Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MR or SF?

Are there any policy statements issued by Sri Lankan presidential candidates? Or is that a stupid question to ask?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Have you seen any good bumper-stickers lately? Here are a few that caught my eye.

This was inspired by a post by Cerno and the subsequent comment thread.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to clean fogged out Headlights


That's it.

If your automobile's headlights are discoloured or fogged-out, wash and dry them thoroughly and polish them with Brasso. I tried this out on my car and it worked wonders. I know some car detailing joints who will charge approximately Rs. 3k per headlight for this closely guarded secret. Now you know better.

Here's the fine print; it is always prudent to try it out on a little area of the headlight - just in case for some reason your headlights react differently to this stuff. And of course, try it at your own risk :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Don’t get too excited just yet. I have not suddenly morphed into a sensitive type who can just as easily share his feelings for hours and hours over a cup of cappuccino. I am still the thick-skinned, logical, uncomplicated, black-and-white-type you knew for the past so many years.

But recently I was tagged by someone who I think has a complete opposite personality to mine – at least from what I can make out from her blog. It was all about what our own interpretation of what love is. In my opinion, love is…

My wife tolerating my devil’s-advocate attitude to just about anything.

Discovering a “hope you enjoyed” note from our eight year old when we come back from our infrequent night-outs.

My daughters giving me hugs without having to ask for them.

....I think you get the general idea. It’s been a long time since I got tagged on this subject. Therefore I will not re-tag anyone else.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Information overload

I was driving home from work after a particularly hectic Monday when my mind started wondering; not very healthy especially when you are supposed to concentrate on your driving when all around you there is this complete chaos that is known as Colombo Traffic. Incidentally, driving to and back from work seems to be the only time I get to relax and set my mind free these day. You'll know what I am talking about if you too had a 16 month toddler darting around the house and trying to eat out of the garbage can the moment you take your eyes off her.


My mind was wondering... What's on Telly tonight? When will I ever get hold of HG2G? What happened to that Japanese Restaurant near Koswatte Junction? Which political party is Ranil in now? When will be the next T20 match that Sri Lanka plays in?...

While mulling over all those unanswered questions, I just happened to notice the sheer number of billboards that are on either side of the road. My God, it seems like just about every property had put up signs that seem to scream out for attention. Suddenly I found myself playing the spot-the-building-without-a-signboard game. And I was losing hopelessly. Can just about anyone put up a billboard? Don't they need approval from the local council or something? Something is seriously wrong somewhere. My relaxing drive home was not so relaxing anymore. I needed a break.

Just about then I realized my wallet had a mere 150 rupees of cash left in it. Few years back it would have bought me a good 2 litres of quality ice cream, but these days I'd be lucky to get a few "wadais" in exchange for that cash. So I decided to stop at the ATM that was 200 meters further up the road. Usually I hate to stop before I get to my destination, but this time I was glad to take a break from the unsolicited information overload I was getting from all those screaming billboards.
Ah, there is the ATM - and no queue either. I got down from the car and went straight into the enclosure. I took one look at the stickers pasted on the face of the ATM and exhaled with a long sigh.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would want to paste two stickers, virtually identical information on both, next to each other. Can you?

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I love the fact that mobile phones these days give you pretty good ability to catch candid moments. Take this one for example...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

That tagging game

I think the Drummer started it all. I received the tag from Santhoshi. It's all about expressing your feelings on the recent events in Sri Lanka. Five words should describe it all. So here goes,...


I've been so late this time, I cannot think of many bloggers who haven't been tagged so far on this. But I will try my luck with Sujeewa, Dilan, Kokila, Charith and Seshi.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's hot and what's not!

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not into fashion. For instance, among other garments, I have 3 light blue shirts and three black trousers in my wardrobe - often cause for confusion in situations I ask my wife “can you iron my light-blue shirt for tomorrow dear?”. I am someone who likes to stick with what I know and rarely experiment or try out the “in-thing”. But I believe that even I know a fashion-disaster when I see one. Now you may or may not agree with me, but I would like to put it out there and see what others think. So here is a list of what I think are fashion “no-nos” just like what Hulk-Hogan is to WWF.

Brown shoes or belt with black or blue dress pants
White shoes with dark pants (unless you are umpiring a day-night cricket match)
White socks with dark pants (unless your name happens to be Michael Jackson – even then it is not fashionable anymore)
T-shirt with dress pants
White pants or white dress shoes (unless you are a pimp)
Wireless mobile headsets worn in public – especially when not on a call (So far I haven’t seen women indulging in this)
Loosened neckties (I see this often at after-office gatherings - why not remove it altogether?)

Too much makeup
Ridiculously high heels
Tiger/leopard skin look-alike designs on garments
Straitened hair (still passable but might no longer be by the time I push the “post” button)

Shades worn on the forehead
Shades worn indoors (unless you have a medical condition)

I am certain I have missed out some. So have a go at it….

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elephants, Trishaws and the Tropics

What I love about this part of the world is that you witness something different every time you step on to the road. It is never boring. Of course you have some people who always complain about the traffic situation, indiscipline on the road and such. I too occasionally have been guilty of doing it. But those come as part and parcel of living in this part of the world.

Take yesterday morning for instance; I was driving to work as usual when I happened to see a huge elephant - a magnificent tusker at that - calmly strolling down the main road. A couple of keepers (AKA mahouts) were walking along with the huge mammal. Trishaw drivers were weaving around them like it was just another 'private bus' cruising slowly looking to pickup that extra passenger. I noticed a few school children pointing at the animal and talking to each other in a rather excited manner. And of course a couple of stray dogs barking at the top of their voices protesting this gross violation of their territory.

I pulled to the side briefly and captured the moment on my phone cam. The entourage passed me by on the other side of the road within the next few seconds. I put my car in gear and headed back into a light traffic. In the background something was being discussed about the IPL on my favorite morning show over the car radio.

Yes, a typical Monday morning on Colombo roads.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Entrepreneurship... Or is it?

Much has been written about this over the years in Sri Lanka. So called ‘International’ schools that are popping up faster than you could say 'sahodaraya' at a JVP rally. Are there any standards? Can any Tom, Dick or Perera open up a tuition class and call it an International school? Surely not? You would think so wouldn’t you?

Well, the truth is they can. And that is exactly what they do. We Sri Lankans are experts in copying. If they guy next door opens a little grocery store, it is guaranteed that another moron will do the same a few houses down the street very soon.

Last Wednesday morning I was driving along the narrow back lane off Kotta road (in Borella) – I think it was called Gothami Road. By the time I travelled from the Kotta road turn-off to the P.Sara stadium (maybe a maximum of 300 meters in distance), I came across 4 fishmongers (y’know the guys who sell fish from a box on the back of their bicycles?) – do they ever have enough sales to go around? I wonder…

Why is this so?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mobile phone

I need want to replace my well used Sony-Ericssons P1i. I have no clue as to what make/model to go for. But I know I need following functionality...

1) Reliable (bug free) features (clear phone calls, one touch speaker phone, keypad lock, calendar/scheduling and phonebook with outlook sync, alarm, 3MP or greater camera, radio)
2) Light-weight and perhaps not too large either; need to fit into a trouser pocket fairly discretely.
3) Preferable if touch screen (but then it must reliable and accurate)
4) Long battery life.
5) Good for heavy use.
6) Not insanely expensive.

Other ideal features to have would be the ability to repel water, resistant to people sitting on it and voice recognition software where I can compose and send sms purely via voice (without having to touch the keypad).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

[Learning to] Play the guitar

I’ve always been a sucker for guitar music and have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. But the problem is that I am sooooo not ambidextrous. I once read somewhere that you can ‘train’ your left hand (or your right hand if you are left handed) to do things better by using it to write a paragraph a day. Must try that one out.

I tried to self-learn how to play the guitar once but that didn’t go very far. I guess self-learning (unless held at gunpoint) is not really my thing. Now I am looking to go for some classes – if I don’t do it now I never will.

Friday, April 17, 2009

When I was young...

Back in the day, I used to say to myself 'Here we go again' whenever my father started a sentence with 'When I was young...'. Having said that, I'm going to do just that.

In my younger days, fireworks were really fun. And above all, dependable. When we pulled out a sky-rocket from its bundle, we knew it was going to threaten low-flying aircrafts. They had strong tails and took off as straight as an arrow high into the night sky. And anything that was supposed to go 'Bang', did. The sound would have caused the neighbors to call the ol' bomb squad if we were to light one up during off-season. The 'Chakra' burnt and rotated in all it's glory for at least two minutes.

I am quite disappointed with the sorry state of the fireworks on sale these days. Every time I light one up, I feel like a participant who is just about the spin the wheel-of-fortune. It is quite common to find sky-rockets that won't fly or out of the ones that do, they wouldn't explode with a thunderous bang that would give your grandma a heart attack. The 'Charkras' and 'Nilas' often won't last longer than it would take you to say "what next".

But it still pleases me to see the sparkles in my kids eyes every time I light fireworks. I just hope they will somehow become better as time passes by.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bowled out!

I had a horrible time at ten-pin bowling the other night. Ended up with a miserable score of 89. Six months ago I was consistently scoring 180s and even touching on 200 on some occasions. What happened? Yes, I've not been visiting the bowling alley as frequently as I used to, but 89? I even scored more than that the very first time I picked up a bowling ball.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kennel Hunt

We were thinking of going away for a few days, what with the long weekend and all. We wanted to get away from it all and live a minimalistic life (at least for a few days). What better place than visiting our relatives living in a village off Kandy. They’ve always been telling us to come stay for a while – we thought it just might be the right time to take them up on the offer.

We had six days of holidays coming thanks to Poya, the weekend, Avrudu and also a complimentary day off from my employer. We were feeling all happy inside until we remembered Matisse (my 4 year old Golden Retriever). Usually when we take a vacation, my immediate relatives help out in looking after Matisse – but this time they were all away too. Now what?

Although I hated the idea, I knew there’s not much else I could to except for putting up Matisse at Kennel. We were all too aware of the perils of using kennel services. We have once used such a service; that was a different time and a different place – and that was when we had a cat called Ginger. Yes, we had a cat once. I hated that pompous SoB. Anyway, somewhat reluctantly, our kennel hunt began in earnest.

I got some leads from some friends. That evening I did the rounds, checking out these places. First place I went to had the kennels on the 3rd floor of their building – that was a no no! Next place had cages which were far too small for any large breed – did I mention Matisse was a 4 year old Golden Retriever? Well, two down two to go! The third place had a service picking up the dog and dropping it off too – wonderful, but I didn’t like the look of the guy who was looking after the kennels – he resembled a shady alleyway drug dealer you’d see on movies. I was quite dejected by the time I was looking for the last address on my notepad. To make matters worse it was drizzling and getting quite late.

I pulled up to a fairly large house with a extra large garden. Was I mistaken? Surely this cannot be a kennel? Just then the barking started. It was easily the sounds of more than three dogs. Either I was at the right place or I was in trouble. A middle aged lady answered the door and soon she, her husband and I were sharing stories that dog-people tend to share. We hit it off straight away; I knew this was the right place. After half an hour, I left there feeling happy and somewhat relieved too.

I hoped Matisse wouldn’t be too unhappy with this temporary arrangement.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Caramel Popcorn

For a few weeks now my missus was looking for this Julius Caesar DVD; She wanted it for a teaching assignment. She had been looking for it in all kinds of DVD stores (and there are many kind too) but in vain. Finally she had heard it might be available at Majestic City.

Like many typical Sri Lankan blokes, I am not the kind who likes shopping – or even be seen at any shopping centre. But then again I wanted to check out a webcam, so I finally agreed to accompany her to MC. My 8 year old who happened to acquire superhuman hearing at that very moment jumped in joy. “Wow, caramel popcorn!”. Y’see, the last time I was at MC (which was a good 7 months back), I bought her a bag of caramel popcorn from that basement outlet near the food court. They were fresh from the popping pan – hot and crispy.

We reached the underground car park around 5pm on Sunday – mercifully there were hardly any traffic. There were plenty of parking spaces too... hmmm… odd! By this time my 8 year old was getting very impatient – so I got her the popcorn immediately – 30 bucks a bag, not a bad deal – it was quite tasty. Then we all went upstairs and into this DVD corner-shop. The very mention of old Julius brought a blank expression to the poor shop-girl’s face. So we moved on. I spotted a fancy DVD shop to my right and swiftly moved in – Julius Caesar? Sure miss, we have the one with Charlton Heston. After a quick play on their in-shop player, we purchased it. By this time, shops were closing all around us. My webcam hunt would have to wait for another day.

As we were descending the stairs down to the car park, I experienced a tug at my t-shirt, “Can I have another Thaththi?”. Gosh, she had already gone through the whole bag. So I spent another 30 bucks – one for the road I guess!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are we related?

What would you do if you find out that you are related to Obama? Especially if you are Bin Laden? Think about it. Kinda funny isn't it?

I'm sure most people on facebook would have received this message by now (at least I hope they did). It seems that I am related to Obama. How nice!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“King of swing falls for the girls”

That was the headline of an article on cricinfo.com the other day. The article was covering how Wasim Akram (former Pakistani fast bowler) was impressed by the standard at the women's cricket World Cup this year. I thought it was a brilliant headline. So there!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Java Embargo?

It has been a while since I last had to do anything with Java (no, not the coffee nor the island, it's the computer programming language). Recently something on my computer required the latest Java runtime to be downloaded. It even automatically directed me to the Sun website for the required download.

But then to my surprise I saw this flashing on my screen.

Is Sri Lanka an embargoed country for Java?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Flying Grasshopper

It was a particularly humid night at the Mt Lavinia beach resturant. It was a private gathering with a lavish buffet and cocktails. A characteristic 3 person calypso band was playing in the background. The mood was set.

Then came the cocktails. There were several options but the “flying grasshopper” caught my attention. Perhaps it was the curious name, but then again most cocktails do have ‘em. Perhaps it was the fact that I have never tried it before, or maybe just that I was told there was ice-cream in it.

I gladly selected the martini glass filled to the brim with light-bluish liquid called the flying grasshopper. Took once sip and wished to God that I hadn’t. It tasted like the blue coloured listerine mouthwash. I ain’t kidding. For the next hour I was cursing the person who invented this cocktail and the guy or girl who selected it for the event – what were they thinking?

Next time I will stick to Margeritas.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grade four Independence

Picture this.

My seven year old is almost falling asleep on the toilet seat. The time is barely 5.45am. Still pitch dark outside. It was my turn to get her ready for school this morning. She is supposed to leave home by 6.30am.

“Thaththi..” she says,..”I don’t feel so good this morning…”
I know this routine,.. “Ok darling, what did you forget this time?”
She sobs quietly and says,…”Teacher asked us to read up on the National Day,.. but I completely forgot thaaaaththiiii……”.

Did she say “read”? Not “write”?… no problem,.. I can handle this on my own,.. no need to wake the general I thought.

“Ok darling,.. no need to be upset, this is what you do,.. while you are brushing your teeth, try memorising a few sentences”. Sure, I can handle this, no sweat! But in my peripheral vision, I could see her giving me a puzzeled look.

“We celebrate independence day on the 4th of February”
“Independence day marks the end of British rule over Sri Lanka and handing over the control of the country to it’s people” (let’s not go there)
“This year we celebrated the 61st independence day”
“We watched the military parade on the TV on our independence day”
“Our president gave a speech on the independence day”

“Thaththi,.. why does the president have to talk? Band music is much better”.

“That’ll do darling, let’s memorise the first four sentences only”. It was already 6.05am. Chop Chop!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Busy, are we?

I had some visitors over the other day. They are here in Sri Lanka on a holiday (Remember holidays? We used to go on them when we could take some time off from work?). They once lived here in Sri Lanka but now call Austraaaalia (did I get the accent right?) home.

We were catching up and reminiscing over dinner when one of the visitors said, “Hey guys, why don’t we go on a trip to Udawalawe?”. For those who are wondering “WTF?”, Udawalawe is a national wild life sanctuary in the southern region of Sri Lanka and is known for its abundance of wildlife, especially Elephants. Back in the day, a trip to Udawalawe to watch the Elephants and very often get chased by one or two, was a regular event on our annual calendar,.. sometimes even bi-annual.

I thought it was a great idea and immediately started thinking of possible date – especially a weekend. I was thinking “Hmm,.. lets see,.. next Saturday I will have to take R for her fit-on at the dressmaker, Sunday I have to attend P’s wedding,.. how about the following weekend?.. I guess that Saturday too is out as I promised….”

I guess I must have been thinking out loud, as my friend from OZ said, “What’s with you guys (I guess he mean us Sri Lankans, now that he is not one of “us”) these days? So many appointments and shit? Can’t you make a snap decision and take time off from work anymore? I was thinking of going on this trip tomorrow or day after,.. not next weekend”.

He was genuinely puzzled. But here’s the thing,… it never occurred to me that I was being too organized. I always thought of myself to be a spur-of-the-moment kinda guy. Maybe living in Sri Lanka, especially in Colombo, have made me something else?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An afternoon at the game

There were good points and bad.

Papare’ bands were out on force. And they were playing continuously too. Not like at school big-matches where they play for 10 minutes and break for 30. The hot-dogs were excellent and they were being cooked then and there. None of these finger-thin sausages, they were proper mega ones. There was plenty of chilled beer too. Both food and drinks were being brought right to your seats – brilliant.

On the bad side, there was only one brand of beer. And they came only in cans – the men with beer-backpacks were nowhere to be seen. And you were right Dilan, no dancing girls at all. Well, let me rephrase that – no organized dancing girls.

Oh, I almost forgot. As far as the cricket went, we got a real arse whipping hiding from the Indians. We looked like school boys - they were just playing with us.

As they say, a picture can paint a thousand words. So let this one taken from my phone cam sum-up the afternoon for you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

...and of course, the Cricket!

Now that Indian cricket team is touring Sri Lanka, few of us at work thought it might be great to enjoy going to the game as opposed to sitting in front of the Telly. Mind you our intentions are to go to the game; not necessarily watch the game. Of course the first two games were ruled out due to the fact that they will be in Dambulla. Distance has nothing to do with it. Y’see Dhambulla stadium is built on land belonging to a temple (at least that’s the story according to my friend). Hence, no beer, no dancing girls, etc… so “where the fun in that?” we thought.

There is no point going to the last two games as by then there is a chance the series could be already decided (best of three and all). So that leaves us with the 3rd match which is to be played at Premadasa stadium (formerly Keththarama stadium) – isn’t it wonderful how politicians get to put their names on such landmarks? Sooner or later, even lamp posts might be known as somebody’s-lamp-post, etc.

I digress,…

Somehow, I ended up agreeing to keep an eye on when the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL – thank God for Acronyms!) will be putting ticket out for sale. The other day I telephoned their office in Colombo to find out details about the 3rd match and about the tickets. It turned out to be quite an experience.

(although these days the telephones don’t sound like that,.. but I think you all get my meaning)

BCCSL 1 : Hello! (An annoyed female voice)
Me : I’m calling to find out details of Indian tourna…
BCCSL 1 : (the sound of me getting abruptly transferred to an unknown party without a single word from the lady who answered earlier)
BCCSL 2 : Yes?
Me : (Taken back a bit by that “Yes?”),.. err… I was just transferred,… just wanted to find out about ticket sales for the Indian,…
BCCSL 2 : Which match?
Me : (Starting to get a bit annoyed for being abruptly interrupted for the second time) As I was about to explain,.. I’d like to go to the 3rd match…
BCCSL 2 : On 3rd!
Me : No, no,.. to the 3rd Match of the Indian series that will be played at Kethatharama.
BCCSL 2 : (Annoyed voice) 3rd Match is on the 3rd!
Me : Oh I’m sorry, so it’s on the 3rd … 3rd February I assume? Can I buy tickets to that?
BCCSL 2 : No they are not on sale yet.
Me : (after a long pause).. err, can I know when they will be on sale?
BCCSL 2 : We don’t know yet. Why don’t you call back on Monday? We should know then.
Me : Okay,..Can I know the ticket prices?
BCCSL 2 : Which area?
Me : I’m sorry I haven’t been to the stadium in a long time. Can you tell me what’s available?
BCCSL 2 : ,.. (and goes onto explain 5 different ticket rates and very vague description of the seating areas, for example, “Rs. 2000 for A and B Upper”).
Me : Thank you. Finally can you tell me where I can buy these tickets from?
BCCSL 2 : Our office. Come during office time.
Me : Can I know where your office is?
BCCSL 2 : ,.. near SSC.
Me : Is there any other way I can buy them? Perhaps online,.. I mean, on the internet? Y’see I don’t work in Colombo and it is very difficult for me to come to Colombo during office hours.
BCCSL 2 : I think they might be available through Bank of Ceylon but can’t say for sure.
Me : (Getting tired of trying to pry out information from this bloke),..Urrr.. hm,..okay, let me call you back on Monday.

I really don’t want to go through such a conversation again on Monday,.. even if it means not being able to enjoy beer and watch the dancing girls,.. oh yes, and the cricket too!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

VGA? You’ve got to be kidding me!

While we are on the subject of photographs, let me share my most recent and brilliant stroke of stupidity – I’m sure it would have come pretty high on the scale of the ol’ Darwin awards.

I have a mobile phone with a 3.2 Megapixel camera. Infact, I’ve had this phone for more than a year now. But all this time I have been cursing it on how grainy and low res it’s photographs turn out. Just the other day I walked in on my 7 year old meddling around with my phone. When I grabbed it from her, I noticed it was in a “settings” menu, and the options read…


Guess what was selected by default? Of course, like a true techie, I cursed the phone manufacturer under my breath for not setting the default correctly. Maybe I should ask my 7 year old to play around with my brand new DSLR.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This time my Christmas present came in the form of a Digital camera – and a Canon DSLR at that too. Quite obviously, I was overjoyed as this was something I always wanted to get but never could allow myself to spend my money on. Now that I own it, I have been clicking away at anything and everything. No dog or bird is safe from the Image Stabilized lenses of this beauty.

I even managed to resurrect an old Flickr account that had been dormant for almost a year. Of course my friends have been quite supportive in saying my photographs looked really professional. I’m just happy I don’t have to spend time and money trying to “develop” pictures anymore. It’s just as easy as saying Click!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Barbies and things

Did I mention that I live with 3 beautiful girls? My wife (brownie points, yeah I know), and the two little girls. And I love them all very much. But every weekend I wake up to some sort of a surprise. Take this morning for example,.. After a late night on Saturday, I slept in a little longer than usual this morning. After waking up to the noise of my youngest, I managed to waddle my way into the bathroom, barely managing to open my eyes. As I was reaching for the faucet with the intention of splashing some water on my face, I saw strange creatures before my eyes,.. a butterfly, a barbie and a mermaid. I shook my head and blinked my eyes hard thinking I was still daydreaming,.. but no, they were real alright.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened – it was just that my 7 year old have been using the bathroom before me. Y’see, she has this habit of taking her whole entourage wherever she goes – even to the bathroom. Not very different to Sri Lankan politicians I guess. Anyway, very often such things get left behind.

I sighed and went about my business.