Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A brief tribute to Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Anyone who played table-tennis with Sir Arthur C. Clarke at the Otters sports club will remember him to be a bit grumpy whenever he lost. But as far as I know that was the only flaw in this genius of a man. His contribution to futuristic theories and science fiction has been phenomenal. While “2001: A Space Odyssey” has been one of his most popular works, I especially enjoyed “Childhood's End", "The Fountains of Paradise", “Richter 10”, “The Hammer of God”, and the Rama series. He somehow manages to inject humanity and consciousness as well as technology into his stories. As a Sri Lankan, I have been honored that he adopted my country to settle down in.

In one of his famous quotes he said "The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion". But I don’t believe he would have minded me saying “May he attain Nibbana”!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sorry Machan

They say every individual is different and cannot (or should not) be stereotyped. But I disagree and think as Sri Lankans, we clearly show certain “qualities” that give us that unique signature style. Now… I’m not taking about these new age, culturally merged, fast-food bellied, coffee shop loving, lets-do-lunch type Lankans. They have a totally separate set of habits – which I don’t intend to go into on this article. I’m talking about the original, full-blooded Sri Lankan you find at the Sunday Pola*1 or on a typical “Private Bus”*2.

We smile at everything; when we are happy, when we make a mistake, when we are stressed out, even when we are constipated (that comes from my friend who admitted that smiling helps very much… go figure!). Heck, we see some lunatic driving straight at you the wrong way on a one-way street. He will stop right in front of your vehicle and give you the best smile he can muster - somewhere in that smile are an apology and a request for you to make way for him. Of course being a Sri Lankan you would know that.

We overuse words like sorry, aunty (or uncle)*3, sir, and machan*4. Very frequently using them more than once in the same sentence. For example, it is not uncommon for us to say “Machan, sorry machan”.

We have an opinion on just about everything. From running the country to the selection of the national cricket team, we believe we can do better than whoever is in control.

The concept of doing something on time is mostly limited to a few auspicious events during traditional New Year’s celebrations. Being late for something is no big deal for us. It is common for someone to not turn up for an appointment and not even apologize for it when they finally do meet. The strange thing is that the other party will be fine with this –they won’t even expect an explanation.

Sri Lankans are touchy-feely type of people. When friends meet they tend to hold each other’s hands throughout the entire conversation (especially if you bump into a friend of the same sex on the road). Most non-Sri Lankans will put a homosexual connotation to this behavior – but we know better.

Just try paying the bill after you’ve just had a meal in a nice restaurant with several of your Sri Lankan friends. Every single person at the table will want to pay that bill, regardless of who is hosting the meal or the amount of the bill. They won’t even hear of sharing! In such instances, I just give up – after all, it is nice to go back home with some money still left in my wallet for a change.

I’m sure the list goes on and on. Some of these habits can certainly be annoying,.. but then again that is who we are. Remember, we could do a lot worse.

*1 - Pola is a traditional Sunday roadside market where prices are negotiable and bargains are plentiful.
*2 - Buses in Sri Lanka are clearly categorized into Government (or Public) owned and Private owned. These privately owned buses (known as "Private Buses") are everywhere and easily outnumbers Government owned buses by at least a ratio of 3 to 1.
*3 - Sri Lankans use the word Aunty and Uncle to address or refer to almost anyone who is older than themselves in appearance. This includes total strangers they happen to meet on the road.
*4 - Machan is a very versatile word. Although the true meaning of it is "brother-in-law" most Sri Lankan males use this word as an Australian would use the word "mate"; to convey camaraderie. Occasionally females also use the word to convey the same meaning.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What's in a name?

We are trying to name our newborn baby girl. It appears that the most appropriate letter to start with is "J"; Ideally "Ja". I prefer a name that is not very common and with some nice meaning to it. Anyone got any ideas?

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's a Girl!

On 5th early morning we were blessed with a little angel of a baby girl. Keeping with tradition we will be naming her according to her time of birth. I hope people out there, especially Sri Lankans, will be able to help me choose some names. Watch this space for details.

Monday, March 3, 2008


If you were a kid like me growing up in 1980’s you would undoubtedly recall the TV series “Knight Rider” and “KITT”. Back then we thought it was the best TV program and of course the coolest car ever! I even recall people fixing the signature “moving red light” onto the hood of their vehicles to give it that KITT look. It didn’t matter what their vehicles were; cars, vans, lorries, trishaws, and even the good ‘ol push-bikes.

Well, guess what? Knight Rider is back, but without David Hasselhoff (thank God for that). It is supposed to be a new made-for-TV movie. The best part is it has got even a cooler KITT – a still-to-be-released Black Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The word is, it has got a supercomputer that can hack into almost any system, an even better weapons system than it’s predecessor (guess the flamethrower is still in then), AI,… and get this – it has nanotechnology giving it the ability to shape-shift. WOW! It is the best car ever!

I’m sure I got you all interested in it now. So check it out.