The Consumer is NOT a moron

David Ogilvy, the founder of Ogilvy Worldwide and the father of advertising, once said that the consumer is not a moron. He said, treat the consumer as if she is your wife - with respect and dignity.

Well, look at the Sri Lankan advertising scenario. I was disgusted by what I saw when I came back and started watching television.

Let's leave aside the poor creativity, Indian influence, lack of originality and craftsmanship etc. Let's leave aside the issues that are unique and inherent to us. Let's, for a moment forget the budgets and restrictions and look at ourselves.

Television is a visual medium; and what the consumer sees is what he believes.

- Anchor 1+ runs a commercial that draws arrows showing how that particular Anchor kid is growing taller than the rest. When did calcium elongate or lengthen the bones..?

- Dettol runs a commercial that signs off with 100% Protection (I saw the Sinhala ad; the back-translation suggests 100% Protection). There is nothing under the sun that carries a 100% guarantee; Dettol would never be able to have such claims in the Western world. If you had the statistics to back-up, you could claim 99.9% at best; never a 100%. “A Dettol home is a safe home” is what I remember about Dettol, in Sri Lanka the marketers tend to claim claims even without thinking.

- Then, there are the electrical goods (plugs and switches etc) from Orange. They proudly claim that their merchandise is for “Once, and Forever.” I would really love to meet the Orange engineers who, obviously position themselves on par with God, the Maha Brahma, Allah and the rest; capable of creating things eternal. They must have won the Presidential Award for Innovation.

- Then there are these comedies taking place between Anton PVC and S-Lon; Sri Lanka Insurance and Ceylinco Insurance etc. for the number one position. Anton is No 1; so is S-Lon. They all claim to be the number one...!

The list is endless.

See how loosely we use superlatives and adjectives such as “100%,” “the best,” “forever,” “No 1” in our advertising. Basic rule in advertising: always tell the truth. There must be evidence to support a claim. No evidence, no claim. It's not only the regulations, it's also the common sense.

In this Paradise Isle, the agencies and the clients have taken control of the media. They are taking the whole country for a ride, totally disregarding morals and ethics, only to meet their numbers in profits.

The ministry of information tells me that there is a “Code of Conduct” for media institutions and that should protect the consumer against such rubbish advertising. But, who’s following the code of conduct? Where is our common sense? Where are our ethics? Being an (ex)agency guy, I know the amount of responsibility that lies within an agency. Dear Mr Agency Guy, Dear Mr Client, please, please stop disrespecting us. Stop treating the consumer like a moron. Majority of us are not as dumb as you think.

And most of all, what hurts me most is, have we become such a stupid, dumb-a** nation to tolerate all this crap?



Bored to death, just to entertain myself, I went and registered a website. It seemed like a great idea to have it named as “komital.com” and I thought I could have it floated as a common space for all my buddies to post stuff that qualify to be “komital” as in Sinhalese-slang sense.

Now that my techie is getting married and me having zero knowledge in web-designing, I have an empty home page staring at me - another komital scenario.

This is what happens to decisions taken, when you are sober.

A year later, I find more funny stuff in my Inbox. I bid farewll to Komital.com.

Middle of Nowhere

Offroading in the Emirates

Two things to avoid in the desert: 1. Camels. 2. Driving in the night.

Taking a break, having a Kit-Kat.

The first rays of sunshine greeting the camp-site.

My wheels and my shelter.

View from the other side. Shows the fossil rock in the background. And the beautiful morning sky (ok, I manipulated it a bit).

The big boy is stuck. Ramzi's maneuvering his defender out of the blog. I'm sitting there and thinking, "Oh my god, if a defender could get stuck, what could happen to a Jeep?"
Well, the Grand Cherokee is the best, that baby rocks.

The sun is beginning to toast us - off we go again.


I found my arcadia

Life in Taprobane

If I have ever asked you to define happiness, in a drunken state or not, consider yourself lucky to be consulted. It has been my quest to find an answer that satisfies me, for as long as I remember.

What is happiness?

Some said, it's a moment. Some said it's a state of mind. Some said it's a feeling. Some said it's what you see in someone else's eyes...

Hundreds of people, hundreds of different answers.

And then, one day, I found an answer that satisfies me, while watching BBC. I know a blog-page isn't enough to explain this, but I'll try, in brief.

We, the mortals of this earth, are all taking the journey of life. We define, decide and shape the journey we must take. Some, are on the way to become great artists. Some, are on the way to finding eternal bliss. Some are on their way to re-shape the world. What ever it may be, we all have different agendas and we are all taking different routes travelling our different journeys.

So, where are we heading? Where is our destination? What are we seeking for? What are we chasing after? What do we want to find in life? What is it that we want so bad that we are ready to sacrifice a lifetime, searching...?

That, my friend, is the "arcadia" or the "happy place."

That is what we all want - to find our happy place. To find our arcadia.

And finding arcadia, is, happiness.


Buddhism: selfless or selfish?

Life in Taprobane

I've been busy last few days - had to attend a friend's mom's funeral.

So it was a Christian funeral. I'm a Buddhist. I usually do not argue on religion and/or relationships; but the point I'm going to make here is going to piss some people off.

I am going to say that the most important reason for Sri Lanka to be in the current mess is, its primary belief: Buddhism. If Sri Lanka were a Christian or Muslim country, we wouldn't have had this prolonging war and the country would have been out of this mess much sooner.

Why do I say that?

Two reasons:

One, Buddhism trains us to be tolerant.

We keep our mouths shut and take it up our a** - not once, not twice, all the time. No one ever complains about anything in this country. No one points out a mistake. No one fights for their basic rights. We eat tasteless crap from restaurants, pay, and leave without uttering a word. If the food sucks, complain to the manager - at least the next person would benefit. If you don't get the service you deserve, just command for it. After all, you are paying, aren't you?

This kind of behaviour is everywhere you look. What a submissive nation. We are afraid of the system, we are afraid of the cops, we are afraid of - for God's sake - even the bus-conductors and three-wheeler drivers..!

Tolerance is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. But, aren't we getting screwed from all possible sides because of our tolerance and patience?

Two, Buddhism does not deliver what today's Sri Lankan society requires.

Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. Buddhism is all about developing one's self so that he or she would be able to let go of the worldly desires and attain the eternal bliss - nibbana.

Buddhism focuses on one's self, teaches one how to become less and less attached.

As a result, we have become selfish to a greater extent as a nation. Our parent's generation does not think of the country; they only think of themselves and how to redeem themselves from the sins they have accumulated. They offer a great deal of money, resources and time to temples in their old age, and "wish" for eternal bliss for themselves (and peace for the family).

But how much of their good wishes actually turn in to good deeds? We all know the answer. Very little.

Buddhism today is breeding a bunch of selfish individuals who only think of their redemption. They must learn to extend their kindness to the world. They must learn to show how much we care for each other. For example, don't pay Rs 5,000 to an orphanage for a meal, go give your neighbour a big manly hug and say that you care. Learn to show the world you care - period.

Buddhism is a selfish script. Listening to the funeral service, I realised that the spirit of Christianity is focussing on family, unity, and peace amongst us while Buddhism is talking about me, me, me and the eternal bliss.

The irony of Buddhism is that, the very "religion" that teaches us to escape from the "me, me, me concept" is teaching us to become more and more selfish with every single step we take further in to the "religion".

In this Paradise Isle, what we need today is peace amongst us. We need to learn to think of "us" and learn to become more selfless. Let's find peace today before finding the eternal bliss tomorrow.


Cricket, lovely cricket

Life in Taprobane

What a great week of Cricket, what a weekend.

First the big match. Then the Stag Night. The rendezvous of long lost friends. Catching up on years gone by. Friends, chicks, flings, gossip, kids, politics... so much to talk about.

Royal College beats St. Thomas' in their 127th annual big match. I feel so bloody great to be a Royalist.

I'm slowly recovering from the excessive consumption of alcohol. Having been on a liquid diet for 3 days, my body craves for food. And sleep.

Tomorrow is a full moon day; a holiday in the paradise isle. What a blessing; I’m still getting used to these mid-week holidays that are thrown in every now and then. Wink, wink, a good opportunity to catch-up on my sleep.

PS: South Africa beats Australia in the greatest one-day game ever. What a performance! Well done RSA, Shaks, this one is for you!


Why Taprobane, Not Sri Lanka

Life in Taprobane

In a nutshell:
"Our clock is 30 minutes ahead of the world; but we are a few centuries behind in time..."

Thanks Anna, for putting it in such a simple sentence.

Of tea, hotels and restaurants

Ah, lovely Sri Lanka.

We are officially, The Democratic, Socialist, Republic of Sri Lanka. If we are democratic, how could we be Socialist? or a Republic? That's how confused we are.

Then of course, the fitting associate to the name: the national flag. The “lion flag” is designed with many a meaning, every single design component has a reason for living. Even the colours are chosen carefully, representing the various ethnic groups and stuff.

The best part is, the lion (stands for the Sinhalese) is defending its position against the two minorities (represented by green and yellow stripes). Why aren't the two minorities backing the lion, defending the country, in one united force? Is it just a 'careless mistake' in designing the flag that took so much effort and thinking - or is it just the way it was meant to be...?

I wonder.

Then, there are these "hotels" by the roadside that are actually "restaurants." If there's no lodging, why call them hotels? Go to any of these "hotels" and ask for a 'tea' and you'll get a sweet concoction that is 50% sugar, 10% cream, 10% tea and 30% hot water. (or something like that). If you want to have a good ol' cuppa, remember to ask for "plain" tea, and also don't forget to mention how sweet it should be.

The usual standard is three sugars (yes three!), and you'll start humming like a bee once you have one.



It's almost 5 in the morning. Have been chatting online for the last three hours.

Life is amazing. You meet new people everyday. Some, just walk into your life, and walk out without leaving a single impression. Some are there in your life for a nano-second, but they leave memories that last a lifetime.

Like someone said, people walk into your life to play their little part in our life. Once their part is played and when the job is done, they go away. Some take a lifetime to complete their task, some just a few seconds.

Our paths cross, for various reasons. Sometimes, we never know why. In the grand scheme of things - whether you call it God, the Creator, the nature or whatever - we all play our roles, enriching each others lives.

I'm glad I have friends. I'm glad I know people. I'm glad that I don't have to worry if I get stranded in most parts of the world; there are friends I can count on.

Most of all, in one way or the other, in worlds or in kind, my friends have added value to my life. They've helped me live a fuller life, they've been there for me. In a drunken fight or in an intellectual conversation, they've been there to play their roles.

This little note is for all my buddies - where ever you are, in Colombo, London, Cairo, Dubai, Baltsi, Beirut, Vancouver or elsewhere - I appreciate your presence in my life.

Thank you for being a friend.

(I guess I'm getting a bit sentimental in my old age! lol)

Back in Colombo

It's Saturday morning. Slept like a baby - almost 12 hours at a stretch.

We've spent a day on the road covering over 500 km, broken rest, to attend a wedding. We were there for merely two hours. This didn't make sense. Wasted so much time, just to show our faces at a function.

Probably that's why Ranga wanted to buy a new country and build roads that are straight and smooth. I don't think that thought had anything to do with the kind of smoke he was inhaling.

We, the Islanders of Paradise, are a strange bunch of people. Optimistic, to the max.

Most of us, especially the gals, enjoyed the view - all the way, leaving aside the bumpy roads (that are "proposed highways" as Boycy puts it), the horrible drivers, the lack of common facilities and the chaos along the way.

They just said they enjoyed the trip.

In an ideal world, you'd hit the highway, cover the distance in two hours, have a longer presence at the wedding and would have been back for supper. Thank god, we appreciate the natural beauty in our country, I wouldn't have been able to put up with whining and grumbling otherwise.

"If you build it, they will come..." said Kevin Costner's character in a movie that was all about building a baseball field in the middle of nowhere.

I hope our (political) leaders believe in that. We must build the roads, that's the only way to develop this country. Once the roads are in place, everything else will come. The tourists, the industries, the businesses, the money. To the village. Once there is money, people will stop fighting, they will stop stealing. They will forget who's a Tamil and who's a Sinhalese.

I hope those "proposed highways" would materialize soon. (As in "highways" not as two-laned nightmares). I wouldn't mind driving 500 km a day then.

This is a pix of the Welimada Town Council 15 miles Limit signage. Put up by the British hundreds of years ago, it still stands in its original place. What does it say - the road has not changed even an inch since then!


Trip in pics

700 kilometers and three days later, this is what I have. The beauty of the mountains.

Fantastic country this is. Just wish my sweetheart was with me, would have been much better than my Davidoff lights and Carlsberg...