Saturday, February 28, 2009


Going through some fairly stressful times at work and the weekends have been pretty hectic too. Went off on five trips on successive weekends and that has left me with even more stress. I enjoyed myself thoroughly but the after effects were the problem.

I'm not sure how other people feel but I need space, I need time for myself. I need to read a little, I need to reflect, I need to think. I also like to take little naps in the afternoon and that seems to help my system as well.

When I don't get my dose of space I start feeling more and more frazzled.

I've sort of managed to salvage something from this Saturday, could not get much reading done but at least I slept for a while. Now plotting on how to extract the maximum from tomorrow, have a practice in the morning, gym in the afternoon....aargh its beginning to sound all too stressful again.......

Peter, Paul & Mary

Just stumbled on these guys, purely by accident. Nice sixties music. Just try:

Early In the Morning

If I had a Hammer

The Marvelous Toy

I had heard a couple of the songs before but never knew who sang them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Martian view

Just imagine that a friendly Martian landed on these shores. Imagine also that the Martian, finding himself on a populated land, decides to find out about the inhabitants through their own media, the Lonely Planet not quite reaching Mars.

He would quickly discover that the state media are the sole arbiters of the truth and, not wanting to be misled, concentrates entirely on them. He finds out that there is a war in progress and eagerly scans the press for details. Martian's being a warlike people are quite familiar with war, but this war baffles him.

It is the most beautiful war.

A war with no reversals.

A war with no casualties.

A war of territory but not of people

A war where no innocents die.

A war with no cost.

A war that would make the Martian equivalent of Charles Dodgson proud.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It was only to be expected. The Great White Hope of the stockbrokers and punters has turned out to have feet of clay. As predicted by yours truly after the release of the third quarter results (results to Sept '08), Dialog has made a loss for the full year 2008.

The reason?

With only a cursory glance at the results I'm guessing that there is one reason: the Dialog Blaster package. This has probably cannibalised the entire customer base. I have a pretty low regard for marketing staff and indeed for the intellect of people working within the corporate sector; most can't think straight but this takes the cake.

You launch a package that is designed to save perhaps a 100,000 customers switching from Dialog to Mobitel's Upahara, but inadvertently give a discount to 2.9m of your paying customers (I take Dialog's published subscriber numbers with a sack of salt, they say have 5m but the paying active base is probably closer to 3m I reckon).

The fun is only just beginning, because Upahara has also wrought havoc amongst the SLT base, although it may have brought some marginal benefit to Mobitel. Things are probably pretty bad there, which is why their results are late, the accountants will probably be working overtime to make the best of the bad news.

And as for the future, my personal bet on the Dialog share price is Rs.2, once the foreigners start to sell but there is no telling where a floor will emerge once that starts to happen. Keep a lookout for stockbrokers and their clients jumping out of top floor windows in the WTC.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I just realised something.

In the mind of man, there is a little space reserved for a god. I have gone into the subject of my beliefs, or lack thereof, elsewhere but something made me realise, that deep down, in this ape known as homo sapiens there lies this little space.

It need not necessarily be occupied by the gods of organised religion, there may be other worldly things or abstract beliefs that sit in that space. These need not be restricted to one particular thing, depending on the person several things may occupy that space. Its purpose seems to be to sustain the soul and perhaps to give purpose to life.

Now that I have over the years dusted out and largely banished the gods from my mind it was a shock to discover that something else had taken their place. Indeed it is the shock of discovering something that should not be there that brought about this epiphany: a space exists and if not filled with gods, there will be others things that have crept into the space.

In my case it was the awkward discovery that the space for gods now appears to be occupied by a woman. Looking more closely I found that there were more than one, in fact a handful of them seemed to be sitting on the alter, so to speak.

An what lead to that discovery? One of the Goddesses, for that is what they are, almost fell off her perch.

It has dawned on me that I seem to have idolised various women who I have befriened over the years. The ones I respect seem to have been elevated to a position of absolute devotion and to whom offering of various types are made periodically. All these women are known as good friends in the real world, but in the frail human mind they have become Goddesses.

Friendships going back a decade or sometimes two must not be treated lightly but to find them in quite such an elevated stage was rather discomforting.

Man is a social animal and as I have said elsewhere relationships are very important so perhaps this is not as unusual as I first thought.

Either way, search within, for one may be surprised by what drives and sustains one.

Friday, February 20, 2009


The Liberation Tigers finally succeeded in living upto their name when they unwittingly liberated many thousands of Innocent taxpayers from the tyranny of the dreaded Department of Inland Revenue.

A loud explosion was reportedly heard and a fire had broken out in the building. Helpful bystanders and jubilant citizens have reportedly gathered to form a bucket chain from the nearby petrol shed to add as much fuel as possible to the flames.

The petrol shed was reportedly issuing the fuel at a discount and citizens from all walks of life, both sexes and many different races were seen piling into the melee in a spirit of cameraderie not seen since the London Blitz...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The essence of a relationship

There are three factors on which a lasting relationship may be built.

1. Respect
2. Trust
3. Communication

Respect is necessary because people rarely change. Over time they do change, as they age, but such change takes a very long time and is never predictable. Some are more amenable to change, others less so and in certain fundamental ways people never change.

What is therefore necessary is acceptance. We must be prepared to accept them for what they are and acceptance without respect is impossible except in the short-term. People have good and bad qualities, likable and annoying traits, in order to suffer the worst aspects of our fellow human beings we need to be sustained by their better qualities.

Respect is key, lose respect and the relationship is over.

Trust is necessary because every relationship involves exchange. Where there is no trust one can only have a transaction, where each party is looking to ensure that they get at least as much as they give. A series of transactions do not make a relationship. A relationship involves giving unconditionally in the expectation that that this will someday be repaid in kind. In all sustaining relationships it is.

This is trust at a fundamental level. The petty matters like women who check their boyfriends email and men who dig into their girlfriends mobile phones and such distressing behaviour involves trust, but at a more mundane level. It matters in that to any reasonable person a lack of respect for personal privacy will bring about feelings of intense irritation and will doom a relationship well before any serious stresses are placed on it.

Communication is necessary because relationships will invariably have its problems. When faced with a problem the people involved need to talk it over and resolve the matter if the relationship is to prosper.

These principles are true of any relationship, be it personal or business.

Man is a social animal. It is through cooperation that individual tribes and eventually mankind as a whole triumphed over much more powerful beings in the animal kingdom and these are the elements of cooperation.

It does not surprise me that many marriages end in divorce, so much so that I am told that wedding photographers in Sri Lanka ask for full payment in advance, fearing that the marriage may end before the photographs are delivered.

A good many people that I know seem to be incredibly naive about the whole thing. I have met women who seem to view marriage as an extension of playing 'house'. Marriage is much much else besides and I'm fond of quoting Jared Diamond on this (and he quotes from Tolstoy): “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Diamond explains that by that sentence, Tolstoy meant that, in order to be happy, a marriage must succeed in many different respects: sexual attraction, agreement about money, child discipline, religion, in-laws, and other vital issues. Failure in any one of those essential respects can doom a marriage even if it has all the other ingredients needed for happiness.

It is also about the sharing of personal space as anyone who has been on an extended holiday with a friend can testify. Sharing room with someone who is more messy or does things differently can be incredibly trying: wet sheets on the bed, sand on the floor, toothpaste squeezed the wrong way, to sleep with a fan or without one, with a mosquito net or without; seemingly mundane, unimportant things that have ruined friendships and I'm sure a marriage or two. Too small to talk over and agree upon, too difficult to ignore.

This is where background comes into play. There is term, for it but it escapes me now, I thought it was endrogyny, the seeking of similar traits. Presumably people with similar backgrounds will share similar values, tastes and expectations. There is an automatic, unconscious trait that supposedly draws people to others like themselves and which is where an arranged marriage can be of some use.

I think the English got it right with the presentation ceremony though, whereby suitable boys and girls are allowed to mingle at a series of parties, with mothers and aunts furiously taking note of potentials to be invited to the next party. As one of the elderly ladies at one of these parties is said to have remarked, it doesn't matter if your daughter runs off with someone, as long as she runs off with the right kind of fellow.


Trying something that I have not done before, adding a few pictures. These were taken off my camera phone, turned out better than I expected. They are no great works of art, but by my clumsy standards, fairly good pictures.

Spend the last weekend there, the fifth holiday in as many weeks. I really need a break now:)

Monday, February 16, 2009


My cousin will be migrating to Australia. Not something very new, a lot of people are migrating so one more joining the bandwagon is hardly something to be remarked upon.

From the point of view of the family however it is more significant, there will be almost no one from the younger generation left. My family; Anglicised, Christianised and thoroughly debased in its outlook belongs to a section of the community that is fast disappearing.

The usual method by which such families disappear is by drinking. I've lost a fair share of my Uncle's to alcohol, on both sides of my family. While some of these uncles were married, many (not surprisingly) were not, thus cleaning up the future gene pool. Invariably the drunkards were also gamblers, so what they did not lose drinking they gambled away, thus leaving the families broke as well as neutered.

Now it seems that the few remaining sober members of the family are migrating. The trend started in the 1960's and has continued ever since. I have no immediate family left on my fathers side, and of the 15 first cousins on my mothers side I will be left with just one, after the latest one leaves. Well, perhaps not quite, one other is only 'temporarily' away, her husband has a job in India, but I have a feeling that this will eventually translate to another permanent migrant.

Once out, they never come back. Indeed the one cousin I have left is the only one who ever returned and one is never sure when he will decide to move on.

Perhaps this is how it was meant to be. The colonials left shortly after independence and now their agents, the Brown Sahibs (my maternal grandfather fancied himself as an English country gentleman, with his passion for shooting and fishing and his fascination with the Empire) have all but left, abandoning the land to the native populace.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Was thinking about this and then I saw DC's post.

Was a little upset earlier this week with someone. Hurt, by what I thought as lack of trust. That lead to some resentment. After all the trouble I took, they still can't trust. Felt used.

Resolved to keep away for a while.

Resentment, hurt, anger, irritation, feeling that seem to merge one into the other, were running around my system. Was trying to pin the exact emotions down but it was difficult.

Turned to music, even blogged about music; it helped, but did not draw all the sting.

Never was someone who could remain angry for long, so emotions began to die down a bit after a day. I then decided, to look at the bigger picture. This was only a small matter in the much larger universe. In anycase how deep was this relationship? Why not just sit back, enjoy the company and figure out the issues later?

After all it may have been just a misunderstanding, they did'nt really mean anything

Once one gets on this mode of rationalising and explaining away the problem, the emotions disappear pretty fast. After a while one wonders why anger even arose in the first place.

I have found that if one thinks positively, does not dwell on the issue and above all do not try to investigate further to verify facts, things will ease.

If one tries to deal with the problem by thinking of the issue, to try to understand why, to investigate, to dig deeper the anger will grow and eventually consume oneself.

Anger brings distress, unhappiness. Let it go.

There is no point in seeking the truth, better to forget the problem, rationalise it away.

Sticking my head in the sand? Maybe. Not facing the truth? Possibly? Taken for a sucker ? Maybe.

But who cares? Happiness is more important than the truth and anger is the enemy of happiness. If nothing else this attitude probably makes me easier to get on with and maybe, just maybe, it will reduce my chances of spending the after life in hell....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

This post is about a strange addiction to classical or serious music. I was hooked on it through my uncle, who used to keep records playing in his house all the time. We used to hate it when we were children, but repeated, passive listening (we could not help but hear it when passing) over many years lead to a gradual understanding.

My uncle himself had stumbled upon it in a rather strange way, and that too as an adult. He visited a friend one day and heard something playing on the gramophone and liked it. He would then ask for that particular record to be played whenever he visited.

Once of the pieces that held him spellbound was the Leclair Sonata No. 3, played by David Oistrakh. I am listening to that same piece (played by Szerying) and I realise what must have captured my Uncle's imagination so long ago.

It has been quite a while since I listened to classical music, chiefly because I have limited access to it now and perhaps my new found wonder in what I previously thought was a fairly nice piece may have something to do with a period of absence.

I'm also listening, with growing amazement at the beauty of Szerying's tone. Never quite appreciated the skill of a violinist before, but this has been an eye opener.
Kreisler's Tempo di Menuetto (listen from 3.15 for this piece), which he also plays on the album that I copied which is also nice.

In fact I'm listening to music almost with new ears, yes indeed absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wagnerian or Operatic Rock

This was the term used by a group of musicians who attempted bring in elements of opera, particularly Wagnerian opera into Rock music. They seemed to have been active in the 1980's but it apparently never had much commercial success. Rather a pity because one of the two songs released by Fire Inc. is a classic. Never heard of them? well listen to this.

The recording does not do it justice but that is the best available. Their other song is worth listening to as well.

Of course there were other musicians like Meatloaf and Queen who were influenced by opera, whether they fall into this school I do not know.

These are some of my favourites:

I'd do anything for love

Rock´N´Roll Dreams Come Through

ps. There is another oldie that is rather good, its not operatic rock but the song is good. Albert Hammond's The Free Electric Band

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The demise of cricket, a game played by gentlemen

I have been offered free tickets for a cricket match by a couple of people and I refused, much to their surprise.

I do not follow cricket. In a country where everyone else does, that makes me bit of an oddity. There was a time when I did, sometimes quite passionately, but not anymore. There is something being played on the cricketing field but the game is dead.

Cricket is the quintessential English game. For better or worse it embodied the English class system with its emphasis on the amateur and good gamesmanship. There was a strict code of honour that governed conduct on the field and above all it was a game. Something to played with spirit but with no real emphasis on winning.

When professional players entered the game, the class system was enforced through separate entrances and, if I am not mistaken separate dressing rooms. To this day there are doors marked "Gentlemen" and "Players" at many an ancient cricketing arena.

The scorecard distinguished between the two by the way their names appeared. Amateurs (gentlemen) had their initials precede their surnames whereas with professionals their initials followed the surname. Thus, M.C.Cowdrey and P.B.H.May but Trueman F.S. and Statham J.B. This practice was discontinued in 1962 but not much else changed.

The English took their games with them and cricket took root in the colonies but retained the basic character of the English game. In Ceylon, as presumably everywhere else, school coaches started by emphasizing manners, before anything else was taught. The golden rules were, never show dissent, always obey the umpire, always walk, never claim a dead catch. Contrast that with what happens on the field now.

The game started to die with the introduction of money and the single biggest villain was Kerry Packer. Not unexpectedly he was brash outsider, an Australian businessmen.

He brought money into the game and with it, coloured clothing,day/night matches and much else. When he took his proposals to the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), the body which controlled cricket at the time, the MCC were aghast and he was rightly shown the door. Packer then had the cheek to go and form his own World Series Cricket, signing on the top players of the era; the Daily Mail headline of May 9, 1977 read: "The World's Top Cricketers Turn Pirate"

World Series Cricket lasted only until 1979 but the damage was done and many of the Packer innovations were included in the game. The arrival of first the neutral umpire and then the third umpire were more steps down the slippery slope.

The last nail in the coffin was the launch of the 20/20 IPL league in India earlier this year. Complete with players auctions and dancing girls the playing arena now resembles a circus than the cricket field of old.

What is taking place on the field is not the gentleman's game but professional sport, which is in essence a part of the entertainment industry. Fittingly this takes place in India, home of Bollywood and its extension, the IPL league.

The blurring of the line between field and screen went a step further when several Sri Lankan cricketers starred in a Bollywood film.

Cricket had a pretty good innings, but I think it has now died out almost everywhere. Well, maybe not everywhere. Followers of the old game can still catch glimpses of it at the Cricket Club Cafe where old matches are sometimes aired. One can see scrawny, weedy looking Indians, gangly West Indians and slightly pot-belied Englishmen toiling away under the sun, the shaking of hands when a wicket is taken and a pat on the back when a batsman reaches a century. It all seems so quaint and old fashioned now.

Wisdom of a Trishaw driver

Had to ride in to work in a trishaw since my Dream Machine has been sent in for a bit of a makeover.

As we turned out of our lane the driver we ran into a long line of traffic and the driver exclaimed (in English) "Oh My God". Now I have heard a lot of things from trishaw drivers but never that particular phrase, which was amusing because its seemed so incongruous.

Later on in the drive, whilst dodging more jams he remarked (in Sinhala) on catching sight of the latest election posters: "Yuddhaya hondata Vikunanawa Ne", meaning the war is being well sold. Again not something that I expected to hear.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What if Tamils were given an opportunity?

An opportunity to change their name. Quietly and painlessly to another name of their choice, be it a burgher name, a Muslim name or a Sinhalese name.

Imagine that this would be done with seamless efficiency and all documents, birth, marriage, licenses, ID cards and passports would be quickly issued in the new name. Imagine also that this would enable the Tamils to reclassify themselves as Sinhalese, Burgher or any other race of their choice.

How many would take this up?

I'm just curious to know and this is a serious question, please leave a comment with your views, thanks.