood carving hung on a wall, the 'Pièce de résistance' of all the trinkets I have - by currant SL standards I might be in big trouble!
It seems so silly really, who gave us the right to act in such a churlish manner - are we not expected be more tolerant, is it rather not better if we lived and changed people by example? These are the double standard issues that SL seems to be today - the national dressed politician with eyes cast down worshiping at a temple only to leave with tires screeching, tearing at breakneck speed along narrow roads and barely a care of a human or animal...


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tat's R Us

I was thinking (and that act alone deserves some mention) inspired by Lady D and her Tat post  if it would be a kindda of an interesting project to see what people actually thought were their tats of choice...

I wanted a tat to celebrate, well ‘me’ really, it was to mark a milestone along my life’s path and having gone through the phase of considering  Chinese dragons and scantily attired vixens on my arm, I found myself looking at Celtic symbols after having read a Sci Fi story that touched upon the Book of Kells

What I ended up picking was the triquetra, a three pronged Celtic knot which offered broad interpretation for what it stood

The Celtics honored the Great Mother who had three personifications – the three lunar phases, other possibilities included:
  • -        Spirit Mind and Body
  •          Past, Present and Future
  •          Thought, Emotion, Feeling
  •          Power, Intellect, Love
  •          Creation, Destruction and Preservation

    For me the interpretation was the connection between mind body and soul, and that is one of two reasons for this to be my pick – the other reason is simply that I liked the design!

What I have is a stylized version of what’s above, which is a simple Celtic knot

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BP you suck

BP, you suck; and yes I know I enjoy all the fruits of your labour, that without you I cant sit in the comfort of a car and cruise around, and there might not be electricity, but you still suck

Surely there must be some way to do this without causing so much grief?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Confucious, he say:

Man who drive like hell, bound to get there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It was just another day in Paradise, the sun rose, as it always did, the waves lapped against the shore, as they always did, life, went on, as it always did. But sinister moves were afoot, for a few, like those wee little pigs from 1984, were scheming - after all, the gods may have created man in his image but some men were more equelll than others were they not?

And so, with rhetoric and whispered sweet nothings,  with promises of even greater pleasures (after all, this is paradise is it not?) to come, of claims to take paradise to the forefront, to be a miracle (of indefinite proportion) we the people were asked to pave the way for those few to tread upon the yellow brick road with the vague promise that we too would walk upon it...

Time of course will tell if this is to be so, if we everyday Paradisians will enjoy the fruits of our labour, walk the streets of New London like Dick Whittington where the streets were supposedly paved in gold - or if those fruits are to be enjoyed by other less industrious souls! 

Or perhaps it will be a mere case of ususfructus -  the right to the enjoyment of the fruits of a thing by one person, while the ownership  belonged to another - this of course interpreted in true Paradisian style to accommodate the chosen few.

But the people have spoken, or at least seemed to. End result of course is that the little hut down by the fish pond is soon to be home to a band of some of the most interesting characters that we have seen fit to gather in that one place since 1948. If loose talk is to be relied upon amongst those few are drug barons, rapists, murderers, thieves of different hues, stars, some mind you barely out of their teens!

What then have the people said? That its OK to be an oaf? Perhaps, I'd like to think not, but then, what do i know eh?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

I was not gonna do this, I was gonna suck it up and just let those waves of heat wash over me...

But, given that the mercury hit a record high - and I caught it - I had to, especially since we dont have any power ether...

Its hot, made doubly terribly so by frequent prolonged power cuts.... its 30c at 5 in the morning and only gets warmer... 35c at 8 in the night!

So here I sit, my pores all open as the very moisture in my body is being sucked up into this vacuum. 3 - 4 litres of water a day just to keep up with the loss.... I don't know how people manage...
So I decided to see just how bad it can get.... and this apparently is it:

MonthAverage Sunlight (hours)TemperatureDiscomfort from heat and humidityRelative humidityAverage Precipitation (mm)Wet Days (+0.25mm)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What did happen?

Reading the news yesterday the most shocking item was a report dated 3-4.2010 to the effect that President Rajapakse had used derogatory language in the course of a speech he made in Jaffna - Lanka Truth & Lanka News Web.

These remarks are attributed to his reaction to the crowd jeering him during the course of his teleprompted speech in Tamil, apparently due to them not understanding him.

The Sunday Times of today has a different spin to the tale, attributing the jeering to a Sinhalese segment in the crowd who jeered for the same reason

So, while two reports claim that he used language derogatory towards the Tamil community the third suggests him speaking in support.

As the president of a country made up of different ethnicities his excellency has an obligation to lead this nation with no favor of one group over another - it was this favoring of a majority in the past that lead us down a path that saw an entire generation of Sri Lankan's living through a bloody war which tore the very social fabric of this nation.

If the initial reports are true - and frankly though I am incredulous that a politician of his caliber would make such a statement under existing circumstance; this is after all a new Sri Lanka where laws, constitution, common decency is tormented daily, anything is possible - its shocking, If what actually happened is a distortion, it make the reporters no better than the government propaganda machine

Will we ever find out what exactly happed that day in Jaffna?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Micro finance anyone?

Can anyone suggest a micro finance organisation that may be in need of funds?

I've come across a possible source and would be happy to point a suitable organisation in the right direction

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Explore Sri Lanka

I've been reading posts about trips to the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka over the last few weeks, seems that many a 1000's are traveling to areas that have been virtually out of bounds to an entire generation and I'm so wanting to join in!

My last trip to Batticaloa would have been about 9 - 10 yrs ago,  a drive I'm not likely to forget as I started the trip on a Thursday evening after work. Just getting out of Colombo was a nightmare, upto Kandy, on to Habarana and onwards. And I did this in a Toyota Cynos - the closest I've ever been to driving a 'sports' car! It was an eerie sensation I remember, driving along in darkness along roads not traveled upon before.

In 2003 I took the night mail to Vavuniya, and bussed it from that point onwards to Jaffna - that too was a surreal experience and one I am unlikely to forget in a hurry.

My only regret is that at the time I really didn't have a camera - I cant think why not, oh well; memories I do have.

So, lets see, what would my dream trip be...

A week on the road, driving up along the East Coast - from Arugam Bay up to Batticaloa, Pasi Kuda, on to Trincomalee, from there to Jaffna, Delft Islands (is that possible?) back down to Mannar and further along the  Western Coast, two weeks maybe?

A few years ago I took the coastal road upto Puttalam and on to Anuradhapura - that stretch of road was awful at the time and I berated myself for choosing to do so at the time - those pot holes!

This post is actually going no where, but I wanna go anyway

Monday, March 29, 2010


The end of a financial year is close upon me and looking back I got to say, I'm not too happy with the results - the impact of the global economic slow down cut into my performance by as much as 50% taking me back to trading levels of 2007/08.

Any improvement is slow in coming due to multiple factors - increase in material cost, a weakening Euro and a gaining US$, whatever anyone else says, I dont think we are clear yet; the fundamentals look wrong, no matter how much of a positive face the experts try to keep.

It was not really surprising then to read that  a leading Telecommunications provider in SL was cutting back due to the "economic crisis" - interestingly, most of the previous communique from this entity till I saw this article has generally been positive.....

Its 19:05, Monday evening and 35.5 degrees Celsius, warm eh? There were a couple of cool days, much appreciated, last week, but the temperature is back with a vengeance, sigh...

BTW, my ATM card, which worked so well over the last two years has stopped - Inability to access one's salary has its obvious advantages, but me starving to death  may make enjoying it later difficult.... the cloud in the silver lining eh?!

Take care all