One of those days

Today is one of those days.

I want to update my blog and I have decided to take the good advice and stay away from the politics. There are couple of things I want to write about, but my head is in a spin.

I’m in a dilemma. I want to decide whether to stick around here for good or to leave the island nation. Go back – to the familiar terrains of Dubai and the Middle East or some unchartered territory, perhaps down under, this time. I’m weighing my options and measuring the pro’s and con’s, but still I can’t make up my mind. I am restless. I hate these moments of indecision.

Perhaps it is the “island-factor” that pulls me back whenever I think of leaving. Life here is fantastic. There is no stress. There’s no rush, there are no deadlines. There is no threat to your livelihood. There are no clients breathing down your neck. (Of course they are there – but negligible, compared to some of the fast moving cities). There’s a war, there’s an economic crisis brewing, the prices are going up, but the merry life goes on in Taprobane, nevertheless. People here have the ability to very easily forget and adapt to new situations. Perhaps, that’s the God’s way of letting the islanders cope with the high number of deaths and casualties that take place on regular basis.

June 2005. I came back with my brains full of sparks – ready to change the world. Slowly, but surely, the islander-attitude has over taken my desire to do more. Day by day, I tend to do less, and learn to avoid the unnecessary headaches. I tried not bribing the cops and follow the rules – trust me, the system wants you to bribe the cop. That’s easier. You can’t fight the big brother. So I’m warming up to the idea of joining the rogues since I can’t beat them.

Looking at my future, my first option would be to stay here. I’ll become yet another islander and lose the fire in my belly. I’ll be content with life, and I'll be happy. I’ll watch the sunset and count the crows. I’ll find a way to share my life experiences and knowledge (the little that I have) with some disadvantaged kids in a rural place. Teach them maths, science and Sinhala, share with them the ways of the world... That’s what my soul craves for, after being in advertising for so long. I need to cleanse my soul, purify my thoughts and make-up for the lost time. But, would I ever be happy being a hermit? Would I be content with the very basics in life? Could I stay away from the ones that are near and dear to me..?

I don’t know.

Next option: I’ll join the rat race. Go back to the concrete jungle, work like a horse. Earn the dollars and spend the dollars. Have a flashy car, find a nice chick. Sell my soul to the demons and go the full circle again. Smoke Davidoffs, drive a Grand Cherokee, and be a slave to the brand names. Where would it take me, by the time I reach 50? Quite possibly, to the same place I am today.

I hate that.

But as the night looms, I miss the fast life. I miss the vultures that come-out in the night. As I don’t, and can’t, sleep more that four hours a day, I battle with time every night. I don’t know what to do when I’m awake at 3.00 in the morning – I can’t cruise around the city with music blaring in my car, they way I’m used to. Colombo is different. The whole island shuts down by dusk, except for a handful of hang-out joints in Colombo. I’m sick of seeing the same faces, I’m sick of not having a choice in anything.

The battle between the islander and the cosmo-guy goes on in my head every night. Who wins, only time will tell.


The Good-Spirited Game

The 128th Battle of the Blues is just few hours away.

There is no big match without alcohol, and thought of noting down some “alcohol facts” for the benefit of my fellow good-spirited sportsmen.

1. Alcohol isn’t Mama. As a well known doctor expresses it, maternal milk is man’s first anesthetic. In his infancy, the drinks were on her and they were wonderful – warm, satisfying and soothing – turning his wails into coos and making him feel comfortably sleepy. But comes a time when diet broadens out in the direction of solids such as beef steak and baked potato, and milord is supposed to be on solid ground permanently except for soups and something to drink now and then. Even so, the subconscious mind carries the memories of the simple life chez Mama which appeal nostalgically when cares and complexities get a man down in the middle. He yearns for consoling warmth that will soften up his troubles and make him feel good. Alcohol will do this comforting job, but it can't solve life for him “like Mama did.” It will take the cares off his back for an hour or an evening, but it can’t carry them by the day, week or month. Certainly it will never lick them for him. And if he is so infantile, so unweaned as to imagine it will, he is a psychic sissy.

2. Alcohol isn’t business success. It can be helpful in the form of diplomatic refreshments which build up aquaintance and thaw commercial ice. But that’s all, brother.

3. Alcohol isn’t a substitute for human society. The ingrown guy who drinks solitarily because “the bottle understands him better than people do” isn’t helping his troubles any. He is only thickening his shell. Doing so, poor hermit, with something convivial which, if normally used instead of misapplied for self-pity purposes, might have eased his shyness and gained him some friends.

4. Alcohol isn’t a solver of emotional problems. If your gal has turned you down for the other fellow, or your marriage has hit the rocks, don’t expect liquor to compensate. The label on the bottle makes no such promise.

5. Alcohol isn’t a cure for boredom.

6. Alcohol isn’t a stimulant. On the contrary, it’s a sedative, a relaxer. Upper story gets the biggest and quickest share, thereby shushing the Department of Don'ts and Restraints. Overdoses can unleash a whole pack of sleeping dogs, ranging from frisky to the ornery – which is a common sight at the match. Moderate doses can set the conversational ball rolling and coax introverts to come out from behind their false whiskers.

7. Alcohol isn’t a diet. It is a food, however, of a very special kind, an ounce of 100-proof whiskey contributing to about 100 calories, which the body uses as fuel. In an emergency, this prompt acting boost of energy is invaluable. But, alcohol can’t repair body tissues; only protein does that.

8. Alcohol isn’t a career. Not even a part-time job. It’s recreation. Tension relief; tested and trusted by many Royalists and Thomians alike.

9. And the last point: Alcohol doesn't mix with gasoline. We are not sissies, and we too have driven apparently better after having a few than before. Yes, you are more relaxed, perhaps in a better mood to make those positive decisions and direct movements that sometimes avoid an accident. But some State Authorities are physiological rather than psychological in their attitude. They say if you have had a couple of drinks, you'd better not drive. And they add – at sixty miles an hour your car is doing eighty-eight feet per second. This is the wrong time – facing a crisis – to be a split second – or forty four feet or so – slow on the brake.

In other words, when you drink, don't drive, and vice versa.

As for the rest, you know quite well how stupid and annoying and downright troublesome even dangerous a drunk may seem to you when you're thoroughly sober. So when you’re in your cups, try to tuck away in your mind somewhere that you are that undelectable drunken bum, and not the charming, daring, seductive, brilliant, lovable, heroic creature you seem to yourself.

A good rule, perhaps. Be merciful with other drunks. Don’t hit them, you may hurt them and be sorry. Don’t humor them, they may stay with you and you’ll be sorry.

Better advice. Avoid them.

Best advice. Don’t be one.

Said Cicero: “Let us drink for the replenishment of our strength, not for our sorrow.”

Long live the spirit of Royal-Thomian.


Source and Inspiration: The Esquire Drink Book


Making People Happy

Boycy sends me an interesting link at 2 am. Its a news item from BBC on how to make people happy. I of course have my theory on finding my arcadia (that's my definition of happiness), but this one is about planting the seeds of happiness. They list out 10 steps to happiness, and hope to change the psychological climate of Slough.

The 10 Steps to Happiness according to BBC:

1. Plant something and nurture it

2. Count your blessings – at least five – at the end of each day

3. Take time to talk – have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week

4. Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up

5. Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it

6. Have a good laugh at least once a day

7. Get physical – exercise for half an hour three times a week

8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day

9. Cut your TV viewing by half

10. Spread some kindness – do a good turn for someone every day

Let’s hope it works, perhaps we could learn how to be happy from the people in depressingly grey weather.


Farewell, my friend...

Life in Taprobane

Maaduru Oya – that's where you go to see wild elephants. That too, is with Kumara Bandara – a forest officer who was fondly known as “vanaya” (man of the jungle) to us. He was an entertainer, a story teller and he knew every inch of the forest reserve. He would take us around the bush for hours, showing us the birds and the bees, and then finally when we’re about to give up, he’d come up with the goods – saving the best for last. Elephants, in numbers.

Once he took us to a place where we saw probably the largest herd in Sri Lanka: I stopped counting them at 140.

Anyway, we just heard that he has passed away about a week back. He was not even 50; he was healthy; he was a man who walked miles a day. And then, one day at work, he has a heart attack – and drops dead. Gone, just like that. The man decides that we have seen enough elephants...

Kumara, you were a good man. This note is just to say that we appreciate all you have done for us, and that we shall never let go of you from our hearts.

May your soul rest in peace.