IT has been that kind of week. Running here,
running there, trying to collect security
passes, accreditation cards and a hundred
other things that need to be done before
preparing to see and hear, if not actually
meet, the glorious leaders of the South
The Pachoris mahagedera (ancestral home) has
been turned topsy-turvy, hunting for this
paper and that to meet the requirements of
added security. The only paper nobody wanted
to see is my marriage certificate which has
upset the better half (well, half anyway)
and added to the strained bilateral
relations in the Pachoris household.
Back at Paradise Club the ever attentive
Siribiris has been polishing the mahogany
expecting Manmohan Singh to make even a
brief stopover at our watering hole seeing
how often Indian affairs and Indian
adventurism and duplicity are discussed over
war and peace in the place.
I told Siribiris that poor Manmohan has
enough troubles in his own Lok Sabha and
with his coalition partners to think of
spending even a moment at Paradise Club. In
any case even if he thought of coming our
way he would be there with hundreds of Black
Cats (not to be confused with Black Tigers
who are into other kinds of activities that
are best not talked of in civilised
With everybody including the local media
being on what are called tenterhooks (for
what reason I do not really know) on whether
poor Manmohan would make it to Colombo which
would have been sad now that Musharraf
himself has shied off, it would have been,
to use a clich‚, like Hamlet without the
Prince of Denmark.
With all this koloppan about high security
zones, low security zones, disappearing
and other places, I have had little time to
read the various media with my usual
Sherlock Holmesian care and contemplation.
So I missed some of the things that have
been going on, especially in the media
sub-culture (and quite often even lower than
that) called websites and blogs. Had it not
been for the ever vigilant Kosala "The
Fixer" Kehelmala, the man for all political
seasons, I would not have not known of the
self-advertising and self-promotion that is
going on in that other class of people also
called our diplomutts by those who would
hardly qualify as a second secretary in our
mission in outer Mongolia, if we had one
There I was one day last week, sipping my
double-distilled and looking into the
distance with a jumble of thoughts passing
through my mind with kaleidoscopic sharpness
when Kosala slipped into the next seat,
greeting me with the usual camaraderie.
Make poverty history
"So Pachoris, all set for the big day when
the leaders of the region will gather and
make poverty history over a good seafood
lunch at Mount Lavinia or wherever they
would retreat to contemplate the condition
of society and our great history," he said
trying to dispel the look of gloom and doom
reflected in my eyes.
"Well I don't know Fixer. There are some
good signs in the region. Nepal has kicked
out the monarchy (some think the Brits
should do the same), Bhutan is going
democratic, Pakistan has rejected
absolutism, democracy survives in
the Maldives wants a bit of the democratic
action too. And we are our usual democratic
self. So all is not lost . Yet..."
"Yet what, Pachoris, speak out man," Kosala,
egged me on.
"Not now, Fixer, not now, there are many
miles to go before I can speak," I said
trying to dampen his eagerness.
"By the way the promotion of self by
officials and others seems to be spreading
like the flu."
"What are you talking about," I asked
"Why, haven't you been reading that website
called Asian Tribune?"
"No, I am somewhat behind in my monitoring
of the media. What has it done this time?"
"That my friend is a good question. You
remember the Colombo Municipality has been
searching high and low for some place where
it can dump the city garbage. Without much
success I believe. Now if the CMC had the
equivalent of the Asian Tribune, the garbage
problem would be solved and the people of
Colombo could live without the stench that
assails the nostrils and the ungainly sight
of piled up rubbish."
"I say Kosala, you are not suggesting that
the Asian Tribune is a dumping ground for
rubbish, are you?"
"That is exactly what I am suggesting. From
a website with a fairly serious intent at
the start, it has now become one where
everything from unwanted material which
others will not publish to nondescript items
are given prominence as though they are
literary masterpieces or the products of
"Isn't that being rather unfair. I mean it
does publish the words of great thinkers
like our Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona
who sacrificed a position in the UN to come
and teach our diplomats all about diplomacy.
It was the Asian Tribune that published all
"That is just my point, Pacho. What nobody
else would print ends up in Asian Tribune.
Which brings me to what I was going to tell
you. Even routine transfers of our diplomats
are splashed across the website as though
this is some earth shattering news. The most
routine of meetings between our diplomats
and some low level official of a foreign
country is elevated to the level of some
"That is not quite correct, no. The other
day the Daily Mirror carried almost across
the whole page a story of our new ambassador
what's his name to Washington meeting the
Deputy Secretary of State. Who is the
fellow, Jaliya somebody or other?"
"This is the whole trouble. Today we have a
whole tribe of politically appointed heads
of missions and others who are falling over
each other to tell the public of their great
patriotic doings under immense hardship, for
the sake of the country. The slightest move,
the smallest step for man is blown up like
some giant step for mankind as the
politically-appointed become their own
publicity agents. They seem to be competing
with each other for media space. Even if the
more professional media ignore such
self-flagellation there is always the Asian
Tribune which will publish anything."
"But is it that bad as you say," I asked.
"Look Pacho, tell me of any responsible,
professional media that would publish the
nonsense that the fellow called Walter
Jayawardhana writes from London? He writes
about everything that is happening in the
rest of the world. He has even improved on
Ozymandius who was the lord of all he
surveyed. This fellow is the lord of things
he does not even see."
"So what are you trying to say?"
"What I am trying to say my friend, is that
this disease of self- promotion and
self-advertising is spreading ominously to
the career service too. The other day there
was a long write-up about a career diplomat
setting out almost every post and every
posting he has had. What is more it ended by
saying that he has a wife and two children,
a son and daughter. It looked like somebody
had been shooting off his CV from some file
to the Asian Tribune which shamelessly
published it without even basic editing.
Then there was another one saying how
another chap was really on top of the pile
and virtually suggesting that he should be
given a post as an ambassador in an Asian
"So what do you suggest?"
"What do I suggest? Well, very soon the
Foreign Ministry will have to open an
advertising agency and put a
director-general in charge. Or maybe Kohona
himself can run it, no. Then he can write
his own self-promotional copy."