Guilty Pleasures At The Parliament
By Raisa Wickrematunge
No dough (or doughnuts),” state schools, hospital canteens and prisons were told last week. The state was going on a diet, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena explained.
This, coincidentally, occurred around the same time an increase in wheat flour (and bread) prices was announced. But that, of course, was merely a coincidence. (Although, of course, it would probably cut down the price of wheat flour imports).
It was time Sri Lankans started eating more healthy food — more rice, fruit and vegetables. So, no more delicious short eats at school canteens. No more buns, cake or bread. And definitely no doughnuts. (Unless the bakers used rice flour, as the government suggested as an alternative. Unfortunately, the All-Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association claimed it was difficult to find quality rice flour to make bread).
So, will the nation switch to a healthier (and cheaper) diet? Buth packets instead of malu paan, patties and cutlets?
Not every institution has been affected by the wheat flour ‘ban’ of course.
For instance, parliament convened as usual on Wednesday. In fact, it was business as usual in the MPs’ dining area in parliament, The Sunday Leader discovered.
Bread rolls were served with lunch. At tea time, the MPs feasted on sandwiches, rolls, cutlets and butter cake.
In fact, sandwiches and butter cake were on offer in the press room at tea time as well.
But surely, this could not be. Could it be the Health Ministry’s concern for the nation’s wellbeing did not extend to its fellow MPs? Surely not. Perhaps, the noble acts which naturally stem from governing this paradisical isle involve such strenuous physical exertion that the Ministry feels they deserve some butter cake from time to time. Perhaps their desire to serve citizen and country is so strong that they would rather save other people’s lives first.
Whatever the reason, there was no apparent shortage of wheat flour — that deadly ingredient causing waistlines to expand across the country.
“I wonder if your antics will result in all the cake and other yummy stuff being removed from the menu? Maybe in future we will be served green gram and halapa instead!” a dejected MP commented (the selfsame MP who so obligingly recited the lunch and tea menu for that day).
Incidentally, it is learnt that some government MPs could only giggle ruefully when they heard of this reporter’s quest for wheat-flour products.
No need to feel guilty, MPs. After all, it could have been much worse. At least there were no doughnuts.