Do you remember those email forwards that used to make the rounds ‘those days’? You know the ones that showed you how apples were actually painted red and then waxed to maintain freshness? And also that bananas were the advance force in an alien invasion aiming to take over the world in succulent fleshy goodness? No? Well, me neither until I came across this apple in a leading supermarket chain in Colombo. 



I call it….. General SOD!

A Buddhist Monk, Ven. Bowatte Indraratna Thera, set himself on fire a few days ago allegedly because of cattle slaughter and forced conversion. It kind of confused me. 

Sri Lanka pretty much lives on a steady diet of meat. It’s not that Sri Lankans are huge consumers of meat, but there is pretty much something in every meal. Enough that it makes it hard to be a vegetarian in Sri Lanka. Per capita consumption of meat was around 6.6 kg per person in 2002. That is higher than 3kg consumed in Bhutan which is a primarily Buddhist country. Even monks eat a bit of meat and fish here. It is only on Poyas that meat (and alcohol) is not served. So why all the sudden fuss? Are all Sri Lankans suddenly going to become vegetarian? 

Also, why would he set himself on fire near the Maligawa? Women are not allowed to show their legs or shoulders in the temple. I would hope that a self-immolation is worse than that. 

The Thera was a former Pradeshiya Sabha member who lost his seat and was expelled from the party after disciplinary action. But now he is being hailed as a martyr who did not commit suicide but rather sacrificed himself for the greater good. There is much talk about carrying on his legacy. Do they mean the self immolation? The actions that lead to him being expelled? 

Colour me confused.  

Ok, while I might not be the most metro of metrosexuals I do try to at least nick (if not cut) a dashing figure, but recently I feel like an entire fashion generation has passed me by while my head was turned. I am now seeing buzz cuts and some strange tapered cuts and mohawks and faux mohawks (which are a bit silly, as if one wants to be radical but gave up half way) and braids and spikes and mullets and this strange emo-sheepdog look. 

When I was young I would get a haircut for Rs. 30 (plus Rs5 for a blade) and I would be glad my mom didn’t try to cut it. Now it’s all about styling and ironing and product and god knows what secret-society etiquette that governs it all. 

But now I want a good haircut, so, somebody please fill me in. Where do men get good haircuts in Colombo? How much do the darn things cost? Do you tip the hair dressers? How much do you tip them?

And no, I haven’t been living on a desert island (no pun intended), I just walk in to a place close-by and walk out minus some hair. 

So, have some mercy. Update me before I am arrested by the fashion police. 


I had thought that the problems with traffic police in Colombo had eased over the years, what with stricter laws and better enforcement practices. Things used to get pretty nasty a few years ago. Police would stop you randomly, threaten to write you up, and then shake you down for a bribe. But now that the government is earning major revenue from traffic fines, cops are less able to take bribes – in the city at least.

But recently, much to my annoyance, I found out that it still goes on. Late at night, on Baseline road, a cop flagged me down after I crossed a traffic light. He asked me why I didn’t stop, but I was confused since I didn’t run a red light. He told me that I drove past a yellow light. I said yes. He asked me why I didn’t stop. I told him that it just turned yellow as I was passing it, if I had stopped I would have been in the middle of a junction. He then pocketed my licence (yes, he put it into his pocket) and directed me to some other cops. There were two other policemen in a squad car along with the traffic policemen. (I was under the impression that only traffic policemen could take your licence). They told me that they had to write a ticket, and had to send me to the courts, and that my licence was too faded. They also sent a cop to check out what kind of vehicle I was driving. They also asked me what I was going to do. (Dan mokadha karanne?) I then shrugged. I mean, what was I supposed to do? I hadn’t run a light. I also had only 100 rupees in my pockets. Seeing that they were getting nowhere with me, they just handed me my licence and I went on my way. By this time they had stopped 3 or 4 other vehicles all for running a yellow light.

It was all rather annoying and frustrating. It was like bullies pushing me into a corner and asking for my lunch money. These sort of things are very upsetting. You don’t have confidence in the law, you have no idea when they are going to spring a surprise on you and yet every day you see people get away with worse things just because they are well connected.

Just another joyous day in Colombo.



Yesterday, I watched MTV’s The Debater finals. I was pretty impressed watching it. When I was back in school, debating tournaments were relegated to libraries or small auditoriums. It was the rugby matches and cricket matches that drew the crowds. Debating was for those small groups of intellectuals who could string a few words together coherently (mostly at least). But MTV Sports took it, spiced it up a bit and made it a big event. The final was more like a big match than a genteel verbal sparring, with flags waving and kids yelling and both school bands making a heck of a racket. 

The finals were between Lyceum and Ananda College and the standard of the debaters were pretty acceptable. The kids were confident and aggressive and the content was fairly well researched. The topic was on a global body being created to govern the internet, and Ananda was the proposition. 

I was fairly surprised to see an international school reaching the finals, because they usually don’t show up in the big events. But Lyceum practically creamed Ananda. Their points were cogent, they were aggressive, confident, and their rebuttals stinging. Perhaps they were more comfortable with the language, but Ananda made it to the finals, so on that point it should have been even. The teams were evenly matched at the beginning, but Lyceum was great in the middle rounds and sadly, Ananda’s closing speech was embarrassing. The kid contradicted himself every other sentence. It was a good match, but by any standard of judgement, Lyceum had won. 

Except they didn’t. 

They got the best speaker award, but Ananda was given the victory. 

I should have realized that there was no way an international school was going to be given the victory. The panel of judges were a set of lawyers and supreme court judges. No way was Ananda College, with their long history and significant ‘old boy’ support, going to lose to an international school. It was a little sickening. If the match was closer, I would have given them the benefit of the doubt, but the winner was pretty obvious. 

I wish I could say otherwise, but this is pretty much how Sri Lanka works. It really isn’t what you do that matters, but whom you know. And this is being taught to the next generation of kids in our country. Bravo. 



Are annoying little things. They seem completely arbitrary and if you haven to get one of them wrong people look at you as if you are socially maladjusted, mad at them, or just some crazy foreigner. Crazy foreigners can get away with a lot of things by the way.

It’s not like I have Aspergers or anything, (at least I hope I don’t have Aspergers), but I just can’t figure some things out. The guy has to sit in the front passenger seat of a car for example. Or if you are taking a cab solo, you gotta sit up front. What if I like sitting at the back? The seats are wider and I am paying for it. Or when you meet people, whom do you kiss and whom do you shake hands with? And is it one kiss on the cheek or that double kiss thing that makes me feel I am an Arab, or at least a Sicilian mafioso. I usually stay at the back and wave a polite ‘hi’, or at most shake a hand. 

In Sri Lanka you have to ask a person if they want something a gazillion times to be polite. If you don’t ask them to ‘serve some more, no please go ahead, no eat more‘ at least ten times then you don’t really like them. And is it ten times, or twelve? 

Someone should write a manual. I am sure it will be a best-seller, either in the self-help category or in the comedies. 

I came across this amazing story today while going through my feeds, it was about how a guy called Leo Traynor was targeted by a troll for 3 years and how he finally tracked the troll down and confronted him.

Trolls are the bane of anyone who spends significant amounts of time online, or has a fairly visible online presence. Sometimes they are attention seeking dysfunctional types, and other times they are malicious, angry individuals who need some serious help. We all tend to hate them, but this story is also one of redemption and we hope, second chances. Give it a read.

In July I was approached by a friend, who’s basically an IT genius, and he offered some help. He said that he could trace the hackers and trolls for me using perfectly legal technology, which would lead to their IP addresses. I said yes. Then I baited them – I was deliberately more provocative toward them than ever I’d been before.

Holidays intervened. My Twitter account was deactivated but before doing so I posted links to my Google+ account, blog and invited people to contact me on Facebook. I’m delighted that a lot of my lovely friends did. I’m also delighted that The Troll did too.

It transpired that the abuse had emanated from three separate IP addresses in different corners of Ireland. Two of them were public wifi locations but the third….

The third location was the interesting one.

The third location was a friends house.

The Troll was his son. His 17yr old son.


Read the entire post here.