Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crates or Sacks?

If you are living in Sri Lanka, you would definitely be aware of the major commotion related to the change in laws for transporting vegetables. Most seem to think the intention behind enforcing such a law is good, but the process of planning and implementing is poor.

On one side, the farming community (including the middle-man, or should I say middle-person?) are trying to save every cent to maximize profit. On the other side we seem to have a minister who is not willing to compromise having being frustrated by delays in enforcing the law and also smarting from a slightly bruised ego.

I quite like the article below (if you ignore the political brownie points it seems to be trying to score). Looks like this Harsha dude knows what he is talking about (at least in this instance).

So what is your take on this? A country like India seems to be wasting as much as 40% of veggies during transportation and storage. I believe it is much less here in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, will crates save a considerable amount of wastage as indicated by the minister? Or is he just trying to get rid of some plastic items probably offloaded to us by our big brother China? Do the farmers have solid reasons to oppose such a law? Or are they just resisting change just for the sake of it?

Let's have your say friends....

Friday, December 9, 2011

“Internet Not Found”

Your alarm goes off. It’s 6.30am on a warm Tuesday morning. You know you have an early meeting to attend and hurry into the toilet clutching your blackberry in one hand. You sit on the throne, and start checking your email on your smartphone. Wow, no emails, you are relieved to see that. But wait, your colleague in USA should have gotten back to you on that proposal last night – today is the deadline. You immediately start typing a “reminder” email – must hurry before he goes to sleep. You press “send” but after a while you see “Sending failed” message. You try again, but in vain.

Cursing the mobile provider, you bring up your browser to catch up on your favorite news site. Strange, there seem to be a connectivity issue again. What’s going on? Let me try Google, surely that cannot be down? But wait, it doesn’t connect either. It must be this damn mobile service provider. You cannot waste any more time on this for now. You get dressed, gulp down a particularly strong cup of coffee and jump in your car.

You tune into your favorite radio station while driving to work. The morning news bulletin is unusually brief, almost as if no interesting news to report. But then one item catches your attention. There seem to be widespread complaints that most internet providers having technical problems this morning. “That explain it..” you mutter to yourself – “I hope it is not that undersea cable again”. What a disaster that was.

You arrive at work right at 8.15am. You have 15 minutes to check your email and a headline or two on the internet. But alas, your office internet provider seems to be suffering from the same issue. No connectivity to internet!

Suddenly you realize that a lot of people at work are giving each other nervous looks. Someone even mentioned that this connectivity problem is not just local; it seems to have affected other countries too. What? Can that happen? Surely not?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Learning to ride a bicycle

They say cycling is the most efficient mode of transport. It’s a pity that Chinese moved on to gasoline vehicles and then again to Hybrids now – they should have stayed with bicycles.

Since of late, my eldest (10 year old) have been asking us to get her a bicycle. I suspect it is more because some of her friends having bicycles than her love for the same. In any case we went shopping for one over the weekend. Ended up at a place in Galle Road which sold foldable bikes – wow, now that’s a neat trick. It only came in silver/black combination. Luckily my daughter loved it too (she is growing out of that usual ‘pink’ phase). So we got it. After also buying a helmet, the question was whether we get some training wheels or not. Although my daughter was looking forward to owning a bike, I was quite sure that she will put up a tantrum when she has to learn how to ride it (She did the same when she got on a horse the very first few times). So I am pretty certain that if I had offered her training wheels, she would not really grow out of it. So I decided not to bring it up.

Now that we brought the bike home, I am trying to figure out the best way to train her to ride it. Should I hold it from the back and run behind the bike as some parents do? Or should I ask her to ride/learn on her own. I honestly cannot remember how I learnt.

Any advice?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Colombo Election

I can almost hear all the Sri Lankans out there sighing with disgust at the mention of the word “election”. But why don’t we like them? Is it because they are more frequent in Sri Lanka than the chances of garbage collecting man turning up? Or perhaps there are more candidates than the number of bees in a bee-hive? Or even maybe because none of the candidates come up with a proper election manifesto? Not to forget the likelihood of selected candidate swapping sides soon after the result,… I am sure you get my point here.

But to me, this election is slightly different. At least I see it in a different perspective - mainly because I got some insights into some of the candidates. It made it a wee bit interesting.

  • For one thing, most candidates seem to be online these days. They promote their campaigns on facebook, twitter and through their own websites and blogs. Perhaps the election laws prohibiting the usual “election poster” has resulted in this exodus to the internet.
  • Banning the election poster is one thing, but enforcing it is another. Although the posters are being taken down by police, more new ones get pasted at the same places by the next morning. I reckon what you need is the ability to financially penalize or even disqualify a candidate instead of merely tearing down their poster.
  • Then there are these crafty ways to get around the advertising ban. Y’see, apparently the ban is on advertising “Vote for this number”. So some candidates advertise websites that include their number and the “cross” (sign for voting). There are also candidates who organize events (like musical shows) on the day that match their number (ie. someone with number 20 would organize a musical show on the 20th of the month). And advertise in bold letter the organizer’s name (which happens to be the candidate) and the date of the event (which is their number). Too bad if your number is greater than 31.
  • Just got to know about a certain candidate who had come out with a poster indicating that he was rubbing shoulders with the president at a certain prestigious international event. But the truth of the matter seems to be that he was neither with the president nor at this event – it was a hoax with a bit of photoshop involved.
  • Out of all the people, the “mudalali” at my local grocery shop is also a candidate this time. It takes him a considerable amount of time to figure out the change when I purchase anything from that shop. So he is not the brightest I have met. But then again, level of intellect or qualifications doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for this job.

Few days back the postman delivered my voting documents together with a large sheet of paper. The paper listed out all the candidates. There were 11 groups and 26 candidates in every group. Making it 286 candidates in total. Last time I checked, population of Colombo city was less than 650,000. That is one candidate for every 2,200. To put it in perspective, my school (which had 5,000 students) would have produced 2 election candidates.

All this may be interesting but doesn’t encourage me to get off the sofa and go to the polling booth. After all there will be two interesting world cup (rugby) matches on the 8th.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No nonsense Traffic Cop

This is a brilliant capture I recently received on email. Thought you all might enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Southern Highway – would you dare?

Now that the opening up of southern highway is just around the corner, a few of us at work have been contemplating when it would be “safe” to get on it. The estimates varied. Here is a summary.

At least after the first 6 months : Reason being that the moment it opens up, there will be a flood of morons who would try to taste what it would be like to legally drive at 100kmph – assuming that it would be very different to doing the same illegally as they have done since getting behind a vehicle for the first time. The only silver lining here is that it will probably eliminate some of these brain-cell-challenged-maniacs – probably a few offspring of some ministers together with their expensive duty-free rides. I just hope they won’t take a few innocent folks with them when they go.

In the first 6 months and then from 18 months onwards : Essentially stay away from the road 12 months after the first 6 months. The argument here is that during the first 6 months, sanity will prevail and people will hopefully take it slow – what this being a new thing and all. After that they will slowly gain confidence and try to push the limits. “If 100kmph is legal, what’s the fun in driving at that?”. This will last for about 12 months until authorities wake up and start putting cops behind trees with speed guns, sniper guns and bribe collecting tins.

Never, infact take the Galle road : Two reasons for this. First is that our drivers don’t use their indicate lights for a toss and the break-lights don’t work on most vehicles that were made two years or earlier – and as my friend rightfully pointed out, at 100kmph both those mistakes can often be fatal. The second reason being that most morons out there would have started using the new highway. Galle road will become relatively moron-free.

Personally, I will adopt a wait-and-see policy on this.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dodgy Petrol?

As many of you might have already heard by now, there is a general concern among the Sri Lankan public (the ones who own/drive vehicles at least) that there is something wrong with the petrol that is available at the ol’ “petrol-sheds” out there.

I don’t read newspapers. Don’t even watch local “news” programmes on the Telly. So it is not surprising that I only heard about this issue yesterday. Only when a colleague of mine at work informed a few of us of an interesting telephone conversation he had just had with his friend who worked at a prominent car dealership in Colombo. He said that there are droves of pissed-off owners brining their sputtering vehicles to this particular dealership to figure out why their vehicle doesn’t run so smoothly anymore. The cause? Apparently, dodgy petrol.

“Oh sh*t! My tank is almost empty” I thought. I was planning to stop by a petrol-shed on my way home tonight to fill her up. During the next 30 minutes, I had called up someone I know who worked at Ceylon Petroleum Coorporation (CPC) and a couple of vehicle dealerships I knew to see if anyone can confirm this. The funny thing is that all three confirmed the story but the dealers were blaming the CPC and CPC was blaming the petrol-shed owners. Now what?

I had very little choice really,.. ignore the warning signs and pump petrol as usual or take the bus. If you had ever travelled on a bus in Colombo you would know that it is not much of a choice at all. So on my way home, just as I planned earlier, I stopped by a petrol-shed. I asked the attendant to fill ‘er up. While waiting I thought I would try my luck with the fuel attendant who looked cheerful enough. Cheerful enough for a petrol-shed attendant pumping petrol at the peak of evening traffic in Colombo that is.

“So what is this fuss about contaminated fuel then?” I asked casually.

Suddenly his cheerful demeanor vanished into thin air. He said, “I don’t know why people believe all these stories.”

Glimmer of hope,.. but I wanted confirmation. “You mean there is no problem”?

“Did I say that?”

Huh? I thought…

“There is a problem. But don’t believe what they say sir”.

He was clearly irritated by my ignorance. But at least he called me “sir”. So I pushed it…

“So what is the problem then?”

“Cars do have problems with this petrol. People come and complain to us sometimes. But how do we know it is our petrol? CPC says their petrol is pure. We take good care of petrol here. But the customer complains. Who knows what is going on?”. He picked up a pebble and threw it at a stray dog that got a little inquisitive – he missed the target but the mongrel was street-wise and didn’t hang around.

“Click” – it was the auto-cutoff of the petrol pump indicating that my tank was now full. That is my cue, I thought. So without another word, I paid for the petrol and drove away.

The way I see it, this is not something I can control even if I get to the bottom of this. So I decided to stay happily ignorant. By the way, the vehicle still works.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Treat Yourself

I never thought the humble cupcake can become the most sought after treat in town. But then again, I haven’t seen Miss Cupcake’s work until now either. They look lovely and are competitively priced too. But do they taste good? Well, try them out for yourself…

Treatz facebook page

By the way, they do contribute 20% of the profit to a well deserving cause. A socially responsible business - good on you Tina!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Create your own life, it is in you!

A friend of mine's email signature states "Create your own life, it is in you". It started me thinking... it is so true isn't it? It inspired me to share this following link with you all,...

"10 hard ways to make your life better"'

Go ahead, make a change today. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Traffic cop breaking the law? Surely not!

It is a sad state when people who are supposed to enforce the law, breaks it themselves. This picture was taken by my good friend 'B' the other day in Colombo. Can you spot how many laws this cop had violated?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

If you are the sort who tends to look for a conspiracy in everything, then you’d love to live in Sri Lanka these days. One recent incident in particular jumps up like a cat in heat. The ICC word cup!

Team Selection : Sana and Vaas were included in the preliminary squad. Now my 10 year old girl could have told you how stupid that was – and she does not even follow cricket! Why have them included? Well I reckon they wanted everyone to start taking about cricket – y’know, any publicity is good publicity right?

Venues : They created a whole new ground in Hamba just for the world cup instead of spending 0.0001 of that money on getting floodlights fitted in to SSC. There are two theories here. One is that MR wanted to show off – reminds me of Asterix and Cleopatra story where Cleopatra bets good ol’ Julius that she can build a great palace in 3 months… or something like that. Secondly, some big-wig(s) would have thought “What a great opportunity to get some decent commission?”. I don’t even want to discuss “Pallekele”.

Tickets Fiasco : I tried to find out how I can secure some tickets since early January. I was given a different date to call every time I called the cricket board. After three unsuccessful attempts I gave up. My previous unsavory encounter with the cricket board didn’t help me to summon up my courage to try one more time. I later heard that out of the 30,000 capacity at Premedasa stadium, only 8,000 tickets are available for sale to the general public. WTF? My theory is that MR, Ministers and Cricket Board Officials must have friends, relatives and debtors who collectively make up the rest of the 22,000.

Banned Items : I agree that one should not bring knives and even glass bottles to a cricket ground, but what about the humble Beer and Papare? Who on their right mind would spend one full day outdoor in blistering heat and 90% humidity without cold beer available like running water? And Papare? When did Sri Lanka ever play a single cricket match without the unmistakable Papare music in the background? I remember carrying a banner which in bold letters announced “Warne is a Wimp!” when we played against Aussies at the Premadasa in 1996 – how can you deprive a teenager that privilege? The theory? They wanted to create an outrage so huge that subsequently when they lift the ban, the fellow who lifted the ban can become a household name instantly. That works out well especially when there is yet another election around the corner.

Jeez, my head is spinning just by thinking about other possibilities. Time to have a cold beer and enjoy the re-runs of Lions crushing hapless Canada. Oh how I wish I had a Papare CD. Cheers!