Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Innovation??? Imitation??? Abomination?

I don't know what to decide but what do you think????

They do know its christmas time...again.

I am paraphrasing the song by Band Aid to illustrate my point about Christmas time for some being not only about giving but taking. Even forcefully! And (sometimes) through intimidation. No am not talking about thugs who generally hang around with the likes of Vermin but actually more normal gentle folk who become thugs during Xmas and Sinhalese New year. People like the postman and the guy who collects the garbage. And some, who we do not know, turn up at our doorstep brandishing lists insinuating that life as we know it will not be the same if we don’t make use of this season of cheer to make them happy through a generous donation.
First the postman came with a list. We did the honors. Then there was another guy who delivers registered letters. Till then I thought the postman delivered registered letters as well. But I stand corrected and he too got a donation. We drew the line when a third guy appeared with a list claiming he was the “Old/previous” postman.
I must say I was impressed with the quality of the lists these people were bringing over. It was quite well done. Not the usual full scrap sheet with hand drawn lines. Someone had taken the trouble of setting this up on a computer and actually developing a heartwarming intro intended to make the reader tip more generously.
Much to their chagrin a few garbage collectors have discovered that some of their more unscrupulous mates have beaten them to the punch by going earlier to the doors of potential donors.
I don’t resent the fact that one should give something to those who make our life more comfortable with the services they carry out. But I certainly don’t want to feel like that I am making a donation because I have to. And these days to many of these people it is an entitlement not a gift given at ones discretion. Which to me is wrong.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An ode to bacon - Shenoj de Alwis

 Oh sweet bacon that comes from above,
You had me at hello – it was pure piggy love.
You are everything I need or wanted in a meat.
With your sweet taste on my tongue, I feel so darn complete.

I love to watch you sizzle and pop on that grill.
Your oozing fat’s delicious, your texture is a thrill.
You get along with everyone but can stand on your own.
If taste was a kingdom, you’d have a porky throne.

I come before you now to get down on my knee.
If you say yes, dear Bacon, I’d just die in jubilee.
I’d love you till forever, I’d never say goodbye.
The day I’d stop loving is the day that piglets fly.

I found this on a FB comment thread. Am sure it was written on impulse. So I thought it deserved a more permanent place on the web hence this post. I love bacon.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rock on!

Well this little article has nothing to do with rock music at all. I just thought it was an intriguing title to seduce readers into an otherwise boring subject about shower stall flooring. Well I just changed mine from the normal tiles to natural stone (or Kalu Gal) with the uncut (rough) surface. What I could not believe is the impact it had on my – for the lack of a better word – showering experience. It was a complete transformation which has to be experienced to believe. The fact that your feet are on natural stone makes your shower as refreshing as bathing from a spout or under a water fall. Isn’t the power of nature amazing?

Dutch Hospital and Ministry of Crab!

Now us Sri Lankans have the perfect excuse to go out and have a good time and when asked by irritated boss/spouse/colleague say you had to go to hospital with a straight face. And that’s thanks to the opening of the new Dutch Hospital complex in Fort recently. I must confess they have done a remarkable job of renovating the place and it really looks lovely. You do need to ignore the few dogs who roam inside along with the rats and the stares of the military guarding the place. I happened to visit the place with my chums AJ and CT on the opening night of “Ministry of Crab”. We had made reservations without realizing that it was their first day. Since MOC has still not got its liquor license we had to have our drinks at WIP which is a lovely cozy place opened by the Hilton. I was really impressed with the place and the ambience. In fact if we had not made our reservations at MOC we would have had dinner here. After downing a couple of drinks we strolled over to the MOC. Well the ambience was nice. The cooking area looked really nice as it was an open kitchen. I had gone through the menu on the internet and was looking forward to sample some of their Japanese specialties too. For those who don’t know this place is run by the same gentlemen who manages neonbashi. At least three items we asked for from the menu was not there and our dining experience was a bit diluted because the vegetable dish we ordered only came once we had finished our meal. And how was the food you might ask? Expensive is the first comment which comes to mind. The taste was ok. Definitely not out of this world. And if there was one thought we left MOC with was EXPENSIVE! Our bill for three people for one big crab weighing 1.5 kilos two portions of prawns and some rice and vegetables was 12k! No drinks. No dessert! Well as my friend CT commented we would have had a far better experience at “The Lagoon”. I heard the owner of the locations had a 400% mark up on his food sadly the experience he provides does not justify it. Maybe this average service could have been because it was their first day. So I shall go there once more before giving them up for good and running back into the warm embrace of my ever so lovely lagoon.
I also heard that Citrus Reef is starting a new fish restaurant aimed at Colombo Diners who can get their within an hour thanks to the new Southern Highway. Can’t wait for that to come true because I hear the prices are going to be really attractive.

Malnourished Santa!

I always believe that if you can’t do something right then you should not do it at all. But sadly I seem to belong to the minority. Where ever I go  these days I see these men dressed in red with some cotton wool as a beard and being an extremely bad imitation of Santa. It was really irritating but not enough to warrant a post. But then I was driving down Havelock Road the other day and saw the scrawny Santa above and I said to myself I have to write about this. Look at this guy. Does he have any resemblance to the Jolly Santa Clause in red which the good old coca cola company helped to popularize? He is more like what Santa would have been if he was born in some third world African Country ravaged by war, famine and disease! I could not help but feel terribly sorry for that poor fellow dancing in the hot sun wearing that stuffy costume I am sure he would have been boiled alive. But he did seem to set about his duties cheerfully and with lots of enthusiasm. I know if not for this work he would have been idling and we know what kind of mischief that can lead to.  But nevertheless I still feel sad that humans have to be exploited this way to make a few bucks, But what really makes this particular Santa more absurd is that he was encouraging people to drive into a Vehicle Battery Replacement shop.  A scene flashes across my mind. Of a couple driving and passing the mal nourished Santa. The driver turns to the passenger and says “Oh what a nice Santa  lets replace our car battery!” If only life works like that. I wish! I really question certain peoples decisions sometime?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Mirror of Paradise - Asgar Hussain

I judged this book by the cover and am glad to say it was not a looser! Yeah!
We all know we should not do it. But I tend to do it most of the time. It is the rule, rather than the exception of my book buying addiction. Maybe it is because I don’t like hanging around the bookstore for hours on end virtually reading half of the book before I decide I should buy it.
But after nearly a lifetime of buying books I have realized I will buy a certain amount of losers regardless of me having browsed through it or not. And once again this book was a complete impulse purchase. I bought it because I liked the cover. And of course the author was known to another friend I knew. But wow it really turned out great. The book was a collection of short stories extremely cleverly written and the plots were amazing if I was being a bit critical I might say some of the endings were too abrupt. But in the end it was a wonderful relaxing reading experience. I relished every word I read. And I can’t wait to read it once more but this time I want a nice Old arrack and coke along with some hot cashew nuts while I savor each succulent word once more. Good job Mr. Asgar Hussain! Hats off to you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Obituary on hoardings!

A couple of days back a group director of Maharaja’s passed away. Almost immediately, all across the city hoardings sprouted up featuring a larger than life picture of this gentleman and a message of condolence.
I really don’t know what to make of it.
On one side a public display of grief from a company perspective is highly admirable. But on the other hand I do feel a shudder of revulsion pass over me as one part of me feel this gesture is in poor taste. A close relative of his told me I don’t think he would have appreciated it if he was alive. I for one did not know him well enough to comment. But one thing is for sure the day I go to meet my maker I would prefer my obituaries to be limited to the press.

PnS version of lampries.

Some of you purists out there are going to call me foul names and the connoisseurs of this fine food are going to damn me into eternal suffering in hell when they realize that this is actually a complimentary post instead of a critical one.  But do bear with me.
Firstly to call this packet a lampries –just because it is wrapped in a banana leaf – is an insult. It is like calling someone a mechanic because he is dressed in overalls or thinking someone is a doctor because he is wearing a white lab coat and carrying a stethoscope. But you cannot ask for it by any other name than lampries which ever outlet of Perera and Sons you decide to step into. Whilst it is not the authentic lampries like one would find at DBU and Green cabin I love what the guys have done. It is my kind of lampries. The “kana bona” mans lampries to say so in another way. To me it has all the goodness of a lampries plus more.
The first positive thing I noticed is that it is not tiny.  I feel full after consuming one. Also it has a decent sized piece of roast chicken, an egg as well quite a hot lunu thel dala added to it so it is quite spicy which is great for me. All in all I loved eating my PnS version of lampries and applaud them for having the guts to change it to suit our local palate instead of hiding behind authenticity. Well done gentlemen!

Good Restaurant(s) but Really Bad Situation:

Well I was out with some friends the other day and as we are all foodies the conversation got around to food. And of course somewhere down the line the discussion led to how unhygienic some of the so called “posh” restaurants were. Here are three horror stories which I wanted to share.
Gallery Café. Even though I have not had a proper meal there for a long time I step in frequently for coffee and dessert. Well it seems that there was a cockroach in the meal my friends parents were served there once. But what is worse is when they pointed it out to the chef and the manager they had been quite rude about it and even suggested that the cockroach had somehow flown over the wall and landed into the food.
A lady who was eating Salad at the Hilton nearly swallowed a worm with a forkful of rocket lettuce she was about to swallow. Fortunately someone saw the worm dangling and decided to stop her.
And finally I heard from a highly trust worthy source the gelato ice cream parlor at Odel was inspected by the CMC and they found the ice cream contaminated with the e-coli virus.
Well guess it seems that it is not only the cheap things which are no good in these so called Fine Dining restaurants. So be careful very very careful. Apparently the only hygienic and clean kitchen in Sri Lanka is supposed to be at the Airforce mess in thunmulla. 

Merv the Pervs foray in to the tea trade

Maybe I better use the word furore! Because somehow it seems more apt.
Remember a couple of weeks ago there was a crisis in the tea auctions? The average price of a kilo of tea went down by 10 – 20 rupees thereby depriving the country of over 100 million rupees of foreign revenue. I don’t believe the newspapers carried the real story behind these events. If they did I did not see them. So here goes. Apparently Merv the perv had wanted to get the transportation contract of Sri Lanka’s largest tea buyer. In order to encourage them to give him the contract he had been strong arming the Muslim owners of the company by making it difficult for their containers to move around. In fact I heard that one of the store managers of this company had been kidnapped too. As a symbol of protest – as well as because they were unable to transport the goods - the owners of the company had refrained from buying at the tea auctions for one day resulting in this sad situation. Fortunately sanity prevailed and more powerful people got involved and this situation was brought under control. But it is indeed sad to see the state of the society we live in.

New cool and interesting places to stay in Colombo!

I was looking for some digs for one of my friends visiting Sri Lanka in December and was amazed to find the new mid priced (Roughly 70 U.S Dollars) accommodations Colombo had to offer. I just thought I should share/save them on here for future reference though a simple search through trip advisor would yield the same results. Tripadvisor! What a great invention. These were some of the places I discovered.

Lakelodge down Alvis place. Casasusana in believe it or not Galle Face courts on top of German Restaurant. A place I have been frequenting so much without realizing there was a hotel right above my head. And of course Colombo haven which is situated near the Carnival ice cream parlor on the Galle Road.

Colombo Haven had such great reviews that I suggested to my friend he stays there and I am relieved to say it lived up to its reputation. My friend was gushing with praise about how good and friendly they were. And what an enjoyable time he had.

There were also two properties which were getting lambasted by clients. One was the Colombo City Hotel just outside WTC and the other a place called Ranjiths Ambalama? I have not been able to figure out where it is situated yet though it is supposed to be somewhere down Torrington Avenue. You have to see the reviews to believe how terrible these people have been! In fact if not for the negative reviews I would have suggested Colombo City Hotel as the first choice to my friend.
Isn’t this a great example of the power of the information age where bad service and cheating cannot be kept under wraps.
More power to those of us who are on the net and take the trouble and effort to share our experiences.