The Sunday Leader

Don’t Shoot The Koha For Doing Its Job

Paang Choong has been my early morning wakeup call for a greater part of the year, but from last week it has been the melodious Koha. Paang Choong (for those not up with the latest English-Sinhala lingo developments) is the baker’s boy who goes up and down the road in a three-wheeler playing recorded tunes to announce his arrival on the road with his mouth-watering wares. Paang is the Portuguese word for bread and Choong is for tune. So Paang Choong means bread tunes.

How did the word Choong enter the Sinhala vocabulary? I am no etymologist (authority on the origin of words), but my guess is that it comes from the much used saying: Nava Gilunath Band Choong, the origin of which is of a German warship which was torpedoed in the last World War and the Captain of the ship ordering the band to keep playing while the ship sank. It caught the imagination of Sri Lankans and even today at school cricket matches when a side, if losing badly, the rallying cry is: Nava Gilunath Band Choong.
Paang Choongs however are not popular among those non-musical types whose early morning sleep is disturbed and have complained to the Wellawatte Police on noise pollution, a recent news report said.


To come to my story, the Koha provides wonderful relief from the monotonous Pang Choong and is also the harbinger of the Aluth Avuruddha as the Koha munches my neighbour’s precious mangoes away.

Yes, the Koha tells us that a new year is coming and there is excitement and expectations all round. The postman, garbage man, barman and every man gives me that broad Avurudhu smile for soon the ‘contributions lists’ will be on the way.

The only person who will not like the onset of the festive season is our Am Pee (MP). Everywhere he goes his supporters and those who hate him say that it is impossible to live today with the rising prices. Kerosene, petrol, wattakka, bandakka, batu, thalanabatu, wetakollu, fish, beef, butter jam, milk, gas and even the ‘light bill’ and ‘water bill’ have gone up sky high. With the cost of fuel at astronomical prices, all curries are made in one pot and all the lights are going out in homes with only one bulb on to keep the mosquitoes and burglars away. Am Pee, would have definitely taken a plane out ‘if not for Geneva,’ the thankful man said.


Yes, Geneva. Last year, as well, people forgot about food, clothing, shelter, fuel, power and rose up against our nation’s enemies who have gathered in Geneva to smear the good name of our country and rallied round our leader. This year too, we are going to be saved, he said gleefully.

Will the people willingly give up their 4Ks —Kavun, Kokkis, Kiributh and Kolikuttu – and support the 3Rs – Rajapaksa, Rajapaksa and Rajapaksa? Of course it happened for the past two years, so why not now?

But Geneva will be over in a few days and the patriotism will ebb away till next year’s Geneva. Not to worry, he assures himself. There is the halal issue that will keep going and the threat to cancelling the Commonwealth meeting that will keep our patriots going on for years. If not, skewed results of some examination will be released and those ‘tens of thousands of students’ which you pressmen speak of, will be on the streets creating a hell of a hoo-ha, making the people forget the pangs of Avurudhu hunger.

What happens after the Commonwealth issue? If they hold the meeting here we can say: Ado Hoo, to Ranil and the crowd and if they cancel the meeting, we will hold rallies to condemn the ‘imperialist-neocon conspiracy’ to bring about a regime change in Sri Lanka. The people will be with us.

Do you have some kind of agreement with Uncle Sam and the other Yankees? Every time you are in deep trouble they make statements on Sri Lankan issues and your people rise to a man and create such a hullabaloo that the poor voters, the suckers, forget all your broken promises, rising prices and support you against them? Don’t tell these UNP suckers about that, but actually we won so many elections due to George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. They are doing it again now and there is that rising star in old Britannia, David Cameron, doing a wonderful job for Mahinda threatening to cancel the Commonwealth meeting. It will keep us going even next year.

But the Koha will keep singing in the morning for the next ten weeks at least reminding them of the joyous times of Avuruddha — samba rice, seeni sambol, chutney, kadju curry, vambatu pahi, chicken curry, Sinhala achcharu, Palayakat Sarong, batik shirts, Double Distilled… But how to afford no? Patriotism is no substitute for an Avurudhu lunch. Public servants want Rs 10,000 as Avurudhu advance. What about us non- government servants? The Koha will keep reminding us every morning.

Damn the Koha, I will get all these fellows shot dead, Make them disappear as some of your tribe, they can’t mislead the country. Never mind us, but don’t shoot the Koha. Without them the people will forget the joys of the Avurudha. The Koha is only doing his job.

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