Thursday, December 31, 2009

Its christmas time! it is SHIT LIST Time!

Yes tis the season to be jolly and this is the time certain people decide it is time to do so at other peoples’ expense. And we are besieged by loads of people coming with a list asking for a donation since its Christmas. These people include the post man the garbage man (in fact two years back we had a fake garbage crew go around the area collecting their tips before the real guys showed up) the news paper man the guy who sprays your garden and so many other people you never knew existed to improve your life till they appeared at your door step. A benign smile on their face and a list thrust out towards you and beaming a expectant filled smile at you. Invariably the first few people who have contributed seem to have donated large amounts of money. And it would be beneath us to put less than what the others have given; at least that is what I think they hope we would think. Sadly no one takes the bite.

But this year in my office we are faced with a crisis thanks to the list.

Some bright spark has decided without informing me that since this year there was no staff bonus there would be no tips for the people who showed up with lists. Well apparently over 15 groups of people have turned up and had unhappily walked away with these words ringing in their ears. Except the garbage man decides to take action about not having their palms greased. And from that day forth they have decided to collect only one bag or garbage at a time from our office as a sign of protest. Suddenly we are faced with a mountain of garbage because of an idiotic decision to save a thousand bucks.

What is worse is the indignity of it all.

Imagine being held to ransom by the guys who collect garbage? One side of me wants to fight this tooth and nail. Pull out my little black book call all my contacts and complain and try and get these people fired and stir up a hornets’ nest.

But the more rational side of my mind is saying put all this effort into getting some new business and your effort would be well rewarded. After all the guys who do this are doing it because they don’t have any other means of earning a living. Surely no one dreams of being a garbage collector when they are young! And I am sure they could do with the extra money. So with much difficulty and swallowing my pride I told the admin guy to go ahead and give the Christmas tips to the garbage guys and the postman after all one cannot live in a mountain of garbage and one does not want the post to be thrown into the dumps.

So here I am licking my wounds. My pride injured, Ego dented at least I can say I managed to save the day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Images of Uda Walawe National park

42 amongst elephants

Well I always wanted to be able to wake up in the jungle on my birthday and finally managed to do so for the first time in my life this December. I was fortunate to be able to get a bungalow inside the Udawalwer national park on the days that I wanted. Generally this is the most challenging part of an excursion to the jungle since during school holidays it is virtually impossible to get one. But for my luck there was one available though it was not my first choice. But this bungalow did have one advantage which the other did not have which is a river. So I was fantasizing about bathing in the river with a chilled beer in hand when I found out that the 4wheel drive of my vehicle needed to be repaired. The bad news was United Motors had no parts available. And it would take up to three weeks to get it down. This was not some expensive part costing a couple of lakhs but just a silly switch which would cost roughly 6000 bucks. Another reason why I should not buy a vehicle from United Motors. Well I had an alternative of getting the parts hand carried down from Singapore it would cost 50% more but it was worth the expenditure. But damn the part was not available in Singapore either. So I had only one choice which was to disengage my four-wheel drive and make sure that I would not be stuck in the mud when chased by an elephant.

The journey to the park was uneventful, We left Colombo at seven in the morning and arrived at the park gates by 11.45 Whilst there was not that much traffic it was not completely a stressful drive. Once again I was appalled at the bad driving manners of people in our country. I am not an aggressive driver and consider myself a peaceful one as well. What I can’t stand is people hogging the road and not letting others pass even though they are driving quite slow. In fact I had made a mental note to publish a special post about the bad driving one would experience on Sri Lankan roads and realized that I have already done that sometime back on a post titled Bloody Bustards.

Anyway it was just me and my family on the first day in the jungle. And my cousin along with his family was joining us for breakfast the next day which was also going to be my birthday. It had been raining heavily in Uda Walawe and the roads were absolutely muddy and I was worried if I might get stuck in the mud without even going off road. But somehow we managed to get to the bungalow without any problems. It was wonderful to be away from it all amidst the quite serenity of the jungle. Sadly the currents were too strong in the river and therefore a river bath was out of the question according to our tracker Kapila a nice young boy from the area. He had an interesting story to tell which would be an independent post of its own in the near future.

It was heavenly to be away from the concrete jungle and the work pressure amidst the greenery and the sound of nature. No phones ringing no urgent calls even though the work pressure back in the office was at boiling point. I thanked god for an able team who could shoulder the responsibility without calling me every two minutes trying to figure out what to do.

Believe it or not the entire day was spent eating and reading and just chilling out. I did not go out on any sight seeing or anything of the adventurous kind. Other than read the entire twilight series consisting of four E books. They were pretty good and the last one was exceptionally amazing. If you have not read it I suggest you do.

The next day saw the arrival of my cousin and his family which livened up the whole place some more. It was also the day of my birthday and they were sweet enough to have brought a butter cake with one large candle and I was forced to cut the cake and blow the candle as everyone sand happy birthday.

That day was quite eventful as the water pump did not work in the night and we were stuck without water. I was thinking to myself if the lack of water some kind of hoodoo following me in the jungle because this was the same thing which happened in Lunugamwehera a couple of weeks back. It was a case of water water everywhere but not a drop to wash. It was raining cats and dogs and it bone chillingly cold in the night. But we had none to even have a wash or go to the loo. Fortunately we managed to wait till morning before the tracker went and got someone from a close by outpost in the jungle. He managed to identify the problem instantly and we had water for ablutions. Enough elephants were seen to fill a shelf full of albums. I spent my time mostly doing nothing other than reading reading and even more reading. And I felt quite well rested by the time we came back to Colombo on Saturday to face another challenging week.

A dearth of words…

I have gone through a dry spell for a couple of weeks. My last real post was on the 14th of December. Though subsequently I did a cut and paste job which cannot be really called a post.

It is not that I have had nothing to write about but it has been due to a combination of being too busy with work and too lazy to write. But suddenly the words are bubbling inside me and it needs an outlet to erupt. So here I am back at my keyboard typing like crazy and hoping to get it all out of my system.

But wait isn’t it a working day in the middle of a busy and short work week? Yep it is but it is the holiday season anyway and I need a break even though I have not done a bit of work so far for the day. J

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Socrates' Logic:One day the great Greek philosopher Socrates (469 - 399 BC) came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?""Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three.""Three?", exclaimed the student."That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?""Oh no," the man said, "actually I just heard about it.""All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?""No, on the contrary...""So," Socrates interrupted, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.Socrates continued. "You may still pass though, because there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?""Well, not really...""Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.It also explains why he never found out that Plato was having an affair with his wife.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Murder of innocents at Continental...

A young life snuffed out before reaching its full potential! It would arouse the ire of anyone. Specially if you had to eat something so tiny. I am not talking about murder of humans. But it is still murder most fowl. Ok not fowl but more of the crustacian kind. Anyway this is the little prelude to an incident which took place on Saturday at Colombo continental or intercontinental whatever the case maybe. We were attending a training program and had broken for lunch and I was happily trying to eat healthy by spending a longer time than usual in the salad section. I was about to serve myself from quite a large dish of tomatoes when my eyes went to the name card which gave the name of the dish. It said shrimp salad??? Could it have been somekind of mistake? A typo? There were only tomatoes and some garnishing on the dish. I looked hard once or twice more and finally saw what I was looking for. A few microscopic shrimps hiding under the tomatoes. They were so tiny I am amazed how someone could peel them. Well I think it would have been far better to have called the salad a tomato salad instead and let those little prawns grow up to be eaten later and larger. :)
I wanted to attach a picture of this murdered baby prawn for you to see and since in close up all prawns look alike I even balanced it on a tip of a knife for size comparison. And guess what i cant seem to access the media card of my phone. So it will be uploaded on another day. Ughhhh sometimes technology sucks the big one.
Overall we found the service at this place has deteriorated very very badly so much so the waiter who was serving us tea dissapeared and we had to serve our tea and help ourselves to the cake by ourselves. Well the good thing is overall the program was excellent and all of us thought it was extremely worth sacrificing a complete saturday for attending it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

F'in Effies

Yikes it was another thursday night which would have been far better as well as less costlier staying at home. Instead I had to drag my ass to the waters edge hardly able to breath thanks to a tie around my neck. Now I know why I have successfuly managed to avoid wearing tie for the past four years except for two occassions along with this one.
You might wonder why all this sufferring. Well a little bird has told us we were getting an Effie. Damn it! Yeaah! This was good news. Specially since we nearly waited without submitting our sole entry. The lazybones that I am I had forgotten all about it till the night before the entries were due. So we (ok my team... I was cordinating all this err from the gym) put our heads together scripted a little AV got it edited got the necessary material together got client signatures and got the entry delivered on time. Ahhhh!
I can still remember a colleague calling me and wanting to abandon the job as we did not have enough material and me agreeing. I agreed and then called back and said no let's do it with what ever we have in hand. Which was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. We were all thrilled when we heard about the effie till someone told me that it was not there in the line up of the commercials which were being set up for the show. I was devastated to say the least and was wondering how I was going to tell the client who I had already shared the info with.
Well thankfully we got info from another source that our name was on the awards book and therefore we had to have had an award. Well wheels were set in motion and it was found that someone in the organising committee had actually forgotten about us.
So tickets were bought. People forced to beg borrow or hire suits since it was supposed to be black tie. I was pleasantly surprised to see that now in Colombo you can hire suits for an occassion just like you would rent a tux abroad. And they even adjust it to fit you. Costs only a thousand bucks with 3500 deposit. Well after all this excitement all of us arrived at the effies a little worn out.
If I were to say that it was a masterpiece of mismanagement I would not be wrong.
To start off with I wanted to double check the date and venue of the show and visited the website. Can you believe it that it said the date was the 27th of November while an article on the blog section gave the accurate date. The event was no better. For instance the ticket said seven pm the show started thirty minutes late. Sadly those who had got invites have been kept waiting for an hour cos the invitation had said six thirty.
Also the show was all patriotic with local flags flying and raban players kandyan dancers and stuuf... which was in complete contrast to the black tie event which we were dressed for. Well the food was average the entertainment was worse except a baila session by some legends of sri lankan music. The most entertaining act for me was when the two compeers actually tried to sing baila to introduce the act. Let me say there was no chance in hell they would be upstaging the main performers they introduced. The winners were all hyper the rest were not. Artificial congratulations hugs and kisses were exchanged all around. I decided to head home thanking god that I could still make it for my workout the next day instead of having to cancel it.

Sent via BlackBerry Dialog.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Good joke I had to share

A woman asks her husband, 'Would you like some bacon and eggs? A slice of toast and maybe some grapefruit and coffee?'?? He declines.. 'Thanks for asking, but I'm not hungry right now. It's this Viagra,' he says. 'It's really taken the edge off my appetite.'?? At lunchtime she asked if he would like something. 'A bowl of soup, homemade muffins, or a cheese sandwich?' He declines. 'The Viagra,' he says, 'really trashes my desire for food.' Come dinner time, she asks if he wants anything to eat. 'would you like a juicy rib-eye steak and scrumptious apple pie? Or maybe a rotisserie chicken or tasty stir fry?'?? He declines again. 'No,' he says, 'it's got to be the Viagra.... I'm still not hungry.' 'Well,' she says, 'Would you mind getting off me? I'm starving!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Want to loose a couple of kilos real fast?

I see lots of bloggers going through loads of pain trying to fight the battle of the bulge. Well let me share a secret which has been quite helpful to me. It is called low carb. The most extreme version of it which is known as Atkins. But you can customize it to what fits your requirements most.
But the basic of the low carb diet is that you cannot eat carbs or sugar. But you can eat things with natural fat and meats and fish and you can eat it in quantities which will fill you up. You dont have to watch your calories, Which is the best thing.
But when one talks about sugar it also means high sugar fruits which are mangos, bananas and stuff.
Now the first thing when you are trying to go low carb you realise that what little choice we have in our culture. For instance our diets revolve around starch based food.
You might think that it would also be hard to give up starches. But amazingly it is not as hard as one would imagine. I consider myself a "Buth Gulla" and thought I would find it difficult and for the first few days it was. But it was not as bad as I thought it would be.
Mainly because I felt tons better after shifting to low carb. No more feeling sleepy after meals. In fact you are full of energy and there are no more hunger pangs inbetween.
Though I did realise that I was feeling weak at the gym and was feeling a lack of energy. But now I have found the perfect balance. That is eat a load of carbs before workout. As I workout in the morning I have carbs for breakfast. And just a yoghurt cup of red rice with meats and veges for lunch and only meat and salad for dinner. And so far the going has been good.
A lot of people say loads of things about low carb but I found that it really helps me not only to loose weight but to give an overall sense of well being.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Buying what you paid for?

No this is not the usual attention grabing headline those of us in the advertising industry are prone to write. For once it is actually the truth! A intriguing situation which I found myself in this week.
My kids were conducting a fundraising sale in church. They were all quite enthusiastic about it. Of course this meant we had to buy the items for them and eventually buy it back once more at the sale. The good news was it was a real bargain! We had to pay much lower than what we paid for it in the first place.
A good example of this was my daughters decided that they were going to sell cakes. So we bought plain butter cake for 170 bucks a slab (I think). Then I believe at least another one hundred odd rupees of value addition was added cos the kids decided to decorate it using up all the butter in the house to mix their icing. Anyway I would say the actual cost of the cake without factoring in labor was a good 250/- And guess what they sold it for 100/- he he now thats what I call a great bargain. There was more stuffsuch as cookies and cards and little bags (30/-) which were great christmas gifts all at amazing prices. My wife ended up buying all the christmas cards which were made at home because she could not afford to part with them. Pun intended. Next time there is a such a sale I am going to post about it on my blog you can really pick up a bargain at these things.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Degradation of a Hero!

I can't believe my eyes how the powers that be are treating the General Sarath Fonseka. This is giving me new insight into the minds of politicians. And I don't like what I am seeing.
How can the powers that be use some one and then spit him out as if he is a useless bone. When their very existence depended on the work he has carried out?
What really got to me is how Mad Mervin has organised a demonstration against the general on Friday. I call this impunity.
One of the few reasons Merv has not been shot like he deserves is because of the security which was brought about by the general.
I am sure the General knows what he is doing. But I fear the same fate awaits for him as Janaka Perera.
I am not a fan of the general. In fact it is quite the opposit. But I am grateful for what he did. I am greatful that now I am not tense till my children get home from school every day. That I don't have to heave a sigh of relief everytime I leave the World Trade Center because it was not attacked.
Infact I think it is laughable that in his letter of resignation he has spoken about Media freedom when all of us know he was one of the people who was instrumental in supressing the media. But then I realized we don't live in a democracy anymore. Infact I think we should call it a hypocracy.

Who is the animal?

Remember a couple of weeks back there was a huge uproar about one of sri lanka's leading Blue chips trying to poison or shoot the stray dogs outside their offices down Vauxhall Street. Well actually it was a lie. A peon having a laugh with a lady who worked their. This unleashed a whole chain of events which lead to the chairman of this company fielding calls from the press and informing everyone how all this was a lie.
Wait! Before you close this page in exasperation let me tell you there is an ugly truth in the background to this sordid tale. That is why everyone believed that it was quite possible the businessman who is the single largest share holder of this company is quite capable of doing this. Because he has actually done this! Not once but twice before. Yes I am talking about good old HJ. The short little turd has actually got the stray dogs outside two of his companies killed by feeding them poison. When I heard this a couple of weeks back I was absolutely flabbergasted! Because according to Sri Lankan Law you cannot kill dogs at your whim and fancy. But then we know in our country the law is only for those who cannot afford to break it.
I did not have much respect for this man from day one anymay. This kind of act makes me question his species? Sadly to call him a dog would be disrespecting the dead.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new appreciation for life.

When my blog got its second life I thought I should make a post at least once a day.

The main reason I did this was that I always found myself stuck for words when wanting to write something and thought this would be great discipline. And with time the drips of words would turn into a gigantic torrent and soon I would be submerged in a sea of words. A regular Stephen King.

Sadly that was not to be. I still feel like a constipated ass (pun intended) every time I sit and stare at this blank screen. However my efforts in blogging has brought in an additional benefit.

A new appreciation for life.

My days tend to be an endless whirl! One big blur. But now that I am thinking of things to write about I have become more conscious of what’s going on. I am beginning to appreciate the ups and downs of life far more than before.. Making mental notes of how I feel and emotions that flicker through my mind as I go about my day.

In fact I am taking time to sit back and smell the roses. And of course end up getting my fingers bloodied on the thorns. But it’s all good!

Another great quote

"There's no progress without laziness! Because people were too lazy to row they invented the steamship; because they were too lazy to walk they invented the automobile; and because they were too lazy to close their eyes in the evening they invented television."

Reflections of the German novelist Manfred Hausmann (1898-1986)
on the subject of progress

Travels and Travails of Lunugamwehera

It was with great anticipation we left Colombo on our trip to the Weheragala Bungalow Lunugamwehera. We had anticipated a five hour drive. But somehow it took us over seven hours to get to the bungalow and another hour from the main gate to get our bungalow. The park is beautiful and the bungalow was in one of the most scenic locations one could imagine. It is set on the bund of a damn overlooking this huge vista of water. We were thrilled when we got out. We were tired and hungry as we were planning to have lunch when we arrived. And we had not anticipated the delay.

So it was an absolute disappointment when the bungalow keeper told us that the bungalow has no water. Oh joy!

This is one of the most expensive bungalows which belong to the wild life ministry. It even has a generator. A well has been dug but no pump has been installed so that the water can be pumped in. So there was water all around us but not one drop to drink or have a shower.

My guests were furious. This was the first time that they have experienced being the guests of the government. And the wonder of the beauty of the location was quickly deteriorating due to the lack of facilities. It seemed that the water had to be transported to the bungalow by Bowser and then pumped into the tank for the occupants to use. And no one has informed the authorities that we were coming. So there was no water and both drivers of the bowser had been sent on leave to enjoy the long weekend.

Everyone was tired and angry. Firstly it meant that we could not have the showers we were looking forward too. Next living in a bungalow without water for two nights was virtually impossible specially with kids around. And it was bloody frustrating to get a call out, Because though our dialog phones showed full signal the calls were not getting connected. Since it was past four anyway most of the people were not answering the phone.

But after much trying we managed to get through to the Assistant Director who told us that he could give us the bowser if we wouldn’t mind driving it and getting the water. Fortunately for us MDZ who was with us took up the challenge.

It was sad that the chaps at the main gate had not warned us about the lack of water because then we could have made arrangements then and their without having wasted two hours travelling up and down to the bungalow. But then this proves my point that those who work for the government our utter morons not even capable of digging their own nose. In fact I am ashamed to say that both my parents were government servants.

So we drive back one whole hour back to the entrance take over the truck and fill it up with Diesel from Thanamal villa (or titty flower pond as my friend YP likes to call it) then drive this monstrous truck all the way to the lunugamwehera water plant and fill it up and drive it all the way back to the bungalow. We managed to get to the water station five minutes before they shut down and filled the bowser with 3800 litres of water. And with great relief we arrived at our bungalow three hours later having driven about 50 miles extra. Apparently the cost of the water was only 300 bucks but we did go through a couple of thousand rupees worth of effort to get it.

By the time we got back we were delighted to see the officers at the army base which is virtually on the premises of the bungalow had sent water for the kids to have their wash.

We thought all our frustrations were over when the water dilemma was solved. But that was not the case. Firstly the water pressure was not sufficient for the showers to work in the upstairs toilets which were decorated in a garish blue with a bright green plastic door. In fact I believe the toilets had the cheapest fittings possible. The downstairs toilet door had a hole with a siri siri bag for where the handle should be.

So after all that trouble we could not enjoy a shower but instead had to pour water on ourselves the old fashioned way using a bucket and bowl. Also we realized that only one caretaker was there instead of the usual two. And it was quite obvious the poor soul could not cook. Fortunately for us our tracker turned out to be a wonderful cook and took charge of the meals which turned out to be truly awesome. When we thought there were no more obstacles which we could face it began to rain. And the rain was beating inside on to the beds as well. Once again the reed thats had been ordered but not delivered as of yet. Fortunately for us the rain susbsided to a constant drizzle and we did not get wet.

After all that adventure a good drink was the order of the day followed by a late dinner which was awwsome. Somehow once you had three shots warming your belly the frustrations we had gone through were a distant memory and the charm of the place began to grow on us. There was mild moon light so the entire place was beautifully lit and a constant breeze was brushing our skin. However in the night it became downright cold and I was wondering if I should move into a room instead of moving into the verandah.

Well the morning dawned and we were rudely awakened to extremely loud bana emanating from the army barracks. What we realized was that there were two additional negatives about this particular bungalow one was the army barracks which was virtually in the same compound. The troops tend to yell and shout and play the merry devil during the afternoon in addition to broadcasting extremely loud “bana” every morning. Also the bund is a stopping point for day visitors who can see into the bungalow. This is absolutely no fun if you are wanting the solitude some of the other wild life bungalows provide.

But overall it was an adventurous excursion. The park is beautiful even though we did not see many elephants and in the end we enjoyed ourselves even though the service was bad. And if I had the chance to visit this bungalow again with all the short comings? Sadly the answer is YES!

Friday, November 6, 2009