is said that every dark cloud has
a silver lining and that a
thorny stem holds a rose. But for the 70 families of
Karmanthapura in Ratmalana there are neither silver linings
nor roses.. They talk about wreaths and death, for they say
that their's is a life in hell.
they say that one must die to go to hell, then they are wrong.
This is hell," they say, sitting on the gravel garden
outside the unsteady darkened building that could well be from
the times of Oliver Twist.
children in scant old clothing huddle around the helpless
adults. It is lunchtime but there is no lunch anywhere in
sight. Among them, starving and suffering are several pregnant
women. At a time when they need nourishment and care the most,
these young women long for things that they cannot have.
have not had a proper meal in days. We have no jobs,"
said these women suffering not only from morning sickness but
from the unbearable pangs of hunger.
infants sleep on the only cosy place here - in the arms of
their mothers. But the mothers are exhausted and famished.
They look at our hands in the hope that we have brought them
something to eat.
are the victims of the tsunami. It is almost three years now
and they remain stuck here in Ratmalana, adjoining Kaldemulla
road. This tsunami camp is called Karmanthapura which was at
one time a hive of activity. There was a time when cars and
pick up trucks drove in here with food and dry rations.
is three years now and no one ever comes here. In fact when
people pass this area, they hold their noses and walk as fast
as they could," said the poor women holding on to their
babies with all their might. Hunger and starvation are written
all over their faces with anaemia colouring their eyes.
government has washed its hands off them and the grama sevakas
do not visit them anymore. They are left to fend for
themselves in this strange place.
want to live in the comfort of our own homes. We want to have
a family life once again. Our children go to sleep on empty
stomachs, yet they have no proper place to sleep, they huddle
together in one corner and we adults try to sleep in the
uncomfortable places inside this old building.
it rains, the building is surrounded with murky water and the
only way we can get out of the building is to wade through
this water," said these refugees who are living a few
kilometres away from the city of dances, parties and fun.
children are ill everyday. But we have no money
to take them to the nearest doctor. We cannot go to the
government hospital because we do not have bus fare for the
journey. There is no way that we can buy a packet of milk food
for the infants. Now even the milk food costs more,"
lamented the women.
Nilmini can barely stand up. She is weak with hunger. Her son
is two years old. He was born in this camp. There are few
beautiful things that little Shan Ajith Kumara has seen in his
two years. All he knows about life is the bleak surroundings,
the darkness and the deprivation.
Perera (22) is expecting her second baby. "This is no
place for a baby, but there are many women here who have given
birth," said the woman in tears. She is desperate to get
a better place before the child is born.
fact all the women want houses of their own. "Though we
have been promised heaven and earth, we are not even given a
meal," said these people who have once lived in their own
homes and enjoyed a happy family life.
Lalani and Dilani sit outside the building. "We cannot go
in there. It is unbearable," said these two women in
their first trimester of pregnancy. There are many things that
these young women long for. But as with all of them, money is
plight of the refugees
will these victims of this great natural disaster ever be
taken seriously? When will their problems
end? What about the children? Is this the life that the
powers that be have to offer this section of our future
proper schooling, without proper food, these children are not
only deprived socially but nutritionally too.
the authorities seem unmoved by the plight of these refugees.
Whether they are pregnant, whether there are new babies born
or whether they are ill or dying seem to be of little or no
consequence to the authorities.
suffering and the tears of these refguees of the tsunami,
living in a busy area as Ratmalana ought to make us hang our
heads in shame. For we have failed to reach out to them and
their children. We have failed to urge the authorities to help
our fellow brothers and sisters who now receive nothing,
except for the piles of rotting garbage that are thrown into
the compound of their refugee camp.
living is killing us'
struggle to both board a bus
and then pay for the ride
latest price hike of petrol,
diesel and kerosene has had an adverse impact on the
day-to-day life of the common man, and survival has now become
almost impossible with the high cost of living.
the price increase of diesel by Rs. 4.00 per litre, the prices
of essential commodities have gone up drastically making it
difficult, especially for the middle class, to make ends meet.
Following the fuel price hike, bus fares went up with effect
from last week, adding another burden on the already harassed
commuters who depend on public transport. The price of a
domestic gas cylinder too increased for the second time within
two months and the common man's vehicle - the trishaw too has
increased running charges following last week's fuel price
class most affected
Sunday Leader spoke to a cross section of people to find out
what their views were with the new price revisions. Many of
them voiced their disgust at the manner in which the present
administration was governing the country and added that if
this regime is allowed to continue for another two to three
years 95% of the population will end up being malnourished.
price increases have not affected the lowest strata of society
since whenever there is a price hike they too demand an
increase of their daily wages. The upper class too is not
affected but only the middle class is badly affected since bus
fares, essential commodities and the prices of other
necessities keep going up while their monthly remuneration
get salary increases and other perks but no steps are taken to
increase our pension. Why cannot our rulers consider
increasing the senior citizens' pension? We are now in the
evening of our lives and we need more medication.
doctors at government hospitals prescribe medicines that have
to be bought from a pharmacy. Why cannot the Health Minister
provide all the necessary medicines to
govenment hospitals so that we can obtain them free of
charge? I do not want to be a burden to our children as they
too face many hardships. We would like to have a decent meal
at least once a week but how can we afford even that on a
meagre pension?" asked a senior citizen who strives hard
with his old wife to manage their expenses with his monthly
Wijesooriya,* an accountant at a leading firm in Bambalapitiya
told The Sunday Leader that the time has now come for the
government to stop unnecessary expenditure and deliver on what
has the government done for the innocent people of this
country? The President has forgotten that he has to look after
the entire nation. Instead he seems to be looking after
only a few. Before the elections we thought that he
represents the downtrodden people in the country but now we
know who he is. From the time this government came into power
every single essential item has gone up in price. As an
executive I receive many perks but I am talking on behalf of
the middle class people," she said.
President, wake up from your deep slumber and give us relief
in 2005," said Wijesooriya angrily.
Kamal Senaratne,* a consultant physician practicing in a
leading private hospital in Colombo said that he would prefer
the country to be under British rule. "The country really
prospered in that era. Bribery, corruption, abductions,
killings and nepotism were never heard of. Those found guilty
of any offence were punished irrespective of their status.
What is happening now is just the opposite," he said.
the presidential election President Mahinda Rajapakse said
that the Middle East leaders are his good friends. He used to
boast that since he was a member of a certain committee, the
Middle East leaders had agreed to supply fuel to Sri Lanka at
a cheaper rate once he became president. Where are those
friends of our leader? Why cannot President Rajapakse buy
cheap fuel from the Middle East?" questioned Dr.
employee cites wastage
Premaratne* an employee attached to the Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation, told The Sunday Leader that he never expected the
CoL to rise as much as it has done under this government.
"I too voted for Rajapakse since he is from a village and
would therefore understand the common man's problems. He has
badly let down those who voted for him. Our salaries are not
sufficient to meet our monthly expenses. Whilst it is true
that CPC is incurring losses, the wastage and corruption only
add to the losses in the corporation and if the government can
stop this wastage, we as employees know that the prices of
petrol, diesel and kerosene could be brought down. When the
present president came into power the price of a litre of
petrol, diesel and kerosene were Rs. 80, Rs. 50 and Rs. 30.50,
respectively. Now in a matter of just 20 months the prices
have gone up to Rs. 111, Rs. 71 and Rs. 67 respectively,"
decrease in income
Raja, a three-wheel driver in Mt. Lavinia, said that since he
increased hiring charges his daily income has come down
drastically. "With these regular monthly fuel increases
we too are compelled to increase our charges. But the
passengers are reluctant to accept the increased charges. I do
not blame them as they also undergo the same difficulties.
have three school going children. I used to take them to their
school in Dehiwala in the trishaw but now they go by bus. From
last week bus fares went up as well. We use a kerosene cooker
to cook our food. Now the price of kerosene too has gone up
and I cannot understand how we can continue to exist,"
is the relief?
Samaraweera, a mother of two school going children said that
she and her husband have found it difficult to manage their
monthly expenses with their meagre income. "My husband
works in a private firm and draws a small salary which is not
enough to meet our expenses for even 15 days. Now every
essential item - from gas to bus fares, rice, sugar, coconut
et al., have gone up. But Minister Bandula Gunawardena says
that the government is giving a relief package to the people.
I would like to ask him why he is lying to the nation. Since
he crossed over to the government for personal gain he is
trying to cover the government's incapability to deliver on
the promised pledges," Samaraweera opined.
Vijitha, a single parent of three children working in a
garment factory also faces many hardships with the salary she
draws every month. "Our electricity supply was
disconnected a few months ago as I could not pay the bills.
Since then we managed with kerosene lamps but with the recent
price hike of kerosene oil I have to be in darkness with my
children. Most of the time I starve as I feed my children
first. My children want milk I cannot afford to buy a packet
of milk powder. I feel sorry for my innocent children as they
are suffering immensely. Before the President came into power
he promised to give a packet of rice and a glass of milk to
each school going child but he has now forgotten all those
promises and instead his government is making us suffer
more," she said.
Names changed on request
safe hands in Sri Lanka
history of the Mission
to Seafarers dates back to 1835, when a young Anglican
clergymen, John Ashley, realisedwhile holidaying near the
British Channel that the seafarers who manned ships had no one
to minister to them. He then decided to become their
Mission to Seafarers was founded in 1856, and the headquarters
is located in London. It works through a global network of
chaplains in some 300 ports around the world. The mission's
flying angel logo is inspired by a verse from the Bible (Book
I saw an angel flying in mid heaven with an eternal gospel to
proclaim to those on earth, to every nation and tribe,
language and people," Ashley had said.
Mission to Seafarers in Sri Lanka has been operating at the
Colombo port since 1941, where they run the 'Flying Angel
Centre' which offers the tired and lonely seafarers coming
into the ports of Sri Lanka and bringing in the much needed
commodities, a welcome home where they can rest, relax,
communicate with their families and obtain whatever assistance
they need by way of medical, legal or welfare assistance while
in this country.
is important to note that seafarers around the world lead a
life which at times can be dangerous. There are instances
where their lives may even be at stake in the event of
accidents, piracy or terrorist attacks that are now very
common. Apart from these difficulties the mission provides
assistance to seafarers’ who face difficulties in their jobs
and conditions of work.
global Sea Sunday Service held on the second Sunday in July
each year is of great signifance as it is held to commemorate
the seafarers and focus attention on how important commodities
reach countries mainly by sea. It is a timely reminder of the
vital role seafarers play in our lives in bringing so many of’
our daily needs across the sea, and as well as the sacrifice
made by seafarers who are separated from their families for
several months facing numerable risks at sea.
Mission to Seafarers in Colombo has been revamped recently to
meet’ the’ present day needs of seafarers and offer them a
better service when they get off their ships.
ports of Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee and Hambantota, with the
on-going proposal for further expansion and development will
certainly help to improve’facilities and services in the
Flying Angel Centre situated at No. 26, Church Street, Fort,
Colombo, is now up to international standards when it comes to
welcomming and looking after the seafarers in Colombo.
Transportation from the vessel’to the centre is available and
facilites for leisure include a TV lounge, library, billiards,
table tennis, computers with internet facilities, web camera,
videos, dvd karaoke, a bar and a jewellery shop . A
counselling centre with a chaplain in attendance in a private
room is also available.
challenge the Mission to Seafarers faces at present is how
best to minister to people of many different cultures and
faiths, who are facing increasing physical, cultural and
social isolation. However, despite having to change with the
times, the fundamentals of the mission will not change. It's
purpose is to be there in God's name as a source of help,
strength and hope to seafarers and their families.
the helm of the Mission to Seafarers in Sri Lanka are:
Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II - Patron
Excellency the President of Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Patron
Comdr. Noel Fernando - Chairman
Ravi Jayawickreme, Harbour Master - Vice Chairman
Andrew Payne - Chaplain
Welikala - General Manager
members comprise senior officials from the harbour, navy and
annual Sea Sunday Service is to be held today at the Cathedral
of Christ the Living Saviour in Colombo 7, at 8.15 a.m.
is the key word
Fifty one years of loyalty
his 51 year old career, Solomon
Jesudian Ratnadas has never looked at the grass on the other
side. And it is not that he has not had 'bad patches' in his
life either; for life, he says, was never a bed of roses for
who began his career as a senior clerk of the then Ceylon
Insurance says that the memory of his first day in office is
as fresh in his mind today as it was on June 15, 1956.
after he marked 51 years in the same workplace, working for
the Kotelawalas ,
this Deputy Chairman of Ceylinco Insurance, looks back
at his first days as a senior clerk with the equal trepidation
that he felt then.
was trembling. It was such a scary day," said Ratnadas
with a smile. "My boss was the late Senator Justin
Kotelawala and he was a majestic character and a firm boss.
But despite all these fears I had the confidence and the
determination to go on," recalled Ratnadas.
had then received a salary of Rs.120, with allowances
totaling up to Rs.200, which during those times was
a 'handsome' salary.
hardworking Ratnadas speaks of the day when he was 15 minutes
late to get to office. "We had to come at 8.30 a.m. One
day I came in at 8.40 a.m and there was a message from my
boss, Senator Justin Kotelawala that he wanted to speak to me.
I was so frightened and dialed his number in great fear
began with 'Sir, I am sorry, I got a few minutes late.'
before I could finish the sentence Senator Kotelawala said:
'Good morning Ratnadas, now why did I call you...?"
could not remember why, he told me. He was very charming and
nice. But I couldn't help but feel that he had called to check
whether I was in office. After that day I always arrived on
time," recalled Ratnadas.
is how life began. It was always hard work and I performed the
duties assigned to me with great dedication. I passed my
examinations and as a young man of 26 years, I enjoyed the
challenges of life. With my qualifications and background, I
knew I could have got a better job anywhere, but I stayed on
with Ceylon Insurance. I admired the company for they were the
only Sri Lankan company competing with Insurance companies
from Britain, India and other lands. Besides competing, Ceylon
Insurance was really doing well.." said Ratnadas, his
eyes lighting up with memories of the first successes.
also speaks with great happiness of his days in Australia
during a scholarship that he received in 1960. 'I was living
with an Australian family and I will always remember their
hospitality," said Ratnadas who went on to speak of the
work experience that he received at an insurance company in
Australia during that time.
Ratnadas however was recalled to Sri Lanka with great news -
that he was to take over the job as manager of the Marine
Department of Ceylon Insurance Company as both the Manager,
and the Assistant Manager, Owen Kriekenbeek were
leaving the company.
Ratnadas thereafter took over the topmost job at the
department at that time and had done it to the best of this
goes on to speak of the bad times for Insurance, when
insurance became a monopoly of the state. "In 1964 we
were prevented from continuing with the insurance business any
further. I remember the bad times of 1964, 1965/1966
many were leaving to join places such as the Insurance
Corporation, Ratnadas had remained, refusing to abandon the
sinking ship of private insurance.
"I will not go" I told myself. "For the
day will come when we can do insurance business again..."
had assured himself.
says that he could not leave the company for he was 'averse'
to other places.
And he decided to carry on with the company, come what
may. It was around this time that the young
Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala had assumed duties
after completing his education in England.
Justin Kotelawala was very disillusioned at what was happening
to a company that he had built with the help of
his friends/co-directors," recalled Ratnadas
"For it was now being taken away from him.
Besides, the only high rise building in Colombo at that time -
Ceylinco House - was now ready for occupation. But with the
mere stroke of a pen (of the government authorities)
everything seemed to have come to a standstill.
Deputy Chairman of Ceylinco Insurance went on to speak of a
time when there was no business. "Yet the policies had to
be paid," he said.
"We were not a bankrupt company for we had huge
in the form of government securities yielding an
interest rate of three
and a half percent, but the situation did not permit us
to encash these monies," he added.
was during these hard times that young Ratnadas decided to get
married. "I realised that age was catching up on me and I
had to get married, be they good times or bad," he
1977, Ratnadas' patience paid. His dreams and hopes were
realised for with the change of government, the business of
insurance which was the monopoly of the state was liberalised.
second insurance company
only that, in 1980, the government had set up a second
insurance business called the National Insurance Corporation,
and enlisted the support of the private companies that
had been in insurance before nationalisation.
"They were looking for principal agents, and ours was
automatically the first choice," said this guru of
it was I who set it up with
the assistance of
my colleagues," said Ratnadas of his pioneering
efforts. "And this was how we brought back business to
the Ceylinco group. We set up many branches in the island
including Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa
and other principal towns in the south to Nuwara Eliya,
of the years following 1988, Ratnadas reminisced of how
private companies were allowed to function and the re-entry
into the business of
insurance again. "I was able to set up Ceylinco
Insurance and when we did that we got a licence to do both
life and general insurance and quickly set about our business
as we had already set up branches islandwide..." said
51 years with the company had not been without difficulties.
Infact, there were difficulties galore. All this was the
result of a pioneering effort and the determination of
the people who had stayed on."
is no difference between Ceylinco and my life. It has always
been so and will always be so," he said firmly. Solomon
Ratnadas retires from his 51 year old active career when he
steps down from his top post as Deputy Chairman of Ceylinco
Insurance. He will however continue to work as a director.
advise to all employees is to be patient, come what may.
"Continue with your studies, continue with dedication at
your workplace. Be prepared to face challenges. Make
sacrifices. Do your work conscientiously, with a genuine
effort. Make a genuine effort and make a contribution. Don't
expect to get to the top too soon. Do not worry about what the
future holds and always remember that loyalty is the
keyword," advises Ratnadas.
insists that all employees must contribute to their companies
in a meaningful manner for it is only then that they can
together reap the rewards of their efforts.
set to boost tourism
in this resplendent island of Sri Lanka
has seen better days. Thousands of hotel rooms have been
closed, hundreds of hotel employees laid off and hotel and
resort occupancy is at an all time low. Sliver of hope.
the country is thrown into turmoil over the conflict in the
north and east, its struggling tourism industry is in trouble.
Yet there seems to be a sliver of hope in the form of cricket
- the most unlikely saviour, and it comes at a time when the
country's tourism industry needs it most.
to officials at Sri Lanka Cricket
(SLC), at least 4,000 bookings by British cricket fans
and holidaymakers have been made, and more are expected in the
to their woes, hotels in Sri Lanka have been forced to cut
prices in an attempt to win back tourists. With bargains on,
it seems like a great time to visit. However, to date, most of
the visitors to the hotels are locals.
island has struggled to attract tourists in the aftermath of
the tsunami of December 2004, compounded by the escalating
violence in the north and east. Some hotels have had to close
in the last few months as their occupancy levels had
southern cities of Hikkaduwa and Galle have been reduced to
that of ghost towns, and local hoteliers attribute it to the
drop in tourist numbers.
foreign countries advising their citizens against travelling
to areas in the north and east, tourists still shy away from
visiting even other locations. Sri Lanka has also been one of
the top sellers for weddings but tour operators and hoteliers
are now relying on the upcoming
tour by the England cricket team which would hopefully
encourage tourists to return.
officials said that they expect the England tour to lift the
sagging tourist arrival figures.
from Britain, a major tourism market for Sri Lanka have fallen
drastically this year compared to arrivals around the same
time last year, according to Tourist Board figures. ’
official said, "The tour has been split with the One Day
Internationals due to take place in October and the tests in
December, but the teams and fans will be arriving in mid
September and November, respectively." The official also
added that this is the first time England is touring Sri Lanka
since the 2003-2004 series.
for the security situation affecting the tour, he said,
"The last time England toured we were facing a difficult
time but that did not deter the England cricket team or their
fans, and this time around we hope for an even bigger crowd of
has teamed up with the Sri Lanka Tourist Board and will have
special counters at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports,
and at the Colombo International Airport, Katunayake, to
handle the "Barmy Army," as the English supporters
English tour, it is hoped, will swell the number of tourists
if the current promotional work is a success according to SLC
will play the one-day leg mostly in the north-central town of
Dambulla, which is a
cultural hub with the famous rock fortress of Sigiriya
as the backdrop.
Tests are to be played in Colombo, the southern port city of
Galle and the popular hill resort of Kandy.
will also be the first Test match in Galle since the town was
devastated by the December 2004 tsunami.
concert a 'perfect tribute'
charity memorial concert
for Diana, Princess of Wales, was "the most perfect way
of remembering her," Princes William and Harry have said.
William told the 63,000-strong crowd at London's Wembley
Stadium that his mother would have enjoyed the tribute.
Sunday's gig marked the life of Diana, who died in a 1997
Paris car crash, on what would have been her 46th birthday.
Elton John brought the concert to a close after sets by stars
including Sir Tom Jones, Take That and Rod Stewart.
William and Prince Harry opened the six-hour show and returned
to the stage at the end of Sir Elton's final set, praising the
artists for an "incredible evening."
you to all of you who have come here tonight to celebrate our
mother's life," Prince William said.
us this has been the most perfect way to remember her, and
this is how she would want to be remembered."
from the event, broadcast to 140 countries, go to charitable
causes favoured by the princess.
William, 25, added that he hoped the show had raised
"enough money to make a difference."
princes later mingled with the stars of the concert at the
after-show party at the Wembley Arena.
a video tribute, ex-South African President Nelson Mandela had
earlier praised Princess Diana's "energy, courage and
selfless commitment" as he urged the crowd to
"support the work that continues in her name."
Prime Minister Tony Blair and ex-US President Bill Clinton
were also among those who recorded video tributes to Diana.
think that in William and Harry, the qualities that made Diana
special live on," said Blair.
in the concert Prince Harry paid tribute to fellow soldiers
serving in Iraq.
22-year-old was due to be deployed in Basra, Iraq, this year,
but military commanders decided it was too much of a risk.
wish I was there with you. I'm sorry I can't be. But to you
and everybody else on operations at the moment, we would both
like to say 'stay safe'," he said.
Elton, 60, who famously performed a reworked version of Candle
In The Wind at Diana's funeral, opened the concert with a
rendition of Your Song, performed in front of a giant
photograph of Diana by Mario Testino.
was followed by '80s stars Duran Duran, who played a trio of
songs including Wild Boys - which they dedicated to the
princes - and Rio, one of their mother's favourites.
English National Ballet of which Princess Diana was a patron
brought a change of pace to the day - a reminder of the
princess's love of ballet, while the theatrical theme
continued later with a medley of hits from composer Andrew
Quo, Sir Tom Jones, Will Young and Joss Stone all took to the
stage in the afternoon.
rumours that Robbie Williams might join Take That on stage
of Princes William and Harry's favourites followed, including
a poignant moment when P Diddy dedicated his track, I'll Be
Missing You to the princess.
years ago, Princess Diana went to a better place," he
said. "Today we celebrate her life and I dedicate this
song to her."
evening wrapped up with entertainment from comedian Ricky
Gervais, who was forced to improvise when technical problems
caused a minor delay to Sir Elton's closing set.
Prince Harry had made a joke at the expense of the Extras
star, saying: "When William and I first had the idea, we
forgot we would end up standing here desperately trying to
think of something funny to say.
leave that to the funny people - and Ricky Gervais."
Cowell, a judge on The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, paid
tribute to the princes' efforts in organising the concert.
put on one heck of a show," he told them.
years to come, if you ever get tired of running the country,
you can come and work for me producing TV shows."
is this guy who had been
lost and walking in the desert for about two weeks.
hot day he sees the home of a missionary.
and weak, he crawls up to the house and collapses on the
missionary finds him and nurses him back to health.
better, the man asks the missionary for directions to the
his way out through the backdoor, he sees this horse.
goes back into the house and asks the missionary, "Could
I borrow your horse and give it back when I reach the
missionary says, "Sure but there is a special thing about
this horse. You have to say 'Thank God' to make it go and
'Amen' to make it stop."
paying much attention, the man says, "Sure, okay."
he gets on the horse and says,
God," and the horse starts walking.
he says, "Thank God, thank God, " and the horse
really brave, the man says,
God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God," and the
horse just takes off.
soon he sees this cliff coming up and he is doing everything
he can to make the horse stop.
stop, hold on!!!!"
he remembers, "Amen!!"
horse stops four inches from the cliff.
man leans back in the saddle and says, "Thank
the Great Britain Beer Festival
in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a
beer.The guy from Corona sits down and says, "Hey Senor,
I would like the world's best beer, a Corona." The
bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to
him.The guy from Budweiser says, "I'd like the best beer
in the world. Give me 'The King Of Beers, a Budweiser."
The bartender gives him one. The guy from Coors says,
"I'd like the only beer made with Rocky Mountain spring
Give me a Coors." He gets it. The guy from
Guinness sits down and says, "Give me a coke." The
bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he
ordered.The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask,
"Why aren't you drinking a Guinness?" The Guinness
president replies, "Well, if you guys aren't drinking
beer, neither will I."
niece overseas is getting married
and wants to include some Sri Lankan traditions in her
wedding, which is going to be over a period of four days.
I get mails and calls to check out certain things. I had to
figure out how to incorporate butterflies into their outfits!
I don't know if my suggestion is being put into operation,
i.e. to have them in the bouquets in between the flowers.
latest was my sister asking me if she really has to marinate
the fruit over a period of time before making the wedding
cake. She was really relieved when she heard of my method,
since her's sounded so much better, viz. cut up everything
using the food processor, mix in all essences and ingredients
together and then pop in the oven to bake.
I can whiz through what normally takes days to do, in a matter
of about an hour. Well, it does taste good! Truthful people
have told me so.Even the time when there was no brandy in the
house, since the Chief Occupant had imbibed it all, and I
added Tequila instead, it was good.
wasn't my fault, you assume certain things are in the liquor
cabinet and anyway you have the hassle of buying loads of
ingredients for this ruddy cake. Things should be normally in
the places they are meant to be. I can't be expected to check
everything, for heaven's sake.
you find out that all the ingredients are not available in one
supermarket, since everyone has made their cakes two months
earlier (grrr!) and they have run out of supplies. So you have
to hotfoot it to the next 'super' and so on. Quite exhausting!
had told her to include preserved pineapple in the cake
mixture too. No way, Jose, I said! She even made a mock cake,
so my niece could taste and approve of it beforehand.
Foreigners like less spices and ginger in the cake, I was
informed. Hm! Our Dutch Burgher recipe is very good, I think.
A case of under-developed taste buds!
sister said luckily she took my other niece and bridesmaids
along with her, to help choose the wedding dress. She said she
didn't want to say a word at the first dress the bride tried
on, since she went into raptures over it. She thought it
rather ghastly, but kept quiet. The younger sister took one
look at her and said, "You look like a puffy, decorated
pin cushion!" You know, sisters!
can get away by saying the most outrageous things. She heaved
a sigh of relief when it was immediately cast aside.She had
another horrendous and gruelling morning, taking the
bridegroom to help choose his suit. Apparently, my
brother-in-law took a pressure pill beforehand so he wouldn't
lose his cool!
of all, the bridegroom being a Bohemian type, turned up in
shorts, sandals and a tee shirt. When they pointed out it
would be better if he wore shoes and a shirt etc, to try on
the suit, he said, "Well, I haven't brought any along
with me, have I?"
before my b.i.l. could blow his top, my sister quickly said,
"Oh, I'm sure they'll have them at the shop." So he
tries on the coat over the tee shirt and then obviously looks
very odd with shorts and sandals. The shop ladies then bring
him a shirt so he can fit it on properly, and he starts
undressing in front of them!
sister grabbed at him and shoved him into a cubicle. The shop
lady looks him up and down when he emerges, and says, "It
would look better without those, (pointing at the sandals)
though I really like them a lot."
he views himself from several angles in front of the mirror,
and gazes, and gazes.the shop ladies say even a bride has
never taken so long to decide. By then, my sister has a
splitting headache and glancing nervously at my b.i.l. says
brightly, "Why don't we have lunch and think about
it?" So they console themselves with a really nice lunch,
go back, and after much pondering and gazing, he decides on
the very first suit! All this took a mere five hours. He is
also under the impression that the bride is wearing red,
though actually the bridesmaids are. They want her dress to be
a total surprise, so they are keeping mum.
Honky Tonk Woman
first thing you notice about
living in Perth or Fremantle is that the people are for the
most part very friendly. Much more so than back home where
friendship - pardon this cynic - seems to often be doled out
in rations depending on either a) what you can do for the
person, or b) what it is about you that they like and want to
be associated with.
do not mean to give you the impression that the Australian
people are by all means considered a fun loving jovial lot.
Both statements (in the last paragraph) are generalisations
and I accept them for what they are.
a friendly lot
I have observed that there are more people here that are open
to the idea of friendship or association with me than there
would be back home.
could be the case for a lot of reasons. Perhaps I think more
like they do. Perhaps I have been lucky to find the minority
of people who are nice. I hear a lot of stories about people
who are not nice after all. Perhaps it is the fact that
Fremantle and Perth seem to work like a small village;
everyone knows everyone else.
western half of the country is not a small place. It supplies
the nation with food and with the mining that accounts for
most of the country's economy. It is bigger in landmass area
and size than most of Europe. Yet it has a tiny population in
comparision to its size due to the climate and landscape, and
most of that population is centred around Perth and the mining
it is best to say that Perth and Freo work like Colombo does
to an extent. Maybe the gossip network is just as strong. But
the moment you meet a new Sri Lankan, they ask questions about
your family and relations to try figure out if they are
related to you or know someone - anything for a term of
reference to start a conversation. People here do not ask who
you are related to but they do ask if you know so-and-so once
you tell them where you work or study or what you are involved
the networking here revolves more around what people do or
where they live, rather than who they are related to. I have
had people ask me if I know so-and-so who goes to Notre Dame.
Not very likely mate.
guess inane questions are to be found all over the world.
There is no escaping them.
I am serious about the small village syndrome. I could
suddenly find that somehow, inescapably, I am connected to my
next door neighbour via a friend of a friend of a friend. Not
that I am obliged to know them - they can be noisy at times.
They keep switching the dishwasher in their kitchen on, when I
am ready to go to bed and their kitchen backs on to my
bedroom. Who was the wonderful architect who planned that
wonder of interior design, I wonder.
it is amazing how news travels, and how fast. I could run into
random people in Perth who know me through my partner's
mother, who will hail me in the street, remember my name and
know every minute detail of my life despite the fact that I
only met them once. They get all their news through her. I
guess I have been adopted. People in Fremantle know me by
sight now and know my life history even if they cannot
remember my name. The people who run the two newsagents know
me, the travel agent knows me, everyone in a bookstore for
miles around definitely knows me and the baristas in Dome are
so familiar with me that the moment they see me come through
the door they have run my order and started making my hot
chocolate. Apparently I am a fixture in Fremantle now.
the right choice
I cannot complain. This is why I chose not to live in
Melbourne or Sydney. Sure, there are Sri Lankans there and I
am sure they are very happy. But I see no point in taking the
chance to live abroad for a while and then choosing to live
somewhere where you would inevitably get drawn into a 20,000
member strong diaspora and you would never have a chance of
meeting anyone else. And with the gossip and networks, any
chance of a private life would be moot. If I wanted to be
around Sri Lankans 24/7, I would have stayed at home - a few
are all right but I would like to be friends with other
this is why I chose Perth. Tonight I get on a flight to go to
Brisbane before I head for home. I will be away for a month.
The number of people that I have only met recently or met once
or twice who claim they are going to miss me and have called
my house or my cellphone to wish me luck is overwhelming, and
I am touched. Hence I thought I would write about them this
is a strange thing. You can make friends in a minute who will
be lifelong buddies or you can spend a good part of your life
just getting to know someone well enough to consider them a
friend. And sometimes someone you never thought would be a
friend - merely someone you know, suddenly finds they have
more in common with you than they thought - something you
could have pointed ages ago - and wants to spend time with you
more often. And you take the chance because you can never have
too many friends.
if as with me, they do end up getting scattered across the
world and never even think of emailing you.