Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doctors, medical students, journalists and the Bloem

A post of a similar nature had been on my mind for quite some time now, but unfortunately owing to the lack of time, textbooks to study and a lot of personal grief had not allowed me to get the job done!

Anyways , the incident at the BLoem a few days back finally made me sit down in front my computer and start typing this post.

Having been a journalist first and a medical student second and hopefully( provided that I pass the innumerable exams) a doctor third, I was initially inclined to believe that the fault lay with the Med Students that attacked the photographers. Later I found out through media reports and first hand anecdotes of the experience from my frnds that the Daily Mirror report had been erroneous ... not surprising they were never a stickler for the truth!
Having worked as a journalist for about 6 or 7 months and been in situations such a the Rupavahinigate incident I learned that a journalists best friend is his PRESS ID. Flash it and your in.. doors that were closed before magically open, the people that weren't willing to talk earlier suddenly become very talkative (provided that you don't reveal their identity.)

A fundamental mistake made the two or three LD journalists was that they refused to identify themselves. Having been in the industry I know personally that having a notepad and pen or a camera in hand does wonders for your ego.. but makes you feel like you are a class above the rest.. after all we are the fourth pillar of democracy.

In any case in this day and age a guy that goes around photographing people or places without identifying themselves is rather suspicious and elicits a certain amount of attention. True. hammering the buggers might have been a ad bit too drastic but then again these Med Students are at the end of their tether with studying until their eyeballs fall out, hectic clinicals and a lot of pent up youthful energy.

Another reason that inspired me to write this post were the comments on the DM web portal, they were discriminative if not abusive towards doctors, but since many doctors don't have the time to log on to the web page let alone glance through the headlines I doubt they cared anyway!

The case is this, a Sri Lankan doctor who comes out through a government university( mind you there are a good many that come from China,Russia, INdia etc.) has literally sacrificed his entire entire young life towards the art(or Science) of Medicine. HAd these individuals chosen another path MAnagement, Accountancy or MArketing they would have completed their degrees in half the time it takes to earn an MBBS.

The average starting salary for a doctor is a paltry 17,000, mind you that is with 6 years of higher education... I earned close to that amount working as a part time creative writer at an ad agency! Ten years , a masters degree and a fellowship later they are rewarded with a salary of 50,000... Factor in the enormous job responsibilities, irregular work hours and extrmely poor working conditions....

In places like the US a doctor earns close to 1 million starting, in the UK a consultant earns more than 2 million even in Malaysia where my dad was rcently offered a post as a lecturer in a Medical Faculty; he was offered close to 700,000.

True, doctors earn a bit of dough with their private practice, but honestly speaking with the current rte of inflation is it possible for a doctor for whom a car, a mobile and fuel are essentials ( not luxuries) to live on 50,000 bucks a month. Then again PP takes place after their regular work hours( if they can ever be termed regular), I mean you wouldn't make a big deal of a peon plucking a few coconuts after his work hours to earn a couple of bucks right?? So whats the big deal about doctors doing private work.. I mean its not as if they are rolling in cash.. a staff officer at HSBC makes more cash than a consultant surgeon!

A common complaint among the public is that doctor who are educated from public funds venture abroad in search of jobs.. I don't blame them! Given the attitude of the authorities in SL I am surprised that any actually stay!

I remember n incident once when a neurosurgeon asked the Hon.Health Minister to order a drill ( bear in mind that this is a basic requirement) the minister asked why? to drill your head??

Everyone in this country be it Nimal Siripala, Mahinda or MErvyn are educated out of public funds, the accountants, the managers all of them are educated in public schools.. don't they go abroad.. whats the big deal about doctors going abroad.

A couple of weeks ago in Uni, we were asked why we chose medicine, someone answered because of the gratitude the patients show towards the doctor when they get better...
We were told don't expect gratitude u'l never get it!

Truer Words have never been spoken...

Friday, August 29, 2008

We can all make a difference!

Sometime ago I challenged the claim as to whether one man could really make a difference. In that argument I stated that it would be impossible for a single man to make great changes, especially without the support of a large group. Every great historical figure who made change, did not do so on his or her own.

But now I want to talk about a slightly different angle. What I am saying is that we can all make a difference, but just not on such a large scale. The reason I say this is wherever you are, whatever you're doing no matter how insignificant you're having some kind of impact on your environment and those who are around you.

At they very least, you're disturbing the air and other particles around you. But beyond that the things you say to other people and the things you do do matter. You might not be able to move a mountain, but several small actions can add up to big changes.

There was an interesting idea I read once, I can't remember where exactly but it said that sometimes an organization might have an employee who isn't the most productive, but his or her impact plays a part with other employees. The example that they cited was that there might be an office clown who makes everybody laugh but does little work themselves. From a management perspective firing that employee makes the most sense, but once done, a much larger unforeseen negative effect may result as a whole.

This is really the same old idea that you can't see the impact of something until its suddenly no longer there anymore. In a similar manner we can never truly know what kind of impact we're making, if we weren't there the people around us may all be very different.

Since we know we make some kind of difference, shouldn't we then make an effort to leave as much positive impact behind us? It is my belief that we all influence each other to quite a large degree, and its quite frankly unavoidable. This is even evident in certain words being adopted amongst a group that may have originally originated from only one individual.

I spoke to someone once who was in a home of sorts for those with mental issues. This guy had overworked his brain with studying and had basically in a nutshell overdone it. The details of that are for another post, but this guy told me some of his theories, which were pretty interesting.

The one I'm going to mention is one regarding positive influences. He said that wherever we are, we should attempt to reduce negative externalities. The example he gave me was that if you're mother calls you and you're studying, you're response might be one of annoyance, because quite frankly you're in the middle of something. That negative energy will get transferred to your mother putting her in a bad mood, and then she might channel this negative energy elsewhere.

His solution, be mindful of your actions. A positive response there, would disperse positive energy in to another person which would hopefully pass onward. It's a simple cause and effect chain really.

So to wrap up... you might not be able to change the World on your own, but your smallest actions can have a sizable impact on your environment and those around you, especially in the long run. What you do... matters.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Procrastination... the worst thing to do!

How many times have you sat there, thinking, waiting, planning that perfect thing you were gonna do? It's got to be perfect, examine all the variables, 1+1=2.5 etc etc. But in the end, the moment passes and the final result... you achieved nothing.

We're all looking for perfection in so many areas, but is there ever anything in life that is completely perfect? I don't think so. Then why do things have to be perfect, or just right? Why do we plan them in such a way since it's never going to happen? Who knows? Probably because we really want to pull off everything just right.

In reality nothing is perfect, no inanimate object, no person. Nothing. In fact if things were perfect life would be pretty boring and maybe it's the very imperfections that make life interesting. Without the failures and imperfections, how would we ever know to celebrate the events and successes that go close to perfection?

For that very reason imperfection itself is needed, it's a necessary 'evil' if you will. A good friend of mine recently told me that the advice I'd given him was very good. What was the advice? Well if you're going to write something, just write a piece of crap first, then refine it. Otherwise if you try to write a Picasso from the start you're never getting anywhere.

And it's this same attitude that works with a lot of things. The first mobile phones have nothing on the ones we use today. Did they try and make the ultimate phone on the first day? Hell no! They slowly bit by bit improved the technology until we ended up with what we have today. Everything has got to start somewhere, and if you're going to do something momentous, it's a long long, long, long, slow road ahead.

I'm not going to be one of those (what I like to call) 'false prophets' who tell you that you can get up tomorrow and change your entire life in a day. That's a load of bullcrap and that 'high' feeling is only going to last so long before it evaporates right back in to the nothingness it came from. What you can do is be aware of something, and then take your time to achieve it. It doesn't come overnight like some wonder drug.

I'm going to round off with this: If you're going to wait for the perfect moment, or to unleash that perfect thing, chances are... you'll be waiting forever!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Real Women? What Rubbish

I recently came across this article on the webportal of the daily mirror newspaper, though i guess it would be more appropriate to call it a press release or an advertorial...

Anyways it gives one the impression that women are told what to wear by society etc. I wonder who exactly formulates these so called boundaries or standards of society. Minoli and Shyamalee both of them being editors of hip and trendy magazines are am sure quite influential in formulating these so called 'norms of society' as far as they concern woman's attire..

I mean lets be honest, Hi!! Magazine is not going put a shabbily dressed woman with no makeup etc. on it front cover right? Neither is Adoh (if it could be called a magazine, it's nothing more than a worthless tabloid made up of stuff downloaded off the internet!)

And the worst... Anithra- now that's a first.. an ex-fashion model telling us that women are bound by the shackles of society when it comes to dress!!
Reality Check: whatever shackles there maybe you had a hand in creating them!

As far as am concerned, this whole Real Women balderash is nothing more than a marketing gimmick aimed at those middle aged women who want to be told that they are at the cutting edge of fashion...

From a purely business perspective I really think that Cotton Collection has got it wrong.. firstly if you are an upmarket clothing store you really don't want to tell your customers that it's ok to dress down or as they say to be a real woman.

Secondly, they are alienating a whole market segment.. the young, with the whole 'real" thing.. the young want to be glamorous and trendy.. reality can wait!

Thirdly, i find it quite offensive to be told that these three well to do women are 'real' women. Frankly speaking 'real' women in this country do not attend hosh posh cocktails or shop at CC.

But just in case anyone wants to try out this whole 'Real Woman" thing I suggest you sign up our Golden Girl Sussie as the brand ambassador. Now thats a real woman for u!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We all make mistakes

"We all make mistakes
: some are small, some are large" those are the opening words spoken by Princess Kaileena in the hit video game, The Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.

Those words are very true. It's a completely unavoidable part of life, we all make mistakes. That's a consequence of doing anything. Some people may want to try and avoid making mistakes, but that's an impossibility.

You can try and play it safe and not make any major life changing mistakes, but then at the same time you'll never make any positive life changing actions either because that takes risk, which could lead to failure, and thereby a perceived mistake.

Not taking action to avoid making mistakes is in my opinion a mistake in itself. There's nobody on the planet who isn't afraid of making a mistake, after all who wants to make one? But it happens... time after time.

Maybe we should just accept that mistakes are a part of life and that a key part of a mistake is that its not intentional. As a person who didn't make the mistake, maybe we shouldn't be so hard on those who did.

Then there's always people who say 'If only I had done this', or 'if only I had done that... then my life would be different!' My answer to that... yet another good quote.

"There are no choices. Nothing but a straight line. The illusion comes afterwards, when you ask 'Why me?' and 'What if?'. When you look back and see the branches, like a pruned bonsai tree, or forked lightning. If you had done something differently, it wouldn't be you. It would be someone else looking back, asking a different set of questions."

Max Payne in Max Payne 2

Now you may be saying... 'tsk tsk, this guy is crazy... getting quotes from videogames? Get real!' But then that too might be a mistake. To me it doesn't really matter where the inspiration comes from or in what medium, good stuff is good stuff. There are only good ideas and bad ideas, it doesn't matter where they come from.

To sound off... I'm gonna say... you're going to make mistakes. Face it, accept it. It's inevitable. What's more important is what you do after you've made a mistake. Are you going to clam up and pretend it never happened, go in to a rage, or maybe, just maybe... you might turn it in to something constructive. Who knows... sometimes a mistake might put you in an even better place than you ever imagined.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Elvis; the King and the Reality TV

They say that he’s the king of rock and roll. A master craftsman, the way I like to put it, in singing as well as in shrewd performance. He surely changed the whole concept of American pop culture and will be in the hearts of millions in years to come.

But my question is can we see another Elvis in future? Whether you agree or not my immediate answer will be a big “NO”. Why is this? The main reason is today’s growing reality TV trends. America started the big commercialization of the subject and it went on like a plague through out the world.

It’s true that the programs like “American Idol” paved they way for hidden talents and a lot of people got a chance to showcase their talent (or misery) for millions of viewers around the world. But the thing is that as the season changes you tend to loose track of previous guys and then focus on the new breed. Nowadays artists are like commodities; Commodities which are sold in your local supermarket. As the days go by, when the season changes people tend to look for the newer products.

The new generation of artists are more dependent because of their heavy marketing campaigns, PR gimmicks and heavily paid record deals and they can’t see out of this system. So it’s doubted that whether they can stay in the hearts of people for ages like their retro counterparts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Defining the Undefinable

“Love is a many splendoured thing…” so goes the words in that timeless love song. To venture into the task of even trying to define ‘Love’, is close to impossible, because ‘Love’, in my opinion, does not have one definition. It means different things to different people; passion, romance, understanding, friendship, caring, lust, etc. To me, ‘Love’ is “an experience of a lifetime, where you want to spend your whole lifetime with that person to whom you can give your whole lifetime”.

The most unbelievable thing about ‘Love’ is that you seem to know everything about it before you experience it, but once you’ve had a taste of true ‘Love’, you discover that you don’t know a thing about it. When you’re out of ‘Love’, you’re a professional in it, but when you’re ‘in Love’, you’re a mere novice. Before ‘falling in Love’ you’ve no doubt had plans about your first date, first kiss and even your first child’s name. Yet once you’re ‘in Love’, you find yourself as weak as a dried up leaf caught in a whirlwind.

Why is ‘Love’ always an ad hoc thing? Why do all our plans of ‘Love’ just fly off the window when we’re actually ‘in Love’? Why do things almost always ‘accidentally happen’ when you’re in ‘Love’? Is it because good things take time but great things happen all at once? Hmmm…

Most of us spend countless time planning our love lives with someone who (in most cases) never loves us back. Yet, when we do actually find the true ‘Love’ of our lives, it’s a person who loves us back, and it mostly seems like an “accident”. So instead of trying desperately to implement our ‘well planned’ love life with that ‘dream’ person, we find ourselves following a ‘real’ well designed plan customized just for us by our ‘real’ true ‘Love’

Often we look for roses with thorns while not seeing the soothing lilies blossoming right before us. We seek for the fictitious diamond while foregoing the ruby we see on the way. We are often blinded by fantasy ‘Love’, that we don’t see true ‘Love’ just waiting patiently for us to discover it.

In my opinion, ‘Love’ is not about seeking the mythical pot of leprechaun gold, it is about walking the rainbow which transports us from gloomy clouds into colourful skies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Be the REALIST!!! Alexipharmic's new mixtape "Good Side of Bad Vol 1"

“Every man, woman, child, stand and be proud
We all fall down to pick ourselves from the ground
And lose what we’ve got so it’s sweeter when it’s found
And round and round and round life goes”

This is the chorus of a rap song “Rainclouds” by an artist called Alexipharmic who I found out in myspace recently. The fact that kindles me to write this short article is that this artist and his music moved me for some place higher and only few hip hop artists manage to do that for me in my context.
The mix tape “Good Side of Bad:Vol 1” which can be download free of charge or you can download paying money and can contribute for mercy Corp’s Darfur relief efforts.
The mix tape is a killer one. Why I say so is that still music wise it’s a pretty laid down smooth album when comparing it with other underground counterparts, but lyrically all the tracks are spot on to the relevant topic and deep poetic signatures are significant in all 10 tracks.
Alexipharmic discusses about the inner struggles in his life, other social issues and another interesting track that you should listen is “love” which dealt about a relationship and I think one of the best poetic lyrics about romance which I came a cross, from an rap artist.
The album can be recommended as easy listening because he has put much, much more effort in producing and composing soothing music tracks to support his lyrical message. So I invite everybody; hip hop lovers and non hip hop lovers too, to take a look at his profile on myspace, check out his music and support his worthy cause.

Alexipharmic’s profile:

Alexipharmic’s official web site:


Monday, August 11, 2008

Politics,Blogging and My View!

It's been a long time since I have been on the blogosphere owing mostly to educational commitments and other unavoidable but equally important matters... Thus, I felt it would be appropriate to rekindle my love affair with politics...

Sometime ago, my fellow bloggers on MATHAWAADA asked me to prove my claim that everything revolves around politics, though I wanted to put up a post the very next day I was forced to postpone the subject for over a month... A phenomenon that i have begun to notice on the blogosphere is the mushrooming of self appointed social critics... for some reason they take pride in dissing our valiant army, dissing our culture, the religion they are born into and any sense of morality..

True, many of their grievances can be justified, maybe they hate the war on terror coz roads close down for abt half an hour each day,maybe our cultural values and religious ideals prevent them from having a good time...

On the latter point I myself was born to Buddhist parents but I do not follow the faith meticoulously however I try to stick to certain values particularly the five precepts which i beleive are more common sense than religious preaching...

If you don't like your religion don't follow it... brand your self as non-religious and live your life.. there no need to diss what your forefathers believed in right? I mean its not cool for Americans to diss Muslims or for Pakistanis to diss HIndus right? So what makes it ok for u to diss the religions and culture that more than 90 percent of our country believe in?

It is unfortunate that 'DILBERTS' if i may use the word, for i am fond of the cartoon seem to be the self appointed defining factor in deciding social ethics, this seems to be trend in the while of Sri Lanka. For some reason a passable command of the English language, a moderately well paid job in the private sector that involves staring at computer screen for over 8 hours and internet access has made this new breed of corporate slaves know it alls when it comes to politics, morality, art, culture etc.

Unfortunately they have not been able to comprehend that their compatriots sweating it out in university come into contact with the real Sri Lanka and the varied tapestry of Sri Lankan life... It seems impossible for them to grasp the fact that the real world lies beyond their LCD screens, beyond the air conditioned offices and the casual fridays...

Fortunately, this it self is prime example of politics taking it's toll on individuals, there are many in the private sector, many bloggers out there that claim that government spending on education, health is wasteful, there are many who are openly against the massive government welfare schemes in SL yet support Barack Obama's policies in the US...

Why? The simple answer politics... Humans are naturally inclined to live in hierarchical societies, inevitably these societies require a leader and when it comes to the actual process of selecting a leader, politics come into play, therefore it is apparent that politics is second nature to all humans..

Why enforce your view however right or wrong on others? Simple, take for example our previously mentioned office worker, his priorities in life are preserving his way of life, to buy a car, to keep the AC running in his office etc. For this purpose he/she pursues a course of action that is beneficial towards his/her priorities... furthermore they attempt to justify their preservation by tainting these political ideologies as being people friendly and beneficial to the masses...

Take for example the so called jet set in Colombo, they will go to great lengths to describe the virtues of the private sector, about the need to cut down on free education, how it is wasteful, how our health service is plagued by the inefficiency, how the people shouldn't get anything for free... yet they will continue in the same vein about the greatness of Barack Obama as a champion of the oppressed black man, his vision of universal health care etc.

Why these glaring conflict of interests? As I mentioned earlier its all about preserving their way of life and politics is an essential tool in doing so...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The road ahead is clear, Life is Good... Now Repeat After Me: I am Free!

This is not a retraction, nor is it a justification about my previous post. I would instead like to say that unlike most of my other posts the previous is based purely on an emotional basis.

I'm not saying I'm wrong nor as I saying that I was right but I will accept that my last post did not reflect reality accurately. Why is this? Well it was based on memories that I had of my school days and while it was not 100% accurate some of it is true. Furthermore I'd like to say that it was the way I felt.

Now good friend Skull Z made an interesting comment about how culture shock is based on how the individual perceives their environment. That's very true and in that case I couldn't really get past the superficial differences that existed.

So your perception of your environment can affect how things are? Yes very true. So if you perceive things negatively then you're going to see a lot of things as bad. Ok. On the flipside if you see everything as positive then you're going to see a lot of things as good. The second sounds a lot better for sure.

But then take this case. There are some people out there or at least in the past who may have seen being in the position as a servant to a respectable family or individual as being the penultimate objective to them. From their minds, probably due to caste or social status they could not rise beyond that and from their viewpoint, there could be nothing better.

To put a more solid context, perhaps during the colonial days of Sri Lanka, a good position would be been to directly attending to the needs of an Englishman or family. Maybe if I was there in that time that could have been my mentality too. But is this a good thing? Looking at it today I can firmly say no, but to the people living at that time it may well have been the case.

Similarly who knows what things today that we perceive as being good will no longer be perceived that way? We can laugh at the way women were treated in many ancient societies because its mostly no longer like that, or even the idea of slavery. But in the future people may well be laughing at many of the things we hold dear and sacred.

So to finish off I would like to say that maybe my last post didn't reflect reality entirely. My emotions would have clouded my perception. But at the same time we might see things as overly positive in a similar manner (I'm not referring to my last post here - though I stand by it as a signpost of emotion and perception).

I suppose the matter that I'm touching on here is inevitably perception. But when you really dig down in to the matter it ends up with that question asked in the movie "The Matrix"... "What is real?"

Carrying on with that theme... that movie ended on such a strong note with it's final lines.

"I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible"

And lastly I'd like to leave you with this picture that is a piece of Graffiti found on a wall in Bristol, England:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Culture Shock My Ass!

A while ago our dear Bawa made this post, and to tell you the truth while I didn't say anything, I was kinda pissed off. However lately due to certain events I thought I'd voice my opinion, after all this site is called Mathawada.

Really, what was I feeling at the time I read the post? Culture shock so he said. In a nutshell some guys harassed him for some small time issue, and everything was basically verbal from what I could see. The feeling I had at the time, was that the entire issue was kinda sissy. Let me tell you why.

You see I spent a good deal of my life abroad, moving from school to school and country to country. Now before I go on, I'd like to say that my travel was not nearly as much as many other people have undergone, but it was enough and it was during my younger years ranging from 5 to about 16 really.

The story I'm going to tell you basically took place when I came back to Sri Lanka in 1995. Prior to that I had been living in Iraq for the past 3 years. Much of my life there was spent in school, and the school life was pretty different from stuff I had experienced in the past.

First off attendance was not that high, maybe about 20 people per class at best. Second, everyone was really close, at least in my grade. In a way we were all family in some strange way, everyone knew everyone else pretty well. People were pretty polite and well behaved, and you rarely if ever saw any kind of conflict except perhaps from Saddam's nephew (there... he made it in to the blog, happy now Skull Z?). I'm not going to say it was a paradise or anything like that, but it was relatively peaceful.

Fast forward a few years and I arrived in SL and shortly afterward joined CIS. That was a pretty scary jump in itself, but the real shockers were to come. The first thing I noticed was that the kids here pretty much said 'Fuck' like it was hello.

The second thing I noticed was that everyone was really snobbish, rude and just plain nasty. To put it simply, people were just plain mean. Pretty soon I learned that it wasn't like what I had been used to all those previous years. Somewhat akin to the friendly farm boy coming to the big city.

Things were plain weird. Nothing made sense. My thinking and the people around me was like Fire and Ice. I'm sure to everyone else I would have appeared plain weird. I can still remember when I just strolled in one day and was surprised to find that there wasn't a soul in the play ground. I was thinking 'where the hell is everyone?'

As I entered the school building, sure enough everyone was there. But were they all doing? In Grade 5? Oh that's right... there was no time to play. 'It's exam time!" and I replied "Exams? SO? What the hell?" to which I got the classic "We Gotta STUDY!"

In my last school nobody ever hit the books like that. Especially not at such low grades and to me then and now I still find that insanely crazy. Tell you the truth, I don't think anyone gives a shit whether you got the merit prize in grade 5! At the time I picked up a book and started to pour over it feeling strangely zombie like in my crude imitation of everyone else.

Well you might be saying... BIG DEAL! Yeah well... maybe. But that was definitely a life changing experience for me and I always disliked my school as a result, even though in the later years things were very different, I never really forgot just how terrible some of those kids were.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A monster on the beach?

The celebrity and scandal obsessed USA got more than its fair share of horror this week, with the unexplained seemingly out of this world partly decaying animal body washing up on Montauk Beach in Long Island.

What is it? MATHAWAADA did some digging on the internet and a variety of explanations ranging from the plausible to downright loony were to be found. Some said that this signaled the end of the world and was a 'hound from hell' while others said that it was more likely to be the body of a decaying raccoon or a dead pit bull and not to be left out the conspiracy theorists speculated that it could be some kind of mutant dog that escaped and ultimately perished at sea.

Anyways here is what FOX NEWS had to say on the subject:

New York's celebrity-obsessed Hamptons summer season got even sillier this week when a strange-looking, very dead creature washed up on a beach in Montauk at the far eastern end of New York's Long Island.

On Tuesday afternoon, a photo was posted on Gawker, the Big Apple's reigning gossip blog, which treated the Montauk monster with characteristic respect: "Good Luck With Your Hell Demons."

The animal looks like a bloated, hairless dog, except that it's got an eagle-like beak, a prominent brow ridge and a curiously elongated front paw.

Speculation immediately arose that it might be a hitherto unknown marine mammal, a sea turtle without its shell, an artful Photoshop creation or — cue the " X-Files" theme — an escaped experiment from the government animal-disease research facility on Plum Island, just offshore from Montauk.

The animal's resting on sand in the photo, with no other indication of location or scale except for what appears to be a large fly on its back.

Gawker itself thought it had broken the case late on Tuesday, when it noted that the woman who'd e-mailed in the photo worked for a viral-marketing firm.

It all tied in neatly to "Cryptids Are Real," an upcoming Cartoon Network show about mysterious, scientifically undocumented animals such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra.

But the tipster, whom New York magazine identified as Los-Angeles based Alanna Navitski, denied that her efforts were part of any campaign.

She said she'd gotten the picture from her sister, who'd gotten it herself from a friend in New York who actually saw the darn thing.

"I saw the monster," said another witness, a waiter at a nearby restaurant, to New York magazine. "I just came walking down the beach and everyone was looking at it. No one knew what it was. It kind of looked like a dog, but it had this crazy-looking beak. I mean, I would freak out if something like that popped up next to me in the water."

Plum TV, a sort of upscale public-access network carried on Hamptons cable TV as well as in other tony summer resorts, promises an interview Friday with the original photographer as well as two other women who say they saw the animal. thinks one commenter on the Plum TV Web site may have figured it out.

The short beak-snout and long, flipper-like paw certainly don't belong to a dog, but they could easily belong to a young raccoon whose fur and nasal cartilage rotted away in the water.

To complicate matters, no one seems to know exactly where the mysterious beastie is now.

It's no longer at the beach where it was supposedly found; then again, the sand it's resting on in the photo could be anywhere in the world.

"They say an old guy came and carted it away," Navitski told New York magazine. "He said, 'I'm going to mount it on my wall.'"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Noir 2008. The audience???

I am not going to talk about or to be a critic about this year’s production. I just want to pen or more appropriately type certain thoughts which came in to my mind when I was watching the second leg of this year’s production.

It is said that in theater the audience is an essential part of the whole experience. The responses of the audience are important for the dramatists as well as for the other spectators for a successful drama experience. But the thing is that some of the essence of that evening’s dramas was lost due to certain negligence from members of the audience that evening.

One of the headaches that I endured was that pesky ringing of cell phones while the drama was in progress. Because it was an English language drama you'd expect to see people from a higher social strata or simply much more privileged and educated members of society in the audience. But my judgment was wrong that evening. The cell phone just keep on ringing and ringing while even the officials were in a bit of mess trying to find the person with the offending mobile.

So I am sincerely passing this message to everybody who is going for the theatre or cinema experience, please switch off your mobiles and make it a pleasant experience not just for you but for others as well.


Monday, August 4, 2008

CHANGE – For better or for worse?

During recent months, Sri Lanka has experienced some brand renovations to some of the country’s leading and ancient brands like Elephant House beverages.

Of course there are many others, but Elephant House is among the brands which renovated their brands by changing their Brand Name Font. These font changes would’ve been done with the brand’s best interests at heart and of course with the intention of giving the brand a “new look and feel”, so as to induce more repeat purchases and consumption and ultimately more sales and more profits.

Marketing vise this is quite a good strategic tactic. As with this kind of change, the brand goes through refreshment and re-enters the market like a new brand, only with already gained customer loyalty and market share.

Yet, although the strategy was good, its implementation definitely has not done it justice.

We don’t have to look far; compare a new Elephant House Cream Soda label to an old one. The new one may have a more modern font and “fun” look to it, but in my opinion, it does not give the brand a decent, homey and “rich” look as the old font. The same goes for Rich Life and Nations Trust, some other “changed fonts” whose ‘replaced looks’ caught my negative attention.

I may seem to be old fashioned and stuck to the old ways, but, in my view, old brands such as Elephant House should not kill its own value and customer perception by trying to change. These brands are so old but still thriving and surviving because customers find them closer to heart (customer intimacy).

So change is good but not always, and definitely not if it’s improperly done, however attractive it may seem. For instance, most people would agree that Majestic City will never look the same and never attract the same attention with its new “red look”. That big old yellow building was deeply implanted in many a young mind. So it is highly doubtful if the red can achieve what the yellow had.

Change, I believe, is effective, only if appropriately executed and only if necessary- if it’s not broken, why fix it?