The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

I remember watching Mangal Pandey with my father, and he remarked that India won our independence for us. When I asked him what he meant, he said that the Indian independence struggle was a bloody one; and we reaped the benefits, with very little effort. I'm beginning to think that he was right; perhaps that is why Sri Lankans seem to value freedom, sovereignty and their country so little.

At one point in recent history, we elected a party to power who all but signed over part of Sri Lanka to the LTTE, and we seemed to be ruled by a consortium of foreign nationals who had everything but this country's best interests at heart. We valued the country's sovereignty so little that we didn't mind letting everyone else rule our land. Several elections, many bombs and yet another war later, I thought we were finally going to move forward. I remember watching TV on May 19, 2009, and thinking that we, the generation born into this war, were finally free. At long last, this country would prosper.

No such luck. An election between the devil and the deep blue sea had the voters choose the devil. And so here we are, watching as 60% of the voters constitutionalize tyranny. What else did they expect when they elected him back into power? We have just shackled generations of Sri Lankans to come with the 18th Amendment. I cannot think of a harsher curse.

30 years from now, we could still have the same president.

30 years from now, we could still have the same president.

That is a very very very scary thought. But maybe by then, they'll officially call him king. Because that is what he will be, right? In fact, that is what he is now, minus the crown. We are not a monarchy. We moved beyond that. Or so I thought. But infinite regression seems to be in vogue.

30 years we suffered for our great grandparents mistakes. Now we just ensured that our great grandchildren will suffer for ours.
    

I have always had good, long lasting relationships with my cellphones. All my Nokias and Sony Ericssons have been good to me, and I adored them in turn. None of us ever broke up, we each moved onto greener pastures after several years; some of them even hung around to form quirky threesomes.

And then I met my Blackberry, with whom I was certain that I would only have a casual fling. I mean, I didn't get it because I wanted a Blackberry, I just got it because it came with the contract. Yet, over time, the Blackberry turned into my Crackberry. Everything was on it, and I didn't even realise that I had become a crack addict.

Then, exactly two weeks after the warranty expired (I swear, these companies do it on purpose!), the unthinkable happened. Murphy's Law decided to kill my Crackberry. I went to sleep Sunday night, content with the knowledge that my Crackberry would wake me on time for work. I woke up Monday morning and the room was eerily quiet. I picked up my Crackberry to see why it had fallen asleep on my, only to find that it had presumably consumed too much crack during my slumber, because it wasn't working. At all.

I was greeted to a white screen with the image of a half charged battery with a red line striking it through. It wouldn't switch on or off. It wouldn't charge. Taking the battery out didn't help. Taking the SIM and the media card out didn't help. Doing it all several times didn't help.With bile rising in my stomach, I turned boxes upside down to find the warranty, only to find out that it had expired two weeks ago.

I went to work in a state of panic, and was unable to think until lunch time, when I went the Fido dealer who sold me the phone. The dealer was very nice, very polite and very helpful. And very unsuccessful. They tried different chargers, different batteries and different phones. The verdict? There was nothing wrong with the battery, so it was either the hardware or the software for the phone. I was out of warranty, so they couldn't help, but they called tech support for me to see if that would be fruitful. He also very helpfully suggested that I wait till May 2011 to get a new phone at a cheap price, and settle for a second hand phone for now, if the phone could not be resuscitated.

Tech support from Fido was almost as helpful as the dealer. They said I would have to try and restore the phone, meaning that I would lose all my data (I was ok with that, at this point) but if that failed, it was time for a new phone. Of course, I would have to wait till Tuesday to try the restore it, because the CD with the software was at home along with the USB cable, and the computer with a CD drive was at work.

I spent the rest of Monday suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms, and my phone, having consumed all the crack, retained the same bizarre expression on its face all day. And then all night.

First thing Tuesday morning at work, I installed the Blackberry Desktop Manager and tried to follow the detailed instructions emailed to me by Fido Tech Support (I told you they were super nice). But of course, because Murphy was still hovering about, the instructions and the program didn't sync, and the program didn't recognize the phone. After reinstalling the software a second time and going through the same motions, I tried a different tactic. I downloaded the Blackberry Desktop Manager from the Blackberry website and tried it, but again, it was a no go.

I refused to give up, and called Fido Tech Support once again. We spent a good 40 minutes on the phone, trying to resuscitate my Crackberry. He suggested I try a different USB port, the whole battery out-in thingy, restarting the computer, checking the battery terminals...all failed. He finally suggested that I call Blackberry themselves. And start searching Craigslist, because he said that he didn't think my phone would pull through.

I was in full panic mode now. The withdrawal symptoms had reached epic levels, and the thought of having to spend $300 on a second hand phone was starting to cause an aneurysm.

The call to Blackberry didn't help. At all. Unlike Fido, they very calmly informed me that since I was out of warranty, I could pay $50 just to speak to them and see if they could help, or ship the phone to them for $200 for repairs. Or, I should just invest in a new phone.

My Crackberry was all but pronounced dead, and in between hallucinations and popping nerves, I started going through Craigslist listings. Woe is me!

However, I still refused to give up hope entirely. Surfing the net, I found several others had also found their Crackberries to suffer from the same crack over dose that mine was going through. Unfortunately, most of those threads ended in tales of expensive paper weights. And the remedy in the few (three or four) cases that had conquered the crack? They had dropped their Crackberries on wooden floors at least three times.

My home & office are both carpeted, but why should that stop me in my final acts of desperation, right? Thus started my final attempts, which went something like this:
I took out the media card and the SIM, put them back in, took them out again and put them back in, repeating the prodeure alternately. In between the above procedure,  I dropped the phone on the floor 3 times (as instructed, but on a carpeted floor). Simultaneously, I restarted the computer a random amount of times and reinstalled the Blackberry Desktop Manager on the computer 3 times. I also randomly took the battery in and out a gazillion times, and kept trying to reboot the phone by connecting it to the computer.

As my vein was about to pop, I noticed the Crackberry flicker as I connected it to the computer for the gazillion and first time. Instead of the Blackberry-on-crack image, there was that of an hour glass. Was this merely a hallucination induced by my withdrawal symptoms, or was this for real? I gulped some water and checked, and there it was...the hour glass symbol.

As I watched, the hour glass symbol stayed on screen for almost 5 minutes. And then, at long last, the Fido logo appeared! I immediately disconnected the Crackberry from the computer, and watched as the phone came back to life, data intact, battery almost dead.

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

It has been a little less than 24 hours now, and I am glad to report that after sufficient charging, the Crackberry seems to be back to its usual self. I too, am no longer suffering from withdrawal symptoms, though I still find myself checking the phone's pulse, just to make sure that it is still alive.

I am glad to have finaaly conquered the Crackberry and to have defied all diagnosis of death beyond repair.

I hope that it remains by my side for many more months to come.

There is something about having over 1.3 million people cheer you on that is quite indescribable. That's how I felt when I took part in the Pride Parade 2010 in Toronto earlier this month.


Let's rewind. I had signed up as a volunteer for the Global Human Rights booth, and hadn't actually planned on taking part in the grand parade. There was a day of training which went off quite well, and in the week leading up to Pride, we were loaded with reading material, to prepare us for our chosen volunteer sections.

Pride in Toronto was everything that you've seen or read about, and then some! There was such a sense of freedom, openness and unity that is very difficult to describe, and I was so proud to be a part of it.

The best part of it, for me, was something that happened when I was volunteering at the booth. While I was gathering signatures for a petition, this elderly gentleman walked up to me. He started by shaking my hand, and saying that when he was my age, he would have been jailed just for being himself. He didn't look so old, and my confusion must have been apparent on my face, because he went on to tell me that he was born in 1937, and what it was like growing up in those times, knowing that you were gay and the fear that was part and parcel of that knowledge. I could see the tears in his eyes as he spoke; he wasn't just crying about what they as a community had to endure, but also over how much had been achieved in 30 years. And then he thanked me for being part of the youth (and here he ended up using that term quite liberally) that still worked towards bringing these freedoms and rights to other parts of the world, and at that point, I felt my own eyes tear up. It was such a touching, happy and sad moment all at the same time.

Then, while I was at the booth, part of the organising committee came and asked me if I would like to march at the parade with the Global Human Rights for Queers contingent, and I was like hell yeah! Completely unexpected, totally up my alley.

So at 1.30 in the afternoon, with the sun blazing down upon us, I found myself standing in line, holding a placard in one hand, the main banner in the other (yup, not only did I get to march, I got to march right in front, helping to hold the banner) while the temperature hovered somewhere between 29 to 30 degrees.

The parade got under way in about 45 minutes, and for the next 2 hours (and 2 km or more), I didn't notice the heat, the distance or the time. There were approximately 1.3 million people watching us, cheering, clapping, appreciating (and dousing us with water!)...I felt like I was part of something so much bigger than just me...that I was doing something meaningful, and that people this the kind of thing that I as meant to do.

It was just an incredible, indescribable, awesome feeling.

On June 19, 2010, Adam Lambert proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that America does not know how to vote. As part of his Glam Nation tour, Adam Lambert was playing exactly one concert in Toronto at the Molson Amphitheater. Guess who had to be there?


Fortunately for me, the tickets weren't as prohibitively priced as Bon Jovi tickets, so I was able to get a good seat right up front. I couldn't wait for the 19th!

The ticket said the concert started at 3.30 pm, which was strangely early, but I thought what the hell, let me be there on time. I should have had the good sense to realise that it looked suspicious, and in this day and age, it would have taken me all of 3 seconds to find the schedule on the internet. But noooooo, silly me, I just went to the arena at 3.30 pm.

I was quite surprised by the crowd - naturally, there were far more females than there were males, but what particularly surprised me was that there were some pretty old people there in the crowd - easily in their '50s. And it wasn't just a lone couple or two, but there were several people in that age bracket...I guess Adam Lambert appeals to all ages.

Anyways, I managed to get to the Molson Amphitheatre exactly on time, so I found myself in my seat by 3.30 pm. After the Bon Jovi concert, I knew that I should expect some annoying opening band or another, and right on schedule, some female started her song & dance routine. And after a few such numbers, she strutted off, and another singer came on for yet another routine. The crowd seemed to appreciate them a lot more than I did, and around 5 pm or so, I started to wonder...where heck is Adam Lambert? This is his show, right?

That's when my eyes darted about, and caught sight of the schedule for the evening. All kinds of singers had been booked to perform - this was, after all, the KiSS 92.5 WHAM BAM concert featuring Adam Lambert...but I didn't expect this many other acts. Adam Lambert was going to take the stage only at 9 p.m. What a bummer! For those in the know, the other artists were pretty good, and even Orianthi played, but I really couldn't get excited about people I had never even heard of. For the record though, Orianthi was damn good, and I definitely will hunt around for some of her music.

Fortunately for me, I found a book in my handbag, so I settled down to read it till the show really started - I know, I know, a music concert isn't really the ideal location to start reading, but I have this amazing ability to block out things around me when required. Luckily, the book was good (as Salman Rushdie always is), and before I knew it, it was 9 pm, and the show was about to begin!

Adam Lambert was spectacular! No, scratch that. He was phenomenal! First off, his voice is amazing - it sounds just as brilliant live as it does on his albums (and you really really must wonder why he wasn't the Idol winner). He could sing the phone book and make it sound good. Trying to explain how amazing his voice is would be a waste of your time and mine, because there is no way that I could string together words that would do justice to it. I won't even bother.

And true to his reputation, there was more than a touch of glamour. Leather? Check. Glitter? Check. Entertainment quotient? Through the roof! There were 2 - 3 costume changes, and by costumes, I mean costumes. The trademark eye liner was there, but there was also a feather topped hat, leather pants, black gloves, purple & black fur coat and boots to die for. Just to mention a few. Boy George would have been proud. And jealous.

There were also the synchronized dance moves (which he was awesome at), the not-so synchronized dance moves (which he was equally awesome at) and some incredible chemistry with his dancers and musicians...Adam Lambert is truly an entertainer and he is such a natural! It also helps that he truly is talented. He had the crowd moving, and we were belting out the numbers right along with him...and man, these Canadian crowds are amazing...they know how to rock, and we managed to get an encore out of Adam Lambert :)

The set list was:

  • For Your Entertainment (recorded version/intro)
  • Voodoo
  • Down the Rabbit Hole
  • Ring of Fire (Idol version)
  • Fever
  • Sleepwalker
  • Whaddaya Want From Me
  • Soaked
  • Aftermath
  • Sure Fire Winners
  • Strut
  • Music Again
  • If I Had You
  • Mad World (Encore - Idol version)
True, he doesn't have too much of a repertoire to sustain a full length concert, but I was damn impressed with what I saw. He was also introduced his entire band, back up dancers and the choreographer, which I thought was a very decent thing to do.

Overall, it was a fabulous concert, and I can't wait to see what else Adam Lambert has in store for us - and for future reference, I would not want to miss any of his concerts!

Here are clips of two of my favourite songs, just so you get an idea!





Not the kind guys have, but the kind girls have. I started thinking about this when a guy friend told me recently that I don't understand him because I'm not a guy, and I don't share his dispositions.


I went from kindergarten to Class 8 without having girlfriends. It was me myself & I, and that was about it. But then Class 8 happened, and suddenly, I was part of a very close knit group of girls whom I could really identify with. We had slumber parties and endless phone calls and trips to the movies and passing notes during class and indulged in all sorts of things you do with friends. Female friends...good times!

And then I left the country. And thus started another 10-odd years where I didn't really find girls that I gelled with, so to speak. It was me myself & I again (not that I minded) and slumber parties were non existent and late night phone calls were few and far between. There were a few female friends here and there, and while I love them, I can't say that I was part of a wider circle of friends. I think most people found me abrasive and my personality was more a curiosity to be peered at like a museum display. That's what you get I suppose, for not wanting to be part of the butterfly brigade.

Eventually (and by eventually I mean several years later) I graduated to acquiring a small circle of good friends, but, as it happened, they were all gay and none of them female!

Several months ago, I vibed well with a female colleague, and before I knew it, we were having endless phone calls and movie trips. And then that circle started getting wider. And wider. Now I have female friends who trust me, who call me up to chat (even if they don't need help in some manner or form), BBM, and who simply like hanging out with me. Females who don't find my personality a curiosity, but something they identify with. People who actually don't mind sharing a house with me. These women actually like me for me! I had forgotten what it was like to be part of a group. Not a butterfly brigade, mind you, but a group of like-minded, good friends.

I haven't had friends like this since I was in school.

I like it.

AKA The Day I Went For A Bon Jovi Concert

This is a true story.

Showtime!

One by one, the band members walked on stage and we all went crazy! The whole stadium - each and every one of us - were on our feet, hands waving and screaming our lungs off. The whole atmosphere was electric - over 20,000 people, all of them howling in unconstrained excitement. Caroline was soooo right, and I knew the night was going to be awesome!

Bon Jovi sure didn't waste any time settling in. As soon as they walked on stage, we were greeted not by hellos or good evenings, but by the most rousing rendition of You Give Love A Bad Name I have ever heard. Is there any better song to open with? We were on our feet, singing along...and I should've known then that I (or anyone else in the stadium) wouldn't be sitting down for the rest of the evening.

I think after the first two or three songs, Bon Jovi finally spoke and wished us a good evening. But the most incredible thing he said all evening followed the greeting - what he said was:
"I'm not gonna talk too much. You paid good money to see me shake my ass and sing, so let's get down to it!"
Yes, he actually said that, and then he drove us mad all over again by not just singing, but shaking his ass as well. Repeatedly. If you weren't there, be jealous. Be very jealous. Very, very, very jealous. Because he was fabulous!!!!!!

The energy that man has is unbelievable. The band went on for over 2 1/2 hours - and had the crowd going from the word go. No pyrotechnics, no scantily clad chorus dancers...just a couple of 40-plus guys singing their hearts out. Every penny spent on this concert was so totally worth it!

Some of the songs, especially a few off The Circle got a few introductory words by Bon Jovi, and he just seemed so...so...down to earth. The album is essentially a working (or unemployed) man's album, much like Crush was about teenage angst. And for all his success and money, Bon Jovi showed that he still hadn't lost touch with the common man, when he told the audience that in these trying times, the most important decisions are made at the kitchen table, and asked us to make sure that love remained the driving force behind those decisions. The crowd kept cheering (the only time the Montreal crowd stopped cheering was either to sing along or to chant), but to me, what he said then remained the most touching, incredible moment of the whole concert.

When Bon Jovi asked 'Is there a doctor in the house?', I knew that I must have died and gone to heaven. I was at a Bon Jovi concert and they were going to play Bad Medicine! It is perhaps my favouritest Bon Jovi number, and also the first Bon Jovi song I ever heard. The performance of Bad Medicine was everything people had said it would be. And then some. The evening just seemed to get better and better and better. Pure, unadulterated bliss.

As a thank you to their legion of fans, a few songs featured a medley of video clips created by the fans themselves, and I was almost convinced that my next purchase should be a camcorder. Almost.

Somewhere towards the middle of the concert, we were given acoustic versions of Something for the Pain and Someday I'll Be Saturday Night, as well Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I had only ever heard the Bon Jovi version, though I knew that it was a Leonard Cohen cover. The song holds personal meaning to me, so I was ecstatic that they chose to play it, but the Montreal crowd were beyond ecstatic (what with Leonard Cohen hailing from Montreal and all).

Did I mention that the whole damn show was beyond awesome? Because I cannot repeat myself enough : Bon Jovi was spectacular x awesome x the power of infinity.

We even got a Richie Sambora song - his guitar solos were fantastic in and of themselves, but to I thought it was even more special to hear him sing lead on Homebound Train.

Along the way, Bon Jovi actually walked through the front row during a song, and not only did he pose for photographers, he actually kissed one of the women there. I think every women at the Bell Centre screamed in unison at that!

The audience was eating out of Bon Jovi's palm - if they had started singing Mary Had a Little Lamb, I guarantee you that the crowd would have been singing along to that as well. The band was magnificent - it is no mean feat to have a crowd of 20,000 plus - of varying age groups - on their feet, clapping, cheering and singing for over two hours. I am not exaggerating - the crowd was whipped!

When the band bid us good night, the crowd didn't even wait for them to walk off stage for the chant for an encore to start. We chanted, and the band obliged us with three more songs. It was as if we knew, because the entire crowd started singing Living on a Prayer all on their own, prompting Bon Jovi to ask "What are we, in New Jersey?". I don't think that there is a bigger compliment you could give a Bon Jovi fan, let alone a stadium full of them.

At the end of Runaway (I think), Bon Jovi had a small conversation with an 11 year old boy (who was lucky enough to be seated in the front row). He asked the kid how old he was, and when the boy said 11 years old, the band wondered aloud as to how old the song and came up with the answer - 28 years old. Remarked Bon Jovi "I like it. My fans are getting younger and I'm getting older." There was a little more banter where he made that 11 year old boy feel like king of the world, and then the songs continued. I wouldn't have minded being that boy.

When the band bid us a good night for a second time, I was sure that it was the end of the concert, but even after 2 1/2 hours, I had clearly underestimated the Montreal crowd. The chant for an encore (the second for the evening) went up almost immediately. The band looked as surprised as I felt (not that it stopped me from chanting right along with the rest of the crowd). And, unbelievably, Bon Jovi eventually obliged us with a second 2-song encore.

The third goodnight proved to be the final one for the evening, though I think we screamed and clapped for a good ten minutes afterwards just to show how much we enjoyed the show (as if the band wouldn't have guessed by now!).

I somehow made my way back on to the Mega Bus, experiencing a high I'm sure that even the highest grade crystal meth couldn't induce. And that high remained with me for days. I kid you not.

This Bon Jovi concert was incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Spectacular. Fantastic. No adjective that I can come up with adequately describes the incredibleness that the concert was.

And I was lucky enough to be there.

To wrap up, the set list was as follows (not in order of performance) :
  • Blood on Blood
  • We Weren't Born to Follow
  • You Give Love a Bad Name
  • Whole Lot of Leavin'
  • Born to Be My Baby
  • Lost Highway
  • Have a Nice Day
  • Thorn In My Side
  • When We Were Beautiful
  • Superman Tonight
  • We Got It Going On
  • Bad Medicine
  • It's My Life
  • Homebound Train
  • Hallelujah
  • I'll Be There For You
  • Diamond Ring
  • Something for the Pain
  • Someday I'll Be Saturday Night
  • Keep the Faith
  • Work for the Working Man
  • Who Says You Can't Go Home
  • Love's the Only Rule
  • Runaway
  • I Love This Town
  • Wanted Dead or Alive
  • Livin' on a Prayer
  • Twist and Shout
  • Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars

In case my words have not done justice to Bon Jovi, maybe this video that was shot at the concert will give you some inkling as to how awesome the whole experience was.




AKA The Day I Went For A Bon Jovi Concert

This is a true story.

Toronto

Sometime in November, Andrea walked into work and gushed excitedly about how Bon Jovi was touring Canada in 2010. I had to be there! The choice was between Montreal in March or Toronto in July. Not knowing where I'd be in July, Montreal was the obvious choice. (And the biggest 'thank you' EVER goes out to the person who convinced me to go!)

Being a creature who is perennially short of money, I had to settle for a modestly priced ticket - I hoped that the seat was decent. The ticket arrived in December, but I refused to get excited about it till March. I didn't want to start counting my chickens just yet. It was just too incredible to be real, and I didn't want to jinx anything.

Then came March. How would I get from Toronto to Montreal? The Greyhound cost about $100 (very likely more) - and that was just one way. And overnight stay? I seriously began to wonder if I'd have to hitch hike to Montreal and sleep on the side walk.

But then, diligent googling introduced me to Coach Canada (aka Mega Bus), an affordable means of cross country travelling. By ordering my ticket on line, I got a return trip for just $61! Plus, they had a bus leaving Montreal at 12.15 am, so I didn't have to worry about hotel stay. Finally, I had a proper plan!

The actual week of the concert turned out to be one of the busiest weeks of my life. I was working two jobs, literally from 9 a.m. till 9.30 p.m. On top of that, I was apartment hunting. Friday just could not come soon enough!

Friday morning, I woke up a whole hour early because I was too excited to sleep. The bus was leaving at exactly 9.30 am (and over here, people actually stick to the schedule). I was terrified of missing the bus, but I made it there with a good 40 minutes to spare. Imagine my smugness when I saw that the girl in front of me had paid $107 one way to Montreal, and that was with a student discount! Plus, she was travelling in the same bus as I was. Thank heavens for the internet!

Now, I have to dedicate a few lines to describe the bus itself. Firstly, it was a double decker. I, having never travelled in a 'decker' before, was elated. As soon as I boarded the bus, I took the back staircase (yeah, there were two staircases) and headed 'upstairs'. It was pretty much like flying economy class. Comfortable seats you could recline, overhead reading lights and a choice of radio stations for everyone who brought their own headphones. And a bathroom. I really wanted to go see what that looked like, but I never got around to it. And. And and and and. Before I finish describing the bus, let me add just two more points. The Mega Bus also boasted of 110V power sockets and was wifi enabled. That's right. The $30 per trip double decker bus with its own bathroom also came with power sockets and wifi! For a 6 1/2 hour trip, this was a good way to travel. The most awesome bus ever!

9.30 on the dot, we were off. There was one more passenger pick up point around 10 a.m., and after that, the bus was pretty much full.

Nowhere Town, Canada

I don't think I ever appreciated how vast this country was until I took this particular bus ride. I fell asleep almost as soon as we took off from Toronto, and I woke up to empty fields on either side of the road. Later, I realized that the empty fields were actually farms. Big, humongous farms. There were barns, and I actually saw some horses as well. After the farms though, it was mostly forest. And field. Forest field farm. Alternate repeatedly, in random fashion. Drop the farm bit, and then keep on alternating. That was the bulk of my view. Don't get me wrong - the scenery was beautiful. But it was just so much empty space. There really isn't enough people living here. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

We stopped at a place called Kingston, for about 20 minutes. Got to stretch my legs, use the bathroom (not the one in the bus), grab a doughnut and then it was time to go.

I wanted to sleep, but I was too excited to. I could only doze for 15 or 20 minutes before waking up, though the rest of the passengers didn't seem to suffer from the same problem.

Montreal

They made the announcement that we were entering Montreal, and I swear, my heart rate went up. Before I knew it, we were at the terminal and I was off the bus, knapsack in hand, wondering which direction to head in. Because, in Montreal, everything and every person in it, was French. Not a single sign post anywhere had an English word on it. I might as well have been in France, for all the good it would have done.

I saw a building nearby which looked like a mall, and headed inside. After all, it was just 4.30 p.m., and the concert started at 7.30 p.m. I needed time to wash my face, use the bathroom, and above all else, eat.  Turned out that it was not so much a mall as it was a few shops, a food court, a bathroom and persumably offices upstairs. Which was quite alright by me. I ate, I freshened up, and thought that I would do well to head to the Bell Centre sooner than later, because a) who knew where it was and how long it would take to get there, and b) what if there was a queue?


I followed the signs that said 'metro', and to my luck, ended up inside a subway station located in the same building. So far, so good. I walked up to the ticket booth, and asked the lady there how to get to the Bell Centre. Fortunately for me, she spoke English. Rather good English, peppered with a strong accent. She gave me a map, and detailed instructions on how to get to the Bell Centre. Which turned out to be a good thing, because all announcements on the train was in French, with zilch in English. I suppose I should have expected as much from Quebec.

After observing how much I preferred the Toronto transit system (and Toronto in general), and keeping both eyes on the map, and straining to match the French pronounciation of the subway stop names with how they spell it on paper, I finally ended up at the right place. It must have been a 10 minute ride, but it felt quite a bit longer.

Bell Centre

Bell Centre in and of itself turned out to be quite boring, unless you were a hockey fan. Which I am not. It also turned out to be a maze, and I went through endless corridors before suddenly finding myself outside the entrance.

People were there already, lots of them in Bon Jovi t-shirts, waiting for the doors to open. There were people from all ages - teeny boppers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and then the salt 'n pepper crowd as well. It was so interesting to stand around and just watch the different types of fans arrive, but they all seemed so calm and collected and...French. I actually started to wonder if the crowd would merely clap after each song!

There was a small promotional tent by Virgin radio, and they wanted me to sing a Bon Jovi song (karaoke) and in turn, I would win a spanking new t-shirt. Had the t-shirt been a Bon Jovi one, or if I had been with a group of people, I think I would have sung, but this time I politely declined.

While I waited, I ended up chatting with an equally devoted fan named Caroline. She was from Montreal itself, and assured me that the Montreal crowd was incredible (at this point, I found that a bit hard to believe, but I kept my opinion to myself). She (lucky bitch!) had bought herself two $400 tickets! One for Friday's show, and the other for Saturday's show. And damn good seats - for $400, what did you expect, right? She had a home-made banner with her, and was already making plans to attend the July concert in Toronto. I hoped the rest of the crowd would be like her.

Like any two devoted Bon Jovi fans, we talked nineteen to the dozen about the band, the songs and all things Bon Jovi. Before I knew it, it was 6.30 p.m., and the doors were finally opening. Caroline and I said our goodbyes, and I made my way inside. There wasn't a big crowd, and I really started to wonder about Montreal at this point. No queue, no rush...f***ing Bon Jovi was playing! Where were the damn people?!

There was a counter inside selling memorabilia, and much as I would have loved to buy half of what they had, my wallet chose otherwise, so I satisfied myself by getting a Bon Jovi 'The Circle' pendant. And wore it then and there.

I made my way to my seat. Not the best seat in the house, but the awesome thing about the Bell Centre is that the seats are so high up that you get an incredible view of the stage wherever you are. Plus, my seat was parallel to the stage, so I got a pretty good view of the stage. People were still milling in, and it really didn't seem all that crowded, and I was almost beginning to feel sorry for Bon Jovi.

Precisely at 7.30 p.m., the opening band came on. I have no clue what they were called, only that they were from Jacksonville, Florida. They were ok - lots of their songs sounded the same, and frankly, it was difficult to get pumped up for some nameless band when you were waiting for Bon Jovi. They did a cover of Summer '69 though, and, predictably, the crowd sang along with them for that one, which I think was more of a reflection on Bryan Adams than it was on the band itself.

By around 8 o'clock, the stadium was getting packed. Aaah, these Montrealers. They timed themselves well, skipping the better part of the opening band, and coming in on time for the main attraction. By 8.30 p.m., the stadium was packed. There was easily 20,000 plus people and I really couldn't spot an empty seat.

My row had quite the mix - from left to right, there were giggly teenage girls, 20-something year old guys, then 30 year old me, then a group who were at least in their 40s. Bon Jovi truly appeals to all.

When the opening band bid adieu, I got a glimpse of what the crowd would be like: a few started chanting Bon Jovi, and most of the crowd started cheering as soon as the lights dimmed. And they didn't stop. This crowd had hope...maybe Caroline had been right, after all!

Then, it happened. The lights went completely off, and the back of the stage lit up in a semi circle, like the album cover.

Bon Jovi walked on stage.

This was the best part of the Canadian motor show that I went to in February, 2010. I spent hours in this section, and had the motor show consisted of nothing but the Shelby classics, it would have still been worth it.

Not much I can say, so I'm posting few of the pictures, and I hope you enjoy them!
















The Allard looked so sleek! And to think I had never even heard of it (or seen it) till this show.


















Please take special note of the price tag.
























Pretty good looking for a car in original condition...



















I should have posted these a good month ago, but just could not find the time.

This is the only election in Sri Lanka that I am missing out on in the last 9 years. I am not sorry to be missing it. The choice really is between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I am one of many who voted MR into power; I did so with the sole hope that he would not sell the country out to the LTTE (unlike the much-maligned RW) and defeat them instead. He did. And I am not going to question the manner in which the war was won, or crib about human rights. A war is a war, and you cannot make an omelette without breaking an egg.

But is 'thank you' any reason to elect MR back to office? Because when we elect him, we are also electing his brothers, sons, cousins, the Mervyn Silvas and the rest of the rabble rousers. We are not a monarchy, and MR is not a king, despite the many roadside cut outs proclaiming otherwise.

I do not want another 6 years of thugs ruling roost. I do not want another 6 years of nepositic corruption surpassed only by the time of CBK. I do not want to see religion given undue importance because the president needs to bankroll a jumbo cabinet. Developing the country does not mean giving a Rs.300  million contract to your friend when the job could have been done for half the price. Had MR's negatives been less, a  'thank you' vote could have been considered; in this situation, it seems absurd.

But I do not believe a retired army general is qualified to run the country either. What qualifications does SF have, other than the fact that he is not MR? What little respect he had garnered from me dissipated when he decided to hobnob with political tigers (aka TNA). If those are the coming colours, then I would rather be in black and white. There is no point in promising to rid the country of corruption if we are to be watching the tiger dance all over again.

Devil or the deep blue sea - I'm sure I wouldn't be happy with whomever gets elected today, though I'm fairly certain that it would be MR who will be laughing all the way to parliament, once again.

I am also disgusted by the election spectacle we witnessed on Facebook and Kottu. People supported SF simply because he wasn't MR, blind to all SF faults and dubious allies. MR campaign seemed to be run by the same sycophants who erected his cutouts: king king king, war victor war victor war victor. All the irrationality available in the country seems to split between the two groups of supporters.

Ah well, whoever wins today, it'll just end up being more of the same.

AKA Dances With Wolves In Outer Space, Where The Script Got Lost During Take-Off.

Ok, so the special effects were amazing. Outstanding CGI. Breathtaking visuals. But couldn't James Cameron have taken 1 year out of the 11 that went into making Avatar to script a better a story?

I mean, unobtainium? Really? Really?

Did anyone else notice that a gazillion years into the future, America has the technology to create Avatars but a wheelchair is still a wheelchair? No improved mechanics, nothing that is less cumbersome, no brain-waves operated wheels. That's right. They are able to create 10-foot giant Smurfs (on a diet) that are operated by the brain of a human who is miles away, but a wheelchair is still a wheelchair.

While we are at it, Avatar leads us to the following conclusion: a gazillion years into the future, America still does not have universal healthcare. In fact, a soldier injured during battle will have to bargain to receive medical treatment that would effectively undo the wound.

On to the 10-foot Smurfs and their planet. The giant Smurfs speak English. Randomly. Even though they despise humans. The giant Smurfs are also a hybrid of Native Indians and African tribes. No, really. They dress like Pocahontas, but they sing like the cast of Lion King (no, I didn't mean Elton John).

Everything, and I mean everything on Pandora is a stretched out, more dreamy version of Earth, past or present. No strange silicon-based life forms à la X-Files here (Firewalker, Season 2). All animals are variants of those from the Jurassic period. All plant life resembles what you would see if you went deep sea diving. Or took a walk through a rainforest. Everything is green, blue, pink and purple. I have seen more imaginative ideas on what alien life (good or evil) would seem like in '80s Japanese anime than I did through the entire run time of Avatar.

Dances with Wolves, this (sadly) is not. Unfortunately, Avatar also doesn't come up to the standard set by Cameron in classics such as Aliens or Terminator (yes, I am ignoring the bubblegum Titanic on purpose).

If James Cameron insists on making films like Titanic and Avatar henceforth, here's hoping that the next one takes 22 years in the making.


Should have posted this last month, but better late than never.

This was late at night in early December - I think the second day it started to snow.























One the way to bus halt...and yeah, unlike those who were whimpering in England and staying cooped up inside because of 5 cm of snow, this kind of weather didn't keep any of us indoors!



























Then there was the squirrel who was completely oblivious to the snow, the wind and my camera!

(the dark brown blob is a squirrel)




I was first introduced to him when I was in Class 6.

Once a week during one of the double English lessons, Mr. Marshall did something fun with us. During the latter part of Class 6, he started reading a specific book to us. And with that book, I was entranced. I didn't know what magical realism was at the time; for me, it was as if someone had written a book from the land of manga and anime that I loved so much.

But the school year finished before the reading lessons did, and I was determined to find out how the story ended (I didn't remember what the book was called at this point). So as Class 7 rolled out and a new English teacher rolled in, I walked up to Mr. Marshall during recess, and asked him if I could borrow the book he used to read to us. I must admit that I wasn't quite prepared for the ensuing question.

Would my parents mind my reading such an author, Mr. Marshall wanted to know. Parents?? I was so confused, but I very confidently assured him that my parents had no objections whatsoever in my expanding my horizons by reading. Not quite convinced (I'm sure), Mr.Marshall lent me the book anyway, after much pestering by me.

The book? Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The author? Salman Rushdie.

That was the first Salman Rushdie book I read, and it got me hooked for life.

Before I write about how I read each of his books, I'd like to say a little something about his writing. Salman Rushdie's writing is funny. As in, laugh-out-loud-that-was- so-funny funny. Also, funny as in that-was-so-brilliantly-sarcastic funny. The humour and witticisms go hand in hand, and he is a very lively author. You are never bored. There is always magic and mystery and surrealism and you get sucked into it and it just seems so natural. He makes the incred
ible believable. I'm not saying anything much about the individual stories, because hopefully, someone else who reads this blog will read his books so I don't want to give anything away.

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

Haroun and the Sea of Stories was the first book Rushdie wrote after he went into hiding. On the face of it, it reads like a light hearted children's story, but there is so much more to it than that, and, in today's political context in Sri Lanka, perhaps a very apt book to read. To be very honest though, what got me hooked on it was the magic, and how effortlessly Rushdie weaved it into the story. The reader became Haroun, and the journey to the sea of stories is one journey that you'll never forget.

After reading the book, I asked my father who Salman Rushdie was. And he very patiently told me. That was when I realized that there was a depth to the story that I had not even begun to comprehend on the first reading. I was determined to read The Satanic Verses after that.

A good 8 years later, my parents asked me what I wanted from London. My request? The Satanic Verses. And they bought it for me. That was the firs
t Salman Rushdie book I owned. My aunt was so horrified that I would read such a book that she tore a page off a calendar and made a cover for the book so that no one could see the title!

The Satanic Verses will remain, I'm sure, my favourite Rushdie novel. It starts with two men falling out of a plane, mid-air, singing an old Hindi film song. And it only gets better from there.

I have read it countless number of times, and each time, I find something new. And, at least for me, I end up questioning what I believed to be true from the previous reading. There is religion, there is the question of faith (not just religious), there is the question of good versus evil and the bonds of friendship and that of love, politics, racism...and one brilliantly written story. A political education later, I was also able to see the critique of Thatcherism that I had missed earlier on.

But you don't need to know any history or any deep rooted knowledge of Islam or England or Iran or India to appreciate the book. There is a story at the centre of it, and a deeply compelling one at that. And a style of writing that, in my opinion, is sheer brilliance.

The next book I owned was Haroun and the Sea of Stories. My aunt wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her. I didn't expect her to find it, but she did. My adult reading of the book did not diminish any of the charm the book held for me as a kid. I still loved it. I could see the undertones of the book, and I appreciated how Rushdie kept the essence of the story intact. A book I would recommend to anyone!

The Moor's Last Sigh was a birthday gift. My number two Salman Rushdie book. I love everything about the book! It is, in my opinion, a simpler read than The Satanic Verses, but just as rich. I loved the story, and perhaps cursory knowledge of the Indian political landscape made the book even more interesting. I think I began to appreciate his writing style more though, in this book. It is a regular on my night stand, and will remain a firm favourite!

Midnight's Children was the first Salman Rushdie book I spent my own money purchasing, and it was the one book that disappointed me. I know, I know, it won the Booker Prize, and the B
ooker of Bookers as well, but still, it didn't live up to my expectations. I liked it, as a book. I didn't like it so much, as a Salman Rushdie book. Don't ask me why - I am still not sure.

I next rushed out to buy Shalimar the Clown, and I think it is the only book I have ever bought as soon as it was released. Shorter than his earlier books, nevertheless a good read. Somewhere early on in the book, there is this quote:

"Always do something impossible right at the beginning of the show. Swallow a sword, tie yourself in a knot, defy gravity. Do what the audience knows it could never do no matter how hard it tries. After that you'll have them eating out of your hand."

This book does exactly that.

I liked it infinitely more compared to Midnight's Children. The ending...not my favourite, but I guess there was no other way the story could have ended. The richness of language should be enough to make you read the book.

The next book I read was borrowed from a friend. The Ground Beneath Her Feet, in my opinion, is the heaviest of his books, in terms of writing, story...everything. I loved the book, but it is a bit heavy. Excellent read, in small doses.

Within a rather short gap, I picked up Grimus at the Colombo Book Fair. Salman Rushdie's first book, and not much acclaim for it, but I liked it. I actually liked it far more than the award-laden Midnight's Children. It is nothing like his other books, and resembles Lost more than it does any thing I've ever read, but I like it.


The latest book I get to call my own is The Enchantress of Florence (the best
Christmas gift ever! You know who you are, and thank you so much). It seemed much smaller than most of his other books, but was deceptively longer. Unlike Salman Rushdie's other books, the entire story takes place in time periods different to ours, and he removes England and introduces Florence as part of the scenery. Emperor Akbar, Machiavelli and the Medicis all make an appearance.

Much like The Satanic Verses, religion plays a big role here, and there is a particular line in the book which would get another fatwa issued to him, if the fanatics ever bothered actually reading his books. There is hardly a female character worth her salt in this book despite the queens, concubines and prostitutes that walk through its pages. But Rushdie does not disappoint, and I am already looking forward to rereading this wonderful book.

I hope Salman Rushdie keeps on writing, because I for one am a fan for life.

*The title of this post is from a phrase used by a critic when reviewing one of Salman Rushdie's books. I forget the critic and the book - all I know is that it is not an original phrase from me, but it describes this author best so I have decided to use it.

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

I shall end with one of my favourite quotes, out of Shalimar the Clown. It has no relevance at the end of this post, and I know that he has better quotes, but I love this because it is so sarcastic, so well said and so true.

"This tiny landlocked valley with barely five million people to its name wanted to control its own fate. Where did that kind of thinking get you? If Kashmir, why not Assam for the Assamese, Nagaland for the Nagas?
And why stop there? Why shouldn't towns or villages declare independence, or city streets, or even individual houses?
Why not demand freedom for one's bedroom, or call one's toilet a republic?
Why not stand still and draw a circle round your feet and name that Selfistan?"

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