රෝහණ විජේවීර සහ ඔහුට ඉතිහාසයේ හිමිවිය යුතු තැන


rohana_wijeweera_1943-1989

බොහෝ දෙනෙක් රෝහණ විජේවීර දරුණු මිනීමරුවකු සහ තරුණ තරුණියන් දහස් ගණනක් අයාලේ ගෙන ගිය අපතයකු පමණක් බව ඔහුගේ පෙන්වන්නට මේ දිනවල ලොකු උත්සාහයක් ගනු පෙනෙන්නට තිබේ. (කුමක් හෝ හේතුවකට මෙයට වැඩියෙන්ම දායක වන්නේ විශ්‍රාම ගිය ජවිපෙ සාමාජිකත්වය සහ වැලේ වැල් නැති වාමාංශිකයන් වීම විශේෂයකි. අනෙක් අතට බලද්දී විජේවීරගේ අඩුපාඩු දකින්නට හැකි හොඳම අය ඔවුන් විය හැකිය.) වීජේවීරට ආයුධ සන්නද්ධ විප්ලවයක් කරන්නට (දෙවරක්ම) සිදුවුණේ පවතින තත්ත්වය යටතේ තිබුණ එකම සහ දුෂ්කරම මාර්ගය එය වූ නිසාය. ජරාජීර්ණ වූ පක්ෂ දේශපාලනය තුළින් තට්ටු මාරු ක්‍රමයට වලව්වේ හාමුලා සහ මැණිකෙලා තොග ගණනින් පත් කරගත් මෝඩ ජනතාවගේ ඡන්ද බලය ගැන කසිම විශ්වාසයක් විජේවීරට නොමැති වීම අහම්බයක් නොවේ. (අප කොතරම් පිළිගන්නට අකමැති වුවත් වේලුපිල්ලේ ප්‍රභාකරන්ට ගන්න තිබුණෙත් මේ මාර්ගයම පමණය. ඔහුගේ වැරැද්ද පීඩකයන්ට එරෙහිව සියලුම ජාතීන්ගේ සහය ලබාගන්නවා වෙනුවට දිගින් දිගටම පීඩනයට පත්වුණ සිංහල, මුස්ලිම් ජාතීන් මෙන්ම ඔවුන් විමුක්තිය උදාකර දෙනවායයි කියූ දෙමළ ජනතාවටත් එරෙහිව කළ අරගලයක් නිසාය.)

කෙසේ වුවත් අද අපි විජේවීර ගැන පමණක් කථා කරමු. ඔහු පරමාදර්ශී ආකර්ෂණීය නායකයකු නොවන බවත් ඉරිසියාකාර, කට ගඳ ගහන නායකයකු බවත් කිහිප තැනකම සඳහන් වී තිබිණ. මම 71 කැරැල්ලට පසු ඉපදුන කෙනෙක් නිසා ඒ ගැන දන්නේ පොත පත ඇසුරින් කියවූ දේවල් පමණය. 88-89 කැරැල්ල කාලයේදී සාමාන්‍ය පෙළ සිසුවකු වූ මට විජේවීර ආකර්ෂණීය නායකයකු සහ ඔහුගේ ව්‍යාපාරය බලාපොරොත්තු තබාගත හැකි යමක් ලෙස පෙනුණි. එහෙත් එයට සෘජුව සම්බන්ධ නොවීමට එකම හේතුව වූයේ සමාජවාදියකු වුවත් ඉතාම දැඩි මානව හිතවාදියකු වූ මගේ පියා අවිහිංසාවාදය ගැන මට කියාදුන් කරුණු නිසාය. මට තුවක්කුවක් නොගැලපෙන බවද මට හොඳින් වැටහෙන්නේ දැන්ය.

අද පරම්පරාව සහ ඔහුගේ සමකාලීනයන් විජේවීර අපතයකු ලෙස දකින්නේ ඔහුට දෙවරම විප්ලවය සාර්ථක කර ගැනීමට නොහැකි වූවා පමණක් නොව අමානුෂික ලෙස ඝාතනය වීමටද සිදුවූ නිසාය. ඉතිහාසය ලියන්නේ ජයග්‍රාහකයන්ය. චේට, ෆිදෙල්ට, ලෙනින්ට, මාවෝට ඉතිහාසයේ වීරාඛ්‍යානයන් බවට පත් වන්නට හැකියාව ලැබුණේ ඔවුන් ජයග්‍රාහකයන් වූ නිසාය. මේ බොහෝ දෙනකු, සුරා සොඬන්, ස්ත්‍රී දූර්ථයන්, ඝාතකයන්, සල්ලාලයන් (තේරෙන භාෂාවෙන් කියනවානම් බේබද්දන්, බඩු කාරයන්, මිනීමරුවන්, පාදඩයන්) බව අද කවුරුත් කියන්නේ නැත. විජේවීර දත් මදිද්දීත් කට ගඳ ගැසූ අතර මාවෝ ජීවිතේට දත් නොමැදීම නිසා කට ගඳ ගැසුවත් මවෝගේ කට ගඳ කාටවත් ප්‍රශ්නයක් නොවේ.

විජේවීරට වැරදුන් තැන් බොහෝය. සමහරවිට ඔහුට හරි ගියානම් සහ විප්ලවීය ශ්‍රී ලංකා ජනරජයේ යාවජීව නායකයා වුවා නම් අද ඔහුගේ කතාව පෙර සඳහන් කළ වීරාඛ්‍යානයන්ගේ අතර රන් අකුරෙන් ලියවීමට හෝ විජේවීරගෙන් පසු ඔහුගේ බිරිඳගේ සහ දුවරුන්ගේත් පුතුන්ගේත් පාලනයකට (උතුරු කොරියාවේ මෙන්) රාෂ්ට්‍ර පාලනය බාරදී විජේවීර අද විමල් වීරවංශ මෙන් පීචං චරිතයක් වීමටද ඉඩ තිබිණි.

රෝහණ විජේවීර.jpg

විජේවීරගේ ප්‍රබලතා මෙන්ම දුබලතා ගැන ඕනෑ තරම් මට වඩා සුදුසුකම් ඇති අයගෙන් ලියවී ඇත. මම දේශපාලන බ්ලොග්කරුවකු නොවෙමි. මට හිතෙන දේ මේ අයුරින් අකුරු කළේ ඔහුට මට හැකි පමණින් යම් තරමක හෝ සාධාරණයක් ඉටු කිරීමටය. ඔහු අනිත් අයට කලින් අවදිවීම හුදු අහම්බයක් පමණක් නොවන බවට ඔබට මතක් කර දීමටය.

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Castro

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v-i-lenin

MAS Holdings, My Favorite Sri Lankan Company


mas-holdings-logo.jpgI fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. This is about the second company I admire a lot and recommend for other young people to work at. (This is not a paid advertisement but I write this on my own free will.) I am listing the three companies only in chronological order of me meeting with them, not according the order of my preferences.

Read about my other preference at this link.

  1. MAS Holdings www.masholdings.com

Slimline is one of the garment factories owned by the prestigious MAS Holdings chain of garments. I am here talking about Slimline as I have experiences working only  at that factory but my comments here are common to all subsidies of the MAS flag I guess. They have more or less the same management style and working conditions for the machine operators and the admin staff.

I had never heard of MAS Holdings till I got a message from Mr. and Mrs. Gaminitillake (first benefactors of Horizon Lanka) saying that a gentleman by the name of Dian Gomes was willing to extend some help to Horizon Lanka by donating some computers and also offer me a job after reading a short article I wrote to Horizon Newsletter! I never knew my writing ever had such an impact.

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Dian Gomes

I was taken from Colombo to Slimline, MAS Holdings’ flagship garment factory that produced world class lingerie such as high end brands like Victoria’s Secret, by the Assistant Manager of HR & Admin at Slimline, Sanjeewa Jayathilaka. We drove there by his car. We had a nice chat on the way to the factory that covered 70 km and Sanjeewa told me a lot about Slimline and Dian, the CEO of Slimline. So, I was highly taken up by the stories he told me and was looking forward to see Slimline and meet that amazing gentleman called Dian Gomes.

Sanjeewa took me to Slimline and then I was asked to be seated till the scheduled interview would take place. I was asked to sit till the interview took place and some might-be-colleagues of mine from the staff shared smiles with me and we had a talk. Then, a staff member named Menik took me on the trip around the factory.

Oh my! I was embarrassed big time,  when she took me to the factory floor,  where the young girls were making panties and bras in the thousands! Lingerie was everywhere and Menik was showing them to me  and  sharing ‘ small talk’ with the sewing girls. ( I was not in love with a girl except for the school  days  crush, which  did not take me that far during my teen years). I knew almost nothing about ladies undies. As Menik was showing me different brands, styles, etc., of lingerie,  I was hoping the ground would open up  an swallow me, as I was so embarrassed of this grand display of female intimate garments which I knew nothing about.
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MAS lingerie

Menik also introduced me to the top level management of Slimline and most of them had sexy panties on their tables but by that time I was quite comfy with, well, panties (and bras.) She explained me that those lingerie were the Slimline’s main exports and there was nothing wrong in workforce being intimate with those intimate wear. (But I was still not fully comfortable with them, well, till I met my sweet little girlfriend in 2002. I bought her a good collection of MAS sexy lingerie only from the employees’ annual sales at the factory.)

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Dian Gomes

I was briefly interviewed by the HR manager who asked me to join Slimline immediately. I was still to meet Dian though. Then a very energetic man with pleasant broad smile came into the HR department and it was Dian. He asked me when I could start working for him. Then I told him that I was to go to the USA for a short visit and would have to wait till that trip was over. Then Dian said “මචං උඹට කැමති වෙලාවක වරෙන්.” (You may come when you want buddy.) I was pleasantly surprised when my boss-to-be called me මචං (a friendly Sri Lankan term that is similar to “buddy”) because prior to this, the only private sector establishment I had worked for was Asiri Hospitals, Colombo. We were treated quite poorly there, there during 1993-1995 period. It was pure feudal system management that was in place at Asiri and the employees were treated as garbage. I will state three examples where the employees were treated like rubbish by the management there.

  1. Once a female nurse had been slapped in the face by a consultant physician for her forgetting to add one of his visits in the bill. I heard there had been a protest and the management took the doctor’s side and the nurse was not given a fair deal.
  2. We worked full time during the worse part of 1993 parliamentary and presidential elections which were marred by terrorism and political violence which resulted in long lasting curfews. But we volunteered to work long hours as we wanted to give the nurses (who traveled  from long distances to have enough time),  to go  cast their votes. Since we could not go outside of the premises due to the curfews we were given food from the hospital kitchen. The food was so bad it was nearly inedible. Some nurses had complained the relevant authority who imparted the message to the top lady who oversaw the operation and her answer had been, reliably, “ගම්වල කරවල කටු කන එවුන්ට මේ කෑම හොඳ වැඩියි.” (For those nurses who eat dry fish bones in their villages, our food is too good.)
  3. A consultant surgeon had fondled a pretty nurse’s breasts in his consulting room and the nurse had cried and complained to her superior who reported the incident to the same top lady and you would  be surprised with her answer. “ඉතින් ඕක ටිකක් ඇල්ලුවා කියලා ගෙවෙනෙවයැ!” (A little feel of the  breasts does not wear it off ?) Imagine this coming from another lady!!!!!

Still there was nothing the staff could do. Once I lead a protest of my colleagues, when their one month’s salary was deducted for not being present to sing Christmas carols during our vacation. We all went home but the crazy nursing trainer lady had ordered us to come for the carols. She got the management to deprive us of our salary for a month for this sin of not being present to sing Christmas carols which was not in our religious beliefs. When I met the then Managing Director of the Asiri Hospitals with a colleague of mine to negotiate a settlement of our due pay, he said the salary was deducted as a punishment. I asked him if the punishment for such a simple thing were too much. Then he said, “It is me who decide if the punishment were too big or not, not you.” And the management was to get rid of me giving the whole batch a special and extraordinary test the nursing trainer was to hold (with the pure intention of failing me to fire me from the job which backfired to herself and at the end; all her bad schemes were revealed by the management and it was she who was fired and not allowed to enter Asiri premises to date. I did not do anything to that effect; it is only repercussions of bad intentions that landed her in that situation. Our deducted salary also was given.

In addition to all these, we were called by surnames and had to call each other by surnames. Just imagine calling your girlfriend by surname even within working hours!!!  How about that?

(It is said that the working conditioned were changed when a young doctor called Manjula Karunaratne took over Asiri Hospitals as the CEO and now it is a pretty good place to work.)

So, with all these negative experiences in the private sector, I was in the seventh heaven when my boss called me a buddy at Slimline. I joined MAS after my trip to the USA and I felt very comfortable in the establishment from the very first day. I was given a separate PC, unlimited access to the Internet, air-conditioned working space, free food and snacks, free access to gymnasium and ample opportunities to use the sporting field for team sports like cricket, free accommodation with a cook in a spacious house with few of my colleagues, free transport, and company paid medical insurance, ample opportunities to partying at staff houses. We were given company paid training whenever we wanted them. My public speaking abilities were sharpened by one such training that the MAS sponsored me at the British Council, Colombo. I am indebted to MAS just for that more than anything else. I had been a very shy guy till I completed that great training program. My colleagues who went to the training with me were from elite schools in Colombo and Kandy and I was the only one from a not-so-famous school in Anuradhapura. After the final round of speeches we made, the trainer came to me and said my speech was the best of all. I was over the moon, not for being the best but for being able to getting rid my fear of public speaking.

We were paid a very decent salary. Working conditions were awesome. I was once asked by a colleague of mine what I liked most about MAS. My single-worded answer was “freedom.”

If I had chosen to stay with MAS, I am sure I would have easily become a top manager by now, but I chose to leave the establishment in 2002 to commit full time for my own organization, Horizon Lanka Foundation.

Slimline was situated in a very traditional village called Pannala in the outskirts of Kurunegala. But once you enter inside the factory, you feel like you are in an American state. People there were open minded and you could tell anything to anyone in the face than beating around the bush. They won’t have long faces for being cut and dry and they took the comments with a smile and changed themselves to the better. In addition to that, you’ve got five star facilities, American style management and, of course, American standard bathrooms that were super clean at any given time at the establishment.

Dian himself would pick up any litter himself if it were found anywhere inside the factory (which was extremely rare to find.) Once your boss himself does it with such humbleness, none of the coworkers need to be told to do that by the boss. Dian did it giving example and everybody got the message.

Dian also had this habit of getting mad (or pretending to be so) and shouting at his top management team on top of his voice, sometimes. I must have been the only one who was not being told off by him. I don’t know why though. I wasn’t a very good staff member as as my heart was in my village than in Slimline, something which Dian understood quite all right and made allowance for  that as much as he could. His own school alumni got earful but not me.

There was of course professional jealousy, slandering against the coworkers to the superiors to get more benefits or attention that were available just like at any other organizations. Yet for all that, especially when someone had a personal (or even official) challenge, everyone would come as a team and extend their generous help. I can remember how the coworkers and the management contributed when someone was terminally ill or was to go for a life threatening surgery. Everyone would chip in and offer help and you feel as if the company is more than your family.

I fell ill once with an acute fever and when I told my manager that I would love to go home for treatment, the manager asked me “Are you crazy Nanda? We will look after you.” And he immediately sent me to Asiri Hospitals, Colombo (the same private hospital I loved to hate for its appalling working conditions due to my bad experiences as an employee there seven years ago.) MAS paid all my bills and gave me access to the country’s best medical practitioners. My former colleagues at Asiri were highly taken up with the manner I was taken care of by MAS and I too did not expect even in my wildest dreams, that I would be able to enjoy the luxuries of a patient in this hospital would get. It was simply unaffordable for me to be treated here if I had to pay the bills myself.

Stories are too many to share about MAS. So, I would just take your attention as to what (or who rather) made Slimline a pleasant place to work. It was none other than Dian Gomes, a corporate giant who was voted many a time as Sri Lanka’s best CEO. He had a very simple way of managing this huge organization. It was merely just being friendly and let the workforce unleash their energy. Nobody was angry with the company like in the other places of work. Everybody knew honestly they would be taken care of. Everybody knew that the company would not dump them after taking the best out of them. Dian was a colleague, friend, brother, father and the Savior when you were in need. Dian did not worry much about the amount of monies spent on employees’ welfare as long as the workforce is productive and the company is meeting its targets. In most of the other garment factories, the sewing machine operator girls were treated like litter. But at Slimline, it was a different story. The staff was to call them with respect by their first name preceded by Miss, not the other way round like in most of the other places. We went to their department and distributed their salary with a lot of love and respect which they also appreciated a lot (till the salaries were transferred to their bank accounts due to fear of the salary truck being robbed by some goons. Then again, Slimline installed an ATM machine inside the company premises for the ease of the staff.)

The machine operators did not have a trade union that opposed every move of the company. Instead, they had this Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) where Dian himself was a fatherly figure rather than a corporate representative. The workforce never had to fight for a cause. The only thing they had to do was just increasing productivity. Dian would get the message and would come back to the next JCC with some more benefits that the girls didn’t fancy. Even the firebrand Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP,) the main Marxist party in Sri Lanka found no way to infiltrate Slimline for trade union actions. Why? Because Dian himself was Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro at Slimline. So, fake Che’s had no place, well, not at Slimline.

Dian retired from Slimline at the relatively young age of 55 and Suren Fernando, the former Financial Controller of the organization took up the reins as the new CEO. I am sure he would exercise all his knowledge and experiences in cutting costs in the establishment but with the Slimline culture I know, the company would spend what it takes to keep performing. Not even a hardcore financial controller like Suren would be able to resist that. Good luck Suren! You are going to need a lot of that.

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Dian at MAS Holdings Farewell Ceremony

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Sampath Bank, My Favorite Sri Lankan Company


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I fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. I fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. This is about the second company I admire a lot and recommend for other young people to work at. (This is not a paid advertisement but I write this on my own free will.) I am listing the three companies only in chronological order of me meeting with them, not according the order of my preferences.
Sampath Bank www.sampath.lk
Sampath Bank was launched in 1980’s with a creative print media, radio and television promotional campaign. The English name of the bank was “Investment and Credit Bank” and the Sinhala name was simply සම්පත් බැංකුව. It soon replaced the English name as Sampath Bank also as it caught the attention of both Sinhalese majority and the English speaking minorities as it sounded closer to them than the English name. It was one of the pioneer private banks in Sri Lanka and won the hearts of millions of customers mainly due to its then luxurious facilities such as air-conditioned premises, modern technologies such as ATM cards, pleasant customer service and of course, the sweet smiling girls in the front office. They did not let let customers waste time in long cues like in the state banks that made billions of rupees but treated their customers like animals. (They still do.) But Sampath Bank was exemplary and even to date, it is the only bank in Sri Lanka that displays the date on the wall so that the customers do not have to waste time looking for the date. None of the other state or private banks is interested in providing this basic service that costs them peanuts.
I started my first ever bank account with Sampath Bank and still continue it as my main bank account. I haven’t been able to obtain any loans from them as I have not been able to save much money and continue a regular job. They also cancelled my current account. Moreover, they revoke my credit card too when I was broke. None of these happened due to their fault. I had a bad time with finances for a decade and the bank had to revoke the extra facilities extended to me due to its rules and regulations. Still they never discontinued my savings account even it did not have a single rupee for long duration of times.
I discontinued my accounts with shitty banks like Rural Bank, Seylan Bank, Hatton National Bank and Standard Charted. I have extra accounts with HSBC and Bank of Ceylon. But will close down the account with Bank of Ceylon due to its inhuman treatment to the customers (and specially to me.) Folks, never bank with BOC. They are worried only about your pocket and never in you.

Tracking Down My (Possible) Ancestry in Kalinga, India by a Motorbike


 

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Isn’t it ironic that within 24 hours of me deciding to travel in Kalinga (present day Odissa) extensively for a month on a motorbike in November this year that this article http://scroll.in/article/814562/are-the-sinhalese-people-descendants-of-bengali-and-odiya-sea-merchants appeared out of the blue? I have a great friend from Kalinga and he will find me a bike for my tour. He is Prakash Nayak and the only reason for me to be a friends with   him , was that we both share similar surnames. Me, Wanni Nayaka and him, Praksh Nayak. He says there are a lot of Nayakas in Kalinga.

I am not a historian nor  a social anthropologist. But ever since I heard this story of us, the Sinhalese, are descendants of a lion and a princess (see more here http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/princess-vanga-sinhabahu/), I was both intrigued and ashamed (to find we are also descendants of incestuous sex between a brother and sister (Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali) to dig into this within my limited capacity. I won’t be able to compose a scholarly work after my travel but at least I will chronicle what I see and hear on a daily updating my blog throughout the tour. This will be my fourth trip to India.

I don’t look for luxuries during my trip as I can digest anything edible and sleep even under a tree for that matter. I am quite used to rough roads as I keep riding my bike almost anywhere in Sri Lanka without much hassle. So, hardships will not dampen my spirits at all. Traveling with Meer Ali from India throughout Sri Lanka for 5 consecutive days was fun and hope I can find someone like that who can also sing Bollywood songs with me. Well, since I was an 11 year old boy, I could sing more than 500 Hindi songs. So I would love to add some more to the list.

Back to the incest story, the legend is that no royal family in Sinhapur, Kalinga was happy to let their daughter or son to marry a lion’s son or the daughter and the only option the lion’s son and daughter had was to marry each other and produce a notorious prince called Wijaya who had to end up in Sri Lanka and my friends, the rest, is both history and legend. (The more sensible take in this lion’s story would be to take the lion as a leader of a lion tribe or a very strong and powerful and unruly man I guess.)

I will not have the luxury of taking a high quality still or video camera for this tour and would appreciate if someone can lend me one. If something happens to it, I will buy a brand new one of the same make and model. Since I have to pay for airfare and other sundry expenses, the last thing I can afford is a professional camera.

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INHUMAN RAGGING IN SRI LANKAN UNIVERSITIES AND HIGHSCHOOLS


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Ragging in Sri Lanka

I think most of Sri Lankans are already aware of inhuman ragging in Sri Lankan universities (Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragging_in_Sri_Lanka) that has caused several deaths, lifelong injuries and both physical and mental trauma to the freshers. The most recent heinous act where a bunch of male and female students in the University of Kelaniya forced a new female student to remove her jeans saying that it does not suit to freshers and the girl in turn refused it blatantly and made a complaint in the police and the alleged raggers were remanded could be just the tip of the iceberg. Ragging should have been nipped in the bud but authorities turned a blind eye at the beginning and ragging went out of control.

In some universities or faculties ragging has been replaced with just socialization with fun activities but where there is strong Inter University Students’ Federation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter_University_Students%27_Federation influence ragging is going berserk causing the new students severe traumas. (ISUSF is allegedly controlled by Frontline Socialist Party. Formerly Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna -JVP did the same but they lost control of the ISUSF as a result of the party split into two due to inernal clashes.)

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Ragging with Fun

Due to inhuman ragging in universities, a significant number of students do not enter universities despite university entrance exam being highly competitive affair and only a small percentage of students get the opportunity to enter a state university. They either give up higher education totally or attend private higher educational institutes by paying huge sum of monies at a time they can get a better free education (with a bursary also) in state universities. (According to University Grants Commission statistics, just 17% of qualified Advanced Level test takers found places at state universities in 2009/10 (and just 10.5 percent of all test-takers.)

According to a colleague of mine and my ex-girlfriend, the humiliation they were subjected to that was “worse than death” was being forced to perform sodomy and lesbian sex totally naked with at least once fresher of the same sex at least once (in front of 100s of seniors and freshers) just to “educate” the freshers such relationships exist in hostels and the freshers have to accept such behavior. If they themselves do not find gay sex as their cup of tea, they should not at least disturb others who find so. How about that huh? Any seniors???

Due to some unfortunate circumstances I could not sit for my Advanced Level in the stipulated year (1991) and had to sit for it in 1998 exactly after 10 years after sitting for Ordinary Level (1988) in a totally different stream (Arts) than what I studied for (Bio Science) without much assistance from others. I was already an English teacher when I did so and all I prayed was, “Please do not pass me to be selected to university. Give me a result where I can pass the exam but not too many mars to be selected university, just because of these horrific ragging.” I knew I will be targeted for who I am. Luckily I got ‘yes’ marks and not enough marks to be selected to a university. Thank God.

I love to learn in a university even at this late stage of my life but never in a Sri Lankan state university. I will invite troubles there. I will somehow save and study in an American university even at the age of 50 (in 6 years time.)

Ragging prevails even at high school level in Sri Lankan public schools. I entered Central College, Anuradhapura in 1990 to do my Advanced Level (university entrance exam) and was ragged severely inside a boys’ toilet for just “being tall.” The excuse given by senior students was that “if we did not rag you like this to a tall guy like you, you will become a dickhead in the school.” (උඹට මෙහෙම රැග් නොකළොත් උඹලා මේකේ කැරියෝ වෙනවා.)

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Motorcycle Journeys – From Anuradhapura to Padaviya


Nanda Wanninayaka with Gamini Akmeemana

Nanda Wanninayaka with Gamini Akmeemana

I am a motorbike lover. I like to ride long distances. The longest distance I have ridden is from Mahawilachchiya to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Colombo. I have ridden between Colombo and Mahawilachchiya many a time. Road is very good via Puttalam and it is fun to speed up along the road. The other long trip I made was to Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee with my nephew and it was unforgettable because we were drenched in the torrential rain on our way back. Most exciting tour was the one I went to Talawakele from Badulla with my newly married wife in 2006. My most recent long trip was to Padavi – Sri Pura from Anuradhapura for a meeting. I often ride to Kanagarayankulam in Vavunia too. The bike trip I went to Welioya with the journalist Gamini AKmeemana was memorable because he rode a very old Honda CB 200 (6 Sri 7517) and I rode a brand new Bajaj Pulsar 180 and still Gamini was way ahead of me with his old machine. I think more than the bike model, he knows right techniques in bike riding. That night we stayed in a hut in a small farm just below the Padaviya wewa with a farmer friend of Gamini. That was in 2005. It was fun riding with Gamini but I never got a second chance with him.

Charlie Wilson’s War – Movie


Charlie Wilson's War Poster

Charlie Wilson’s War Poster

Charlie Wilson’s War – Movie

I watched Charlie Wilson’s War several times and would certainly watch it again due to its historical importance and cinematic success. This is an American comedy-drama film, based on the story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, whose efforts led to Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahedeen during the Soviet–Afghan War. For some reason, (maybe due to the title of the movie) the film did not get expected attention though it was a critical and financial success. Had it been named something to do with Afghan-Soviet war, this would have left deeper memories in the world cinema. At a time when films that had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden were called “Osama,” this movie deserved something related to Afghan war. Charlie Wilson is unknown to many except US political circles I guess.

Charlie Wilson’s War is Mike Nichols’ final movie direction and it was written by Aaron Sorkin. He adapted the movie from George Crile III‘s book Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History which was released in 2003.

My favorite Hollywood actor Tom Hanks plays the title role while Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman play the other two main roles. The movie was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, including “Best Motion Picture”, but did not win in any category. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. My favorite character in this movie is Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman,) the maverick CIA officer.  His role is so unassuming and natural that you will feel he is apparently not acting but living the character. Julia Roberts is as good as in any of her previous roles.

This movie clearly states that how a lesser known unimportant bigot like Senator Charlie Wilson can move a whole government, with the support of his paramour, the influential socialite Mrs. Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts). against an enemy thousands of miles away with using influence and connections to define the fate of an entire region by killing thousands and leaving millions of people in destitution and making an entire region a never-ending battle field.

The inveterate drinker and irresponsible womanizer Senator Wilson, with the help of the CIA officer Avrakotos, and with the influence of Mrs. Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) convert the budget of a measly $5 million USD to a double of that amount. The CIA’s anticommunism budget evolves from $5 million to over $500 million later (with the same amount matched by Saudi Arabia) for covert operations against the legitimate Afghan government and their northern allies, the Soviet Union who enters Afghanistan on the request of the Afghan President Najibullah Khan. The way it is done, if the story is true to the true events in the history, tells a lot about how light the world’s fate is taken by the vile people of American politics.

Mujahedeen rebels of Afghanistan wage a guerrilla war against Najibullah Khan’s legitimate Afghan government and when things get worse, Khan invites the Soviet forces to depend Afghanistan from the rebels.  By this time the USA’s covert operation is of a small budget. When the war worsens millions of Afghan refugees cross the Afghan-Pakistani border and enter Pakistan. General Zia-ul-Haq is forced to spring into action and he turns to the US help according to a manipulated plan by Senator Charlie Wilson. This makes the bloody Zia who was in the bad books of the US government for hanging the then legitimately elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in an unfair trial and declared Pakistan a military state to an American ally. Zia visits America and gets the funding to train Afghan and Pakistani youth as mujahedeen fighters to fight Afghan and Soviet forces. Zia makes use of this opportunity to show the Pakistani people that he is pro-Islamist and uses religion to claim the popular support him. This is the major turning point of secular Pakistan to become an extremist one. As anywhere in the world, people are fooled and Pakistan loses its way to development and gets entangled in a quagmire of a religious extremism something which it has not been able to come out of to date. Pakistan’s defense budget is increased by manifold and in addition to its traditional enemy India; it has to fight an unnecessary enemy too. The mujahideens who were indoctrinated, funded and trained by US-Pakistani coalition started waging their war against Pakistan government (and that of Afghanistan) in the form of Taliban and you know the rest.

Anyway, the money pumped to Afghan operations ends up with leaving powerful Stinger missiles on the hands of bloody mujahideens who fire them at Soviet MI 24 gunships and make the Red Army abandon Afghanistan unceremoniously without accomplishing the mission. This is a major victory of America’s Cold War against the Soviet Union. With the US help, America is able to create “a Vietnam for the Soviet Union” and making Ronald Reagan, the then US president a happy man.

I can remember this series of events as a schoolboy as I remember how the Soviet Union entered Afghanistan and the war started thanks to CNN news on local TV, Rupavahini telecast the world events for few minutes every night during their newscasts.

At the end, the movie comes to a universal truth. The parties who engaged in the war by supplying millions of dollars hesitate to fund for education and development. Charlie Wilson also understands the unhappy truth. However, his pride is damaged by his reasonable fears of what unintended consequences that his clandestine efforts could result in the implications of US disengagement from Afghanistan. Wilson follows Gust’s guidance to seek support for post-Soviet occupation Afghanistan but finds almost no enthusiasm in the US government for even the modest measures he proposes. This is common to many other battlefields the USA got involved in from Vietnam to Syria I guess.

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P.S. There are a number of interesting dialogs in the movie and I prefer these two of all of them.

Dialog 01.

Larry Liddle: Miss?

Charlie’s Angel #1: Yes sir?

Larry Liddle: It seems to me lookin’ around, that it’s almost all women workin’ here; and that they’re all very pretty. Is that common?

Charlie’s Angel #1: Well… Congressman Wilson, he has an expression. He says uhh, “You can teach ’em to type, but you can’t teach ’em to grow tits.”

Larry Liddle: Well, that’s… charming.

 

Dialog 02.

Charlie Wilson: You’re no James Bond.

Gust Avrakotos: You’re no Thomas Jefferson, either. Let’s call it even.

To read the rest of the dialogs, please click this linkhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472062/quotes.

 

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Handout of actors Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in a scene from the film "Charlie Wilson's War"

Actors Tom Hanks (L) and Julia Roberts are shown in a scene from the film “Charlie Wilson’s War” in this undated publicity photograph. “Charlie Wilson’s War” received a total of five Golden Globe nominations, the second most for any film including best musical or comedy film, as nominations were announced in Beverly Hills, California December 13, 2007. The Golden Globe Awards, which were presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, will be held in Beverly Hills January 13, 2008. REUTERS/Universal Pictures/Handout (UNITED STATES). EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES.

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Kernel PST Password Recovery – Free Outlook Password Recovery


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We have all faced this problem at least once in our lives, well, if we have used Microsoft Outlook – the best MS Office tool I have come across. We forget the password we used when exporting Microsoft Outlook mail file to a .pst file. If you forget your password for MS Outlook mail file, (.pst) just download Kernel PST Password Recovery http://www.nucleustechnologies.com/outlook-password-recovery.html, it is free and it works. Well it worked for me. There are other recovery tools but they ask for money. So, good luck if you want to use this.

 

Love in the Time of Cholera (film)


Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera

It was one of my good friends that advised me to watch this movie “Love in the Time of Cholera”, when I was speaking to him about the girl that I loved the most in my life, which did not have a happy ending. In fact this film is a treat to watch, if you take the movie in that respect, the love lost. If not for Florentino Ariza, who else will wait for 51 years, 9 months and 4 days – well, while having dalliances with over 600 women in between – to meet the one he loved most as a teenager? Florentino Ariza does and wins the coveted prize, his dream girl, now a 70-year-old widow with few kids.

You won’t understand these sentiments, unless you read the novel of the same name by the late Gabriel García Márquez (which the movie was based on) or at least watch the movie. I am yet to read the book, but since I watched the movie first, I would write about it here first.

The movie was directed by Mike Newell and produced by Scott Steindorff. The three main characters in the movie are Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) and her two suitors, Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem) and Doctor Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt.) It is said that the producer spent over three years wooing Gabriel García Márquez for the rights to the book telling him that he was Florentino and would not give up until he got the rights. (Well, I would have done the same or more, if I were the producers as the story is that important & relative to me.)

The love triangle between the trio spans for 50 years. Florentino misses his sweetheart but is determined to make amends by making himself a rich and popular poet (who also writes love letters for other lovers who cannot write or are not articulate enough to impress their partners.) Wealth and fame bring him more female admirers than a rock star of today. And, to evade the pain of the love lost – I do not know this was the right reason – he keeps having affairs with all the attractive women who come his way. (Well, it is said that Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal as a ‘monument for love’ for his beloved deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal, is supposed to have done heinous acts before and after the death of her?)

I do not waste time on the plot as Wikipedia has a better version of it and one could simply go through this. [But I suggest that you wait to read the last paragraph after the plot.]

“In late 19th century Cartagena, a river port in Colombia, Florentino Ariza falls in love at first sight with Fermina Daza. They secretly correspond, and she eventually agrees to marry him, but her father discovers their relationship and sends her to stay with distant relatives (mainly her grandmother and niece). When she returns some years later, Fermina agrees to marry Dr. Juvenal Urbino, her father’s choice. Their 50-year marriage is outwardly loving but inwardly marred by darker emotions. Fermina’s marriage devastates Florentino, who vows to remain a virgin, but his self-denial is thwarted by a tryst.

To help him get over Fermina, his mother introduces a willing widow to him, he discovers that sex is a very good pain reliever, one he uses to replace the opium that he had habitually smoked. He begins to record and describe each of his sexual encounters, beginning with the widow, and eventually compiles over 600 entries.

A lowly clerk, he plods resolutely over many years to approach the wealth and social standing of Dr. Urbino. When the now-elderly doctor dies suddenly, Florentino immediately and impertinently resumes courting Fermina.” – Wikipedia

I am not ashamed of saying this. But I too will wait the next 50 years or more, to meet my love again should she come back to me at any time in the future, even with 10 children. (But in the meantime, I am not indulging in any carnal exploits). Love is such a strong sentiment that one can sacrifice anything, unfortunately, when it matters most, you do not know “how to sell a contradiction” as Culture Club sings in “Karma Chameleon” with your ego and what not? When you realize what you lose, it is already too late. But for me, being in love with her again is never too late.

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Losing My Virginity – Richard Branson


Losing My Virginity

Losing My Virginity

I had the pleasure of reading Richard Branson’s autobiography,  Losing My Virginity last year. It is a thick book but you won’t feel like keeping it aside even for a cup of tea or a meal as the book is written in such a way that uninterrupted reading is needed. I had already heard about this genius of a businessman who fights an unending battle of dyslexia yet, despite all that, there are 400 odd companies to his credit. He starts business by publishing a magazine called “Student” while a teenager but fails to sell it to another party and the magazine dies a natural death. Then he starts a mail order record business. Later he names the business Virgin Records and expands the business to other continents as well.

Like most of the other entrepreneurs, Branson also is a man of many a facet. He has a queer childhood dealing with dyslexia as a student, has several affairs with women, lives a pretty good family life and, more than anything else, he is a great risk-taker. He travels around the world in a balloon with a professional and meets near-death experiences and still has a passion for more adventure at his old age. He has his own peculiar type of marketing campaigns for his new ventures that take the audience by storm.

He never is disturbed by failure throughout his career as a businessman. He takes risks. Who else will start a venture like Virgin Galactic at a time NASA manages almost all their space programs with the government money? Branson is not disturbed by the failure of the first flight to take a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Branson becomes brutally honest about his relationships, unethical business deals in the first part of his career, etc. He reveals them all in a way no other person of his caliber will be comfortable with at all.

In the introduction of the book, Branson tells us that “Losing My Virginity” is Volume One of his autobiography, which takes him up to his early 40s. So, let’s hope that we would be able to read a sequel at least after his retirement, if he ever retires for that matter. It was rumored in October 2010 “Variety” magazine that Losing My Virginity was being adapted into a biopic by David Mirkin, who would write, direct and co-produce the film with Steven Paul. But there is no information available as far as I know about the status of that project.

Branson published this book, “Losing My Virginity” in 1998. With the success of this, he later published some other books including Screw It, Let’s Do It (2006), Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur (2008), Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen and Blasting Into Space (2010), Screw Business as Usual (2011), Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School (2013) and The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead (2014). Branson published an updated edition of Losing My Virginity in 2005. He tells us his views on 9/11 and how it affected his business, especially his airline Virgin Atlantic.