24 January 2011

Are you a Sri Lankan?

 Despite journey to and fro to SL my last half a decade has unfortunately been in her majesty’s service, culminating finally two years back in the ownership of a travel document that confirmed the same. Oh the shame! The shame that despite living in SL for 34 years and even schooling at ‘the’ Royal College I was no longer encouraged to comment or discuss most things Sri Lankan. Most replies to my two cents worth were you no longer live here; it’s easy for you to say whatever living in England.

This is quite ironic as whenever I meet second generation Sri Lankans born and bred here I immediately adopt this very condescending attitude towards them too. Very like a genital wart, to be despised but acknowledged. The ‘kalu’ suddhas, brown coconuts white on the inside. When my SIL, her husband and our other SL friends visit the motherland I sneer. When they spend good money to go to West Indies to watch SL play in the world cup of cricket, I glint in veiled sarcasm.

Sorry allow me to digress. The MCBO (My cutely booted one) on Friday evening was off to the Wembley Arena to watch the Strictly Come Dancing Tour. Needing to stay close by to do husbandly duties of drop and pick up my SIL who lives in the Wembley environs kindly invited the kid and I for supper. Her two daughters who I desperately love meant this invite was taken upon eagerly. Especially as the SIL’s husband owned a restaurant and is a superb cook.

So as the night progressed, funnily in true SL style some SL friends started to call the house to say hi, as I said SL style this was after 10pm at night. Something an English person would never do, even after getting copped for DUI and needing a ride home from the Police Station. The Police themselves call them a taxi. Anyways I was obviously in the same room and privy to the calls steadily pouring in.

My lips started to curl, I was close to snarling. The main topic of conversation was the coming Cricket World Cup. Who was, where, why, and how these British born and bred people were all heading to Colombo for the matches. My snarl of course might have been because I am not going to be able to make it.  My mood improved of course as the conversation then moved to the SL tour of England in the summer. As always these people were well organised and somebody knew of a capable somebody who had the actual itinerary for the tour and were organising tickets. My mood changed immediately as I was assured that tickets for the one-day matches were being purchased for the MCBO and I.

So the crux of the headline to this post is you a Sri Lankan lays here. When England plays Sri Lanka who do you support if you have been born and bred in England. Or whatever are you an English person or a Sri Lankan?

The answer is quite simple. If your ancestry is Sri Lankan, you are Sri Lankan. So there are Englishmen and Englishwomen, which those with SL ancestry living here are not. They are British, but not English. So their ties to Sri Lanka, the love of cricket, rice and curry, arrack, the sun, sea, sand and sex is part of where they are originally from. They are proud of their heritage and culture, as much as I am. We don’t live in SL anymore, but that does not in anyway not make us Sri Lankan. Especially those Sri Lankan’s who were born in England. Yes they maybe British for the want of a travel document, the free NHS, benefits and tax credits (J) but they are also Sri Lankan.

I am proud to be Sri Lankan.

I am off now; I need to quickly let the dogs know they are unfortunately English Brits and not Sri Lankan Brits. 

23 January 2011

Shopping, Sales, Money – Real and Invisible Value

Cold and rainy weekend. After the best part of Saturday was wasted in front of the telly, overeating and sleeping, got up early on Sunday. Shaved, showered and then checked the weather. Another rainy day predicted so headed out to the dreaded Brent Cross mall. Dreaded as it is unfortunately filled with like-minded people as me. Basically filled with Asian Diaspora who likes to collect shopping bags. Look to only shop at sales and consider it a bargain if its under £10.

We were a tad early, so I headed off to Starbucks to fortify myself with a Granola Bar and Tall Soy Latte. Now usually on shopping expeditions I make my coffee stop and disappear inside a bookshop to be summoned by the female folk after they finish. A Saturday of inactivity prompted me to this time around walk around and look at stuff with the spouse. The fact that she looks very young and looked exceptionally cute helped. (The spouse not the sales girls, although they were not too shabby either).

As we were early, so for the first time in my life I stood outside one of the store’s, Marks and Sparks, for it to open, surrounded by the afore mentioned Diaspora consisting mainly of Asian ladies in Shalwar Kameez. I was in for a treat. As soon as the big steel shutters rolled up all these ladies in one swarm ran inside the store. I mean actually sprinted to this one rack of clothes. I was mildly alarmed when even the cutely booted one of mine increased her pace from chilled to accelerating. I watched from a safe distance as the ladies just proceeded to grab any or everything from the said rack. It took me a couple of minutes to solve this strange scrimmage. The rack said clearance, all the garments hanging there were priced £3 or less and some of it did look decent. The ladies would grab move away from the scrum and then choose the one’s they wanted. The better prepared among them had wing-women for assistance. My cutely booted one (MCBO) returned in disappointment while narrating to me how last weekend she was on time and managed to get a total of seven items for just under £30. It was a first for me and I did wish I had the foresight and bravery to record this all with my mobile.

So from there it was more a normal and relaxed pace. From John Lewis where we looked without success for a new set of kitchen knives for me, we proceeded to the MCBO’s fave shop – All Saints. None of the stuff met my £10 approval rating but the MCBO did get herself a scarf. I then spied inside this same department store a section for SuperDry. As the avid bloggers and their stalkers know this brand of clothing is in Mr.RD’s  preferred selection of brands. So venture to this section did I. Even on sale much of the clothing there was priced at £50 and above. Way beyond my budgetary approval rating (BAR), so a grit of the teeth and I moved on. RD, however I must admit the tees and especially the sweats were happening and I empathise with your decision to part with good money for this brand of clothes. Unlike me, regular employment and owning your own business I am sure helps one to have a much higher budget approval rating!

So then it was onwards to Banana Republic with a quick stop at the bookstore for me to quickly procure the coming weeks smoking allotment and the Economist magazine. I must admit shopping at BR is no longer an experience for me after visiting this huge outlet mall in Washington DC called the Potomac Mills. There believe you me; most of the BR clothes are priced on par with my BAR. Therefore, my much admired massive selection of white BR shirts, pants and winter coat. There the secret is out! About now I must admit my testosterone started to kick in and I was hoping we could venture back to my Sunday football on the telly and a couple of Heinekens. The MCBO was oblivious to this or pretended to be.

GAP had pleasant surprises for me as I managed to find a really cool pair of 1969 button fly jeans just under one pence from my BAR. The MCBO did spoil the experience a little by informing me I could use them to walk and play with the dogs.  (I had by then already started to visualise myself grooving with Demo and Migara behind the DJ booth at SILK in them jeans and one of my umpteen BR white shirts). Also for £20, double my BAR I proceeded to procure a spring jacket. This purchase however did meet the approval of the MCBO. The MCBO also got loads of ‘lata pat-ta’ including a range of socks for 99pence a pair. My thoughts then did fleet to a fellow blogger, avid shopper San, and all afore mentioned Shalwar ladies who hung out at Mars and Sparks.

Finally after doing the food shopping at Marks and Sparks, bumping into the S-I-L with her two kids Sash and Sunny, it was time to load up and proceed to drive home. Home now, stuffed full of baby ribs and Chinese fried rice, I sprawl on the sofa typing this.

Ah yes, the heading to this post. As day reaches its end it dawned to me how much the real value of money is but how much more important the invisible value is. The amount we’re prepared to pay for our favourite brand, that premium. Like SuperDry for RD and I think in San’s case its shoes, handbags and about ten wedding ceremonies spanning two countries for her younger bro.

I rest now before this turns into a marketing lecture. Monday and another week of earning the daily bread beckons. There are similes’ to my life and our dearly departed Koko the hamster. She ran on her wheel all night, I, 24/7 on weekdays and most Saturday nights 365 days of the year. Then you die, but that’s another day, another post. 

Have a great week everybody.

Some ads really don't need to say anything - just show

22 January 2011

A decade of the not so random Internet, Blogging and me Life…

A decade of the not so random Internet, Blogging and me Life…

Discovering a bloggers real identity and outing them on the worldwide web seems to have now become the norm. Which is actually a tad bit sorry and sad. Recently a quite well off woman in London freely mouthed off on her blog and was discovered and exposed. Other than anonymously making disparate comments on other people’s blogs, which I despise, the main reason behind my launching a blog/s was to have the ability to freely express myself, but of course as an unknown identity.

To wake up early on a Saturday morning and merrily type away on the keyboard while everyone else is sleeping I find therapeutic. Coming home late evening after a bad day and letting off steam on the worldwide web is strangely satisfying. But the freedom and fun that came with anonymity I not strangely miss. A lot.

Especially when you have the need to mouth off all the time, and that would be me. Regular readership is humbling and really empowering. But it does somehow restrict you.

Anonymously having a rant is fun. Not when peeps start to judge you on what you write and begin to stalk you. Or alike the site from Russia that randomly visits all my blogs. Googled their name and found many bloggers complaining of being spammed by these untouchables.

So why you may ask am I this cold Saturday morning sitting here jotting my thoughts down. Deep within me lies a creature that enjoys conflict. As my kid grew, this gradually dissipated. There is a kinder, gentler soul somewhere within me, some of it fatherhood has helped me find. I thought that this is more paramount in my current character. Instead of the one who enjoys the proverbial crash and burn.

In mid life, am I going through the typical mid life crisis? I think that has passed. My midlife crisis was all about camo clothing, tats, multiple piercing and weapons. I still refuse to discard my Harley Davidson gloves, but the older I grow, the more my personality dissipates from the gentler side of humankind. Which I prefer to be.

In all honesty, I do believe man goes through many cycles. The last decade for me was more about discovering the wonders of watching my kid grow, and very much my spouse. Of travelling the world with them, enjoying their company. Discovering that my body is mere mortal, being selfish in terms of time for my family, seeking answers to what’s most important to me. Finding who my few and real friends are.

The Internet, its social and commercial innovations during the last decade. A revolution I am proud to be part of, blogging much part of it.

The randomness I miss. Discovery is very much part of the journey. Blogging has helped me through six years of moving from my mother country to a new country. For the second time.

I crave the previous anonymity and randomness I had before. Am I making sense?

I leave with you with the burning thought on every Marketing Communications persons mind – how can I make money on the internet? As an individual or enterprise.

Thank you for listening. 

9 January 2011

The Hat

The Santa Hat

Christmas seems like it just passed, yes it did. The decorations and lights have been safely boxed away for next year, the tree now a remnant of its former glory still lies outside withered and dry for the garbage men to take away. Thanks to the Hertsmere borough-recycling efforts soon destined to reappear as a paper product.

Every occasion has its own set of imagery and the one I closely associate with Christmas is Santa’s Hat. Hats come in many forms and sizes, Top Hats, Bowler Hats, Covered Hats, Bridal Hats and etc, etc. But ask anyone in the world and I would hazard to guess everyone would know what a Santa’s Hat is.

Coming in many different styles the common shape of a Santa’s hat is that it’s conical and has a white band at the bottom and an ideally fluffy white ball at the top. My earliest recollection of wearing nothing else but one is in my early 20’s during Christmas break over a young blonde buxom US college lady who too had nothing else on but one.

I love the one’s that have red stars along their band which twinkle when switched on. Those that stick in my mind most are the one’s sold along Orchard Road in Singapore and in Oxford Street in London during the Christmas season. The one I wore to Washington DC a couple of Christmases back, then fully clothed did not achieve the desired affect as I had hope amongst family and friends. I did momentarily then feel a bit like a silly bugger for forgetting that the Americans do not share publicly a love for costumes as the British do. 

While you will see many Britons on any weekend and especially during Christmas going to and fro in public in fancy dress, many other people in most countries do not share this passion. Other than of course alike the aforementioned American college beauty and other beauties (some slightly) that I have athletically demonstrated my passion with, and other people who like a wee bit of role-play in the privacy of their bedroom.

The Santa Hat is acceptably worn and can be worn by anyone. They do not have to claim relationship or affinity with the Santa Claus family or Christianity. Christmas, the Santa Hat and the festivities that accompany this holiday can be celebrated with anyone who has some extra quid for a tree, decorations, lights and presents for family.

My best part of Christmas of course remains and will always be the amazing Santa Hat. Best worn with nothing else. A close rival remains. Which of course is the Cowboy Hat.

Imagery of playing Cowboys and Red Indians inside a female dormitory in a Midwestern American University though giving me excellent fodder for another post does not warrant print on the worldwide web.

2 January 2011

Happy 2K11 - Age and happiness -The U-bend of life

Age and happiness -The U-bend of life
Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older. Rock bottom is 46, which coincidentally I am. As many of my school mates are too, this is a must read for 2K11.