Friday, May 29, 2009

Lankan Tag-o-rama

Listening to: Gehan's latest track

Yeah I know it's been quiet over here for a 3rd year presentation is next week and I've been otherwise occupied with a lot of stuff. Oh and it was my birthday on Tuesday. So yeah, busy days. Shall post properly soon. I promise.

In the meantime, Sachintha has tagged me. I'm getting this post out before everyone I want to tag gets tagged elsewhere :P (knowing me, I'm probably too late already).

These are the rules, apparently:
  1. You write five words to describe how you feel about recent events in Sri Lanka.
  2. You tag five bloggers.
  3. You sit back and relax.
My five words are...
  1. Relief
  2. Pride
  3. Weariness
  4. Concern
  5. Hope
I have various reasons for choosing my five bloggers...either they've not been blogging recently and this is supposed to be a kick up the backside, or I just want an excuse to say hi to them on the blog...but mainly, I want to hear what they have to say :). Here they are...
  1. Mak
  2. Gehan
  3. Scrumpy
  4. Pani Bunis...sorry I mean Paparé
  5. N
Slightly aside, can I suggest a change to the rules? Instead of sitting back and relaxing, can we do all we can to get the aid flowing? It's the least we can do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Out of the loop

Listening to: Radio 1

The war is over. My virtual social networking outlets are awash with patriotic sentiment. Dissection of His Excellency's address is in full swing..."he should've said this", "why didn't he say that" etc. etc. Concerns about the next stage ring out as loud as the firecrackers that are apparently threatening to deafen my parents. Apparently the flags are flying high. Apparently tomorrow's a national holiday. Apparently VP's body was shown on TV. Apparently, apparently, apparently...erm yeah.

I'm at a loss for words. I'm half expecting to wake up and find out that the past 24hrs have been a subconscious' idea of a sick joke (it does that to me sometimes). In the midst of all the relief and reflection, I can't help but feel a little...detached. This is a Sri Lanka I don't know. This is a Sri Lanka I'm unable to witness. This is a Sri Lanka I'm not sure if I'm a part of any more. I commented on a post by Rhythmic Diaspora a while back, saying that I don't feel like I 'belong' anywhere any more. That's what I feel right now.

I eat Bangers and Mash. I listen to Girls Aloud, The Wombats and Dizzee Rascal. I use words like 'knackered', 'chuffed' and 'nowt'. I'm addicted to Radio 1. I supported Team GB at the Olympics. But then I also use the word 'bugger' to refer to almost anyone and everyone. When I'm stressed, I ramble in Sinhala to my British workmates (you should see their faces!). I crave fish curry. I miss ODEL. I have ~50 packets of Lak Peyawa in my room (I have no faith in this Lemsip nonsense). I choke up whenever I sing the National Anthem.

Am I not British enough for the British and not Lankan enough for the Lankans, or am I too Lankan for the British and too British for the Lankans? Is there a difference? Does it matter to them? Does it matter to me? Who knows...I sure as hell don't.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Confessions of a perfectionist

Listening to: 'Everyday is a Winding Road' by Sheryl Crow [The Very Best of Sheryl Crow]

I'm stuck on an 'alternative/rock/indie' cover. Nothing seems to work. Everything's either too high or too low, too frilly with accompaniment or too stark without. And I'm too much of a stubborn cow to give up and move onto a different genre. My voice is feeling all of its near-26 years and it's depressing. My range has shrunk. My power has shrunk. My projection has shrunk. My old mentor would be horrified if he were alive to hear this croaking today. Add to all that this feeling of sinusitis and I could give Kermit a run for his money (I suppose his untimely demise was a blessing in disguise, then).

Why does everything have to be 'perfect' with me? Why can't I just enjoy things for what they are, and just go with the flow? Why must everything be straight lines and perfect curves...nondescript blobs can be pretty, yes? Sigh I dunno. I'm a walking contradiction. And this is turning into an incoherent ramble. I'll shut up now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May the summer blockbuster live long and prosper!

Listening to: 'Jump in the Pool' by Friendly Fires [Friendly Fires]

Hopefully the title of this post should give you an idea of the content. If not, tsk tsk.

So yeah, a friend was visiting yesterday and we were having dessert at Pizza Express (the Chocolate Glory is divine, btw) at 10.50pm when we realised that neither of us had seen the Star Trek movie yet. We found out that there was a 11pm screening at the cinema about a mile away. After what seemed like ages trying to sort out the bill (do waitresses not understand the meaning of the word 'quick'?) and walk-running all the way to the cinema, we reached our seats a few mins into the car ads. Excellent timing.

And excellent movie. I know I said I enjoyed Wolverine but I'm sorry, Star Trek just annihilated Wolvy's ass. I think I'm gonna have to try and watch it again on the IMAX 'cos that screen just wasn't big enough. The story was what I've come to expect from Star Trek, the visuals were awesome, and my funny bone was properly tickled (except for one line from Uhura that I won't spoil for you - you can barf when you hear it in the movie). And of course...such hotness! I mean how fiiiiine is Chris Pine?!?!? (tee hee it rhymes :D ) I'm not usually a fan of blue eyes but ooooh. And Zoe Saldana is hawt. And I must say Zachary Quinto (I'm not into Heroes so I'm not in the habit of calling him Sylar) made a very good Spock. And aww Simon Pegg's Scottish accent was so cute! Sigh I'm a sucker for accents.

But yes, go watch it. NOW! And then get ready for...
  • Terminator Salvation
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  • Public Enemies
  • Brüno
Oh boy, is this a good summer for movies or what?!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

♪ What would my mama do ♪

Listening to: 'Mama Do' by Pixie Lott [-]

Oh my...there's something about this song that just makes me want to shimmy around the room suggestively...

I want her voice. Damn my stupid larynx and its mediocre vocal range.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bad day

Listening to: 'Let Her Cry' by Hootie and the Blowfish [Cracked Rear View]

Sigh, it's one of those days. There's just too much work to I stayed at home. Yeah I know that doesn't make sense. So sue me. One of the...heck, the only good thing about the PhD is that if I'm not in the mood, I don't have to work. I'll just catch up later, when I feel like it. Which means I'll be working this weekend. Better than sitting at home and moping eh. Heh. Something tells me that's ironic...but it's probably not. The word's been misinterpreted so many times, no one knows what it means any more.

I'm not sure what it was. The dismal flat hunt. The asinine visa extension process. The broken equipment. The incompetence of the fools who are supposed to be fixing said equipment. The conference rejection. Whatever it was, something tripped my 'cope' switch.

I started writing a really angsty poem about not conforming. And then I gave up 'cos it didn't conform to my poetic ideals. There's that pseudo-irony again. Pffft.

You know, this song by Fuel (the one I've named the post after, in case that wasn't immediately obvious) is awesome. Very...'TNL during my A/L years', for lack of a better adjective.

I think I'll go back to plucking my eyebrows now.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Keep calm and carry on

Listening to: 'P.Y.T.' by Michael Jackson [Thriller]

For those of you not familiar with Buddhist practices, yesterday was Vesak. A day to reflect upon the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing of the Gautama Buddha. A big part of practising Buddhism - I'm talking about 'practice offerings' (patipatti-puja) as opposed to 'material offerings' (amisa-puja) - is cultivation of the mind via meditation. I don't meditate nearly often enough, but when I do, I find it very rewarding. Sometimes you need to spring clean your mind and give it some room to breathe, and I find meditation does that. That said, it is by no means easy to do correctly, and the hardest part for me is maintaining concentration.

I suppose it makes sense. The human mind has a tendency to take a thought and run with it. Picture this: I'm trying to meditate and I hear a buzz near my's a mosquito serenading me. I get annoyed. I curse the mosquito. Then remember that all blood-sucking mosquitoes are female. Then I think of 'Female of the Species' by Space. Now the tune's stuck in my head. I can see the album cover art in my mind. Now I'm wondering how many times I've listened to that song. Then I think of the song I've listened to most (according to my profile) - Moving to New York by The Wombats. Then I think about my trip to New York. Hang on...wasn't I supposed to be meditating? Sigh. Buddhism refers to this phenomenon as papancha - the proliferation of thoughts. All because I got annoyed with the mozzie. What I should have done was thought "It's just a mosquito, it's just background noise. Focus." Or in other words, I should've kept calm and carried on doing what I was doing.

A lot of the issues we have in life are because we get too attached to things that distract us. We become attached to one negative experience, and believe it's the end of the world as we know it. We become attached to one positive experience, and prepare to pack up and move into our own little fantasy world. We choose to ignore the reality: that either way, it is just an experience. A fleeting instance. Here one moment, gone the next. Nothing more, nothing less. Now acknowledge it, accept it, and get on with your life.

The Internet is sorta like that. Related videos on Youtube, embedded links and citations on Wikipedia, blog rolls on blogs. We start with one thing in mind, and the next thing we know, we're looking at something we don't even particularly care about. Now I suppose this would be all well and good, except for the fact that I've got a PhD to finish this year. I shouldn't be papancha-fying so much...getting caught up in my daydreams. Must focus.

Yes. I must.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Is this it?

Listening to: 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love' by The Harvard Krokodiloes [Black Tie Affair]

I came home early today. Now I know why I try not to come home early. I've been bored for I don't know how long. I've become more efficient in my cooking, so that doesn't take nearly as long as it could...and because I'm not talking to anyone, I finish eating quickly too. BBC seems to be pre-occupied with the piggy plague.

Thing is, I have stuff to do. There's a pile of handwashing. Dishes to wash. A presentation to prepare. Experiments to plan. A thesis to start writing (properly). Covers to record. And what am I doing? Typing a nonsensical blog post and DMing on Twitter.

This isn't gonna change, is it? I'll finish the PhD, get a job somewhere (hopefully), I'll work all day and come home in the evenings, and...I'll have nothing to do. It's weird. One of the things I hate about my mega-long experiments is that they disrupt my routine. But at the same time, I find this 'routine' suffocating. Or maybe I like the idea of a routine, but I don't like the routine I have right now. Either way, it doesn't bode well for the future.

Sigh, I'm off. The left-overs need to go into the fridge.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Getting involved

Listening to: Radio 1

Being stuck here in the UK can be very frustrating in these times. Especially when you read about how people at home are able to physically help. Somehow, just 'sending money home' doesn't feel as productive. But we can't all get our hands dirty, so the best we can do is contribute to the cause in any way we can. And that's what happened on Thursday.

One of my friends (an old school friend from Sri Lanka who's now studying here) organised a mini-concert in his college bar, with a view to collect money for ACT. The 'concert' was basically two hours of excellent student musicians jamming away in the bar, with collection buckets going around every now and then, guilt-tripping students into parting with their beer money for a good cause. The highlight has to be these guys - Coll Reg - their a cappella rendition of Billie Jean (there's a low quality clip here) was a treat for the ears (if you're into collegiate a cappella, of course)...and then there was this song, which was hilarious (check it out even if you don't like the genre, the lyrics will make you giggle). I promised myself I would focus on their vocal talent instead of their eye candy factor, so um *drool*...yeah they were awesome :D.

I remember after the tsunami, there was a lot of opposition (from other Sri Lankans) to our plans for the Sri Lanka Society annual dinner. It wasn't sombre enough, they said. I suppose the same could be said of this. The mood was definitely not sombre, apart from during the speech given by an expat-Sri Lankan member of the college - I won't go into how much of his speech I agreed with, but I applaud his attempt to give a balanced view. But back to the mood...I accept that a jolly ambience comes across as insensitive, but how else are you going to get money from people who don't have any emotional ties to the situation? Imagine if the bar was closed and the music was depressing...would non-Sri Lankans give as much money? I'm not saying they have to be severely inebriated to feel generous, but they're more likely to feel generous if they're in a good mood. And these people were very generous. The total raised in two hours was just over £375...that's about Rs. 65,000. All of that money will go towards enabling ACT to continue their good work. Does it matter that the fund-raising process was fun? I think not.

I only have one gripe. There weren't enough expat-Sri Lankans present. I think I've mentioned elsewhere in the blogosphere that I know people in Cambridge who've marched on Westminster to highlight the plight of the civilians trapped in the war zone. Where were they on Thursday evening? If they're as concerned about the people as they claim, why didn't they come and show their support for an apolitical fund-raising event? I know it's exam term for undergrads but surely 2 hours in a college bar is less disruptive to revision than a day trip to London? Heck, even 5mins and a 50p donation would've been sufficient. Apparently Cambridge is one of the few universities in the UK where the protests haven't resulted in a bust-up within the Sri Lankan community. I was hoping that this event would be testament to that solidarity. I guess not.

I don't want to end on a negative note, so I'll say congrats on a job well done to my friend, and many thanks to those who took time out from revision to perform and to those who came along and donated. The Sri Lanka Society is collecting donations for the Sri Lanka Red Cross, and hopefully more fund-raising events will be conducted before the end of the academic year.