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.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I wish.
Blogging. Who does it anymore, really?
When I started this blog back in 2008... whoa. Hold on while I let that sink in.
Yes indeed, I started blogging back when my beloved Celtics had just won a championship, before we had witnessed the brilliance of "The Dark Knight", and before Jessica Chastain found Osama bin Laden.
It's hard to imagine the person I was when I decided to pen these little posts a mere 5 years ago; (definitely in better shape, but without my glorious greying sideburns which have proven to be such a chick-magnet). What started off as a way to kill the time slowly turned into a favourite past-time of mine, and soon I was churning out over-the-top posts on everything under the sun as often as I could type them.
I 'churn' out much fewer posts these days; in fact, before today I hadn't even opened Blogger in 4 months. I like to think this is because I'm much too busy these days, but it's more likely because I have lost the taste for it.
So, to get to the point: it's time to shut down Darkside Daily for good. I don't want to be too dramatic about it, especially since I've 'left blogging' before. But at the same time, I don't want it to just go quietly into the night and be a remnant on someone's Google Reader Feedly feed, hence this post.
This blog has been a repository for all my thoughts through a tumultuous period in my life. It's seen me through incredible adventures, great sporting events, amazing movies, awful heartbreaks, introspective ruminations, several angry moments, happy moments and sad ones. In five years I've come a long way, and been through so much, it's almost impossible to encapsulate here without droning.
This won't be the end of me blogging, but just a new chapter. I think it's time I start anew, and leave behind the history of the 'headless pianist'. Those of you that know me will no doubt see me sooner or later blogging under my real name, with a much less cartoony blog name (what was I thinking...). I hope that by starting over, with a new leaf, I too will be able to explore and reflect on new things and new areas in my own life.
Finally, I just want to thank all the bloggers who made the 'blogging community' so interesting back when there was such a thing. Many of you have stopped blogging, but I have made friends with you outside of the murky world of Kottu.org, so this isn't the end or anything silly like that. Thank you all for your feedback on my posts and especially my music, which I feel has been shaped largely through your comments and suggestions.
So, until the next blog post..
The Darkside bids you adieu. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Short and Sweet: The 55 Word Writing Challenge

I haven't been writing much of late, so I was rather unsure about joining up the latest trend on the Sri Lankan Twittersphere, which was the 55-word story challenges. Basically, every day the twitter handle @SriLankaDiaries spits out a word, and the writers have up to midnight to write a 55-word vignette around that theme. Simple, right?

Well, it's harder than it seems. For example, that first paragraph I wrote is exactly 55 words, and I barely even got into the point of this post. Imagine writing a small work of fiction in that?

Well, despite my abysmally poor time management skills, I've managed to write a few entries every now and then. There are some interesting works out there, and it's a fun and engaging writing exercise to break from the monotony of work these days.

Recently @SriLankaDiaries mixed things up and proposed a collaborative writing challenge, which would involve four writers to write 55 word vignettes one after the other to form one coherent piece of fiction. I was given the rather daunting task of being the fourth and final writer in my group, meaning I had to tie up all the story lines with my 55 words.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a challenge; thanks to writer no.3 for throwing a total curve ball in the story line (but admittedly making it all the more interesting). Here's the piece in its entirety. The word for the story was "poison".

Little Ashok lay under the bed in the dark terrified.

A car sounded in the driveway and he heard the voices of his nana and someone else in the hallway. She was screaming “YOU POISONED MY DAUGHTER!”

Ashok’s world started spinning.

“Nooo! Mommy isn’t dead!” he thought, crying.

Suddenly there was silence.

“Nana??” he whispered.

He tiptoed in to the hall. He could see the bracelet he made for his mom broken all over the floor. He heard a familiar voice that he followed in to the kitchen. His dad was standing above his mother’s lifeless body, with a shining gleam in his eye. He started to move towards Ashok.

“Really, Lehan? That’s how you want to start your first novel? I’m certain your father wouldn’t approve,” quipped, Sid. This wasn’t the reaction Lehan was looking forward to, but made no attempt to defend himself. It could have been worse; his father would have just walked off and carried on drinking without saying a word.

And suddenly, Lehan had an idea.

Soon he was at his father’s house, watching him read his manuscript. His father didn’t speak, but his eyes showed contempt at his son’s “so-called profession”.

“Rubbish.”, he slurred, reaching for his drink.

Lehan watched him take the poisoned glass, picked up his pen, and prepared to start writing.
Thanks to fellow contributors @Shi_dreams , @gillian.nair and @rebelinpurple . You can see more short and sweet works of fiction at the Sri Lanka Stories site here. If you want to sign up for the challenge, simply follow @SriLankaDiaries on Twitter or drop them an email at srilankastories@gmail.com


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sweet Nothing

Well it's been a while, hasn't it?

This blog is slowly turning into a decaying holiday home that I can no longer afford to maintain, but perhaps a new cover will get me back into the writing vein.

I've been meaning to cover this song for ages, but I never got around to it until last weekend. A few found hours at home, and this is what turned out. It's rare to find a 'dance' song that has such good lyrics, but I'll put that down to Florence Welch's input (from Florence & The Machine).

Either way, it's actually a very haunting song when you listen to it, and hopefully that translates somewhat in this cover. Enjoy!

As always, the original is here, you can check out more of my videos here, and also my soundcloud page here.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MAS Tree Planting Project - "Thuruwadula"

As you can tell, my blog posts are growing more and more sparse with every passing year. I wish that I could attribute this to work, but the truth is there really isn't much to write about of late.
Until now, that is. MAS is launching a tree plantation project on June 5th to celebrate World Environment Day. The project aims at reforesting 9.7 acres of land in Thuruwadula, Thulhiriya by replanting 1,400 trees by the end of 2013, using a technique known as 'analog forestry'. What this means, in short, is that it aims to restore the local biodiversity while providing economic opportunities to small-scale farmers.
The project is being handled by the MAS Environmental Sustainability Team and a Doug Adams team, and is probably one of the larger environmental projects being carried out in Sri Lanka in recent memory.

Now, here's where you can get involved as well. You can help sponsor a tree, along with the maintenance and care needed for it for the next 5 years, by making a one time donation of Rs. 1000 to the project. Further more, corporate financial sponsorship options are available, as well as options to sponsor sign boards at the location (roughly Rs. 10,000 per sign).
If you or anyone you know is interested, please send an email with your details and/or queries to the email addresses listed below, and they will assist in you making the donations for the project. Personally, I'm very excited about this, especially after witnessing the wanton destruction of trees in Colombo in the last 6-12 months. It's initiatives like these that need your attention to gain traction to undo all the wrong that we ourselves have done to this beautiful planet we call home.

The email addresses are listed below:

Thishan - ThishanD@masholdings.com
Wathsala - WathsalaSi@masholdings.com
Roshan – RoshanGun@masholdings.com
Veda – ChandimaV@masholdings.com
Cruze - FlorentineC@masholdings.com
Yasoja - YasojaW@masholdings.com

For more information regarding the project, please visit their website at www.thuruwadula.com .


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Internet Playlisting

I spend way, way too much time on the internet.

This is probably not the best revelation to have about one's self, yet it is the sad truth. Most of my weekends at home are spent either attempting (and failing) to say no to Mom's cooking, or in front of the computer. Unlimited internet, especially when you work in the sticks like I do, is a luxury I must abuse when given the opportunity to.

However, last weekend my hours scouring the internet led me to a string of lovely live videos that I thought I would share with you all.

Singing and performing live is a special art, even for the accomplished performer. It isn't easy to get everything spot on with the lights, cameras and mics pointing at you, not to mention the eager audience, and that just makes these performances - in my opinion - extra special.


Peter Frampton - Black Hole Sun (cover)

I love the original, which is a real rock masterpiece, but this cover almost makes the song rock out more. Fantastic, fantastic cover. The breakdown before the 3rd verse is just mind blowing.

Matchbox Twenty - You Won't Be Mine

One of my favourite songs from their second album, this hidden gem sounds even more haunting live. I recommend listening to their entire "Storytellers" set, it's really inspiring listening to how Rob Thomas wrote so many of his songs.

Boyce Avenue - We Are Never Getting Back Together (cover)

Everyone on Facebook is spazing out over the new Boyce Avenue cover of Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors" (which is great), but after listening to that song I stumbled onto this, a breathtaking cover of Taylor Swift's girl anthem. Absolutely love the harmonies here, great collaboration.

Brandon Boyd - Runaway Train

Brandon Boyd. Strings. Live. What more can I say? This is arguably better than the original.

John Legend - Dancing In The Dark (cover)

I almost didn't want to add this, because it's THAT good (if that makes any sense). John Legend reworks Springsteen's classic into a soulful ballad, combining The Boss's heartfelt lyrics with his own immense talent. It doesn't get much better than this.

Any classic live songs you've stumbled onto? Link me up in the comments!


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Come Alive

Happy Easter everyone!

Jeremy Camp - Come Alive

As I watch the world being held captive by dreams
That will never be fulfilled in this life,
Chasing the darkness and everything that surrounds
All the emptiness buried inside,
Well I won't stop showing this hope that is holding
The passion so deep in my heart,
To tell all the world of Your love and affection
And the plan that You've had from the start,
So I will continue to fight

'Til the world comes alive
'Til the world comes alive
Cause You have restored us
And You have redeemed us
And we have been given new life
Cause You are alive

There is a freedom that begins by receiving
The forgiveness that cleanses us all
All the broken and bleeding just start by believing
His love has conquered death's call.
So I will continue to fight

'Til the world comes alive
'Til the world comes alive
Cause You have restored us
And You have redeemed us
And we have been given new life
Cause You are alive

I walk out on the battlefield
See that all the pain is real
Be the hands that stop the bleeding
Seeing all these wounded souls
All they really need is hope
I'll show Your great love is healing

'Til the world comes alive

'Til the world comes alive
'Til the world comes alive
Cause You have restored us
And You have redeemed us
And we have been given new life
Cause You are alive
And You are alive
You are alive
You are alive

As I watch the world being held captive by dreams
That will never be fulfilled in this life

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Return of Basketball

Note: this is a purely basketball post. This will not interest 97% of you readers. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Recently, I played proper team basketball for the first time in 5 years.

While this may not seem like a topic worthy of a post for most, those of you that have followed this blog for a while will understand how passionate I am about the game of basketball. However, the corporate life and the lack of basketball amenities have resulted in me becoming an armchair player, if there is such a thing.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that our company has a small practice session every Saturday morning in Colombo! The session starts at 7:30am, so naturally I was awake from 6am, turning up at the court a full half hour ahead of time.

After introducing myself to the players as they turned up, I stepped up to the free throw line to shoot my first free throw in years.

First though, I need you to watch this.

My free throw was only marginally, microscopically better than that (at least I hit the rim).

Now, it's not as if I didn't expect there to be some rust after not touching a basketball since 2008. But I was in for a long, long morning.

My shot mechanics were off, I couldn't seem to get my range at all, and even my layups were caroming off the backboard like I was trying to play dodge ball with it. Needless to say, the initial drills did not make me look very good in front of my new teammates.

Soon we split into two teams for some pick-up games. I haven't played basketball in Sri Lanka, and while in India we run either the standard 2-3 zone or man defense, here apparently they play 1-2-2 zone defense; something I was very unfamiliar with. We played a few points and I think I made a defensive gaffe on almost every possession. This was not going well.

However, after a few more minutes of confusion, things started becoming clearer. And then, finally, it started coming back to me.

See, while the shot was most definitely completely missing in action, and my dribble was shaky at best, the defense was still there. After shutting down a few players on a couple of possessions, I started feeling my confidence returning.

Over the next hour and 15 minutes, I started to really get back into the  groove on both the offense and the defense. My team was horrible on the boards so I started playing under the rim, boxing out and cleaning up a few rebounds. I made a few nice crisp passes for assists, disrupted a fast break, and then found myself on a fast break. Unfortunately, I got fouled on the play without trying to anticipate the contact and get off a good shot, for which I vowed vengeance (in a very team-friendly, competitive way, of course). A few possessions later I got the defensive rebound and broke on the fast break again. The same defender turned up, and this time I side stepped him, went behind his momentum and tossed up a floater - a shot I almost never use.

Nothing but net.

Right then, I knew things were going to be okay.

This being the first game in front of the other players, I was determined not to leave without a good report, so even though my abysmal stamina was threatening to shut entire parts of my body down, I kept pushing and hustling on defense, even managing to get a huge block on one play. Somehow, I made it to the end of the practice before collapsing on a bench. I had used up almost every single iota of energy in my body; and it was only 930am.

I know this may all sound rather self-congratulatory, but it really was a celebratory moment for me. I'm glad I get to play at least on weekends now, and the opportunity gives me an outlet to try out all the geeky basketball strategies and plays I've been storing in my head all these years. Even right now I'm researching the best way to break 1-2-2- zone defenses, as well as the proper ways to play it. Hopefully in a few weeks I can try to convince people to shift to man defense and have some proper pick-n-roll, pick-n-pop plays.

Small joys, but they make the week go by a lot easier. Look forward to more basketball posts!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Morons And Extremists - The Real Threat To Sri Lanka

I was listening to the PHAT 30 countdown on Friday evening when YES FM RJ's Jeremy and Delano started talking about Oscar Pistorious, the famous South African athlete who had just been arrested and subsequently charged with murdering his girlfriend. As you probably know by now, what at first seemed like an accidental shooting, later turned into a 1st degree murder charge. It was a tragic and highly charged story; however, it seems the friendly RJ's of YES FM didn't quite share this sentiment.

Let me just say, Jeremy and Delano are easily one of the worst RJ duos I have ever had the misfortune of listening to. I have heard babbling toddlers hold better conversations than these two geniuses; they spoke of the Pistorious murder in the most childish, idiotic way, first discussing the mechanics of shooting someone blind and then trying to guess what kind of costume Pistorious' model girlfriend must have been wearing to scare him into shooting her dead. Then, after fulfilling their quota of inane and insensitive chatter between songs, they promptly dedicated the next song to Oscar Pistorious' dead girlfriend.

The song? Ke$ha's "Die Young".

Let this sink in for a minute. These two clowns, who are professional RJ's, thought it was amusing to dedicate a song about partying like you're going to die young, to the victim of a brutal shooting. I almost stopped the car in shock and disbelief. It was a moment so inappropriate, so repulsive and so disgusting, most people would think twice before making that joke to their best friend. Here were two people who felt it was fine to share this during prime time on national radio.

This is just one example of a growing trend I have noticed in Sri Lanka, where people who you thought would 'know better', simply don't. From matters that range from women's rights to politics, from common manners to religion and race, a growing number of the 'educated masses', as I like to call them, are standing not on the side of reason but of complete madness.

Of course this sort of thing is not restricted to radio; I've already blogged about the famous (for 15 minutes) Sri Lankan sisters Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, who went on to discuss the various 'servants' they kept at home while being interviewed for The Amazing Race. While their actions can be excused as more a blooper than a serious issue, it once again shows the lack of awareness to cultural and social norms, especially when they were in essence representing the country to an international audience.

This is starting to ring some alarm bells, because Sri Lanka is no country of unity and harmony, despite the various images of harps and angels the government propaganda machine is generating. The truth is that while we have ended the most visible of wars, we are still fighting an invisible war against the dictatorship of the Rajapakses, the corruption of his friends-and-family government, the unknown state of the North, the lack of any form of opposition, poor education standards and the plight of women that work home and abroad, just to name a few. Given all these serious matters, it's important that the general public are educated and show solidarity for justice and reason, and not side with the fanatics and extremists, such as our newest friends - the Bodu Bala Sena.

Over the last few months, this group of organised (and sometimes violent) Buddhist extremists have become more and more vocal, staging protests and demonstrations against Muslims in various parts of the island. While anti-muslim hate is not something new in Sri Lanka, it has rarely been taken to such lengths as these. We can all remember how the Dambulla mosque incident turned out, with the Muslims wisely taking a diplomatic and non-confrontational stance towards the violent thuggery depicted by the monks. One wonders how much longer they can maintain such a stance, given the type of protests the BBS have staged. In the area where I work, monks and locals gathered together holding up signs depicting Allah as being a pig. Recently someone shared a picture of an effigy of what can only be either a Muslim imam or perhaps the Prophet being burned.

The BBS are very serious, and have active support in the most surprising circles. Not only has the government almost been completely silent on their activities, but there are a growing number of supporters that have thrown their weight behind their extremist views. Facebook especially has been flooded with 'patriotic' hate groups, calling for Sri Lankan 'lions' to purge the country of all Muslims since we are after all a 'buddhist state'.

Here's the thing though; let's for a minute put aside the agenda of the BBS. They are, after all, just another extremist hate group, and the world has its fair share of them. What is truly disturbing is that a growing number of people, educated and intelligent people, have actually bought into their fear-mongering mandate. There are articles published in our national newspapers, proudly defending their actions and even justifying their actions. That particular article has been shared 1500 times on Facebook alone, and that just terrifies me. I'm saddened to say that even members of my close circle of friends and family are starting to question the 'purpose' behind the halaal certification, and whether it should in fact be abolished in Sri Lanka.
To cap it off, many of you must have heard of the One Billion Rising movement that I blogged about recently. The aim was to raise awareness regarding gender based violence, and was part of an international movement that spanned all the continents. We had our own One Billion Rising movement in Colombo, and this post nicely details all the fantastic work that was done leading up to it. However, today I was shown a blog post written by an anonymous blogger, who had shared a picture of the Lipton Circus protest, and written the following:

"One Billion Rising..Colombo style..errr...thats more like One Hundred Rising but..hey..still..it was a good show! a show of strength a definite show of power...women power..NGO power..check the Chicks..should have gone there yesterday.. could have definitely hit on one of those loose NGO women...could have had a different V. Day then!!!"

What follows are a series of anonymous comments, basically ridiculing the protest, claiming the protesters don't know anything about women in urban areas because they are from the English speaking middle class, that they are a 'pathetic bunch of stooges who dance to the tune of some organisations from the West', and that this is all a publicity stunt for 'patrons living in a cool Western country'.

There are more bizarre ravings involving government conspiracies, but I don't want to go on, and I don't want to link to them either since I don't want their idiocy to be advertised.
Bottom line: There are crazy people out there; that's a given. What I can't understand is how their numbers seem to be growing. I can't understand how every time I log on to Facebook there is more evidence of people whom I call 'friends' sharing all this extremist nonsense. I can't understand how  normal people, brought up in multicultural environments, can say and do the most insensitive things in public forums. I can't believe the voice of reason, peace, love and understanding is the one in the minority.
God help us all.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Butterfly (A 'One Billion Rising' Post)

It's amazing how easy it is for us to ignore what is sometimes right in front of our eyes. Often, we get so conditioned to particular ways and accepted norms, that our senses become deadened and numbed to certain stimuli. Like spending too long in a cellar, our eyes grow accustomed to the gloom and dank surroundings, and before we know it we no longer ache for the fresh air and the sun upon our faces.

I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I am like that too, when it comes to violence against women. I tell myself that the overwhelming data and statistics are wrong, and that the situation may be slightly blown out of proportion, and that maybe this doesn't happen to all women, but just to women who are 'unfortunate' enough to come across a crazed pervert. I'm ashamed that I entertain such thoughts for even the briefest of nanoseconds.

The fact is that it's hard for a man like me to understand that women live through the fear of harassment on a daily basis. That at every juncture or turn, they have to be constantly vigilant, constantly vary of their surroundings and the circumstances they are in. Driving late at night is not even an option; women don't even attempt it anymore. Walking home from work after dark is an unknown activity if you are a woman. Travelling by bus becomes an exercise in strategy: is the bus too full, too empty? Are there enough seats with women seated adjacent, and if not, are the men at least decent human beings in appearance? If I have to stand, is my bag long enough to cover my front and/or my rear, should the need arise?

These are just a few examples of the dangers every women face in our world; I could go on and on if I considered the work environment, home, family, women of different ages, etc. We've come to the point where women are raped in our neighbourhoods, and we can only shrug when the perpetrators claim she was a prostitute, as if that is somehow relevant to the brutal assault. We've come to the point where little girls are violated in ways so graphic that they are unable to continue living, while their supposed protectors are given a slap on the wrist and told sternly to not do it again. We've come to the point where even some women believe it is their right to be only second-class citizens, and that any woman who dares claim otherwise is a godless, westernized anarchist.

I hope to be a father one day, in the not too distant future. I don't know how much the world will change between then and now, but I refuse to believe that there may be a chance I bring a girl into this world that can only hope the odds are stacked in her favour for a normal life, that can only cross her innocent fingers and wish that she can have an equal chance at success, that can only sit and pray she goes through life as one of the few lucky individuals who gets away from the leering, bullying beast that is rape culture.

I refuse to believe that there may be a chance my daughter will go through her entire life looking over her shoulders and running away from dark corners.

So today, I choose to rise.
If you want to rise with me, click here to join the One Billion Rising campaign in Sri Lanka. Add your voice to those who choose to speak out. Stand united and join the demonstration on Feb 14th in Colombo.


After 3 years and many headless cover videos, I finally wrote my very first song over the weekend, and it was inspired by the One Billion Rising campaign. I was very nervous, this being my first foray into writing and composing, but I hope you enjoy this simple tune; hopefully, the first of many.

Many thanks to Nishan for working on this with me over the weekend. Stellar, cuz!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Sri Lanka Deserved To Win Yesterday's T20

If you're a cricket fan, you probably know of the events that took place in Melbourne yesterday between Sri Lanka and Australia. For those of you who aren't, however, let me recap.

Sri Lanka were playing Australia in their second and final T20 match at Melbourne. After winning their first T20 match, Sri Lanka had a chance of winning the T20 series and going home on a high note, especially after they lost the test series and drew the ODI series. After scoring a solid 164 in their allotted 20 overs, rain interrupted the Australian innings, forcing the game to be shortened to a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted total. Fast foward to the final over, and Australia needed 12 runs off the last 3 balls.

Now, here's where things got interesting.

vol fin_to_DivX_clip0 by Ianbishop

There's been quite an uproar about this whole incident from both sides, and quite frankly, almost all of them are wrong. An overwhelming majority of Sri Lankan supporters feel that we were fully within our rights to not only take time during the last delivery but to also retaliate in the way we did. Many cite the history of sledging done by Australian cricketers, especially against Sri Lankans, and justify using 'karma'. Then there are some who feel that we acted in an 'un-gentlemanly manner' and are embarrassed. I was very annoyed to hear the YES FM DJ Shanaka last night discuss the incident at length during his show, as he seemed to be one of those who thought we shouldn't be proud of this win, and that we had violated the "spirit of the game".
(He also says "mate" a lot, and that didn't help.)
I find all this mildly ridiculous. Who told us sport has to be civilised? The reason we have rules against misconduct is because in any contest of skill, be it boxing or backgammon, people get worked up. Expecting some form of natural decency in sport is like expecting the paparazzi to decline from publishing nude pictures of celebrities. Let's not forget that there was a time when the word 'sport' involved half naked, armed prisoners thrust into a ring with wild animals, fighting for their lives. You didn't have people walking away from the amphitheatre going "Oh well, that last decapitation was a bit much no? Bad manners to slice someones head off from left to right..."
I'm not saying we should allow games to descend into madness, but I'm all for allowing people to allow their emotions to get them going as long as it's within the rules of the game. If we expect players to behave under such a strict rule of conduct, up to the point where we don't allow them outbursts of anger or frustration, then we might as well stay at home and watch computer game simulations instead of the real thing.

Recently in the NBA there was a huge hue and cry during the Knicks and Celtics game, because a Celtics player (KG) allegedly insulted a Knicks player's wife during a game, which led to the Knicks player (Carmelo Anthony) not only losing his mind on the court, but also to waiting outside the Celtics team bus once the game was over to confront KG.
(Apparently he said his wife tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios, a claim he has since denied but that inevitably led to these t-shirts. I admit, I find it hilarious!)
But this is all irrelevant, because guess what - Carmelo took a series of ridiculously bad shots after that incident, made bad decisions, and was basically taken completely out of rhythm. Most importantly, the Celtics won.
The same applies here. If you're a professional athlete, with endorsements, a contract to play sport and have made this your livelihood, you better play with the right mixture of head and heart. If something as simple as delaying the game is going to irritate you to such an extent that you feel the need to push things along, perhaps you need some more time in the minor leagues. So what if the Sri Lankan players told him to eff off? Did he expect them to fall at his feet and immediately heed his words and bowl? Tempers flared, and for a change the Sri Lankans channeled their aggression at the opponent instead of themselves. A seasoned player would have recognised it for what it was - a simple, basic time wasting strategy aimed at unsettling the batsman. Hiding behind the vague and ambiguous "spirit of the game" banner will do you no favours, because at the end of the day contest has been designed to pick a winner, not the most gracious in defeat. 
Was it rude? Definitely; no one is denying that, and certainly Mahela's squeaky clean image will be tarnished. I'm sure he won't mind. Was it good for the sport? Perhaps not, but let's be honest; the cameras and mics don't catch everything that goes on during a game, be it cricket, basketball or any sport for that matter. Players say a lot of stuff in order to get under their opponent's skin. Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player of all time was known to be a an especially good (and by that I mean bad) trash talker. Do you think he'll be remembered for that or for the 6 championship rings? Exactly.
David Warner and the crew can say what they want about the win, as well as the Channel 9 commentators. The bottom line is that while it wasn't pretty, the Sri Lankan team did nothing wrong.  No, the Sri Lankan's didn't deserve to win this because of karma or some form of justice. They deserved to win because they played like adults in the face of adversity, for the first time in recent memory. They played with fortitude and emotion, and it was the Australians who, for the briefest of moments, wilted like daisies under the glare of the Melbourne lights and a few accented invectives.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hate Speech In Sri Lanka: Why Are We Still Listening?

We all have experience with crazy people. They're normal, in almost every way, except that tiny little thing that sets them off, and before you know it you're wondering how this person managed to escape the asylum.

This post isn't about those people. God knows that just like taxes and Enrique Iglesias, no matter how hard you'd like for them to just disappear, you make peace with it because you know they're not going anywhere.

This post is about the crazy people that get put on a pedestal and asked for their 'opinions'.

Today I read this post, titled "Laws and religion - some concerns for Sinhala Buddhists" written in the local Daily News. In it, the writer - one Shenali Waduge - goes on a point by point defense of Sinhala Buddhists from the wily and scheming attacks against them, especially the claims that they are 'racists', 'extremist' and even 'militant'.

This, to me, is just laughably absurd. See, there are a lot of people at risk in our little island paradise. Depending on your gender, orientation, politics, religion, mother tongue, upbringing, or just your appearance, there is a real danger which lies under the surface of day to day life. However, the members of the Sinhala Buddhist majority are not one of them. Yet, the writer goes on to paint a picture of a systematic campaign to not only destroy the entire section of the community, but to introduce a new wave of 'Muslimized' converts to rule the land. It's a beautiful tale of intrigue and conspiracy, not unlike which we have seen on TV shows such as "Homeland", but like those shows, this too is just another piece of sensationalist fiction.
Let's break down some key quotes.
"There is little to challenge that freedoms and rights have been enjoyed by Tamils (11 percent) and Muslims (9 percent) and it is because of the rights they enjoy that minorities have been able to openly bring up issues."
I wonder what the writer means by 'openly bring up issues', because there are few things that are 'open' in Sri Lanka, least of all anything that has to do with negative press. Just last week there was a violent protest outside of the No Limit department store, a Muslim owned enterprise, by a radical group of so-called 'patriots' calling for a boycott of the store because of it's ownership. There were violent clashes, and the police were involved, yet not a single iota of this incident made it to any of the local papers. So much for openly bringing up issues.
"Sinhalese Buddhists are concerned because Buddhist cultural heritage is being destroyed, Buddhist archeological and historical cultural monuments are being destroyed"
This is an interesting point to make, considering a large portion of this crimes have been traced back to Buddhist monks raiding their own temples of relics. The most popular story last year was the case of the Kotte double murders, where a Nilame of another temple was found to be the mastermind behind the heist that went wrong, leading to the death of two monks who were unfortunate enough to identify the criminals. Then there was the bizarre case of the mob led by a Buddhist monk that stole a deity from a Hindu temple in broad daylight up north. These are just a few cases I can think off off-hand which have made it to the news, while other reports have always linked ex-military men and deserters to these temple thefts. I haven't heard anything about secret Muslim strike squads and Christian ninjas infiltrating temples to steal things.
"We are concerned because the growing number of Sharia Law courts that were never present in Sri Lanka previously. When Muslims had been following the Sri Lankan laws for decades, why should there be a sudden need for a Muslim only law? Why should 9 percent of the population have a separate law when as citizens of Sri Lanka, Muslims must abide by Sri Lanka’s laws?"
Sharia law, after some light research, has been in effect for quite some time. The main purpose of these courts in Sri Lanka are to settle Muslim marriage disputes, which are governed by a different set of laws. As far as I know, there have not been any legal issues between the State and the Sharia courts regarding Sharia law since all the parties involved are Muslims, and as such it doesn't affect the remaining 91% of the population as the writer states. How then is this a national issue that affects Sinhala Buddhists? Are Sinhala Buddhists marrying Muslims and then getting the short end of the stick? Since these courts are mainly community based and are set up primarily in towns that are of majority Muslims, doesn't the writers argument go against her?

"We are concerned about extremist demands like loud speakers which does not constitute a fundamental right – speakers are only an electronic tools, a recent phenomenon."

You have got to be kidding me. Demands for loudspeakers? Buddhist temples and mosques basically have a chanting war every single day, and I'd like to see either party decide to lay aside their weapons of noise pollution even for an evening. Labelling this as an extremist course of action is sort of hypocritical, surely.

"Even Muslim owned supermarkets that caters to all communities shut down for prayers on Friday. "
Seriously, this is about as consequential as complaining about those Liberty Plaza stores that close for lunch. Seriously, national issue? Attack on Sinhala Buddhist way of life? Seriously?

"We question how peaceful Islam is when almost all the major conflicts in the World are Muslim-oriented and end up Muslims killing each other due to sectarian violence far more than the damage the West does with their air warfare."
I just. I mean. What the. I can't. Huh?

"It has become a practice for both Muslims and Tamils to hide their follies and wrongs behind the cry of “ethnic discrimination”, “hate campaigns” to cover up accusations made against them. It has worked well to camouflage their ulterior motives by internationally promoting Sinhalese Buddhist as “extremists” and using the power of money to spread the news via media. It has been convenient to quote “compassion” of Buddhism and ridicule Buddhists when they attempt to stop Islamic expansionism by bring the truth to the public"
From what I have read so far in this article, the so-called 'follies' and 'wrongs' are closing shops for prayers, loudspeakers and for exercising their faith. What Ms.Waduge fails to mention are the numerous acts of mob violence against the Muslim community, including the Dambulla incident last year when Buddhist monks stormed a mosque, disrupted their prayers and protested outside, demanding that the mosque be demolished. True to form, the 'majority' held firm and the mosque has been slated to be demolished and relocated, despite the fact that it has been legally registered more than 50 years ago and has never incited any form of communal disharmony until then. Does this sound like justice to you, oh mighty majority?
This doesn't even take into account the various unreported incidents of churches being attacked around the country by Buddhist monks and their goons. I have come to know of several of these through people we know, with some even being attacked simply for having a gathering of Christians at their home every Sunday. This somehow, never makes it to the news. Last year there was a report of valuable stained glass windows being destroyed in a small secluded church down South by - you guessed it - our friendly non-racist non-extremist protectors of Buddhism, yet that too never made it to the news! Are you starting to see the trend? Majority for the win!

The rest of the article goes on to detail the secret plan Muslims have for taking over the country. It's a convenient four step strategy, involving such things as migrating to a host country and keeping a low profile, before seeking representation (the nerve!) in all spheres and then having the gall to file lawsuits against 'Islamaphobia', converting citizens secretly against their will and then holding the host country and religion 'hostage' before declaring it a Muslim theocracy.
Look; the entire article is completely bonkers. It sounds like someone on a bad acid trip, or some kind of low budget sci-fi movie, and what's even worse is that the writer identifies with the crazy people she is defending. I'm sad to say that this isn't the first time I'm hearing people speak like this, and a 5 minute search on Facebook will uncover a massive number of pages dedicated to similar extremist, racist, militant thinking. Yet, to find sensationalist, fear-mongering dribble published in a national newspaper is inexcusable! When our media is controlled to such a point that people have now forgotten there is anything north of Anuradhapura except free food and joyous Tamil families playing hopscotch with the Army, any platform given to mad men/women like this writer is negligent and just intolerable. The entire article compares Sri Lanka to radical Muslim states and rules such as those held in Saudi Arabia. Why can she not understand that we are not to hold ourselves to such low standards, but instead aspire to be a free nation that doesn't have to militantly put down the minority when they try to seek representation? Yes, there are Muslim states with grave injustices being carried out, but is that an excuse to conduct our own form of terrorism on their communities in our country? What kind of playground mentality is this?

Bottom line: there are crazy people out there, but it's our job as a sensible, peace-loving community of intelligent adults to refuse them a platform to spread their hate-filled message. In that respect, and in the light of this (and other) article(s) written by writers such as Shenali Waduge, we have failed miserably.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year, New Cover Song - "The End"

I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, but I did promise myself I would be more active with regards to my music and the covers I upload here. One of the hardest things is to find the right song to cover, that converts well to piano, and that I can do justice to. I'm probably my harshest critic when it comes to my music, and so a lot of covers have died an early death before even seeing the light of the.. internet?

So for my first cover of the year, I've decided to try out one of my favourite Pearl Jam songs - "The End". At first I thought it was a song about two lovers separating, but after a second listen it's actually about somone who is, well, dying. Too early, too soon, and with so many plans and dreams "left beside the road".
Bit depressing, no doubt, but it's there's a sincerity in Eddie Vedder's lyrics that somehow make it so poetic.
Anyways, I hope you like it! Original can be found here, the and you can download the audio via soundcloud here. Don't forget to check out my other videos as well.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Women's Sports - Don't Fix The Sport, Fix The Players

Women's sport in general has always been dancing on the precipice of failure.  Take any sport, and the female variant or league is generally struggling to gain revenue and viewership. Women's cricket for instance - next to no interest at all in most of the sub-continent. Women's football exists purely at an amateur level, and a professional level exists mainly in the States as far as I know. Women's tennis does well, thanks mainly to the Williams' sisters and whoever is better looking in a skirt these days. Women's water polo is a horror film of underwater cutting, tearing and scratching.

Then there's women's basketball.

The WNBA, which is the women's league of the more popular National Basketball Association, has been active since 1997, making it a relatively new league. There are 16 teams, moderate attendances, and average to little interest in the sport. There have been many suggestions on how to improve the interest in the league, and the latest one has me all annoyed.

There are many small variations in the sport internationally, but generally all the principles of the game are the same. Standard court sizes, standard ball size, standard rules except for one or two minor tweaks. Now, the innovators think that we need to change some of these to suit women; they want to reduce the height of the rim from 10 feet to 9'6".
There's a reason I'm extremely against this. First of all, it's a silly idea simply because the premise behind this alteration is that women will display more 'high flying' feats of athleticism, thus bringing more people to the games. Secondly, they feel that shooting percentages will go up, thus making it more interesting to watch. Both these assumptions are wrong. The WNBA is not going to have more fans entering stadiums just because a few women will now be able to graze in a two-handed dunk all alone on a fastbreak. Neither are they going to be interested just because the ball goes in 1%-2% more often than earlier.
However, the main reason I'm against this is because it - yes I'm going to say this - defiles the sanctity of the sport.
Look, sport is rarely made for a particular sex. Suggesting that we alter the height of the rim simply because men are taller makes absolutely no sense to me; what about school yards and colleges? Are we going to have a system that reduces the hoop height just because girls are playing? Is that the message we want to send women anyway, that they're just not tall enough to play with the 'boys'? What about short guys? I haven't played with anyone who came close to being able to dunk; how come we don't have shorter hoops for the sub-continent?
Sport is sport; it is universal and applies to both genders equally. By altering the rules to suit women, we set a precedent that kind of negates the point of sports in the first place. If the idea is to see how many times you can shoot a ball into a hoop in 45 minutes, wouldn't it make sense to improve your skill rather than reduce the goal?
This whole problem starts because we compare the women's game to the men's game, which is a fundamentally flawed and unfair comparison. Men and women play the game at a very high level, just with different skill sets. While the men's game is definitely more polished and more athletic, it's taken years of evolution to come to this stage. Back in the 60's, it was unheard of to see the kind of dunks, crossovers and blocks we see nowadays. We don't even have to go that far back; just in 2000, Vince Carter's through the legs dunk at the dunk competition had people falling out of the aisles. Now, people expect players to dunk over cars or dunk on two hoops at the same time for anyone to take notice.
The women's game will have to make a similar evolution. I'm not saying that women will start performing 'flying death machine' alley-oops (they might though) but the game will definitely improve, given time and input. Let's not forget; the NBA was as good as dead before the famous Lakers - Celtics, Magic Johnson - Larry Bird rivalries of the late 70's and early 80's. That's what got the crowds in, and got television ratings up. The women's game needs that kind of renaissance as well.
Not a shorter hoop.

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