Nearly got arrested for this photograph


I nearly got arrested for taking the photograph in this post. Regular readers know that Cerno is about as bright as a flicking low watt bulb. Back then (somewhere in the 1990 s) I was even dimmer. Dim enough to wander around the harbour end of Colombo fort with a camera in the blaze of a weekend afternoon. Totally oblivious to something called “high security zones” Naturally it was only a matter of time before some chaps in uniform sauntered over to ask what the hell I was going.

I realised that the situation was serious because the uniforms seemed to be “supervised” by a thick set guy in civvies. He had a unmistakable military intelligence/secret service vibe. I was too naive to be scared shitless. Co-operatively I showed my ID and explained I was just practising my hobby of photography. You know, just taking photos to create “nice looking” photos.

I suppose I must have looked an odd sight with my arty long hair. Particularly to the uniformed person “interviewing” me. From the bars on his shirt it was rather obvious that he had seen action against the LTTE terrorists. My explanations of artistic pretensions must have seemed to come from an alien planet. Still he was professionally cool and asked for some contacts/references to verify my details. I promptly supplied them. A quick check confirmed that I was not an LTTE operative.

I was told I could go and politely asked not to take photographs in certain areas. Apparently I had spooked them quite badly into thinking I was a “terra”. They seemed quite bemused by the whole episode which was over in a blur of minutes. They didn’t confiscate my black and white film (life was pre digital then) or my camera. The possibility that they could have never occurred inside my thick skull. If they had bothered, they would have found a few clumsily under/over exposed photos. This photo is the least worst.

Stupa over entrance to Colombo Harbour

It shows the Jayanthi Chaitya (Buddhist stupa) on Chaitya Road near one of the entrances to Colombo harbour. Apparently its construction involved a bit of pioneering Sri lankan engineering involving thin concrete shells. I’ll lazily throw in a link to its location on Google maps in satellite mode, making this the first Google Earth post of the year.

19 comments

  1. at the time tamil tiger terrorist murderers did blow things up you know, killing and maiming ppl. so i don’t think there is any call for this patronizing contempt displayed in this post towards the security personnel ( who did save ppl that way, sometimes at cost to their own lives ) .

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    • sittingnut: I’m not sure why you think this post is patronising or hold security personal in contempt. Sorry if my looney writing style it seem so. That was certainly NOT my intention.

      The security personal I encountered were quite professional, polite, and patient in dealing with a clueless thick idiot like me. Given the installations in the area, they had every reason to locked me up, confiscated my camera or given me a yelling. They did none of those things. Just did a through yet fast background check and sent me on my way. That’s not the kind of thing some people like to hear about the military.

      Chavie: My question exactly

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    • Have read the post above or some other post? In the latter case I would like to read that one, just in case your reply is any more relevant. Please post the link.

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      • Seems a lot of your comments are ending up in the wordpress.com spam filter😦 Not sure why. I wonder if its the .io domain on your website address.

        As an experiment, could you post another comment without the web address ?

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  2. one must sacrifice security for the sake of art. even overexposed art :p

    I think i see some patronizing looks coming from that cloud over there..

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  3. Photographer, you are not.
    Lorries and busses are the best shots🙂

    Here are the “partronizing and contempt” bits that I saw.
    1. something called “high security zones
    2. the uniforms seemed to be
    3.From the bars on his shirt it was rather obvious that he had seen action against the LTTE terrorists.
    4. some chaps in uniform

    Completely agree with SNUT on this. Partronizing and contempt are correct words that describe this post.

    Tons of time today🙂

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    • I think the Kalu Sudda class just can’t help being patronising and condescending towards these things. It’s in their blood.

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  4. I think the overall tone, beginning with the first sentence, was Cerno’s own bemused dumbassedness. I didn’t see any ill will towards the forces at all, and I think that’s overly politicizing a human story

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  5. Anne: never claimed to be a photographer – I just take photographs for the fun of it. Glad you like the bus art stuff (more on the way soon).

    Indi:
    Thank you – you put it better that I could🙂 From Anne’s comment though, I can see how some people might see the tone of the post differently. Never though my post would be interpreted that way. Happy you liked the photo – the construction concept I thought was quite innovative. Certainly an evolutionary step in the tradition of stupa construction.

    kiri:😆 no😀 Anyway I wasn’t really arrested – they figured out I was just a dumb kid.

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    • Glad you like it🙂 Had I known the risk/security restrictions I’d have never gone that way with a camera. Have to admit I get the chills even when I pot on of those bus/lorry/street graphics photos. I avoid pulling out a camera anywhere near anything defence/security related..

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  6. i still think it shows “patronizing contempt” to officers, and even though i would usually believe opposite of anything indi.padashow defends through personal experience and history, if you say it was just your style , so be it.

    btw this post is wrongly attributed to lankarising blog in the so called leader newspaper ( at least in website, never buy paper version ) . lol

    typical of indi padashow’s attention to detail and ‘competence’.

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  7. I completely agree with you cerno. I don’t know why the hell we need to have all these military checkpoints and soldiers bullying us 24/7. This is our country, and we can’t even take a photograph of a building built with our money.

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    • I have to disagree with you.

      This post is NOT a complaint about checkpoints or the personal manning them. There is a valid reason for banning photography in areas where there are military/security related installations like in fort. However if you do want to take photographs in such places, you can get a permit to do so (the last time I looked) on the Ministry of Defence website.

      Another point I am trying (apparently clumsily) to make in this post is that there isn’t any “bullying” going on by soldiers. The military personal that I’ve encountered at check points have been curious and professional efficient. The same applies for those I encountered in this post.

      It IS frustrating to see a post being politicised one way and another. I see sittingnut’s point. Intentions are irrelevant when the consequences are the opposite of what was intended.

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