The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

The second song on a tape of English children's songs we owned (as far as I know, the only kids tape we had in English), it remained etched in my mind from the time I heard it. Maybe it was the haunting music, maybe something in the lyrics...I don't know.


It remained buried at the back of my mind, until I heard the tune today, being played on a guitar by a man near the subway.

Many hours and several Internet pages later, I find out that the song was written as "Dana Dana" in Yiddish for a musical and was translated later into English in 1941.

Don't let the surface value of the words fool you; it was not intended as a paean to vegetarianism, but had a deeper political meaning behind it. For me, it rings just as true today, as it did when it was written.

Dona Dona

On a wagon bound and helpless
Lies a calf, who is doomed to die.
High above him flies a swallow
Soaring gaily through the sky.

Chorus:
The winds laughs in the cornfield
Laughs with all his might
Laughs and laughs the whole day through
An half way through the night
Dona, dona, dona...

Now the calf is softly crying
"Tell me wind, why do you laugh?"
Why can't I fly like the swallow
Why did I have to be a calf,

Chorus

Calves are born and soon are slaughtered
With no hope of being saved.
Only those with wings like swallow
Will not ever be enslaved.

Chorus

- words by Aaron Zeitlin, music by Sholom Secunda



This might be an old video, but I'm just seeing it and I thought it was as funny as hell, so for all those who haven't seen it yet, enjoy!

The last time I really celebrated Halloween was when I was in kindergarten and got dressed up as a fairy. But Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays. You get to wear costumes, get all spooky, and have good, clean fun.

Of course, I had no plans of dressing up this year as anything but myself (some say that dressing as myself is a costume in and of itself) or making Jack O'Lanterns.

Then, I was asked to volunteer at a pumpkin carving competition, to which I readily agreed. Without ever having so much as touched a whole pumpkin, let alone carve it.


So on Halloween eve, I made my way over to Church Street, ready to help out. which initially consisted of putting up some tents (didn't think i had it in me to help put up those things!) before I got down to the main event.

There was myself and another girl and twenty five pumpkins, all ready to be gutted and cleaned. So we got to work. Cutting the top off seemed like the more difficult of the two tasks, so I let the other girl handle that while I did the cleaning. Boy, was I wrong!

First of all, I wore a pair of gloves, and had a big ladle to clean the pumpkins, neither of which helped much. The seeds and the stuff you find inside a pumpkin (I have no idea what you call them) seemed firmly stuck to the sides of the pumpkin, and the ladle wasn't having much success. Finally, I had to abandon it and use my hands to do the cleaning which was marginally more successful.

The more pumkins I cleaned, the more fun it seemed, and I was almost unhappy when more volunteers came to help us clean all the pumpkins on time. Eventually, we were done, and could sit back and watch while people carved them for the competition.

The more I watched people carve, the more fun it seemed. Some were rookies, but there were some real pros, who had battery operated pumpkin carvers, intricate designs drawn out on tracing paper - I had really underestimated this whole carving business. By the time I was heading back, I really wanted to carve my own pumpkin! It seemed like so much fun, and after all, this was Halloween, right?

So, on Halloween afternoon, I rushed to the supermarket, and quite literally walked away with the last pumpkin they had. I wore a hideous sweater, sat in the balcony, and started cleaning. Cutting the top off wasn't nearly as difficult as it seemed, and after cleaning around ten pumpkins the day before, this fellow seemed like a piece of (pumpkin) cake.

I was very careful with the carving, not very arty and extremely mathematical. It was not as difficult as I imagined it would be, though it took way longer than expected, and quite a bit of energy (BTW, pumpkins are incredibly heavy. Incredibly.).

I don't think my pumpkin looks too bad - what do you think?



I was actually in two minds about writing this post because with all the fake 'news' items - Channel 4 video, Hikka topless pics et al - I wasn't sure that this was a real story. Only after both Daily Mirror and Asian Tribune confirmed it did I decide to post it.

I'm talking about the incident where a youth was forcibly drowned in Bambalapitya on the 29th of October. I thought the video was fake, or rather a hoax, or edited together. It didn't make much sense when I saw it first - why were men beating a guy, with poles no less, refusing to let him come ashore? Why was there no sound? Why were the 50 plus spectators doing nothing to save the guy? And why on earth was the cameraman filming this whole sordid story, without going to save the victim? Surely this video must be a fake.

Alas,  I was wrong. Apparently, the video was genuine, as was the incident because the ensuing outcry has resulted in the arrest of somebody, according to the Asian Tribune.

I'm not sure which facts of this story shocks me more - that at least a hundred people idly watched as a young man was forced to drown (couldn't at least one of them call for help, if not save the youth?), that a person was forced to drown because each time he tried to come ashore he was beaten with poles, that the people doing the beating were cops or that a reporter decided it was better to get a good story by filming the incident from his/her office instead of trying to save the victim.

And why pray tell, has only one person been arrested? I can see three people beating the hapless victim in the video. Is the Bambalapitya police so inefficient that they can identify and arrest only one person per day? How is the country supposed to have faith in the police, when on top of their regular vices, we see this video? Essentially, the cops beat a youth and left him to drown in the ocean because he threw stones at a passing trains. What a police.

(By the by, if you are robbed, raped assaulted or in some other type of danger, would you really want to step inside this police station?)

On to that macabre crowd. How do they sleep at night? Sri Lanka is inundated with mobile phones - could one of them not make a call for help? Out of the 50 plus people there, could one of them not intervene and help the victim? I'm prone to say the same thing about the cameraman: as good as it is to publicise these kind of atrocities, I think the better thing to have done was to go and try save the youth.

What is our society degenerating into, that we would stand by and watch a man being killed? At the drop of a hat, we have people to protest at embassies, protest against NGOs, protest against the war, protest against unemployment...the list is endless. Why is there no bigger outcry about an incident as ghastly as this?

Seriously - the guy threw stones at a train. Is that not enough indication that he was mentally unwell? Is this how we treat people who are mentally unwell - beat them up instead of getting them the help they need?

Had I been in Sri Lanka, I think I would have at least tried to organize all my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to stone the Bambalapitiya police station over the long weekend.

There is a Sinhalese word - thirissannu - which describes everyone caught on this video, better than any English word that I can think of.

The link to the Daily Mirror article: http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=66260

The link to the Asian Tribune article: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/10/31/youth’s-drowning-case-police-officer-surrendered

The video is given below (no blood, no gore but truly disturbing):

I was talking to two friends today, and we were discussing TV programs of all types, and I got thinking.

Like, what on earth do people, especially women, find so fascinating about Sex and the City? The few episodes I watched were dull - they weren't particularly funny, not entertaining, and least of all exciting. Ok, the clothes are ( a bit) jazzy, but it's like watching fashion tv - not like any of us would actually where those stuff, right? Point is, I just don't find Sex and the City entertaining (I was told by a male friend that I didn't like it because I was barely female, but I'm going to let that one pass).

Moving on...there are apparently people who don't find Seinfeld funny. It isn't my number one comedy (that would be How I Met Your Mother and Frasier), but any random episode of Seinfeld always manages to be funny, like ice cream. Yes, I know, ice cream isn't funny, but it's one of those things you can eat, no matter what the brand. True, the quality isn't always that great, but till date, I've never come across ice cream so lousy that I couldn't eat it. Seinfeld is like that - every episode isn't great, but every episode is definitely watchable as in funny watchable.

I'm also beginning to wonder exactly how old I am, because there seems to be a generation of people who don't know what Doogie Howser, MD is...imagine if I started reminiscing about Small Wonder!

Aaaah, the good old '80s and '90s - they had the best shows those days.

This is the story of how I got Michael Bublé's autograph.

For the last week, I have been seeing the poster, saying that Michael Bublé will be signing autographs on Saturday, October 10th at 1.00 p.m. at the Trinity Square, Toronto Eaton Centre. But like all smart alec's, I missed the fine print...the bit that said:

Wristband policy in effect on a first come, first served basis and will be handed out at 10.00 am on Saturday, October 10, 2009. Autographs are not guaranteed due to time restrictions.

Anyways, after a morning of fighting off the remnants of a stiff neck, I turned up at Trinity Square at exactly 12.55 p.m., nowhere near the 10 o'clock demanded by those giving away the wristbands. And the crowd...oh my goodness!!! The queue for autographs started at Trinity Square, near Sears, went all the way to the other end of Eaton Centre, then curved back towards Sears (but I didn't know it at this point). I was suprised by the crowd mix - there were the usual young girls, but a lot of older men and women as well.

I walked up to a security guard, and asked him where the queue for the autographs was. He told me that the queue was closed and they weren't taking anymore people in. This is when I noticed the queue. Rather disappointed, I asked a girl standing by clutching a Michael Bublé CD the same question. She told me pretty much what was on the fine print: that only the first 500 people were given wristbands, and thus, none of the rest of us were getting any autographs.

Before I could think of anything further, a chorus of girls started screaming, and I knew that Michael Bublé had arrived. He smiled, they screamed, he waved, they screamed some more, and flashes popped all round. It didn't take me too long to readjust my gameplan and camera in hand, I crawled my way as far up to the autograph stage as I could. It isn't easy to take pictures of a celebrity flanked by security, with waves of crazed fans piled up in front of me, but I think I did ok for a novice.

After a while, Michael Bublé took the mike, thanked all of us for coming, and said that he was going to sign as many autographs as he possibly could. That, along with the realization that the autograph queue seemed to have changed it's length, got the wheels in my head turning.

I left the sea of flashing bulbs and followed the queue, starting from the begining. Ok, so it still went all the way to the other end, but the curve back didn't seem as long as it was before. I made my way to the end, and asked the security guy there if this was the queue for autographs. Two girls had also joined me at this point. The security guy said yes, and when we asked him if wristbands were not required, he told us no, and we can stand in line and hope that our turn comes up before they close the session for the day.

And thus began the wait: the two girls ahead of me, the older guy behind me, the even older Filipino couple behind him (they were easily over 40). And there was an even bigger line up after them, but I didn't bother talking to them. The wait didn't seem so long though, while we talked about which album was released first, whether there would be a bigger queue if Josh Groban was here, and whether Michael Bublé should not have sung 'Spiderman'.

After a while, it struck me that I didn't have anything to get autographed! (only a dog-eared notebook in my bag constituted any type of writing material). Asking the girls and the guy to hold my place, I ran into a nearby bookstore (conveniently located on the same floor as us), bought 'Crazy Love', and resumed my place in the queue.

After a wait of 1 1/2 hours, we finally made it to the autograph stage. There were at least five security guys there, telling us to keep our cameras ready if we wanted to take pictures, because we weren't allowed too much time there, and 'no posing with Mr. Bublé' due to time restraints. Oh yeah, and only one item to be autographed per person.

So I finally made it in front of Michael Bublé, shook his hand, got my CD cover autographed, and told him that I loved his songs and he should visit Sri Lanka. The last bit I think got drowned out to some girls behind me screaming 'I love you Michael' but he did say thanks! Then I got shooed off stage by security.

I took a few more pictures afterwards, and the autograph queue was closed soon after, so I think I got mighty lucky.

Did I mention that throughout all this, Michael Bublé was always smiling?
That 1 1/2 hours was so totally worth it!

Thus ends the tale of the autograph hunter.


Below is a hilarious clip by some Aussie dude (I think) asking the average American some basic questions. Watch the clip - it is totally worth your time!

Some of my favourites are given below, just as a sampler:

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Interviewer : What's the religion of Israel?

American 1 : Israeli?

American 2 : Muslim?

*************

Interviewer : What religion are Buddhist monks?

American : Islamic? I don't know.

*************

Interviewer : Who is Fidel Castro?

American : A singer.

*************

Interviewer : How many sides does a triangle have?

American : Four.

*************

Interviewer : What is the currency of the United Kingdom?

American : What is the United Kingdom?

*************

Interviewer : In terms of the war on terror, who should we invade next?

American 1 : Italy

American 2 : India and Pakistan

*************

Interviewer : Kofi Anan is a drink, true or false?

American 1 : Coffee is a drink, true.

American 2 : It sounds like a law firm.

*************

Interviewer : Who is Tony Blair?

American : Tony Blair is an actor.

*************

Interviewer : Who was the first man on the moon?

American : John Glen

*************

Interviewer : What is a mosque?

American : Don't have any idea.

Interviewer : Wanna guess?

American : An animal.

*************

Interviewer : How many world wars have there been?

American : Three.

*************

Interviewer : How many Eiffel towers are there in Paris?

American : I say about ten.

*************

Interviewer : What is al-Qaeda?

American : A suicide group in Israel, in the Middle East. They do suicide bombs and stuff. And the president of it is Yasser Arafat...everyone knows that.

*************

The clip, with much much more ridiculous answers:


This article by one Gazala Ayana prompted me to write this post. In case you don't want to peep into the weekend version of the Daily Noise, here's some of what this 'lady' has to say, inspired by those topless pictures which she still believes to have been taken at the Hikka fest.

"Although roses, hearts, cupids are used as symbols of love, a lady is the spirit of love. It is through a lady that a man feels the love and comfort of his mother"

"A woman can be compared to a flower that expresses her beauty, tenderness and love that makes her a “lady”. It’s pathetic that some or rather most women at present don’t realize this."


And the most stupefying sentence to have ever been published in the Sunday Observer:


"Our ancestors were wise, in saying; a woman belongs in the kitchen. It could be the excess freedom given in the “modern” era that gives her the audacity to go over the boundaries."



All together now - OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She rambles on further about how men date many women to find the 'correct' wife for himself, and how this has become the accepted norm in society for a man, though it is unthinkable that a woman should do the same.

She finishes off her Taliban-inspired article with another gem:

"It’s only if a woman tempts a man, that he’ll be tempted. Being a woman, does not necessarily make her a “Lady”. "

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this (I still don't). A woman belongs in the kitchen? Do we still have people who actually believe that (let alone publish it)? The whole article is just too bizarre for my comprehension. Did I miss a gazette notification somewhere? Is Sri Lanka supposed to be going back in time?

And I'm itching to ask this Gazala Ayana woman - what is she doing writing for a paper, without being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Isn't that where her rightful place is (though she seems better suited for the barn). Sri Lanka produced the world's first female Prime Minister, and she thinks women should stay in the kitchen? (that noise you are hearing right now is probably Sirimavo spinning in her grave).

I pity Ms. Ayana's parents - imagine how many people must be cursing them right now. Were I to advertise my stupidity on a national newspaper in such a manner, I would at least have used a pen name.

And er....'love and comfort of his mother'? Ms. Ayana clearly has found her way into a time machine - she has also found time to drop by Freud's offices before she made her landing at the Middle Ages.

On another note, since when did Sri Lanka become a 'conservative country', as she puts it? A conservative country is Pakistan, or Malaysia or Saudi Arabia.

I cannot emphasize enough on how backward and sexist this article is, and I'm ashamed to see that a woman actually wrote it. I'm still more shocked that the Sunday Observer thought fit to publish such tripe. Are they out of writers or articles? On second thoughts, perhaps they want to be out of readers.

But if anyone else out there is as offended as I am in seeing such backward, sexist baloney being published, please follow the link and write to the Sunday Observer about what you think.

I was filling out some forms in the staff room today, and there was this guy - let's call him 'Jack' - who had come from the head office for some reason, and he was speaking to my (Hungarian) boss - let's call her Andrea. He had all our attention when he said "Andi, you never told me about how weird the prostitutes are in Budapest".

Andrea looked at him with the goldfish look - "Weird?" asks she.

Jack went on to explain to all of us: apparently, in other countries, you know who a prostitute is when you see them. They hang around street corners, sluttishly dressed, just waiting to be picked up.

Not so the ones in Budapest, apparently. In Jack's own words:

"You walk down the street, and stop by an outdoor cafe, or a pub. A woman is seated outside, having a beer. Hello, she says. What is the natural human reaction to hello? You reply - hello. The woman is being friendly, you think. Then she asks - sex?"

We were rolling on the floor laughing! I could almost picture the scene.

Jack said that these women were apparently prostitutes - according to him, they were more like undercover prostitutes.

Andrea's reply? "Oh, they might have been Ukrainian. Hungary got down prostitutes from Ukraine to work the streets because Ukrainian prostitutes handled the cold better and were able to stand outside for longer."


Two books, same industry, different topics... similar agendas?

Didn't know the Sri Lankan literary world could get so interesting.Autobiographies I understand, and with it the naming and shaming game,that becomes part and parcel of a true story, though usually with enough dramatizations to blur the line between fact and fiction.

But a thinly veiled work of 'fiction' to take potshots at people you don't like? That's just cheap, thinkst I. Of the two books in question, I haven't had the pleasure to read either, though I have read one of the early drafts of one. For simplicity, let's call the books 'A' & 'B'.

One friend called 'A' well-written and entertaining, though it doesn't take away from the fact that it is a book that takes pot shots at personae non gratae, frequently presenting fiction as fact and vice versa.

Another read 'B' and had this to say (I'm quoting verbatim here) :

He thinks that just because he backdates an incident 40 years and changes a few names, no one will know.


You know, that book is so bloody corny, just slightly below the drama level of 'Bold and the Beautiful' - there's a line that goes (upon which reading I fell on the floor) :"Did you sleep with my husband?"


And the title really takes the cake - (it should be) "His life, in third person".


Which makes me wonder what the point of such books are. It doesn't take much to write events as is, and just change a few names - hell, even I could do that. (I don't know how good the actual writing is in either books, so I'm going by the comments made by my friends).

But if you are going to talk about real people and real (as well as fabricated) events, albeit with changing few basic plot points, why not be man enough to own up to it? Why not say it is autobiographical, or at least semi auto biographical? Because that is the truth of it.

How sad to not have enough balls to stand by fact, and hide behind the banner of fiction.

And if the characters have been picked out of the flora and fauna of one's own life, I guess the entire duty of characterisation as an author becomes wholly unnecessary. I'm guessing neither 'A' nor 'B' will provide future generations with Lady Macbeths, Michael Henchards or even Charlie Browns.

Now moving on to the main point I wanted to make. People are all up in arms at the publication of 'A', yet are unseemly quiet when their friend publishes 'B'. So what differentiates two books identical in all the intrinsic points? (for the record, I think neither books should have been written, let alone published, in the manner that they have)

I guess anything goes, as long as it is done by a friend...aaah, the hypocrisy of people.

Was chatting with a friend and recommending her some books she should read, and ended up giving her my top ten 'must reads'. All things considered, I thought I'd post the list here, while rejuvenating my blog.

Back to the list. This is a rather varied list, jumping continents, time periods and genres, but it is my top ten favourite reads, and probably forms the books I would take with me onto a deserted island. They are in random order, but are my absolute favourites, and I've read each of them more than a few times.

The changes I made is replacing  'Crime and Punishment' with number 6, because while I would put the former on  for a reading list, I prefer the latter book and replacing 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison with number 9. Doubtless ' Beloved' is the better book, but it just is not a book I would want on an deserted island with me - it will certainly give me more nightmares than any demon ever could. Besides, I love 'The Exorcist' waaaay too much not to include it here.

Feel free to add your own recommendations.

The List (in random order):

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. Sophie's World - Jostein Garder
  3. Hamlet - Shakespeare
  4. Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  7. Foucault's Pendulumn - Umberto Eco
  8. The Moor's Last Sigh - Salman Rushdie
  9. The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty
  10. The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster

In view of how our society is degenerating due evil Western and Indian forces, and how much evil is out there tempting our youth, I've made up a list of things that need to be banned in Sri Lanka, for the betterment of society in general.


Lets all fill up this list, and then petition H.E the president to help us - you all know how he loves publicity, and how he would help us purify Sri Lanka.

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1) Mobile phones - our forefathers didn't have them, and see how they built up this country? Therefore, we don't need it either - especially school kids!

2) Washrooms in girl's schools - washroom at schools serves no useful purpose. Its banning would avoid situations like two girls chatting unsupervised (dangerous) or a girl being left alone to her devices (scandalous). Further, the removal of the washroom will teach girls that they should control, nay, deny all natural physical sensations that emanate from their bodies for as long as possible.

3) Girl's schools - it'll better protect our young girls.

4) Private TV stations - no more imported, lustful, violent programmes to lead our youth astray.

5) Pinnawela Orphanage - what use is government institutions if people with power cannot abuse it as and when they wish?

6) Movie theatres and movies - any film that does not promote a life guided by religion is lascivious, and leads our youth astray. Ban the cinema halls, and we will not be faced with such horrors.

7) Private radio stations - refer 'Private TV stations'

8) Ipods - refer 'Private radio stations'

9) Computers, the internet, CDs, DVDs, TV sets, Hi-Fi systems, DVD players etc - refer 'Mobile phones'

10) Odel - this is what teaches our young girls to wear clothes that do not reach their ankles. Oh, the shame of it!

11) Cameras - no ability to take pictures will reduce pornography, which will reduce corruption amongst the youth.

12) Sigiriya - such a relic, bathed in both violence and pornography cannot be a part of our proud history. Those dastardly Indians would have sent it here. Ban it, fast!

13) Pen & paper - this is what the youth use to write love letters. No paper, no temptation.

14) Windows in houses - so our youth will not be tempted by members of the opposite sex who dare walk down the road, attracting unwanted attention.

15) International schools - surely no elaboration is needed?

16) Salons, make up etc - If girls are not tempted make themselves look better, boys will not be tempted to chase girls.

17) Magazines - refer 'mobile phones'.

18) Beach parties - refer 'international schools'

19) The airport - to minimize foreign influence

20) Majestic City - refer 'international schools'

21) Use of steering wheels - this will reduce accidents, and vehicles will become redundant, then we'll have to use bullock carts to travel, so people will stop eating beef!

22) Use of the word 'ducks' - because it sounds funny and we don't want humour corrupting our children.

23) English - then our youth won't be able to understand the proceedings of underground mafia/radio stations/publications and become corrupted by foreign forces.

24) Holidays - idle time is surely when all the degeneration takes place.

25) Ban Ki-moon - no foreigners!

26) Sri Lankan actresses - Anarkali also to be exiled.

27) Public transport - that way no one can get anywhere.

28) Alcohol for anyone below 45 (or maybe 50?) - that way only the head of state and ministers will be able to enjoy the subtle pleasures responsibly.

29) Contraception - that way people won't feel safe having sex, and thus there will be no sex except for purely reproductive purposes (like our noble ancestors Homo Erectus did - take that, Charles Darwin!)


30) Coloured clothes -when people look plain, bland and boring, there will be no temptation. Every pure, holy citizen of Victorian Sri Lanka, and follower of Olcott Buddhism shall wear only white garments of rough texture, that cover every bit of skin from their neck to their finger tips to their toes, to their animal desires.

31) The Isurumuniya lovers - thise lustful, shameless stone statues having sex in public and giving our pure, uncorrupted youth ideas!



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We must all unite and preserve our holy, pure culture before it is too late!

After watching a Doraemon movie , I found myself gripped by (a somewhat regular) nostalgia for most things Japanese from my childhood. I came across this song that we used to love (an old '80s Japanese hit by Yoshi Ikuzou), and after listening to it several times, I began to wonder how many Sri Lankans living outside Colombo were saying the same words to themselves...

The original song was obviously done in good humour then, and certainly, it is an exaggerated setting even for Sri Lanka...but then again...hmmmm...


Here, have a look at an English translation of the lyrics below:


(We have) No TV, no radio,
there aren't even that many cars that drive by

No pianos, no bars,
just the one police car that goes round and round

I wake up and take the cow,
for a little two-hour stroll

(We have) No phone, no gas,
the bus only comes once a day

I hate this village,
I hate this village,
I'm gonna go to Tokyo
Once I get to Tokyo I'll save money,
and raise cows there

(We have) No guitars, no stereo,
I've never even seen them from the day I was born

(There are) No coffee shops, no hangouts,
the only young person here is me

Grandma and Grandpa,
they just pray to the sky

(We have) No pharmacies, no movies,
only a story-teller who visits sometimes

I hate this village,
I hate this village,
I'm gonna go to Tokyo
Once I get to Tokyo I'll save money,
and drive a horse-cart there

(There are) No discos, no voyeurs,
What on earth is a laser disc?

We do have karaoke (empty orchestra),
but I've never seen a gadget that does it

(There are) No papers, no magazines,
only notices (gazettes) that come by sometime

(There are) No traffic lights,
not like there could be,
my village doesn't even have electricity!

I hate this village,
I hate this village,
I'm gonna go to Tokyo
Once I get to Tokyo I'll save money,
and buy a mountain in Ginza!


Aaah, I can just imagine the local version...

The original song is posted below:

The kidnapping of two baby elephants by the DN for two temples in Kandy reminded me of something that happened about three years ago, during the Gangarama temple perehara.

I was driving about near the Vihara Maha Devi Park, and it about 3 p.m. I knew that the perehara was to start in the evening, but as always, the Colombo traffic plan was something known only to the traffic police. No sooner had I turned the car onto Green Path, I was stopped by the cops, and told to wait on the side of the road till those who were taking part in the perehara had passed.

To see, I wasn't the only one parked by the side of the road. True, there were other vehicles, but what caught my eye were the elephants. All dressed up to take part in the perahera, they too had been requested to stand aside and wait till it was their turn to assume positions.

At first, they just seemed like over decorated animals, like poodles in a dog show. But the longer I waited in my car, disturbing thoughts kept going through my head. Surely, these animals are feeling the heat as much as I am? Add to that, they had covered the poor elephant in layers of cloth, which is not part of the animals nature. Surely - elephants have been on this planet for longer than humans. If they really wanted to wear clothes, they would've figured out a way to do so, without us having to drape them with uncomfortable, garish fabric in the height of summer.

There they were, draped with cloth, painted for added benefit, soaking in the sun, twitching uncomfortably to and fro. And that's when I noticed why they were twitching. All four of their feet had been chained, leaving very little room for either comfort or movement (much like in the image).

No wonder they were twitching! Doubtless they had been chained so that they wouldn't run amok and disturb the perahera, but again, it is not in an elephants nature to enjoy being paraded around streets, garishly decked out, for the sole amusement of us humans, and to satisfy some outdated religious myth.

I cannot put to words what a tragic sight it was, to see these elephants straining against their chains, only to be chided and hit by their mahouts.

It is cruel and inhuman to use these noble beasts in these parades. I don't care if these peraheras are culturally or religiously important to us. Why can't we have the perahera without elephants? Is our momentary enjoyment in seeing them paraded around so much more important than their suffering? Is torturing animals the cost of keeping Buddhist culture alive?

I swore to myself that I would never, ever watch or support these perahera, so long as it used animals. But I'm just one person, and I doubt any of this would matter to most people who throng to watch these.

Now, we have two baby elephants kidnapped, and practically speaking, that is the best word to describe what has happened. Despite the public outcry, our esteemed president has decided to legitimize the kidnapping ( http://www.island.lk/2009/08/06/news2.html ).

What a life these poor babies will have - separated from their mothers even before they're five years, made to live in a garage and beaten into docility. And what joys they have to look forward to when they grow older - make-up & costumes in 30 degree weather, all while being chained like a prisoner. And all this, again, in the name of Buddhist culture.


Tell me, can you ever watch a perahera again?

This is what 'proper' Buddhist girls and boys should be like:

They should have no interest in the opposite sex - never mind the fact that from the time a girl starts menstruating, her body is saying that it is readying itself to bear children, and likewise for boys, except that they don't menstruate.

In effect, we teach a legion of children to rebel against all natural physical reactions of their body, and follow a puritanical code of moral conduct that has been deemed 'proper' & 'Buddhist'.

To add to this dangerous foundation, we deny them any kind of entertainment, and the sole focus is studies. The entertainment available is so 'un-Buddhist', anyway. Sports or music/drama is encouraged only for competitive purposes.

Anyone elder to you is always right - dissent or argument is unheard of (again, that is part of being a 'good Buddhist').

Parenting is akin to taming a wild animal - you first break the animal's spirit. Fear, fear and more fear is the way to go. 'Discipline', a word much bandied today, is the be all and end all of life. Heaven forbid you disappoint your parents - oh the shock, the humiliation of it all!

Oh yeah, if you can't handle the pressure of it all (especially the humiliation) at the tender age of 14, don't think for a moment that this country will understand your suicide, because it won't.

Girls shouldn't wear anything short, or sleeveless, or trousers, because that is just not the way of the true Buddhist.

Porn - a concept imported exclusively from the West - is a strict no-no. Boys and girls being attracted to one another(and homosexual attraction even more so) is so unnatural. Curiosity about sex, the same sex or the opposite sex could bring our pristine Buddhist culture crashing down in no time. Likewise the mere hint of violence, usually found on TV.


What has our society turned into - and how on earth is this, ultra-rigid, puritanical, neo fascist society justified in the name of Buddhism?

Wasn't it in this 'pure' Buddhist culture of ours that women walked around bare-bodied? Where kings had concubines? Where almost all our historic sites depict 'artistic' porn, albeit with over-weight women?

From my knowledge of Buddhism, this puritanical crap has nothing to do with it. Buddhism does not preach how one should dress, what relations with the opposite sex should consist of or any such gobbledygook.

So what is our clergy and our politicians on about? Have they confused Buddhism with the Taliban?

All I know is, in their quest to protect this 'pure Buddhist culture' of Sri Lanka, they are doing irreparable social harm, and they are doing more harm to Buddhism than any 'outsider' could ever even dream of doing...hold on, Afghanistan, we're right behind ya!

This incident happened about 4 weeks ago, but I've been way too busy to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) till now.

I was being driven to Colombo, and the driver had put on some Sinhalese radio station. Initially, none of us paid too much attention (that's father, mother, sister, driver & moi).

However, our collective attention was soon transfixed. The DJ (is that the right term these days?) had a voice like Wimal Weerawansa at a May Day rally, and was not so much speaking as he was screaming. The topic (from what I gathered at this initial stage) was why rapists and pedophiles were not given the death sentence, and frequently had their jail terms reduced only to commit even more heinous crimes when they were released.

While that is a topic in and of itself, it is not my purpose to discuss it here today.

Callers (mostly, I noted, from outstation) kept calling in, and their point, along with the host, seemed to be as follows: if Mahinda Rajapakse could ignore international opinion and take on the LTTE, why can't he implement the death penalty?

At this point (maybe fifteen or twenty minutes from when I started paying attention) I figured this was yet another bout of 'lets bash up our president/government', a seemingly popular game in Sri Lanka.

But noooooooooooooooo, that was merely the appetizer. The host had worked himself up to a rabid frenzy by now, and the whole show was sounding way worse than a May Day rally. He had moved away from the president and the death penalty, and was asking his listeners to look at the 'real' reason as to why such crimes were taking place in Sri Lanka, a country with a rich, peaceful, Buddhist culture...(add as many phony adjectives as you see fit - they were all mentioned at some point).

When no listener seemed wise enough to crack the code, he started dropping helpful clues. The first clue (aptly enough), was CSI and its host, cable TV. Such a so-terrible programme, that CSI is, he said. Not only is it violent, that is how our criminals learn to commit violent crimes and get away with it.

Get it? They studiously watch CSI every night, and learn the art of committing the perfect murder.

Pity X-Files was no longer running - we could've all blamed the aliens and then be done with it.

At any rate, cable TV was apparently such a terrible, violent influence, and naturally, violence such as that found in CSI could have only been imported from the West.

If you thought that was the end of it, you're in for a surprise. Because, you see, CSI only shows us how to commit the most grizzliest of crimes and get away with it. But the need to commit such crimes must have come from somewhere, yes?

Yes. Most emphatically. We were now told how a culture as innocent as ours had been brainwashed by Indian and Western programmes, that have introduced lust to us. 'Kaamaya' was the word used; lust I feel is the closest English translation.

Scantily dressed women dancing to Hindi songs, a woman in any Western entertainment number of your choice, and the like were all harming our innocent youth, who, apparently would not have known what lust, sex, porn or even the opposite sex was if not for these evil instruments of destruction.

He went on and on and on in this vein, and had soon whipped up enough adrenaline in his regular audience so that they started calling up one by one, all agreeing with him, some even going to the extent of telling him how and where teenage boys buy porn (yeah, I wonder how they know).

The internet soon joined the bandwagon of this particular axis of evil -I found it particularly amusing when the host actually mentioned a porn site (tell me, how did such a holy man come across Naughty America ?)

The cure, naturally, was to ban cable TV, Hindi movies, Hollywood movies, Hollywood magazines, mobile phones, the internet, DVDs, VCDs and such. Because you see, Sri Lankan men, Sri Lankan women, Sri Lankan would-be pedophiles, Sri Lankan would-be rapists and teenagers in general, do not know what lust is. It is apparently not a natural, physical sensation, but an abnormal, evil, imported concept from the West (mostly, and the rest from India).

When I wasn't frothing at what this goon was preaching to the masses, I was actually amused by the sheer absurdity of the notions he was peddling. By his count, the Sigirya frescoes -in fact, the whole concept of Sigiriya, given the violence and mayhem that gave birth to it - could not have been created by any Sri Lankan. Maybe it was done by the Indians. Or the Brits. Or those aliens Mulder & Scully kept running after.

And I'm guessing that till Western (and Indian) cinematic influences came to this holy island, we picked our babies of Baby Trees, because since lust is such an alien concept to us, how on earth would our forefathers ever have had sex? Or maybe it was asexual reproduction, like amoeba. Which seems a more likely explanation, and would directly explain our host's genealogy.

Had this radio station actually advertised itself during the time I was listening, I would have actually mentioned it here. And had they given out their hot-line number, I would have surely called up, and told that dim-witted, amoeba-origined host exactly what I thought. But I had no such luck, and mercifully, I was dropped off first, or there's no telling how scarred the driver may have been, hearing my thoughts on the topic.

I can only describe the host (and the show) in the same words the TIME magazine used to describe Ayatollah Khomeini -"a fanatic whose judgments are harsh, reasoning bizarre and conclusions surreal".

No wonder our society is the puritanical mess that it is. What with only a handful of co-ed schools, maniacal media figures like this, and a fervent belief that our 'pure' and 'innocent' and 'lust-free' culture trumps that of the rest of the civilised world, I shudder to think what our youth and children will turn into.

People should take note of their surroundings before they start airing dirty laundry.

I was at Commons today, having lunch with a friend. After a while, two teenagers, a girl and a boy, sat down at the next table. Soon, my friend and I were unable to have any kind of sustained conversation. The voices at the other table drowned out even our thoughts, so speech was a foregone conclusion.

We found out, for instance, that they used to go out. We were also privy to the facts that she still wears his ring, that sharing a bed with numerous people doesn't mean one 'got dirty', that the best way to avoid fights at parties is to invite only one's own grade...

I don't think that my friend and I would've had much of a conversation even if they weren't so loud; we were too busy stifling our giggles. I'm sure you get the gist of their conversation, going by the highlights mentioned above.

Seriously though, why would you discuss such intimate details, at such a public place, at such a volume?

To pick up where I left off, I shall start with a recent dream I had.

I was standing by the side of a road, waiting to be picked up by The Drifter. I could swear I was near some small hotels in Hikkaduwa, but I couldn't say for certain. So Drifter comes, picks me up and we're off. We're clearly in Sri Lanka, the boards on the roadside shops say 'R.A.De Mel Mawatha', but it's not like any part of Duplication Road I've ever seen. So I ask Drifter where we are, and he promptly replies 'Duplication Road'. I tell him I've never seen this part of Duplication road, and he says that 'it's the other side of Duplication Road'.

Other side?? What other side, I think. I ask. He looks at me as if I'm a complete idiot, and explains that it's the side of the road that stretches from Mattakkuliya. I refrain from asking anymore questions because I'm just too confused.

By and by, the road drives through a huge, lavish building, with really fancy balconies, structures...the works. I gingerly ask Drifter what it is, and he explains that it's an apartment complex housing the richest people in the country, and thus the obvious luxury.

Somehow, we're suddenly out of the car, and walking through this building now, and it seems more like a hotel than an apartment complex. There's a indoor waterfall and pond, beautifully laid out, and I'm thoroughly fascinated. There's also a butler-like gentlemen, explaining something to Drifter, but I can't remember exactly what it was.

We then walk into an indoor garden, and suddenly it's a museum. There is also a bunch of schoolgirls on the other end, and a lady in a suit explaining something to them, and for some reason I assume that she's part of the staff.

Now comes the weirdest bit...there were animals in this indoor garden-cum-museum...except they weren't normal animals. Their entire body was made of gems; precious and semi-precious stones. And they were alive. Shiny, precious stones covering their bodies, and these creatures were alive. There was an owl, some birds, a turtle, and I think a dog as well as a peacock. I only knew they were alive because they were moving.

I'm so confused and shocked at this stage, I ask Drifter what has happened to them. He looks at me, not for the first time, as if I'm a dunce, and says 'They've been gemologised'.

Gemologised?? Huh?? Clearly, I'm the only one in the room who hadn't heard of 'gemologised' animals. As I very confusedly follow Drifter, staring at the astonishing creatures around me, my mobile starts to ring. Annoyed, I look to see who it is, and it's someone called 'Alarm'.

I remember being just a tad confused, and then I woke up.

I have ultra weird dreams, and weirder still is the fact that I remember them in great detail the following morning. So, in tribute to my weird dreams, I've compiled a few of them below.

***************

The One With Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi has come to Sri Lanka, and is having a concert at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, on the beach. The whole event is being handled by a small ad agency, which was formed by a few people who left a much bigger one. I go to the concert with a friend, mega excited. But the concert gets cancelled, because the Chairperson of the aforementioned bigger agency has called in with a bomb threat. Why? Because she couldn't handle the fact that her breakaways were handling the event.

In the ensuing mess, the hotel fights with Bon Jovi, demanding that they pay the hotel for the cost of putting up the concert. Bon Jovi in turn demands that the hotel charge the bigger agency since they made the bomb threat. Poor old me bitch about the concert getting cancelled...then I woke up.

***************

The One With The Fridge

I've redesigned a fridge (yes, truly, the dream went like this). Somehow, my goal was to design a fridge where one could put more stuff inside, as opposed to a conventional fridge. So I've designed a fridge where instead of having shelves inside, I've fixed revolving, spiral, stepped shelves. Now my problem is that I know for a fact that this new fridge is more convenient, but I don't know if the original goal of being able to put more stuff inside has been achieved. So I call my mother, to see if I can borrow her fridge to do a comparison. When I realise that her fridge is a much bigger model, I'm stuck...then I woke up.

***************

The One With The Fish

I'm on a beach trip with some friends. We have a torch, which, when flashed at oneself, makes one smaller (this is actually a tool from a Japanese cartoon, Doraemon). One of my friends makes herself smaller, and perches on top of a fish tank, watching the fish. When I come back from the beach (or was it lunch?), she's missing, presumably eaten by a big nasty fish.

The rest of us transform back to our normal sizes and take the fish, calling her name out loudly while we try to see if the fish had actually swallowed her. But this fish, nasty huge fellow that he is, jumps out of the tank and start snipping at my heels, such that I wind up on top of the table. We eventually got hold of the fish, and rushed to hospital to see if a doctor could cut it open and rescue our friend...then I woke up.

***************

And believe me, these are just a few of my weird dreams...feel free to add your own ones.


...women have to wear a sari to court in Sri Lanka? A woman can so easily look professional without having to wrap herself up in 6 yards. I can understand the colour restrictions (applicable to both sexes) but not the whole sari thing.

I mean, if women have to wear saris, shouldn't the men be wearing the national? Why force a colour and a costume on women, but only a colour on men? Plus, as pointed out by so many people, a sari reveals so much more of a woman's body than a suit (pants or skirt) possibly could.

Retarded, chauvinistic rule says I.

***********

...that motorcyclists have absolutely no fear for their own lives? I've lost track of the number of times I've personally wanted to run over a motorcyclist. They overtake from the left, right, on pavements, kiss your buffer, the sides, the mirrors and all this at times without even a helmet...but if a car so much as grazes them (and it's usually their fault), rest assured that there will be a mob at hand to chop your head off.

Seriously, does it not occur to them that a trip to the garage for me could mean a trip to the morgue for them?

***********

...pedestrians feel the need to cross the road five feet away from the pedestrian crossing? It is so annoying that after waiting at a crossing for people to cross, you have to brake and wait less than three feet ahead, because some morons feel that a pedestrian crossing stretches across infinitely.

***********

...my love life is of such paramount interest to my extended family? Why can't they just watch Mahagedara instead?

***********

...there is never any edible vegetarian food at family gatherings? A token plate of rubber-like fish does NOT count, for those of us who have chosen not to eat meat (and yes, chicken is meat). And a salad is a salad. We cannot eat rice and salad and be satisfied with it.

***********

...people ask for treats? If you want to eat something so badly, go out and buy it yourself. I'm sure the vast majority of us would like to treat our friends & colleagues daily, had we the ability. If we aren't giving a treat, it's because we have a good reason not to, so I wish people would just take the bloody hint.

Last I checked, plenty stores sell Christmas cake/cakes in general/biriyani/wattalappam/kavum/kokis et al, so go get it yourself.

***********

...Pizza Hut is still in business? Most of their pizza taste the same, the seafood is conspicuously absent from the Seafood Supreme, the menu sucks and the prices are exorbitant.

They've also lost most of their sense, because the Pizza Hut marketing dept. seems to think that the best way to entice us to eat their pizzas is by letting us know that mice live inside the pizza crusts! Blech!!!

Did I mention that the portions have also gotten smaller?

***********


Hmmm...that's it for today. Feel free to add your own burning questions here.


Just a short post wishing everyone a great 2009.



May it be infinitely better than the one that just passed!

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