big Indian yarn
as 10-year-olds, we were amused by the way our sub-continental
brothers thought. It was said that an Indian cricket commentator
had, when the famed Indian batsman Polly Umrigar had just come into
bat, said, "Polly is now two runs, only 98 short of his
century!" Another was - "Manjerekar hooked, pulled, cut
and drove to pile up a score of eight runs!" This could be
called positive Indian thinking.
when the Indian Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan recently said that
India was 'great' and that we Sri Lankans should buy armaments only
from India, and not from China and Pakistan, our editors,
columnists, ex- diplomats, regular commentators et al., would not
have taken umbrage, screamed their heads off and called our big
brothers all kinds of bad names, had they understood the Indian way
of looking, particularly at themselves.
even the natives of Great Britain went about calling themselves
'great' when the 'Sun neverset on the British Empire' but Narayanan
and fellow Indians think and call themselves 'great'. There is
nothing lost to Sri Lanka if we call India, 'Great India'
particularly if they act like a great country. We Sri Lankans should
call ourselves 'Little Lankans', if it so pleases those in the
Indian Foreign Ministry.
radar for free
was so much fuss about Narayanan saying that we should 'buy from
India' where armaments are concerned. We asked an Indian friend
whether armaments would come under the FTA (Free Trade Agreement).
He called us a joker. Nonetheless, they had given armaments free
such as radar equipment, he pointed out.
we can't spot Pirapaharan's planes with Indian radar. We complained
saying that Colombo suffered a blackout when we were watching our
team in the finals of the World Cup.
Sri Lankans want the best of everything free? Even we can't see
Pirapaharan's planes with our radar, the same we have given you. So
why are you complaining?"
was unbeatable sub-continental logic and we let it go, but the big
brother went on.
were willing to spend millions to buy radar from the Chinese and we
gave it for free. Acha, we know these Chinese tricks. They want to
watch our southern ports with their Chinese radar from Lanka.
We Indians are not...."
you want to give us only defensive weapons, not the offensive types.
Of what use is defensive equipment against Pirapaharan's
you Sri Lankans don't have brains. You don't need offensive or
defensive weapons to win a war. You don't need weapons at all. How
do you think we won our freedom from Britain, the mightiest empire
ever, in the world? Through passive resistance, sathyagraha, non
Indian defence strategies have changed since Indian independence. If
not they would have sent their sathyagraha brigades instead of the
IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) when the LTTE thumbed its nose at
them. We decided to keep silent on this issue because we too had a
great potent Sathyagraha weapon with us - Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne who
has been showered with honours by the Indians. We shouldn't expose
him to the LTTE.
great Gandhi's weapon against British imperialism was the spinning
wheel, my Indian friend recalled. Gandhi appealed to all Indians,
even to the pukka sahibs, to burn their British tailored suits and
any cloth made in Britain, and wear home spun yarn. The result was
that the mighty textile spinning mills such as those in Manchester
had to close down. The British economy was crippled. All because of
the power of the Indian yarn.
are other kinds of Indian 'yarns' which are as powerful - such as
the famed Indian book of fables, the Panchatantra which outshines
the Aesop's fables,whose traditions the Indian Foreign Ministry
seems to be following, we pointed out.
1974 after the
Chinese had conducted their first atomic test the world was taken
aback with surprise when it heard that the world's leader for
peaceful co-existence, the Messiah of non-violence, leading
campaigner for nuclear disarmament and leader of the non-aligned
world has conducted an atomic test in the Rajasthan desert. Indian
Foreign Ministry Brahmins dismissed the story with disdain - it was
a 'device for peaceful uses of atomic energy'. Most countries in the
world didn't believe this Indian yarn except Sri Lanka under the
Bandaranaikes. Uncle Sam and his allies turned apoplectic and
imposed sanctions on nuclear armaments and fuel supplies, and called
our dear neighbours 'pious hypocrites'. But the New Delhi brahmins,
undaunted, continued with their manthram of 'nuclear power for
peaceful purposes' till in 1989, when they exploded five nuclear
bombs announcing to the world they were a nuclear power.
Sam blew many a fuse once again with his allies, and imposed
sanctions, but our sub-continental brothers are again merrily doing
the nuclear waltz. Last week they were attempting to put the
finishing touches to a new agreement for 'peaceful uses of nuclear
is the power of the Indian yarn.
what has all this got to do with Narayanan's peace loving
advice," queried our sub-continental brother.
intriguing, Aiyar, very intriguing, and as difficult to understand
as your famed Ranmunjom's mathematics," we confessed. Why did
Narayanan and the peace loving brothers not object to Chinese and
Pakistani arms for us all these years, and why now, completely out
of the blue?
the ' hidden hand' at work? George Bush's pin-up girl, Condolezza,
pinned the medal of a 'Global Power' on dear old Manmohan Singh.
Why? Medals are not given for nothing. Does Uncle Sam want you to
run in the Asian Games against China, countervailing force and all
that? Does he want to prevent the Medamulane Rajapakses and Beijing
doing a Ruhunu Vannam to the strains of the Beijing Opera? This may
be only a heat at the beginning of a new Asian Games, we suggested.
you Lankan fellows are always calling us names like 'proxies'. Don't
worry, we are great, the greatest. We are all times champs in
everything," my sub-continental brother thundered.
Rajapakse doctrine in practice
Ma -hinder and not so darling Goatie,
am not normally one to make a difference between siblings dearie.
You don't on occasion see Thellie squeezing the chubby cheek of
one cute little toddler in pink at the supermarket while
watched by her awkward little sister from behind the Kellogg's
Crunchy Nuts. Thellie for one would be particular to squeeze the
cheek of the other sister as well.
The one hiding behind the crunchy nuts that is.
simple gestures would possibly have a profound impact on the two
unknown tiny tots who will grow up knowing that despite life's
slings and arrows; somewhere, sometime, perhaps at a supermarket out
of town, one might find a level playing field where, if one cheek is
squeezed the odds are that so would the other.
is to bring such rays of hope into the Pandora boxes of Paradisian
life that Thellie perhaps has been put on this earth. That and to
guzzle the bubbly.
m'dear if my terms of endearment extend only to you and not to
Goatie such blatant discrimination is only an exception to Thellie's
talking of rules and such I was a tad alarmed at your herding up
some 376 thala thel types last Thursday and kicking them out of the
throughout the ages, rural folk have felt it necessary to flock to
the capitals to better themselves. There they are toiling and
moiling in the soil in some remote corner one moment and before you
know it tinkering in a clapped out garage in Dematagoda for a low
wage the next. It's called moving on up dearie. You should know.
Goatie. It's exactly the feeling one gets when one happens to be
pumping petrol on a cactus route in the land of Uncle Sam and is
suddenly whisked off to Paradise for the sole purpose of irritating
Thellie by whizzing around wildly in luxury bullet proof vehicles in
the thick of traffic.
would be interested to know if irritating Thellie on the highway and
perhaps even on the by way is considered a valid reason for living
in Colombo by your Rounding Up and Chasing Off goons. What, I pose
the question would your RU and CO goons have done if perhaps they
came across the ghost of George Leigh Mallory rocking gently in an
arm chair, sipping a faluda in one of the better lodges in
Wellawatte and watching the crows munch on a rotting rat? When
questioned by the police as to why he travelled to Colombo the
fellow would be just as likely to say 'because it was there,' as
much as he said the very same thing 80 years ago when asked by a
reporter as to why he decided to climb Mt. Everest.
what treatment would Sam-band-an Rajaratnam and his ageing mum
living in a lodge in Wattala get when he tells the police chappies
that the only reason he is in Colombo is because one day his old
mater dazzled by the pandols and having recently read an abridged
version of the Jathaka stories translated into Tamil, had got up of
a morning and told him, Yaman Bando Vesak balanda. Would such a
reply to the police be considered kosher?
mind boggles dearie and not with thoughts of the dapper young
Foreign Ministering angel either.
me if I'm wrong darling but is there some indecent hurry to break
asunder the nuptials of several young females with this pulling
apart and putting asunder? Perhaps there is a sinister plot afoot to
break the love affair of just one lissome lassie whose comely figure
had been kindly countenanced by some fellow. That would explain the
brides being snatched away by the police. Only you would attempt to
find a needle in a haystack.
tell you dearie you are now as popular as King Herod would be if he
walked in uninvited to a Mother's Union Meeting at a Jerusalem
be that as it may as we always say Thellie applauds this cleansing
and wiping out by you and your siblings. Take care though m'dear,
perhaps one day some uniformed blokes might raid the Araliya abode
and ask you if you have a valid reason for staying. And going by the
records so far, chances are you'll be back in Beliatte on a CTB bus
in no time.
ra for now
and our gushing patriots
culpa. That is not a phrase you will hear from our politicians. Have
you ever met a politico who admits to the error of his ways or that
of his government? Besides, most of them wouldn't have heard of it
we journalists are not like politicians, though some of our chaps
behave disgracefully enough to qualify for that accolade, if you
know what I mean.
admit I was wrong to have published the comments of an anonymous
email writer. Not because it did not provide sufficient diversion
from the nightmarish existence that average Sri Lankans like us lead
today under the glorious leadership of our thrice-blessed
least I had a chance to enjoy the subtle humour when most of my days
are now spent searching the horizons for vans - any kind of van mind
you - and gun-toting vigilantes that remind one of the dreaded Klu
Klux Klan and the Black Tigers or Green Tigers or whatever they were
called not so long ago when two-legged animals of all hues and sizes
roamed our streets.
mistake was in publishing part of the contents of that email which
opened the flood gates to literally dozens of others that have since
arrived on every subject from cabbages to kings, if you will pardon
a lapse into poesy.
you know I have been associating with Pulli Pachchathanni, the poet
laureate of Pungodathivu among other habitu‚s of Paradise Club,
and something of his proclivities have rubbed off on me.
that is not what I was going to tell you. There was this email that
came from a high-powered (how high you will soon know) Colombo
citizen. What drew me to it first was its typically Sri Lankan
greeting. "Ado Pachoris," it began and for some reason
which I find inexplicable I was reminded of Mervyn Silva, that
might say it is a pity he is not in the cabinet. If he was they
could have locked it and thrown away the key. That is if the cabinet
itself was too heavy to throw over into the depths of World's End at
Horton Plains. Well you can't have all the luck could you!
I digress. The "Ado Pachoris" email writer signs as Pissu
Hatan, secretary to the Ministry of Foreign and All Other Affairs
(including those of ministers). At least the fellow has a sense of
humour I thought and so I'll share this with you.
Actually I hid under the bed as Pissu Hatan fired his first
volley at me.
find your attempt to ridicule our honours awards and some of our
honourable people contemptible. I don't care a jot what you say
about 'Pachoris Rambukwella' and 'Jakoris Jayatilleke'. But your
attempted humour directed at 'Borushoak Bogollagama' and 'Deshabamboo
Kohona' is bound to demoralise our security forces fighting those
Wanni terrorists and surely create a wrong impression abroad of our
will that happen," asked Kosala "The Fixer" Kehelmala,
interrupting my recital. "Do you think our soldiers in the
frontline read your newspaper?"
that is meant to divert me from reading this letter, it won't
succeed," I said turning once more to Pissu Hatan's epistle.
suppose you are not even vaguely aware of the great contributions
that Rohitha and Palitha have made to global understanding, to
reassure Putin and Bush not to return to the Cold War days. Do you
newspaper fellows realise how much the two have contributed to
reviving the debate on the Kyoto Protocol and a successor treaty. Do
you know what they have jointly done about global warming?"
yes we know," broke in Felix Katepittu, a veteran diplomat now
have added a lot of hot air to the atmosphere as though our
politicians were not contributing enough," he said knowingly.
do you want to hear what Pissu Hatan says or not," I asked
somewhat irritated by the interruptions.
the letter, read the letter," the others shouted in unison,
very much like the Roman citizens demanding to hear Julius Caesar's
since Otto von Bismarck and Klemens von Metternich has the world
seen two such accomplished diplomats. Had Henry Kissinger been in
the Bush administration today he would surely have seen to it that
Kohona succeeded Kofi rather than that bulgogi-eating Korean. Only a
Machiavelli could have timed his departure from the UNP to the SLFP
government as Bogie did with such glorious timing. What more can Sri
Lanka ask for in the way of diplomats who lead from the front though
there are many who would be watching their backs," went on
has a point," interjected Agnes Arapathium, ace reporter of the
Daily Noise whose boss also thinks he is a budding diplomat and
looking for a diplomatic job now that Big Bandu is reigning at Boru
Gedera. "Look it was Kohona who warned the Indians that their
nuclear facilities in the south are potential targets of the LTTE
is true," added Dr. Ananda Ansabage. "Otherwise the
Indians would have been caught unawares when Velu dropped his
wherewithal on Karunanidhi's head. The Indians got so frightened
that they test fired two missiles a few days later."
Kohona did not warn the Indians, they might have thought the
Pakistanis were doing it and all hell would have broken loose."
maybe Kohona will win that Nobel Prize or something for stopping a
nuclear war," intoned Mabel Manasgathe.
let me finish this first," I said and continued with Pissu
Hatan's ode to the diplomatic duo.
may not be aware that the two heroes you have been trying to
criticise have even drawn up a crafty plan to prick the over blown
egos of those LTTE chaps who are congregating in Geneva today to
demonstrate against our own government."
way to fight bloated egos is with another bloated ego. So they
hatched a plan with such tactical precision that it would have won
the applause of great military minds like Moshe Dayan and Sarath
Fonseka. At government expense a great strategist whose intellect is
only comparable to their own, is flying to Geneva to fight
single-handed against the northern hordes before the Human Rights
Council. The French had three musketeers. We Sri Lankans need only
one. I know this because I am the top man in our all embracing
ministry. He has projected himself to the people here as a Sinhala
weeraya, with some help from a religious type. I'll mention no names
naturally. That is the talk among the lower orders of our ministry
here. So watch out for some Periclean oratory to dazzle those
non-entities on the Human Rights Council."
bravo," cheered Mabel Manasgathe. "Who is this clever
chap, tell us his name."
Pissu Hatan mentioned his name," asked Felix Katepittu the
he has," I said.
come on now, Pacho, tell us the name of this Sri Lankan
Socrates," implored Ravi Rateveddah, former UNP MP for Nadagama.
"I didn't realise this government harboured such intellectuals
in its folds."
I will not mention the name for a very good reason. The secretary to
the ministry says that this great patriot shuns publicity and he
would not like it if his name appears anyway in the press, even a
newspaper in Bhutan. There are fools at our end who buy such
nonsense," says Pissu Hatan.
give us a hint, will you," pleaded Mabel Manasgathe.
Pissu Hatan himself provide the clue to his identity. This is how he
some time this week the gentle folk of Geneva suddenly wake up at
night to the lilting melody of that old drinking ditty Duggiage
buriya Bogolla kapala, then it means our man landed with a
that is our man we'll be well and truly landed," added Poet
stalls galloping Bush
G-8 Summit - the meeting of the heads of state of the eight richest
countries - was taking place on Thursday and at the centre stage was
the President of Russia, a country which a decade ago was down in
the dumps with its economy in tatters and near political anarchy
Putin within his second term has not only brought Russia, the
successor to the once superpower, the Soviet Union, back into the
fold of the big powers but is now taking on the president of the
sole superpower George Bush.
Chancellor Angela Merkel who was hosting the summit in Heiligendamm,
on the Baltic Coast, at the time
of writing was reported to be trying hard to prevent the
clash overshadow the main
subject on the agenda - global warming.
its rich gas and oil reserves, Putin now heads a rich and powerful
country and does not pull punches at President Bush who has been
riding rough shod over nations big and small but is now being
humbled due to his failure in Iraq.
in February this year accused the United States of 'imposing itself
on other states' and added that US policies were ruinous to the
world. No other world leaders have been referring to the US in such
terms since the end of the Cold War.
political commentators have been speculating about a new Cold War,
both American and Russian leaders have unequivocally said that there
was no desire or necessity for them to start another war of that
its way to the G-8 Summit Bush stopped over in the Czech Republic
where a radar system which would be a part of the Missile Defence
Shield known as the New Star Wars is being installed. The missiles
are to be installed in Poland. Reports said that the American
President was greeted by Czech demonstrators carrying posters: 'No
had during his short stay in the Czech Republic needled Russia with
remarks such as 'dissent being muzzled' and 'centralisation of
power'. President Putin, he had said had derailed democracy.
is most concerned about the missile defence system that is being
installed in Eastern Europe - in Poland and Czech Republic which
were once allies of the former Soviet Union.
note that Russia considers that these two countries should have been
under its sphere of influence which the US through NATO has
encroached on. President Bush has reiterated that the defence shield
is not directed at Russia but at 'rogue' states such as Iran, a
disbelieves. Russia had rejected the US explanations as 'insufficient'and
President Putin last week said that if necessary Russia would have
to retarget its missiles towards Europe or build up alternative
last week said that this proposed missile system was not a threat to
Russia and not something Russia and the US should be 'hyperventillating
about.' Obviously it is not aimed at Russia's huge arsenal of
nuclear rockets and he hoped that he could discuss this issue with
Putin at the G-8 Summit, he hoped.
to impress upon Russia's opposition to the missile defence shield of
the US, last week Russia said that they had successfully tested a
missile capable of penetrating any defence shield erected by the US.
has new missiles that are capable of overcoming any existing or
future missile defence systems, Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Ivanov had said. The RS- 2 rocket referred to was fired from
the Arkhangelsk region to hit its target 6,000 miles away.
reason motivating the United States to re- commence a missile
defence system having abandoned the Strategic Defensive Initiative
of former President Ronald Reagan is hard to comprehend.
need to invest colossal funds on such a project when both sides
claim they have no intention of pursuing another Cold War is
incomprehensible. While President Bush says that it is meant for a
ballistic missile threat from Iran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator
Ali Larijani last week said that the US claim was 'the joke of the
year'. Iranian missiles are incapable of reaching Europe and the
Americans know it - what is more Europe is our biggest commercial
partner. "What reason should we have to do such a thing?"
he had asked.
Bush is meeting a very tough opponent in his knuckle cracking former
KGB agent who is proving to be no push over. While Bush is pushing
for UN intervention is Darfur and also wants independence for
breakaway Kosovo from Serbia, Putin is opposing them both
Russia's veto powers cowboy Bush can no longer gallop away as he
used to do. But the terms of both Bush and Putin as presidents come
to a close next year. What
the future holds for the world without these two personalities, no
one is guessing as yet.