Yes things have been a bit slow but...
I'm NOT the most rapid fire poster these days. Life demands more of my time. However the words still swirl in the brain and I do have to vomit them out here for the sake of sanity.
So far the record is 2 posts a month. I'm working on breaking that. Till then enjoy the archives or check out a random post.
The Sri Lanka stories blog is turning out to be a dangerously compulsive online project. The premise is simple. Write a 55-word story based on a word announced via a twitter account. I find this to be brutally hard. It also forces you to notice themes and ideas lurking in the dimly lit parts of the subconscious.
The first hurdle is producing something bearable to read in 55 WORDS (not characters) within 24 hours or less. The other is keeping up with the daily word that is fired at you. I have found that the key is not to think too much and leave it to the voices in the head to do the heavy lifting. If the word triggers anything that doesn’t feel embarrassing you are in luck. All that’s left is the grind of squeezing out the 55 words or less.
The approach that works for me is a selective form of “show – don’t tell”. A cruelty of the 55 word limit is pecking out enough specific visual descriptions for the reader’s mind to do most of the work. All without requiring too many words. Long words that pack a lot of meaning are gold since you don’t have to worry about a Twitter like character count. I’ve never used a thesaurus so frequently. Of course you have to balance big words with simplicity or your output will be incomprehensible without a dictionary.
I find it an exhausting process even without the treadmill of daily life. Brevity takes longer to be squeeze out of flabby sentences. Another horror is that the search for telling details can turn original ideas on their heads. Stories morphs into increasing slippery things. Worse your path to something usable will be littered with carcasses of half bake ideas.Its decadent fun but leaves you brain fried, unable to even pour bottle of Chivas regal down your throat.
All that aside, discovering un noticed themes in your own writing is the creepiest. I have found a disturbing, dystopian voice. Its sits in the dark dressed like a character out of Mad Max film sipping tea. Perhaps its existence is the part that I find draining.
Thankfully the fun of writing conquers all. These are my pathetic word droppings – listed from the most recent to the first. Feel free to blab your insights. No word limits here.
Soon the nation’s saviour, our supreme leader – his excellency the president for eternal life, will press the button. It will trigger the first detonations, starting the carving of Sigiriya into his noble visage. Thus a symbol of ancient decadence will be sanctified into an altar where countless grateful future generations will venerate his greatness.
She smiled, unwittingly. “Early poems. Not my best”. Those poems carried me through shrapnel and amputations said the commander gently. Don’t worry, I keep this very quick. The blindfold’s for the squad – their just boys. She nodded, whispering into his ear. Years later, those words, roared by crowds, would bounced off the fleeing presidential helicopter.
It is grown and ecologically processed in the rain forests of Columbia. Pristine as the day the conquistadors arrived. Loving caressed in organic Bolivian jute. Barely touched by a molecule pollution. Indulge yourself in No.5 Caquetá Puro, a cocaine dedicated to you: the elite who savour and celebrate perfection. Logo dissolves in, then fades to black.
We bribed border guards on the 3am shift. No time to buy an exit visa out of Colombo. Yes THAT pompous little poem of yours put you on tomorrow’s kill list. Your pride is very expensive. So is the grenade in this bag. Use it only if you are cornered. Remember, its not 2013 anymore.
Look at that fat Buriyani fed Muslim you said. A muttered tirade followed – these Muslims etc.. Then: how’s the family doing? Stunned, I replied on diplomatic auto pilot. How could you of all people say such things? I wanted to plead. A hopeless chill inside choked the words, hope and a lot more.
MOST SECRET STOP UNABLE TO CALL AFTER CAMEL STEPPED ON SATELLITE PHONE STOP GPS LOST IN SAND STORM STOP SUPPLY AIRDROP 100KM+ OFF TARGET STOP SUSPECT DRUNK UKRAINIAN MERCENARY PILOTS STOP RUNNING OUT OF AMMO FOOD WATER STOP AWAITING INSTRUCTIONS STOP HAVE EATEN ALL CARRIER PIGEONS WHAT TO DO STOP YOUR MAN OUTSIDE TIMBUKTU MALI
The following is a draft for a Wikipedia entry on the flag. Please use the comment box in this post for corrections/additions.
Sri Lanka’s Halal controversy has claimed another victim. This time it’s the permanent closure of a club that was a part of the country’s early anti colonial era resistance. How this came about is a complicated story. The details are easily lost amidst charges of islamophobia, cultural exploitation and the manic news cycle. It also marks an ironic end to an institution that brazenly defied the British empire while overcoming social and cultural barriers ahead of its time.
According to veteran member Mr Ranil Boothayagoda, the Halal dispute is just the tip of a very large iceberg of tensions over the club’s identity. At the core of these tensions is a generational clash over deeply held traditions and a lot of history.
Past president Lionel Katussawatte described the reasoning for closing the club as:
The proposal to remake the club as a Halal certified establishment is sickeningly disrespectful of Islamic religious beliefs. It is also a deception for financial gain cynically used at a time when attacks on Halal certification is used to intimidate Muslims.
We must resist such despicable acts. They are against our cherished traditions of unvarnished honestly. If the club is unable to survive by up holding its values and traditions then it does not deserve to exist.
Do you want to drive a variety of Lamborghini sports models in Colombo and get paid for it? Then this post is for you.
Its been VI years since I posted this. Too much has faded into the rear view mirror of memory. If there’s a positive sign, its that I can bear to read my own writing. Or should I say the stuff that I typed because the voices in my head told me to ?
Sadly after all these years I have no wisdom to impart. All I can suggest is that you type what the voices tell you. I type this stuff to get it out of my head and cling on to sanity (or what passes for it). I’m not Bukowski but when the words pile up, writing offers that same relief as successful dash into the toilet with a bad stomach.
I’m too lazy to offer any sort of analysis of my pecking – now approaching the 670 post mark. One day – if I’m still around – I hope to hit the first 1000 (just like a certain drummer some of us know). But I’ll egoistically list a few of my favourite posts
- 7 Ages of Blogging (after Shakespeare) – think I actually list only 6
- Armoured trishaw book banned
- Colombo weather and identity politics of exile
If you see a pattern let me know feel free to tell me your favourites.
In closing I’d like to thank some fellow bloggers whose posts/comments kept the voices from getting plastered on too much coffee. Janith, Maf (whose last post opened a door of inspiration, The Drummer, Good old Kottu.org that gave me a start including its original janitor and a whole lot more. I’d list them all but I’ll be here for days.
Anyway, thank you for reading I’m not the most frequent poster these days but do stick around.
Political tremors over a controversial colonel from the last Sri Lankan war (see earlier post) is masking tectonic shifts in the island’s political future. Those who notice the details cannot ignore that there is a build up to a Vesuvius like eruption of war. Yet like the citizens of Pompeii, the rumblings are ignored, denied or trivialised by an populous unwilling to contemplate bad news.
This is apparent from the lack of serious public discussion about the deeper political significances of the colonel’s return. Media pundits have muddied the waters with shallow, colourful historical comparisons. Some draw parallels with Napoleon’s return from Elba. Others cite Lenin’s arrival in Moscow, or McAuthor wading ashore in the Philippines. However within informed influential circles, his visit represents the island’s growing role in regional geo politics and the drum beat of another Sri Lankan war.
The clearest indicator of this trend is the lavish welcome the Kandian – Kingdom of Sri Lanka’s (KoSL) – accorded to its old foe. During the last war, the colonel defeated a larger, better equipped Kandian army in the siege of Colombo. It triggered the biggest changes within the Kandian military establishment in a century, making the colonel a cult figure on par with Sun Tzu (the book detailing the siege is mandatory reading for the Kandian office corps).
Officially he is in the capital Kande leading the ceremonial retinue of a mid ranking Princess of Siam. She is to marry the nephew of King Jayarajasingha II. Unmentioned in the publicity is the colonel’s role as a special emissary of the emperor of Siam. He is tasked with coordinating high-level strategic talks to take place in June. Such details appear to support the theory that the colonel is a vital link in the KoSL’s growing ties with the region’s super power: the Empire of Siam (EoS).
The connection stems from the colonel’s military exploits in Siam. Originally contracted to relieve the port city of Sinhapura, the colonel defeated the besieging Kuinist rebellion that nearly brought the empire to its knees. The guerrilla war he waged to liberate the Irrawaddy River provinces is regarded as the work of a military genius. Less well known is that he enabled the current regional governor (a close confidante of the emperor) to plan and implement a successful re-integration policy for the region.
As a result he was elevated to the prestigious Royal Strategic Policy Institute. It is rumoured that this places the colonel in a group of secret advisers selected to give unvarnished advice to the throne unencumbered protocol. Both are indications of the confidence and trust placed on him by the inner circle of imperial power. Publicly, the colonel has become a highly regarded lecturer at an institution that has been a finishing school for generations of imperial and KoSL elites. Both bride and groom of the impending royal wedding met as students of the colonel.
According to knowledgable commentators such as Goliath White, the renewal of ancient ties between the Kandian and Siamese thrones has larger strategic implications. Aside from visible diplomatic, cultural and economic links, military cooperation between the two states have increased. The most concrete sign of this are the discounted arms sales of Charka attack helicopters and K̄hunṣ̄ụk T140 amphibious tanks to the KoSL.
The island is a key strategic base for the EoS’s need to secure lucrative trade routes to East African markets. It has made the KoSL a natural strategic partner in achieving this goal. Already the port of Galle – captured by the KoSL during the last Sri Lankan war – hosts the 2nd imperial carrier fleet tasked with escorting merchant shipping. In the process the EoS appears to be supporting KoSL policy to unite the entire island under one crown.
Reunification has always been a long term strategic goal of the KoSL. It was deified as the kingdom’s purpose for being by Vimaladharmasuriya I – founder of the current dynasty. No Kandian king can ignore the weight of such history. Most make its realisation their life’s work. King Jayarajasingha II, a direct descendent of Vimaladharmasuriya I, is no exception. The Centre for Policy Analysis recently outlined how the last war was merely another step in a strategic multi generational reunification plan.
Worryingly, the next step appears to be already in motion. The KoSL is already leveraging the colonel’s symbolism to its strategic ends. His prestige as a founder of the Peoples Republic of Dehiwala (PRD) has strengthened the KoSL’s alliance with the PRD. He was instrumental in post war negotiations that successfully reconciled the KoSL’s need for political reunification and the PRD’s localised independence. It led to the current mutually essential economic integration between the two states. The only obstacle to total reunification is the Republic of Ceylon (RoCey). It is an obstacle that can only be overcome militarily. The colonel’s prestige may be enough to reassure the nuclear armed PRD of its territorial integrity in the event of a Kandian invasion of Ceylon. Yet the outcome of a war between the two is not guaranteed.
The two states are a clash of very different world views. The Republic of Ceylon is a closed failed communist state. Its people desperate to hold on to whatever state patronage they have. The RoCey’s mix of complex Dutch, French and English post colonial cultures are bound by a repressive secularist state. It is at odds with the KoSL’s predominantly Buddhist and Hindu identity which is based on a deeply rooted cultural consensus. This sense of proud solidarity was forged by the demands of repelling colonial powers for centuries while building a thriving dynamic nation. Part of that pride views the RoCey as a land of weak, ignorant, colonial collaborators.
The RoCey’s propaganda machine has taken up this theme and projected the KoSL as a feudal monarchy intent on acquiring more slaves. RoCey’s ideologically bullied conscripted military remains the island’s largest. It could still fight as the colonel did, in a desperate bit to protect the world it knows. Such conditions create a fertile ground for a clash of civilisations that could smoulder on even after a successful Kandian occupation of Ceylon. Yet the KoSL seems locked in its strategic path and focused on mitigating the risks. The successful reunification of the southern coastal belt offers a hopeful model for future post integration policy.
No one in the island is willing to publicly admit the likely hood of war. The stated consensus is to keep extending the post war truces. The unspoken hope is that when war comes, it will be swift and lead to a decisive peace. After a turbulent history and a taste of peace, that is best outcome the island can hope for.
Filed by Dehiwala correspondent,
Dissociated News Network
I think this is an incomplete bill board. Or its heavily encrypted with super secret symbolism readable only to cult members or symbologists.
My regular commute doesn’t take me on this route anymore – snapped it during the holiday scurrying around. So I’m not sure if its complete by now. If you can interpret what it means please use the comment box below and enlighten us all.
This post also proves that some of my predictions are quite off the mark.