Friday, December 14, 2012

At the movies

I wanted to go see “Skyfall” despite the bad reviews I have seen. There is nothing like a Saturday afternoon spent watching a bit of ‘007’ action. Come to think of it, I have never heard of a bond movie spy with a number greater than ‘009’. Why is the prefix ‘00’ then I wonder?

Anyway, I called up the dialog movie ticketing line for some hassle free ticket purchase. Alas, they only cover ‘EAP cinemas’ I was told by the slightly irritated female voice on the other side. What was I thinking? Surely I should have known that? My bad.

I don’t have 3G on my outdated mobile phone and going to the internet on that is a nightmare. Didn’t feel like booting up my computer – I would have to get up from this comfy position on the couch to do that – why am I even considering that?

I’ll take the plunge and go to the cinema. Even if the movie is in 3 hours that will give me some time to browse through at the bookstore or at the computer/tech crazy joints next door to the cinema. Yes, as you can tell, I am a pretty brave sorta’ guy.

I reached the ‘city that is majestic’, and took the elevator to the top floor. I was pleasantly surprised, large brand-new white tiled air conditioned space just for the ticketing counters and snack-bars on the opposite side. I blinked hard as I stepped out of the elevator in disbelief. This is indeed a far cry from the cinema I came to a few months back to watch Spidy in 3D. Where was the BO? Where were the snaking queues engulfing every pillar going down the staircase? This is certainly a refreshing change.

I walked up to the ticket counter. There were 3 guys behind the 3 counters but none of them were even remotely interested in me. After much hand waving (y’see the glass between us seem to muffle my voice as none of my repeated ‘excuse-me’s reached their ears), finally I got one of them asking me ‘Yes? Can I help?’. You certainly can my boy, “What time is the next screening of sky-fall?” I asked. “It’s at 1.30 and 1.45” he said. Wow, I only have to wait another 30 minutes – what timing! The show must have been playing for a while, no one else is here.

But then the guy tells me “But sir, you have to stay in the queue till we issue tickets at 1.15”. Hello? What queue? The place is empty! “What do you mean queue?” I asked. Then I was directed at a door which led to a staircase going downstairs. When I opened the door, it hit me like the heat that hits you when you step out of an airplane at Katunayake Tarmac. There is a freaking queue after all – complete with BO!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beautifying Colombo

There is a massive effort put on cleaning up and beautifying Colombo city and it’s suburbs. I think it is great. Certain areas have transformed and looks pretty slick now. People have also taken to it like ducks to water and have come out in droves to enjoy newly built parks, waterfronts and walkways. We see more people engaging in morning and evening walks and generally having a good time.

This is all great. But there is room for improvement. Firstly, I cringe at wasted effort and money I see being put into the area near parliament roundabout/waters edge. For some reason the landscape designer involved can’t seem to make up his/her mind – the area is being built/cleared up/rebuilt at least five times in the last 12 months. I hope this is an isolated case. Anyway, they really should plan properly before they bring in the builders.
Lack of maintenance?

Secondly, maintenance. I worry about this. I really do. Already I have seen broken down structures, signboards and marking that are left un-replaced. Neatly manicured lawns and grass fields left unattended growing weeds and going bald in patches. I wish the authorities would consider maintenance not just as an afterthought but right at the time of initial planning.

However, full points to the authorities for trying and succeeding to a great extent in making Colombo more livable. I hope this trend will continue and will become sustainable too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No remote? You must be kidding…

My pay TV provider’s customer service levels have gone from bad to worse. In addition to multiple incidents of breakdowns and delays in bringing the service back online, recently they had to gall to tell me to pay for a replacement of the remote control. Y’see the remote control is 5+ years old and died a natural death. I didn’t drop it on the floor nor did I hit my neighbor’s cat with it. Surely if the set-top box stopped functioning, they would have to replace it free of charge? So what is so special about the remote control? Isn’t that a part of the package?

I hear DialogTV’s customer service is pretty good. Perhaps I will seriously look at switching providers after this latest incident.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Image from
Image from
Let's switch off as many electrical appliences as possible on Saturday 31st March from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eating out : Good service is as important as good food

I was battling through mentally and physically draining peak time traffic in Colombo trying to reach home after an equally grueling day at work. As I was passing one of our favorite take away joints, it just dawned on me that I was supposed to bring home dinner tonight. I had passed the turnoff and I was in no mood to make a U turn in this heavy traffic. Briefly thought about calling for a pizza but quickly dismissed the idea after remembering that I was supposed keep fast food away from the kids as much as possible.

That meant only one thing, eating out. After a quick call to one of my good buddies in the restaurant business, I decided to take the family to Bayleaf.

We reached Gregory’s road around 8pm. There was an unusually cool breeze and a slight threat of rain. We chose the verandah to enjoy the breeze. Mercifully the place was sparsely occupied. And the diners were well behaved and didn’t talk loudly.

The kids chose pizza after all – well, at least it was gourmet. I chose the seafood ravioli and my wife, bacon spinach fettuccini. Kids finished their meals without us having to make a fuss – the pizza must have been pretty good. I haven’t had ravioli in years and quite enjoyed it. My wife loved her fresh fettuccini too. All in all, the food was good.

What really made an impression on us was the service. We ordered a few drinks. The strawberry margarita was garnished with a large fresh strawberry. Both my kids love strawberries and had to grudging share it.

Few minutes later, to our pleasant surprise, the waiter brought a couple of large strawberries for the two kids – on the house. That thoughtful gesture made our evening and will be remembered I’m sure.

We left Bayleaf quite satisfied and wanting to come back just as a light drizzle started to come down.

Friday, March 9, 2012

(C)orporate (S)ocial (R)esponsibility

CSR has been a buzz-word (or a buzz-acronym) in the last few years in such that it had become almost fashionable to be able to belong to one. Despite it being unceremoniously brandished about, it is serious business – or at least it should be. Anyone who has gotten involved with a proper CSR effort would know how effective it can be as a tool in contributing to the society in a multitude of ways.

While the company I work for has done quite a bit of CSR projects in the past few years, my first hands-on involvement was in February. We travelled to Oddusunde (in Wanni region) and helped build 51 houses in a village that was decimated by war few years back. While most of it was hard and backbreaking labour, it was nothing compared to troubles those villagers have gone through during the war, and the hardship they are going through now trying to rebuild their shattered lives with nothing but a few pieces of meager belongings.

Picture by Subhash Edirisinghe
Despite losing so much, it is heartening to see the resilience of the villagers. It was easily the most satisfying effort put in by me in the recent past. It is so addictive, that I will probably volunteer next time the opportunity arises as well.