Match Highlights: Giants vs. Puny Thing

On Thursday, 16th March, the much-awaited annual match between the Giants and Puny Thing took place at Ratmalana. A heated match, the objective for the Giants was to catch the other team member while the objective for that team was not to be caught. The following is an excerpt from the match.

Commentator:

“The mother and daughter team (of the Giants) run after Mimi de Cat, the single member on the Puny Thing team. de Cat feints to the left, and Daughter lunges. In the space offered, de Cat streaks past her on the right, to be faced by Mother. But, Mother is a gentle Giant, so de Cat seizes the opportunity and runs farther. Daughter is in hot pursuit, and it looks like she will catch de Cat, she jumps, but, no, she misses!!!!

You could see that Daughter hesitated. She slowed down at the end. I think that will come up in the review after the match. Why did she hesitate? Did she not want to trample de Cat? We look forward to hearing the justification for why she did not use full force.

But here they are again, now de Cat is under the sofa! Daughter is pushing the chair with all her might but it is too heavy for her to lift. You can see her frustration, and she is clearly  on the losing side in this match. Mother also gets in on the action, and covers off one exit while Daughter guards the other. But they are no match for the cunning de Cat, wo runs out from the middle. Oh, Daughter slips, but no, she gets up again and is off like a shot after de Cat. But, what is this, de Cat does a 180-degree turn and runs back from under Daughter’s grasp, but this may be the last hurrah, because she now has nowhere to go!! Yes! She has realized her reign of terror has ended! She has slowed down, she is now not moving. And here goes Mother, who scoops up de Cat, and that’s the end of the match, folks! It’s a victory for the Giants, but oh at what cost!!! Daughter looks like she has been through the wringer! And what an unexpected victory too, I did not think they would win, but they have.

And off they go, de Cat in a box, to the vet for her annual vaccinations. We will see you again next year, folks. Till then, adieu!

The joys of writer-hood (with apologies to Buchi Emecheta)

Something I have noticed, continuously, is that when I tell people I am a freelance writer and editor, they are confused. The first question out of the mouths of most people is, so, which paper do you write for? I said writer, not journalist! “I am not a journalist”, I want to scream, but in the interests of decency, I smile politely till I can get the retort down, and say, no, I write for companies, researchers, NGOs, and individuals. And the look of confusion continues.

“So what do you write for them?”

“I write anything, from press releases, to website content, to magazine articles,” I reply.

At this point, there are two ways this can go. One is, like a girl in one of my classes, the person will get bored and walk away/ignore me and talk to my husband, whose IT-related work is much easier to understand (which says a lot, BTW!). Or, if they hang around, I will continue to explain to them in the hope that they will understand, all the while watching their eyes glaze over.

On the other hand, the kind people, the people who understand what I do, ask me if they can see some samples of my work because what I write must be so interesting to make a living out of it. This immediately throws me in at the deep end of an existentialist crisis, and I wonder, “am I a writer? Can I write well? Will you judge me and my creativity? Or is it the lack thereof? ….” The questions continue, unbeknownst to the person who asked for the work. How are they to know that their kind interest has made me question my entire existence? I tell them, yes, sure, I will share with you, shoving the self doubt back in, to make its presence felt later. This process continues every time I email my samples out, which is  funny because I have been doing this for the past 4 years, and I have written for some well-known organizations. Also. I have written for nearly all the companies I have worked at while working there. Go figure, huh?!

Now, apart from the issues of explaining what I do, I sometimes come across issues where they go overboard on the oh-it’s-a-cushy-job conversation. Yes, it is a comfortable life, but I do have my set of worries, including not getting paid on time, which is not something many people understand given their regular paychecks.

There was recently a man (in the same class as the girl mentioned above) who said, twice, mind you, “oh you are not working, noh?” In a huff I replied, “I am! I am a writer!”

“Yes, but you work from home. So, you have time to do all the work we are given in class. We can’t because we have work and families.”

At this point, I realized that we were not getting anywhere, so I mumbled something, turned around and started talking to someone else. I don’t know where they get off this!

You might think I should say I am a content writer. Maybe, but then what about all the other writing I do? Also, imagine explaining to these people what content is!! We would be there all day!

 

 

 

 

 

Funny haircuts and whatnot

A few months back, I went to my normal salon to get a hair cut. I have been going to this salon for donkey’s years now, and I have usually been very satisfied with their hair trimmings and cuts and styles. In fact, they were the salon to give me my first short hair cut some 4 years ago. (Yes, I had curly hair to my hip). I was absolutely thrilled with that hair cut and kept going back once or twice a year to get that same cut.

This time when I went, I did so because I had been getting severe headaches from pinning my hair back in ponytails as a response to the extremely warm weather. I had suffered those monstrous headaches for a week lying in bed unable to do anything else, and I finally said “this is enough” and trudged off to the salon one evening (no way was I going anywhere in the heat of the afternoon!).

Alas, that hair cut was not to my liking. I told her to make it short, I said shoulder length but with layering (all words I had learnt from this salon) and I waited while she snip snapped around my head. Once it was done and I had a look, I had a feeling it was a little too short and I was a bit disappointed. But, it was not till the next morning that I realized the extent of the damage. It was extremely short. In fact, I looked like this, I kid you not!

pinterest featherless chicken

I bore it with as much good grace as I could muster. After all, I had wanted short and this was short, so I did not have to pull it back in a ponytail, so mission accomplished. But then, when it started growing, it looked like a mushroom with the sides blooming away from my head! So, I ended up looking like this:

myfunnypics.org

You could find me trying to pat down the hair every so often because I could see it spreading like a parachute. In fact, I still do although the hair has grown downwards a bit.

Needless to say, I will be extremely careful who I go to next time. Given that my regular service person is no longer at the salon, I am in the market for a new place. And I fervently hope that the next will return my hair to its former glory!

Experiences on three wheelers and taxis in Colombo

Traveling in three wheelers is great fun! It tests your patience more than it should! Everyone knows I have a temper, and I have lost it more often than not when ordering a three wheeler. I am ok with the drivers, we usually have a chat about traffic and mad drivers, so that part is fine enough. But getting a three wheeler and getting them to come to the right address is the worst thing. I am sadly soft spoken so I end up having to yell very slowly at the person on the other side (not just with them but with all people) to be understood. So there I am, yelling directions for the next house to hear!

If it is pickme, I have a different problem. One day, I ordered a wheeler from Borella. The driver was on the road to Maradana, quite close to where I was and it was well connected. I was watching the wheeler on the app, and to see, he goes beyond the turnoff, all the way to Viharamahadevi Park. It went past three roads that could have turned to my road – including Barnes and Rosmead which are the closest. It took him at least 40 minutes to come get me. However, apart from this one and maybe a couple other instances, pickme has been good. It has come fast and been quite cheap. This is a favorite option for me. Except like today when the app keeps crashing. They really need to work on the app!

Then there are also drivers who know better than me. If I say how to go, they don’t listen, they go where they want. Today, we came to Asiri Surgical in a wheeler under online taxi. When I got in, I told the driver it was surgical we wanted to go to. He goes a few yards and says we can take Park road. I said take the Jawatta road, and he agrees so I thought it will be fine, but then he turns onto the other Asiri so I reminded that it is Surgical. There was no response and the man slowed down also, and he drove looking left and right, more than the front. Near Asiri he asks, this or surgical! So my father-in-law says surgical and the driver says “ah I thought this one, could have taken the other road easily”!

Quick taxi used to be quick and cheap. But now, it never appears! They never seem to have a vehicle. And sometimes, they send a vehicle but the wheeler never arrives for the pick up. I think it is going down the drain now.

On uber, the problem is money. It charged me 160 to travel a distance of less than 3km, after having said it is 30 per km! Then when I queried it in an email, they said prices depend on more than the distance, that the time also matters. So for a 10-min trip, I have then paid Rs.70! The response was so unhelpful that my first uber experience was my last. Funnily, they wrote to me to ask if the response was helpful also!

However, fair taxi has been fairly good. Cheap and quite reliable. This is usually my first choice.

All in all, I am not too pleased with the wheeler system. I think it needs to be made better. But, agreed there are some good ones too.

Supporting your colleagues

The corporate world is cutthroat competition and it requires you to do things you would not be proud of (if you are a decent human being). This is understood. Disliked, but understood.  My male colleagues talk about this often: how deals were struck and what they had to do. It saddens me.

I have a different experience to share.  I have found women big supporters of other women. Most of my business has come in because of my female friends. They have been supportive, sending me contacts and opportunities. They have got me involved in their projects. They have talked me up to their contacts. In short, I have found my female colleagues accommodating and supportive of their female friends. Never have I felt that they have talked down to me. Also, they provide massive emotional support. This is true not only for me but for many in my network. The number of times women have appreciated another woman’s talent is heart warming.

I am not contrasting them against men as a gender. I am merely appreciating women because I see their value and their worth. And it truly is a blessing to have women friends.

Resolutions and book challenges

Note: if you are not interested in books or the little issues that readers face, you may skip this little post.

Being a book worm, my new year resolutions usually involve reading challenges. For the last 6 years, this has been to read a 100 books. I have come close. 92, 96. Even the respectable 80. But never ever have I been able to hit 100. This magic number eludes me. So what do I do? I continue that same resolution year after year (even after posting half-hearted numbers such as 52 a couple of years ago) in the hope that I will one day get to it. To add to that, this time I have added Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, one long, long book that requires a lot of time.
Now, this could be me setting myself up to fail once again. Or, it could be this indefatigable belief in my own reading ability. Why do I (and other book-readers) do this? I have been reading through many posts by similar resolution-makers, but I have not been able to come to a conclusion. Probably, it has something to do with our innate need to categorize, list down and excel at what we do best.
This need to list down and count leads to many responses in our own psyches. Some embrace it and some run screaming from it. And yet, we cannot get out from under that fascination of counting. We still engage with the concept and practice of it.
I think it’s a good thing. We then keep track of what we have read, what we tried and whatever else we want to keep track of. It bugs no one, its private and it pits us only against ourselves. In my case, it has led to an increase in reading. I am still trying to read 34,000 books, which I heard some librarian had done some time ago!!! I will probably never get to that goal, but that’s OK. That’s something extraneous. I am not even sure it is true, although it was shown as a record on the papers. Even if I never read 34,000, I will still read some interesting and educational books, and isn’t that it’s own reward?

The enjoyable bank

Recently, I went to the bank to pay my convocation fees. I was getting my Master’s degree the following week. I walked in, went to the place with the deposit slips and start filling out the slip. In comes a youngish man, comes near me, and stand watching over my shoulder. It was obvious he was after the pen to fill the slip too but I really didn’t think he had to watch me write mine. After scowling pointedly at him, I got back to writing and finished very fast, and moved towards where the line was.
Now, there were two people writing out their slips (the over-the-shoulder guy included) just next to the last person in the line (the line was going slightly to the right, not straight). If I stood there one person’s elbow would keep connecting with me and I thought best to give them some space to finish their work in peace and moved towards the door. Mind you, this a very small branch, tiny, like a little cubicle, so if you stand near the door, you are directly opposite the cashier. I thought this would be fine and I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. The security guard saw me and told me to join the queue. I pointed to the two guys writing and smiled. He smiled and looked away. That made me hesitate and I thought I’ll move in a little closer. Just then, both the writers finished and jumped into the queue, completely cutting me out. They had seen me finish before them but no, they just joined the line! So I had to join after them and wasted more time standing in the queue.
Of course, if I had stood in the original queue this wouldn’t have happened to me and that’s what the guard was trying to tell me to do. But I didn’t want to because I thought it would be nicer to give them space. Also, I really didn’t want to be squashed between two strange men. But it seems that if you want something done, getting squashed is what you need to do.
Sri Lankans have no sense of personal space. They believe that your space is their space and have no qualms about standing over you or even on you. They are also very sexual, I think. If they are not standing pressed against some complete stranger, they do not feel fulfilled. The only way to survive in the island is to forego your personal space and rub up against people!!

An ancient ritual

I married two months ago, in a fun-filled ceremony at my husband’s home, with our close family and friends in attendance. It was an efficient wedding, and very small, compared to the shindigs popular in the country now.

This is a story from after it. The wedding meant we had to visit relatives, which is an old custom. It is a way of thanking them for coming to the wedding and sharing in the happiness.

Now, I was very happy to do this, even though my family is big! We had to visit 11 families, and we bought gifts and gave our weekends to this. Here is what I was asked everywhere I went. “So, do you cook now?” Every.Single.Place. It came in different forms depending on who asked. This was uttered verbatim by my uneducated relations, while the more enlightened, those who had made the leap to the 21st century, asked me who did the cooking, whether we had a maid.

Now, forgiving the more enlightened ones who may have just wanted to know how I was faring in my new life, I want to take umbrage at the others. I didn’t know that my sole purpose in life was cooking for my husband, that my self-worth needed to be defined by whether I could cook! And the ‘now’ added to ‘do you cook’ means they think I don’t cook! I understand none of them paid me much attention when I was growing up or even after. Some of them didn’t know where I was working anymore, and asked me if I was still at a place I left 7 years ago! But then, where did the now come from? Was that an assumption I would not be able to cook? I mean I know my parents think I can’t cook but that’s because my mother’s cooking is out-of-this-world good (and because they think I’m unable to do anything anyway because for the longest time they thought I was 5 years old). But even they know I cook, I have cooked for them! But why do my relations think I can’t cook? If it’s not an assumption, who said I can’t cook? I have been experimenting in the kitchen with both baking and regular cooking for years now. I like to think I have a natural aptitude for it because my mother is an amazing cook. But apparently, that doesn’t matter.

So, by this time in the conversation, my mind is racing on all these possibilities, and I’m quite saddened. But I wake from my thoughts to find (again with the uneducated), that the conversation has moved on to something else like what my husband does for a living. In the last visit, this was a particularly bad question. The eldest of one branch of the family, my uncle is now quite old, and I understand may not know the rudiments of technology. But, that did not excuse his pestering my sweet and patient husband into fixing all the phones in the house. He kept bringing more and more phones gleefully, and asking for solutions.

Now, this is not to say I didn’t enjoy the visits. Most of my relations are delightful. They fed us amazing food and chatted to us about our educational goals and careers. They made us laugh and feel loved. And they kept heaping gift after gift on us. For those reasons and more, I loved the visits. And it was much fun chatting to my relations because many of them are adorable and I have such connections with them.

For the most part, those outweigh the negative aspects. And even with the cooking issue, I don’t mind discussing it with my cooler relations. It is those who are judgemental and gossipy I do not like. Relations can be a scourge as all of us know, but what I don’t get is why cooking is such a big deal for a woman? 1. Is it bad for the husband to know how to cook? 2. Must a woman know how to cook? 3. If she does (or even doesn’t) MUST she cook? 4. Is this the most important question to ask someone when they come to visit? 5. Would you have asked this of someone who was older or from your own generation? 6. Were you asked this when you went visiting? Ahh, the questions are endless!

Seriously, people! Let others be! You don’t have to give people a hard time!

5 year plans in the world of work

Ever since I left full-time work and started on my own, I have been thinking about the pros and cons of in-office work (leaning heavily towards self-employment, of course).

Found this article about 5 year plans on a local radio station’s FB page:

http://lite87.com/8-reasons-why-having-a-five-year-career-plan-is-completely-overrated/

I have been asked this 5-year plan question by some companies. But you know, weirdly, it was by companies I would call stodgy, more than progressive. The question, as well as the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question, should be eradicated from the interview questions. These two questions are no longer relevant, at least in my opinion.

Sole ventures

Those of us who are workaholics should consider going into business for ourselves. It does come with risks, of course, but so does everything else. The advantage we have is that we like working, we want to work.

Going into business means constantly being on top of your game. It means marketing, networking, late nights, early mornings, and continued focus on your work. Every thing is an opportunity. Every thing is a business deal.

This can translate into stress for sure, but it is offset by the opportunity to take a break when you need it, and the money that keeps increasing based on your dedication helps!

All you need to do is get your market research done and be efficient. And no, efficiency doesn’t mean you hop around like bunnies, it means you do what is needed with speed and precision.

This is a simplified post, not a comprehensive one. Just remember, your hard work pays off, and you make profits for yourself. You set the rules, you decide the holidays. One of the things I love best about working for myself is that I get to spend time with my loved ones whenever needed. I balance the work and my personal commitments and I don’t waste time.

That’s the other advantage of working for yourself. You know the value of time and learn to maximise it. Productivity increases. You learn to balance commitments. You find efficient ways to work. You learn what is important and what is not. Most of all, you are not stuck in someone else’s time frame..

Madara, an interesting tree

Thought of tooting my own horn a bit 🙂

This is an article I found on my namesake tree. It talks of both Kalunika and Madara, rare and revered vegetation of Sri Lanka. The excerpt below is from the article (link to full article here):

 

“H. Wace in 1887 had said in a report quoted by Basset, that ‘Madara’ was a rare tree which grew at Kongalamankada. The Brahamins, and Hindus had periodically visited the tree and removed the bark and leaves, for their medicinal value.

The tree, was later identified by Dr. Tremen, as ‘Cleistathus Collinus’, very rare in Ceylon, with the bark and fruit very poisonous.

The flower of the ‘Madara’ tree so uncommon, commanded the respect and admiration, due to its rarity.

The flower was also invested with divinity, so much so that in Ceylon, it was supposed to be worn by the gods and goddesses. Basset also reveals that ‘Madara’ was a native plant and not an heavenly product as supposed by the ancient people of Sri Lanka.

In the ‘one inch to the mile’ map of Ceylon the location of the ‘Madara’ trees has been marked. The map indicates the existence of two ‘Madara’ trees. But the exact location is difficult to find without further guidance, according to the ‘Romantic Ceylon’.

Thus ‘Madara’ flower seems very much indigenous to Sri Lanka and not a ‘celestial flower’ as mentioned in some Sinhala literature.

The flower ‘Madara’, probably due to its rarity, has been used by writers as a divine flower, meant exclusively to be worn by the gods and goddesses.

Referring to the attitude of the natives to the two rare trees in Sri Lanka, Basset wrote in 1929, “the desire to see the unique – a human ambition that irresistibly stirs many people to activity – has so far inspired very few investigators to visit the only ‘Madara’ tree, in Ceylon,” at the time.

It might indeed be possible for these rare trees, ‘Kalunika’ and ‘Madara’ to be still found in the thick jungles of the island, following the directions of the research undertaken by the colonial explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries, if pursued along the same lines taken by them in the not too distant past.”

Coffee houses are the best

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At Hansa Coffee this afternoon, trying to get some work done. This is a place I have loved since I first discovered it in 2012. I love the fact that their service is personalized, warm, and friendly. I love the fact that their food is great and quite innovative (in fact, it was their coconut macaroons that first got our attention, so much so that we used to come every day to check if it was available). And I love the fact that their (iced) coffee is just amazing. 

They will do personalized coffee for you, and whether you want it strong or sweet, they will make it that way. And in many cases, they remember the way you love your coffee whenever you come back. This is, for me, the best thing about a coffee house.

They offer free wi-fi, so you can surf the net while here, which is exactly what I am doing now (quite happily, may I add)! If you want a day away from social media, read a magazine from their collection (ranging from VOGUE to travel magazines) or bring a book of your own. It is usually quiet and quite cozy.

And another venture begins…

English writing, editing and translation services

The e-flyer created for the other 2/3rds of my livelihood. This goes public today. Thanks to all my friends who are pitching in to help me. This venture is not limited to Sri Lanka, so if you need any writing or editing done, please do mail or leave a message here.  

Diyatha Uyana – review

I am a fan of social spaces. Spaces where people can meet and hang out without having to pay through their teeth for tasteless or boring food and beverages. Places where friends and families can have fun (laugh loud and walk and turn cartwheels if needed!) for hours on end.
Sri Lanka lacked such places, because we had not invested in recreational spaces. We had a thriving coffee shop industry, where only the rich could afford to hang out, but not free places that people actually wanted to spend time at.
Now, suddenly, we have a few really good places. Viharamahadevi Park has been done up nicely, Diyatha Uyana is a whole new area with a different concept, and then there is Urban Wetland Park in Nawala. There are more, but let me first talk about Diyatha Uyana because of its popularity.

Situated next to Water’s Edge (and the wonderful Boardwalk), Diyatha Uyana has now become so popular with families and friends, and even lovers. The 3D art on the walkway is an attraction for everyone. Camera after camera clicks and there are queues of people waiting to go stand on the designated spot for that hair-raising picture (though sadly that aspect is ruined because of the gleeful smile on the person’s face).

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The walkway continues towards the rabbit hatches and around the small lake, which is less explored but still quite nice. Those who do not explore the rabbit hatches can be found around the areas around the walkway, especially those areas that overlook the Diyawanna Oya, which have seats. Sitting on the green green grass is also a possibility, if the security guards don’t shoo you out 🙂

And of course, there is this:
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At night, the place takes on a surreal beauty that is so different to that of the afternoon. The place is open till 11pm so there is plenty time to actually spend there.

So for the review: The place is nice. And it is a great place to hang out at. (Also, takes care of a long-felt need). There are plenty stalls with food, though I have yet to come across anything more interesting than fruit juices (then again that’s just me). And now, there are kids’ scooters for rent, so the kids have things to keep them entertained when the running around stales 🙂 

Head there around 4.30pm, get something to drink, start walking around exploring the art by about 5, stand on the “pier” for a bit and watch the crowds go by, walk all around (including the rabbits) and finish off at the walkway that leads to and goes past Boardwalk by about 7/7.30pm so that you can see how the place looks lit up. Maybe get some dinner at Boardwalk, while listening to some good music. 

There is a lot of space at the car park (both at the entrance and the dedicated park towards the Water’s Edge), so no need to stress over parking. All in all, a good place to relax at with whoever is important to you. 🙂

 

 

Intolerance

I now realize you can no longer post anything anywhere or even voice an opinion, because the internet has made everyone so vocal that your opinion will get shouted down by opinionated others. When everyone is an activist, you can have no say. Yes, I did generalize things too much there, but I am also trying to encompass everything.

I am a feminist, but not militantly so. I like having equality. Not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional pampering (girls love it when a guy is a gentleman, everyone knows that), because I do. I love being looked after. However, I don’t hang around for people to take care of me. If I can do something, I will. In fact, I am one of those women who will lead the way whether it is climbing rocks and mountains or just down a road. I was taught to lean on no one but myself. In that way I am a feminist, because I believe in myself and my ability.

So where does this little tirade lead to? To the fact that some misogynistic guys cannot accept that women value themselves. If I add a shared post on facebook about how women do not wait for guys but make their own lives and believe their worth so expect a guy who is worth her, BAM comes the reply, she will be single for a long time, because she expects too much. I believe in everyone’s right to say what they want, but at what point do you say enough of this militant refusal of everything a woman says? I know men do not identify as a group based on their biological conditions, but women do, because of historical reasons. I do not want to remind at length at whose hands women suffered, because that is beside the point, and not at all my intention. The past is the past and women have now started to look forward. But, when are men going to accept that women want to share their voices too? Why must they feel like they need to shut a woman down? They think a woman’s opinion is irrelevant. I thought we were beyond this. There are so many sensitive and understanding men out there, we are no longer barbaric. There are many male feminists. Then why oh why can’t we at least allow a woman to say what she wants.

Men attempt to shape the way we respond to men, the way we argue, and the way we portray our feminism. Men need to remember we are not attacking them personally. It is not that I, woman A, am saying you, man A, are bad. My arguments are more diverse, more varied. Yes, sometimes it may feel you don’t understand it. But that may be because you have never lived our history, and seen it through our eyes. Simple example: a man “looking at/ogling” a woman. He thinks highly of himself while all she wants to do is hide. The reason for this:he is salivating over her body. Women find that offensive, but men don’t. It is the way we are, both of us. But the understanding needs to come from the man because his actions hurt another human which is wrong in our democratic world. Of course, if you don’t see her as human, but only as a piece of meat, I understand you will find it hard to understand her needs.

And yes, I am aware of the concepts of healthy debate and democracy. But, my contention is, when the woman is not allowed to say anything about women without having a barrage of insults hurled at all womankind, where is there healthy debate? And I loved healthy debate: I have debated much in the past few years. (Granted I no longer have the energy, time, or the desire for it – I let people say what they want). So it is not that I cannot take it. It is simply this arrogance and intolerance I cannot understand.

So, that is my rant for the day 🙂 It is definitely not something I ever thought I will post about, but there are times when all you can do is tell your secrets to the wind.