Bringing Rule of Law to Make the Country Better

Betel Stain

Betel Stain

When considered with most of the other nations in the region, Sri Lankans are more lawful (not everyone is a Pradesheeya Sabha member) and educated… er… at least we have a far better literacy rate. They can be made to obey the rules. We could see this when attempts were taken by the government to make the Colombo city clean. Everybody understood the importance of the cleanliness of the city and within weeks Colombo became clean. There was no much force used here. Only some creative advertising in the media helped clean the city. People got the message faster.

My problem is, when people are this cooperative, why doesn’t the government take the actions to correct other areas of concern? It doesn’t cost much money to the government to impose new rules and regulations for the betterment of the country.

My main concern is the road safety. Our drivers are very careless. So are the pedestrians. Many die and get injured each year due to road accidents. Government can easily implement the existing road rules with more force. We have a large police force that was recruited during war. Government can easily divert them for traffic branches of the police with necessary training and employ them to see who break the rules. Best thing to do is imposing fines for the wrongdoers. The government started imposing fines for those who don’t wear seat belts and people started wearing them within a short time. In the same way the government can impose heavy fines to those who use headlights at night, which is a very big reason for accidents. Same with the speeding. It would be very difficult to curb speeding, hence extensive measures are needed. All traffic offenses should be severely dealt with.

Another concern is spitting everywhere with betel stained spit. This makes everywhere very ugly. This should be immediately dealt with. I read in newspapers that a few of those who spat had been arrested and produced before courts and fined with minor fines. This is no good. The fines should be heavy so that they will think twice before chewing betel in public.

Beggars in all towns are another big issue. They should be dealt with too. I don’t have the capacity to recommend what to do with them. There should be ways that how other countries addressed such problems.

Pasting posters everywhere without any discipline also makes the towns ugly. There should be billboards to paste posters and those who break the rule should be punished.

None of the things I mentioned is difficult to do. One needs little courage to do these. You don’t need to wait till Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksha does these. He is already a busy man.

A Paternoster, an Old-fashioned Elevator in the Ceylon Electricity Board Headquarters

Paternoster at CEB Headquarters, Colombo

I visited the headquarters of the Ceylon Electricity Board at Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha to meet an official there. This was my first visit to the institution and after the affairs at the reception I was asked to go to the 6th floor.

I went searching for the elevator but I found a strange elevator-like thing there instead of an easy to use elevator. (Later I heard from Mr. K. K. S. Dasanayake, the Deputy General Manager of CEB that this thing is called a “paternoster.” The paternoster had two rooms – one going up and one going down. One has to get into it while it is still moving. I am a guy who is very reluctant to get into an escalator. So, imagine the excitement I had while getting into a moving paternoster. Before getting into this, I studied how few people managed to get into it and asked a person how to go about it. He made me relaxed and said even small kids get into this easily (though it is not advisable for kids to use this.)

Paternoster at CEB Headquarters, Colombo

I got into it and the next problem was getting off of it in the 6th floor. I was more excited and someone in the paternoster told me to hold the handle well while getting off. Only two people can go in one cubicle at once and the paternoster has a chain of about 20 cubicles travelling one after the other. The same cubicles return to the downward travel once they go above the top-most floor (7th). Similarly they return to the upward travel once the come below the first floor.

With all the excitement I managed to go to the desired floor and met Mr. Bandula S. Tilakasena, the Additional General Manager of the CEB and the first thing I asked him was not about what I visited him for. I asked about the paternoster and both he and Mr. Dasanayake gave me a lot of information about it. According to them this is the only paternoster available in Sri Lanka and there are a few left in the whole world. You can read more about them in the Wikipedia page about paternoster by clicking this link. According to Wikipedia, a few people have died while using paternosters. (Few people have died while using elevators too.)

Since my phone batter was almost dead I could not take few pictures of the paternoster and when I asked the polite telephone operator Ms. Dilini Kariyawasam to get me a photograph or two, she promised to send me some pictures. She had emailed me the pictures you see in this page within few minutes. (Who did ever say that government servants are not efficient?)

I could get down after the meeting with no limbs broken and my problem now is that I have to go there once again to collect some videos from Mr. Tilakasena. I keep postponing this due to fear on using the paternoster but I have to do it within next couple of days.

Café Che in Colombo

Cafe Che, Colombo

I don’t know how you feel about this but there is a restaurant named Café Che in Colombo. I happened to be there last Friday for the farewell party of my colleague at Dialog, Kishor. After all, having seen all the stickers, T-shirts, tuition posters with Che’s images, you can’t blame someone for opening up a café with Che’s name.

Café Che, a Cuban theme restaurant, is situated along the Gandhara Street, the trendiest arts avenue in Colombo. There is no parking space and you have to park your vehicles along the byroads. Place is filled with famous Che Guevara photos, posters, drawings everywhere.

Before we went to the café we searched for its website and already listed down food items that were on the online menu as it would have been easier ordering them once we went to the place. But Alas! Once we went there they said that the website is not updated and you can’t have things in the online menus.

The boys working at the café were extremely polite and efficient and they took orders and double checked the orders with us and then started sending us dishes one by one. All dishes had something green. It was something unique with the place. I am a lover of green stuff and had a lot of them and when the main course came I didn’t have room for it in my stomach.

Food was tasty and place was quiet and I would recommend you to try it.

A Cleaner Colombo

Colombo has become cleaner. That is a fact. One has to accept it. But a long way to go too. This is not sufficient. We are better than Indian cities but there is no point in comparing with the worst and boasting. But this is a good start. We don’t see the empty yoghurt cups, milk packets, shopping bags, etc. anymore by the road side. They directly go to the dust collectors. This is a good move because this change was done without introducing punishment. Only convincing the people was enough. No wonder we have 90+% literacy rate and people can understand the message. The advert run on TV where a big worm follows a person who dumps dirt by the roadside was effective.

When we heard that the Defense Secretary was the man behind making Colombo clean we expected him to use force and take some drastic actions like on the spot punishments, well… etc. I am not sure whether people started collecting garbage and dump them in assigned places out of fear or just thinking it a national duty. Anyway, Colombo is becoming better. So are the suburbs.

Obviously, the villages in Sri Lanka were cleaner than cities whereas in India both are equally dirty. Towns in the outstations also are becoming better these days. I usually don’t even drop the bus ticket on the street but take it to the dustbin at the office or home and I don’t think I’m the only one who does so. There are more people who do care about the environment. They should be encouraged and rewarded.

Urban councils don’t have a sound plan to collect garbage. They should keep garbage bins in proper locations so that people could drop their garbage in to these bins. Nobody wants to make a street unclean.

Colombo is greener these days due to the plants and trees grown by the roadside. Vihara Maha Devi Park, canals, and the beaches are cleaner. Parliament area is like a park now.

The other main area the authorities should look at is the public toilets. There should be more public toilets and they should be kept clean. I don’t mind even private sector companies coming in and offering better service for a bigger fee. Even though some toilet signs are displayed in fuel stations only very few of them have toilets. This should be made compulsory for fuel stations and roadside hotels.

Sri Vihar Replaces Shanthi Vihar at Thummulla Junction.

Shanthi Vihar Closure

Shanti Vihar, a famous South Indian restaurant in Thummulla Junction, Colombo closed its operations in 2010 and now is reopened and runs under a separate name, the Sri Vihar. The 35 workers who served the restaurant were asked to leave immediately on the eve of New Year 2010 and the restaurant was closed suddenly. According to the Sunday Times, sources close to the owner of the premises said the tenant had been asked to quit by December 31 in line with a court order over non-payment of rent and other issues and sufficient time had been given to settle the workers. The restaurant was due to open under a new management.

New restaurant, Sri Vihar is cleaner and more spacious than the old one but does not have the old ‘feel’ as it doesn’t spread the ghee smell like the good old days as the kitchen is in the interior of the building and cannot be seen from outside. Thosai is not the same big ones we enjoyed before the 2010 closure. Besides, the prices have skyrocketed. Yesterday evening I had a plain thosai and an ulundu wade but the price was a staggering 112 LKR. The waiter was not friendly or professional. He served with a conceited mind and I didn’t leave any tip as I was kept for a long time at the table and not welcomed by the waiter. He never wore a smile for the few customers who were there.

The new management has failed to understand why old Shanti Vihar was popular. Sacking the old staff is a big mistake. Sri Vihar has ample parking space but there seems to be less crowds now. Maybe other customers got what I got and decided not to visit it anymore. I won’t.


I have been getting a quite a number of telephone calls (orders) that should go to Shr Vihar. There is a totally positive review of the restaurant in the link below. Please visit that and their telephone number is there. Do not call me for orders.

Traveling by Bus in Colombo

It has been almost two weeks since I arrived in Colombo for work. I have a fair bit of experiences in the public transportation in Colombo and thought of sharing some of them with you. Some of the tips I give would help you.

I travel between Upali Newspaper Limited halt in Homagama and Public Library halt in Colombo by bus. I used to ride my motorbike when I worked in Colombo earlier but due to the soaring petrol prices, I thought of opting to public transportation. Besides, riding motorbike is bit risky and you can also get drenched in unexpected rains. I use the bike for long distant riding.

I usually don’t get a seat when I get on to the bus at Homagama. Since I have to be standing, I start to listen to some music over my phone’s MP3 player, mainly DJ-remixed Bollywood songs and later I started listening to audio books as it was more productive. That doesn’t mean I have totally given up the Bollywood music. I can concentrate on audiobooks only if I am little comfortable in the bus, even if I am standing. If I am uncomfortable, DJ music is the best option. I recently downloaded a good Bengali-Hindi mix. I would advise you too to invest on a phone with an MP3 Player or a radio so that the hassle of being in a jam-packed bus will be temporarily forgotten.

I always get a seat before my destination. When I get a seat, I start reading a book which I gave up few days back because the weight of the laptop bag with this thick book started giving me back pains. So, if you want to enjoy reading in the bus, buy something light like a magazine. You cannot open a big newspaper inside a bus and Sri Lanka hardly has any tabloid newspapers now. Magazines and smaller books would be ideal.

Getting a seat on the way is a little secret. I have tested this every day and it works for male folks. Sorry women, I have no tips for you. As soon as I get into a bus, I go closer to the front row of seats. Even if the front row is occupied I hang on there, especially close to the seat allocated for the clergy. There are two advantages. Most monks get on to the bus get out on the way and the seat becomes vacant for you. The other benefit is that if women are seated in that seat, when a monk gets on, they all have to get out of the seat as the society thinks that a woman being seated next to a monk is unacceptable. In both ways, you manage to get a seat. Not bad eh! Try this next time when you are in a bus.

Remember to keep some coins with you when you travel in a bus. The conductors are poor fellows working hard throughout the day and we shouldn’t give them the burden of looking for change. In the developed world, commuters are used to keep change for the bus fair. When you offer changed money, the conductors even smile with you. A smile is something you can least expect of a bus conductor in Colombo.

I am scared to sit in the seats where young ladies sit because I often fall asleep in the bus. While asleep, if I lean towards such a woman, she might think that I am purposefully doing it. To avoid the embarrassment, I skip a young woman’s seat. And this is why I have never made female friends in a bus. Some of my friends are experts to get friendly with the girls in the bus and they even end up going for a date with the girl once they get down the bus.

Change of Lifestyle – from Anuradhapura to Colombo

I reached Colombo by bike on Sunday as I had to start work in my new workplace from Monday onwards. The place I got to stay at in Colombo is very satisfying for me. The house is owned by my friend Ranjith. House has ample space and he offered me a room and all the ‘five-star’ facilities he has got. I have here an IPTV with a host of foreign and local channels, high-speed ADSL Internet connection with Wi-Fi, a BodyTrainer exercise machine, and, above all, a washing machine to ease my work. Moreover, I get tasty meals here. I never imagined I would get all these when I left Anuradhapura.

My workplace is exciting. I have to work under a young man who is around 15 years younger to me. He is very caring (and demanding too.) Other colleagues are also young and energetic. I have to act as a young man here. This is not a place for old men.

I get a very good lunch at the workplace for a mere 100 LKR. Canteen is as clean as grandma’s kitchen. It’s in the 8th floor of the building and I ensure I climb up and down through the steps by avoiding the lift to get more exercise. (I also walk around 5km a day to get to bus and back home too.) Traveling standing in the bus gives me additional exercise but I don’t enjoy it. To forget the pain, I listen to some good music over the earphones while standing in the bus. The moment I get a seat I start reading a book. These days I am reading ‘The Facebook Effect.’ (I will write a blog post about it once I finish reading the book.)

These are the hottest days of Colombo and feel very uncomfortable while outside. But I feel happy when I see most of the roads are being renovated by the government. Colombo will be a nice city before long if the developments continue in this manner.

Abhi, my son has had a sporting event today at the Montessori but I missed it. This is the only complain about the job. I will miss the family’s important events. But to feed the family and to do something for the motherland, one has to work. That is the compromise one has to come.