Friday, November 20, 2015

Amazing value for money

It was a rainy night… I had two hours to kill and I wanted to be around Colombo. So I decided to head over to another one of my favourite hangouts White & Co on marine drive. I love that place. The food is good the coffee is excellent but I have also found that it offers the best value for money in relation to some of the other locations I visit regularly. I must confess I nearly hit the floor when I got my bill that day. The total was slightly under 1200/- which was amazingly low for the amount of stuff I have consumed. During my two hours I had two excellent cappuccinos, a large rocket salad and a tomato soup – which were all delicious by the way. I never thought that the bill would be so low. I also realized one reason for this was because the prices stated on the menu are net prices and the price you see is the price you pay. So you are not hit with unexpected taxes and service charges which can add many pluses to your bill. Way to go Wight & Co. Way to go.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nano Tales:

Came across these on a FB thread could not resist posting them here so that I can access them conveniently when I need them.

Flow: Nice from far..., Nicer at close quarters... but far from nice

Wow what a great idea I thought when I heard of the concept. One restaurant 5 different kinds of food with live cooking.
I was even more delighted when I stepped into the restaurant. The service was efficient. The ambience elegant. And the spread of food breathtaking. There was Japanese. Chinese, Italian, Indian and Sri Lankan. It looked absolutely gorgeous and my mouth was watering and hands shaking with anticipation. I served a plateful of food and sat down with a beatific smile on my face and a lustful gaze in my eyes. It was a food wet dream come to life.
Sadly I was woken up rudely the moment I stuffed the first forkful of food into my mouth.
The food was tasteless. Absolutely flavourless. It is amazing how something which looked so good can be so bland? It might as well have been colour printouts of pictures. Even that I believe would have tasted better.
It was the same tasteless gunk one get to experience at some of the so called star class hotels that cater to tourists.
Ironically the food at the coffee shop and bar right next door is a thousand times better. In fact I have had some amazing sandwiches (their lamb sandwich is outstanding) and bites at this place. Coming to think of it this was one of the reasons why I was so looking forward to what I would experience at flow. Sadly "Floored" would be the most appropriate way to describe my experience.of flow.
My plate: Looks great doesn't it? 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Buth packet without the buth!

No this is definitely not a post about being let down at a restaurant. Though one could be excused for thinking so when reading the title.
But this is one absolutely simple and clever way of getting your hands on a great value for money low carb meal conveniently.
"Why did not I think of this?" was my first reaction when I saw the picture featured in this post on my friend DCs Facebook wall.
The simplicity of the thought made me want to cry. After all I had been hunting around for cost effective low carb meals for years without success. As well as spending a lot of money I might add because most of my meals had to be ordered from restaurants. Yes they were expensive. However that is not the main reason why you can't eat this kind of restaurant food every day. It just does not have the rich variety of flavours and textures which the humble buth packet has.
Of course getting your local food joint to give you a buth packet without the buth has its own challenges. My usual server looked at me as if I was mad. What I have realised is that instead of trying to explain to them the nitty gritties of a low carb diet, it is far more easier to ask them to put the curries separately and the rice separately saying you will mix them your own.
But thank goodness to this simple yet unique idea I can enjoy the benefits of a low carb diet without having it burn a hole in my pocket. Yeah!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A simple solution for a complex problem….

Ouch! Sh*t! F*ck!
Definitely not the kind of language you generally hear in the presence of genius. But that's what spewed out of my mouth when I banged my head unceremoniously as I entered the Yala national park.
I had discovered the hard way that a new precautionary measure has been put into effect by the department of wild life to ensure that animals will not be run over by speeding vehicles.
Road humps!
Very big Road Bumps.
Very close to one another.
Throughout the entire road network of Yala.
Pure genius I thought to myself.
Far more intelligent than asking the telcos to block the signals covering the Yala area from their towers. Yes they actually did so. In fact I was told that there was a Dialog team attempting to do so sometime ago. Absolutely simple. Amazingly cost efficient. Damn effective. But one this is for sure I will not be the last person spewing out curses whilst rubbing their head in pain on the beautiful roads of Yala for some time soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My favourite vegetarian dish…

“Part time vegetarian” that would be the best way to described me.A majority of my meals are vegetarian. However it does not stop me from chomping down a good crab curry, roast pork or any other mouth watering morsel which comes to mind. One thing is for sure though I feel better when am on complete vegetarian mode. Both mentally and physically.
However there is one vegetarian meal which I love to have regularly. Where else but at the Paradise Road café down Dharmapala mawatha. I have sung its praises before and you could describe it as my favourite quiet spot in the whole of Colombo.
This particular dish I am talking about is called the focaccia Sandwich. It was designed by an Indian chef who was working for the Paradise Road chain a couple of years ago.
It is quite a simple dish. You have some bread which is lathered with an unusually thick humus paste to which they have added sun dried tomatoes and black olives. Somehow this combination amazes your tongue with a scintillating palette of flavours. The sandwich comes with a vegetable salad but here is a hint I order mine with Thai Salad which I feel compliments the unique flavours of this meal better. For some strange reason I find this combination quite addictive and end up visiting the café at least three or four times a week. Fortunately their prices are not as high as the Gallery café so my wallet has managed to survive the onslaught.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Grief!

I always thought grief should be something private.
Something which should not be shared with others.
Something which should be put behind you in the shortest possible time.
This was one reason why I used to be very cynical when people had funerals spread over 07 days with the entire neighborhood inside their house. In fact I was always for the short dead today and buried today or at least by tomorrow kind of funeral.
However having a chat with two psychologists changed my perception completely.
There I learnt that the entire village coming to you over a long period of time was the ultimate group love exercise. It was the ultimate support group. A giant shoulder to lean on during a time when someone needed it most. And the extended period of time helps the person to grieve properly and get it out of their system. Amazingly people who have this kind of support find it extremely therapeutic and thereby avoid falling into depression or committing suicide.
In fact during the Tsunami they say Sri Lanka’s figures of people who were able to cope without falling into deep depression was the best in the regions which were affected.
Isn’t tradition amazing? 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Terribly Beautiful road less taken…..

One road ends and another begins
 First I thought of it as just a rumor - this was many decades ago – as people were talking about a track which connects Puttlam to Mannar going through the jungles. Where one could run into elephants or bear and sometimes the roads were impassable. To me it was enticing as listening to a tale from the Arabian Nights. As time went by there were more whispers and then information began to trickle in about this track which has transformed into a road. Of course I could only listen as there was no way I could go down this road due to the LTTE problem. My fascination with this road grew even more when I read about it in Nihal Silva’s famous book “The Road to Elephant Pass”.
It has been many years since the war was over. I had traversed through sections of this road on many excursions to the Wilpattu park – you cross this road to go to Kudiramalai point - it is only recently that I got an opportunity to drive through the entire length of the Mannar Potuvil road.
It was a dream that was about to come true.
We arrived in Puttlam and drove straight through via Eluvankulama. It is a picturesque drive. There is not much traffic and with each mile you see civilization disappear and nature take over. At one point the well carpeted road ends abruptly and from there on it’s a dirt road. You drive a couple of kilometers more and you come to a navy camp near a beautiful stream which is actually the boundary of the Wilpattu Park.
 As the road goes through the park there is also a barrier manned by staff from the department of wild life.
It was here that my dream nearly got shattered to smithereens.
Because they closed the road at 5 o’ clock!!!
We did not know that! Damn it! And no one told us that!
We looked at our watches. It was 5.45
Our hearts sank with the setting sun.
Firstly we looked forward to experiencing this drive. Secondly if we were to turn back to Puttlam and go on the Anruadhapura road it would delay us by at least three four hours.
What were we to do?
I could understand the reasoning behind the road being closed at 5 by the Department of Wild Life. After all this was the best way to ensure that the lives of animals were not endangered.
But darn…. We sure were going to be screwed.
Fortunately for us the two rangers on duty took pity on us and allowed us to go through with strict instructions to not speed.
It was forty odd kilometers of sheer bliss. You drove through thick jungle. Fortunately for us the roads were not too muddy but the drive was bumpy. 
The jungle from my window
Tough roads
Nevertheless it was a wonderful experience even though we did not come across any elephants.
It was a slow drive with an average speed of less than 20 kilometers per hour. It took us a good two hours and a bit more to emerge from the Mannar end. We heaved a huge sigh of relief when we did. Because if the vehicle broke down or got stuck then we would have been stranded. And with no cell phone coverage that’s a scary eventuality to even think of.
Fortunately my trusty wheels did not let me down and I am alive to tell the tale.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

478 – A simple breathing technique for people with sleep complications.

I could not believe it when I read this.. I have heard of 420 but never 478.
It was too simple to be true.
A breathing sequence which takes less than two minutes to perform enabling you to enjoy undisturbed blissful sleep for a complete night.
Not that I have problems sleeping but there are many nights which I am tossing and turning instead of snoring away.
So I thought I would give it a try.
All you do is lie back. Breath in to the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 7 and then exhale to the count of 8. You are supposed to do this 4 times continuously but not exceed 6 times at any given moment.

It works. I kid you not it works. I switch off like a light and then I wake up eight hours later completely refreshed.
In fact I have shared this with some of my friends. And those who have not dismissed it as some mumbo jumbo tell me they have experienced the same sleep benefits.
I know it is difficult to imagine. But it sure is worth trying.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kumare – Unveiling the truth through a lie.

I always wondered what it would be like to be a guru.
Would it help you to get laid more? Would people believe you? Would the follow you?
It seems I am not alone. But this guy – Vikram Ghandi – actually put the thoughts into action.
He disguised himself as a Guru. Being a boy who has grown up in New Jersey it would have been quite a difficult act for him to put off. But he succeeded.
I can’t remember how I came across they documentary Kumare. But in all probability it was through my fb feed. Anyway once I started watching Kumare I could not stop.
I first thought this would be an exceedingly funny comedy. In the same ilk of “The Dictator” and “The Guru”. Watching the trailer of this documentary gives you that idea.
However it is quite far from the truth.
In fact this is quite a serious documentary with some extremely funny bits and quite an emotional ending.
Since Vikram has been in the communication business I found it more appealing and relevant to me.
But anyways it is well worth watching if you can spare 90 minutes of your time. If you can’t at least see the TED talk he gave.
I learnt something. Maybe you might too.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The mother of all food promotions!

Prawn Tempura? Check
Prawn in Thai style Red Curry? Check
Ginger Style Prawns? Check
Fried Modha? Check
Tamarind Cuttle Fish? Check
Hot Butter Cuttle Fish? Check
Crab Singapore style? Check
Crab Curry? Check
Rice? Check.
Veges? Check
Dessert? Fresh fruit or Chocolate mud cake? Check
Cheque please?  
And then I fainted....
A rational thinker would think this is because the cost was sky high. The truth is completely the opposite. After eating so much the bill was only 2000/- Net.

Ladies and Gentleman fellow foodies and gormandizers welcome to the mother of all food promotions. The All you can eat sea food promotion which is happening at the Ocean Kingsbury right now for lunch on weekdays. And when they say all you can eat they seriously mean all you can eat. They have a selection of sea food which includes Fish, Calamari, Prawn and Crab. You order any amount, in any preparation you want and they make it then and there for you and serve it to your plate with rice, veges and a dessert to boot as well for the all inclusive sum of two thousand rupees. This is going to be my new favorite haunt for a while.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nimoli – Hindi jazz at its finest

I came across this on a friends newsfeed on FB. And now I can’t seem to get enough of it. The tune is so infectious and addictive. I have been listening to it three or four times a day. And much to the annoyance of those who travel with me frequently in my vehicle as well.
I love the treatment which has been given to it Dhruv Ghanekar a well respected Jazz guitarist in the Indian music indutry. Nimoli has been a folk poem which he has put to music for the MTV Coke studio program. Nimoli is the fruit of the Neem tree. Kohomba to you and me in Sri Lanka. This lady is singing about the bitter sweet nature of love. Just like the neem fruit. The song also features an appearance by Bobkat a rapper . He performs the role of the completely unromantic idiot who this lady is in love with and who thinks she is quite nutty to be comparing him to a fruit. In fact when he had been asked to write the lyrics for his part he had been surprised on how love can be compared to a fruit. And his rapping captures his confusion perfectly.
“hold up, hold up
just hear me out yo
now gimme just a one minute let me figure it out
nimoli or lemonade, whats that all about
got me wondering if i could be loosing my mind
coz everytime i think about it
i be hitting rewind
lets take it one step at a time with my rhyme
i am wearing a suit but your talking about a fruit
i am trying to communicate but you dont give a hoot
kinda reminds me why everything is moot
stop getting philosophical
don’t give me that rhetorical
just give it to me straight coz
i don’t need that psychological
nimoli is bitter with a little bit of sweet
but you'll have to tone it down if you wanna meet”
I suggest you look at a more detailed video on the background to the video here if you found this an interesting post.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Panther - Chhimi Tenduf-La

First I curse the traffic. Why can't it be more congested?
Then I curse Chhimi Tenduf-La. Why couldn't he have released his new book on Kindle?
Then I curse myself. Why the hell am I writing like him? In short punchy sentences.
I have started reading Panther. The second novel by Chhimi Tenduf-La. Of The amazing racist fame. As usual I can't put it down. Sadly I have to. I have three free hours ahead of me. Three hours I could have spent immersed in this great story. But you can't be seen reading a book at a wedding can you? Even if you don't know anyone else there. It is considered rude. Not acceptable. Unlike staring into your phone. Only if his publishers had allowed him to release the kindle version at the same time he released the hard copy of his book in Sri Lanka.
Life is not fair.
So I leave the wedding early. Tell the driver to take the longest route possible. Pray that there is loads of traffic. Sit back and slip in between the pages.
Panther is a great second novel. Far more powerful than the first. A dark and complex tale. A story line with unexpected twists and turns. And amazing funny bits which has become a trademark of this author.
"There is great value in shaving one's legs if one's legs were female."
This much is true. You have heard that. Most nights. Most mornings. Sometimes over lunch or with a cup of tea. Sometimes while in the car.
Amma never listened but Appa let it go. No complaints. Hell, one physical fault was nothing to worry about for a man as chilled as your Appa.
Things they say started to go wrong when your amma found a waffle iron in a bombed out restaurant.
You had no electricity, so Appa tapped into the local army camp's generator. A military policeman caught him. Appa bribed him. With waffles.
But he was running short of ingredients, so he used his van to spy for the army. They paid in him in flour, jaggery, eggs and milk.
The gossips say Amma fell in love with waffles. Thought of waffles first thing in the morning. Dreamt of waffles at night. With this obsession came rapid weight gain.
And once your amma hit one hundred kilos, your Appa could no longer ignore her body hair, so they say.
Appa like most men in this parts had needs, and if people in these parts had needs, they visited the hairless wife of the unemployed film critic."
Isn't this irresistible? To me it was. So much so that I copied the entire passage manually. Laboriously typing in one word at a time. Whilst being jerked around in rush hour traffic. Squinting hard to see my screen against the morning sun.
Chhimi says this book is about terrorism and it's impact. And he has (very wisely) created a fictitious terrorist organisation called The Panthers to do so.
But to me it is also about racism. Not the brown vs white that we read about in his first book. This time it's about the haves against the have-nots. The well educated against the poorly educated. The do-gooders against those who accept their charity. And worse of all Sri Lankan against Sri Lankan.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


The two exes hug each other closely… they look fondly into each others eyes... and smile.
“It’s been a long time” he says.
“It’s good to see you” she answers
They never parted as lovers but things have changed.
Burning desire has been replaced by the warmth of friendship. Caring by concern. Fierce passion by affection. Romance by respect.
They slip into a deep conversation with the ease of a duck sliding into water.
They talk and they talk and they talk.
She tells him of her new love. He talks about his life. His work. His health.
They talk about the good times and the grand times they have shared.
A glimpse of light reflecting off a band of metal catches his attention. It takes him back in time to a blur of a memory. Where he places a ring on her finger and says “no matter what happens I would like you to wear it as a symbol of the special bond we shared”. She hugs him close and whispers “yes”.
He suddenly realised that even after all these years she has not broken her promise.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Washing one’s dirty linen on Facebook

After all Facebook can be considered the new public and guess old idioms need to adjust with the times. And washing ones dirty linen was exactly what I saw happening on my Facebook news feed a couple of days ago.
It all began with this guy who has a reputation for writing incendiary articles publishing something about women also being responsible for rape. How females should dress more conservatively in order to not invite rape. As expected this created a huge uproar among Sri Lankan netizens. What was not expected is that this also resulted in his step daughter accusing him of abusing her 20 years ago. Due to the sentiments expressed in his writings and the tone of his articles and his overall aggressive and confrontational personality it was quite easy to see him as a monster quite capable of such an act. As far as the netizens were concerned he was already guilty of the crime and cries of rapists were being cast at him even though there was no legal conviction.
The purpose of this post is not to say who is right or wrong. I believe that should be only determined after a proper investigation. Most definitely NOT by public opinion.
Coming to think of it there is no purpose of this post other than to express my sadness and disappointment at everything and everyone I guess. 
Because everything spiraled downwards from the moment these allegations were made. What was worse was that it was on a public thread. The accused too had commented on the thread revealing some salacious information not only about the young lady concerned but also about her late mother and father. Information which was no one’s business as far as I am concerned. All of which was lapped up greedily by the readers who I am sure were getting some kind of voyeuristic pleasure out of this whole incident. I decided not to post links to the articles which lead to the furore, or the fb link on purpose. I believe the intention of the articles was to create controversy. To raise ones hackles and to obtain some kind of negative reaction. And I really don't want to be contributing to a person's misguided cause. Though I believe he has the right to express his opinion. And as far as the fb thread is concerned because what happens on Facebook should remain on Facebook ideally in a private thread.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Holier than thou art...

"Her Christianity is making life hell for me"

"She is praying for the needs of others forgetting the needs of those of her own. "

"She prays for healing without realising the deep scars her faith is causing."

"She prays for closure blind to the cracks which are appearing in the lives of those around her."

"she prays for relief without feeling the pain she is causing."

Can too much of something good be bad?

If you are so obsessed with something where it takes you away from carrying out your day to day responsibilities isn't it an addiction?

I stare at him as he asks these questions earnestly. Lost in thought unable to find an answer.

Friday, May 1, 2015

“There is no present like the time”

These were the words which came out of the mouth of a humble Indian taxi driver by the name of Babul.
“How Profound” I thought to myself “damn shame it is scripted”.
These were one of two quotes which made a real impression on me when I had the pleasure of watching the movie “The Second Best Exotic Marigold hotel”.
The title might leave you with the impression that this movie is not as good as the first. But nothing is further from the truth. I believe the first movie was a bit of an experiment where everyone was quite hesitant to put a lot of expensive resources behind it. However with its success the producers have not held back the second time around. Ironically “The Second Best Marigold hotel” was far superior to the first when it came to scripting, production values and thanks to the presence of Richard Gere, casting.
One thing was the same though it was a great repository of quotable quotes just like its predecessor. However this is not a review of the movie which I am sure there are tons available online. But let me tell you one thing do watch it if you get the chance I really enjoyed it. Now back to “No present like the time’’. Isn’t it absolutely true?
In todays constantly networked world where terms like partial attention synodrome are part of our lexicon we forget that the best gift we can give someone is our time and attention. Sadly it is one commodity which most people do not value.
One other brilliant quote could be considered a life hack. When this same driver was asked “What do you do when you have to face a difficult decision” this was his answer “I don’t believe there is such a thing. Throw a coin in the air and we always know what side we want it to land on.” Sheer brilliance even if its scripted.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A little high a little low – my experience at the A&K Lit fest.

I thought I was late… in fact I was… maybe by a minute or two.
I rushed to The Western Province Aesthetic centre where the A&K lit fest was held with great Anticipation. I did not even want to miss a minute of the session titled “Undoing the Stigma of Broken English” which was bound to be intriguing. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw one of the panelist standing near the entrane chatting casually with some friends. “Thank Goodness for Sri Lankan time” I said to my self as I went to say hello only to realise that the session had been advanced to 10.30 from12 p.m without my knowledge. What a kick in the nuts.
But then as someone wise said “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”
In this case it meant I was now free to witness Shehan Karunathilaka and Dileepa Abeysekera talking about “A writers Creative process”. There was an over lap of these sessions before and I was torn between deciding if I should leave half way of one program to view the entirety of the other or vice versa.
Guess now I had one less problem to deal with.
I had never been to The Asethetic Centre before. In fact many people had even not heard of this place till they thought of attending the A&K lit fest. Anyway the halls were large and airconditioned with comfy seating. I ensconed my self in a chair found a colleague to chat with and waited for the action to begin.
Shehan started the session as Dileepa was getting late. Not only did he talk us through the writing process which he uses but also read an excerpt from his upcoming new novel the only line of which I can remember right now being “The Portugese took us from the missionary position while the Dutch gave it to us from behind…” but trust me when I tell you there was pin drop silence in the audience has he read that short piece. It was beautifuly crafted art in words. He also did another reading of a short story titled “Diaspora” which was pretty good too.
Shehan shared a few valid tips with the audience on the process he goes through when writing.
Two of them which I found really useful.
The first was to stick to a word quota every day regardless of the fact that if you are in the mood to write or not. It could be 500, 1000 or even 2000 words but you need to belt it out on a daily basis. No excuses.
The second was to read books and watch movies that you want your novel to sound like.
Oh there is a third which is to switch off all things which can take away your attention from your project when you are working and of course constant revision.
When Dileepa joined Shehan on stage we realised that it was not two random people bought together by the organisers of the event. But that both of them had teamed up to do a Sinhalese Version of the “Chinaman”
This was the first book Dileepa had developed a Sinhalese version of. “I was in a café in Switzerland and my guest who was opposite me did not know about Sri Lanka” he told the audience as he shared his motive for chosing this particular novel out of all the books by local authors out their in the market. “I pointed out to Ceylon Tea on the menu and said this is my country. But he said you are from Sri Lanka this is ceylon. And I had to go through a lenghty process to educate him that both these were one and the same.”
“It was the winning of the cricket world cup which put us on the map making the world realise that this country had something world class to offer. So when I saw this great book about cricket from a fellow advertising colleague which was winning awards all across the world I thought I should do a Sinhala version of it as there is nothing about cricket in Sinhalese literature”
I use the words “Sinhalese Version” intentionally because it is not a translation. Much to my delight I was able to buy an autographed copy at the venue. I have not dug into it yet because after seeing Shehan speak I thought of reading “The Chinaman” for the second time round. This time I bought myself the digital version and looking forward to enjoy a trip down memory lane admiring the life and times of W. G karunasena before I dig in to the Sinhala version.

This is a shaky video I have taken from my phone of Shehan reading out his short story Diaspora. Don't look at it for the picture quality but just as a means to an end to hear his words.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Have you heard of the Ophiuchus?

Or Serpentarius?
I did not till recently and I am sure neither of the majority of you who are reading this post.
But it is the 13th Zodiac sign. Yes I thought there were only 12 too till I came across this nugget of information. Astrologers have always known about the transition of the sun through Ophiuchus inbetween Scorpio and Saggitarius but since the duration was only 19 days they did not think it worthy of including into the Zodiac.
Amazingly I realised that I too come under this sign as the dates fall between 29thth November and 17th January.
The Sepentarius is depicted as a man holding a snake. (Interestingly this is the only Zodiac sign which is based on a human form) and one could be forgiven for associating the negative aspects of snakes with people who come under this sign. But in reality the serpant stands for healing – remember the caduceus which is the symbol of medicine which has two snakes wrapped around a staff? – and Serpentarians are supposed to have a lot of good qualities:
 - interpreter of dreams, vivid premonitions,
- attracts good luck and fruitful blessings,
- serpent holder, lofty ideals, – a seeker of peace and harmony,
- doctor of medicine or science, natural-pathic, – adds, increases, joins, or gathers together
– poetical, inventive nature, expanding qualities,
- seeks higher education and wisdom, – overseer, supervisor of work, – fame – either grand, or completely misunderstood, – longevity, aspirations of healing the ills of man,
- architect, builder, reaches for the stars, figuratively and literally,
- tax assessor, or levys taxes,
- astrological talents, intuitive,
- large family indicated, but apt to be separated from them when young,
- the number twelve holds great significance,
- foresight and good fortune to benefit from hard times,
- has secret enemies in family or close associations,
- many jealous of this subject,
- notable father, apple of father’s eye when young,
- high position in life expected [depending on aspects] highest fame and legend comes after death
Somehow to me the description of the charachteristics of a Serpentarius fits with my understanding of myself more than that of a Sagittarius which was what I thought my zodiac sign would be. Of course not that I believe in this stuff but still it does make for some interesting reading.

The Rewrite… easy to miss… easy to watch

Most movies take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. However there are times that you really don’t want to experience these highs and lows. Where you want to watch something which is nice and easy and stress free. Like driving on the roads during nonagathey. That is where this film comes along.
I came across this movie completely by accident while I was on a flight at the god forsaken time of 2.45 in the morning. However it intrigued me enough to keep my eyes open to the very end even though my body was screaming for some rest.
So it has to be good. Or passable.
The only reason I am writing about it is because it would be so easy to skip over this film when choosing movies. Especially with such an uninspiring title like “The rewrite”. But it does Star Hugh Grant who I can tolerate and the story line is quite interesting. They call it a Romantic Comedy but I think that is becauuse they really could not find a genere to classify it under.
Neither can I. But I do believ it is worth watching.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Unbungalow : Maradanmaduwa Wilpattu.

It is very rarely that you can get a Wild Life department bungalow when you need it. Which means you are left with the fancy lodgings which has sprung up around the national parks. Whilst they are definitely more comfortable it just does not cut it for me. Nothing can compare to the bliss of waking up inside the jungle away from it all.
Fortunately there is a new lodging facility which is fairly new which has escaped the eyes of a majority of those wild life lovers who generally fight tooth and nail for the available slots of the Wildlife Department Bungalows.
How on earth is this possible? Because it is disguised as a dormitory!
To be honest it is a dormitory. A fairly large one at that because it can sleep 60 people. If I am correct that is the largest lodging facility available inside a national park in Sri Lanka.
The Exterior view of the Maradanmaduwa Bungalow
 By the beautiful Maradanmaduwa lake just 09 kilometers from the main entrance to the Wilpattu national park lies the stately Maradanmaduwa Bungalow. It is a misnomer to call it a bungalow. But somehow it just does not feel right to call it by any other name.
The beauty of this place is that even though it can accommodate 60 they let it out to small groups of people on an exclusive basis.Which means it is the next best thing if you are unable to book a bungalow.
The Maradanmaduwa Bungalow consists of two large upstairs blocks connected in one end in the shape of a V. Downstairs is the dining living and kitchen area and believe it or not a little meeting space with lecture chairs, podium and a small public address system - I did not check if it works though - making it a perfect venue for an official outing or retreat for a medium sized company.
The upstairs of each block consists of a large dorm with 30 bunk beds and communal toilets and showers. However the sleeping area is enclosed unlike the usual Wild Life Department bungalows which has only a half around it. Now if like me you are used to sleeping in the open this is going to create a problem. Also if all the bunk beds are full I am sure it can get really stuffy. But we were only a group of thirteen and the caretakers of the bungalow allowed us to put mattersses on the verendah and sleep which was far more comfortable. Also unlike in the usual bungalows the caretaker does not do the cooking if you come in a large group say twenty thirty people.You are supposed to cook your own food using their kitchen which seemed to have all the facilities of an industrial kitchen.. Personally I felt the caretakers could have taken care of the building better but I must admit taking care of such a large building is a tough task for just two people. But I must compliment them on their cooking skills which was outstanding. 
The moon reflecting off the lake 
The beauty of this place is in its location. Firstly it is situated in a picturesque setting. Secondly it is just a couple of minutes to the main entrance instead of a couple of hours – which is usually the case in Wilpattu. Thirdly even though it is close to the entrance it is reknowned for sightings of elephant, leopard and bear. It might not be the ideal bungalow for me but it is definitely a great alternative.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Amazing Racist by Chhimi Tenduf-La. An amazing read.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. But can the reverse happen?
Can words bring a myriad of scenes alive in your mind? I did not think it was possible till I came across the book "The Amazing Racist” by Chhimi Tenduf- La. I know the name is quite a mouthful… fortunately the book was too but in quite a delectable way.
“Curry for breakfast was a bad idea. I burped up Cumin. Farted our the turmeric. My sweat was chilli powder and Garlic, and the little pee spot on the inside of my khaki shorts had a hint of coconut milk in it”
These were the opening lines of the book. It just made me go wow and stand up on edge. Even the hairs on my arms stood up. Somehow the words captivated me unlike the start of any other book I have come across.
Not even God of small things or Shantaram.
For a moment – just a moment - It made me wonder if this was too good to be true. With such a great start so full of power and passion (and turmeric) would things fizzle out to something insipid at the end? It has been known to happen to me. For instance I could not get to the end of “Eat Pray Love” or “The life of Pi” for that matter. But in this case it was just me being pessimistic.
It just kept getting better and better.
It made me want to drop everything I had to do, lock myself away and just read and read . That is exactly what I did. Well I could not exactly lock myself away as I had daddy taxi duties to perform. But I did not answer phone calls. Did not respond to text messages or even look at incoming emails. I even caught myself reading it while waiting for the traffic lights to turn to green. Only once before has a book consumed me this ferociously and that was when I was reading the lost symbol by Dan Brown.
It is an amazing story, simply but cleverly written. It is so simple that when you read the plot in the reviews you tend to go "so what?"
I am someone who takes great pleasure in admiring the style of writing and looking at certain segments as one would view a painting. And in this book I found not one but an entire gallery of such words to admire and appreciate.
"The four men sat in a circle around a potted tree that dropped araliya flowers at their leathery feet. Around them, coconut shells dipped in kerosene burnt light and mystery into proceedings. Each of the men, Gehan included, wore cologne so strong that the aroma battled with that of the dried fish, chilli and onions being fried downstairs. The sparkle of fireflies got lost in the collection of thick gold chains, watches and bracelets on display” was just one such passage.
I found the manner he weaved his words about Sri Lankan culture with a mildly cynical twist absolutely fascinating. I generally high light passages which enthrall me to enjoy later. But in this case I had to give up after a few pages as there were far too many of them. If I were to continue I would end up highlighting a majority of the book.
I am not going to write about the storyline because however much I try I will not do justice to it. It is quite complex. Light in certain parts and dark in the other but the twists and turns of the plot were gripping. In fact the story made me laugh. A lot… so much so people were giving me strange looks as I was laughing to myself whilst reading on a treadmill. And certain parts made me angry and I caught myself saying "serves that bitch right" out loud. Something I rarely do at least while I am reading a book.
This is an amazing first novel by this author who is currently residing in Sri Lanka. To me this book is in the same league of “The God of Small Things” and “Shantharam”. First novels that were iconic.
I am so glad to hear that the author is already into writing his second novel because I am craving for more. If the first one is this amazing I can't wait to see how he is going to better it. But something within me says he will. Kudos to you Chhimi!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An interesting perspective by an Economic Rock Star

“The slow going Industrial Countries cannot absorb a significant amount of additional imports in the foreseeable future, hence the world does not have room for another export led china… therefore we have to move away from subsidizing exporters with cheap inputs and undervalued exchange rates…”
These are the words of someone I classify as an Economic Rock Star. He is Dr. Raghuram Rajan the Governor of the Federal Reserve of India who is on leave from the University of Chicago where he is the Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School. Between 2003 and 2006, Dr. Rajan was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund.
I find his perspective absolutely unique and relevant though it goes against popular wisdom and the policies of the Modi government whose Mantra is “Make in India”
He also is against import substitution to improve domestic production via tariff barriers which reduces domestic competition and increases the cost to the consumer. You can find the speech in which he outlined his opinion here. It is 45 minutes long but absolutely intriguing if you are into economics.
However what amazed me the most is that he has the confidence and the balls to say it out loud without fear of reprisals. I sincerely hope that our central bank too would take a leaf or two from his book.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Thrilling thriller: Gone Girl

He says "Yes, I loved you and then all we did was resent each other, try to control each other. We caused each other pain."
"That's marriage." she said
And that my friends is a classic scene from one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Which was a refreshing change from my previous movie experience.
Now here was a movie which had got everything right. From the casting to the story line to the direction the eternal sceptic in me could not find any cracks in its armor of absolute perfection.
I am not going to give away the plot on here and kill the excitement for you. But you know I generally don't review mainstream movies on here so it has to be something extremely special. So please please please just watch it and thank me when you discover how great it is.
p.s. I heard the book was even better. I just bought it and can't wait to read it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scarred for life by a movie

She held her husband by the ear and menacingly whispered "it does not matter if you come home or not... but your pay packet has to..." This was the scene which tickled my wife’s fancy and made us stroll into the Savoy 2 on the night of the elections when everyone else was lying low indoors just in case curfew was imposed. It also meant that we were the only people in the entire theatre. We laughed at this unique experience thinking how cowardly the others were. Not for teeny weeny moment did we suspect that maybe the theatre was empty because people were actually keeping away from it.
Not that we were expecting fine art and performances worthy of Oscars.
But we were certainly hoping that we would have some good laughs like we do when we watch the antics of H.E Chaminda Puswedilla. After all the movie "No Marks, ko marks" was starring Wijeya Nandasiri an excellent comedian and he was depicting the life of a politician. Quite similar to Puswedilla. Or so I thought. But what we experienced was absolutely pathetic. It seems that the only effort that has been put into the production has been to string together something in the fastest and cheapest manner possible. I intentionally refrained from calling it a movie as it would be an insult to movies to do so.
I never knew that there could be so many dimensions of bad in something till I saw this monstrosity. Bad acting, bad casting, bad costuming, bad storyline, bad lighting, bad camerawork, bad editing, bad graphics... I could go on and on for hours.
And the worst part is a refrain from the movie where this guy says "sathutoooi" is etched into our minds like a bad itch which never seems to go away.
I also could not help but notice that one of the people I respect very much who is considered a legend within the industry has been the editor.
The only consolation is if this gentleman asks me what I thought of the movie I can say "it was an unforgettable experience" truthfully.