Saturday, July 31, 2010

Walk of Greed!

There is a thin line between extortion and requesting for donations. Specially in the case of the ladies college walk which concluded on the 31st of July. Having a bunch of manic old girls who are also teachers does not help specially for the younger students who at their Mercy. Since both my daughters study at LC I was able to witness the manipulation (and bullying) these kids go through duisguised and labeled as charity. First donation cards were forced on them. There was no saying NO as it would mean being made fun of in front of the class. Even though each card was a thousand bucks a piece it did not stop at one card but went on for two and three. I put my foot down at two cards each. Specially since I end up being the only donator as I don't like my kids to be harrasing our friends colleagues and neighbors for money.
Now don't get me wrong I don't mind giving money to a good cause but I like to be askeds nicely not black mailed into it.
The walk is concluded with a fun fair at the college grounds. But what takes the cake is entrance to the fair is a "Thousand Bucks" for those who have not participated in the walk. And sadly even parents who came to pick up their kids had to buy a ticket to enter in order to look for them. To force the parents hand into buying tickets the school authorities banned mobile phones from the event. So one could not get through to their kids. Fortunately we heard of this move before and asked our kids to come out at a specific time. But I feel sorry for the parents who came unprepared. Our cost was 5000k for our kids to take part in this shindig. We could afford this extra expenditure but my heart goes out to the many parents who can't afford such an extravagance. Who would be forced to see the looks of dissapointment in their kids eyes. I know from experience that it is not a very nice thing.
What makes this kind of behaviour more repulsive is that this is a Christian School and managed by the Anglican Church of Sri Lanka and supossedly governed by christian principles. But guess Instead of loving thy neighbor they are loving the neighbors money. What a shame.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wild life (department) Gone to the wilds - unethical camping raises its ugly head.

Actually the original title of this article was "The politicisation of wild life Department" however a last minute dash of inspiration made me come up with this second line. I want this particular post to get lot of attention because we netizens have a role to play in preventing this kind of thing happening in our country.
I was glad to be back in the warm embrace of Yala within two months. A welcome getaway from the pressures of work. But this post is not about my trip but of a sad thing which I discovered where the people of this country are once again deprived of their rights. Yala has only two camping grounds and both grounds have been booked for all 31 days by a "higher authority" denying the camping lovers of a chance to enjoy the park. From what I hear these sites are being used by a company called leopard safari to carryout luxury camping excursions for foreigners. I was shown some pictures where the organisers of these camps has paid scant regard to the laws and expected behaviours when it comes to staying in a National Park. You cannot treat a National Park like a hotel garden or private camp site. But for these happy camp operators these rules do not apply. I saw pics of tents been put up on the bund of lakes. Sewage lines fixed into the ground and flares been lit up around the camp site. Again we need to appreciate that in a National Park it is the animals which are given priority over humans and nothing should be done to disturb them as long as it does not endanger the lives of humans.
You need to know about the procedure for booking of wild life bungalows and camp sites to truly appreciate the unfairness of it all. The bookings are open on the first Monday of the month for the following month. People come from far and wide on this day for a chance to enjoy the wilds. In order to be fair to everyone numbers are issued and then drawn via a raffle and the bungalows are given out on the basis of the numbers picked up. But sadly these days most of the prime bungalows especially in Yala are struck off the list prior to being open to the public. But this has been the first time things have gone so low where the entire month has been struck off the list. On this particular occasion I heard there was someone who had come all the way from Nuwara Eliya to get a camp site and had to turn back dissapointed.
I was talking to some of the wild life employees and everyone was quite disgruntled. They felt that with the new grouping of ministries wild life has been only looked at as a tourist attraction and that the conservation aspect has been completely overlooked. In fact in my discussion with a senior official we were joking that very soon there would be a license given to kill animals as long as the price was right. Sadly this could very well be.
The only hope is that us Sri Lankans can create a noise on the web about unethical camp sites in Sri Lanka and make sure the clients of these people make sure that they follow the rules. As far as I am concerned I see this as the only alternative as I can't depend on our political leadership to correct what is wrong.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why British Newspapers are More Fun to Read

“Parippu and Potatoes are not vegetables!!!”

This was told to me in a fairly strong and exasperated tone by the lady who was sitting in front of me. She happened to be my nutritionist and this it seems is a perennial problem affecting the health of a lot more people than we would think. You see the average Sri Lankan meal to most would consist of Rice 2 curries and 1 meat item. Of course everyone knows that the 2 curries should be vegetables. But in reality they end up being parippu and potatoes which is why these two Ps piss this lady off so much. You might wonder “so what” surely vegetables are not that important. That is where we are wrong the lack of vegetables deny us of the much needed fibre and roughage which brushes out are system and it results in more cancers and cysts and illnesses in people. And when I dwell on this I realized how true what she says is. These days I having a rice and curry breakfast buying a packet from a shop and the absence of vegetables is glaring. Till now I did not know the serious repercussions of not eating proper vegetables and am going to change my eating habits as soon as I can till then can someone pass me the parippu please????

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Book seller of Kabul - A very good read

"She, the mother it was, who in the end dispatched her three sons to kill her daughter. The brothers entered the room together. Together they put a pillow over her head. Together they pushed it down, harder, harder untill life was extinguished. Then they returned to mother."

This is a particularly powerful paragraph of a chapter of the above tome. The past few days I have been reading a few Afghanisthani authors. The first book was "The kite Runner" and then "A thousand splendid suns” both by Khaled Hosseini which I liked but then the most recent book of this genre which I laid my hands on was "The Book seller of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad which I absolutely loved. It was a beautifully written true story though the beautiful words articulated something quite ugly which was the way women are downtrodden in these strict Muslim culture. I found it hard to believe that ladies had to crowd into the back of a bus even though there was room in the front because it was allocated for men. Or not to have proper medical care. I just can't comprehend how a government would not allow females to work in a land where a lot of men had died by fighting and many women were the sole bread winner of the family. I am not going to do a review of the book cos you can find a thousand reviews of it online. But it is a book full of contrasts and irony and I seriously suggest you consider getting your hands on it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Drunk on good conversation... aka an unusual Friday evening

Well Friday evening usually for me means booze and bites. But this Friday I did something quite different which did not involve either of the above. And enjoyed myself thoroughly. It all started when I received an invitation from one of my wives friends to join a book club. I was quite apprehensive about it as I generally don't like mixing with strangers and feel uncomfortable if not in the company of like minded individuals. There were many times I thought I would bow out of it using some excuse related to work. But something at the back of my mind urged me to go. And I am so glad I did take the chance. It was a small intimate gathering of expats and locals. And we clicked beautifully it was as if I had found some long lost friends. There was lots of nice food as everyone had brought something though there was no alcohol. I could not take part in the discussion much as I was not in the loop of the book they had decided to read last time. There were three psychologists and one doctor in the group. The discussions were thought provoking and the exchange of opinions intriguing. In fact I can't wait till we meet again.
This is a loose knit group which is so informal there is even no name. I have given myself the task of developing a name for the gathering. The club is not only about books but it is also about poetry and movies and all things art and literature I guess. Colombo book club is apparently taken. I was thinking of Colombo Literature Society but in shorten form it would be CLITS and guess the connotations are definitely vulgar. Wonder what the shrinks would think of me?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

From the mouths of babes

The other day my youngest was asked who the leader of the opposition was and pat came the reply "The MISERABLE Ranil Wickramasinghe". It wasn't a mispronunciation but her being witty. When I thought of RWs face these days I thought that was an accurate and apt statement. I was about to say I never knew that she was so knowledgeable about the political landscape being just 9 years of age when she followed it up with "The Miserable Mahinda Rajapakse" as well. At least she was not favouring any party with her wry humor.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cuts (scenes from a funeral)

Camera opens to white coffin being slid into the gaping open mouth of the furnace of the crematorium…. Strained voices sing “Jesus loves me this I know... for the bible tells me more…” some people look up in frustration wondering to themselves if jesus loved her so much would he have let an eight year old girl die?

Cut to driver asking his master if he can sneak into the funeral parlor so he can see the corpse of the little girl; for him it’s a great story to recite to everyone at home about the beautiful princess who lost her life.

Cut to former beauty queen putting her arm around her husband’s waist and leaning her head on her shoulder. He holds her close and comforts her. They know very well that the same situation could befall them next… and they are thankful that it has not happened so far.

Cut to smoke spewing out from the tall chimney of the crematorium

Cut to a relative seated on the ground looking up at the smoke emanating from the smoke stack and saying to herself “there she goes”

Cut to black….

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Welding Wedamahattya??? Fact or Fiction?

The past few months I have been hearing some amazing stories about the miracle cures done by some of the local Ayurveda doctors. For instance my drivers mom had to have a couple of stents inserted into her heart and they could not afford the 700,000 bucks which was required for the treatment. So they went to a local veda mahattaya who gave her some medicines and a talisman to wear near the heart all of which cost just 12,500 bucks and she is hail and hearty and living a great life as I write this note.

But the best I have heard so far has been about this gentleman called the “Welding wedamahattaya” somewhere on the road to Anuradhapura. Yes it is not a typo Welding is his game but not with metal but bones. The story goes that his treatment can connect a bone together in less than two hours. But that it hurts so much that the patients are tied to benches and their mouths stuffed so they can’t scream out in pain. I have not met anyone who has undergone treatment from this person but two people who are known to me have friends who have. One guy was some one who was into martial arts and had broken his collar bone and had been back at practices the next day. The other guy had been someone who had broken his arm and had been fine the next day. Now I know this seems quite improbable but that is one of the reasons of putting up this post. Has anyone heard of this “Welding wedamahattaya” before? If so please do tell me more. But one thing what this and some of the other experiences I have heard has taught me is that we should never under estimate the power of local medicine and healing techniques.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My heart bleeds…

Today I heard the sad news that my friend SP’s brother’s daughter has succumbed to dengue. I did not know the father very well other than have a drink with him once a long long time ago. But still I feel a strange sense of empathy with these unknown people. AF was only 8 years old way too young to die. Anyway children are not supposed to die before their parents. It is one of the things we (are conditioned to) believe that will not happen to us but to someone else. Just like the sun rising from the East and the clouds over our heads. These people were very well off living in a highly residential area. Sadly the mosquito or death for that matter has scant regard for who you are and where you live. And in the end the grief and the hurt is the same whether you are in a mansion or a hovel.

Maligning Religion

This has been a post long fermenting in my mind but for some strange reason did not erupt into words till now. But I was thinking to myself the other day that it is people of the same faith that insult their own religion mostly by their actions. This was aptly displayed when The Sunday Leader did the expose on Brother Laliths miracle service at St. Peters College on Wednesdays. I am sure you would have heard about it. The letters which were received and published by the newspaper by angry followers of this man of god from throughout the world shocked me and upset me more than the expose itself. The hatred in those letters clearly showed that the words Brother Lalith has uttered had fallen on barren land and none of it has sunk in. As I am a Christian I feel it is not within my rights to comment on specific instances where I have seen similar things happen in other faiths. But most of the situations which come to mind is as hypocritical as what is seen in the above story. Isn’t it a shame that human beings cannot rise beyond their base desires??????

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Greek restauranteer and his catch 22 situation.

I was enjoying a crab feast with friends under the poson full moon and was talking to a greek businessman who was planning on starting a restaurant here. It was lovely to listen to him express himself. It was as good as watching a theatre performance. He was entertaining us with some of the absurd situations he had faced in starting a business one which is worth a mention. Well he went to get BOI approval and he was told that he had to have 50,000 dollars in a local bank account to get boi status. And when he went to the bank to open the account he was told that he cannot open an account WITHOUT the approval of BOI. Now isnt that a terrible situation to be in? I pity that poor man.