power sharing˙ experience in Canada
(inset) Prime Minister, Stephen Harper
Canada, weather is a shared subject with the provincial˙ government
taking responsibility for the months of˙ April to September and the
federal government being responsible from October to March,"
deadpanned Mathew Mendelhson as the small group of Sri Lankan
journalists seated around the table˙ laughed heartily. The quip was
greatly appreciated as it came at a time when six scribes and their
Canadian co-ordinator˙were reaching the end of a 10 day study tour
tour had focused mainly on the power sharing experience between the
central or federal government and the provincial or regional
governments. Since Canadian weather is generally bright and sunny
during spring/summer and bleakly cold in fall/ winter Mendelhson's
quip provided insight in lighter vein about the constant tussle
between Ottawa and the provinces in the sphere of power sharing.
Mendelhson, the deputy-minister of inter-governmental affairs in the
provincial government of Ontario was making an informed˙presentation
outlining various aspects of federal - provincial relations.
Study tour was also a 'shared' brainchild of the Canadian High
Commission in Colombo and the Forum of Federations in Ottawa. The
High Commission selected the participants and devised a broad
agenda. The Forum planned the itinerary in detail and made all
relevant arrangements. Five journalists, Victor Ivan (Ravaya),
Sharmini Boyle (Young Asia TV), Jatila Wellabada (Lakbima), Anura
Solomons (Divaina) and Ayesha Zuhair (Daily Mirror), flew into
Canada from Sri Lanka. I joined them in Ottawa as the sixth
participant. Irina Shmakova who is the programme officer for
Asia/Pacific at the forum coordinated the project and accompanied us
on the study tour.
was in a sense an enigma among the six. Technically I was living in
Canada but writing for a Sri Lankan newspaper. So on this trip I was
a Sri Lankan journalist and not a Canadian resident. Since I do
baffle many by writing on Sri Lankan affairs˙for Sri Lankan
newspapers from Canada˙this 'duality' was nothing new. Yet, I had
to preface most of my self-introductions with the line
"Actually I am living in Toronto and writing on Sri Lankan
affairs for The Sunday Leader published in Colombo........".
provided perennial amusement to my colleagues who struggled to keep
a straight face as I kept parroting the "actually" line.
The only reward was the˙look on many faces at this puzzling
I had been doubtful wondering˙whether I would feel out of place in
the team as I had been away from the media scene in Colombo for
nearly two decades. Going around with fellow Sri Lankan journalists
on an extended tour like this˙was a˙fond yet distant memory. But
the tour was pleasantly productive and all of us from the veteran
Victor to the team's 'baby' Ayesha interacted happily and˙well.
Typical Lankan style jokes and wisecracks were galore with Irina
saying "You guys are so funny and always laughing."
it was not fun alone and we did take the tour seriously, managing to
banish the unpunctuality Sri Lankans are notorious for and being on
time for our appointments (most of the time at least). Irina who has
two Masters degrees had mastered the art of making us fall in line.
She did so˙with
gentle charm which brought to mind the phrase "Iron hand
in a velvet glove."
notable feature of the tour was the extent to which the presenters
at various discussions had prepared themselves. Most of them had
prepared elaborate reading material and went out of their way to be
hospitable. At the tail-end of our tour˙our suitcases in addition
to our brains were crammed with enhanced 'knowledge.'
in Canada for many years I had acquired a working knowledge of how
things worked in Canada. I even prepared myself mentally to
'unlearn' what I had and view everything afresh from a non-Canadian
Sri Lankan perspective. But as the study tour progressed I realised
how superficial my knowledge was. I learned much about my adopted
homeland that I had never known before.
has altered my perceptions and perspectives drastically. For this I
am truly appreciative of the opportunity provided by the High
Commission and Forum. To partially echo
Gone With The Wind's Vivian Leigh "as God is my witness
I shall never read the 'star' or watch CBC in the same way after
this study tour."
was Christina Prefontaine, counselor (politics/economics) at the
Canadian High Commission in Colombo who sent formal letters
confirming selection to the six participants. "The study tour
will bring you in contact with Canadian stakeholders who work or
deal with decentralisation of power and federalism, such as
academics, government officials, and journalists."
explained. "As a confederation ourselves, Canada is happy to
share our experiences with this form of devolution of power.˙ There
has been much debate over the subject in Sri Lanka, and its
applicability to this country.˙ We believe such debates are healthy
but could be better informed.˙ You have been invited as we believe
journalists are best placed to educate and inform the public, and to
interpret the theories and concepts into viable options for Sri
Lanka," she wrote in that letter.
Forum of Federations was eminently equipped to handle and implement
the study tour on envisaged lines. It is a non-profit, international
organisation based in Ottawa, Canada. It engages in a wide range of
programmes of mutual cooperation designed to help develop best
practices in countries with federal systems of government around the
world. The forum has created an international network on federalism
that brings together practitioners, scholars, and youth to learn and
share ideas and experiences. The forum works with countries and
organisations of the north and of the south, with established
federal countries and newly-emerging federations. In addition, the
forum works with countries that are exploring the possibilities of a
federal political system.
Forum of Federations is no stranger to Sri Lanka. Though Sri Lanka
is not a federal country there has been a special relationship
between the forum and Lanka. Chandrika Kumaratunga was scheduled˙to
address its first ever International Conference on Federalism but
could not make it. So it was Prof. G.L. Peiris who did so. After the
Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) pledged in Oslo to explore a federal solution the forum
played a more active role. Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae and
Toronto University Professor David Cameron were on hand at many
GOSL-LTTE talks to "advise" on federal issues.
also conducted many workshops, seminars etc. in Sri Lanka. They also
held classes for the LTTE political affairs committee in the Wanni.
The forum has also conducted a number of workshops to˙educate the
Lankan public on power sharing and devolution. Its President George
Anderson was in Lanka to deliver a special lecture last month. The
forum's partner in Colombo is the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
any of us had any fears of a hidden agenda behind the study tour all
such misgivings were dispelled as the project unfolded.˙ True to
their word the forum people did not seek to impose anything on us.
The focus was on education, networking and information-sharing.
There was no˙advocacy for any political ideology or devolution
model. The˙unique programme devised for us was both multilateral
and comparative. It was like one gigantic buffet. Everything was
available. It was for us to select and partake of. Nobody tried to
force-feed us or short-list the menu.
of menus the tour also gave us a chance to experience the culinary
diversity of Canada. From French fine dining to Italian cuisine and˙ethnic
food fare ranging from Nepalese, Vietnamese, Greek and North Indian,
Canada did provide variety to feast on. Since most of us had no
dietary restrictions we did make the most of it. Only Ayesha was
affected to some extent as halal meat was not always available.
also got two excellent Sri Lankan meals thanks to our High
Commissioner and Consul - General. High Commissioner Karunaratne
hosted us at his Ottawa residence. It was a traditional Sinhala meal
much relished by us all. Mrs. Karunaratna with charming simplicity
was a gracious hostess. In Toronto Consul-General Poolokasingham
entertained us for dinner at a Lankan owned restaurant in
Scarborough. The amiable Poolokasingham had plans of making us
scribes the centre-piece of attention. We respectfully declined but
were touched and honoured by his gesture.
I mentioned earlier our itinerary was quite tight but very
comprehensive. There were occasions when we would have liked very
much to prolong discussions but found the chariot of time drawing
near. This was to be expected. We did however have some time for
sightseeing despite the crisp schedule. But the unpredictable
Canadian weather was a spoiler. The trip to Niagara falls was
severely curtailed. We were in the midst of a massive snow storm in
Quebec. My colleagues also faced the coldest night in Toronto this
what of the 'study' in the tour? Almost every session was exhaustive
and informative. It was indeed a tremendous task to cite preferences
when it was time for evaluation. Hopefully I would be writing a
series of articles about various aspects of the tour in the days to
are a variety of subjects from power sharing at federal. provincial
and municipal levels; multi-culturalism, Quebec's distinctiveness,
bi-lingualism. aboriginal rights, minority rights, charter of rights
and freedoms, promoting French in Quebec, Canada's constitutional
evolution, the containment of Quebec separatism etc. are fascinating
topics with particular relevance to Sri Lanka; the challenge would
be in interpreting these lessons to Sri Lankan readers.
overview of the study tour would be pertinent at this stage. The
programme got˙off to a start with an introduction about the forum
and its objectives. Celine Auclair, the forum's vice - president for
research˙and governance programmes along with Rod Macdonnell,
senior director for public information conducted the session; this
set the stage for the events to come. I will outline some highlights
constitutional adviser to the Canadian Government James Hurley Ross
who spoke about the Evolution of Canadian Federalism and the Charter
of Rights laid˙special emphasis on the defining characteristics of
Canada. Dr. Leslie Seidle, senior research associate at the
Institute for Research and Public Policy conducted˙a discussion on
Canadian and Quebec identity and values.
relations from a Federal perspective was provided in Ottawa˙ by
Alfred Macleod the assistant deputy minister, inter-Governmental
relations, Privy Council; Inter - governmental relations from the
Quebec perspective was the topic handled vividly in Quebec city by
Michel Frederick, directeur Des Politiques Institutionelles et
Constitutinelles at the Quebec Secretariat of Inter-Governmental
Affairs; Inter-governmental relations from an Ontario perspective
was provided in Toronto by Mathew Mendelhson , deputy minister of
inter-governmental affairs and his constitutional adviser Paul
Barber. The municipal level dimension input came from Jean Seguin,
assistant deputy minister of municipal affairs and regions in
Fraser, a reputed journalist and columnist is now commissioner of
official languages. He gave us a penetrative insight into how his
dept 'supervises'˙ bi-lingualism officially; Gerald Paquette of the
Office Quebecois de Langue Francaise in Montreal explained with
thorough detail the methods and devices adopted to empower the use
of French language in Quebec Province in terms of the Charter of the
French Language. Both these sessions enabled us to gain much insight
that would be of use within the Sri Lankan context.
Canada is perceived as being founded by the English and French
'solitudes' the land's original people are its indigenous peoples.
There was no possibility in the itinerary of meeting any of their
representatives but that was compensated for adequately by an
illuminating talk delivered by Prof. Sebastien Grammond of the
Faculty of Law in the University of Ottawa.
discussion that followed was two-way and we provided Grammond with
details about how cruelly our own indigenous people, the Veddahs had
been treated. In similar plight are the kuravas or gypsies.
were three round-table discussions. The first was in Ottawa with
officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade. Glen Hodgins, deputy-director of South Asia Division
initiated the discussion. The ebullient Hodgins has served in the
Canadian High Commission in Colombo some years ago and was
well-informed of Sri Lankan developments. He also told us of a 'new'
area in which Canada was exploring ways and means of providing
assistance to Sri Lanka.
second round table was in Quebec at the Laval University. Dr. Gerard
Hervouet and his colleagues at˙the Department of Laval University
participated. It was a stimulating discussion with the focus being
on how and why the Quebec separatist movement did not descend into
violence apart from the brief FLQ phase in 1970. It was the
consensus of opinion among us Lankan scribes that the French
Canadians were more passionate and intense about issues as compared
to the more detached and clinical English Canadian counterparts.
on Colombo and Kilinochchi
third round table discussion was at the venerable Massey House in
the University of Toronto (U of T). Prof. David Cameron led the
discussion that focused mainly on journalism in a conflict
situation. The discussion was enriched by the participation of five
journalists, all of them Southam Fellows. The Southam Fellowship is
modeled on the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. Since Prof.
Cameron had first-hand knowledge of the Sri Lankan peace process we
asked him his opinion and were surprised to find that he apportioned
'blame' equally on Colombo and Kilinochchi for its perceived
failure. Later Bob Rae joined us for lunch at the U of T.
also had the opportunity of visiting an English and French newspaper
office respectively. The Montreal Gazette is an icon for the English
in Quebec Province. Andrew Philips its quiet editor admitted that
the paper was a rallying point for Anglophones in Montreal.
visit to the French newspaper Le Devoir was equally interesting.
Apparently the paper is regarded by many as being partial towards
the separatist cause in Quebec. Both newspapers however claimed that
they are 'objective' when it comes to news presentation.
of˙journalism and the media, we also met Daniel Giasson, analyst at
the Quebec Press Council. He gave us a comprehensive lecture on how
the press council works and Lakbima
Editor Jatila, who is an office-bearer at the Editors' Guild
found it very worthwhile. Daniel endeared himself to us all by his
demeanour and quaint English accent that reminded us of Peter
Sellers's Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series. So lovable
was the man that he was showered with gifts at the end by some of
Toronto we met Paul Knox, the chair, School of Journalism at Ryerson
University, for a discussion on media ethics, training and
professionalism etc. Paul was a well-known journalist at the Globe
and Mail who has now re-located to academia. Associated in
the discussion was Meena Nallainathan, a graduate student at Ryerson
which is highly regarded as a training centre for media. Meena is of
Sri Lankan origin and had come to Canada at the age of three.
aspect of our tour was the conspicuous absence of gender balance in
the presentations. Almost all the presenters were masculine though a
few females also participated in some discussions. But at our last
stop on the tour the situation was reversed. We went to the media
rights watchdog - Canadian Journalists for Free expression - and met
Anne Game its executive director. The boardroom was packed with CJFE
staffers, all of them females but for one. In the lively discussion
that followed, Victor Ivan shocked them with his unorthodox
must be emphasised that all sessions had time for questions and
answers. Though we gleaned much information from these it was not
always a one-way street. We provided some insight into happenings in
Sri Lanka. What was most gratifying was the fact that some of our
questions made the Canadians think about Canada in˙a way they had
not thought of before. When some of them acknowledged this fact it
made us feel really, really good.
a journalist point of view our visit to the House of Commons was
unforgettable. Nostalgic feelings were revived as we sat in the
gallery and listened to the proceedings via earphones. Though I have
watched Canadian Parliament proceedings on TV it was a refreshing
change to see it from inside. I derived immense pleasure in pointing
out the leaders like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ministers Peter
Mackay, Stockwell Day, NDP Leader Jack Layton, Liberal Deputy Leader
Michael Ignatieff etc. to my colleagues.
respect for Canadian ministers went up greatly on seeing that prior
notice of questions are generally not given. The ministers rise to
answer each and every question and also supplementary ones. They
think on their feet and come out with answers while the treasury
benches thump the table and cheer. We could not but help compare the
situation with Sri Lanka where ministers are seldom present to
also saw the media scrum where political bigwigs are accosted in the
outer lobby by media personnel. Instead of shying away from the
members of the fourth estate the Federal MPs stood their ground
responding to media queries. Nelson Laframbroise met us outside and
gave us our media accreditation passes. He also took us to the press
gallery. A freelance journalist Richard Cleroux˙gave us a guided
tour of the Parliament building. The magnificent library with its
white pine paneling and the 'jinxed' portrait of Queen Victoria
grabbed our attention.
was a high degree of bonhomie and camaraderie among all seven of us
during the tour. Though we teased Irena as a slave driver all of us
were impressed by her energy and enchanted by her efficiency. All
good things come to an end. Our study tour ended on March 6, and˙I
bade farewell to return home to Scarborough. The other five were to
go home to Colombo while Irina would go home to Ottawa. The study
tour was very useful and my thanks to the High Commission and Forum
for organising it and inviting me as participant.
I learnt subsequently that my colleagues had shocking treatment
meted out, by boorish Air Canada officials at the Toronto Airport.
They were not allowed to fly by Air Canada to London and would have
been stranded if not for the presence of Irina. Adding insult to
injury were the dirty remarks made and callous disregard shown. The˙˙
Forum then bought new tickets from Cathay Pacific thus enabling my
colleagues to fly home via Hong Kong and Singapore. All the goodwill
created for Canada during the study tour was shattered by Air
song, a dance, and laughing all the way to the bank
is not one to blanch at anything dear. I've seen a goodish bit of
life and lived a tad more. I may not be as long in the tooth as
perhaps you are, but the trouble I've seen chile, the trouble I've
to and fro on my hansi putuwa, sipping the good ole bubbly and
pulling on and off on the short end of a Cuban, I can't help but
muse a little bit on brotherly love.
moons ago I was strolling along near the West End and happened to
sit through a musical of the name, style and firm of blood brothers.
reason I bring this up now is because just the other day as I sat
staring into the bulbous eyes of Baseel.no.no.not in real life but
on print, my mind was thrown back to the day I sat through the blood
brothers' musical. I can't think why it happened really. There was
certainly no resemblance in the plot to anything that you chaps from
the meda mula nethi clan do these days. Perhaps it was Baseel's
blood shot eyes that got me thinking about blood...or perhaps it was
something else. No matter.
I've heard of stories where three brothers go traipsing into the
woods and fight all kinds of monsters. I wonder if you know the many
tales of the brothers three.
myself have been regaled with yarns as I once in years gone by sat
dangling on my mater's knee in nothing but a snowy white nappy held
together by a large pink safety pin. I listened wide eyed as she
told me about Irishmen who would gulp their Guinness and chant
the brothers three from Waliatta
wanted many houses in Kurunduwatte
they claimed ten percent
every dollar deal that went
put themselves on top of the murunga atta.
can't quite put my finger on it dearie, but something about you
chaps floods my mind with tall stories and gives me a powerful
thirst for Irish Whiskey.
the other day I was talking to my general factotum Rosalyn who
gasped and screeched, 'Aneey haamu, bandakka dan gini ganan.' All
I'd asked the drama queen to do was cut a few 100 sticks in half for
my nephew and his tiny wild friends to use as paint brushes.
that you, Baseel and Goatie would feel the pinch dear. And judging
from what the Sri-pathi has been scribbling to you about that young
pill Baseel, the fellow seems to be wallowing in the chinks.
is it about Baseel sweetie that makes him want to poke his nose and
interfere in everybody's business? I remember in those days as a
little chap he had the same desire to poke his nose everywhere.
don't know if you recall the time your mammy found him with his nose
down the toilet bowl. The next day his facial projectile was leading
him into an electric socket. Whether the young bloke was born with
some special sebaceous glands I do not know but that bally nose has
much so loving aunties and uncles steered clear from kissing the
tiny Baseel on his nose preferring to land a juicy one on his
Ichabod, if the boy isn't the father of the man. Still the fellow is
poking his nose here and there and irritating the likes of a great
deal of fellows in the blue tent.
reminds me darling about that barely existing foundation run by
Satty's ex BIL. The fellow who not many moons ago carried slogans
shouting "Shame Shame" has now only himself to blame for
the shame. Not only has the chappie changed his Anti War Front
slogan to Sri Lankans For Peace at the behest of Baseel he has
forgotten the masses and metamorphosed into a lap dog of the
human rights guru who swims in donor funding is no longer
championing the cause of the abductees, and standing up against
disappearances and the breakdown of rule of law, he is singing
hosannas to the rule of war and at the top of his lungs I might add.
for him if he pulls a muscle its Bergof and Norway to the rescue.
this Rupe fellow brings to mind another little lullaby those Irish
chappies down at the local pub kept singing. It went something like
and his brothers got together
decide to go to war hell for leather
they got an NGO
be less con and more pro
now the masses are at the end of their tether.
for us, Peking duck for them
I am no history buff believe
me though once in a while when I want to sound learned I might throw
in an allusion or two like some people drop names.
Like the other day some
visitor to Paradise Club (PC to us habitus) was dropping names
the way some politicians drop bricks.
"As I was telling Mahinda
the other day," I overheard him say to "Fast Cash"
Mansoor in the kind of stage whisper that you hear at village
Ears went up at the tables
nearby and all within hoo kiyana distance were trying to catch the
drift of the conversation.
Nobody, not even 'Fast Cash'
stopped to ask Mahinda who, because as far as the C7 cuties and the
country are concerned there is only one Mahinda and he is the chap
with the Chinthana which he shows now and then.
Big match blues
Actually the visitor whose
name I never found out, had been referring to Mahinda Halangoda,
that blue-black youngster who saved the school by the sea from being
thrashed when we blue-golds were sitting pretty at the centenary
Royal-Thomian cricket match.
With the match just round the
corner the visitor was dissecting the relative strength of the
teams, which I am told is nothing to write home about, and wondering
whether it was worth witnessing the match. I haven't seen either
team at play because my boss keeps me until dusk falls and schools,
I understand don't play day-night cricket, like some of those
Anyway I am a rugger fan
myself having donned the blue and gold jersey way back when. But it
was not possible to field a team at the Law College even though the
Hulftsdorp black coats were fighting a daily scrum to rope in
litigants and selling dummies to clients day and night. But try as
they would they hardly scored.
Be that as it may, as they
say, all these are white man's games that only came to mind when I
read about the huge team that Mahinda of Chinthana-katha was taking
with him to China.
Whether he can overawe the
Chinese with a battle group of 200 odd officers and men - actually
ministers and others - seems a bit optimistic.
Why even Chairman Mao dealt
with millions - people not Ren MinBi - and so an extra plane load of
people coming to pay tribute does not disturb a single hair on their
leaders' heads or the bamboo chopsticks in the hands of ten of
millions of peasants.
It will probably make a mess
of their carefully planned banquets and the visitors might end up
with soggy pak choy. But then many of our chaps know only Chinese
takeaways prepared by cooks from Kamburupitiya who know as much
about Chinese cuisine as that Bundaloo knows about editing
That anyway was the talk of
the club when I collected my Old Arrack from Siribiris and joined
the usual mid-week gathering.
Joining us that evening was
Bandu Bahubootha, Colombo University academic turned virtuoso NGO
Bahubootha was holding the
floor, extolling the many virtues of the CFA (Cease-Fire Agreement
to the illiterate) when Kosala "Fixer" Kehelmala shut him
No war no cash
"I say Bandu, you fellows
won't get your million buck salaries if this conflict is settled no?
Isn't that true? Then back to eating kos for you."
"Hey Fixer, don't knock
the kos, men. It is all that will be left to eat very soon if prices
keep rising like this."
"You expect prices to
come down," guffawed Kandiah Vinasapathi, formerly of the Civil
Service. "You must be joking. The way money is being printed
you'd think they own a wretched press."
"Why men, they do own the
press - the one at Boru Gedera," chipped in Dr. Ananda (Andy to
the foreign NGOs) Ansabage. "You can print almost anything
"No wonder they print so
much nonsense. The other day some silly fellow wrote from London how
Palitha is closing holes in Colombo," said Bertie Bebaddha,
former MP for Arakkupattu, breaking into a bout of infectious
laughter. "The headline was Foreign Ministry to close
"I haven't heard that
one," shrieked an excited Mabel Manasgathe; "Tell us
"This is the trouble. You
people don't keep up with the comic news. Some fellow called Bushy
or Wishy-Washy or such name is reporting from London saying that the
new foreign secretary is plugging the holes in his ministry."
"This reporter must be
having good eyesight, I mean for him to see all the way from London
the Foreign Secretary closing the holes," commented Dr.
Ansabage. "Is it the holes in their heads?"
"No, no he has not
actually seen it. He says Palitha Kohona wants the hole in the wall
through which some ministry employees are paid their salaries, to be
"Myeee terrible thing
no," cooed Mabel Manasgathe, "Those poor fellows won't get
their salaries then what with the hole closed. Maybe they'll put it
into Mean Air."
"That is not all, this
Kohona chap is doing. He has ordered, according to the clairvoyant
from London, that all the account's department computers which were
in one room for security reasons, now be dispersed so each staffer
will have one on his or her desk. That is not all my friends. He has
suggested that each person have a password so others cannot tap into
"So this earth shattering
news happening in Colombo is being reported from London. Why, he
thinks he will be arrested under the terrorism laws for disclosing
information useful to the enemy is it?" inquired Pulli
Pachchathanni, poet laureate of Pungudathivu. "So couldn't the
reporters in Colombo go look at the hole-closing and write about
Before anybody could answer,
Kesara Kasalagoda, Royal College/
SSC and master tea taster, cut in.
"What happens if one chap
with a password gets laid up with chikungunya or falls off the bus
and ends up in hospital?"
the password goes to the casualty ward with him and the computer
remains silent until he is resurrected," answered Bertie
Bebaddha. "Such a simple yet brilliant scheme no?"
"Why didn't someone think
of this before?" asked an irritated Fixer Kehelmala.
"The answer my friend is
blowing in the wind," piped in poet Pachchathanni. "The
Foreign Ministry never had such brilliant minds. Priority, like
charity begins at home. First plug your own holes. Then plug the
huge holes in your foreign policy."
"Good heavens, I hope he
is not trying to plug the holes in the Great Wall," bleated an
anxious Fast Cash Mansoor, hitting the high Cs.
"What do you mean by
that?" inquired Mabel Manasgathe.
"Why dearie, the man is
in China with some 200 odd others, enjoying Peking Duck and Kung Pao
Chicken. He is with the presidential delegation."
"Not since the Japanese
invasion of Nanking some 70 years ago, has such hordes descended on
China," said yours truly, who had promised to throw in some
historical asides like that woman from the Government Peace
Secretariat who wrote eulogistic prose in recent newspaper articles
with a few French phrases added in a seeming show of erudition and a
display of au fait.
With two new brooms in the
Foreign Ministry sweeping away the cobwebs of diplomacy, our foreign
policy was never in safer hands, as Poet Pachchathanni so eloquently
put it. One is plugging holes in the wall and the head honcho is
reading the diaries of each of our heads of missions to keep tabs on
their work and whereabouts.
"How will he know if the
ambassador to Tierra del Fuego is stuck in a traffic jam or is going
round in circles?" asked Kosala
"Oh that is simple. The
minister will be armed with a satellite navigation or
circumnavigation system or something and he'll be able to track you
to the very spot. So if the ambassador is at a dinner, the
hardworking minister will interrupt him as the soup spoon is about
to reach his lips. Whereupon the ambassador will excuse himself and
leave the table to take an urgent call asking him to go meet
Sour-Gin at the airport," explained Vinasapathi.
No wonder the world's
diplomats are looking at us askance and tapping their heads
What an unbeatable combination
-- Rohitha and Palitha.
They should be opening our
batting at the World Cup. The thought alone will drive the opposing
team round the bend and who cares about foreign policy.