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.
Rarely does the return of a famous son plunge a land into such a slow motion crisis. On the face of it the crisis appears to centre on emotional arguments about historical trivia. Yet it’s decisiveness has frightening implications about the future post war stability of the island. To understand its significance, it is essential to grasp the colonel’s complex symbolism in the island’s tumultuous history.
Depending on who you ask he is a war hero, war criminal, patriot, traitor, liberator, ruthless separatist, a dictator in waiting, an agent of foreign powers, a nation builder, military genius, a very lucky loose cannon or combinations of the above. The only consensus is that he personifies post war Sri Lanka’s unhealed political, historical, ideological, and psychological wounds. Everything else inevitably slides into bitter seemingly irreconcilable arguments. His brief visit has unleashed these tensions in a perfect storm on to the island’s already complicated politics.
Ominously there are signs that such disagreements are derailing hopes of post war stability. The most worrying sign is the state level involvement in the cacophony of opinions which have escalated political tensions on the island. Ironically, the one person who has always refused to comment is the man himself, colonel Nadesan Van Parakramabahu.
Colonel “Rabutan” Nadesan burst upon Sri Lanka’s political landscape during the chaotic first weeks of the last war. He rallied the beleaguered Republic of Ceylon (RoCey) army units trapped in Colombo into a formidable garrison. Along with a rag tag civil militia, changed the outcome of the conflict (extensively documented in a still banned book). As a result he saved the RoCey from annihilation by a Kandian – Kingdom of Sri Lanka (KoSL) – invasion, revolutionised urban warfare, and founded a thriving city state – the People’s Republic of Deheiwalla (PRD).
The colonel is the most powerful symbol of this history. Its narrative has unavoidable and distinct political consequences for each of the island’s three states. How each government manages the interpretation of the colonel’s symbolism will dictate their political futures. In the case of the PRD and the RoCey, possibly their very survival.
Part of the heightened emotion is timing, which is proving to be toxically divisive particularly in the PRD. The colonel’s return falls on a string of key anniversaries marking the siege of Colombo. The most significant of these are the 2nd battle of Wellawatte bridge, the Battaramulla counter offensive, and the taking of the Horten Place pocket (possibly Sri Lanka’s bloodiest military engagement). The other ingredient is the reverence PRD citizens have towards the colonel. He has become (despite his very public efforts) a deity in the city state’s creation story.
This reverence has triggered a backlash. A vocal minority blame him for preventing the KoSL from destroying the corrupt RoCey. There are also surprising calls for holding the colonel responsible for the large number of civilian casualties suffered during the siege. Survivors of the Borella feeding centre tragedy in particular have demanded the colonel to be “called to account” for the incident. At a deeper level, there is growing unease that adoration of the “founding father” is at odds with the deeply libertarian ethos of the PRD.
This conflict over a shared experience has led to unexpectedly emotional confrontations in the public space. There is already much handwringing about “threats to the national consensus”. Yet calls for a frank discussion of their nation’s birth, and televised “truth and reconciliation forums” etc have only heightened mounting tensions. Government statements on the issues have started to sound like carefully worded legal statements aimed at preventing any form of conflict between the two sides. All of which are at odds with the calm, pragmatically direct, consensus democracy and efficient decision making that is the usual hallmark of PRD politics.
Across the border, the Republic of Ceylon is desperately trying to deny the colonel’s existence with official silence and public frivolity. State media has flooded the airwaves with talent shows. Food rations have been increased to accompany the upcoming republic day festivities. The government, bunkered within Kurunegala’s Ethagala fortress complex, has quietly withdrawn treason charges and arrest warrant against the colonel.
He is a reminder of the current leadership’s humiliating war time incompetence. Had he obeyed his government’s incoherent orders, the country would have been overrun. Furthermore the RoCey which was reduced to a rump state in the last war, is keen to avoid angering its nuclear armed economic lifeline, the PRD. The sensitive nature of this snowballing crisis has led to the unusual step of respected journalists such as D.S Jeyaraj and analysts such as Goliath White to stop commenting on the issue.
The PRD’s and the RoCey’s struggles over the colonel’s symbolism focuses on the past. Lost amidst the distraction is the fact that he symbolises a dramatic, long term tectonic shift in the island’s political landscape. In its quiet way, the Kingdom of Sri Lanka has already taken control of that future symbolism. In doing so it has begun shifting the direction of Sri Lankan history towards an ancient strategic ambition. This increasingly apparent shift is likely to plunge an island with nuclear armed combatants into another war.
To be continued…
Filed by Dehiwala correspondent,
Dissociated News Network
Sri Lanka’s new point based penalty system for traffic violations is now in effect. However the Lanka Union of Unlicensed Drivers (LUUD) has announced that the new scheme will not affect its members.
Speaking from hospital where he’s recovering from a head injury, LUUD president Leon Trotsky was dismissive of the scheme.
“None of our members have licenses so there is nothing to confiscate. Anyway, we are down trodden people who can’t survive if we give in to these colonial licenses.”
It is unclear how the government will respond to this brazen act of defiance. Complicating the situation is the fact that the LUUD has long been a major funder of a key member in the ruling coalition : the Lanka Libertarian Party.
Neither the government nor the LLP have commented on the matter.
Paga watch – a group lobbying for standardised bribes – expressed severe misgivings about the point system. They pointed to criticism about the system made by Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA).
In addition to the concerns of the LPBOA, Paga Watch claims that system will make licence holding drivers hostage to the ever rising price of bribes. They also pointed out that politicians, their offspring, and other powerful people who are above the law will also not be affected by the point system. In a stinging rebuke of the LUUD, Paga Watch convener S.D Katusayaka, accused LUUD of becoming part if the country’s Nomenklatura.
Unless the new system can take unlicensed drivers into account, the only threat that LUUD members face will be verbal attacks from fringe activists such as Paga Watch.
In its early years (2007-2009) this blog carved a bit of a niche for itself in 2 areas. One was documenting indigenous Sri Lankan commercial graphic design – specifically vehicle graphics. These are too heavily cross listed under various categories to bother counting. The other tradition was using Google Earth screen grabs to blog about the war and other events in the news. There are about 60+ Google Earth and Google Earth Sri Lanka related posts with a lot of overlap.
Its been almost 2 years since I put a post about Sri Lankan vehicle graphics or graphic design. The page dedicated to listing them stopped getting updated in 2009. The last post on vehicle graphics was in January of 2011! The Google Earth posts breathed its last in Jan 2012 with a post trying to prod 3 bloggers whom I felt could do it better.
A report by a special committee of voices in my head indicates that these “traditions” are dead and unlikely to return. The basic underlying cause is that my interests have changed. This over rides the usual excuse of blogging being de-prioritised in the face of life’s many merciless demands (an un-ignorable secondary factor). There’s a sense that I am careening towards spewing some sort of social commentary cowardly veiled in sloppy attempts at satire.
On the graphics side, there’s a practical issue. I’m no longer chauffeured around to risk taking photos from behind the wheel (what’s a point of buying all those Lamborghinis no?). Even if I did bring back my Rolls fleet, the stuff on the buses and the tuk tuks no longer impress me. Yes there’s an occasional good one but it hardly feels worth risking a fumble for the phone.
The report cites 2 possible causes. Either the aesthetics of Sri Lankan vehicle graphics have plateaued or something in my sensibilities have blurred the need to document such things. Due to excessive drunkenness the committee was unable to reach any conclusions (the report smells of cheap vodka and vomit). Anyway, its the kind of thing young people with old fashioned interests like blogging can easily do on twitter or that Insta-whatever thing.
The Google Earth (geo-blogging) posts were driven by the need to share my love of geography. Essentially by creating a link between the stories of a particular place with its location shown in a map like view. It was clumsy time consuming process. As it got easier with maps on Flickr and shared maps on Google, I moved on.
I am happy though that at least the geo blogging has evolved beyond anything I could have pulled off. Some of the new innovations are practically essential like traffic reports. Along with stuff like road quality apps – roadroid.com has road quality maps of Jaffna – they bring sharing of the physical to the digital realm.
The pinnacle of geo-bloging in Sri Lanka though is yamu.lk. Its practically mapping Colombo’s “restaurants, bars and places” in the guise of a “city guide to Colombo”. Quite frankly I’m in awe. Here’s why in a quick example : take their post on the The Castle Hotel and compare it to my cough of a post from 2007. Yes, they are a business – but they show how a really useful geoblog post should be done. I hope they thrive. From the look of it they just might.
Annual leave at year’s end invites the decadence of contemplation. Similar to getting handcuffed in the toilet with a Dalmore 62 single malt (don’t ask). You just read the result in the tradition of “Janus posts” that is sporadically alive in this blog.
In the “Janusian” way of looking back, looking forward and where you stand, what are the living/dead traditions of YOUR blog?
Irrespective of what is past, I hope you will find sustainable happiness in new year.
Now lets take a moment (nudism optional) to BANZAI! BANZAI! BANZAI!
Just a short short post to thank everyone who has visited and commented. Wish you all a happier and safer 2013.
To add some filler to the sentiment the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 52,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals
I was meaning to write a long piece of how this is a metaphor for life in a 21st century feudal society. But why bother when the photo already has the 1000 words.
Express yourself in the comment box below.
Safe driving over the 31st night period and arrive sober to a happy new year.
Having missed the screening of Ini Avan at the EU Film Festival last month, D and I were quite pleased to see that it was being screened at Savoy. So we set aside our Sunday (23rd) to catch the 1.30 screening at Savoy, Wellawatte. Responsibly, I checked the showtimes and D and I made it to the cinema at a respectable 1.15.
The end of the year is upon us so it’s time a good time to shed some inhibitions. With this mind I thought I should unleash some nudity at the flesh starved masses of the Sri Lankan blogosphere. The prudish among you can click away though I KNOW you won’t.
The show starts with the bluest picture I have. Then we move on to more “realistic” flesh. For you unconventional types there is some colourful cleavage.
It should be apparent to even the blind that the pictures are sophomoric. They are after all the fumbling dry pastel output of an elective 2nd year drawing class. All dry pastel and dug up at my parent’s place during some annual cleaning. The only real proof of their usefulness will be a short lived upward skip in the stats.
The models available at such classes are more Lucian Freud like than from a Fendi fashion shoot. I do have a helpful post for those of looking for models who will pose without cloths for free in Colombo. They are easier to find than you think.