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There was this post a couple of days ago where Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem was parodied. Now Java’s a Lewis Carroll freak and I do believe that next to Jah, Carroll would be a close second – or maybe even tie for first place – in his priority ratings. The parody wasn’t all that bad, I guess, but it sure didn’t blow us away. And so Java got down to commenting on it and it went like so:
Twas squalig for the vapid prose
To mingle with the Bard
All bongsy was the techie verse
That mangulates the word
Beware the Jabberwock my son
The comments bite and scratch
Beware the Watcher Bird and run
From spurious Randysnatch
He brought his processor up front
Long time the coded bytes he sought
But waited whilst the Crumbum set
And waited while it thought
But as he wandered in his mind
The Jabberwock with fiery eyes
Sprang from the twisted fog
And singing as it sprang
Tra la, tra la, and tri li li
Its laser scythed right through his face
He let it down, then with his crown
He slithered back to base
So watch that shit The Watchbird cried
Don’t mess with master’s verse
The fruglish spang that scrunches spam
Will bandtoform a curse
Twas squalig for the vapid prose
To mingle with the bard
All bongsy was the techie verse
That mangulates the word
It really wasn’t meant to put the blogger down or anything, but you know how these things go – compulsive urges are, at most times, hard to resist. And what the hell, as Java echoed the blogger’s words “sheeet maann we jus be havin fun”
Don’t ask me why, but lately Java’s been on this trip about the futility of expectations. I think it came to a head whilst we were watching Tim Henman play Carlos Moya at Wimbledon. The match was a cliff-hanger when bad light, weather conditions and time called a halt to the unbearable (for most of the spectators) suspense. Moya had saved around four match points, as the English fans screamed for their perennial hope who has made it to the semi-finals on two previous occasions, but never managed anything beyond. The expectations of the English fans were voiced by one of them – that at the twilight of his career Henman could go ‘all the way’. And unlikely as this may seem, expectations persist.
Heey maaann, yo hear dat sheet? Dey be specktin ol Tim to go all da way? What yo tink he be? Tirty-som years ol an not even be seeded – dese cats gotta be jokin maaan. It be one ting to hope, but to especkt – shheeet, in mos cases dat jus lead to disapoinment, hear?
I can see what he means – and he’s been going on about this for a couple of days now, ever since the Cherry Lady broke up with the most recent love of her life. From all accounts the brief but volatile relationship had equal portions of passion and dismay, the latter caused by Cher’s expectations, which were never quite fulfilled. And Java, getting into his philosophical mode, had attempted to pierce the impenetrable cloud that fogged up Cher’s clarity of mind with his Buddhistic logic about desire causing suffering – to no avail. We guessed that the physical gratification superseded most of everything else, so Cher remained devoted and expecting things to work out. They didn’t of course and now, more recently she has ‘seen the light’ and come to terms with the truth of Java’s view. This, of course pleased him no end, although he mentioned that he withheld the urge to do the ‘I told you so’ thing.
Then there was the matter of Alice and her most recent meeting with the Queen of Hearts, who had just returned from giving her princess away in marriage and who had summoned Alice to tell her about the recent developments in Wonderland.
No shheet maann, yo know what she be tellin Alice? She be talkin like she be speckting to make a grand appearance and see da back of Ol Big Brodder and dat Holdin Company of his. She be tellin how Billy Goat an dat Basilisk put ol BB in a whole lotta toro pupu and now she be plannin to see dere asses out of Wonderland wit da help of her ol fren, dat Soudern Queen an her folk, an even her ol childhood playmate, dat wimpy King of Diamons, so dat dey could put dat King of Clubs in a corner an get Wonderland back on track. Dat’s right, she be spectin all dis shheet to go down an even give our Alice a time-frame fo dem happenins. So I tell Alice not to hold her breath, dat our ol Queen, tho she be spectin all dese tings to happen, she shuurre as shheeet know what be happenin to her ass in da not too distant past when she be spectin similar shheet to go down an her chief injustice play dat double game wit her ass.
And I guess that was why Java was on the trip he is on. As he put it in his inimitable style:
Crap like dat don fly in dese parts maan.
It’s been pretty hectic for Java and yours truly over the past week with all manner of crazy stuff going down – not just in the political miasma and social networks, but also within the personal sphere. To begin with, these two Chilean chicks turned up. They had been in communication with The Dancer about having an extended year-long course in traditional Sri Lankan dance forms, being students of another one of The Dancer’s Chilean students from ages ago. The communication by e-mail over the past many months didn’t quite prepare The Dancer with what to expect, as everything in the mails was reasonably clear and concise – obviously composed by someone else, as when they landed it was obvious that they could hardly communicate in English at all – and that was a problem in more ways than one. And not just for The Dancer and for them, but …well, some stuff is probably best left unsaid.
Then there was the matter of our good mate going off the deep end with his penchant for overdoing good times. Mr. Zippy and I had a whale of a time that night, not long ago, with the usual suspects at the hangout in the burbs – the food was delish, the wine flowed and the women were anything but subtle. Grinch was in his usual burly-boastful-buggerall mode trying to score ecstatic mints from whoever struck his fancy as having some and the Ugly Sister couldn’t figure out what exactly she wanted, although her fixation with her phobia kept her at arms length – thanks be for small mercies! Aaannyywaay, the Belle of the Ball made his appearance all decked out in his finery, smashed to the gills and mouthing sweet suckotash all about the sensual forays of his youth. As the party progressed and the level of high spirits increased it seemed likely that our mate was going beyond the bounds of tolerable behaviour, so Mr Z solicitously attempted to relieve the tension by suggesting a graceful exit before things hotted up. Unfortunately or not, this did not work and so we ended up staying – and then the shit hit the fan. Again, some things are better left unsaid!
And then there was the matter of ‘work’ – in office, as opposed to being out of Colombo. With some overseas travel looming and meeting with fellow co-workers from around twelve South-Asian countries – first in Bangkok and soon after, in China – there’s a whole lot of shite to prepare for the extensive discussions that will ensue about the work we are involved in, as well as dissecting initiatives that have been implemented with the intention of providing solace to the less fortunate. And this wouldn’t be so bad if I had all the information required, but when the required information has to be extracted from a number of sources, not all of them exactly on that proverbial ball, things tend to get fucked-up – for me, at any rate.
And so I am trying my best to cope – with the domestic, social and work scenes not being exactly where I would like them to be – and as a result, getting Java to contribute to the creative aspect hasn’t been all that successful. I guess the cycle will run its course, as cycles generally do – and then we can look forward to getting back into the realm of cyberspace and exchanging thoughts with likeminded folk. Until then, however….some things are best left unsaid.
Prevarication is defined as ‘the attempt to avoid giving a direct and honest answer or opinion, or a clear and truthful account of a situation, often by telling a lie’. And how many times have each of us been guilty of such an action? Innumerable times, no doubt – unless you’re some kinda unique entity. For sure, the ‘degree’ of the ‘untruth’ uttered is often used as justification – a ‘white lie’, as some term it – and used, they righteously assert, to cause less harm than may otherwise have been caused. The purists, though, will have none of that crap – a lie is a lie is a lie, they will insist.
So, do the effects of ‘prevarication’ vary in terms of impact on the individual or, in a larger context, on society? It sure as hell does – affecting all and sundry across the spectrum and to varying degrees. The vote of ‘no confidence’ presented in parliament against the government spokeperson for his prevarication regarding the eviction of Tamil lodgers from Colombo is a case in point.
Waaaz da big deal maaan? Dese dudes be tellin notting but lies mos of da time, so how com dey don do dis sheeet more often, huh? Dis spokesperson dude, he be talkin such a load of toro pupu mos of da time, dat mos folk don believe his ass anyways. An I be guessin mos govermens roun da world hav dere spin doctors doin dere ‘spammin an jammin’, (as our ol fren Leon say) anyways – dat’s how it be maan – all aroun da world. Dey jus don want dere asses caught doin it, right? An dat ex-prez of ours – what did dat journalis dude call her? ‘Da mudder of all liars’ or somting like dat. Maaan could she stretch dat truth – she be stretchin it sooo muckin fuch dat it look like a totally differen beast by da time she get don, huh? Remember? I be guessin dat all dese politico types – anywhere on dis planet, be doin da same, so we jus hav to live wit dis ‘prevaricashun’, seein as how all of us be guilty of it at som time or anodder.
Java finishes his little spiel on the subject and heads for the sound.
Well, I guess Java is right on the ball. What’s the big deal he asks – and I’m hard put to answer him. It’s just that when the legal draftsmen did their thing all those eons ago with the Roman-Dutch law that filtered down through colonial times and spread their effects around the world, truth was held to be a standard of morality that was meant to be inherent in the responsibilities that those elected by the people to public office would be bound to uphold, and their oaths on entering office would include these conditions. So when a ‘spokesman for the government’ informs the country of a particular situation, he is bound to tell the truth and to wifully mislead the country’s citizens (and indeed the world), would be a gross violation of the trust imposed in the individual. And what is the penalty for this violation? I’m not much into the legal technicalities, but apparently the vote of ‘no confidence’ put forward by the opposition has asked that the ‘spokeperson’ be evicted from parliament. If this comes to pass – as unlikely as it may seem, for pessimists like Java, it will set a precedent (correct me please if I am in error) and perhaps serve as an example to future ‘spokepersons’ to watch their butts.
However, be that as it may, what strikes me is that it is sort of unlikely that the spokesperson would have devised this whole strategy by himself without at least discussing it with his superiors (whoever he/she/they may be) and if this was the ‘official’ statement, why should only the ‘spokesman’ take the fall? Shouldn’t anyone else also be held accountable? And who could possibly have told the ‘spokesperson’ to lie about the bussing? Your guess is as good – or as bad – as Java’s and mine.
Dat’s right maaan, all we be hopin fo is fo dis ting to end wit even a sem-blance of prop – how yo say dat word maaan? Yeah, dat’s right, prop-pri-ety, seein the sorry-ass state of our leaders an where dis country be headin.
Oh well, perhaps there’s hope for us yet. Let ‘prevarication’ get on that ‘endangered species’ list, at least for the elected representatives of us all. Haven’t we had enough of being lied to and taken for a pack of idiots by folk who don’t have the intelligence to tell the truth when even they know that we know that they know they are lying to us? This, as Java says, is ‘so-in-yo-face-blatant’ that we are expected to accept anything that is passed down without a murmur. But it looks like enough is enough – at least let’s hope this gets the ball rolling towards a more democratic state of affairs.
Java has Weather Report doing Zawinul’s classic ‘Birdland’, gets his stash out and we look forward to the rest of the evening in the cool climes of Flowerbook.
It’s the second straight gloomy day at Flowerbook, but the light morning drizzle did nothing to inhibit the early morning walkabout the land with Buster, Rocky, Bruiser and the new addition to the canine troupe – Sally – just around twelve weeks old. There’s something invigorating about these cold, damp mornings, but damned if I can put my finger on it. Anyway, in the course of the walk I checked out the fruit-fly traps I had devised yesterday and found to my delight, a whole slew of those pesky critters trapped inside – no matter that they were all males.
The thing about organic agriculture is that any chemical – fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide or weedicide, is a major no-no, so that getting rid of fruit-flies is the one problem that I find hard to combat. The slugs, aphids and other such ground-bound critters can be subdued with all manner of home-made concoctions, but fruit-flies are a different kettle of critter due to their aerial abilities. Anyway, a long time ago I heard about the CISIR developing a fruit-fly pheromone and managed to contact the scientist involved to score a small quantity of the concentrated liquid. And it worked – like a charm.
Now for those of you who may not be familiar with the term – a ‘pheromone’ is defined as ‘a chemical that triggers an innate behavioral response in another member of the same species’. And if you google for it you will find that there are quite a few different categories. The initial finding however, had to do with sex and was found in the late fifties resulting from experiments with silkworms. So, in short, a pheromone released through the innate genetic makeup of a creature serves the purpose of attracting another of the same species for mating. Bitches in heat are a good example.
Anyway, the fruit-fly pheromone is synthesized in a lab and is used to mimic the chemical put out by the female to attract the males. A simple trap consists of a plastic bottle with two holes (just enough to allow the fly entry) bored on either side of it, with a swab of cotton on which is dabbed a minute quantity of the synthetic signal. The holes allow the males to enter, with the intention of impregnating the female and having done their thing – with the cotton swab instead of with the real Mac Coy, the mini-brained critters don’t have what it takes to find their way out. And so they die, after a few days of searching for the escape route. This results in fewer males being able to fertilize the females, who, in the usual course of their lives bore holes in fruit and certain vegetables in which they lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae proceed to eat their way out of the fruit, or vegie, which of course makes the host inedible. So you could well imagine the huge problem an organic gardener has with fruit-flies.
I had tried the CISIR after the first batch of synthetic pheromone finished; however, they had stopped making it. Anyway, after many years and in some desperation, I tried again last week and lo and behold – they had done it again – which is how this post originated. And now there’s some hope for the zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkin and other produce, as fewer females in this territory will be fertilized and less of them will need to bore those minute holes to lay those miniscule eggs that ruin the fruit.
There’s a whole lot more in my head about pheromones – especially the ones that apply to us humans, but that’s best left for later. Back at the laptop and gazing out of the window I see the drizzle has abated, but a stiff breeze has all the branches moving and the leaves doing shimmies in the blowing. The dogs are lying around me and WorldSpace has some Latino music that somehow fits the mood.
Spacing out at Flowerbook in between writing up a report and other miscellaneous chores, I was reminded of ‘string theory’ when I saw Sally, the new puppy unraveling a ball of twine. Now I’m not all that into theoretical physics although I do get turned on by the mysteries of what is loosely described as the ‘universe’. Anyway, little Sally was unintentionally getting my mind tripping on the two basic types of string theories – those with closed string loops that are not able to break into open strings and those with closed string loops that are. And it also reminded me of what I had read somewhere that we still do not know what the fundamental theory behind string theory is, but postulations include a variety of dimensions in spacetime that are not fixed concepts but fluid entities that shift with our points of view.
Funny how the mind zips around at the speed of thought – faster than the speed of light, it seems to me, but then, all things being relative, who’s to say? And that thing about ‘points of view’ – fluid entities that shift at varying rates allowing no static state – everything in flux, nothing stays the same.
Let’s hope that we are able to ‘see’ this phenomenon for what it is and then apply it to the way we see what is around and within us and maybe – just ‘maybe’ – it will help with the perspective to cut through the crap and get a clearer view.
I guess this is what the Buddha was on about?
It’s one of those subdued mornings in the hills, WorldSpace has got some appropriate classical piano sonata going in the background to fit the mood, the early morning sun’s rays haven’t made it through the cloud cover and even the birdsong is muted. Thankfully Java turned up, getting my mind off the heavy stuff that’s taken place recently and that tended to depress.
Heeeyy maaan, like I be tellin yo, yo shoulda tripped out wit me an Alice instead of gettin into all dat sheeet.
I knew better than to try to justify my stance – about how expression of dissent against what is perceived to be injustice is vital to democracy, so I let it be.
So Alice an I taut bout visitin Wonderland, but hearin bout all dat sheet dat was goin down dere we decide to give it a miss an instead made our way down to Bareass Boulevard and… guess who we be seein dere – Leon, dat ‘spam an jam’ dude. Remember him? Leon be sittin at dat bar an damned if he aint got dat manbag of his – da one wit dat ‘Rhydmic’ bran and dat emboss ‘Lose Proof’ on it, still dat same greasy-slick hair an dat pencil mustache, sippin his Chilean White. He be spottin us comin up to dat bar and he give us dat leery smile of his an do a double-take when he see Alice. Now Alice be sportin her ‘Alice B. Toklas’ look, you know, wit dat headband and hippie lookin get up and lookin reeal cool. So I greet Leon an introduce Alice to him and he can’t take his beady eyes off her. An den he say, charmin as ever in his slithery way an in dat scratchy voice of his:
Alice my dear, what a pleasure it is to make your acquaintance and I must complement Java on his taste in women. What would you like to drink?
Alice give me dis look an I see where she be comin from, but she say real sweet like:
I’ll have a Bloody Mary, thanks.
An she pull up a stool an sit by Leon. I aks for a Buddy an get anodder stool on de odder side of him. An Dan behin dat bar get me ma brew an be fixin Alice her Bloody Mary – jus like she aks him to, wit som extra Tabasco in it. I be seein dat Leon want to talk, even tho he be havin a hard time not lookin at Alice. An like I taut:
So Java, it’s been awhile huh? What have you been up to and where’s that beautiful Cher of yours?
He give Alice a quick sideways look:
Oh well, yo be knowin how it be wit me maaan – jus trippin aroun, shootin da sheet wit ma maan, seein ma frens, you know, da same ol toro pupu. An Cher – she be full of tanks fo dat little ol gift yo be layin on her, she done gone trippin to Europe, da States and places like dat fo a while, but she be back now an mos proly be at her pad.
Leon, he lean over to me an furtive like in ma ear he say in dat weird-ass voice of his:
Listen Java, I have an incredible project happening and it must be more than just a coincidence that I ran into you here, as you were the one that I had in mind. I know that Cher isn’t the type to recognise this type of an opportunity, but you my friend, are a different kettle of fish, not one to let a golden break like this pass you by.
He look back at Alice to find she be movin over to the odder end of da bar an be rappin wit Mr. Z. So he get back to my ass and say:
You know Java, Cher was right, the work I am involved in is not meant for people like her, there are too many getting hurt from the actions – although, ‘no pain, no gain’ right?
An den he made dat gurglin, scratchy sound as he laffed at his little ol joke, but I be wonderin what dis cat had in mind. So I let him get tru his laffin and wait fo his spiel, dig?
But you my friend are of a different breed, if you know what I mean, and I’m sure you’ll see the value of my little proposition. It’s so simple, a walk in the park – especially for someone who looks like you. Hey, no offence friend, I’m sure you know what I mean – with that hair of yours and that slightly different demeanor that you have, no one will even pay attention, leave alone suspect that anything unusual is going on.
Leon take anodder look at Alice, who still be rappin wit Mr. Z, but now I see dat Dingbat has also joined dem an dey be laffin dere asses off at something, and den he look to see if I be payin tennshun to his rap. He call Dan over an order more Chilean White and a Buddy fo me, gets his B & H Gold outta dat manbag of his and lite up one of his cigarettes wit my Zippo dat I had layin beside my pack of Drum. So I roll one up fo my ass an den he get back to his rap:
See Java, it’s like this. The people I work for pay good money for services rendered, but they do get very annoyed with incompetance and this is why, so far, I have been held in high esteem by them – because of the success rate of my endeavours. I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say, I have worked the ‘spam and jam’ to perfection for them. Lately, however, they have been running into some bad breaks and the mood in those corridors of power is not good at all. In fact, the mood is downright black, and if I may go so far as to say, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better from what little I could gather during my meetings with them.
He take a drag offa his smoke an downs anodder glass of Chilean White, I take a slug offa my Buddy an drag on ma roll-up. He check aroun fo Alice to see dat now she be nearly surrounded by Mr. Z, Dingbat an two or three odders and dey all seem to be havin da time of dere lives, laffin an sheet an makin a racket on dat side of dat Bareass Bar. It be lookin so good dat I be wonderin what da fuck I be doin listenin to ol Leon’s buuull, so I say:
Heeey maan, yo wanna cut to dat chase an tell me what yo be havin in mind, or I have to be makin like dat shepherd, hear?
Leon give me one of dose long sufferin looks, dose dat are worth like a thousan words and den he go on:
Okay Java, I just wanted to give you a bit of background, you know – anyway, to make a long story short, what I have in mind for you is this. I need to find a way to ….
Just then there was a loud knocking on the gate outside and I wondered if the power was down or if whoever it was hadn’t noticed the bell. As I got out of the door heading for the gate there was another series of bangs and when I peeped through the spy-hole I could see this large lady on the other side looking very upset – and then I also get this unmistakable smell of rotting fish. So I open the gate and ask her what it is she wants and point to the bell. She gets taken aback, as if she expected someone else, so I think she has the wrong house when she says:
Does Java Jones live here?
As I turn around to go get Java, I think better of it (that rotten fishy smell is also getting to be too heavy to handle) so tell her that Java shows up once in a while but that he doesn’t ‘live’ here and ask if I can pass him the message.
Tell him it’s an important message from Leon.Tell him that Leon says the deal is off and to call him as soon as he can to the special number that he has and he will explain.
And with that she got back in her car and as I shut the gate wondering what it was all about, that overpowering smell slowly lessened. As I got in the door I could see that Java was on the phone and, as he saw me, gestured to indicate silence, as he continued his monosyllabic conversation with whoever was on the other side of the line.
Yeah….yeah…. ahha…..is dat right?….how com?….no sheeet maaan…..wooowww….uhhuh.. an den what happen?…okay, so da deal be off den? Heey, no problem maan. Later maaan.
Java hangs up and gives me this look of resigned relief, moves over to the sound system and gets some classical music on. I recognize a Vivaldi concerto when the violins start up and wonder about his mood. He gets to the stash and rolls one up and then gets back to where he was:
Know what maaan? Dat be Leon an he tell me dat da deal I was goin to tell yo ass bout is off an I mus say I ain’t disappointed, cos altho it be an easy-ass trip for a lotta bread, somehow I weren’t feelin too fuckin great bout it.
He hands me the doob, turns off Vivaldi, replacing it with Soft Machine – an old album from the mid-seventies that starts off with ‘Hazard Profile Part One’, gets back to his position on the divan, takes back the joint and drags deep. I’m not going to push him for the rest of the story, as I know better. We listen to the music for a bit, passing and dragging and dragging and passing and then:
So here’s da deal maan. A whole lotta dollars, an I mean a whole fuckin lotta dollars fo me to accompany his ass to the home of a powerful client and play da part of his overseas consultant. He say he be tellin me what to say and when to keep cool an all I gotta do be to hold his manbag and never let it outta ma sight. So I tink it be cool, an even tho I be knowin dat ol Leon aint to be trusted, I figure fo dat kinda bread – like da maan say – a walk in da park, maaan.
Java stops to turn the album over and gets another doob rolled while the sound of Soft Machine’s ‘Bundles’ fills the room. He gets back to his lounging position on the divan, not really looking too disappointed at the disappearing dollar bills.
An yo kno what Leon jus now call to say? He say dat dis client we were bout to check out got his ass blown up bout an hour ago. Security be called out so he be advisin us to keep our asses indoors today.
‘Bundles’ done, Soft Machine eases into ‘Land of the Bag Snake’, as Java looks immensely relieved.
It’s been pretty heavy on kottu this last week with all the emotional responses to the action of the government with regard to the eviction of Tamil lodgers from Colombo. Have you felt the vibe? And if so, what has it done to you? Has it in any way altered the way you think about the ‘ethnic problem’ we are immersed in, or the way we are governed, or what alternatives other than what has already been tried could be put forward? It seems to me that in spite of the differences in views – mostly which consist of the military option with the intention of defeating the LTTE on the ground against seeking a negotiated settlement with the intention of arriving at a ‘Federal’ solution, most folk want there to be peace so that they can get on with their lives and allow the country to develop instead of regress to the depths of a failed state.
Many of us I’m sure are of the opinion that most wars are based on ideological differences of ethnicity and/or religious beliefs – and the acquisition of territories that are so involved. And what usually comes in the way of a peaceful settlement is the filthy lucre that is involved – in every aspect of the conflict and attempts at its resolution. Right from the industrial complexes that process the raw materials, that in turn are used for the manufacture of all manner of ultra-complex death-machines, from supersonic flying craft, to the most sophisticated battle-tanks , to multi-barreled launchers that decimate environments and life, to the less sophisticated but equally lethal automatic and semi-automatic weapons that find their way into the hands of criminals, to the employment these actions generate, that in turn fuels economies and the stock markets. At a lesser level, we have the arms dealers and the ten-percenters and then on the lower rungs, the black-marketers and other feeders off the carrion that is left to dispose of. So, in effect, the global economy is, in a way, dependent on war. It isn’t just the industries involved in the manufacture of instruments of death and destruction that reflect on the economy, transportation by rail, road, sea and air add tremendous weight to the mass. The implications need not be detailed here, as anyone with a modicum of reasoning power could see how this stretches to encompass the very fabric of our lives.
This is not to forget the power struggle – usually with egos of the main protagonists taking a share of the space – and this of course filters down to the rest of us. Let’s take a quick look at Prabhakaran – starting off as a member of a ‘rag-tag’ group that, if what I have read is right, murdered his ruthless way to lead the group that eventually became known as the ‘Tigers’. Let’s not take anything away from this guy – not the ruthless, one dimensional track littered with corpses he pursued and also not the incredible expansion of his originally ‘primitive’ organization to what is now a multinational organization with millions of dollars behind them. And let’s not forget the degree of legitimacy that he achieved for his group to be on par with the elected government of this country when they met on equal terms to negotiate a settlement over many years – quite an achievement, given his background. Let’s also not forget the veneration that we are told that many hold him in – known as the ‘Sun God’ to his ‘followers’, and for whom many Tamils would gladly sacrifice their lives for the greater goal of the separate state they want. I have friends who think that Prabhakaran is the best hope they have of achieving autonomy and I have friends who think that his time has passed and he is now more the problem for the Tamil people than the solution to their problems. And I am of the latter view.
Then we have the protagonist on this side – Mahinda Rajapakse (and his brothers). Voted in on a combination of the ‘war ticket’ pledging to defeat the LTTE militarily, and buying out the LTTE through Tiran Alles and his coterie of Jayasundera, Basil and Weeratunge on the orders of Mahinda himself (if Sooriarachchi and Alles are to be believed), and thus scraping through to what was a hollow victory. Mahinda’s background is well documented, so details will not be required here. However, what developed within his psyche with the power he enveloped himself in, is interesting, to say the least. We saw during the lead up to the elections the number of MOUs he signed with a variety of parties and individuals – few, if any of which were honored. The MOUs he signed after he became President went the same habitual way. The much heralded Chinthanaya, which was the pledge he gave the masses has yet to be implemented. In other words the man can not be trusted to honor his agreements – it is as simple as that – at least this is the way I see it.
Many of the bloggers and commentors on kottu felt that a ceasefire and the process of negotiations are only agreed to by the Tigers when they want to buy time to regroup and rearm themselves and I’m sure that this was the case – not to do so would be stupid. And of course the government would also use the breathing space to do what they consider to be in their best interests – no big deal. The anti-Ranil folk denigrate his efforts by citing ‘appeasement’ of the Tigers and allowing them to be somewhat ‘legit’, to allow them to open offices and to roam around freely. The many times they broke the ceasefire regulations without being penalised was also an issue, as was what perceived to be the one-sidedness of the Norwegians. It must be said that many of these assertions were justified. However, what the denigrators may not have been aware of was the subtle and cunning way that Ranil was slowly but surely cornering the Tiger by what was euphemistically described as the ‘international safety-net’ and this, we are told is the main reason for the Tigers taking Rajapakse’s (or to be more accurate, the country’s) money and denying the people in the north and east the legitimate right of casting their vote. It seems that even at this stage, the Tigers would much rather have the Rajapakses in control than anyone else, as the Rajapakses are continually making the wrong moves and, by doing so, making themselves (and the country) look to be as extreme as the Tigers.
Now that the shit has hit the fan with the massive outpouring of views on the recent eviction saga, it is time for all us bloggers (and everyone else too) to take a more dispassionate view of this mess we are all in and, instead of trying to justify our narrow views and pour scorn of those with opposing views, try to understand what the repercussions would be for us all if this war is to continue the way it is and to try to be objective in our view of whether government by the Rajapakses is good for Sri Lanka or not. The way forward is not to further fragment our society and create even more divisions between ethnic groups and between those of the same ethnicity who can not agree to disagree. A much more rational way forward must be found or we will surely be sinking deeper into the quicksand that this beautiful country is fast turning in to.
What do you think?
There’s been a whole slew of posts on the recent evicting of Tamils from Colombo with both pro and con views on the action by the government. In general, the effect of this extreme action has been one of muted criticism by other governments (but criticism nonetheless), although Human Rights groups have been vociferous in their absolute condemnation of the decision. A majority of the bloggers on kottu believe that the action is inhumane, a gross violation of the constitution and of individual human rights and a stupid move by Rajapakse and his advisors. A few bloggers had opposite views with regard to the violation of human rights, preferring to see it as a necessary move for the protection of the city and those within it. But although the bloggers that wrote justifying the move were relatively few, the commentors that made no bones about their support of Rajapakse’s move were many and more than a few of them were strident in their views. The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ was also bandied about generously, which led to exercises in semantics, advice on its appropriate use and the inevitable comparisons with the Tigers’ ethnic cleansing of the north and east. The there was also someone whose research unearthed data on ethnic cleansing of the Muslims and Tamils by Sinhalese in the hill country earlier in the last century.
‘Patriotism’ also took a beating, with some who viewed being ‘patriotic’ as somehow being the privilege of the majority and so anyone that dared to think differently to what the government decides is best is, in their view, being ‘unpatriotic’. My own view on ‘patriotism’ was discussed in an earlier post (‘Patriotism’ on November 4, 2006) and it opened with the following quotes:
Samuel Johnson’s quote on ‘patriotism’ is perhaps the most famous of them all “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. Theodore Roosevelt, one of the better loved American presidents said in 1918, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is also morally treasonable to the American public”. Mark Twain said, “Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You can not shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let them label you as they may”. Howard Thurman – “During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism”. And finally, Hermann Goering (he should know!) “Naturally the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country”.
So it seems to me that the first question for those who see themselves as being ‘patriots’ is to decide if the president is doing a good job at governance with the Chinthanaya that was professed to be the way that things would go should he win the election. Never mind the fact that much of what was professed has not seen the light of day, are the bloated cabinet, the appointment of his brothers to positions of the highest authority, the attitude to international allies in the fight against terrorism, the decisions to build the airport at Wiralwila disregarding the immeasurable damage to the environment in general and the wildlife in particular and several other decisions that haven’t even been passed in parliament, good for the country? If they do not think that this is good governance on the part of Rajapakse, will they say so? Or would that be considered by them to be ‘unpatriotic’?
It seemed to me that many of the ‘patriots’ assumed that the folk that opposed the bussing of Tamils out of Colombo were somehow condoners of Prabhakaran and the Tigers and didn’t write a word about the eviction of the Muslims from the area in their control. I have no idea if this assumption is true or false, but somehow it doesn’t seem to me to be a logical assumption. I, for one, thought that the recent eviction was inhumane, illegal and a very stupid move on the part of the government, but I also think that Prabhakaran is someone who needs to prolong the war as much as possible to suit his own ends and hang on to power – much like Rajapakse. I also think that Prabhakaran can’t very well handle peace, as he is wanted by India for murder and if the Indians don’t get him, someone else will as he has murdered so many other Tamils in his quest for power that it is most likely revenge will find a way.
As one commentor pointed out, not only is the country divided on ethnic grounds, it is also divided among the Sinhalese. And I would agree. It seems that our only hope for a better future would be for sanity to prevail and for the people to decide if the country is being governed desirably and to make their voices heard – somehow.
So now what?
It all seemed to begin with getting back to the city after around ten days of near bliss at Flowerbook. The contrast is usually pronounced, but this time for some reason, the vibes were even worse than they usually are. Maybe the increased security checks after the Ratmalana bomb blast had something to do with it, or maybe it was the heat and humidity that contrasted intensely from the cool, dry climate of the hills I had recently departed from, or maybe it was the new Notebook with Vista instead of the usual XP that lent to the unmistakable sensation that all was not quite as well as it should be.
As the first day went by the heat and humidity persisted outside the inner-cool of the workspace, the uniformed presence at the checkpoints seemed to intensify as I got stopped a lot more than is usually the case and the Notebook with Vista continued to be stubbornly unlike the smooth going I experienced with XP in the past. And although this must surely not be a reflection on the quality or performance of Vista, it did much to add to the general bum vibe.
The weekend was so-so, which indicates that it wasn’t all that bad, but by no means as outstanding as it often is – probably something to do with buddies being away for the extended weekend. Java also chose not to alter the flow with his presence – which of course could well have changed the way things were – no telling for better or for worse. So Friday night at the ‘Blues’ found me spacing out and shooting pool for most of the night. The crowd was cool with a few familiar faces around. Saturday night saw The Dancer and me taking her favourite baby girl and parents to Casa Colombo for dinner. And that was rather a trip!
The Casa is an ancient mansion that I remember from childhood, situated as it used to be, set off from the Galle Road across its large garden. It always had that crumbling haunted look, but I hadn’t noticed it during the past few years and the reason for this was that the garden area has been hocked and is now chock full of shops and other ordinary looking buildings. The mansion itself had, apparently, been used as some government department until it was acquired by the present proprietor, who has (and I don’t use the phrase lightly) ‘gone to town’ with it. I mean, it is sooo over the top in sooo many ways that it actually seems to work! Describing it is no easy feat and I won’t even begin to try. Suffice it to say, it is well worth a visit. The food was…good, I guess, and unless you bring your own, there is no booze available right now, as the license has yet to be got.
The Casa has around eight rooms available – all ultra-grand in their own very special way. The ‘luxury suite’, if I remember right, goes at around US$ 600. Again, I will not even attempt to describe the interiors – you just have to be there! It’s all very well planned inside the rooms, as far as accessories go, with Apple Notebooks, swiveling Nakamichi super-slim TVs and sound setups with IPods full of the latest films, copper baths and all manner of other trippy numbers happening. But like I said – difficult to do justice by description.
Aaannyways, that did add a little something to the general trip and although I did get copped for making an illegal U turn whilst looking for the Casa earlier on, I managed to get out of the god-awful process of retrieving my license by sweet-talking the cop into taking what change I had in exchange for not writing me up. My very first time of paying off one of Colombo’s finest. And that did give me a bit of a lift.
I’m still settling into operating Vista, although there still remains somewhat of a minor glitch, which I hope to sort out through mates that know their shit, sporadic rains have eased the heat, I wasn’t stopped once in the past three days and last evening was a verrry cool happening with close mates, so things do appear to be looking up.