Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Art of Being Arty" and other mildly entertaining anecdotes

Listening to: 'How Come You Don't Call Me [Neptunes Remix]' by Alicia Keys ft. Justin Timberlake [Songs in A Minor]

Typing a blog post at the cinema again. Not your bog standard Vue this time, but the much more sophisticated Arts Picturehouse (cue 'oohs' and 'aahs'). Why sophisticated? Well for starters, they let you bring booze into the theatre...and in glasses too (as opposed to a well-concealed brown paper bag). And then there's the reason I'm here tonight - the Cambridge Film Festival. Yes, very posh I know. Oh well, the movie's about to start so I'll type the rest from home.


Now, where was I? I suppose I'd better give a chronological account of my day. Or at least the out-of-the-ordinary bits. Was chatting with labmates in the morning, and as usual, I was accused of bullying them. I asked them why they don't bully me in return, and one of them said "but you're so lovely and nice...until we realise that you're actually not". Heh. But it's OK, we all love each other really. Honest!

In the afternoon, I helped out with the Cambridge Alumni Weekend celebrations, by taking some alumni on a tour of the department. Oh wow, I've never seen outsiders show so much interest in what we do! They asked so. many. questions. And none of them were superficial. I'm talking proper intellectual discussions. As an academic I was thrilled to see non-academics take such an interest in scientific research; as a tour-guide I was panicking that we'd be late for the post-tour presentation! It was interesting to hear these people talk amongst themselves about our research. I think when you spend enough time in a field, the 'wow factor' fades and you take things for granted. Listening to our research being called 'fantastic' and 'amazing' made me proud. Of course the post-tour talk was something else altogether. How many 83 yr-olds do you know that can give a presentation about work that they're currently involved in?! Sigh, JFD is a legend.

After the talk was done, I went back to the office to check on the cricket (more on that later) and then headed over to the cinema. The movie I was so interested in seeing was none other than Machan (to those of you who have probably seen it a million times already, yes I know I'm late, get over it :P ). In a word: wow. Had I seen the movie without the context of the film festival, I never would've guessed that the director was someone foreign to Sri Lankan culture. I suppose Ruwanthie de Chickera's script had a lot to do with that, but still. The director was present for a Q&A session after the screening, and he said that he hadn't wanted any Western influence on the narration of the story. I think he achieved that perfectly. There were parts of the movie that made me choke up, possibly due to homesickness...or maybe I'm going soft, who knows. And of course when you grow up with Doo Daruwo on in the background, Iranganie Serasinghe becomes family...I almost let out an audible 'aww' when I saw her on screen.

Machan presented a very serious problem in a very 'real' way. None of the depressing melodramatic 'woe is me'-ness that you get in a lot of 'serious' films. On the contrary, I was laughing through most of it. It reminded me a lot about how ordinary Sri Lankans deal with adversity. Our happy-go-lucky attitude is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. And then the tourists. During the Q&A session, someone asked why the tourists at the hotel were depicted in a purely negative light. Part of me wanted to turn around and remind him that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily see the West as the dog's bollocks, but the rest of me told me to shut up (thankfully). The director said that he merely portrayed what he had witnessed during his stay in Colombo. Nuff said.

Anyway, after being thoroughly impressed with the performance of the Sri Lanka National Handball team, I came home to be equally unimpressed with the performance of the Sri Lanka National Cricket team. Why oh why did we have to lose to England?! Now that'll be the main topic of conversation at my labmate's bbq tomorrow. much for not being bullied.


  1. you totally bully me too!!! :'( *goes to corner and cries*

    and "I almost let out an audible 'aww' when I saw her on screen."??? O_o lol! :D

  2. Well, you are not the last to watch Machan. An Indian colleague kindly downloaded the movie for me and alas, in Italian! So I am one of those very unfortunate ones to see it last... And speaking of Crickit, we are getting a good bashing from the Kiwis as we speak... 178/6 and the agony continues...

  3. Chavie -'s all banter kiddo :-) And yes! She's everyone's grandmother!

    Serendib_Isle - hey, long time no news! :-) I think you can find Machan on youtube actually...if you're not worried about picture quality, try there! *Sigh* yeah we really messed up this time.


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