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.
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.)
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.)
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
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.
P.S. There are a number of interesting dialogs in the movie and I prefer these two of all of them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mandela’s way is an inspiring book written by Richard Stengel with a forward by Nelson Mandela himself. This book explains 15 important life lessons of Mandela.
After Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela was the ideal leader, inspiration and the role model the world witnessed. One cannot expect such an exemplary figure to live in this century. He was almost a saint towards the latter part of his life though he had a rebellious youth. From a man who was made to suffer in a small cell in a prison, away from his loved ones, the last thing one can expect is a forgiving character to leave that prison cell. But he shelved his hatred in the prison cell when he left it at his ripe old age to free his people and stun the world. Such a long prison sentence did not make him a vindictive character.
The editor of Time magazine, Richard Stengel, has dug into Mandela’s life to unearth 15 valuable life lessons out of the latter’s life. The author was also with Mandela when the latter was writing his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom” and traveled extensively with him for three years. This was the time Mandela aligned South Africa towards its first democratic election which brought him into the presidency, and, for which he did not look forward to a second term at a time he was the most popular candidate for the job. The humility of this great soul did not allow him to be greedy for such a high position as he decided that his duty was only to take his country out of apartheid to a democracy. This is one of the main reasons why people all over the world idolize him as an all-time great.
For Stengel, Mandela was the relentless person who knew how to sell a contradiction and come to a compromise when he had got the upper hand in many a moment after becoming a world hero. But he was so humble that he thought of the one at the receiving end to be comfortable first. That is how “the grandfather of South Africa” molded into. His long journey from the protégé of a tribal king as a child, to a freedom fighter at his youth, having to spend a twenty-seven-year imprisonment, to the post of president of his fatherland at his old age and to his remarriage at the age of eighty are magnificent events to learn from.
Chances are that you will hardly ever come across such a multifaceted character of this magnitude. So, do not think twice on investing on this excellent book. I am yet to read the “Long Walk to Freedom” of his, but ensure you that this piece can still be considered the next best.
I drew this picture of Mandela when I was a schoolboy in 1980’s and he, a prisoner. I had no way of sending it to him. I again found the same drawing when he was the ex-president and sent this along with a covering letter to the then president Thabo Mbeki requesting his office to send the picture to the person I intended. But, to my dismay, the letter was returned to me in a couple of weeks.
I had sent similar letters with the pictures I drew of them to people like Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and Michael Jackson earlier and all of them were replied by those people even though I had addressed the letters with only the name of the recipient and the country. But in Mandela’s case, it did not work. Who knows, if it went to Mandela, I may have had an opportunity to have a cup of coffee with him?
Read below Rudyard Kipling‘s great poem “If.” This is the only thing that keeps me going during worst times I pass. If not for this, I would have given up long time ago.
You can listen to the audio version of this poem if you click this link. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772
If— BY RUDYARD KIPLING
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!