Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Of Violence And Vandalism: A Patriotic Thought

Since Sri Lanka so emphatically won the civil war with the Tamil Tigers, the catch-phrase in the country has been 'patriotism'. Are you 'patriotic'? Do you endorse 'patriotic' activities? Which 'patriotic' leader do you follow? Do you know anyone who is un-'patriotic'? Sri Lanka these days is a collage of Mahinda Rajapakse's smiling visage and the word 'patriotism' in different tenses, conjugations and scripts.

We are a peculiar people. As a whole, the people of Sri Lanka have almost total disregard to the world's opinion of them. This can be seen as a good thing, in certain contexts, and just laughable in others.

Take for example this riot that occurred in the Free-Trade Zone in Katunayake yesterday. There were loud and demonstrative protests to the new pension scheme the government is trying to employ; a scheme where, from my understanding, the money accumulated by hard working citizens towards the EPF will now be lost, replaced with a non-transferable monthly pension that can only be withdrawn after retirement. I'm not even going to debate or justify the proposal, since I'm not educated enough to understand the inner workings of the scheme (because on face value, it just seems ridiculously unfair). What I want to focus on is the way these protesters were handled.

The reports are conflicting at best, but all seem to point towards a large mob that the police could not control; a mob that eventually got violent and assaulted the handful of policemen there, including the DIG. I supposed that's what mobs generally do, and I doubt anyone is surprised by this random and pointless act of violence towards the police and the local police station.

What is surprising however, is their reaction.

Apparently the Special Tasks Forces were called in to assist. There are, again, conflicting reports on what happened next, with some saying that the STF or the police went so far as to shoot live ammunition into the crowd. I don't know about that, but I do know that in retaliation for the assault of the police officers earlier, they broke down the gate of one of the factories, stormed inside, and proceeded to trash the building, breaking all the windows as well as smashing the cars and bikes parked in the company parking lot. These reports aren't in the papers, but I have it on good authority since I now someone who was there and witnessed it. Plus, apparently there is security camera footage as well.

It is becoming more and more amusing to read about the stands we are taking against the 'western' nations and their ideals, and how we refuse to 'bow down' to their demands and expectations at the 'cost of our integrity', especially when we are not operating on any higher moral ground ourselves. Violent protests happen, especially if they aren't controlled properly, but the authorities resorting to petty retaliation? Aren't the police trained for these types of situations, in that they know how to handle them effectively and not go into a blind rage just because some fellow comrades got hurt? This silly 'tit-for-tat' mentality is childish and unacceptable. At least, it would be unacceptable in any other civilised 'western' country, where there are laws that are actually implemented, and if not, there are measures and ways to deal call attention to it. What we have here instead is the police and the supposed peace-keepers taking the law into their own hands and dealing a form of vigilante justice. Yes, the mob got violent. Yes, the assaulted a few policemen. No, that doesn't give you license to carry out vandalism and property damage.

I am tired of the stupidity that I see in the newspapers everyday. I'm tired of laughing at some of the stories I hear regarding government, politics and common sense. I'm tired of people asking why it was alright for Obama to get Osama assassinated and not for us to kill Prabhakaran. I wish there was something I could do to fix it, but all I can do is write a whine on this blog and hope for the best. I wish for once I could read or hear of some new plan or strategy that will take the country forward rather than backward. If that makes me unpatriotic, so be it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Challenge Accepted!

*Apparently I wrote a post in the dead of night last night in a semi-conscious state. It is somewhat lucid so I'll keep it up. Mental note - no internet after 1am.

Facebook, and the internet in general has been taken by this 30 Day Challenge fever, where everyone is posting music and movies (well fine, only me) and some have turned it into a poetry challenge and god knows what else. Then there's Cadence, who is on a 'Game Plan' to shed 14kg in a ludicrous time-frame, and then there are these GoodReads book challenges, and I AM SICK OF THESE CHALLENGES!!

Well not really, I'm just really bad at them.

My GoodReads challenge is as good as dead (I've read 2 books out of my allotted 15 book challenge. I may not reach 5) and I have decided to abandon my 30 Day Movie challenge out of sheer boredom (I watch too many movies; every question required hours of agonising and recollection). The only 'challenge' I seem to have conquered was my plan to return to regular gym work-outs, but I don't want to label that as a challenge in case I jinx the whole thing.

Despite all this, however, I have decided to take on.. another challenge.

The hardest habits to break are the ones that sort of sneak up on you when you're looking the other way. It starts off as something inconsequential, and then into something minor, then to something necessary, and before you know it you've incorporated it into daily life. Breaking these habits are hard because, really, you see no real need to do it and also because it's become so normal.

Yes, I am talking about - smileys!

I was rather alarmed when it dawned on me that I use those little faces way too often during chat conversations and text messages. It's not like I drop a punctuation mark 'face' after every sentence, but they do appear rather liberally in my conversations. Now, there are several reasons for this; one being, I use sarcasm. A lot. And in these situations, smiley faces are essential.

Sample chat statements:

Friend: Hey my girlfriend says hi!
G: She said more than that last night..
Friend: Dude.. WTF?? That's not funny!

Friend: Hey my girlfriend says hi!
G: She said more than that last night.. ;) :P :D
Friend: HAHAHA oh man, that's hilarious! You're the best friend ever..!

Friend2: .. and after that we're going to Galle Face. Do you know where Galle Face is?
G: No
Friend2: Really?? Oh you're from Kandy, you don't come to Colombo no??
G: No
Friend2: You really should machan, what is there in Kandy?? You spend all day in city centre no?
G: Yes
Friend2: I knew it!

Friend2: .. and after that we're going to Galle Face. Do you know where Galle Face is?
G: No :P :D
Friend2: haha just checking, okay anyway..

Also, those smileys are always useful in getting out of a sticky situation when you may have accidentally said something you weren't meant to.

Friend3: I might skip dessert, I don't want to put on any more weight u know?
G: How could you possibly put on any more weight?
Friend3: How dare you!! Are you implying that I'm.. (rant)

Friend3: I might skip dessert, I don't want to put on any more weight u know?
G: How could you possibly put on any more weight?
[realisation strikes]
G: :D :P :D
Friend3: hahahaha very funny! :P

As you can see, there is a distinct advantage to using them, but as I grow older I fear that I may end up being taken as seriously as a text-addicted high school kid by my peers, and that is not something that I want to happen. So, dear readers, it will be a challenge, but I am up for it! From now onwards, my use of smileys and other emoticons shall be reduce by (pause for effect) 99%!! The ground rules:

1. All emoticons with any form of punctuation mark are not allowed
2. One smile :) is allowed per chat conversation, and can be used either for a hello or goodbye, for courtesy sake
3. LOL's and haha's are allowed, as long as they are not too liberal
4. No implied smileys (such as "[smile]") or any other variant allowed.

There you go then. Lets see how long I can last in the cyberworld without my trusty icons, and feel free to join me in this quest.

If you dare...!

(Too much? Never mind..)



Now, before you get started, let me say yes, I know I'm not really suffering from insomnia, I am merely unable to sleep and prone to exaggeration and drama.

It is almost 1am right now, and I have tried in vain to slip into bed and drift away into sleep. Sadly, the combination of extreme heat and my recent bout of late night restlessness (it's not as fun as it sounds) has made it a futile task. I have been walking around the house bleary eyed, as my eyelids refuse to completely shut while at the same time refusing to remain fully open. The results are very tired eyelids and a marked increase in frustration. I have called all the people I could possibly call at this time of night (a grand total of one, unfortunately) and now I have resorted to plonking my uncooperative self in front of the laptop. What I hope to achieve though, I have no idea; perhaps I can write a post so boring, reading it in draft will put me to sleep.

However, during all this tossing and turning and fussing about, I took time to notice the surrounding landscape. It's amazing how different even the most familiar surroundings can look when viewed in darkness. Night time brings with it its cloak of shadows and blackness, and somehow even the most well-known sights become forbidding, unknown places.

I think this is also relevant to people. Over the last few years, I have had the misfortune of meeting the most horrible, evil people I could ever imagine. I have witnessed them do unspeakably selfish things, all for personal gain and satisfaction. For me it has been a lesson in discernment, for so often I have assumed someone to be one thing only to discover that it was all just a charade, a clever deceptive mask that hides their true selves, and their true agendas.

I have many times mocked the world in general for its hopelessness, yet I have always believed in the inherent good of people. Yet, after meeting these devious double-minded people, I feel as if I must re-evaluate my stand.

Now, if only I could fall asleep...!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CEPA Photography Exhibition Extravaganza Extraordinaire Bonanza!

Click for larger and more readable image

Alright so perhaps that was a little much. However, as I have reluctantly volunteered to sell my blog space out as advertising for monetary (and other) benefits, I figure I might as well be grand about it.

Send in your pics, all you shutterbugs; I've been hearing good things about this event, and I promise that the exhibition is going to be first-class, so perfect opportunity for not just the professionals but even the amateur photographers out there to get some exposure (see what I did there?).

Click here if you want more details and want to download the application form. If that doesn't work, try this link instead.

And in closing, this song seems apt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 09 & 10

Day 09 - a movie that you can dance to (?)

Clearly I didn't think this part through when I amended the 30 Day Song Challenge to my movie challenge, because it's quite obvious that nobody dances to movies. Unless you're 'special'. So let me edit this to: Favourite Dance Movie.

This will be tough, because I normally can't stand dance movies. I tried watching Step Up 3D 3 times and gave up after the first 3 minutes. I love the fantasy that surrounds dance movies, where it feels like we're all in an alternate universe where every problem can be solved if we just dance it out long enough. I love it, but I can't buy it for more than a few minutes at a time. Naturally, this makes my pool of options really small, but let me see what I can dig up.

I was very tempted to put in "Black Swan (2010)" but I realise it's not exactly a 'dance' movie per se. Then there are the classics, I mean, even Mary Poppins had dancing in it (I loved that movie). But, after painstakingly refreshing my memory with all the dance movies I've seen through the years, I've narrowed it down to three candidates.

One movie had a cheesy premise but a young Tyra Banks and Piper Perabo. And a decent story. And, well, this. The other was an interesting story where Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez play love interests united by dance but not quite.

But the winner, unfortunately, is clearly this: Step Up (2006)

What can I say, at least there was a semblance of story and acting in this one. Let's move swiftly along, after the break.

Runners up:

Day 10 - a movie that makes you fall asleep.

This was a toss-up between two movies that were so boring I literally have no idea what they were about. Meet the candidates:

I know, it looks awesome doesn't it? But try watching it.

Contestant no.2 - Sideways (2004)

What the heck is this movie about? The only part of this I remember is Sandra Oh going going berserk on Thomas Haden Church when he finds out he's about to get married.

Honestly, I can't be bothered deciding. Both of these were snoozefests for me.


.. is awesome.

'Nuff said.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 07 & 08

Wow I am ridiculously behind my own challenge. I feel so, ill-disciplined.

So, moving on: Day 07 - a movie that reminds you of a certain event.

Oh boy. It was my first semester of college, and somehow or the other, I had befriended a pretty and intelligent girl who was two years senior to me. It was completely platonic, but despite constantly reminding everyone about it, my friends and even some seniors never failed to poke fun at it and make scandalous insinuations every time I got a call from her. Granted, we talked into the wee hours of the morning almost every night, but - no, it was completely platonic.

Well, during the first few times we spoke, the topic came around to the usual "hey we should hang out more often". So, naturally, I suggested we go watch a movie sometime, to which she promptly agreed. The next evening, I checked the listings to see which movies were playing. I didn't know any of them, so I just randomly picked one and picked up the phone to call her (H).

Me: Hey you, watcha doing today?
H: Hi! Nothing really, what about you?
Me: So, wanna go for a movie today, around 7pm?
H: Sure! Which one.
Me: Err, well they're showing this movie called "Wild Things". You seen it?
H: ...
Me: Hello?
H: Well, yeah. You haven't?
Me: No. Why, is it not good? We can go for something else...
H: Oh no, it's good. It's a bit.. Well..
Me: [confused silence]
H: So what time are you picking me up?

Now, note to the readers: this was memorable mainly because it was the first time I took a girl to a movie. Of course, it wasn't a date though because - no it wasn't a date!

Either way, the movie starts, Denise Richards does her thing, and things are going rather swimmingly, until - BAM! - one of the most famous movie sex scenes  in the last 20 years.

Needless to say, it was at this moment I understood H's reluctance to see the movie. It was at this moment too that I understood why there were so few women in the theatre. I looked at her, mortified, but she had already shut her eyes.

We laughed about it afterwards, but wow was I embarrassed as we stepped out of the hall. While it was memorable, it wasn't remembered for the usual reasons when taking a girl to a movie, especially the first time. Not that it was a date or anything, because - oh never mind.

Day 08 - a movie that you know all the lines to (at least the famous ones)

Is there any movie with more memorable dialogue that Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece that taught us about Big Mac's in France, educated us on the significance of giving a woman a foot massage, taught us how to hide a watch on your person if you're ever taken as a prisoner of war by Viet Cong, and showed us what to do in the unlikely event that you kill someone in the back seat of your car (by accident) on the highway.

The winner by a mile is - Pulp Fiction (1994)

I mean, just look how huge the quotes page on IMDb is for this movie!

Runners up:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I have said many times before that I do my best thinking when I'm staring out the window of a speeding vehicle. Many times, that speeding vehicle has been hurtling me to or away from someone I love. I feel like that is the very definition of 'bitter sweet'.

We all have moments in life that beckon a new chapter, or a new start, in a new location. Be it studies, work, or personal reasons, it is a rare individual who can say that he or she has been in the same place and around the same people all his life. 

I used to hate saying goodbyes in college. It reminded me how far behind I was with regards to everyone else. It reminded me that I was not supposed to be here. I watched near and dear leave in buses and trains, never to return. I waved goodbye to love so many times, and I remember every one of them. Eventually, it became a routine.

Is there a limit to how much loss one can take? Are we as indestructible as we sometime like to think we are? Just animals that grow to adapt and move on regardless of circumstance? Do we form attachments for psychological reasons alone, and not because of reasons of the heart? I had often thought that the hardships of the past had hardened my heart to feel pain solely for myself. I had come to accept that I was now a selfish man, who looked at others hardships through the tainted and skewed glasses of bitterness. I acknowledged that I no longer listened to others troubles so that I could help; instead I listened only to justify my actions in the light of theirs; to find reason to say that I was tougher than them. 

Recently, I said goodbye to yet another friend. Not a lifelong buddy, not a brother who had confided me, not a lover who had trusted me. Just - a friend. A friend who had to say goodbye under the most awful, unjust and cruel conditions. And, I actually felt it when I said goodbye. 

It gives me hope, for I honestly thought that I was beyond it by now. I am glad that I can still feel others pain, and reach out regardless of the situation.

To quote Incubus - love hurts, but sometimes it's a good hurt, and it feels like I'm alive.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Days 06

It looks like I've fallen horrificly behind in my self-imposed 30 Day challenge, so let me see if I can do some quick catching up while I can.

Day 06 - a movie that reminds you of somewhere

Easy. Whenever I think of hear about this movie I'm transported back to the time and place immediately. It was 2007, and I was in college in Manipal India, dragging myself through the days, praying for and praying against the arrival of exams, when suddenly some of my friends came up with the idea of making a short road trip to the big multiplex in the city proper for the Indian premiere of Spider Man 3. You probably remember the enormous hype the first two movies garnered, so the third movie was a must-see. Plans were made, tickets were booked well in advance for the first evening show, and about 25 of us made the 90 minute ride on bikes to Mangalore.

However, somone had forgotten to inform us that in order to collect your reserved tickets, you need to arrive 45 minutes before the show starts. We arrived 20 minutes early, and found out our tickets were gone.

Naturally, we were all rather bummed out, so we decided to drown our sorrows in tandoori chicken and kebabs from across the street. By the time we were done, it was time for the next show, and by some miracle, we managed to find enough seats for all of us, even though we'd have to end up driving home well past midnight.

Finally in our seats, the movie started.

Half an hour later, my warning bells were ringing.

An hour later, people started murmuring.

Two hours in, people were laughing when Peter Parker burst into tears on screen.

And then, thankfully it was over. We had just driven all the way for what must be the biggest movie letdown at the time (we have since been blessed with Transformers 2). What an absolute rubbish movie, and yet, that movie always makes me smile as I remember the moonlit bike ride back, the looks on the faces of the kebab joint when all 25 of us started ordering food, and the good time we had despite our friendly neighbourhood Spidey getting stuck in his own web.

Good times!

(You have to watch this, it's just priceless!)

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