Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Colombo's last Gothamba Rotti cart

This evening when returning home I came across something that I had believed was extinct: a man wheeling a cart selling gothamba rotti.

Piyadasa, making gothamba rottis.

These were a familiar sight years ago, the carts would go by in the evening, 'bell' clanging. The 'bell' was not a real bell but the head of a small mammoty which would be stuck with a small metal rod to make that familiar clanging sound. There would be a sudden shout - "gothamba rotti- does anyone want?" there would be a split-second decision and someone would be sent running out to flag it down.

People would need to be quick, the carts were generally wheeled at quite a fast pace. As children my cousins and brothers would run out looking for the cart. If it had gone past we would sometimes chase it down the road, plate in hand, with someone else running behind with a bowl of eggs-needed to make the egg gothambas.

If caught in time, the owner would turn the cart in the driveway or porch of the house and make whatever rottis the household wanted before moving on.

Sometimes the rotties would be made on the side of the main road, which would attract neighbours and passers-by who would stand around waiting to place their orders. The stove in the cart had a small metal pipe attached into which the owner would blow, whenever the fire died down. As children we would eagerly take turns to keep blowing at the fire.

Although gothamba rotti is available in shops I have always preferred it from a cart, the rotti is is much lighter and crispy. The wood fire adds a distinct aroma to the rotti that gives it a unique flavour not found in ones in the shops.

I had not seen a rotti cart in years, so I stopped immediately and ordered some. Not a lot has changed from what I remember I my childhood although he has added cheese, chocolate and vegetable to the traditional plain and egg gothamba's. I seem to remember that the carts had some kind of brake but Piyadasa has improvised his own.

Piyadasa's improvised brake system

I asked Piyadasa, the owner what happened to all the carts. He says everyone he know has given up, its hard work and people prefer to do other jobs. He thinks that he is probably the last cart that is operating in Colombo.

His day starts in the morning buying ingredients and preparing the dough, which he says takes pretty much the whole day. He then sets off in the evening at about 5pm and will be on the go on until 9pm or 10pm, when he finishes his last order. Then he wheels the cart back, washes it down before going to bed.

He is based in Borella and has a few set routes: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays its Cinnamon Gardens, on the other days it is the area beyond the Borella junction, towards Cotta road. He does have a phone number: so if you can now call him up to find out where he is and try some of his delicious rottis.

I'm staying up writing this because I feel like a stuffed christmas turkey after gorging on gothamba rotti.

Piyadasa : Gothamba Rotti Cart Mobile : 0725-813-455

Friday, April 24, 2015

The BBS is a Western conspiracy

The former president has revealed that the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS), an organisation that claims to fight for the rights of Sri Lanka's Buddhists is in fact a conspiracy hatched by Western powers. It was allegedly launched by the opposition and Western powers to defeat him in the election. It is a pity that the article concerned did not get a response from the BBS spokesman to this charge, it would have been interesting.

The BBS was launched in mid 2011 but the former President called a snap election only in October 2014, two years ahead of schedule. How did those Westerners know when the election would be called?

They must have had amazing prescience, to have launched the BBS a full three years before the actual declaration of the election. The date of the election was known only to the ex-president and his astrologer. Perhaps the Norwegian's were also consulting an astrologer ?

He claims his election campaign was undone by the BBS, but then why did the ex-President, carrying all the power of the presidency fail to heed the appeals of the Muslim community and even his own ministers and do something about the BBS?

The US, one of the countries accused of sponsoring the BBS revoked the visa of  the General Secretary of the organisation Galabodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, which is a lot more than the Government ever did.

The BBS clearly broke the law on many occasions, yet no action was ever taken. He admits that he turned a blind eye to the antics of Mervyn Silva, perhaps he did so as well to the BBS.

The BBS seems to have gone underground after the election, perhaps stricken by the same mysterious forces that affected Mervyn Silva?

Update: The BBS has issued a statement urging the government not to harm Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. They claim that Chandrika Bandaranaike has some designs on Gota, which are at the behest of Western countries. Very confusing, these Western countries, no? One never knows what they are up to.
urge the government not to harm former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa - See more at:
urge the government not to harm former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa - See more at:
urge the government not to harm former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa - See more at:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gold ring worth Rs.1.8m, dropped by an MP in parliament

The Ceylon Today reported that a gold ring worth Rs.1.8m was discovered by an officer of the housekeeping unit when he went to clean the room where a group of MP's had been protesting.

It was returned to the MP, who was so grateful that he offered the ring as a gift to the housekeeper, who reluctantly accepted. The honesty of the housekeeper is commendable, behaviour we hope will be emulated by the august members who actually occupy the chamber.

Returning to the incident at hand, in the first place, what was an MP doing with a ring worth Rs.1.8m? He is clearly a wealthy man, especially since he could afford to offer it as a reward to the person who found it. What are his sources of wealth? has he made the declaration of assets, as required?

We knew that the MP's protesting against the summons issued on the former president were a rotten lot and probably corrupt to the core. If the ring was worth the amount reported the allegation of corruption may be levelled so why not dispel the allegation, follow the example of the housekeeper and go beyond the call of duty by making a public declaration of assets?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Controlling Mervyn Silva; threewheelers and milk powder.

In an interview with the Sunday Leader, Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that he tried to control the notorious Mervyn Silva. This is entirely plausible, Mervyn Silva is a thoroughly bad hat and a public relations disaster. His maverick behaviour would certainly have been at odds with the orderly, controlled world of Mr Rajapaksa.

Yet he did not succeed, at least not entirely. Although the mind boggles at the thought, it is quite possible that without the controlling influence of Mr Rajapaksa Mervyn Silva's behaviour could have been far worse.

If the most powerful man in the country could not control him, we may conclude that Mervyn Silva was beyond any human control.

Yet something very strange has happened.

Since the beginning of this year that uncontrollable character, the man even the feared former  Defence Secretary could not control is as quiet as a mouse. He even filed a complaint exposing fraud and corruption, the act of a model citizen. Have the stars changed ? Or are unseen and inexplicable forces must at play? Otherwise what could have prompted such radical change?

Quite unrelated is the Government's attempt to curb another uncontrolled menace, the three wheelers. The Government says they must be regulated and are talking of amending the Motor Traffic Act and setting up a regulatory body.

Why do they need to look so far?

The first step is to start enforcing the Highway Code and root out the corruption in administering the driving test so that at the very least people getting licenses know the road rules. I never understood this business of cheating at the written exam of a driving test. The rules and signs are simple and things we have been taught from school, why does anyone need to cheat?

The retail price of milk powder is set by the Government, the Sunday Times wonders why prices have not fallen, despite a 43% decline in world market prices. What is interesting here is the level of tax: working from the figures quoted in the article Government taxes amount to at least 55% of the raw cost of milk. Apart from the tax, the article explains the reasons for the stickiness in prices:

"price-regulation that is wildly disproportionate to the highs and lows of the international market. “The prices are controlled by the Government in order to prevent excessive volatility affecting consumers,” said Deshal de Mel, economist".

“When prices increase significantly, the companies have to take a hit,” he explained. “On the flip side, when prices are dropping, you need to compensate the companies by allowing them to make some profit which, at such a time, would be at the expense of the consumer.”
This would be a good time to remove the price control on milk powder, there is probably room for prices to fall and if companies are certain that they will not be forced to sell at losses if prices rise they should be quite willing to cut prices.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why nations must remember

"A tombstone is a memory made concrete. Human memory is the ladder on which a country and a people advance. We must remember not only the good things, but also the bad, the bright spots but also the darkness. The authorities in a totalitarian system strive to conceal their faults, and extol their merits, gloss over their errors and forcibly eradicate all memory of man-made calamity, darkness and evil. For that reason, the Chinese are prone to historical amnesia imposed by those in power. I erect this tombstone so that people will remember and henceforth, renounce man-made calamity, darkness and evil."

Yang Jisheng, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962

I have just started reading this book, the first Chinese account of Mao's Great Leap Forward. As a member of the Communist Party and a long standing journalist with China's Xinhua news agency he has used his position to collect materials from restricted archives detailing the famine.

Banned in China, the book was published in Hong Kong and has gone through eight editions in its original two-volume Chinese version. This translation is an adapted version of the two-volume Chinese original.

I also think there is a message here that all Sri Lankan's need to reflect on. We have been fed a diet of propaganda over the last decade that has seeped into the subconscious. We need stop and reflect, to start thinking again.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy - Beyond Genocide

Radhika Coomaraswamy has written an excellent piece that should be read and digested by all Tamils, particularly the politicians and the diaspora.

Unfortunately this has been misunderstood by many. Even more thoughtful commentors such as Charles Sarvan  still view the argument from an academic or legal perspective- the very thing that Miss Coomaraswamy argues against.

What is necessary is an assessment of the real ground situation in Sri Lanka, what is happening and what may practically be expected to happen. 

There is a new Government in Sri Lanka which has started to take some positive steps towards Tamil issues. They may be small, but remember that they have only been in office for about 50 days and that they are a rather shakey coalition who are under attack by extremists and elements of the former regime.

The resolution passed by the Northern Proncial Council and similar pressure tactics can be used to by the extremists to undermine and overthrow the new Government.

The recapture of the Sri Lankan state by the extremists will lead to an immediate crackdown on all liberals and harsh repression of all minorities. The extremists are smarting from defeat which they are blaming squarely on the minorities.

If they ever come back to office they will extract a painful vengence from those who helped eject them-particularly the Tamils but also the Muslims and the liberal Sinalese who were associated with this Government.

A return of the extremists will mean:
1. No movement whatsover on any war crimes or any other inquiry. Sri lanka will go the way of Zimbabwe or North Korea rather than submit to an international inquiry.
2. Further suppression to eliminate any future threats, real or imaginary, from the Tamils and minorities .
3. Vengence - which will be coupled with (2) above, in order to extract punishment for ejecting them from office. This can take many different forms, you can let your imagination run on this.

Overall things will be infinitely worse for all Tamils and all minorities.

Why then are they doing stupid things that can see the ejection of a more moderate Government?

In whose interests is this? For the diaspora Tamils, living overseas it may make seem like a fine opportunity to strike. For the Tamils living in Sri Lanka it will be a disaster.

In trying to redeem the dead, they condemn the living.

Remember that it was Prabhakaran who elected MR To power in 2005, by preventing Tamils from voting. The moderates were ejected and extremists installed because it seemed like a good strategy. What a brilliant idea that was.

We saw how that ended up. Ten years later they want to follow the same strategy? Have they learned nothing, absolutely nothing from history?

The new Government has signaled good intent and taken steps in the right direction. They have shown willingness to engage so by all means engage, but don't rock the boat. Give them some space to manoeuvre.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rethinking logic: The mysterious world of Dayan Jayetilleka

Dayan Jayetilleka, erstwhile diplomat and academic has lately been engaged penning paeans to the former regime. This has drawn in criticism from a number of sources which he has responded to.

In his latest response he is tying himself in knots trying to find reasons to discredit his critics. His arguments are fundamentally flawed but he cleverly throws together unrelated facts to draw empathy from Mahinda's supporters while confusing others.

Let's try to look at what his has said here.

He claims that none of his critics wrote a full length article against either the LTTE or Wjieweera and attempts to claim the moral high ground on the basis that he did. Of what relevance is this?

If his critics were supporters of the LTTE then their opposition to MR may be viewed as mere carping by supporters of a defeated foe. Is this the case? Does the fact that none wrote against the LTTE immediately turn them into supporters of the movement? Even if they were supporters of the LTTE, does that fact automatically invalidate any arguments being raised now?

It does not, but this seems to be his reasoning.

Going on in the same vein, a piece espousing the military defeat of the LTTE, in support of the military or opposing Western attempts to stop the war by the critics of DJ would absolve them of their sins. Naturally, DJ having done both claims the high ground.

Is this valid? Why should the military solution be the foregone conclusion, the only solution? In the final months it may have appeared to be so, but could the war have ended earlier with a similar final outcome if a surrender had been arranged? This is only speculation but until we realise the full cost we are not in a position to weigh the balance.

DJ however, firm in his convictions and blind in his belief has all the answers on justice, legality and morality.

He confesses that power and the state must be placed above rights and Governance. That to my mind is the essence of fascism and its cousin communism as espoused by DJ's models from Mao to Stalin and his latter day reincarnation Putin, whose centralisation of power in Russia has come for much praise from DJ.

Stalin and Mao, strong, charismatic leaders are appealing subjects for study by students in distant lands. For the unfortunate populace who perished by the millions under these monsters things were not quite so appealing and we'd rather not have our own Big Chief back, thank you very much.

Notions of power and sovereignty are important only to rulers, what matters to their subjects is justice and governance.