Monday, June 30, 2008
My first day of university was associated with a different kind of culture shock... I suppose you could say it was a 'reverse' culture shock Having being born in Kandy and brought up in Colombo by upper middle class parents, my image of university was shaped by the glossy pictures seen on the cover of university prospectuses from other countries. Little did I know that Sri Lankan Campus life was very different.
Instead of the smiling boys and girls sitting on a university lawn decked out in trendy casual wear, what I encountered was segregated groups of boys and girls. Boys wearing formal attire similar to what junior executives wear and girls wearing gaudy long dresses and a variety of conservative tops. Formal attire it seems is compulsory, why I do not know...
True in another five years we would be doctors etc. who are expected to dress formally but right now I am only 20...LET ME HAVE SOME FUN FOR GODSAKE!!!
Oh and if the formal clothing is not enough I was told that my hair was too long and that it should have a side parting... I can't even remember parting my hair for school, what is the big deal about my hair anyway, it doesn't have any connection to my academic performance or student discipline.
Facial Hair is a big no-no as well as my friend found out, one should be clean shaven; no sexy George Clooney style stubble allowed here.
If all this injustice was not enough the girls are allowed to wear anything as long it is up to their knees and is 'covering'. I personally do not see anything wrong with a woman dressing conservatively but then again it is upto her to dress in whatever she likes. It is not the job of the faculty to dictate what we should wear, after all we do not have some kind of cultural police in this country, or do we?
The flip side of the issue is this, while girls can wear anything guys are forced to don uncomfortable formal clothing in the hot and humid Sri Lankan climate. What is the logic behind this?
Seniors actually demand respect, I do not know why... maybe some kind of inferiority complex etc . True, I realize that our Sri Lankan values tell us to respect our elders etc, but to demand it and especially when they are only a couple of years older than us. As if it was some kind of wizardry on their part that granted us a seat in university.
It is a fact that underneath our skins, we’ve nothing pretty-mere flesh and blood wrapped around our skeletons. We all know this but the majority of us tend to forget this in life thus making the statement “Beauty is but skin deep” sheer myth.
We live in a society where, in my opinion, most people have a much distorted image about “beauty” (I will focus on female beauty since most of our male counterparts have not yet reached a die-hard-NEED-to-be-handsome level). Supermodels, actresses, beauty queens and soap opera stars are our “model” beauties and the benchmarks for being ‘beautiful’. Yet people seem to forget one major public secret about all these goddesses-that they have the money, expertise, time and commitment to live half their lives in beauty salons, parented by make-up artists and fashion designers, and married to cosmetics and hair care (because in their case, being beautiful is what ensures pay).
Our society today, defines a beautiful woman to have fair skin, healthy looking hair with a few highlights, a slim champagne glass figure with the right sized breasts, waists and hips complimented with well maintained fingernails, toenails, etc.
Most of us, subconsciously or not, tend to think of fairness and slimness as ‘beautiful’. Well then, what about those dark skinned people and those of us who have some spare kilos and curves.
A dark face, in 75% of situations, is perceived to be unclean and unattractive. A ‘fat’ figure is not, in many cases, given a second look (except may be in a jeering manner) because it is automatically labeled ‘ugly’.
Fair or not, these are facts of today’s beauty scenario. Who sets these measures? Fashion designers, advertisers, Holly Wood….? Whoever it is, we find many so-called-non-beautiful women caught in dilemmas of low self esteem and weak personalities. The question arises as to whether these so-called-less-fortunate-beauties nourish their ‘non-beautiful’ label given by society, by thinking themselves that they’re not beautiful. This negative perception once felt, will register deep down in our minds and bodies and will cast its shadow in almost all our activities; socializing, employment, courting, marriage, “fitting in”,etc
In my view, it is more tragic to have negative thoughts about your own self than other people having them about you. Why waste time grumbling and shattering your dreams thinking about changing others’ perspectives when you can actually change the way you perceive yourself? If one doesn’t think one’s beautiful, how can one except someone else to?
My personal belief may not count much yet I strongly deem that true beauty is about being happy and proud to be who you are, irrespective of what you look like. Confidence carries a lot of weight in ‘feeling’ beautiful and that’s what really matters. It is a fact that one’s feelings are portrayed by one’s looks, self conduct and behaviour. So an unhappy, low confident woman cannot be expected to ‘look’ good either. It doesn’t matter if you’re slightly curvaceous, fairly dark, shorter or taller than average measures or not up to ‘beauty’ standards in any way, as long as you respect and love yourself, you will be beautiful. This is not the temporary kind of beauty, rather the everlasting kind that will not decline with the years.
Just think. Between a Rose and a Jasmine, which looks more beautiful? Which smells sweeter? What really matters in a flower-looks or fragrance?Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, thus no one can truly define ‘beauty’. Yet no one can label one as ‘beautiful’ and the other as ‘not beautiful’ either.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Back in 1997 Id software released a truly wonderful gaming experience known as Quake II. Hot on the heels of Quake, this game bore little resemblance to the previous entry's hell and heaven overtures.
Quake II was set in a futuristic Sci-Fi environment. Humanity had just been devastated by an attack from an Alien force known as the Strogg. Naturally we were pissed... and so we sent our best knuckleheads to the Strogg's home planet to kick some ass.
As the game opens, a giant space cruiser heads toward the home planet of the Strogg, packed with Marines. The player is in the shoes of Frank Bitterman, a marine who upon the launch of the attack in pods (one per marine) suffers a collision from another pod, and falls behind the platoon.
As Bitterman tries to regain control of his pod, he becomes aware that the attack suffered heavy consequences killing practically everyone who took part. Surviving a crash landing, Bitterman finds himself in hostile territory and completely alone on the Strogg home planet.
This was one of the first games to have deformations on character models, where damage could be seen visually. Neat little touches like downed enemies using their last moments of life to fire one last blast off really added to the atmosphere as well as the one enemy who continues to fire his machine gun in a spasm even after his head has been blown off!
Take that you Strogg b@$!@&ds!
Yes this game was brutal for its time, it didn't pretty up the war aspect of the game. Throughout many marines would be found impaled on spikes and worse. Better yet was the meat processing factory where the Strogg sliced up dead humans and reassembled them to function as Strogg soldiers.
One of the most loved features in the game is its fantastic soundtrack. Sonic Mayhem created a heavy industrial metal music that truly gave the game an awesome additional kick and many still highly regard its soundtrack that is even rumoured to have at least one track partially made by Rob Zombie.
Today the graphics don't look like much, but back in the day this was the creme de la creme. Lighting effects and a cool laser trail that illuminated the corridor as it travelled through it were among some of the highlights. The engine that ran the game was pretty powerful and is still alive and well today in the form of Counterstrike.
Ah... the fantastic laser trail!
This game was one of those experiences that was plain awesome at that point in time, but today is an old and dated one, but still a classic nonetheless.
Communism stems from that issue of class struggle and the accumulation of wealth by a minority that usually gets grouped under the title 'The Elite' or the landowners. While I may have a limited knowledge on Communism one thing I do know is that Soviet Communism isn't real Communism and that there are many interpretations of what it truly is.
Communism in my mind features a system whereby companies are owned by the employees who run them with everyone having an equal stake. From what I've also read, Communism doesn't involve a state as such. This way everyone who works gets their fair share of the profits that can be taken or chosen to reinvest in their own business. I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than this but lets keep it simple for the moment.
The problem to me lies in the fact that humans are actually animals (yes really) and have base instincts that involve competition and as Mr Bawa said, Survival of the Fittest. Because of this someone somewhere will always try to get more power or wealth, thereby breaking the system down. Ideally this won't happen, but it most likely will unless people rise beyond their normal behaviour.
I back this up with an example of sorts. In an ideal scenario a totalitarian regime ruled by one honest man is the ideal system. This one individual can decide what is best for everyone and carry it out without opposition. This too rarely happens, and corruption of the person eventually takes places, or failing that, the individual dies leaving a vacuum. The person or entity that fills the vacuum rarely shares the same exact ideology.
To me it all lies with the people. If they're willing to rise above their base instincts then an ideal system can be implemented. The problem is not the system itself, but the people in the system, which is basically each and everyone of us. We like to lay blame on politicians for wrecking everything, but we too play a part by our own actions in some small way that accumulates as each individual performs similar actions.
Almost every socialist orientated person I've ever met counters all kinds of problem with some kind of state control to stop people from taking counter productive actions to the system. But then there's the problem again, what keeps the state in line? If we were all self governed and truly set on a proper course, then practically any system would work without being abused; the problem is we aren't there yet. Thus every 'noble' and 'fair' system tends to fall apart somewhere down the line.
Power lies in the masses... the problem is, they are not enlightened people in the majority of the World. We always have movements, but lead by one person. The body of the movement, the masses cannot think for themselves. There lies the problem...
Imagine a world where every individual was a powerful, self functioning and fully knowledgeable person... would we stand for the hypocrisies of or leaders then? Would we stand around while a system was being abused? You tell me...
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Although stated by many to be the most romantic love story ever written ( or in this aspect, ever to be staged),the tale of Romeo and Juliet is one with a famous theme and an almost non surprising story line, compared with the many romances we read and see today. One can say it to be almost immature and unrealistic, however, these minor facts and opinions will never hinder the magic and the magnitude of love’s intensity and power which is, in my point of view, the main theme of this play.
This universally benchmarked ‘ideal love story’ has many aspects; the status core of the Montagues and Capulets from which straying was impossible, unaccepted and (until Romeo and Juliet) never attempted; the tragic coincidences which seem to be so unfair to the most vulnerable parties; the justice not granted to both parties(parents and children) who in their own views are playing fair; the differences and power of the then social structure, compared to that of today(where in real life, Romeo and Juliet would not have been a tragedy but a situation occurring often and ending in marriage and family); the innocence and immatureness of young love; etc.
Out of these many aspects found all throughout the play, I would like to state my opinions and view points on the aspect- the innocence and immatureness of young love, and how real this Love really could have been.
As the tale begins, we find young and dreamy Romeo head over heels for the fair and unattainable Rosaline. He finds it seemingly impossible to even lay eyes on any other maiden except his idol goddess Rosaline (“One fairer than my love! The all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun”). Yet, the moment he catches a glimpse of Juliet at the party held at the Capulets (for which he was initially practically dragged to), he falls madly and deeply in love with her, just as fast as that. He says “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty til this night”, when he sees her. So we can safely comment that it was Juliet’s fair skin and dazzling beauty that won Romeo’s heart as quick as lightning. Juliet too, coincidentally falls desperately in love with the young heart throb the minute she lays her eyes on him, helped may be by the flirtatious words he used to mesmerize her, comparing him to a mere pilgrim and her to a saint. Beauty, they say, is but skin deep, yet it was the outer appearance of both of them that wound them close together in love. One may say that they were meant to find each other and meant to love one another and that this unplanned meeting at this random party was a magical coincidence to bring together two hearts that were destined for each other. Yet a more realistic comment would be that they merely fell to the passion aroused by the pleasant appearance that met their eyes and the appealing conversation that heightened the aura of desire around them.
Romeo does not woo the lady with mere looks and words; he succeeds to maneuver the conversation in such a way that he kisses Juliet then and there on their first meeting with no reluctance from her part. It may have been his skill with conversing all about the sinful pilgrim having his sins washed away by a kiss from the saint, it may have been his charismatic power over whelming her or quite reasonable to say, it may have been that both of them were mere willful slaves of instant passion that was ensnaring them-he who was desperate for Rosaline’s fine beauty and she who was desperate for love at her young age. This shows the immaturity of both of them, to plunge into waters without knowing its depth or how you’ll survive it.
For Romeo and Juliet it was, without a doubt, love at first sight. However the learned and the experienced knows that love at first sight is not true love at all, it is merely a strong desire for each other nourished by mutual physical attraction, sexual desire and magnified passion without reasoning all bonded together and disguised as love. Love is almost defined by Romeo in the early parts of the play, while still in love with the beautiful Rosaline, as “Love is a smoke rais’d with the fumes of sighs; Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes; Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears; What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall, and a preserving sweet.” This is to a vast extent proved true in his later romance with the young Juliet.
The innocence and immatureness of these two lovers can again be seen when Romeo (first falling, madly and without thinking, in love with Juliet, without knowing her origin) risks everything, including his parents’ pride and his own dear life, to catch a glimpse of Juliet by climbing the Capulet’s high orchard walls. Fortunately for him he climbed the right side of the house for he wastes no time in searching for Juliet’s room because he stumbles no where else but her balcony at the precise moment when she comes out talking to her self about her newly erupted and blossoming love for her only known enemy.
The two lovers pay neither heed nor caution to the dangers so near them as they spend half the night talking to each other about their love and its future. “With love’s light wings did I o’er perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out: and what love can do, that dares love attempt; Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me” says Romeo and it could be said that their love could be strong enough to break the enmity generating without reduction from their fore fathers. Yet another more realistic approach to their new sprung love would be not to start what you know you aren’t allowed to see finished. However, be it their will, strength of heart or the power they believe their love held, the two lovers vow to each other to hold on forever and Juliet bids god bye to Romeo saying, “If that thy bent of love be honourable, thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow”. Here we are again shown the degree of their juvenile behavior, where they talk of marriage, the most holy and important bond of a life time of commitment and dedication, with seeming lightness and pettiness.
It is safe and to a great level correct to say that although the word love is used many times in the dialogues of the entire drama, whenever the relationship of Romeo and Juliet is concerned or referred to, it would have been more truthful and accurate to have used lust, passion, desire, obsession or infatuation. For it is immensely clear to all that what the lovers shared together, what they named love, has no depth, no clear mutual understanding, no room for any other spiritual bond except that of blind passion.
Leaving aside the childishness of their love in its inaugural stage (keeping in mind that this was one single night), even after the couple so rashly enter Holy Matrimony in haste, Romeo risks the lives of both of them by re-entering Juliet’s chamber in the middle of the same night of their marriage and of his unfortunate and unplanned murder of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, to celebrate their marital union. It is a crucial night for everyone; the House of Capulet, the House of Montague, Romeo and Juliet, yet the young lovers risk everything, and even a chance for Romeo to safely run away to Mantua until they think of a further plan, merely for their lack of patience to give in to each other’s physical attraction and mutual sensual desire.
It is an often asked question regarding this fleeing of Romeo, as to why he doesn’t completely elope with his newly wedded wife when she is more than willing to go to any length just to be able to be with him. Not only would a duo elope have proven to be easy and effective but it could also have prevent the many deaths that took place after their wedding night. For it can be unmistakably said that neither Romeo nor Juliet paid any heed to their families’ hurt or angry feelings as a result of their offensive marriage.
Least of all their activities displaying their naïveté, what in my opinion is most upsettingly silly is the poor communication and very hasty actions that Romeo and Juliet take in the pretence-turned-true deaths of the couple. Firstly, it is most disappointing that Friar Lawrence takes the consequences of the sleeping potion and the message to Romeo rather lightly than would have been expected of him. It is of course a tragic twist of fate that the messenger Friar John fails to perform his duty, which turns out to be the most important duty of all, and which would have been the one to have been regarded as the highest priority.
Also, it is a shocking misfortune that Romeo seemed to have taken the lifeless body of Juliet as it is, without even trying a desperate attempt to shake her awake, for if he had done a simple action as such, she would have woken up, given the fact that his arrival is almost nearly simultaneous to her awakening as the power of the potion declines.
Yet that is the way William Shakespeare has plotted down this story of the unfortunate star struck lovers, which is said to have been based on a true story that took place in Verona. It can be argued that the story lacks the touch of real life, where this story would have had a better ending, yet it cannot be criticized as such for the tale of the immaturely innocent and naïve, passion-bound Romeo and Juliet have proven through the ages to be the best love story ever to be written.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
It’s kind of strange to see a major heavy metal outfit which virtually concurred the seven seas came from a land where the music is mainly associated with their deep cultural roots. That’s a kind of feeling that comes for my mind when I think about the band Sepultura. Same feeling aroused in me when I heard the new project by the Sepulturian front men Cavalera brothers; Cavalera Conspiracy.Their debut album “Inflikted” is a gruesome masterwork from the literal as well as technical perspectives. It offered something DIFFERENT not less, than Sepultura.
I would like to break the album to two distinct parts for the criticism purposes. First half of the album; tracks such as hit single “Sanctuary”and“Terrorize” are more musically driven work and other half of the album is more lyrically driven. But then there are some exceptions such as “Bloodbrawl” where the conspiracy manages to smoothly combine the heaviness with the melodic orchestration. I was astonished when I got my ears enthralled in the craftily but consciously written “Hearts of Darkness” which I think is the most successfully executed track in the album. Innovative lyricism audible in “The Doom of All Fires” and “Nevertrust” is another distinct characteristic in this album. Album is totally woven around in negative social themes such as war which is common in the genre.
When considered as a whole the album is a worth a listen to, a redefining hardcore journey in to the darker side.
The problems in our country as far as macro economic planning etc. is concerned has not been the failure of the education system. Yes as far as employability and the tech "savvy"ness of our graduates goes there is plenty to find fault with, but we have covered the basics at least they have been given three or four years of higher education which would serve them in good stead in the future.
I have often heard and seen in the blogosphere and in society itself certain people being critical of free eduction. Why should we pay for some one else's education? I went to a private school I don't reap the benefits of free education etc.
( A Sri Lankan university; not cutting edge but it does the best it can.)
These myopic assumptions influenced by extreme right wing conservative politics do not portray a holistic picture of the benefits of the Sri Lankan education system. If you go to a supermarket the girl at the cash register learnt math because of free education, if you go to a police station the policemen were educated because of free education, doctors and nurses in hospitals judges and magistrates in our courts were all educated because of free education.
The wheels of industry and commerce keep turning because of our free education, though many capitalist businessmen are quick to argue towards the contrary their businesses and industries are well oiled with man power sourced from the Sri Lankan educational system.
Today we live in an era where the largest earner of foreign exchange in the country is foreign remittances, all the Sri Lankan manpower employed abroad are products of free education.
The objective of my post is to point out that free education has far more far reaching consequences and benefits that what just meets the eye.
We have excellent social welfare and health facilities that have steadily improved over time and is perhaps the only aspect of Sri Lankan life that we can be proud of. Though I am not entirely opposed to the idea of private education, I feel it is pertinent to protect and nourish free education as it is one of the few policies that has served our country well.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
"Supplies of Aid and Food stocks being dropped over Jaffna by Indian Air Force"
The commanders of "Operation Liberation" commonly known as "Vadamarachchi Operation". From left to right: Lt Col. Vipul Boteju, Lt Col. Sarath Jayawardane, Col. Wijaya Wimalaratne, Brig. Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Maj Gotabaya Rajapakse [1987, Jaffna].
You Tube Videos of Walk the Talk
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The first is about Toxoplasma gondii which is a parasite commonly found in cats. The parasite's 'larval' stage exists outside any living creature which is then eaten by rats, mice or any other animal inclined to do so.
Once inside the host, the parasite begins to create cysts' throughout the body and brain. The parasite then waits for the host to be devoured by a cat so that it can make it's way to it's primary host.
So where's the mind control? Well in lab experiments that were conducted on rats, some interesting differences were noted. Normally rats that smell cat urine are immediately afraid and leave the area, not daring to be eaten by the predator. It turns out that rats infected by T Gondii did not exhibit this reaction and in some cases actually sought out areas with cat urine. Such action serves no benefit to the rat and is equivalent to a person walking in front of a moving bus. But it does serve the purpose of the parasite...
This parasite can also travel to humans by for example eating unwashed vegetables or improperly cooked meat.
The Ampulex Compressa is an interesting wasp. It's behaviour is like that of any other wasp except when it comes to laying eggs. The female wasp will find an unwilling victim, it's favourite, a cockroach.
It's first sting to the cockroach's midsection causes its front legs to give way, effectively grounding it on the spot. The second sting is a more precise shot to the head that is actually carefully guided by the wasp in to the brain of the cockroach. Apparently the sting on the wasp is very sensitive and it carefully navigates its way through to the brain and finds a very specific part that controls the escape reflex. A special venom is injected that neutralizes the escape reflex.
The cockroach effectively becomes a zombie at this point. The Wasp then leads the roach by it's antenna back to wasps burrow. The cockroach obediently follows and stays inside the wasp's home, while the wasp is busy sealing the burrow up. Then the wasp lays an egg on the underside of the cockroach with no resistance whatsoever. The egg eventually hatches and the larva chews a hole in the side of the cockroach and crawls in to its new home.
For 8 days an all you can eat buffet follows as the larva chooses from various fresh internal organs and eventually makes a cocoon within its gracious host. Eventually the wasp emerges from its cocoon and bursts out of the cockroach body, ready to tackle the world.
The larva emerges out of the cockroach in a scene reminiscent of the movie 'Alien'.
The Sacculina barnacle uses crabs as its platform for reproduction. The female of the species will crawl over a selected crab until it finds a weakness its its outer shell, normally at the joints. At this point the barnacle disposes of its own protective shell, becoming a gelatinous blob and makes its way inside the crab.
Once inside the Sacculina begins to grow long tendrils that eventually form a bump on the underside of the crab. The female also creates a hole in the back of the crab so that a male Sacculina can enter from there.
During the female's infestation, the crab loses its ability to reproduce. Eventually breeding begins inside the crab, and it plays hosts to millions of Sacculina eggs and larva. The crab cares for these as if they were it's own and loses any interest in reproducing itself. In the event that the crab is male, the female Sacculina alters the brain to female behaviour so that the crab takes on a more caring and effeminate role.
This process once again has no benefit to the crab, and is further breeding more Sacculina that will go on to infect more crabs in the future.
Mind control in limited forms has been happening in nature for ages. Besides these there are quite a few other examples of parasites altering the behaviour of their hosts.
Apparently a large portion of people (approx 3 billion) are infected with T-Gondii and scientists now believe that this may be linked to Scizophrenia in humans.
Science Fiction or Science Fact? Could a really complex parasite evolve that could become our puppet masters? It's in the realm of possibility.
An infested brain exhibit from the Japanese Parasitology Museum
Today is the 80th birth anniversary of one of the most iconic individuals of the 20th centruy: Che Guevara.
Ernesto Che Guevara has always intrigued me, I have idolized him and continue to do so even today, when other kids had role models like Jayasuriya and Johnny Wilkinson I felt that Che was a man of greater substance.
Being a humanitarian at heart, he wasn't afraid to take the fight to the system, the system that kept millions of his fellow Latin Americans under oppressive governments. Being an Argentine medical student Che would have been in for a more or less cushy future had he not made the ruckus that he did.
Yet, he chose the path less traversed and was prepared to sacrifice his future and his life towards the betterment of others. Many others have done the same through out the course of history like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, personally I believe that we should honour Che's courage and his determination sans the political shades.
Today Che has become an icon for rebellious youth, his face adorns t shrits, keyags even bikinis.
Use that rebellious spirit to make a difference, be like Che!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
However, upon reading it I found that it contained little factual representation of the narrator Hugo Baumgartner's situation but instead was a tale concocted out of extremely personal experiences chosen at intermittent points through out his life. I found this style of writing extremely refreshing and also very binding from a reader's point of view.
Instead narrating the story from start to end, Desai's technique of story telling tells you of emotional flash points in Baumgartner's life. Another interesting aspect was that she had vividly described the setting in each situation so that the reader is veritably transported through Germany, Venice, Culcutta and finally ending up at Bombay.
Though the story is representative of the suffering of Jews during the Nazi regime and obviously the heartrending situation of Baumgartner who was neither here nor there.
"Too dark for Nazi Germany and too fair for Bombay" aptly describes Baumgartner's predicament.
However, the book delves into something deeper than just Baumgartner's longing to belong and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Through out the book the scribe describes in great detail Hugo Baumgartner's affection for his Mutti ( mother), she uses this to convey the universality of human feeling; everyone loves their mothers. It also helps to express that whether we live in Germany or India and whether you are of Aryan or Semitic descent that deep down inside all of us are the same.
(pic. Anita Desai)
Desai also takes a jab at the maxim " the enemy of enemy is my friend". She describes how many nationalistic Indians warmed up to Baumgartner because he was German.
"We are fighting the same enemy -the British", lest did they know that though he was German he had lost his mother ,his home and his country because of the Nazis. At one point she elaborates further and says that there were many Indians supporting the Germans and the Japs because there was school of thought that the Axis powers would liberate the Indians from the British. This coupled with Baumgartner's predicament heightens the irony of the storyline.
The book also exposes the dark underbelly of India and the abject poverty of its citizens. Large portions of prose are dedicated to describing the squalor and the unhealthy environs of Indian cities. Thus, exposing the hypocrisy of the Indian upper classes that build luxurious hotels for foreigners but yet let its own brethren suffer silently.
She dwells on this topic (hypocrisy of the Indian upper classes) further by describing the affair between Hugo's friend Lotte and a Bengali businessman. It is touched upon again when Hugo looses ownership of his race horse following the death of his wealthy business partner. This is in stark contrast to genuine Indian citizens such as Farrokh who befriends Baumgartner.
The iron cast perceptions of Indians towards the lower social classes also come under close scrutiny as the drunkard who reported Baumgartner's death becomes the chief suspect, despite the real culprit making away with the "silver". Fairer skin can get you quite far - is what Desai seems to saying in an undertone.
The opportunist nature of humans are also illustrated using the characters Lily from Shanghai and the Aryan Boy.
Though many have termed this book as being a literary creation that explores Baumgartner's wanting to belong to something, I personally believe that at a much deeper level it explores a plethora of psycho-social problems plaguing Indian society.
On a personal note I also felt that as Sri Lankans we can all relate to Baumgartner's situation when taking into account the tens of thousands of Sri Lankans who have fled the country to escape death. Some have left to escape the cruel LTTE regime, some following the bloody '83 riots and others to escape death at the hands of government death squads during the late 80's.
Whatever the case maybe, another parallel that we can draw from the tale of Baumgartner is his unwillingness to leave India even after the war is over. He does so, not because of any special affection for India but because of hopelessness;he cannot come to terms with the disappearance of his beloved mother, loss of his father etc. I wonder how many Sri Lankans feel the same way?
Ok…. after weeks of debate, one of our contributors (Me!!) had the strength to get his lazy ass up to scan and post this rather exciting poem. Well of course any regular Sri Lankan blogger would have read and heard the news (with everyone getting to the story as soon as it happened), but since it has been such an awesome mishap, we felt really bad to let it go. This poem was found on a children’s page in “HAPPY ISLAND”; the children’s supplement given with the Island Newspaper (a well respected and popular local English newspaper). The newspaper claims that they were “a victim of Internet terrorism”, but I think it was one of the best pranks pulled off in a long time.
Well, of course we have to see to the fact that it has been published on a children’s page but when you think about it, hats go off to the person who pulled this prank (if it ever was a prank in the first place!) -(click on the picture to zoom in)
Friday, June 13, 2008
DOPE’s wicked performance style in club circuits earned them a record deal in Epic. Outcome?... a heavy hearted, industrial album which defined the path of the band in mainstream scene in years to come. Their method was to keep it simple and raw as possible. Edsel and his boys want to express their emotions and to make a mark in the scene rather than doing an experimental material. The album did the rest for them. Beside not up to standard okay type of remix of N.W.A. classic “Fuck The Police”, other tracks such as “Debonair” and “Everything sucks” took hostage in the minds of the masses which eventually paid their dues.
They matured with time and went to explore different paths in the music. I call it this album as more musically orientated album because DOPE tried to experiment with techno counterparts, innovative complex guitar riffs and adopting more vocal harmonies in to their “normal” blood. Tracks like “Now or never” (Slow but one of their best works) and “Nothing (Why)” earned them a position in Billboard and other metal charts.
If I call "Life” as a musically driven album I’ll call this one as a lyrically driven album. Their song (lyrical) structure went on serious transformation through the process and result was astonishing. For my personal opinion, this is the best DOPE material the band ever delivered. I think tracks like “Sing” and “Another day goes by” (slowing things down tat bit… think that more hard core fans didn’t like those much) will prove my point.
Nothing much to say, it was a memorable journey to their roots. This hardcore bombshell took the band to #1 position in charts and I’m sure that all the DOPE army eagerly waited for this one. It turned out to be a worth while waiting because finally they got their hands on one of the killer masterpieces of industrial metal arena.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Belief seems like such an important thing to believe. Having recently started watching the X-Files again and its delving in to the huge number of paranormal events and incidents that some believe in as well as some recent thinking of mine it began to occur to me that such beliefs aren't all that far fetched.
I know... you're saying I'm nuts. But really if you think about it so many people believe in various Gods around the world and the current mainstream God is so popular, but really to me it seems the stuff of the X-Files and the many deities belong in the same boat.
If you think about it, Fox Mulder wants to believe in UFO's and the paranormal. In reality he's not alone in this belief, and now even a new age 'religion' known as Scientology is based around the existence of alien life.
If you put Superman in a head to head with God as to which is more plausible you'd see that Superman is actually more plausible, provided you remove all the attached stigma's and preconceptions and look at it objectively. Now many would be angered and in the old days, this was the ultimate defense for any religion; burning at the stake for heretics. Question or challenge and be presented with all kinds of horrendous things bestowed upon heretics.
It's not so strange as the English (taking one culture out of so many) used to believe in Witches and Witchcraft. How did they identify them? Well you see a woman had to be accused first (not that hard as lot of people disliked each other) and then you would dunk them in water for some time. If they survived then they would be burned at the stake. If they died then well... ooops.
Another excellent test was where the woman was left naked before having a needle pricked at the thigh. If they didn't bleed they were witches. Unfortunately they didn't take in to account that especially in those days that many women were embarrassed to be seen naked (Gee I wonder why) causing in blushing and blood rushing to the face which could sometimes result in no blood rushing out of a small pinprick wound. Off with ye Witch!
It's all about wanting to believe in something. If we cannot understand ,it's comforting to remove the unknown by having a God or Deity to fill in the gaps so that we can have some reason and go on living our lives. It's true... Ignorance is bliss, which should lead me to some of the awesomeness that is touched by the movie 'The Matrix', but that's another story for another day.
All I can say is... Keep an Open Mind. The Truth is out there? Truer words were never spoken.
A quote I really love by Stephen Roberts
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Like Fox Mulder, we all want to believe.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Note the fine print which says "idiriyatama yawu helayini blah blah blah"- if Champika Ranawaka and his assortment of racist bull frogs don't already know. Our armed forces are composed of more than just the Sinhalese, large numbers of Burghers, Malays, Moors and even Tamils are engaged in fighting to save the country and the civilians from terrorism.
It is exactly this kind of ill advised, illogical and blatantly racist propaganda that gives Sri Lanka so much bad press.
These poster boys for nationalism that go about branding people traitors and patriots should take a long hard look at themselves in the future, before calling anyone names.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Ok ok.. we get the message daily mirror.. dont have to post the same news every few seconds....
well this may be a technical mishap .but humor aside..it stands as an ironical testament to how gruesome and violent terrorism can be...
It seems that the intimidation of journalists were only a first step, to test the water to see how far the the government can go via thuggery and intimidation.
Yesterday the next phase of the Operation : Curtailing Civil Liberties got underway, with the assault on a lawful protest against the governments wasteful spending and economic mis management being attacked by a UPFA Provincial councilor and a PS member.
Though I do not agree with the economic plans of the JVP, one has to admit that in the present political climate they are the only sane voice of dissent. Everyone knows that the UNP is only being opportunistic and really don't give a damn about the people.
If that wasn't enough the protest that was staged to protest the assault also came under attack, this type of shameless intimidation of political parties is a worrying trend. One that should not only be pondered but also acted against. The government I believe is using the war to subdue democracy and to move toward totalitarianism much the same way Hitler seized Germany by burning down the parliament.
At least Hitler had a cause which he had some faith in, this government doesn't have a cause apart from embezzling as much as money as possible.
Yes, a worrying trend indeed...
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Personally I believe that the objectives of the LTTE that orchestrates these attacks are threefold;
1. Whip up anti Tamil sentiment and a subsequent backlash against the Tamil communities living in predominantly Sinhala neighborhoods.
It is unbelievable that the vociferous Tamil diaspora is largely silent over this extremely dangerous and inhumane course of action plotted be their so called freedom fighters. Not only are innocent civilians belonging to all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka killed and maimed in these attacks, the LTTE willingly and if not deliberately chooses to put the lives of thousands of other Tamil civilians at risk.
2. Divert the concentration of the security forces towards the south
The large numbers of army and STF soldiers that are deployed in the theater of battle in the North would have to be withdrawn to ensure the safety of civilians in the south, in wake of such attacks. Which would dilute the war effort of the government to liberate the North, I would like to make it clear that I make no qualms about the fact the only solution to the issue of terrorism, is to crush it ruthlessly.
3. To whip up anti government sentiment and to create an opinion that the war effort is futile.
I doubt if the government needs any help from the LTTE in whipping up public opinion against it. Their hap hazard economic policies, wasteful management, blatant cronyism, media suppression, human rights violations, corruption, incompetence and at times racist ideology seems to have accomplished this objective.
In any case the only way to deal with the LTTE is to crush it at the earliest possible opportunity, I must confess that I do feel sympathetic towards the regular cadre of the terror outfit who were forcibly conscripted and brainwashed. It is saddening that the leadership of the LTTE has destroyed an entire generation of Tamil youth in the North of the country and sacrificed their souls in to this never ending war. Unfortunately the Tamil diaspora living in the cool climes of North America and Europe seem to be oblivious to the fact that they are aiding and abetting the destruction of their own people.
According to defence analyst Paul Harris, yes the LTTE wants peace but peace on their own terms. Peace for the sake of peace is no peace at all.
Why is the LTTE hell bent on achieving the Eelam? Why not settle for a negotiated settlement with the government that allows for greater autonomy of the North and East.
Why not? Because the survival of the leadership depends on the Eelam if the LTTE does not achieve it then the survival of Prabhakaran and the top rungs of the Tiger hierarchy cannot be assured. Supposing that the LTTE comes forth for a settlement, will Prabhakaran ever be accepted by the Tamil people for killing and maiming their own brethren, will he be accepted by the Sinhala and Muslim communities after decades of ethic cleansing in the North and the East.
(To the contrary, the entire strength of the Ministerial and Presidential guard would have to be utilized to protect his life.)
Will he ever be seen as a statesman by the Indians after killing their Prime minister? Will he be accepted by the international community after assassinating Lakshman Kadirgamar one of the finest intellectuals and diplomats to come out of Oxford.
Therefore the survival of the tyrannical LTTE regime depends on the establishment of the Eelam, which is further exemplified by their willingness to spill any amount of blood to achieve it.
I suppose you can't really blame him... after all games like Gears of War that involving splicing people in half with a chainsaw mounted on a gun or the free roaming shooting spree that some Grand Theft Auto players indulge in.
Ah a budding youth training for the real world.
His case: ban these violent simulations and lower youth crime in the United States. Sure... you can, but somehow Mr.Thompson, in the rest of the world including Sri Lanka this epidemic seems nonexistent.
Why? Is there some vitamin goodness in the water? Or perhaps our food is laced with violence lowering chemicals? But maybe its more likely that its due to the fact that guns aren't easily obtainable in most countries unlike the United States. Troubled youth blows away his classmates and the fact that he used a gun to express his frustration is obviously not the problem. Grand Theft Auto must have done it.
By such rationale this writer should be a mass murderer by having committed mass genocide in virtual reality and having blown the heads off the Covenant, Locust, German, Stormtrooper and other armies to name only a few in one man solo crusades in the vein of John Rambo.
I'm not sure what it is, but America refuses to acknowledge the problem with its youth, and is instead going on a witch hunt to plant the blame somewhere else. But note that movies which are well established have no such impact for some reason. [sarcasm] Probably because of its revenue generation and mainstream acceptance. [sarcasm] Personally I find people getting torn in half in a movie far more disturbing than in a videogame which is definitely not real.
Thompson and the Cop Killing Simulator
It seems though that in latest developments that Mr. Thompson may be banned from practicing 'law' for the period of ten years due to certain 'infractions' that he committed which include some minor quibbles like lying. One has to wonder what simulator he's been playing on to develop his skills.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
A Spectacular rugby match..
A Gold Leaf pack .....
an old arrack...
two coke bottles...
lots of ice cubes....
and three other friends...
I stupid, wasted post like this......
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Anyways it seems as if I am veering off the intended subject of my post, my apologies for the extremely detached tangent, sometimes I find it difficult to stop rambling, similar to perhaps Rumpole... who was meant to be the actual subject of my post.
Who is Rumpole you may ask.. well he doesn't really exist, rather he is a fictional character in a book or rather a series of books by John Mortimer, he is a defense attorney practicing in England somewhere in the mid 70's or 80's. Like all (or many) defense attorneys his perception of morality is bent and disfigured beyond any hope of repair and he has a knack for regurgitating verses of poetry and lines from Shakespeare's novels at inappropriate times.
Though not a ground breaking literary creation it was a throughly enjoyable novel, tainted with dark humor and a hint of satire. Being an armchair anarchist Rumpole's eccentric thouhgt processes and his primeval sense of justice makes the reader think twice and examine their own personality(or personalities). To question themselves as to whether their own perception of justice and morality is as insane as Rumpole's.
Anyhow, I do not wish to make an elaborate critique of Mortimer's book, because I doubt it was meant to be an intellectual work to be dissected and analyzed by literary critics. Rather it is a simple but highly enjoyable read , one that I would like to define as being a small mercy of life.
A work of art that one can enjoy without giving the neurons too much work and without having to stop ponder the philosophical meaning of a sentence. Rather it is meant to be consumed as it is and meant to alleviate the sufferings ( maybe this a trifle too far fetched, but it helps )of an average reader through a small dosage of comic satire.
Yes, Rumpole and John Mortimer may not change the world but they will help to keep it spinning. Thank you for creating small mercies and thank you John for Rumpole...
Anyway here it is, as it was; written in 2005. I believe people change over time and past views may also change, but I've left this as it was, and I think it's a little simplistic, but still true.
What is the biggest human failing known to man. This single characteristic is the source of most of what goes wrong in the world. This failing is the one of 'self-betterment' and self preserval, the quality of selfishness.
So while both these two kinds of people exist you may wonder why then is there so much trouble in the world. The reason for this is simply that selfless people do not really seek to benefit themselves as this would be a selfish act in itself. To accumulate so much power would require the underhand tactics used by those previously described.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
It was a heart stopper, an absolute spectacle of pure adrenaline and excitement. Yes I am talking about the recently concluded Indian Premier League, which was a treat for any cricket fan. I have never been the die heart cricket fan nor have had the thought of penning down a post on cricket. But the IPL changed all that and this 60-day adrenaline rush has shown that cricket can also be taken into a level of professionalism enjoyed by other major sports leagues in the world.
The IPL concluded in the best possible way ever with the starting underdogs Rajastan Royals clinching the inaugural trophy in a nail-biting thriller. It was down to Shane Warne and Sohail Tanvir to grab the winning runs in the last over, which came down to the very last ball. A classic final, which people will remember for a long time.
Some may argue otherwise saying that we are loosing the true passion and originality of cricket, but I (along with many a cricket fan) think otherwise. Of course there is a great down side to this. If this trend is let to continue without proper control or management, we would see all the best talent in world cricket playing for IPL rather than their own countries. But I doubt that people (at least we south Asians) prefer 5 day all white test matches over 20/20 cricket. The remedy is not to stop 20/20 cricket or banning IPL type of leagues, it’s about taking this league or this type of cricket into the world arena.
I hope that in future we would be seeing more teams and clubs participating from other countries as well. This may seem like a long shot from the traditional IPL concept, but few years back did we even have a slightest idea about a 20/20 tournament this much big and spectacular??
Sunday, June 1, 2008
By Vivimarie Vanderpoorten
Reviewed by DRG
I got a glimpse of this book accidentally when I was doing my routine book search at upsatairs of Sarasavi Book shop, Maharagama. I knew nothing about her or her poetry at that time. But when I read couple of pages of her work I sort of like her stuff and thought of buying it. The main significant quality that strikes my mind about her poetry is the simplicity. The words not forced to appear on behalf of her feelings but just poured out from her pen. Her style is simple and not so flowery. But it’s flamboyant. As an university lectures of English language, I’m kind of surprise to see her choice of words. But thinking about it again understood that I am the person who is ignorant and learning the craft and she just mastered it. Wow! What brilliance…
…I want you to reach across one continent
And two oceans, (from where you’re
Probably still asleep)
And hold my hand.
The Proposal (page 33)
…but today among my e-mails
there’s one from him
Sifting through junk e-mail: offers of endless credit
free porn sites and
drugs to “enlarge your penis”,…
Another main aspect of Viv’s poetry is that the use of her personnel experiences as the plots for her creativity process. The sad times, the happy times, the little romantic ventures in her life. She just uses them to enthrall us in her wordplay. The poems such as “For DS”, “Burial”, “Reward” and wittily written “Single Brown Female, 1998” are few from many examples I can quote to prove my point.
Viv goes in to explore another dimension by dedicating her creative expression and valuable to write about the dilapidating state of our society especially this 20 year long raging war. Her poems don’t discuss the problem straightly but with little bit of creativity and story telling she makes a deep remark in readers’ hearts; “ Death of a Cartoonist”…
Explosion (page 35)
…out of the broken window
of a damaged car-
the radio blared, unscathed
on a commercial break
a man’s pleasant voice
that big or small, insurance
protects them all .