Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bangkok, The Red T-Shirts and the Walking Street

In mid April we took a trip to Thailand, the land of the Siam People.   This was during the height of the Red T-shirts protests, where the red  t-shirts had encamped themselves in Bangkok city center blocking some major shopping malls and getting into violent clashes with the law enforcement authorities. Just days before there was a mass funeral parade exhibiting the 12 coffins of the red t-shirt protesters who have died in the clashes.  So needless to say it wasn’t the best timing for the trip.

But the trip which was planned for several months had to proceed regardless of the situation, and come to think of it, it couldn’t have been planned at a better time. In fact we were there during a period which was defining the Thai political history.

Our stay in Bangkok was just limited to four days and three nights, but we could very well say that it was an experience of a lifetime. One of the major highlights was Pattaya, a wonderful beach destination located just 2 hours off Bangkok. Pattaya is home to the much famed Walking Street; a place popular for its vivid and brightly lit neon lights and the partying that just keeps on going from dusk till dawn.

Walking Street - Is not just about walking! 


how can i forget the frog legs? Delicious, tastes like chicken...,but dont eat too much then you would really start to feel its taste :D

On the final day of our trip we visited central Bangkok where the red t-shirts had encamped themselves around some of the most popular shopping malls in the city. The roads had been blocked off and they did not allow anyone to get in unless they were red t-shirt supporters. After wondering around the shopping malls and crossing many streets we suddenly ended up in the middle of a road which has been cordoned off by the red t-shirt supporters who had now camped themselves there.

They didn’t block us off from walking in the street may be because we were tourists. In fact there were several tourists who were walking around buying red t-shirt souvenirs and talking to the protestors. Just few meters away a man in full guerrilla attire was giving a charged and an intense interview to a bunch of local and international reporters. We later learnt that it was Maj.General Khattiya Sawasdipol, a rogue army officer who had aligned himself with the red t-shirt movement. He was shot dead by a sniper a few weeks later while giving a similar interview to a group of reporters.

After a few weeks returning from Bangkok, we saw how the Thai Army stormed the camp sites to evict the protestors and how the bloody clashes ensued afterwards left many people dead. It was really sad to see this as just a few weeks back we had been on the same place where now many people have perished.

Red T-Shirt Protests, in the middle of the shopping district.

There is a very serious political crisis in Thailand at the moment which has somewhat bitterly divided the country and its people. Hopefully Bangkok and its wonderful people would recover from this bitter divide soon and this City of Angels would reach back to its former glory.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sri Lankan Art – Teek wechcha ape kalaawa!

In recent conversation with my fiancĂ©, the point came in to the surface whether I’m losing my depth in art or not. Simply my answer was that now I’m more influenced by the stuff like Kill Bill, Demon Ananda’s pulp novels and Cowboy Bebop, so my motive now is to bring that atmosphere and tone in to our audience in any way I do art. That’s why I tend to look for Monroe and Jimi Hendrix in the stencil graffiti and more unorthodox concrete style in my poetry.

In Sri Lanka, virtually every art form is dominated by the work which consists of certain degree of visible depth and similarity to the reality. In films the applauded ones are reality based dramas directed by well renowned, award winning directors. The mainstream films lack everything, even a moderately good, original plot. In Sinhalese Literature the good ones are tend to be the translation of famous novels, and better original work is mainly popularized by the reality based themes. You can’t see western best selling kind of paper back thrillers or sexy pulp novels here. In drama – it’s same, In TV- it’s same, In paintings and drawings- it’s same. Damn-I’m bored… Even the Sri Lankan English Language drama and literature scene is not getting enough attention though they are trying to be different and more creative than their native counterparts. Why Sri Lankan film makers not doing horror movies? Why they are not going for simple romantic movies which are set in suburbs and based on ordinary people without sticking to weary bollywood formula? Why don’t writers try raunchy subjects and thrillers? Where’s Sri Lankan original techno, rave, trip hop, electronic or computer instrumental music?

What is the reason for this homogeneity? Is it because we are intellectually bankrupt? Or lack of finances for the innovation because of less audience and market scope? I don’t know… but the point which is important is that Sri Lankans try to be on the middle path to get the maximum benefit- not going to the extreme experimentalism or to the massive meaningful crowd pullers. Even if they go for either sides (very few) most of them are incorrect approaches or being neglected by majority which is not the case in other art-rich countries.

I hope somebody would break the shekels. I hope I will see the work similar to Quentin Tarantino here, the turntabilism, the pop art, simple romantic (not bollywood-formula bullshit) and trashy horror movies, and more street art too…

Oh baby! I have a dream…

(P.S. - Thanks for Somea and my fellow juniors in Uni for popularizing the word “Teek” and the word and usage borrowed from them.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do Black Men Rule the World?

Black people have often been the target of much racism and discrimination throughout history, whether it’s been deemed as slaves or just generally being thought of as stupid or inferior.

But don’t you think it’s strange that there is one area where black people tend to dominate? What’s that area? Well it’s none other than the sporting arena. Been watching the Football World Cup? Ever notice that many of the Caucasian teams have at least one or two black players? Some have a lot more. England, France, Germany and the USA come to mind.

I remember it being funny that in the past ‘America’ won the World Basketball Championship and yet so many of their team are African Americans. The NFL and MLB also have a heavy representation of African Americans like nowhere else in the country.

But what’s that you say? African Americans are Americans? Yes quite right. They are. But it’s strange that there’s all this racism (though a black President is a change) but when it comes to sports African Americans have the best facilities and are as American as anyone else. Shame the same isn’t true when it comes to aspects such as education. In the past there were rules limiting the number of black players allowed on a team (Before the 1960’s). Yet racial equality was achieved in sports much faster than any other area for some strange unknown reason.

My only question is… what do the Ku Klux Klan remnants think of this? Where is the white power movement to clean up American sports? Oh that’s right… they play damn good, so it’s cool then.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Sri Lankan dream

Oh Honey, the Indi Aappa was fantastic!

Historian James Adams wrote of the American dream thus:

"The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class."

- From Wikipedia, since I'm lazy like that.

My American Entrepreneurship lecturer fed us four weeks of entrepreneurial motivation taking American cases such as a man's cough syrup turned a billion dollar global company (Coca Cola) to a Kentucky family's chicken recipe taking on the world, that I really felt like packing up and going there with Journey's Don't Stop Believing in the background.

The question is, What is the SRI LANKAN DREAM?

An education? A well-paying job at WTC? A Honda Civic? Jumping ship to go abroad, clean up old ladies and then send Cadbury chocolates and Ebay shoes home? Your own business? A suitable marriage at a suitable time? 2 children, preferably girl and boy, in Ladies/Bishops and Royal/St. Thomas's respectively? Shopping in Bangkok? A house in Colombo?

I really wonder. What do you think? Taking into consideration that no country can ever compare to the American dream, it is unique, but as a country, what can we be motivated and driven for?