Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can you guess who sings this song?

Gentlemen of the jury
The judge's speech began
The scene was a crowded courtroom
And the judge a stern old man.

This prisoner here before you
Is a social enemy
A lady of the evening
And you know the penalty.

Her eyes reflect the nightlife
Her cheeks are red with paint
But I knew her mother, gentlemen
Why, her mother was a saint.

Now, I know that she's not like her
And yet she might have been
If it hadn't been for
Pettin' parties, cigarettes and gin.

We took the night life off the streets
And brought it in our own homes
While girls beguiled with lipstick
Danced to saxophones.

We opened up the underworld
To the ones we loved so well
So tell me gentlemen
Is it right to send her to a cell.

If she drinks, well, you taught her
And if she smokes, you showed her how
So gentlemen, do you think it's right
To condemn her now.

And when you're in that juryroom
Just remember there and then
That for every fallen woman
There's a hundred fallen men.

And before you render a verdict
On what this girl has done
Just remember there's a man to blame
And that man might be your son.

Now gentlemen that's my story
My testimony stands
This girl is my own daughter
And the case is in your hands.

I heard these lyrics sometime back as I was in the jungles of Wasgamuwa chilling out in the night. My friend just picked up his guitar and sang this and I was floored by the power of the lyrics. Of course AS had a deep voice which reminds you of Tom Waits and it really sounded great. I was asked to guess he who sings this song. And for the life of me I could not. Believe it or not it is a Jim Reeves song.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What a crime? Or should I say what crime?

Much ado about nothing! That was the first impression that came to my mind when I noticed the uproar regarding the Hikkaduwa beach Fest nude pictures. It was an irritant; gossip in the guise of news...
Later I watched in horror as it unravel into a monster of a crisis and consume the future of a couple of people who I personally think are only guilty of some innocent fun. Well even if one cannot say innocent it certainly was not malicious. Especially not to TARNISH the image of the country.
I was apalled at the venom which was being spewed out regarding this. Not only by the morons in power but more amazingly from some of the (what I thought was) moderate media.
My heart goes out to the people who were arrested and their families. I dont think that they ever imagined that their actions would lead to this kind of repercussions and they would end up in jail. I am sure there has been at least one occassion where you (the reader) would have circulated naughty emails from the office mail. I must confess I am guilty of the crime.
I wonder if it is an occupational hazzard of being in advertising but we doctor pictures a lot! For fun amusement and mischief as well. Though I really dont know the motive of the guy who did this; one part of me wonders could something similar have happenned if these pictures landed in my inbox?
What irritates me most is that there are so many other emails floating around some genuine some doctored. All much more controversial than this? What makes these pictures so special. Is it some kind of PR stunt to keep someones name in the paper.
It is sad that the powers that be are focussing their attention on something so insignificant when there are so many bigger issues, far more important than this petty non issue they could focus their attention on. Like Rape and incest and people driven to prostitution due to economic hardships. These issues are far more real and I would say more important. And would make a positive impact to the lives of thousands.
In any case what if this incident of nudity was real? We are a culture who were comfortable with nudity many years ago before the missionaries came. All I would say is lucky people; they seem to have had fun. Makes me wish I was at the party. If they did not harm anyone in anyway by their nudity who cares. Well maybe a few aimless, talentless politicians would?
The question which is always gnawing at the back of my mind is are we on the way to becoming a nation of prudes? Is our society moving towards becoming like some of the backward societies in Africa and the Middle East?
Sadly the more I see things around me the more it seems that my worst nightmares might become reality.

A sign of the times?

Guess the standard of English is declining the world over.

I always loved spelling errors on signs and always have wanted to start a
collection of them. But never did so. Guess someone else too has the same interests as mine. These pictures are so hilarious I just can't wait without scheduling them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Keeping out the Riff Raff LC style…

Saturday evening was the mini fair of the Ladies College of Colombo. Since my two kids are students of LC I had no choice but to be their chauffer on a fine Saturday evening which I would rather have spent chilling out at home watching a nice movie. Well but at least it did lead to an interesting post.

Now one would expect that when there is a mini fair you could walk up to the entrance and purchase the entrance tickets without much hassle. Well that’s where you would be wrong. In this particular case you could NOT buy the tickets at the entrance. It was presold! Why would you go to such great lengths to pre-sell tickets would be the obvious question begging to be asked. Well it seems that they wanted to keep the riff raff out. Trust me obtaining the tickets were no easy task. The children had to buy the tickets from their class teacher. The parents had to buy tickets from the school office. Now if you were a non working parent with a driver then this would be an easy task. But if you were not it would create a logistical night mare which would mean making a special trip to the school purely to purchase tickets.

Now I must stress that I am not critical of the steps taken by the school admin. In fact I think it is a good thing that they try to limit entry. As you know a carnival of a girls school seems to attract hordes of boys of all shapes and sizes like flies to shit. And some of them are quite unsavory characters. And it becomes kind of crazy when you have little kids around them.

Anyway what is quite intriguing is there was a specific instance which led to these systems being put into place. And it does make for some interesting reading. This happened last year at the same event.

Apparently the principle has been at the gate making sure everything was going smoothly when she heard a young boy near her talking over the phone. He was telling the person on the other end that he had come to a really nice place and it was pure heaven and that the listener should come and join him at the event as well and then he turns around and asks the principal “akke mehe koheda?” (sis where is this place)

I could not help but laugh my fat butt off when I heard this. Anyway as they say the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go astray. And even with all the restrictions there were enough and more of what you would call unwanted people. Anyway there were hundreds more outside clamoring to get in and some quite tubby parents guarding the gates pretending to be bouncers and trying to look menacing.

Boy it was packed. I heard over 4000 tickets had been sold and that was everything which was printed. And they had to issue a few more hand written tickets because they could not refuse some of the parents who had walked in.

The youngsters were having fun and it was fun to see the fair morph into an impromptu discotheque. Actually the music was excellent and it was wonderful to see all the hands going up and bodies in motion raising their arms in the air and bodies gyrating to the beat of the music. Except for the smell. Boy it seems most teenagers today have no real understanding of personal hygiene. And I don’t mean only boys. There were many girls who were dressed very prettily and smartly but emanating very strong body odor.

He he guess it was the odor of the day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone.

It was with great sadness that I read about the third suicide of a girl which was triggered by a teacher who had kept her kneeling for a long time in the play ground. This girl was not from a posh school neither were her parents considered well off. So I guess the media has not picked up the story. There was no outrage about it like the two previous suicides. Or it has missed me completely. I just read about it in the Ravaya paper today. In this case girl studying in year 8 of Dudley Senanayake College in Narahenpita had gone home and hung herself because of the shame which was caused by the punishment she received.

I believe children should be punished if they do something wrong. But I do NOT believe in corporal punishment in an uncontrolled environment. I am a firm believer that there should be a set frame work which all teachers should follow when it comes to punishing kids. What is considered wrong and requires punishment should be well defined as well as how the punishment is meted out. In this particular case it is said that this kid was writing a letter to a boy and she was caught while doing so. Now to me this is not a crime in the first place. If the law of the land can carefully define what is considered a criminal act and what the minimum and maximum punishment one can receive for a particular crime should not it be the same in the case of children especially when they are schooling. Because this is the age which they are the most vulnerable and some things which happen during this time can affect them for life.

When I was in school I have received enough slaps from teachers. I did not think much of it then. It was part and parcel of school life. But looking back I realize most of those slaps and caning were done out of anger as an reaction. And the last thing you should be doing is hurting someone defenseless out of anger.

I also believe teachers come with a lot of their own personal emotional baggage. And they can be really nasty. Thank god I never had to cross paths with one during my entire schooling period which was quite short thankfully. However I know that both my daughters had to deal with teachers with issues and that really affected their self confidence. Sadly the situation today is that there are very few career teachers whose main passion is to impart knowledge to kids. I believe it is purely a situation created by economics. The brightest and the best minds would be naturally attracted to the private sector where the salaries and perks would be far greater than in the teaching profession. Look at how much a government teacher would get and compare it against the starting salary of a junior management trainee. I believe the average salary of a teacher is Rs.10,000/- in Sri Lanka today. That’s what a trainee with just his O levels gets in a company as an allowance. Need I say more?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The truth about lying?

Do we lie to protect the ones we love?
I was watching this movie purple violets and there was this sequence in it where this guy says he lied to her about being unfaithful because he did not want to hurt her. I was pondering about this and realised that there is some truth in this fact about lyying?
Recently someone close to me shared some truths which I would rather have not known. In fact I would have been far more comfortable if I had rather not known. And lived in blissful ignorance.
There was someone else I was talking to the other day and being honest and the response was "You are being honest and I HATE it"
I also remember the saying "What you don't know won't hurt you"
What do you think? There is no right or wrong answer.
Of course I would appreciate if you wouldn't lie. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

25 years of happiness ???

A pretty lame heading I know not the usual kind of riveting line which promises a lot and then delivers absolutely nothing. I suppose in this instance it is the opposite. You can be the judge of that.
This phrase came up last evening when a few of us were having a chat. This was the line which was used by two lovers on their invitation for a party to celebrate 25 years of well... being lovers I guess.
Before I ramble any further I need to stress that my intention is not to criticize this relationship. I can't afford to do that.
But I am just intrigued. Firstly how two married individuals who are also in the public eye can manage to have a solid relationship for 25 years? It seems with the consent of their spouses. Yes the male is the head of a large family owned company that manufactures products which are a household name. And the lady too is equally prominent.
Generally from the little bit I know an affair is a short lived exercise. A flash in the pan. Which ends in hurt to at least one party. But this particular affair has swum against the tide. It has lasted longer than some peoples marriages. A question which opens an whole new can of worms? Maybe marriage should be like an affair.
Sometimes when you live together for a long time you drop your guard and relax the standards of your decorum. What I say was beautifully summarised in a response to a post by isheeta the desi girl where she says "Married men fart A LOT more than single men AND MORE FREQUENTLY". Someone has responded quite wisely I must add saying "that the all men pass wind in equal amounts its just that once you are married they decide to do that in front of you". Which is absolutely true. I should know.
What really intrigues me is what the other party feels. Do they not hurt? Do they not consider it a breach of trust? Or is it just part of the cycle of life of the rich and famous? Or is it just plain economic sense?
I know of a lawyer who advised a client that she should not file for divorce from her husband who lives separately unless she wants to get married again. Which was really not her intention. The reason being this way she would not loose 50% of her assets if he dies before her. On the reverse side I also know of some gents who had been living with other females without getting divorced and even having kids with them. And those families being homeless because they never realized that they don't own the house they lived in.
Of course I believe all this happens when a marriage looses its spark and thrill and guess one way to ensure that it never breaks down to this level is to behave and treat one another in the same manner you did when you were dating.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday (morning) Blues

It?s raining? it is dark and gloomy and my mood reflect the weather. Firstly I realized that I have lost complete control of my self-control and have become an absolute glutton over the weekend. Sadly I realized this as I was finishing off the remnants of what was half a liter of ice cream at 11 pm on Sunday night. Damn this chocolate twist is delicious. This was my 08th meal /snack for that day. It was a three day weekend for me because I had to take a day off as I was not feeling too well. And every day I have been stuffing myself like this. Ughhhh! Guilty conscience sends note to brain: I will start the week on a positive note by waking up early and going to the gym before starting work.
I wake up late and feel too lazy to go to the gym which is a big mistake. Now I am dragging my feet no spring in my step no song in my heart and no juntu to lead my team from the front. Walk into office and see that some basic things which I have requested to be done has not been done the way I expected. Looks up at the sky bites my lip holds my anger back and wonders why on earth I have been entrusted with such efficient people. Guess it is my cross to bear.
And then the usual Ramazan Feed follows. Two portions of biriyani down the hatch followed by wattalapam and now I feel like a python that has just swallowed an entire deer. Totally lifeless totally lethargic. Even typing this mini post is taking a great effort. I hope it helps to burn a few calories at least. I do hope tomorrow is going to be a better day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monky business and pretentious crap.

The monky without an e is an intentional spelling error. Sadly this is the kind of cheap stunt most of us in the advertising fraternity resort to in order to generate interest. Especially when suffering from a lack of talent and huge bout of Sunday laziness which is far worse than the Monday to Friday kind I might add.
I was saddened and angered to read this article when I woke up this morning about Kapila an elephant who died due to neglect in a temple. The post mortem has revealed that he was in such a bad state that his bones could be broken by hand. I must confess at the start I do not know anything much about this situation other than what was written in the paper. But I think it is sad that a temple can be accused of such cruelty. I am a Christian and therefore out of my depth about Buddhism but one thing I know for sure is that it does not advocate cruelty in any form. I have heard of monks sweeping the ground before they walk in order to avoid killing tiny creatures. It seems not everyone is cut out of the same cloth. This is just one instance of “elephant abuse” in the recent past. Of course, the other famous incident being the one concerning the “diyawadana nilame” which you all know about by now. All I want to do right now is express my sheer disgust for the way that piece of fecal matter behaved. He will get his just punishment one of these days. Mark my word.
But what I really can’t understand is why temples need elephants. Is it a symbol of prestige? A marque of respect stating that finally the temple has come of age and is considered a big boy? Or is there more to it? Could it also make good business sense? Not only is an elephant a crowd puller it can also be a source of added revenue by hiring them out to various processions as well as for hard labor. Actually if you look at it from purely a business perspective it makes great economic sense. Your cash outlay is minimal. You don’t have to invest a lump sum upfront because you can get some idiotic minister to donate one to you in order to look good to his constituents and get his mug in the news. And then if you don’t look after the big fellow the way one should and scrimp on the food and nutrition it needs it all adds up to more money in the kitty.
I personally think priests of all religions should stick to what they do best which is preaching. And not get their hands tarnished by going into business.
Whilst one article in the leader saddened me there was another article which delighted me no end. It was a brutally honest review of the Colombo Art Biennale titled “pretentious crap” by Fredrica Janz which was written so well that I felt like standing up applauding and shouting Bravo till I lose my voice. You see I think it is really easy to take crack shots at politicians. After all you know that they are inefficient and corrupt and no good. It is as obvious as accusing a member of the KKK of being a racist. Duh!!!!! But on the other hand it takes great guts to write about and trash the petty values which some of our up market society types uphold. Well there were three articles about CAB this week! Further down the same page there was another very interesting article by Ashok Ferry where he mistakenly thinks that two covered up air conditioning holes are an art installation. Guess anyone could have made that mistake.

The best way to get the dogs to stop barking???

Well I was in deep sleep this morning till I was rudely woken up by one of our dogs barking his sweet behind off. You see this dog would bark at anything. A moving curtain. Some new piece of furniture just anything which he was not used to seeing. And if the other two joined him gosh thats quite a cacophony to wake up to! Well I did the usual Shush! scream which fell on deaf doggy ears. And suddenly I remembered a little trick which my wife uses which works like a charm? "Who did this?"
Thats right three simple words with a question mark at the end. And damn if it didn't work once more. In fact all three dogs go into quiet mode when someone uses that phrase in a fairly loud tone. Guess sometimes you need to tug at the guilt strings of the canine heart to get your way.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I thought I was going to meet the lady of my dreams…

I dream about her charms everyday… the seductive memories of what she offers fill me with desire even while I am at meetings.I want to hold them in my arms… bury my mouth and take a big bite out of her deliciousness… feeling the gooiness in my mouth…. Damn this chocolate cake tastes really good!
He he I got you didn’t I? Ohh you narrow minded people. You thought I was going to write something naughty and dirty. Well sadly I am not and I hope by now you realise that you are not pure as you would like to think you are. I am in a bit of a crazy mood and thought I would tease you a little bit before getting down to the real point of my story.
The lady I am talking about runs a small home baking service called Sits. And she makes the most amazingly delicious desserts and chocolate cake which one can only fantasise about. Hence the title to the post. If you have ever seen cake in a luminous green box with a small signature logo that’s stuff baked by her. Well if you ever had the chance to sample one of her wares then you would appreciate the sensual words I used to at the beginning of this post.
Also if you happen to go to the Odel warehouse on high level road and sample some of the cup cakes which are available for 100/- these are baked at sits and it costs just 60/- there.
Well we have been ordering hundreds of cakes and desserts from Sits from the time we got to know of her. You will not believe how smoothly a meeting can go if you start it off with some delicious gooey freshly baked chocolate cake. Yes you order it over the phone and it would be ready for you in three hours. Though we have been ordering tons of stuff from her I have never had the opportunity to speak to her and meet her as it is always one of my colleagues who would do it. Well today it was going to be different. I had ordered a birthday cake which would be ready by 3 in the afternoon and since we were not working on a Saturday there was no one to pick it up. Hence I had to do it myself. I must say I was looking forward to meeting this person. Who made my meetings less miserable and my never ending trips to the gym… well never ending. Believe it or not I was excited! I wanted to know what Sita Goonetilleke looked like. I wanted to shake her hand get down on my knees kiss her feet and worship her and thank her for giving me a little piece of heaven on earth once in a while. Well it was with great anticipation I drove to Kalinga place to pick up another of her delicious chocolate cakes.
When you visit her house you realize that she is doing this for the love of baking rather than purely for making money. I knocked on the door with great trepidation my heart beating fast. And then it opened slowly and a smiling maid welcomed me and asked for the name of the order. Sadly Sita was too busy baking to talk to me. And I suddenly became too shy to ask if I could say hello to her.
Right now as I tap away blissfully onto my keyboard I am content and at peace. A lovely big slice of chocolate cake is comfortably sitting in my belly curled up with some nice elephant house ice cream. Sadly the glutton in me wanted more after all writing is a strenuous task and has to be rewarded. Thankfully I was told that the dog being the cunning fellow he is has managed to take the cake which was on the dining table out of the box and eaten all of it without any of us knowing. Lucky Dog!

I did not know…

That all popular brands of perfume were graded and classified according the percentage of perfume oil mixed in with the alcohol base. And that words cologne and Eau de Toilette actually has different meaning and stands for specific measures like A cup and C cup. (Though not a HIC cup oops sorry this was meant to be a serious post). All this came about during a conversation I was having with a client and the word eau de cologne came up. And the amazing thing was none of us who were from around the table at that time new about it though we thought we were connoisseurs of perfume. So I just thought that I should share this with you just in case you were as ignorant about it as I was.

Splash Cologne: 1-3% oil.

Eau de Cologne: 2-5% oil. This is the basic combination of alcohol and oil. Usually priced under the top 3 and lasts at most a couple hours. Usually comes in a spray bottle

Eau de Toilette: 4-8% oil. This is the normal discount fragrance most people spend their money on. For everyday use and prices around ones budget. This typical combination lasts anywhere for 2-4 hours. .

Eau de Parfum: 8-15% oil. Eau de Parfum contains a little higher concentration than an Eau de Toilette.

Perfume: 15-30% oil. The most expensive, perfume usually lasts up to 6 hours. It is packaged in small bottles, and should be used sparingly.

Well now you know. Hope this was a little helpful.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bucks can’t buy breeding sadly!

You wake up in the morning to an unfamiliar sound. First you think you are dreaming. Nope your eyes are actually open and you can see the dog wagging his tail and feel his tongue on your face. It is definitely not a dream. But the hammering continues incessantly. You go out to your garden and you see workmen in your property. No they are not working on some project for you. And “NO” they did not ask for your permission to enter. You try to handle the surprise without losing your cool and then you realize that they have also taken the liberty of removing the chain link fencing you put up on the top of your wall to prevent the dogs from jumping on to the road and scaring the living day lights out of people…. Then you remember the dogs…. Oh no what are you going to do to prevent them from going to the road??? They have to be in the house or the kennel all day.
Believe it or not this is not a piece of fiction. I wish it was. But this was a true life incident in my life a couple of months back. And the culprit is my beloved (in this case I wish it would be beheaded) neighbor.
In fact I wanted to title this article the monster neighbors but thought what is said in the headline was more appropriate and pointed out the root cause of the problem.
Why am I ranting about this a couple of months after the said incident? Well because yesterday something else happened that brought all the memories flooding back once more.
Since it has been raining a lot in the past few days we have heard a large noise of water pouring over mettle. I always thought it was the water pouring on my vehicle which was parked under the porch till my wife discovered just yesterday that our neighbor has actually turned his rainwater gutters in a way that the water flows into our garden.
The sad thing is these people are quite educated he is an engineer who is working abroad most of the time. She is a loud mouthed house wife from the coastal belt which has always made me wonder if there is a dash of fisherwoman in her blood line. Well we did not have much interaction with them before other than the occasional hi and byes when you meet on the road and stepping up to the gate and exchanging gifts during Christmas. Since we did not have that much interaction we did not have many problems till they started renovating their house. Then one could say all hell broke loose.
First they killed all the plants which were on the roadside against our walls by putting their stones and sand and bricks against it. Not only did it kill the plants it also messed up the paint on our walls.
Next the workers started putting all the rubble, lunch sheets and cement sacks onto our side and would not clean it up. And this used to go on consistently till we actually had to call and talk to them and complain. First the wife tried to talk to the lady next door. But she was no match for the neighbors fowl mouth.
Finally I had to call the husband and ask him would you like it if we did the same thing to you?
And only then did the penny drop that what they were doing might not be right. Since then I have been thinking how the neighborhood has changed in the past 35 years I have been living in this area.
During that time this was the faraway suburb where people who did not have that much money bought land and built their houses. The community was virtually full of mid level government servants. But it was a wonderful place. All the people respected one another and treated each other in a very dignified manner..
Well due to the land prices increasing substantially the entire area was transformed from a sleepy town (you really can’t call it a town but you cannot call it a village either) to a posh suburb for the rich and wealthy. You have to appreciate the fact that when I say rich; I don’t mean the filthy rich. They can still afford to live in the city. Anyway as the people changed the tone of the whole place has begun to change. Sadly a change for the worse.
No more single story beautiful houses with simple designs. All were multistory edifices. BMWs Audis and Big 4 wheel drives move up and down continuously as if the roads belonged to them. However the haughty ladies sitting in the back seat looked as if they don’t belong in this area and are just here by a strange coincidence of fate. Mixed into this is a wide variety of Lorries transporting raw material. I believe the people who are building these monstrous houses have no respect for civility or law or even basic human decency. They were just rules to be bent, ignored, bribed out of and if all these things do not work then you could always find some influence peddler and have someone bend a couple of rules for you as an exception. Wink! Now there is no more neighborly good will. I have heard that once one of them had complained to the police saying the dust was coming into his compound from the neighbor’s garden. Surely can someone prevent dust from flying over a wall? Only god can do that I think.
Just to tell you how close and caring the neighbors were I thought I would share how they supported me about 13 years ago. Our first Child was in hospital and my wife was there with her by her side for nearly a month. And during this entire period it was the neighbors that cleaned our house, gave me tea and breakfast in the morning as well as made a packed lunch for me sometimes to take to work they made sure even the clothes were washed and ironed to ensure that we only had to focus on looking after our child.
Sadly it is not the same now.
Some of our new neighbors think we are beneath them to even say hello. They don’t know what they are missing out.
One day it struck me why it is. I think most of these guys had got their money the easy way. Through scheming, bribing or even worse stuff. So with their big bucks they could buy into what some writers would describe as a decent lifestyle. Sadly that money could not buy them decency. But then this poem expresses my sentiments beautifully and I thought it would be a perfect ending for this post.


It can buy a House
But not a Home

It can buy a Bed
But not Sleep

It can buy a Clock
But not Time

It can buy you a Book
But not Knowledge

It can buy you a Position
But not Respect

It can buy you Medicine
But not Health

It can buy you Blood
But not Life

It can buy you Sex
But not Love

Packed like sardines in a trishaw made for two or three or four?

I was going for a client meeting last evening and saw this sight which I quickly snapped using my camera phone because it was unbelievable. People had squeezed into every conceivable space in this three wheeler. Guess the picture really speaks for itself. It is amazing to what lengths some people would go to in order to save a few bucks. But i guess you cannot blame them the way the cost of living continues to go up these days.
Yesterday I saw that farmers in France were spraying their milk on the ground to protest at low market prices for milk which has dropped so much that they have to sell it for half the price of production. But how come we are paying such high prices for milk in Sri Lanka if the world market prices are so low? Did you know that the prices of food we are paying for specially for essential are much higher than the world market prices?
Well now you know how our politicians manage to drive around in their BMWs.
Guess ignorance is bliss sometimes.

There is a man sleeping outside my door…

One would think this might be a post about being pursued by a lover who is not giving up…. Sorry to disappoint you but it is not. And one thing I would not want to be is pursued by a man well maybe a lady… but have you ever found a line in any book which would say “there is a woman sleeping outside my door”?
Neither have I? Isn’t that amazing?
Well this is a love story in a way. But sadly between a man and his love for alcohol. If it was a real life love story between two people it could have been presented as one of the greatest love stories of all time Because he did give up everything for his love.
Let us refer to him as Pala. A man I have seen around for over 30 years. He is a vagabond. Who main purpose in life is to drink or should I say drunk? After all drink is just the means to an end. Well he used to do odd jobs for all the houses around the place and get money to pursue his pleasures. He did not have a place to stay and used to sleep in temples and whatever place he could find.
Well as time went by Pala had managed to get around my wife and now visits us virtually every day for a home cooked meal and some money. Sometimes he would sweep the garden and clean up stuff and do some work around the house. He used to come up with the most amazing excuses to try and squeeze a little more money out of my wife. He killed his mother at least thrice and also his grandparents at least twice a year.
Well anyway I have seen him transform himself from young strong drunkard to old and feeble drunkard. Hobbling along the road with his belongings in a “siri siri” bag. Sometimes lying on the road blissfully drunk his privates exposed and stray dogs licking his face. Something which I really find amazing is that my dogs just love him. We know when he is going to visit us. Because our dogs can sense that he is coming way before we do and get excited and start whining.
The priest in the temple he was living in threw him out when he realized that he had outlived his usefulness. In fact a couple of months back he came and told that he was moving into some kind of shelter. But within days he was out. Maybe he liked the freedom of staying in an unconfined space. Unfettered by rules and regulations we have to live by. Who knows? Who cares?
Well actually that is my point.
Who cares?
About a lonely homeless man who has no money. He is of no value to anyone. No one is going to look after him hoping that they would inherit his wealth after his death. He is sleeping outside my door on the porch because he was not feeling well enough to walk back to the new temple he is staying in.
One of these days his abused body will not be able to support him? Then what is going to happen? What is really sad is that as years go by there will be more and more people like him. Sri Lanka too has an aging population and we don’t have a social net wide enough to ensure all of them are looked after.
But then who cares?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Party Bus

The party bus keeps chugging along
Everyone’s singing their own special song
The road gets tougher
But no one worries that they may suffer
Because the party is still going strong.

The driver looks at the road ahead
Says to himself “I would rather be dead”
Then he looks back and sighs
Hoping that one day soon they would open their eyes
But the partying is still going strong

The fuel gauge nudges closer to the end
The tyres are bald; don’t think they can make it round the bend
The creeks and crackles of his pain
Are drowned out by the shrieks of pleasure of the vain.
Because the party is still going strong

Will they realize the uphill struggle?
The sacrifice… and priorities he had to juggle
They do not know what it took to bring them this far
Since their eyes always focused on what is behind the bar
Because the partying is still going strong.

All of a sudden the party will end
However much they try the bus will not mend
I did not know? What happened? they will say
With bitter tears of regret they will pay
Because the parting is still going to be as strong.

Wishing I could work for free...

This is the thought which was running through my mind as I was driving in the morning. This is not some crazy rambling of some insane mind but it is the truth.

You see the past couple of months I have been doing a lot of pro bono work while I have been letting my colleagues concentrate more on the agencies regular clients . And I was blissfully happy. Like a pig in shit. Why? Because for once I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was dispensing advice on strategy on positioning on promotion and it was being well receieved and appreciated. For once I felt alive and life had purpose and I was juiced up! Even though I was not making any money it felt absolutely wonderful. You see most of these people had been working with small production outfits who were actually glorified computer operators who really did not have the knowledge on the "craft" of advertising. All what they were getting was a square filled with pretty pictures and meaningless words.

And suddenly they realized what they were missing out by NOT working with a professional agency. Anyway this led me to think that is there a business model out there where an agency can work for free? Making quality advertising accessible to small businesses thereby making them more competitive.

I know this sounds crazy. Even I thought I should get my head examined and was about to reach for the phone when I had a flashback of an excellent presentation I atteneded a long time ago by Edward de Bono on lateral thinking. Well he was a fading international speaker but what he had to say still made sense. He said imagine a restaurant without food. Or a restaurant where you pay by the time you occupy it. These were some of the examples he used to illustrate his point. Which was that if you were wanting to truly innovate within a specific sector then you need to imagine that product or service without an element you normally would consider integral to it.

Whilst a restaurant without food may seem absolutely crazy at first, once you begin to dwell on it then you realize it begins to make sense. Imagine a place where you can go and eat your food while you are travelling and you pay a fee to use the facilities. A place which is airconditioned has decent toilets and tables and chairs? I sure could use a place like that when I am on the road specially with my family. You see it makes sense.

And the more I think about it an advertising agency which works for free funded by donors to create quality work for small businesses begin to make more and more sense. Just like you would have NGOs who help people to set up businesses and become economically self reliant. Or other organisations that provide leagal aid or medical aid for that matter. We could have "Ad Aid" or "advertising sans frontiers".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Racist Dogs!!!

Well I admit that the headline was meant to catch the attention of the reader. Sorry this is not some rant about how our locals suck up to foreigners. Yes they do. And I have been witness to several ugly situations where we have had the Sri Lankan equivalent of Apartheid. Well that?s for later. But more importantly this is an interesting story actually about cats and dogs.
The gym I go to has a stray cat which has adopted the place as its home. And a lot of people fuss over it and give it food. However it does not let itself get rubbed and petted by everyone only the foreigners have the privilege of rubbing the tummy of the tabby.
When I say foreigners I mean ?Whiteskins? or Caucasians if you would like to be politically correct. When a trainer told me this I did not believe him. But he went onto explain that the foreigners actually bring cat food packs and feed the cat whilst the locals would be throwing crumbs of some bread or bun they would be eating. And since there is a fair number of Caucasians who frequent the gym the cat has been able to spot a trend that he gets a better quality of food from the pale faces. And therefore gives them better treatment.
I was having a smoke outside office and mentioning this to a colleague when he told me that even in the tourist towns like Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna you see the stray dogs on the beach behaving in such a manner.
Well guess sucking up and kissing ass is not limited to only the human species.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It takes a special talent...

To suck away...

the joy out of life...

the heat out of a fire...

the warmth out of sunshine...

the taste out of a delicious meal...

the specialness out of a moment...

the passion out of love...

the soul out of a body...

the meaning out of words...

till there is nothing...

Monday, September 14, 2009

One kick in the groin and two shots of Monday Angst.

Well it is another Monday... middle of the month… nice!!! The pressure of closing billing for the end of the month has not really caught us by our vitals… yet! But it is the relative calm before the storm because it is the end of the second quarter and my numbers are shot to shit. Well that’s another rant for a rainy day. It started out as if it was going to be a good Monday till evening where I had to attend a meeting which was disastrous. To say the least.

I went to present some work to a star CEO Well the work had been approved by his team before and it was just to get a nod of approval.

A piece of cake or so I thought till he shot the work to bits. The real kick in the balls was that he was right. And whatever said and done it is hard to admit that sometimes the client can be right.

Well I had to go home early to take the wife to a dental appointment. Amazingly the doctor could not do what he was supposed to do as there was a mild infection and she had to take a dose of antibiotics and return the next week. It was too late to go back to office. So for once I was at home by 6.

And so it was movie time.

Started the evening watching a old drama called The House of Sand and Fog starring Ben Kingsley. Which was good but of course had a sad ending which left me kind of down. Then it was time to watch a movie called Basquiat a true life story of an American artist who appeared from the gutter rose to great heights and died at the tender age of 27. Of course the movie was another downer and now I am feeling really depressed as I tap away at my keyboard watching the original Woodstock concert. Well hopefully it would cheer me up.

But trust me Basquiat is one amazing movie. Firstly it has an amazing sound track with some great music. Secondly it has an amazing cast including Dennis Hopper and David Bowie who plays Andy Warhol. Some of Andy Warhol’s actual videos were featured in the movie. I must say the art was good too but to be honest I thought Basquiat’s stuff was kind of crude and I would not pay good money for it.

Nevertheless it is a good movie. A must watch movie I might add. Specially if you are interested about real life biographies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Frolicking Friday. Groaning Saturday!

Groans! Moans! Grunts! I feel like an old man with arthritis. Well it is a tired and achy CJ tapping in these words on a Saturday night. Why are you feeling this way you might ask? Well guess it is because I did something which I don’t usually do. Go partying. Well if you can call it that. But guess this is my idea of what partying and since this is my blog what I say cannot be argued with.

Just a little bit of background. I have been partying since I was about 16 I have now lost all desire to go out and be seen. In fact when I was going to the blue elephant the cover charge was 150/- and Kapila was serving drinks. Anyway the past few years I have calmed down quite a bit. Wildlife to me is actually meant a trip to the jungle. And an enjoyable time is a gathering of good friends quiet company sharing a bottle of wine over good conversation and maybe sharing the occasional joint.

Anyway Friday began at the gym and since I had just started a new workout which focuses more on fitness I was feeling utterly useless and hopeless by 9.30 in the morning. Well I got a call from my good friend YP at around ten and he was elated that he had news of his first payment from deal had been transferred to him. Well of course this is a cause for celebration and it was agreed that we would meet up for drinks that night. Well it was a tough day and quite a busy one and when I was done it was past eight. And the three of us arrived at the SSC air conditioned bar. Well first a beer and some food was followed by shots of old arrack and coke. Of course the food was delicious. Specially wiping the gravy of the barbecued pork with cheese toast is heavenly and I am unable to find words to describe it. Well as the night continued the crowd of three became eight and a good time was being had by all. Towards midnight everyone decided to head to Sopranos for some karaoke. I must confess that this was the first time I have been there. And I was quite intrigued by it all. But oh boy some of them were singing really badly. And it really hurt my ears. On the other hand two of the people who were with us sounded absolutely brilliant. Well from Sopranos it was to Sugar we headed. At one in the morning it was kind of dull but gosh by two the place was rocking. The music was good and we were having a great time and I must confess that I enjoyed myself too. The ultimate treat however was to be eating a sugar hot dog at three in the morning. I still wish I could have had two or three of them.

I was drinking the whole night but I was not drunk just high and buzzed. But nevertheless waking up on Saturday morning I was hung over as hell. I would have liked nothing better than to sleep in the whole day. But sadly there is no rest for the wicked and I had to be the driver for my wife and her friend and bunch of kids. Well I did manage to get in another hour or so of sleep and managed to drive out of the house by 11.30 or so.

Even though I had taken a long shower and had breakfast I was still not feeling all that great. In fact it was agonizing. My joints hurt with every step I took and my eyes were red and there was an overall sense of what I call AMDG better known in the vernacular as a case of ali meali dubala gathiya

Well I had to pick our friend and her Kid from Colombo 5 and then drop the kids at a lunch somewhere past Battaramulla then take the ladies out for lunch and then go back to pick the kids up once more. And then drop our friend and her kid back home before I could crawl back into my bed and sleep some more. Damn it! This was lot of driving around to be doing whilst having a hangover. Well I did give it my best and managed to conclude project successfully without harm to anyone or anything. Being offered a beer at the place where the kids were being dropped helped. As well as a nice lunch at Amrit Masala. With Naan and Biriyani and paneer curry followed by lassie was heavenly.

Generally I get sleepy after a heavy meal and now this situation increased two fold. And on the way back to pick up the kids I got the munchies once more and ended up picking up ice cream at the McDonalds drive through.

Even though I thought I might not make it to the end the long drive finally was over and I did manage to crawl back into bed and here I am right now still weary. This is the time I ponder why on earth do I have to drink? Sadly I will forget what it felt like till my next drink.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Being blind to the blind?

I am guilty! First of shamelessly copying a line from a campaign by O&M. Well guess if imitation is flattery this is double flattery because by copying them I am imitating them once more. OK now it is time to stop the bitch fits and get back to the real issue. Which is the second thing I am guilty of.

I have seen them at the Apollo hospital junction where Park Road intersects with Baudhaloka Mawatha which is near the Airtel office. I think I have gone past them every Sunday for more than a year without really taking notice of them till now.

What are they doing? Well from what it seems they are selling tickets and trying to collect funds. But in reality they are begging. I think this a great barometer of the social consciousness of the powers that be. It is the responsibility, no duty of the government to look after its people specially the handicapped and the ailing. Well sadly the care for people expressed by our policymakers are limited to words and not to actions.

In a lighter vein I think this is a very inefficient way to beg. Specially for a Firstly I think it is a shame to our government when blind men have to beg. A government is responsible to look after its people. Especially the handicapped and it is sad that our handicapped have to beg on the street to fend for themselves.

On the other hand I could not help but think that this was a rather inefficient way of begging. Because it is highly unlikely that anyone would get out of their vehicle and come to them and give them money while they are waiting for a red light to turn to green. The maximum stop would not be more than 2 minutes. Even if these guys had someone who could see then they would be able to get them to collect the money on their behalf moving from car to car instead of reaching out from the side of the road. Which was still quite dangerous as I have seen many cars trying to avoid bumping into them. Even if they positioned themselves outside the food city which is a couple of hundred meters away I believe they would do better than being situated at their current location.

Of course this is my warped logic. I believe the laws of economics will finally come into play. They would not be standing in this particular corner for so long if they were not making sufficient money to make ends meet. Or at least their income was up to expectation. Guess they just never heard of profit maximisation.

A "C" string? What will they think of next?

Generally I am in the habit of ignoring all the junk mail which seems to flood my inbox. However sometimes I find the most intriguing and juiciest tit bits through them. For instance I discovered Loon Tao through them. As well as the fact that the Hamburgers sold at Sugar can now also be bought at the Odel Boulevard.

Well this particular mail really hit me in the face with its title. Which said that the C string is here. Now if the mail was not from Midnight Divas I would not have even opened it thinking that it was with reference to some kind of guitar string. It always intrigues me how the two strings which I know in underwear (yes G and C) are both guitar strings as well.

Anyway I was flummoxed to say the least when I saw what a C string was. Well it was like a hair band and a sanitary napkin have had a child. It had no waist around it. Guess you need to tuck it in the vital places and hey presto you have the comfort and protection of underwear without the threat of Visible panty line.

Just a little piece of information which a researcher friend shared with me about the underwear habits of normal lower income working girls in our country. Apparently the use of thongs is quite high. And they want the world to know that they are wearing them but without them peeking out of their pants like what would happen in a western country. How does one indicate you are wearing a thong without showing? Another clever Sri Lankan innovation: where white pants. Make the whole world aware that you are wearing a thong by innuendo as there is no visible panty line. I thought that was quite clever.

Well I am waiting to see what the next string would be?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stripping for your (kids) supper aka the story of the stripper mom. Another true story

I have great regard and respect for those in the sex trade. You know not only the ladies of the night but also those ladies who perform the function as hostesses at seedy karaoke joints whilst letting themselves get groped as well as the masseurs in what is shamefully known as a spa. I think it takes great courage and determination to take that desperate step.

This is the true story of a lady I met one day while I was on my way home from church. Lets call her Clarice. I first spied her hobbling along the muddy path which links PCAG to Kirimandala Mawatha. She was wearing a ragged dress and a pair of muddy slippers. She was balding and her hair was in patches. But the copper color streaks through the black and the grey showed that she would try to dye it whenever possible. I still don’t know what made me stop my vehicle and offer her a lift and thus started a relationship which has gone on for nearly three years.

This is her story. She was a little loco so there might be some inaccuracies but the gist of the story is correct.

She would have been a very good looking girl in her younger age. Young, innocent and pretty it was not long before she fell for someone who was double her age and married at the tender age of 15. She had three kids with this man. I believe she was happy with him and everything was going fine. When he died. Leaving her to take care of three kids with no income. Sadly Clarice was not educated. She could not read or write. To date this makes travelling a nightmare for her and there have been many instances where she has got lost by getting into a wrong bus. And people have found her fallen on the street.

Well she had three kids to feel and out of the goodness of her heart she actually went and adopted another girl as well.

Sadly there is no one who would offer a decent job for someone who had four kids and can not read or write other than a servant. Which means that she would have to keep her children under the care of someone else. She did not want to give up her children and so she decided to become a cabaret artist and dance for all these bachelor parties. She used to tell me she used to get 1500/- per appearance which means it was quite a lot of money at that time. Well with this money she brought up the kids and all of them are married and getting along ok. Not that they are well off but one could say they are comfortable with a roof above their head.

Sadly some of the traits such as strength of will, independence, determination and sheer courage which helped her to bring up her children against all odds now began to work against her. She could not live with any of the children. She was always fighting with the spouses as well as the grand kids making it an absolute nightmare for everyone in that house.

Which means suddenly she had no place to live as she was not welcome in any of her kids houses. She actually managed to find a place for 500/- well it’s a room and she has to cook in it. From what she was telling me it would have been a miserable hell hole. Because it used to leak into the room when it was raining and once she was telling me how their were rats in her hand bag and eaten it. Of course she had only one hand bag which means that she had to carry her stuff around in a “Siri Siri” bag for the next couple of days. Well sadly she was diabetic and her the lack of food and understanding of how to treat herself took its toll. She was kicked out of her room and no one wanted to rent out a room to a sick old lady. No one wanted to deal with the responsibility. She did not have any money. She got 1500/- from the church a month which she would manage on. I helped her out with a couple of thousand more and occasionally give her some vials of insulin. She used to hangout in church and beg from people. But with all that it was a meager existence.

Anyway since she could not read or write her habit of taking her medicines were quite erratic I am sure. Sadly bad meals improper medicine and lack of proper living space made her worse. It was a vicious cycle. The less money and facilities she had the more sick she got. The more sick she got the less money she had because she could not go out and beg. She used to move from house to house. Sometimes with a friend. Sometimes with a nephew occasionally with her children. Still she would fight with the kids and storm out of the house. As she became weaker she would go missing for days. Sometimes she would be found fallen on the road and taken to hospital. However unwell she was she did not want to give up her freedom of movement because that was the only independence she had and she had to hold onto it. Sadly she had to lose that too because a couple of days back we finally managed to get her into an Elders Home which is run by my church. And as she entered the home she fell seriously sick and was admitted to intensive care and it was diagnosed as renal failure. After many years of abuse the kidneys had finally given up.

Sadly the best thing that could happen is for to her to die soon. To end the suffering. Not necessarily for her but more for those around her.