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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We Are Too Lazy To Stay Alive: An Environmental Rant

Sri Lanka is often advertised as a nation of smiling people, too cool to be bothered by the stress and strife of modern life, blithely relaxing under coconut trees just waiting to chuck up what they're doing to go bum around at the beach. Our chillingly high suicide rate, increased rape and abuse statistics seem to go against that fiction, but except for all the people trying to kill themselves and/or assault others, we're a "happy-go-lucky" bunch apparently.

This does not necessarily translate well in real life situations; in fact, it more often than not comes across as extreme apathy.

Take for example my work place. As some of you know, I work in the sustainable energy field, and my main job is to make sure we save money energy. This is not an alien concept, as most companies and organisations are now gearing towards greener practices and more environmentally conscious processes. Some of this activity is mostly genuine, while some are more PR based. No matter, I say, as long as the job gets done.

Yet, I am constantly surprised at our neglect for the environment, and our flippant attitude towards most things environmentally related. Any form of communication regarding saving energy, recycling, global warming, water and land pollution is met with a sort of glazed over look, a few nods, an empathetic sigh and a swift change of subject. Either that or enthusiastic agreement, followed by nothing.

I admit I was often part of the latter, until very recently. I never fully realised the dire situation our planet and especially our country were facing regarding the energy and environmental crisis until I started working here in this capacity. Did you know we were once almost 85% dependent on hydroelectricity, and now that percentage is closer to 50%? The rest we are now generating in our faulty Chinese coal plants. As a result, the universally cursed CEB is selling us electricity at a massive loss every single year. The demand for electricity in our country has gone up steadily over the last 7 years, with no signs of slowing down. Let's talk about garbage then; did you know that despite laws in place that clinical and hazardous waste be segregated by hospitals and relevant industries before disposal, these bags all wind up in the same land dump anyway? We neatly segregated the poisonous materials at our work place, only to have the authorities lump it together in their tractors and thrown in the same sites, eventually seeping into our water table. Did you also know that a majority of Colombo was actually marsh land? Yes, this marsh land was simply filled up and built on, which is one of the main reasons why so many areas of Colombo flood at the mere hint of rain, because the soil is just not suited for normal drainage.

Enough lectures; a lot of these issues are beyond the control of you and I, yet there is a difference between knowing these facts and actually doing something about it. I was extremely proud of, and motivated by, T when she wrote her blog posts on the tree cutting fiasco near her workplace, because despite there being so many hoops to jump through for her to get even a clue as to what was happening, she still did whatever was in her power to do. That's the kind of attitude that we need to inculcate on a larger scale.

Luckily at home my parents are somewhat energy conscious; we have a solar water heater, we've been composting for more than 17 years, and our outside lights are switched off by 730pm. My mom has set herself a monthly target bill amount for the house electricity, and is trying her best to attain it. Long distance trips are scheduled to coincide with some of the office work, so that we don't need to waste fuel with two vehicles. The list goes on, and as you can see, the list is not filled with anything very complicated.
Yet, when it comes to other people's resources and costs, our already disturbing apathy goes into overdrive. I stayed in a common housing while at work for a while, and I was constantly surprised at how often people would just leave the TV on and leave the room Once I came back after a late dinner to find everyone in the house asleep, but the TV still on full volume. Then there's the iron that gets left on for hours. The fridge door that isn't closed properly. The taps which are left open. 
After raising these points with my fellow tenants whenever I could, they slowly began to cut down on a few infringements, if only to avoid me throwing a tantrum. Still I find it hard to believe that anyone that isn't from an extremely spoiled and affluent background can't fathom the costs (both financial and environmental) that their carelessness incurs. But make no mistake: this isn't restricted to our employees. Even our environmental awareness programmes that we hold in the local schools get little or no support from the staff, simply because they feel that if you're not being 'tested' on it, it isn't worth learning. With that kind of attitude, I suppose it's no wonder my peers look at me in bewilderment as I knock off unnecessary lights while staring daggers at them.
Bottom line: while we push forward with all the development in our country capital, it's important to remember how fleeting our reserves of natural resources are. Mindless landfilling and constructions are not going to make us more eco-friendly. It seems that the UDA, in all its wisdom, has confused environmental 'cleanliness' with mere the more cosmetic definition of it. If the people in power can't seem to understand the difference between planting trees and painting buildings green, then it paints a rather grim picture of all our futures. So take a stand; push for better practices in your workplace and homes, your schools and colleges. Don't be the guy that reasoned that the TV would eventually switch itself off if you just stopped looking at it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Melomanic Sessions No.6 - We Have A Llama

It's that time again, when the Melomanic Sessions swings back into town. For those who haven't heard of them already, where the heck have you been?? The Warehouse Project in Maradana hosts the Melomanic Sessions every 2-3 months; an evening of chilled out acoustic music by some budding local talent, including a few bands like Salvage, MagicBox Mixup, and Cynosure to name a few. It's not a performance, it's just a very cool, very laid back environment with some easy listening, good friends and the Warehouse Project's famous chocolate cake.
This month we have an interesting lineup, but most important of all it will be the debut of Melomanic's very own Asela Perera's EP titled "Evenings In The Sun". Yes, turn up tomorrow to be the first to get your hands on some great original music from our own shores. I've already written about it here, go read up if you haven't heard his music yet.
Here's the lineup for tomorrow:

- Arshad
- Gehan
- Nipun
- Shaafo
- Asela & Rushinee
- Isuri
- Dave
- Magicbox Mixup

Also happening tomorrow? The Warehouse Project will be carrying out "Dispatchers", a fun programme that aims to fill up the fissures of broken walls and buildings worldwide using multicoloured plastic building blocks (Lego). All are welcome, all you have to do is turn up and grab your bag of blocks and get going! You can read up more on the international programme here, and click here to get yourself signed up for tomorrow's event at the Warehouse.

Finally, there is a llama in the poster.

Honestly, what more could you want?

If you don't know how to get here, it's just after the Maradana roundabout, as shown below.

(If my drawing is too crude for you, here, go find it yourself!)

Click here and let us know you're coming, and see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Father's Son

I don’t understand you. Me. Us.
I am constantly shifting from yearning to be like you to being terrified that I will
Your strengths are magnified in my eyes because of my weaknesses, which in turn are magnified in my own eyes because of your strengths
We are cut from the same cloth, of the same blood, but are we the same?
Will we ever be? Do you want us to be?

I know nothing about anything anymore, but I know this, father.
In the cool silence of these nights, I have learned one bitter truth
I am my father’s son
So make room at your table, for I too am destined to disappoint the ones I love

I hope you are proud.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Save The Cheerleader, Save The World! - Why There's Nothing Wrong With The T20 Cheerleaders

Sri Lanka is in the grips of an energy crisis, an economic crisis, a human rights crisis and cricket fever! The T20 World Cup is in full swing and right now everyone is glued to their TV's every evening to watch the fireworks on display. However, amidst all the zealous cheering, venomous anti-India slurs and numerous hypothetical scenarios that get Sri Lanka into the finals, there have been steady complaints regarding the tournament. Now this is generally the norm with most any international event, especially those held in the cash-strapped sub-continent. However this time, despite several questionable decisions (such as the utter stupidity in holding any form of sporting event in the ghost town that is Mahinda Rajapakse's backyard aka Hambantota), the bulk of the complaints have been regarding the cheerleaders.

What cheerleaders, you ask? These cheerleaders:

Similar memes are doing the rounds on Facebook and other social network sites, and even some friends who went for the matches shared their pictures of the girls in action, often followed by some over-the-top statement about them being the "disgrace of our country" and how they should be (and I quote) "shot with a sniper rifle".


There are many things I don't like about the T20 World Cup, chief of them being the fact that there is T20 cricket involved. I also can't stand how every time we host an event like this, the government uses the distraction of the masses to raise fuel prices or take some other more disturbing course of action. But cheerleaders?

Let's be clear about a few things. First of all, according to 'reports', the contractor for the cheerleaders couldn't land any better looking women because the payment was "not that great". Which is silly, really, because it's not so much the girls that people are complaining about, it's the hideous outfits. I guarantee that none of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders (which seem to be the standard everyone compares cheerleaders to) would have looked any better in those dreadful orange, pink and blue leotards. This so-called contractor should be the one on the receiving end of all the heat, not the girls! A 5 year-old could come up with a better outfit by eating crayons and pooping on a colouring book.

Secondly, why do we need cheerleaders at all? Cheerleading is an activity that has its roots in the USA, where no sport is allowed to be boring (even their golf has Tiger Woods). It's been around since the late 19th century, and it's come so far as to be classified as a sport itself by ESPN, complete with a governing body, inter-school and national competitions. While most school and college programmes involve some percentage of males as well, most professional sports teams have focused on good looking scantily clad female dancers, with the male "cheerleaders" being relegated to mascot duty.

So naturally, the concept of female dancers at sport events has migrated internationally, and yet very few European sports use them. Tennis, football, handball etc are conspicuously without cheerleaders. Yet for some reason, cricket (of all sports) had to have them. The Indian Premiere League, that orgy of wealthy, bored billionaires and overpaid cricketers, were more than happy to import some cheerleaders to add to the flash and bang of the tournaments, and perhaps India (despite being the worst G20 country for women) could be justified in using them, given their rich history of provocatively clad movie stars traipsing amongst bushes in the rain for men's attentions.

But Sri Lankan sports have no idea what to do with these cheerleaders. Our sports begin and end with cricket, and cricket has always involved sneaking alcohol in to Premadasa Stadium, getting drunk to the sounds of the multiple bands in the stands, and dancing and taking our shirts off. This is how we 'cheer', and a group of dancing bedazzled girls is only going to act as a distraction, not an incentive. Someone should have thought that through before trying to slap on a borrowed sideshow from India and running with it. Last year's ODI World Cup didn't need them; in fact, I thought the drummers that played for every boundary and wicket were a great idea, and they blended well with the crowd. At least, a lot better than these fluorescent fairies.

Bottom line: the real crime here is not that the cheerleaders fail to be a cross between Miss Universe and Missy Elliot, but that there are cheerleaders at all! Objectifying women under the guise of sports is another topic all together, but while being a cheerleader may be a glamorous and recognised vocation in some countries, it doesn't translate at all well to cricket in Sri Lanka. This isn't a crime, nor is it a reflection of our 'backward culture' as some would like to hint at.
We just don't need them.
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