Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I wish you enough...

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."

this is something I found on facebook and wanted to keep on record because I felt that it had so much meaning.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An irreversible decision regarding reversing!

Sometimes trying to correct a minor irritant for just one person can cause suffering for many. We saw it a few years back when the roads were closed under the guise of security for the convoys of (useless) parliamentarians.
 I experienced this one more when I was driving down Jawatte Road near the area where there is a KFC and Food City outlet opposite one another.  The police were insisting that all the vehicles were reversed park into the parking slots of both these outlets.
Now you might ask what is wrong with that. After all if you are parking in any high rise parking facility you always reverse the vehicle in mainly because it helps the vehicle owner to evacuate fast in case of an emergency.
But this is the main road we are talking about.
No one reverses on the main road.
Just picture yourself driving down this main road and you decide to turn in and park your vehicle at one of these outlets. You switch on your indicator lights and then drive past the free parking bay and stop and tries to reverse into position. But the guy behind you expects you to turn in. So instead of providing room for you – which would rarely happen in Sri Lanka anyway – his vehicle is virtually kissing your boot. And now you are stuck and so is everybody else unless you abandon your visit and decide to move on. To ensure that everyone toes the line there is always two traffic cops on duty at this location.
It was only after I stepped into KFC and had a chat with an officer over there I understood why it was done.
Apparently GR passes this way every day when travelling to and fro from work. Once he has got stuck near this place as one or two vehicles was trying to reverse out. The fact that half the road was being dug up due to repairs had contributed to the jam around this place to be dense than usual.
This has led to a decree that from henceforth that all vehicles should reverse park so there won’t be any traffic jams created when they are driving out.
Of course it begs the question does that mean when a vehicle is reversing into a parking lot from a main road does NOT cause a traffic jam? I doubt it in fact I would say the traffic jam created by this would be worse.
Sadly it has contributed to one thing.  That is to reduce the footfall into both stores which in turn affect the commissions of the employees of both those establishments. 
After all we can always find another location to do some grocery shopping or eat a piece of fried chicken.  A place where they DON’T ask you to reverse park.

Bitter Sweet!

She strides into the room looking as lovely as a picture. 

She flashes a quick smile at me and takes out a single cup cake and candle out of her bag. 

She glances at me tenderly as she gently places the candle on the cake her long fingers deftly striking a match which she uses to light the candle with. 

She wraps her arm around me, rests her head on my shoulders and starts singing “Happy Birthday”  and whispers “now blow the candle out and make a wish but it can’t be about me”. 

And then she kisses me softly and walks away out of my life.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Paan Paan Good Product with a bad identity crisis!

I have heard of Paan Paan! I have seen the email advertisements they send. In fact I thought they looked pretty good and had made a mental note to go and visit it since it is very close to the area I work in. Yet – to my growing frustration – I never seemed to drive past it. At least that’s what I thought till one day one of my friends pointed out the location and I realized it was a place which I passed every day.
I had been blind to it even though it was right before my eyes. In fact there was even a sign put up which said Paan Paan. I realized that all this time I had mistaken it for some shoddy caravan outlet. Mainly because the tone of the communication I received along with the prices indicated made me expect the store to be far more modern and up market in appearance. Something similar to bread talk rather than a rundown bakery.
Definitely not your high end bakery don't you think?
Because the products they sell are definitely not what you would expect in a rundown bakery. In fact they have a lovely variety of baked products including some interesting types of bread.
The quality of the products were good
 I thought there coffee bun which had a sprinkling of coffee and chocolate was divine. The devilled tuna bun actually had real pieces of fish in it and was spicey. The best of all however was the conventional kadey paan which they make with real butter which is absolutely divine.
What a shame they did not use a better interior designer. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

What is your love language?

In fact I did not know that love had a language or that love spoke till I heard of this theory by Dr. Gary Chapman which is outlined in his book “The 5 love languages”.  It was such an illuminating theory I thought I should share it on here. The 5 love languages are:
1     1. Quality Time
2     2. Words of affirmation
3     3.Acts of service
4     4 Gifts
5     5. Physical Touch
Now the biggest obstacle to healthy relationships is when two people speak different love languages. To someone spending time with the significant other could be considered as love but sadly if to the partner love means acts of service then it is a recipe for disaster. And one could visualize a scene where he says “but how can you say I don’t care for you when I spent  all day with you?” and she says “yes but you sat there and did nothing”. Don’t you think it would be a wise thing to look at what love language our loved ones understand most. I sure am going to do so. I just wish I had heard of this many years ago things would have definitely been a helluva lot better than they are now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

InfatuaTED! delighTED! FascinaTED!

I cannot believe that I had not discovered the wonders of till now. I have found a mother lode of information and inspiration at this site. Just in case there are a few people out there like me who does not know what this site is yet let me just give a brief description. TED stands for Technology, Education and Design. They feature an amazing variety of short (roughly 15- 20 minutes) presentations by a variety of experts. For instance this particular video which I post below is number one currently and I think it is something all of us could learn from.
I have found ted to be a great way to spend the little gaps of time some time life throws at you. Because I am being educated whilst being entertained. Now who could ask for more?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Copy and Paste: Male Or Female?

They are male, because they hold everything in, but you can see right through them.

These are female, because once turned off; it takes a while to warm them up again.
They are an effective reproductive device if the right buttons are pushed, but can also wreak havoc if you push the wrong Buttons

Tyres are male, because they go bald easily and are often over inflated

Also a male object, because to get them to go anywhere, you have to light a fire under their butt.

These are female, because they are soft, squeezable and retain water.

Female, because they're constantly being looked at and frequently getting hit on.

Definitely male, because they always use the same old lines for picking up people..

Egg timers are female because, over time, all the weight shifts to the bottom..

Male, because in the last 5000 years, they've hardly changed at all, and are occasionally handy to have around.

Female. Ha! You probably thought it would be male, but consider this: It easily gives a man pleasure, he'd be lost without it, and while he doesn't always know which buttons to push, he just keeps trying

Monday, October 29, 2012

The art of doing nothing!

I did not realize this was an art till quite recently. 
We had gone out to the jungles with a group of friends for a couple of days. There was also a lady from overseas among us. Each time there was a pause in the conversation and everyone was enjoying a quiet moment she would suggest that we all do something like a game or talk about a certain topic or some other kind of activity which involved words . Anything other than just enjoy the stillness and sounds of the glorious nature which surrounded us. It seemed that this person was afraid of quietness and of simply doing nothing.  Something us Sri Lankans are quite familiar with I guess. Later we realized that it was a very European trait where every aspect of their lives are planned to a fault. She was telling us that some of her friends know where and when they would be going on vacation three years in advance.  Now that’s what I call planning. But do I want to live like that. No way in hell.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heavenly Showers…

At the risk of being ridiculed and being cast as a bit of a sissy I must confess that I have an infatuation with bath gels and soaps. Let me loose in a body shop outlet and I can keep myself occupied happily for a couple of hours.
 I never thought our local products came up to much till I happened to walk into the Spa Ceylon outlet at Crescat to buy a wedding gift to a certain fellow blogger. Suddenly I started taking note of their bath products and got two which I thought was extremely interesting. One was a combination of aloe vera and mint whilst the other was margosa and lime. I tried the Alo vera and mint shower gel and the only way to describe it is by screaming out “OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!” in a very gay Carrie Bradshaw manner. It was absolutely divine.  In fact it felt so good that it was sinful. My entire skin was tingling after using it. I felt so refreshed and alive that I had to try the sample bottle of neroli jasmine hair cleanser which I had been hesitating to use all this time. Well it was equally as divine.
I am so thrilled and overjoyed about my discovery.
All this time I had to spend through my nose to get down or purchase good quality bath products from abroad but now it seems that equally good (or even better) quality products are within arms reach of desire at a far more affordable price. Who could ask for more? 

(d)Rag! The good the bad and the ugly!

It is so easy to imitate instead of innovate.
 Especially in an environment where most of the more hyped up, applauded and financially successful English Theatre performances have been reproductions. Good imitation where one tries to be as close to the original theatrical performance as possible. I believe it takes a certain amount of bravado and panache to put together a completely original full length Broadway style musical production in such an environment. Kudos to everyone at Center Stage Productions. I applaud you for putting in the time and the effort to put together a large production in the caliber of “Rag” the musical.
It started off with a bang. I thought the set which was made with moving scaffolding was highly innovative and loved the tattered rag which they used as a projection screen. The actors and actresses were nice young and vivacious.
I just wish it wasn’t so excruciatingly slow.
I believe the director - who was the main actor as well - had a very relevant message. But oh my goodness didn’t he take a long time telling it.  He sang, he danced, he got on his knees and pleaded, he crawled and gyrated on the floor whilst singing like a fat worm, he flayed himself, he cried, tied himself with string and shaved his head to tell us what it was. But three hours and fifteen minutes later you had been inundated with so much emotion you had forgotten where it all started and what the entire plot was about.
The sound engineering did not help. It was the same kind of sound which was used for Evita.  What they did not realize is that most of the audience was familiar with the words of Evita and even if the words of the songs could not be heard clearly the audience could fill in the blanks by memory. Sadly it is not so when you are saying something completely new where each word has to be understood clearly if we are to ascertain the deeper meaning of what is being sung about. I know this for a fact because in advertising we say “if you have nothing to say then just sing”.  I was on the 06th row and could not understand what was being sung. I pity the people in the balcony.
I still can’t understand why some in the audience gave the play a standing ovation. Even some of those who were fast asleep towards the end. I am sure that since this was towards the end of the play the front rows would have been full of well wishers and relatives. Or the audience was so impatient to stand after being stuck in their seats for over three hours they thought a standing ovation was the best way to disguise a yearning to get their butt off the chairs.
One never knows would they?
Oh by the way there is nothing ugly about it I just put it there on the heading cos it looked good. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Pros and cons of the kokmote Bungalow Wilpattu.

They say never to judge a book by the cover. It is the same when it comes to bungalows of the wild life department. What you see is not what you get.  This post has been in the making for nearly two decades. That is about how long I have been visiting the Kokmotai bungalow for. I don’t visit Wilpattu park very often but when I do so which is at least twice or thrice a year I have stayed in this particular bungalow more than in any other.
But every time I stayed at this bungalow I found it more frustrating than the previous time.  Now, finally the pent up frustration has erupted in the form of words on this post.
When you drive up to the bungalow you can’t help going wow when you come face to face with this bungalows imposing wooden structure. I have never seen such a majestic sight. In fact it looks as if it belongs on the set of Heidi in the swiss Alps instead of the warm humid tropical forest.

And therein lies the problem. 
This bungalow should be in the Alps because it has been inspired by a European design which retains heat by trapping it. And once you have spent a couple of hours sweating it out then you begin to appreciate the half walled standard wild life bungalows which let the air circulate even though it does not look as fashionable. If you want to escape the heat the only alternative you have is to place the beds on the balcony. But sadly the balcony is tiny which means you cannot place a bed lengthwise unless it is only the mattress. With the greatest of difficulty you  can end up squeezing a4 beds side by side on the balcony. However this means the beds are uncomfortably close to one another.
I also found the toilets absolutely pathetic. Since the entire structure was made out of wood the floor and walls of the toilets had been laid with some kind of rubberized water proof sheeting. Which is not bad but then some nut has thought of livening the place up by smattering paint all over the green sheeting. It would have still worked if not for the fact that whoever did so had used brownish yellow ochre as one of the colors. Giving a person the impression that some person with a bad case of Diarrhea has defiled the entire place. Not good! Not good at all. And to add insult to injury only one of the two toilets has a shower which is not adequate if you have a crowd of ten which is the capacity of the bungalow. What was worse was the wooden structure is a breeding ground for rats and it is full of them which is not very hygienic is it?
One other negative about the bungalow is that is it located in furthest corner of the park. Which means it takes you two hours to get to the areas which are good for sightings.
The Modera gam aru in full spate
However there is one redeeming feature about the bungalow which is the modara gam aru which runs a few feet away from the bungalow. Most of the time it is dry but if you are lucky to visit the bungalow when it is in full spate it is an absolute pleasure to wallow in. One of my most memorable moment has been lying down in the water with a cold can of toddy (sadly you cannot buy them anymore) in my hands and luxuriating in the strong currents of water which were massaging me as they gushed over me. It was absolute heaven and far better than a Jacuzzi.
In the good old days there were not many bungalows available inside Wilpattu to stay in but thankfully today there are many more to choose from. Personally I look forward to spending some time in the “Manavila” bungalow with its breath taking view of a villu where you are sure to sight a leopard whilst seated inside.
But worse comes to worse if I had no alternative other than to stay in Kokmote I would rather than miss out on the grandeur of the Wilpattu national park.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The unexpected expected!

I agree it is a confusing heading but trust me this has not been written merely to garner your attention. In fact there is a lot of meaning behind this seemingly mysterious header.
 I must confess I write this post with much trepidation because I know I will be castigated by many since what I am writing about is against the tide of public opinion. Of course I am talking about the recently concluded production of Evita by the workshop players.
It was good as expected. But I expected more. There I said it. (Looks around surreptitiously to see if stones are being cast at me)
Guess that’s what happens when you continuously keep raising the bar as the workshop players seem to have done at least with every one of their productions I have attended. No I have not attended all of them. But the few I have been to have bowled me over and left me gasping for breath.
Guess this time too when I walked into the Lionel Wendt Theatre I was expecting to be bowled over. Sadly that did not happen. That does not mean it was a bad production by any means. Jerome is a wonderful director and Evita played by Dilrukshi Fonseka mesmerized us with her powerful voice. But amidst the applause when the curtain came down deep down inside me I felt something was lacking. Don’t ask me what it is because I can’t put my finger on it. But still I was expecting the unexpected but what I got was the expected. Guess in a way that was unexpected. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gratitude is the BEST attitude!

Are you ready to raise your positive 
vibration so you can attract positive
people and opportunities?

I hope so, because this exercise will leave you
feeling positively buzzed.

One way to boost your positive energy
is by expressing gratitude. And there are
no rules as to what or who you're expressing
gratitude towards.

Here are some examples of what I'm grateful for:

- I'm grateful for my loving husband Glen
- I'm grateful for the walks I take with my puppy
Bella everyday
- I'm grateful to live in a city with beautiful weather
- I'm grateful for my wonderful social circle
- I'm grateful for all the beauty that surrounds me

Now, I want you to actively think of, write down and
say aloud, 5 things that you're grateful for.

Then, make this a daily habit…

And you'll discover the more you express
gratitude for even the smallest of things, the better
you'll feel, thus raising your overall positive energy,
and attracting more abundance into your life.

Because by doing this exercise, you'll be focusing
on what you DO have and not on what you DON'T

Just remember, gratitude is the BEST attitude!

This is not my article but something which I got from mind movies but I want to place it on here because I really believe this makes absolute sense and also I can access it at my convenience.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another Entertaining Read - Spices are sweet by DD

“I don’t want to change the world I just want to get married” these are the words which still remain engraved in my mind as I closed the  last page of “Spices are sweet” by DD. A new book which is just coming into the market. I actually spotted it on when I was browsing and something about the artwork and the title intrigued me making me buy it.
Damn! I said to myself. I never realized how much pressure there is for a female to get married. Well not just married; but married to the right partner as per the definitions of what is considered right in the eyes of the public. And that can be summarized in three words. Wealth! Family Background!  Education!  It can lead a person to insanity or even worse.
It is a serious problem. But I couldn’t help laughing incessantly and feeling hungry as I devoured this book to the end. Do pardon me for using food metaphors to describe the book but it is done intentionally. 
The writer has handled the subject of “arranged marriages” in a delightfully entertaining manner without compromising on the seriousness of the issue and its impact which is commendable. The writing style is as crisp and zesty as a well prepared salad.  And just like a salad the writer has tossed in lots of other tit bits making it an absolutely delicious read.
For instance there are villains and heroes, gay guys and straight guys, evil sisters and kind grandmothers, village and city life, envious wives and trusting girl friends and amidst all this it is layered with reference to some very nice Indian cuisine which benefitted the Indian food industry in town as I could not resist the urge to consume Indian food whilst reading.  Not just once but (too) many times. Oh and I almost forgot to mention there is also a crazy swami and a drugged pigeon. And the icing on the cake is that the book has a happy ending. What more could you ask for an entertaining read which does not stress you out?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Permanently Temporary!

"You know this is all temporary don't you?" She said

"Of course I do but isn't the close connection/bond we share forever? He tells her looking into her eyes intensely.

"Yes; of course it is"

"Then let's make the most of the little time we have together so that we can look back without regret of the wonderful memories we shared."

"Yes... true... but sometimes when I am with you I am in a different world and forget reality ".

Thus the story remains without an end... as they keep ebbing and flowing into each other’s life in a perpetual state of temporary permanence.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Oxymoronic Biriyani that got me completely wasted!

An Oxymoronic Biriyani??? What on earth is that? That’s the first thing which crossed my mind when we were invited for lunch the other day to sample this mysterious dish. Even though I wondered for many days what kind of concoction this would be nothing came to mind till the day we stepped into M&Ms house and lunch was served. When it suddenly dawned on me that this was the happy conclusion to a conversation which took place many moons ago…
To appreciate this conversation fully we need to go back in time to the jungle…
It was a night of absolute splendor. We were in the middle of the jungle enjoying our drinks listening to the crackling of the camp fire and enjoying the warm glow of a Wesak full moon creating weird shadows and silhouettes which were eerie and beautiful at the same time. I was after my second drink and I told everyone wistfully that how my dream was to eat a pork biriyani and how virtually impossible that is because the best biriyani is made by those of the Muslim faith.. What was unveiled to us in all its glory was indeed (Cue in fanfare music) a pork biriyani!

How sweet was that M (the wife of M and the female half of M&M) had remembered my wish and decided to make it come true a couple of months later.
The Biriyani was amazingly tasty. Not only was it filled with thick juicy, succulent pieces of pork. But it also had some Nai Miris added to it giving it a different dimension in flavor. It was also served with some delicious accompaniments which included Lingus curry as well as pineapple curry and of course the Minchy Sambol. What a feast it was and I was full after whacking two full plates of this rich Biriyani. The fact that I had drunk three glasses of wine before lunch and also downed a portion of chocolate biscuit pudding - which was generously laced with brandy -  as dessert did not help either.
I crawled home and got onto my couch and fell asleep like a log and woke up only after six. To call it waking up is an understatement because even though I opened my eyes I felt like I had been run over by a car. I was lifeless and it felt like I have drunk two bottles of tequila all by myself. Oh my goodness I was hung over by eating. In Sinhalese there is a word for it. It is called “Ismuruthawa”  which means the feeling of absolute lack of control which over comes you after consuming a heavy meal. Specially a meal which has lots of fat and sugar in it. Apparently the body utilizes all its resources (Blood) to digest the food which in turn leaves you motionless and lethargic.
Sadly there is a downside to all this uncontrollable gluttony I missed a wedding of a very close friend of mine.  What a shame. The food could have waited to be eaten another day unlike the wedding which couldn’t. I do hope I am forgiven.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A thank you to an unknown stranger… for a gift of words

I saw something unusual amidst a pile of cast aside newspapers and other junk lying on a barrel.  To my amazement it was an English novel. The last thing one would expect to find in the middle of the jungle.  In the kitchen of Chef Roy at the Pahalahentota camp site to be precise. I had just arrived at the camp site some minutes before and had wandered in to say hello to him  more to find out what there was for dinner than social nicety.
“Wow Roy! I am quite impressed by your reading material” I said when I realized that the novel was Anil’s ghost by Michael Ondaatje. I always thought that Michael Ondaatje’s novels would be a tough and boring read.  I think it was by watching the movie “The English Patient” which made me come to this conclusion. As I flipped through the pages of the book my opinion changed drastically.  The writing was not pompous and high brow at all in fact it was pretty down to earth and simple. The first few pages of the book captivated me so much that I ended up nationalizing it. And I am glad I did so because it was an interesting read.
In the end it turned out that the book was NOT something Roy or any of the staff of the camp were reading. It was left behind by an English girl who had visited the camp site before us. I was so thankful to this kind generous person for leaving her book behind. Because if I had not flipped through this book by accident I would have been denied the pleasure of discovering this authors writing.
I know it is highly unlikely that whoever who left this book would be reading this blog but just in case it happens let me say thank you to this kind and generous soul. If not for you I would have been denied the pleasure of the words of Mr. Michael Ondaatje which I relish so much. A sad situation created by my own stupidity. So I owe you one and will buy you a drink if our paths ever happen to cross.
 I must confess I did not think the plot of the story intriguing. But something about the style of his writing made me really enjoy this book. In fact now I can’t wait till I get my hands on the English patient. They say do not judge a book by its cover but guess a modern adaptation of it could also be do not judge a book by the movie it has been made into. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Bigger and better camping experience

I woke up confused...
Above me I could see a canopy of trees and hear the sound of birds. A sensory experience I generally associate with the jungle. But I was in a large room. In my sleepy eyed blurriness I could make out a table with a fruit bowl on it. And I could feel the luxurious sheets which were wrapped around me and the cozy pillows which I was nestled against. Where was I? Could it be that I am in Kandalama? Nope it cannot be! And as I began to sputter awake and my eyes began to focus I realized that the walls in my room were made out of tent fabric.
It was then that it dawned on me that I was actually camping in the jungles. Of course once again it was with the crew of master campers who have given me no reason to look for an alternate supplier as they continue to shower me with good pricing and extend a hospitality filled with such genuine warmth that it can only be described as priceless. Also this is the fourth time we are camping with them which means all of them are more like extended family by now.
I have already written about my camping experience with them before on here but this time our experience was bigger and better. And it was all because of a tent. A luxury tent which they had recently manufactured. But to call it a tent is a crime similar to calling a diamond a piece of rock. I think it would be better to call it a suite made out of tented material. 
Firstly it was so roomy and spacious that it could easily accommodate four beds and also a table where they had daintily placed a fresh fruit basket and a glass vase with potpourri. Also there was an attached toilet with a wash basin and a shower stall with believe it or not hot and cold water. You have to see it to believe it.
Generally the food these guys serve is pretty good but with the bigger and better luxury tent the food offering too has gone to an entire new level. For instance this luxury tent package comes with seven course dinner and unlimited liquor.

We were also extremely blessed to see bear as well as leopard twice for three safaris this time around in Yala. In fact one would not be wrong if they thought that that the bear belonged to the trained and performing kind because it kept entertaining everyone right in the middle of the road for over an hour. 
It was a spur of the moment decision to take my family to Yala it turned out to be a good one. The sightings as well as the comfort and the food of course made it an absolutely relaxing holiday and I really can’t wait till I go back to their warm and  welcoming embrace once again.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Park Plaza – Bangalore one of the loveliest hotels I have been in.

Did you know that you can save a lot of money if you book your hotel online direct instead of going through a travel agent? As much as 50%? I discovered this when I had to visit Bangalore recently and decided to do my own booking. Since I did not have the advice of an agent to depend on I was going solely by what I read on trip advisor. We all know that some of the stuff on Tripadvisor is false and that has been posted by fake users. So when I started reading raving reviews about the Park Street Plaza Bangalore at first I thought it was too good to be true. Yes, a sixth sense told me that I should stay at this hotel. If not that I would regret my decision. I have always trusted my gut instinct – sometimes not 100% - and mad the reservation for my stay with great trepidation.
But almost immediately I got this sense of comfort that I had made the right decision when the girl at the reception who had answered my call about organizing a hotel car to pick me up at the airport called me back asking for more details within minutes after I had spoken to her.  These guys must be really empowered if the management has an IDD line at the disposal of those who are at the front office; I thought to myself. And this feeling became even stronger when I stepped out of the airport to be greeted by two very smart and kind people who were extremely efficient and courteous in the way they handled themselves..
And once I stepped into the hotel lobby a great sense of relief washed over me as I realized I had been absolutely right to follow my gut instinct.
Chill out music and this amazingly cool ambience greeted me. For a few moments I thought I had stepped into one of this ultra hip and chic hotels one finds in Europe. The kind of hotel that is featured in TV programs and publications talking about the coolest  hotels in the world. that are featured in coffee table books with titles similar to ”the Coolest hotels in the world”
It looks so lovely It was modern and comfortable yet minimalistic and very tastefully decorated. It seemed that all the spaces of this hotel has been designed by someone with impeccable taste.
My room was extremely comfortable and even though it was a standard size room, the clever use of mirrors and glass and the way everything had been placed made it feel absolutely spacious and luxurious. I am always on the lookout to point out something which was wrong or which I did not find pleasing but there was nothing I could find wrong every thing about my room was perfect. Kudos to the interior designer who had done this project it seems he has put in a lot of thought and effort to get things absolutely right.
It was the little things that made the biggest difference. Like the TV remote being placed in a little leather case with the channels neatly marked making it so easy to access and flip. The fact that even the data cable  was neatly concealed in a little container. Even the chair by the desk was so comfortable just like the bed. The bed side alarm clock which was really nice and visible from all corners of the room. Decent sized mugs with the hot water kettle. And even a decent wine glass. And most importantly power sockets within easy reach. These were something’s which were lacking in some of the other more reputed places I had stayed in. And made my stay that much more comfortable.
The toilet was lovely too and the amenities which were on offer such as shampoo, shower gel and lotion were of great quality. I loved the fact that one wall of the toilet was glass and a motorized curtain was available if you needed your privacy.
I tried the dinner buffet and breakfast buffet at the restaurant. I found the food delicious and the spread good.
Even the gym was great the equipment was of excellent quality. And it was a pleasure to work out in it. It was nice touch to see apples laid on offer along with the towels and bottles of water for clients to use.
But what I loved most about the hotel was the staff. They were so friendly, well groomed and so full of energy flashing smiles as they went about their work. Polite and courteous always offering to help enthusiastically. One could see that these offers were extended willingly from the heart and not as if they have been ordered to do so by a higher power. It just made the entire hotel pulse with a different vibe which one could feel and enjoy.
But the icing on the cake was the price I had to pay for all this. It was roughly 100 dollars a night which was peanuts for a 5 star experience of this nature. In fact I would have been willing to pay double. Sadly I did not know what a treat I was in for and I had cut short my trip to one night instead of two. Well as they say one should learn from one’s mistake and the next time I go to Bangalore I know where I am going to stay and I will make sure that I will stay an extra night just to luxuriate in the comforts of the Park Plaza hotel Bengaluru.
And to those of who are interested YES my review of the hotel on tripadvisor was as glowing and wonderful as the others. Guess some other poor soul will be in the same quandary as I was. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

When art imitates life: The machine gun preacher.

Sometimes there is a movie which completely knocks you over your feet and “The Machine gun preacher” is one of those. This is one of the movies which I had with me for a couple of months. Maybe even more but never got down to watching it till the end.  Though I did go through the first few minutes of it once and had to stop due to some strange reason which I cannot recall at all at this point in time.
But now I am digressing. One thing I don’t want you to think is that the reason I stopped watching this movie was because it was boring. That is the last thing it is. In fact if it wasn’t so contradictory and lame after what was outlined in the paragraph above I would be bold enough to say that it is a movie you just can’t seem to stop watching. It does sound kind of self defeating doesn’t it.
The Machine gun preacher is about a typical American hilly billy bad boy who is drug addict, a criminal and a guy who gets his wife to work in a strip club so he can afford to buy his beer. A typical American low life is how he would be best described. But then he goes to a church service gets saved and becomes a completely different man. One day he hears about the suffering of children in Sudan from a visiting pastor to his church and decides to visit Sudan. When he is confronted by the kind of trauma the kids their go through it galvanizes him into action. He builds an orphanage for the kids in Sudan and goes looking for Kids who are abandoned, misused and abused in the war torn country. Where there is no respect for life. Even the life of a little child.
He would go to any length to save the children even if it meant attacking the enemies. Hence the moniker “Machine Gun Preacher”.  This movie brought tears into my eyes whilst watching specially the way children were mistreated in this country. An agonizing sequence was when some kids were chained to the ground to be used as human bait. Also of course to realize that so much good can be within someone who is classified as bad by society. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How being a credit card whore prevented me from getting screwed. Metaphorically of course!

You had a busy day full of meetings. You rush out of one meeting to rush into the airport.  When you arrive at your hotel you are stressed. You are tired! You are hungry! You are looking forward to a hot shower a stiff drink and warm meal. An
But if something extremely trivial is keeping you away from it how would you feel? Fucking furious??? Yes well that’s exactly how I felt a couple of days ago with the world’s local bank.
I had traveled overseas on some urgent business and was trying to check into my hotel when I was informed that the preauthorization of my card could not be processed. I was flummoxed. I had informed the card center that I would be visiting overseas and they had reconfirmed with me that my card was activated for overseas use and was good to go. But here I was stranded and what was worse was I could not get through to the customer service hotline. Well I could get through but I could not speak to anyone as no human being was answering the call.
For a moment it seemed that I might I have to spend the night on the road in a strange country.
Fortunately for me I had two other cards with me and I had been prudent enough to inform the respective card centers that I might be using them overseas. This precaution paid off and I managed to get my preauthorization processed via my American Express card issued by NTB. 
The sad thing is that the HSBC customer service line was not answered that night though I tried three more times spending a total of at least thirty to forty five minutes being on hold. And that at Automatic International Roaming rates as well.
Which means I missed having my drink before having my dinner. Well at least I had hot water and a cosy bed to sleep on. Thank goodness for small mercies.
Now I admit a lot of people call me a credit card whore because I do have quite a few of them issued by many banks. And I am not faithful to just one. I guess sometimes being a whore does have its advantages. Otherwise I would have ended up being screwed.  Hence the title of this post. Tee hee hee!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My tryst with luxury…

 Believe it or not I have not visited Heritance Kandalama ever!  Even though it has been around for a long, long time. In the good old days I could not afford it. When I had the money it really did not interest me.
Oh the food!
Oh the view!
Oh the environment!
You have to see it to believe it!
These were some of the statements which followed the horrified look I get when I tell them that I was an oddity that has never stepped into Heritance Kandalama or even its vicinity.
But they kept going on and on and on. Waxing eloquent about the virtues of Kandalama that finally my wall of resistance broke down and me and the brood decided to head that way making use of a substantial discount which was offered by HSBC.
I am a firm believer of under promising and over delivering.
And in this case – due to no fault of the hotel – my levels of anticipation has been built up to fever pitch with all the talk I have been exposed to.
And of course as one would expect it did not live up to my expectations.
Don’t get me wrong. Not that it was bad in any manner if was like heaven compared to some of the hellish places I have stayed in. But guess I had been made to believe that this was the closest thing to heaven one would find. And it was most certainly far from it.
The view? Well I guess for someone who has been stuck in the city it would be wonderful but not for me. I have seen far better and more breathtaking views in my journeys.
The food? Yes the variety was wide. No it was amazing. But all the western cuisine was bland and lacked flavor as I believe it was cooked to cater to the more delicate palates of the foreign guests.
And guess the food which chef Roy does for us on our excursions is far superior in flavor as even the western food is made to suit our taste.
The Service was good but it was nothing outstanding.  The poor people who are employed their would die of exhaustion if they had to deliver outstanding service because the property is so widespread and they have to do a helluva lot of walking every day.
But there is one thing about Heritance I can’t stop singing praises about.
That is the quality of our accommodation. Oh wow! Now that was heavenly.
Since we have grown up kids a conventional room is way too cramped and we end up climbing on each other’s heads and driving everyone mad. And the cost of getting the Royal Suite was marginally more expensive than getting two double rooms. So we decided to splurge the extra dough and lead a life of luxury. At least for the weekend.
Calling it living in the lap of luxury is an understatement. The suite came with one large living room with a dining table for ten – not that you would need it – and an absolutely lovely lounge area. With a wide screen TV and sofa’s you could sink into. On each side of the living room were dressing areas connecting to the toilets and the bed rooms. The toilets were absolutely out of this world each with its own Jacuzzi and rain shower and double wash basins. The Jacuzzi was situated adjacent to a large window with a beautiful view of the lake. And one of my greatest pleasures was to switch off all the lights except for the little light in the tub and admire the stars and the shadows over the lake while the water gently gushed over me. It was pure pleasure.
And to add to all this pampering the welcome fruit platter was also accompanied by some of the most delicious roast cashew nuts I have ever eaten. And the beds were so comfy one did not want to move out of them.
It was so heavenly that we rarely left our rooms during our entire stay. Instead all of us laid about in the room watching tv reading books and enjoying the creature comforts. The miracle was the accommodations were spacious enough to ensure that none of us stepped on each others toes and we each had our own space. How wonderful is that.
And the amazing thing is that this was great value for money specially when you compare it with our experience and the price we had to pay at Malu Malu.
The only down side to this whole experience I have been eating way too much even though I have been complaining about the food. Even though this is not the most complimentary post about this place I can’t wait to go again.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


The banking system has evolved over the years to the sophisticated industry it is today. Sadly one thing has not followed suit. What I am referring to is the common cheque.
Just as a matter of interest the first printed cheque as we know it appeared in 1760. However the use of a piece of paper requesting a third party to handover money to the bearer has been in existence since 362 BC. Amazing isn’t it.
Yes the way cheques are cleared and processed has grown faster with time. Yet one still has to sign it just like one did many centuries ago. And if you can’t sign a cheque it can be a real pain in the ass.
Let me tell you my experience.
Some time ago I pulled a nerve of my right pinky finger and had only partial control of it. You will never believe how vital a role the fourth finger plays in grip till you lose control of it. I could not even eat with my right hand or even a hold a cigarette properly even though I use the second and third finger for that. And of course it affected my ability to write. And that was a real bummer because I write best not when I am typing but when I put pen to paper. All this was inconvenient but I was nonplussed. I could still type my stuff on a computer and use fork and spoon to eat my meals. Of course it made the food less tastier which too was good for my waistline.  
Life was not that bad. Until I had to write out some cheques. I realized that my signature was completely different and however much I tried I could not make it look anything better than a childish scrawl. The amounts I had to pay was quite large so I could not go to an ATM and take the funds out which meant I had to actually step into a bank and make a withdrawal which was a time consuming and frustrating exercise. It has been years since I had stepped up to a bank counter period. Since the two banks I am a client of pride themselves for their service I decided to put them to the test.
First I called the HSBC hotline. I explained my predicament to them and requested for them to honor the cheque even though my signature would not be identical to the one they have on record. I also volunteered to put all the instructions and information down on an email so that the bank would not be held responsible if there was an issue later on. After keeping me on hold I was told that the only way this would happen is if I was to visit a branch and change my specimen signature by filling a new signature form. Which defeated my purpose. And I just gave up.
Then I called the boy who handles my account at NTB. Wow what a difference in attitude. He was accommodating right from the word go. Yes they would gladly honor my cheque. All I had to do was be kind enough to put everything down on email just for their records. Everything was a breeze. And I was happy. A couple of days later I see that I am getting a call from the NTB executive. For a moment I thought there might be some kind of issue but was touched when he said he had called to check if my finger was better.
In the end I managed to get HSBC to agree as well but that was after having to call some of my contacts which was too much extra effort.
And once again NTB impressed me no end with their excellence in customer service. And I am not even a priority customer at NTB which I am at HSBC a bak I have been a customer of for more than 25 years. Whilst with NTB I have not even
It was this incident which got me thinking that there must be a way to improve this archaic method of payment. Sadly I have not been able to come up with any thoughts on how. Any suggestions anyone?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Straight facts about the queer!

I am not a homophobic. Neither am I a gay basher. I even have good friends who are gay. And I am comfortable amongst gay people. Yet it was with a great sense of trepidation I entered the auditorium of the British School to watch the play “If you promise not to tell” billed as a performance of stories from queer men’s lives, organized by Sakhi Collaboration a organization that works with Lesbian, Gay ,Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) persons. “Would they think I am gay too” this was the first question which went through my head. This was the first time I had been amidst such a large amount of people from that communityWill someone try to make a pass at me? Or behave in a manner which would make me feel uncomfortable? These were some of the questions which were going through my head a couple of days before the event. But I am glad I overcame my fears and made it to see the performance. My reaction was a sense of sadness and dismay and relief. “Thank goodness I am not gay because it’s a terrible thing to be gay in this country” is what I said to myself after watching all the stories most of which were based on real life situations. You are harassed, you are persecuted and you are misunderstood. From society from friends and even your parents. How sad. There were two scenes which caught my attention and stuck to my mind. One was the story about a boy who loved to dance but he dances in an effeminate manner and how he is harassed and beaten in the end. It took my down memory lane to Wilpattu where I can recall a young boy who was our tracker telling us proudly how he and his friends assaulted some “Ponnayas” at a music show in their area. What makes this terrible is that this young man was a nice young man who was otherwise a very respectful hardworking and kind person. But in his environment this kind of behavior was as natural as killing a cockroach would be for me. He works in the police today and I hate to imagine what queer people in his area of jurisdiction must be going through. The second scene was the one of a mother trying to dress her homosexual son as a man shouting “Aiyo Samaje!” in an anguished way. After all “what will other people say or think?” controls the actions of lots of people. This too reminded me of what one of my friends mother has said when he came out of the closet. Believe it or not her words were “Aiyo Son if you are homosexual at least can’t you marry a lesbian” Pathetic actually Sympathetic isn’t it? The direction of the play by Matt Tyne was very good. It was very simple and minimalist. The acting was good too though it was quite clear that they were amateurs. And the production values were pretty good specially the music which impressed me no end. Even the individual stories were excellent. Some were funny and some were serious though there was nothing funny about the message they were trying to communicate. We need to teach the people around us to treat gay people with more respect. Educate them that being gay is not something you choose to be but rather a manner in which people are born just like some are born with brown eyes whilst others are with black. Or straight hair and curly hair. It is the way god intended them to be. Now I know that if some of my fellow church members saw this statement there would be a holy uproar. But I stand by what I say. And most importantly we need to make people understand that Gay people are human too and hurt and bleed just like the rest of us. After all being Gay in Sri Lanka comes with its own set of dangers. We don’t need to add to it do we?

A Riches to Rags story which is frighteningly familiar

Have you been reading a book and suddenly it hits you that the story line is quite similar to your life and you wonder if your life too could lead down the same path the story does? Well that’s exactly what happened to me when I was reading the book “How Starbucks saved my life”. It is a personal memoir but I picked it up completely by accident thinking it was a business case study book. Guess sometimes when you judge a book by its cover it does lead to finding some gems though this is the exception to the rule. This book was one such gem.
It is about a guy named Michael Gates Gill who was a high flying advertising executive working for the global agency JWT. A company where I started my own career in the trade I might add. He was the committed worker. Always giving priority to the company over his personal and family commitments even leaving them on Christmas day to make sure a campaign was delivered on time. Sadly after 25 years a person who he mentored terminated him and suddenly he was without a job. Naturally this put his life in a complete spin. He ended up divorced, penniless and a father of an illegitimate child. To add to the misery they discovered a tumor in his brain which was not life threatening if removed on time but something that would affect his hearing. Sadly he had not renewed his health insurance due to the lack of funds. You could say he as up shit street without a paddle and was at his wits end trying to figure a way out of his dilemma when he was literally thrown a lifeline by Starbucks who offered him a job as a barista. He took the job mainly because of the medical insurance Star Bucks provided for all their workers. I use the word “workers” instead of employees intentionally because Starbucks offers medical benefits to even their part time employees.
So at the age of retirement the not so young Mister Michael Bill Gates had to start over again from the very bottom and learn a new trade.  He spent most of his first days on the job cleaning toilets. I doubt he would have ever pictured himself doing this kind of menial work even in a worst case scenario. But to his credit he did his work with enthusiasm with humbleness and humility. And he found that finally he was enjoying life. He was looking forward to go to work in the morning and walking in to Starbucks with a spring in his step. Which was absolutely amazing.
Of course being an ex advertising copy writer the book was extremely well written in a very simple and down to earth style. Which made it an easy uncomplicated read. Though I did keep wondering “could this happen to me?” virtually at the turn of every page.
Even though this was not a business case study book it did teach me a lot of things. Firstly how unemotional uncaring and unforgiving the world of multinational agencies can be. And secondly how well people will perform if treated right and given the proper responsibility and authority. It also  increased my respect for Howard Schultz – the CEO of Star bucks – one notch higher and made me committed to be inspired and try to imitate their best practices. I had always thought Starbucks was a great company to emulate and this book just proved it. Do try and watch the video posted below if you have the time it is quite interesting. At least to me. :)

Michael Gill: How Starbucks Saved My Life from Tattered Cover and Tattered Cover on

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nice Movie - The best exotic Marigold hotel.

Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright then trust me it is not the end”
This was the end quote of a movie which had me mesmerized and made me think it deserved a post of its own. Very rarely do you find a movie which can make you laugh and cry and entertain you whilst being quirky at the same time. And the movie “The best exotic marigold hotel” does all of this which makes it extremely unique. It also boasts of an excellent cast including Judi Dench and Dev Patel and some other great English actors. The sad thing is this movie has not made any great ripples as far as I know. Therefore it is quite easy to miss. Hence my little recommendation on here. Miss this movie and you are missing out on some good entertaining.

Monday, July 9, 2012

She Said...

“If I belong to another man,

and you belong to another woman, 

why does it feel so right and perfect 

when we are together?”

Sometimes there are no answers to life’s questions other than to hold that person close and say what will be will be. And then watch her walk away out of your life not knowing when you will see her ever again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Even though...

I may have been the candle
who brought temporary light
Whilst you waited for the darkeness
To stray from your side
I hope my warmth touched you
and opened your eyes
And lit an eternal flame
Which would last
the rest of your life.

Remember the laughter
But don't forget the tears
Or the miles that we lay behind us
As we overtook our fears
The journey though short
 a path to your heart it did uncover
Let not  the weeds of time
Make these precious  memories dissapear.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cut and paste: Traffic Wardens Funeral

As the coffin was being lowered into the ground at a Traffic Warden's funeral, a voice from inside screams

"I'm not dead, I'm not dead. Let me out!"

The Vicar smiles, leans forward sucking air through his teeth and mutters

"Too fucking late pal, the paperwork's already done"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The quaint little “Peddlars Café”

To drive all the way to Galle to enjoy a cup of coffee and a sandwich would seem quite extreme to some. But trust me it is worth it if you are going to be doing so at the Peddlars Café down Peddlars street situated in the Galle Fort.
I have done so especially when the company is right and I know at least two others who do the same.  This is one of the quaintest little cafes I have had the privilege of coming across. I loved the décor and the ambience. And the sandwich we ordered was absolutely heavenly. I was expecting something mediocre – since this was Galle after all and not Colombo – but it was exceptional.  Even the cappuccino we tasted was awesome. I loved the taste of the frothed milk on top which was nice and creamy and seemed like a dessert. In fact the second time I went there I sprinkled sugar over the froth and ate it, as one would eat curd.  Apparently the secret for such great tasting froth is that they only use Ambewala milk. Well good for them and good for me because I ended up having my second cappuccino as well. While I have not tasted their entire menu I have heard only good things about what’s on offer. And yes just writing about it makes me want to visit it once more.