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It has been two years since I have moved to Colombo. Two years spent in this city by the sea, and I am not quite sure what I feel about it. I know I am not ecstatic about living here; it is hot and humid, I sweat gallons, things are way too expensive, the government is insane, the economy is swirling down the commode, and pollution levels rise every day. But there is just something about this city that is hard to describe.

Colombo is alive.

It is alive and once it gets its tentacles around you, it never really wants to let go. It is like the mixture of dust and sweat that covers you every day, it gets inside your pores and always comes back no matter how often you bathe. Once you get Colombo’ed you stay Colombo’ed.

While the country country crumbles around us, Colombo will survive. No matter how bad things are, there will always be something for everyone. There is a sense of culture, of friendship, an attraction and a satisfaction that you get from living in Colombo. I love the fact that is has its night life, it has its media, it has its drama and it has its literature. You will never be at a loss as to what you want to do here. It has ample shopping and ample ways to waste your money. You have an abundance of theatre and music to wet if not satisfy your intellectual taste buds. And the artistes we have are not that bad either. I attended Cleftomania recently and was quite pleasantly surprised with the talent displayed there. Of course, a lot of the performers were professionals (like the Revelations), and the  school choirs were well trained, but there is so much good talent, and none of the fake-accented-pop-wannabes that i used to remember dominating the music scene. I enjoy the theatre productions here, both the amateur ones for their novel approach, and the more experiences pieces for their wonderful execution. I enjoy the literature that pokes its head in the city, like Ferrey’s The Good Little Ceylonese Girl with its colonial flavour. There is always something to interest and excite you here, and Colombo is so small you just keep bumping into the same people over and over. I wonder how many of you readers I have met, and will meet again.

After two years, it looks like I have got the Colombo bug and it just doesn’t want to go away. I might as well just dip my spoon into this city and see what I can find.

Everywhere.

There used to be a time when wearing mini-skirts was considered risque, where bikinis were bigger than my handkerchief, and where the only panties you saw were on the clothes line. But now, wandering around topless is perfectly normal, short have become smaller than underpants and underpants are no longer under the pants. I don’t want to sound like a prude, nor am I a grandfather, but why is the human body on display like it has never been before. I wrote a post on the sexualisation of women once, and I know that the first reaction to this post (besides the guys saying, ‘naked people? that is cool man’) will be that it is freedom of choice, and that they are being themselves. But I have always believed that it was a rather twisted choice with no real result other than attention.

Protesters who protest naked will gather some attention for their cause, but mostly it will be guys gawking at their bodies. Raunchily dressed girls may do it to feel good about their bodies, but guys just view them as objects to be scored. What nudity (or near nudity) attracts is simply attention to the body, where the eyes send signals straight to the balls bypassing the brain completely. It achieves nothing except sexual drive and voyeurism.

I have never been able to adequately articulate my thoughts on this matter, but an insightful post by Pretty Dumb Things put most of what I felt in words far better than my own.

Strip Nation is the place where little girls wear body glitter for fun, where pole dancing is a fitness pursuit, where chicks have standing appointments for monthly Brazilians, and weekly tans, French manicures and matching pedicures. It’s the place where women purposefully show bra straps and g-strings. It’s where average women have the lower-back tattoo, body piercings, and t-shirts that read “Diva.” It’s the where women get breast implants, labiaplasty and anal bleaching. It’s a place where family restaurants have waitresses wearing orange short-shorts, and where drag-queen restaurants have banana deep-throat contests, and where eighteen year-old girls win them.

Strip Nation is where we live now. It’s not a bad place to live. Strip Nation gives us Carmen Electra and body butter. Strip Nation lets us shake our booty with abandon. Hell, Strip Nation, combined with Hip-Hop Nation—it’s a unified country of dual principalities—has given us the word “booty.” Without Strip Nation, we’d still be pogoing and wearing flat shoes and high-waisted pleated pants.

Strip Nation can be a lot of fun, but it’s a deeply problematic kind of fun. I am proud to have been a stripper, but I know that stripping is best kept in the strip club because stripping is about serving up a fantasy based on the most simplistic heterosexual male’s formulation of an uncomplicated woman. Most simply, Strip Nation provides a dreamscape based on a model of a two-dimensional woman and men’s desire for them. And while that is all well and fine for an eight-hour strip shift, it has major issues when it goes rampant, out into the streets, and disseminates like a virus into the culture at large.

This ‘Stripper-Vogue’, this idea that an attractive woman is an anorexic vixen with the skills of a lap dancer and a Brazilian backside (and wax), this idea that you have to flaunt your body to be cool is as unnecessary as it is absurd. In a world where people are like sheep led by the media-shepherd, it is so easy to influence young people.

A commenter, Paul Davis, on Pretty Dumb Things had this to say:

having watched my 16 year old step daughter step out today in an even more titillating and unabashedly “i am a sexually active female and you know you want me” costume this year than last, i read this and loved it. i don’t even know how to begin to think about grown women who do this – my thoughts are mostly centered on their younger counterparts. what frightens or saddens me most is the lack of awareness of what and how men, including teenage males, actually think. sometimes, i don’t even know if the all-wise-having-done-the-stripper-thing CG fully grasps the horror of the contemporary male mind. I see my step daughter and her friends engaged this with as though it were a kind of fun game that nobody will really take *that* seriously, although it would be kind of cool if that guy in 11th grade thinks i look hot and/or cute in this. But thats not what men (and especially not 11th grade boys) think, ever.

They don’t admire the aesthetics – that’s for gays (he says in his most slanderously generalizing remark so far this year). They admire the flesh and they are consumed by the want. The girls appear to have some inkling of this, but in truth even 20 years from now, most of them won’t understand the depth (or is it shallowness) of the want, the objectification of it, the utter, total disconnect from their person that it is really based on. And oh yes, there are a few exceptions, a few nice young men who look past the pert breast, the tight ass, but they merely prove the rule.

So – this is a game being played by women, but a game where the rules as understood by the men are totally different.

So, keep your clothes on, and keep your pride. You don’t have to be part of the crowd, and you don’t have to portray yourself as an object. Life is so much more than being part of this Strip Nation.

Plays, books, movies and productions. Critics pop up a dime a dozen for any one of these events. Somewhat like rats, but rats at least have the decency to look embarrassed when they are caught out. Granted, there are some individuals who can be counted on to give a good impartial review, but the majority of them simply find pleasure in picking at faults, real or perceived, while feeding their ego with illusions of superiority. It is a funny thing, but the best articulation of my thoughts on this matter comes from a cartoon. An animation to be more precise. Anton Ego, a critic from Ratatouille, says:

In many ways the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

We need reviews to give us an idea of what we may want to experience. But we don’t need ego trips. Funny that it took a cartoon character to say it right.

We have all come across them, sometime or another, these exclusive little groups and clubs. Little bands of intellectuals and high class prudes who tend to look at you down the length of their respective noses. You might as well have them stick signs around stating: “No Dogs and No Normal People Allowed”.

Certain people and certain places seem to have this little thing going on. There are banks that don’t give you their full service because your balance may not be in 7 digits. There are certain boutiques where the sales people (who are probably poorer than you anyway) look at you askance. I don’t even need to mention the clubs. It can be a right pain in the arse having to deal with places like this. I don’t dress to impress, nor do I flaunt, so I usually have to settle for a few firm words in English to get things done, and a very pointed ‘thank you’ at the end. As my uncle once said, “Its all about money in this bloody country!” and I have to agree with him. There is not much you can do about it really. You can either create a big fuss and try to make a difference, like for example, wearing sarongs to where ever you please. Or you could make tons of money, and THEN ask everyone to stick it where the sun don’t shine. For now, I simply ignore it all.

But there is another form of this exclusive attitude that has nothing to do with money. Rather it is a form of intellectual grouping that excludes anyone whose IQ is below a certain level, or whose debating skills are not up to par. It is exceedingly evident on the internet, where google and the existence of a time gap between statement and repartee, allows debates to go on ad nauseum. Blogs seem to be custom built for this sort of activity. Just take a look around the blogs in Kottu. You will find a ton of debates going on, with the key feature being the trampling of one side of the argument, and the humiliation of its proponent. What some of the debaters really want, is not to prove the validity of their point, but rather to prove the strength of their intellectuality, or the power of their argument. It may be a fine line to draw, but it is a line nonetheless. These type of people are at times unable to comprehend any other point of view besides their own. In their minds, what their view is right and everyone else can go to hell.

As a teenager I used to love debates. I was relatively good at debating and would spend hours on a subject and at times follow it for days, persistently like a dog worrying a bone. I would debate with my Muslim friends, Atheist acquaintances, Christian colleagues, and Hindu room mates. Then once during an online free-for-all with a friend, I was called a retard. Now I have been called many things, and profanity being leveled at me was not a new thing, but the venom imbued in that one word surprised me. For a moment, I wondered why that was an insult, though at the time I preferred the politically correct term: mentally challenged. It was then that I realized that, to this chap, the greatest insult was an insult to the intellect. He was a chap so obsessed with his own intellect that nothing else mattered as much.

I have grown up since then, and no longer find it imperative to prove to others that I am smart. I know that I am intelligent, and it doesn’t matter to me what others think about that fact. But there are a lot of people who are yet to discover that little tit-bit of wisdom. They argue, being either openly profane or sprinkling their comments with sarcastic smilies. There are bloggers whose writings and comments I used to admire, but now they are simply content with winning an argument, or putting the other person down. It’s sad really. They don’t realize that they are simply going around in circles.

As Edward De Bono said:

For example, a highly intelligent person may take up a view on a subject and then defend that view (through choice of premises and perception) very ably. The better someone is able to defend a view, the less inclined is that person actually to explore the subject. So the highly intelligent person can get trapped by intelligence, together with our usual sense of logic that you cannot be more right than right, into one point of view.

I try to keep an open mind myself. You have to listen to another point of view if you want to learn. It does not matter if you do not agree with it, you just have to listen to it and dampen the impulse to fire a volley back. Else:

So we sometimes find that the intelligent person is trapped into one point of view by his or her ability to defend that view.

This is the intelligence trap that we fall in so easily. I say to you, stop with the petty attacks. If you are intelligent, good for you. Just try not to shove it down another’s throat. There is nothing better than a good constructive debate, so Ladies and Gentlebloggers, please leave your egos at the door and join the party.

I really was not going to write a post on this topic. I mean, I really was not going to. After reading RD‘s post, which was mildly disgusting in a gay sort of way, I decided to keep my thoughts to myself. But then JJ popped up with his 2 cents worth (of toilet paper), and I had to go read it, and now I simply have to preach other forms of bum hygiene. Besides, he did prophesy that more such posts would follow suit, and I do so hate to see a good prophesy go to waste..

Anyone who has spent some of their growing years in Sri Lanka would have almost certainly been influenced by this Island’s approach to hygiene. For one, you are taught that the left hand is the left hand, and then you are taught what to do and what not to do with that left hand. That is, you are to wash your behind with your left hand, but you are not allowed to eat with it. (Don’t ask me what left-handers do, for I never asked) It is a hygienic system, and it makes sense, though I do believe the modern invention of really good soap allows you the freedom to eat with your left hand.

Back to the left hand now. Along with the left hand comes a good supply of water and a good supply of soap. That was the way it was done, in my mind, and that should have been the way it should always be done. That was before I learned that some people use toilet paper. Only.

At this stage in my life, I know the reasons and arguments for toilet paper, so it is no longer any surprise, but it is still not a, ummm, method that, ummmm, holds water in my books. (mixed up metaphors, oops) Once your body is done with all the junk you eat, the resulting mess is in quite a nasty shape, and while it’s been excreted, there are obviously traces of it on you. Simply dry wiping it may remove the major part of it, but not all. Wipe as much as you want, you will still leave traces of poop on you. Even a wet wipe, while doing a better job, does not get all the water-insoluble ummmm.. poop grease off you. But soap and water, now there is a better solution. The soap emulsifies the organic liquid, and gets it off you, as well as killing the germs, leaving you cleaner and healthier, (and less smelly). You can always dry yourself off with toilet paper afterwards as well, so no complaints there.

And those are my bum thoughts. Granted, wet wipes containing spirits would probably function well (almost), but I prefer the fresh-arsed feeling of soap and water.

Bon pooping!

P.S.

There. I wrote it. One of my shitier posts, if I do say so myself. Wonder what Achcharu will tag it as… ‘Shit-Room Spam’ maybe?

The new Seven Wonders of the World have finally been selected, and I must say, they took their time. First, here are the ‘older’ wonders that are no longer classified as wonderful:

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Great Pyramid of Giza

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus

Colossus of Rhodes

Lighthouse of Alexandria

The campaign to select new wonders was started round about 1999 by a Bernard Weber and his Swiss foundation called New7Wonders. The foundation has received almost 200 nominations and a 100 million web and text based votes. Of course there are numerous criticism of the methodology of the survey, but considering how ambitious the project is, it is obviously impossible to conduct it to everyone’s satisfaction.

Here are the newly selected wonders:

7 New Wonders of the World 

The Great Wall of China

Rome’s Colosseum,

India’s Taj Mahal

Peru’s Macchu Picchu

Brazil’s Statue of Christ Redeemer

Mexico’s Chichen Itza pyramid

Jordan’s Petra

I must say, its too bad the Easter Island’s statues didn’t make the list though I am quite glad the Statue of Liberty did not make it. I mean really! It also appears that the Pyramids of Giza will retain their previous position, so I am assuming that we have 8 wonders of the world. ‘Wonder’ how long these will last..

Millions and millions of exuberant monkeys … are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity

And that is us! according to Andrew Keen in his book titled The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture. You can read an article about it here.

In a way, Keen does make some sense. It is all to easy to copy and paste any bit of some one else’s work and make your self seem smarter than you are. Bloggers and web tabloids would probably be the main target of this tirade. And being a blogger myself, I am not really happy being referred to as a monkey, but yes, there is a lot of cut n’ paste going on. We have intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals all debating against each other through their blogs, and rarely, if ever is there a winner. And that is all because of Google. If you cannot answer a question or accusation, hell, google it. Surely someone has an answer. I for one, would love to see some bloggers face to face, and see how they stand up to a debate without their beloved search engines.

But no matter how much Keen complains, this ‘pajama army’ is here to stay. The internet is the ultimate virtual democracy.  It is where everyone can be what they are. can be what they make themselves out to be. It may not be perfect, but it’s here to stay. And it’s also the only way some of us can have our voices heard.

The pajamas are here to stay!