World Affairs








A crime spree that is traumatising society

Many are the crimes that have gone unsolved


More Review Articles...

Would 2008 see better treatment of animals in Sri Lanka?

My dietician and I

Improving the quality of care for women

Mental disorder on the increase









Putting aside the insecurity created by the frequent political violence, the war, and the ghostly white vans and kidnappings, there are many brutal killings taking place on an almost daily basis in all corners of the country, so much so that Sri Lankans are finding it harder to cope by the day.

With the north and east  unsafe due to the war, the insecurity due to terrorism has hit Colombo, much harder than before.

If one thinks the south is safe, it is now said to be the foremost breeding ground for underworld criminals in the country.

Criminal deeds

A man's finger was cut by a robber who tried to steal his wedding ring. He died of excessive bleeding. The Mayor of Hikkaduwa was shot dead two years ago. Let us not forget the lives that are snatched away every year by reckless bus drivers, and other drunken drivers.

Some say it is because crime rates have soared in recent years while others blame the media for the coverage given to these stories. 

Sri Lanka, as a whole, has become an insecure place to live in, and it didn't happen last night, or on the day Mahinda Rajapakse was elected president - contrary to popular belief.

Anyone could be a victim of a claymore attack, or a brutal killer on personal revenge. Someone may attack you while robbing you, or else a reckless private bus driver would knock you down on the road.

The question in mind is 'have criminal offences been on an upward trend?'

Little or no faith

The public has little or no faith in local authorities taking appropriate action on criminals resulting in many victims looking to alternate means of revenge. There is a surge in crime  in many parts of Sri Lanka while the increase of reported cases of incest is also of particular concern.

Awareness is a key component in reducing these crime rates and the public must be educated on how to be alert to their surroundings as well as the importance of reporting the crimes.

Apart from providing legal assistance to victims, especially women and children, authorities also need to take prompt and appropriate measures to offer psychological help to those who are traumatised by certain criminal acts such as rape and assault.

And yet, officials remain cautious of commenting on the crime scene in Colombo.

Many claim that there was a significant drop in the crime rate in Colombo, attributing this to the tightened security, army checkpoints and random house checks being conducted by the police and the security forces in the city and the suburbs.

Not brought to light

Apart from a few high profile cases, the number of reported crimes has reduced due to the efforts of the armed forces and the local police according to authorities who stress that the public should be more vigilant about their surroundings and should inform the police or any local authority of suspicious looking vehicles or people.

However, trust between the people and the police is deteriorating, despite the police urging the public to provide information even to an officer they may trust because according to the police, many crimes such as rape and assault are not reported to the law enforcement authorities because victims are either afraid or ashamed to bring the incident to light. 


Would 2008 see better treatment of animals in Sri Lanka?

Governor, Central Province, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa at a KACPAW sterilisation clinic

By Risidra Mendis

Cruelty to animals has been a subject much talked about for years. But the extent to how far cruelty can go when it comes to animals was revealed in May 2007 when three dogs were taken from the Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW) allegedly by a Professor of the Veterinary Faculty, University of Peradeniya on the pretext of adopting them.

Polly, Wussie and Perry — all in excellent health were taken from the KACPAW shelter by one of the professor’s lab assistants.

Cruel act

According to the Secretary, KACPAW, Champa Fernando the professor had then paid another veterinary surgeon to cut up these innocent dogs. "Polly’s adrenal glands and kidneys were removed and she died a slow and agonising death while Wussie’s pancreas was ripped out. The veterinary surgeon who removed Wussie’s pancreas was unaware that he had damaged her bile duct and obstructed it. Perry the third dog had two huge incisions requiring 32 sutures but no organs were removed from her. The sad part to this gruesome story is that it has never been revealed what the true purpose of these surgical procedures was," said Champa.

Champa explained that Wussie, owing to her pancreas being removed and bile duct being obstructed, developed jaundice and diabetes, and needed constant care and expensive medication until she died on December 8, 2007, after six months of suffering as a diabetic. "She lived this long thanks to the intervention of three eminent medical personnel and the expertise of the veterinary clinicians of the Clinical Department, Veterinary Faculty, University of Peradeniya," she added.

According to Champa when Wussie developed jaundice, on the advice of heart surgeon Dr. Lakshman Dalpathado, KACPAW had Wussie scanned by a radiologist. Radiologist, Teaching Hospital Peradeniya, Dr. Badra Hewawitharana had agreed unhesitatingly to scan Wussie. The scan revealed that Wussie’s bile duct was obstructed. "She recommended that KACPAW requests a medical surgeon to supervise the veterinary surgeons in clearing this obstruction, a common operation done in human beings, but not so common in dogs," Champa explained.

Historic operation

KACPAW’s request for help to eminent surgeon Prof. Channa Ratnatunga of the Department of Surgery, Medical Faculty, University of Peradeniya, was also acceded to, unhesitatingly. On June 21, 2007 in a historic operation which saw medical and veterinary professionals working together, Prof. Ratnatunga assisted in the surgery by veterinary surgeon Dr. Aruna, who cleared Wussie’s bile duct in a three hour operation at the Veterinary Faculty along with the expertise of Professor Indira Silva and Dr. Niranjala de Silva, senior clinicians, Clinical Department, Veterinary Faculty.

"Wussie’s care after the operation was provided by KACPAW under the strict instructions of Prof. Silva.

Inquiries into unethical and inhumane veterinary practices

KACPAW reported the actions of the two veterinarians to the Sri Lanka Veterinary Council (SLVC). "The SLVC has completed its investigation and should be publishing its findings soon. So we may learn why Polly and Wussie had to suffer and die," says Champa. KACPAW also requested an inquiry from the University of Peradeniya. Higher Education Minister, Prof. Viswa Warnapala has also requested for an inquiry.

More than six months after the "surgery" (which both veterinary surgeons have admitted to in writing) the University of Peradeniya has still not made any public statement. But the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University responded to an enquiry from the Governor, Central Province by saying that a Committee of Inquiry was "in the process" of finalising a report. He wrote, "Meanwhile, I wish to inform you that pending the outcome of the inquiry, the university has taken steps to issue guidelines specifying the procedure to be adopted in using animals for experiments with a view to avoiding the occurrence of such incidents in future."

The SLVC has also said "the council is seriously thinking about formulating a set of regulations which will clarify ethics in professional veterinary care and responsibilities of registered veterinarians."

These veterinarians who were responsible for the gruesome deaths of these innocent dogs still continue with their practice despite the cries of animal rights activists. The only consolation left for those who fight on behalf of animals’ rights and their welfare is the new Animal Welfare Bill that has been gazetted as a Private Member’s Bill by MP Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thero.

"This Bill is the only hope left to protect animals from being subjected to such cruel ordeals as the perpetrators of cruelty on animals most often get away with their crimes," animal rights activists claim.

Great service

KACPAW was set up in 1999 and has been at the forefront of campaigning for humane rabies control. Due to its close association with the Health Ministry and the Veterinary Faculty at the Peradeniya University and strong support from the Governor, Central Province, KACPAW has been able to carry out practical measures as well as acting as a pressure group.

KACPAW’s work over the years has been nationally recognised and has perhaps inspired many other groups to address the issue of stray dogs in different parts of the country. KACPAW will continue its sterilisation and public awareness programmes in 2008 and hopes that this year will be a better one where innocent animals will not be subject to cruelty and torture.


My dietician and I

Last month I was warded in a class one hospital. Not only the hospi-tal but also the specialist in whose charge I was and his team were superb. The nurses were simply wonderful. They were a dedicated lot, concerned about each patient, well trained, full of manners,  kind and friendly. In short they were the embodiment of Florence Nightingale herself. The wards were clean, spick and span and well maintained. Any patient would be comfortable and feel at home in the atmosphere.

But my confrontation was with the dietitian who gave me a formidable list of 'don'ts' -  of the food items I should not take. Going through the list I found I had only one option left - wind and water. It's not surprising, for when I get up in the morning or after my post prandial siesta, I feel dizzy as if I am floating in air - true to my diet - a Hobson's choice!


This is not the end of it. When I wanted a certain food item, the dietitian raised an objection. "Oh! No. It has too much energy," she said. Pray what would it do to me? Make me hop around and jump and leap along the hospital corridors amusing the nurses? That too at three score and ten plus years! What a ghastly sight it would be!

So many vegetables, fruits and other forms of food were banned because those are supposed to contain an element called potassium. All these fruits and vegetables were taboo for poor me.

I was at the end of my tether when I asked the boy who brings meals why a certain item was not served and he said it has potassium. I flared up and asked him whether he has seen potassium. He didn't see 'k' but he saw stars at my outburst.

The young text book dietitian seems hardly aware that food taken with displeasure does no good to the system while what is eaten in a happy frame of mind is beneficial to the person.

Neither does she seem to know there are different categories of patients. Those who are scared and having fear of death who will eat the most unpalatable food if it is the only thing good for them; and there are those independent type who have the dare devil attitude to reject such food even under threat of death. The psychology of the patient should best be considered.


In our home, and our  family are usually, the rebellious, defiant ones who'll brave anything in the world to have their way. I belong to the latter category of patients. I get a devilish delight in eating just what is denied me - I will survive - I know.

This element potassium is so vicious that at the slightest opportunity it will throttle the patient.

This monster of an element is around to devour helpless patients. Aren't there any valiant knights among the medical staff to vanquish this menacing dragon of an element potassium and save the poor patients in distress?

I hope by this time you would have guessed the vicious  element - also called element  'k' is for potassium - that is the dreaded chemical that plays havoc in a patient's system and life.

And so the diet chart is hanging on the wall facing me, like the Sword of Damocles warning me of the potassium that hints on the transience of good health and life itself.

- Thilaka


Improving the quality of care for women

By Fathima Razik

The Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SLCOG) has as its mission for the year 2008 to 'Improve the quality of care for women,' declared by its 22nd president - Dr. Rohana Haththotuwa, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and chairman, Ninewells CARE Mother and Baby Hospital. He is also the chairman, Reproductive and Endocrinology Committee of the AOFOG and treasurer South Asian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The new president was inducted by the outgoing president, Dr. Lakshman Senanayake on January 13. President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Professor and Head, St. George Hospital and Medical School, London, Professor S. Arulkumaran was the chief guest on the occasion.

'Why is it deemed necessary to focus on improving the quality of care?' was the question posed to Dr. Haththotuwa.

Commenting, he said that the definitions of quality have been defined as: 'The quality of technical care is the application of medical science and technology in a way that maximises its benefits for health without increasing its risks,' and '.the proper performance - according to standards of interventions known to be safe, affordable to society, and that have the capacity to produce an impact on mortality, morbidity, disability and malnutrition.'

Explaining the reasons, Dr. Haththotuwa said that developing countries tend to concentrate on caring for the large numbers of patients who seek treatment and in Sri Lanka we need to improve on the existing quality of the care provided to mothers and babies. "Quality is considered expensive but we need to meet the demand for quality care that patients expect," he said. The benefits of quality care are the health status, quality of life and patient satisfaction among other benefits. The social and economic benefits would include the most efficient use of resources and also a higher national economic growth.

Elements of quality of care include access to care, broad range of appropriate technologies, counselling and information to meet the needs of patients, technically competent service delivery, respectful interpersonal relations, appropriate follow-up and provide or offer links to RH services.

To the question, 'What can SLCOG do to improve quality of care?' Dr. Haththotuwa, replying, said that he firmly believed SLCOG could play the following roles in improving quality - that is in advocacy, training, continuing professional education, setting standards of care, monitoring and supporting supervision, partnership with other professionals and in regulation and accreditation (an area which needs further discussion).

Elaborating on a few areas he said that Sri Lanka should be proud that we have the lowest maternal mortality rate in the South Asian region. But this masks the high maternal mortality rate in certain districts like Nuwara Eliya. So we need to concentrate more in these areas to improve the health services provided.

Also post partum haemorrhage continues to be the leading cause of maternal deaths. In this regard he stressed that we should introduce drugs such as Mesoprostol which is very effective and easy to use in controlling PPH. Dr. Haththotuwa also highlighted the need to reduce  preventable deaths due to unsafe abortions. During the last 10 years it has been the third highest cause of maternal deaths in Sri Lanka.

As indirect causes of maternal deaths account for about one fourth of the deaths he said that we should seriously consider sub-speciality training for obstetricians in medical disorders complicating pregnancy.

Concluding Dr. Haththotuwa said that he firmly believed that SLCOG should aim to ensure high quality care for patients by improving standards and influencing policy and practice in modern medicine. The college must sets standards for clinical practice, define and monitor medical education and training programmes for postgraduates, support doctors in their practice of the specialty, and advises the government, public and the profession on healthcare issues.

Let us then hope that the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will achieve its desired goal in the year 2008 - that of improving the quality of care provided to patients. 


Mental disorder on the increase

By Nirmala Kannangara

It is disheartening to note that the number of mental dis-order patients has alarm-ingly increased over the past decade and psychol-gists and counse-llors are of the view that it may be related to the growing socio problems in families apart from the familial trend for mental illnesses.

"Years ago, 90% of the mental illnesses were due to familial trend but the present state of socio dilemma has resulted in many people being depressed and traumatised, and the figure is increasing alarmingly," a consultant psychologist at the Mental Hospital, Angoda, on the basis of anonymity told The Sunday Leader.

Women and children most affected

According to the consultant psychologist, social problems have become the main reason for the present increase in mental disorders and 75% of such patients are women who have failed to cope with their problems.

Meanwhile Dr. A.J. Fernando of the Mental Hospital in Mulleriyawa told The Sunday Leader that high depression too can lead to mental disorders. "When it comes to children who cannot cope with their studies and are  depressed then that too can lead to mental disorders," added Dr. Fernando.

However she further said that post partum psychosis - a condition some women go through soon after delivering a baby could also lead to mental disorders, especially if they are isolated from their families.

"If such mothers do not get support and attention from their families they can end up being mentally depressed. However, such conditions can be treated successfully. On the other hand if such conditions are ignored then it can lead to long term depression," added Dr. Fernando.

Elmo Lewis of the Sahana Foundation told The Sunday Leader that those who were affected by the tsunami have been referred to counsellors as they have undergone severe trauma.

Tsunami victims

"Soon after the devastating tsunami we took charge of 13 orphaned children and later, the Hambantota and Karapitiya hospitals sent 18 more depressed young girls and boys to this foundation. At first they did not show any signs of mental illness but gradually they appeared strange. Some Norwegian doctors who were assisting us diagnosed that since these children had undergone much trauma and they were mentally ill. Out of the 17 school going children at the Sahana Foundation only two wanted to continue with their studies and the rest were reluctant to go to school as they were not in a proper frame of mind to follow lessons," added Lewis.

According to Lewis most of the children scream in their sleep due to bad dreams and some do not wish to go to the beach whereas some still prefer to go to the beach to see whether they could trace their family members.


"Some of the children who have lost all their family members still prefer to go to the beach to trace their kith and kin. They are still of view that their parents, brothers and sisters would return and are eagerly waiting to see them. It's so touching to see how these children react whenever they see strangers as they imagine that they are their family members," he said.

However Lewis further stated that according to psychologists if the counsellors fail to convince the reality of human life to those who have lost their parents' love and affection, the possibility of curing these innocent children are remote and they would end up spending the rest of their lives in mental hospitals.

Meanwhile sources from Women in Need (WIN) told The Sunday Leader that the number of women who suffer from traumatic conditions due to harassment from their husbands, fathers and male family members are also on the increase.

Abuse by husbands

According to them although WIN has been able to save many women who need support still there are cases that had to be referred to psychologists as their mental state is beyond the counselling that they offer. "In most cases we talk to both the parties and settle the problems amicably. But there are some instances where any form of settlement is beyond the counselling that we provide and such cases are referred to doctors. Many of them are being treated  for mental illnesses," added the sources.

However the sources further stated that according to the information they receive from such traumatised women it is husbands and fathers who are addicted to alcohol and gambling that are the main reasons for such conditions.

"It's really pathetic to note that most wives are harassed by their husbands under the influence of liquor. There are some who lose money by gambling and then harass their wives. Ultimately it is the wife who has to pay the price for the husband's sins," added the sources.

Devoted son

Referring to the  severe trauma that a lady from a well to do family faced, the source from WIN said that the husband who was in the travel and tourism trade had assaulted his wife regularly for no apparent reason. "According to their only child the father who comes only during the weekends had first started mistreating his mother and then had gradually started to assault her for no reason. Once the son had followed his father and found that he was going to a well known club in Colombo to gamble. Although the mother and the son have tried to stop him from gambling the assaults and fights have never stopped but had in fact increased. Finally the son who was doing his A/L's at that time wanted to intervene but it was too late. Her condition worsened and she was admitted to the Mental Hospital in Angoda. For the last three years she has been in hospital and the son is desperately looking for ways and means to get his mother - whom he is very devoted to, cured at any cost," added the sources.

Underage marriages

Meanwhile according to the Social Services Department tsunami victims suffering from mental disorders have increased in the past three years.

"Those who have lost their children too are undergoing severe depression and young girls who were given in marriage at a tender age while at tsunami camps too are reported to be depressed due to the numerous socio problems," said Social Service Department sources.

According to them marrying off  underaged children living in tsunami camps has caused much mental trauma, and depression among war widows too is alarmingly on the increase.

 The feeling of being secure

All this talk about security and how safe we are, got me thinking
about some frivolous aspects of it. It’s always better to smile at situations. Anyway, recently, I was alone since Caveman had departed on a Very Important Unavoidable Assignment. I had the whole bed to roll around as much as I wanted. This part of it I love, and also I can watch movies until early morning.

Anyway, I was suddenly awoken by a loud growling noise. My goodness, I thought sleepily, now we have been invaded by a dog! Since I am almost blind without my contacts on, I blearily dragged myself out of bed and cautiously poked my head out of my room. Lo and behold, the noise was coming from our front verandah. Then it dawned on me that it was our security guard snoring thunderously. He actually woke me upstairs with the racket! Anyway, I was relieved, since I didn’t feel like facing an angry dog, especially in my sightless condition. I went back to sleep, smiling!

The ‘Casanova’

The next morning, as I woke up, I was giggling by myself. Anyone who spied me would have had serious doubts about my sanity. This was because I remembered another young, pleasant faced guard. Every evening, as he came on duty until we went to bed, he would be scribbling away furiously in a notebook. Caveman brought this to my attention saying, "See how hardworking these young people of today are! Instead of wasting his time, he’s studying."

I gazed at him in respectful admiration. Then he told me to make a flask of coffee for him every night, since he was occupying himself so usefully every night. This went on, until suddenly, the battery of the car had been removed and taken from right under his nose. "This is a miserable job. When the whole world is sleeping, he has to be up. He must be exhausted after all his cramming and must have dozed off for a few minutes, poor chap," said Caveman sympathetically.

Ruse exposed

In two weeks, there was a repeat performance of the same thing. He had gone off duty, and so didn’t know the battery had been removed, because the thief had even closed the bonnet and until Cavemen tried to start the car up, we didn’t find out about it. Then we told the maid we’ll have to tell him not to study so much, since it was exhausting him so much.

She started laughing so hard, she was doubled up and quite hysterical. When we asked her what was so amusing, she informed us that he was writing love letters far and wide to several unsuspecting females. How did she know this, we asked her. Miss Meddlesome Mattie said she had been dusting (a very unlikely story) his desk and chair, and came across these missives. They were in the drawer.

We had given him the newspapers to read so he could occupy himself. One of these was a women’s magazine, that advertised pen-friends. So, to our amusement, we read how he portrayed himself as an executive, the manager of a factory, a businessman and several other positions that he probably would have thought more prosperous sounding than his present occupation. In one letter, he had set up an appointment to meet an university student in Peradeniya! When we checked the date, we found it coincided with the time he was supposed to be at home, sick.

Security guard robbed

That evening, Casanova got a good talking to by Caveman. He continued there for a while, then one morning, when he awoke (obviously he had been sleeping) his desk, the flask and torch had all been carried away. And guess what, ha! This time they had not bothered with the bonnet, the battery removed once more a few feet away from him. Caveman thundered that he could have been carried away asleep as well! He cried and begged and pleaded not to be sacked, that this neighbourhood was terrible, there were too many thieves etc. So he stayed until one day he had not turned up for work and the reason given was, he had the hiccups! Out he went!

I suppose they are human and it’s difficult to stay awake, but another one took the cake. After horning loudly, and banging the car door near him, Caveman removed his spectacles, cap and ID whilst he snored. That morning we were woken up at 5 a.m. by the shrill ringing of the doorbell to hear about his loss.

— Honky Tonk Woman


The Next Generation next generation

France is looking good right now. Last week, a international survey rated eighteen major Australian cities as being in the top 50 cities in the world with the least affordable housing. Perth was one of them, Sydney another and Mandurah just south of Perth topped the Australian eighteen.

This week, after Wall Street closed for a public holiday, the Australian Stock Exchange followed the lead of the Asian and European markets and lost 147 billion dollars in investment in eighteen days.

The fear is that world economic growth is going to fall moved along by the United States and Europe, Asia and Australia are going to have to figure out how to cope with it in order to avoid another Great Depression incident.

Technically on that note, what must go up must come down. The last economic crisis save that of the oil price escalation, was in 1998 with the Asian Economic Crisis unless you count the internet start up fiasco. There has to be a global economic bust sometime in the near future and the oil price hike seems to have merely shortened the timeframe.

The problem is that with all this going on, I keep asking myself why I live here. Other committments aside, in the long term, it does not seem to be a feasible option. I will be renting for much longer than I should be and it will probably take me forever to get any kind of decent wage that will effectively counter the cost of living.

Housing and the economy are now sore topics amongst my friends. We are all at that age, finishing off college, starting work and if you are like some of my friends, settling down, getting married and having children.

The reason why prices are suddenly so high in Perth is because that though the mining gold rush has been around since 1880, the last decade or so saw a huge boom in the industry. This meant that there were suddenly a lot of jobs that had great benefits and stupendous salaries.

Salaries that were spent in Perth when the miners came back from their shifts in the mines in the interior of the state. Suddenly there were more people spending more money on land and housing and suddenly the middle class income bracket found themselves unable to match the prices offered at auction for housing they would have been able to afford three years ago and had to settle for renting places. This then meant that though the number of places offered on rent increased slightly, the number of people renting them increased and the middle class income bracket became cashed up renters, outdoing those like the students or low wage earners who then ended up having to try very hard to find a place in their price range just to rent. So people like me now find that buying a place is way out of our reach even with a full time job and that finding a place to rent is immensely tough. And nobody seems to have any clue how to fix the situation.

"I'm sick of renting, so we are looking for a house." one of my friends told me the other day. The only house she can afford however is part of a new development out in the nether regions of new suburbia, right next to a sprawling suburban mall and other houses and supposedly a new school but precious else. She will have to make an extra long commute to work everyday and anywhere else unless the State government finally finishes the new railway line which runs past the suburb. And she also has a child on the way that is going to be a big drain on her time and money. I think she is very brave because on top of everything else, she will have a hefty mortagage to pay off. But as she told me:

"I can't wait for the rest of the world and my government to wake up and realise I exist before trying to live the rest of my life - I'd die before conditions were what I would want them to be."

She has a point. But once those committments have been made and the bust comes, what are any of us going to do?

"I need a job now. I've been living like a pauper for the past five years and I want to enjoy my life." Another friend told me, when we were discussing his choice of employment and why he was keen to take up the offer.

"Does the money matter so much?" I asked him.

"It's the first and best offer in terms of money." he replied. "I won't have enough money for rent and bills and to enjoy myself otherwise. Doing anything here costs money."

It does. An average concert ticket costs anywhere from $80 to $120 to $200, an average theatre ticket is $60 to $80. Dinner for two is $60 and up. Going out to a night club will cost you $10 to get in and then $8 and up for a beer and $12 and up for a cocktail and that's not counting a $50 cab fare to get back home unless you manage to last the distance till six in the morning when you can catch the first train back for $3.50. The cheapest mobile credit will be $20, the cheapest international calling card is $10. Beef is around $16 per kilogram, shellfish like prawns and crabs is around $25 per kilogram, chicken and fish are usually $10 to 12 per kilogram. With a grocery budget of $100, you can see where the money goes.

Wages haven risen by 5.7% in the past year in Western Australia according to a Federal Treasury paper released last week. But I am sure it will be nowhere near enough to match the cost of living. The same paper warned that there is no future for growth in the state unless we get a lot of migrants. That basically means that any chance of wages going up by much is shot to pieces. 

Again, I have to ask myself, apart from any educational committments I might have, what the hell am I doing here? My sarcastic jab at France in the beginning was halfhearted. European countries are going through reforms of all sorts and Kosvo's trying to declare independence and with Europe so nervous about how the pound and the Euro are going to react to anything negative happening at Wall Street, I don't think much of being able to live there at the moment.

But I can't come home either. As an Arts graduate, as a woman and as an outspoken individual on certain matters, I highly doubt there is a niche anywhere in my own country for me. I would have to live with a glass ceiling, with people not paying attention to me because of my gender, with having no voice, with having to defend myself and worry about other people's insecurities and that's assuming I can find employment in the first place. I know I won't be happy stuck behind a desk in an office somewhere but that's no doubt where I'll be placed.

Because I am such a delicate flower. Yes I was being sarcastic again.

Teaching has been suggested as an option but I have no interest in that because if I succeed in it, I will be the most hated teacher simply because I'd insist the children have manners and because I'd be frustrated that I am not allowed to teach them anything more than what they are supposed to regurgitate at the examinations and I don't support that method of learning.

It looks like I am stuck here but perhaps on the bright side, with very little money in the bank, I might come out lucky after a global economic crisis. I have nothing much to lose and it will be easier for me to get a step up and survive than for those who own assets and have to watch them devalue and their lifestyle depreciate significantly.

Maybe this time my grass is greener. I have always wanted to be in Paris after the Depression and World War I, watching a country try to survive, just because I think it's something people should think about and remember. Maybe Perth and Fremantle in 2020 will be just as interesting. Maybe if Australia survives a global economic crisis, it will be the next global power, the next land of plenty, the next London with the streets paved with gold.

Now that is a scary thought.

- Marisa Wikramanayake



Why life is better in prison

IN PRISON...you spend the majority of your time in an 8x10 cell. AT WORK...you spend most of your time in a 6x8 cubicle.

IN PRISON...you get three meals a day.

AT WORK...you only get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.

IN PRISON...you get time off for good behaviour.

AT WORK...you get rewarded for good behaviour with more work.

IN PRISON...a guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you. AT WORK...you must carry around a security card and unlock and open all the doors yourself.

IN PRISON...you can watch TV and play games.

AT WORK...you get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON...you get your own toilet.

AT WORK...you have to share.

IN PRISON...they allow your family and friends to visit.

AT WORK...you cannot even speak to your family and friends.

IN PRISON...all expenses are paid by taxpayers with no work required.

AT WORK...you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON...you spend most of your life looking through bars from the inside wanting to get out.

AT WORK...you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

IN PRISON...there are wardens who are often sadistic.

AT WORK...they are called managers.


Free living

It was many years ago since the embarrassing day when a young woman, with a baby in her arms, entered the butcher’s shop and confronted him with the news that the baby was his and asked what was he going to do about it?

Finally he offered to provide her with free meat until the boy was 16. She agreed.

He had been counting the years off on his calendar, and one day the teenager, who had been collecting the meat each week, came into the shop and said, "I’ll be 16 tomorrow." "I know," said the butcher with a smile, "I’ve been counting too. Tell your mother, when you take this parcel of meat home, that it is the last free meat she’ll get, and watch the expression on her face."

When the boy arrived home he told his mother. The woman nodded and said, "Son, go back to the butcher and tell him I have also had free bread, free milk, and free groceries for the last 16 years. Then watch the expression on HIS face!"

What marriage really means

Marriage is not a word. It’s a sentence, a life sentence.

Marriage is very much like a violin; after the sweet music is over, the strings are attached.

Marriage is love. Love is blind. Therefore marriage is an institution for the blind.

Marriage is an institution in which a man loses his Bachelor’s Degree and the women gets her Master.

Marriage is a thing which puts a ring on a woman’s finger and two under the man’s eyes.

Marriage certificate is just another name for a work permit.

Marriage requires a man to prepare four types of "RINGS"

-The Engagement Ring

-The Wedding Ring

-The Suffe-Ring

-The Endu-Ring

Married life is full of excitement and frustration:

- in the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens.

- in the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens.

- in the third year, they BOTH speak and the NEIGHBOURS listen.

It is true that love is blind but marriage is definitely an eye-opener.

Getting married is very much like going to the restaurant with friends, you order what you want, and when you see what the other fellow has, you wish you had ordered that. It’s true all men are born free and equal, but then some of them get married

There was this man who muttered a few words in the church and found himself married. A year later he muttered something in his sleep and found himself divorced.


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