Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I'm definitely too young to talk about marriage. And I'm also too skeptical to talk about marriage. But here goes!

Marriage, just stay away from it as long as possible. Women, do not get married until you are in your late twenties. Men, just. Thirty is the best age. Or after that. Just don't tie the knot before twenty six because you are still too young to be tied down, to be weighed down by marriage.

A neighbor. He has a son, who married at maybe twenty four, to a girl who was nineteen or so. His sister's best friend. His first daughter got married at nineteen or twenty. And his second daughter is nineteen now and I can't help hear the distant sound of wedding bells whenever I see her. The sad part is that I never get invited for all these weddings, so ya, let's see how many people get invited when I get married!

So these men and women, or rather girls and boys are way too young to be getting married. And not only do you have to get used to your spouse, right when you are okay with his/her annoying habit, there's a baby on the way! So then there's annoying spouse and drooling, puking, pooping and peeing baby which soon gets a sibling or two!

And here's the thing. Most of these marriages are arranged. Forget knowing the man for two or so years, forget falling in love with him, just become his wife and then think about all that. So you are entering into this contract (yes, that's what marriage has become) with a stranger. Not even businessmen jump in on deals so quickly!

Now to bring in something that gets me all annoyed every morning is weddings in temples. Getting married has nothing to do with Buddhism. There's no such thing called a Buddhist wedding. Sure, the Buddha has spoken about marriage, and said what is expected of a husband and wife. He even spoke about the various types of marriage. But there was never anything about how and why one should get married.

So why the hell do people go get married in temples? Even a temple with the most corrupt and least Buddhist practices, is still a temple. There is a Bo tree, a shrine room and so on. So why is it also a wedding reception?

Gangaramaya is a temple I've gone to may be once or twice. That too from school. Anyway, I pass it nearly every morning on the way to work and omg the things that come to my mind when I see the place. So the temple proudly shows off its elephant and its classic cars. Why a temple is a museum, I don't know. At least once a week there'll be cars lined by the temple, and the bride and groom and bride's maids and flower girls and page boys will all be dolled up in their not very Sri Lankan clothes. For a wedding in a temple. Which is ridiculous because,

1. Marriage and the act of getting married are not very Buddhist things.
2. It goes against the simple teaching we all try to live by; form no attachments.
3. A temple isn't a place to go all dressed up. We wear the most simple clothes, the lightest colors and are mindful of our behavior. It doesn't make sense to say you can't be noisy in a temple, if you can go through an entire wedding ceremony in one.

Back to marriage. When things go wrong, please go your own way. Do not share a bed with a man who cheated you. Same goes for men. If your wife has betrayed you, have some dignity. Leave.

Something an older man told me once was that when a marriage doesn't work out, the children aren't involved. It's the marriage that went sour, not the family.

Which is the dumbest thing anyone has ever told me. Don't try make a marriage work because of the children. When the kids are old enough to understand, they will forever feel guilty. Also people make mistakes. If the woman you got married to isn't the same as the woman you are married to, then leave her. Not for some trivial issue. But if the grave keeps getting deeper, get out before its too late. Just don't abandon your family completely. You may not be married to someone, but you are still family to someone. And you still have your duties and obligations.

If by any chance I do lose my sanity and want to get married before 28, I've told a friend to talk me out of it. When you are 'in love' you are dumb, and you think you want to live with that person for the rest of your life. But you need to really know a person before you decide to get married.

Don't get married for the wrong reasons. Your marriage could be the one that gives hope to someone as skeptical as I am. Don't disappoint us unmarried people. Not that you should get married for others.

A person I know had a good reason to not get married. He said, "I don't want to wake up one day, look at my wife and realize I don't love her anymore."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Labels that Define

We all have these labels or tags that in some way define us. While we say we can’t be defined by a single word, a mixture of many things makes us who we are. If someone asks me who I am, my answer would depend on who asks the question and where I am.

I’m a Sri Lankan,
A Buddhist,
A Sinhalese,
A writer,
And so many more things. And while none of these can fully define me, I am a combination of several labels or tags.

What are we when all these labels are taken away? When we take away each one of those tags?


What makes us who we are is what we are. My beliefs, various organizations and groups I am part of, the things I like to do will say bits about me and they will make me who I am.

If you take Shailee the Female, she doesn’t show much interest in things termed ‘girly.’ Make up and jewelry does not interest her. She does like to dress up once in a while but prefers the familiar comfort of her faded blue jeans and tshirts decorated with at least one food stain.

Shailee the Sri Lankan will take her country’s side no matter what. Her blind patriotism can seem foolish because her knowledge of Sri Lankan politics is non existent. Yet, she’s proud to be a citizen of such an amazing and beautiful country. She may complain that the buses never run on time, but is in fact thankful Sri Lanka has such flexible systems.

Shailee the LCite absolutely loves her school. She may not miss it as much as she thought she would, but this could be because she knows she still belongs there. She sometimes yearns for the comfort and homeliness of her school, which is as beautiful as a school can be.

These various personalities are not always active. Sometimes they are switched off. Shailee the Sister (as in, sibling sister not convent Sister) won’t be at the forefront when she’s at work.

Okay back to sanity where I don’t talk about my self in the third person.

So anyway, these labels are important. A person is never just one label. You aren’t good or bad, you aren’t this or that. You could be this AND that.

These labels will allow you to have a number of groups of friends. I have my work friends, school friends, those I share a love for reading with and so on. Labels shouldn’t limit you; instead it should allow you to be this different and unique person.

Labels are good. Sometimes they can’t be properly and nicely categorized. Sometimes they can. But knowing about the various labels you have will help you understand your self, and know your self. No matter what though, be proud of who you are.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Live and let Live

Since multitasking is much encouraged, our kitchen, pantry, dining and TV room are one and the same. This means that we can prepare our food, cook it, eat and watch TV all at once (I do not recommend this.) Anyway, last night was a typical Sunday night. Until...

So my brother was not at home. My grandmother was watching a TV program while my mother and I watched it and had dinner. And then I said, "OMG huge cockroach" and all hell broke loose. We tried to ignore the fellow until we realized it could fly. It was then that we left the kitchen. The TV program was important to my grandmother, so instead of locking our selves in our rooms, we all stood near our bedrooms, trying to follow the program.

Since I left my food on the kitchen table, I went back for it. Then I saw a gecko was trying to eat the roach, and shooed away the gecko with a broom. This excited the roach, and thus my mother and grandmother. Then I realized this guy was harmless, and sat in the kitchen enjoying dinner. After sometime, my mother had the guts to come wash her plate. She then screamed when she found the roach in our sink. And the sink had a thin layer of water so this guy could neither fly away nor crawl out of the sink.

Enter Good Samaritan. Now to understand what we did with the roach, here's what we usually do when a cockroach tries to call our home, its home.

We wait for the guy to get on the floor, and then we (sadly, I’m the one who has to do this) trap it in a big container, making sure it won’t get squashed. We then run a paper underneath it, and push the container out of our house.

Yes, you may ask why we don't spray some Mortein but I'll get to that later.

Now last night the Good Samaritan was faced with a serious issue. The stupid cockroach was stuck in a sink. So even if I did trap him in a container, how would I get him out of the sink?
So I had to trap him in a container, then get a plastic file, somehow slip it under the container. Then run my hand under the file and gently raise the container without allowing the cockroach to escape. I then took it outside and let it go.

I didn't just type this out hoping the more I talk about it, the more likely my chance of getting into heaven (truth be told, I don't want to go to heaven, ever!)

Now we go back to the question of insect repellant. It took us around thirty minutes of screaming, hiding and planning to get rid of the cockroach. Insect repellant would have done the job in two seconds. Yet, spraying the poor guy with insect repellant would have killed it, and right behind cheaters in my 'most hated list' are killers.

I do not only mean those who kill humans. Or those who kill large animals. But those who kill anything. I do swat at mosquitoes, but I do so unconsciously. I do not have that intention to kill, but sometimes when the zzz of a mosquito just won’t go away, ah the mind requires a lot of control.

I was brought up in a home where no one is killed. The once in a blue moon rat who manages to creep into our house forces us to lock our selves in our rooms for the night. The next morning we borrow a rat cage thing to catch the fellow and later let him out into the wild. And until someone who works for my uncle takes it away, we feed the rat and keep it happy.

I spend most of my life saving insects, ants are the worst out of them all, from drowning. They seem to be everywhere, which means that I'll have to forget the glass of water to cool my burning mouth after a spicy meal to save a tiny ant from death.

Don't think I'm complaining about the way I was brought up. I am thankful that my mother discouraged animal killing. This makes me value life more. I'm more thankful for each day, because life is something to be appreciated. I'm happy that no one thought, "Oh! Shailee is annoying, I'll just squash her."

Not killing also makes it easier to stick by my other principles. Like give when I can. I look at an ant and think to my self, live and let live. Don't do to others what you do not wish for your self. So I look at a beggar and think, "Wouldn't I want money if I was in his/her situation?"

I pass a mosque everyday, after work. And since Muslims are fasting now, I pass the mosque close to the time they break fast. So there will be hoards of people walking into the mosque and none of them stop to give a coin or two to the beggars who sit by. Maybe they beg for the wrong reasons. Maybe they feed their drug addiction instead of their starving child. But who are we to judge? Don't think about a man's motives when he asks for something from you. Just give, if you can.

I've also seen so many empty handed beggars near kovils, temples and churches. It makes me question the so called religiousness of those who go to such places and worship or pray. I know the Buddha always encouraged the act of giving. Have not the god/gods of other faiths also told us to give?

Back to killing; do not kill. My respect and liking for a person decreases when I hear they kill. It could be a rat or a cockroach. Just don't kill. As someone who desperately fights for the rights of mosquitoes, it wouldn't hurt to part with some blood. I know that if you've had say dengue or malaria, you would want to strangle me. But nature has her reasons. Mosquitoes were meant to live on blood for a reason. And people were supposed to fall sick for a reason. And we all die, again, for a reason.

You may say by killing the mosquito, you are saving your self and others from falling ill. But here's the thing, if it was meant to be, you would fall sick whether or not you kill that mosquito. And why kill if it won’t change things?

There is a story about a goat who escapes from a slaughterhouse. But while running away towards freedom, the branch of a tree falls on it, killing the goat. We can't escape karma. We can't avoid it. (This might be a slightly different version from the real story. But I heard this during a Bana sermon some time back and my mind has a way of slightly editing the stories I hear!)

And yet, maybe the mosquito was meant to die. And maybe it was at your expense.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Illusions; The diluted first impressions

A dash of yellow paint on an otherwise blank paper. Add some water, and spread the paint a little. Add more water and spread it more. Repeat until the paint is a mere whisper on the paper.

This is what happens with the impression we have of people. The dash of yellow paint is that first impression. The water we keep adding is what we get to know about them. The whisper of yellow is the final image we have of that person. Sometimes we chuck that paper in a wastepaper basket as soon as we see that washed out yellow. Sometimes we feel that the faint yellow paper is still worth something, and we store it with all other papers; some darker than the others. However, later on in life, we will either forget about this paper, or throw it away.

We see this illusion, something that is not real. First impressions are often not-real impressions of a person. You can’t tell how honest or reliable someone is by that first impression. One glance their way, or a brief conversation will not open the gates to their thoughts and attitudes. Facial expressions do offer some hints of a person’s personality and characteristics. Looking at a person’s face, you may be able to say if they are happy, tired, sad, confused or angry. You can also tell if they are nervous, excited or worried.

One of my pet peeves is long finger nails. Male or female, long finger nails not only irritate me, they also disgust me. When talking to someone, especially for the first time, I would steal a glance at their fingers. This is not just to feed into my pet peeves, but also to determine how clean they are. If a person takes the trouble to keep his nails trimmed and clean, chances are he is a neat and tidy person. However, such assumptions are as close to the truth as the belief that those with large ears are intelligent and smart!

The first look we get of a person can tell us more than feelings and emotions. Their dressing sense can imply personality and religious beliefs, and of society he or she comes from.
However, an impression you form of a person goes beyond their physical appearance. Manners play a huge role in what you think of a person. If a man holds open a door for a female, I would consider him a gentleman. However, there seem to be not many gentlemen on earth, as I have had many doors literally shut on my face. While most people see no reason a female should be treated differently, simple things as holding open doors to females, greeting them gives a good impression of a person.

What could be asked is, are impressions important and should they matter? The answer should be no, but it isn’t. Impressions do matter. The image we have of someone will make us put more effort to maintain the relationship we have with them. Or it could make us realize they wouldn’t fit into our lives, and let go of them before it’s too late. It’s also important to know why we have a certain impression of someone. First impressions are often misleading. A very tall individual may seem intimidating at first, but can turn out to be an amazing person. This is why first impressions aren’t the only impressions, and they often turn out to be too far from the truth.

It takes knowing, learning and observing to get to know someone. And even after years of talking, chances are, you still would not know that person enough. Sometimes we create an illusion unknowingly. We do things that make others believe or assume something about us. And this is something which is rarely true or real.

At the end of the day, the image you had of a person will get lighter. Yet, a lighter image isn’t always a bad thing.


The Past

Most of my childhood memories involve cricket. We played cricket while in school, we played cricket once we got home from school, we played cricket on birthdays and other special occasions, we played cricket during the weekend and we played cricket during school holidays. Having played so much cricket, we also watched cricket matches, stayed up till late to see who wins and cursed the winning team if we didn't like them ("May you all rot in hell you bloody Australians and also Indians even though half our families live in those countries!"). So we played cricket, we watched it, we read about it. We basically lived it.

We were scolded for the cracked glasses, all the lovely roses the hits seemed to be always directed at and all the tennis balls that went missing. We were scolded for tiring our selves, playing cricket instead of finishing our homework and for being out till late when the mosquitoes kept feasting on our blood. We ignored the rain or the hot sun. We ignored our aches and pains, and cuts and bruises. We played.

And here's the thing. I wasn't even good at it. I can't bat to save my life, I can't run and thus can't score. I can't bowl. And I can't catch or throw. So I'm a pretty useless cricket player.

Picture this: A group of kids deciding who goes on which team. Everyone is chosen, and the team who ends up with the last one without a team already know who the winning team is.
Ya, I was that last kid to be picked (not even picked. They had no choice)!

The Present (which will include the recent past, 'cause... just deal with it!)

I haven't played cricket for months now. I haven't played anything that required effort for months, but that's a different story!
The last cricket match I was excited about must have been World Cups ago. The last match I watched from beginning to end... Okay that has never happened. I don't even know when tournaments (are they called that?) are going on, and I don't even know what color the teams wear anymore! I'm pretty sure the cricketers I know have either retired or died!

And since in Sri Lanka cricket isn't only about the actual Sri Lankan teams and extends to school matches too, I have never gone for a single school match. Which, mainly because of the school I went to, could amount to a criminal offense.

The Future (which will include the present)

Cricket is no more a gentleman's game. It is full of corruption, bribery and whatnot. I mean, during the last World Cup, there were Indian women actually cursing the opponents, and praying to the gods, hoping the worst would happen to them (the opponents, not the gods!)

Cricket is a game, its entertainment. Yet, as a friend told me recently, "crickets is like WWE now." (And for you ignorant readers, WWE is World Wrestling Entertainment where grown men and women in tiny undies fake-fight each other.) Sadly, cricket has become that. At least they are still fully clothed. But it has become staged. It has become about who wins and who walks away with a big, fat cheque.

And for now, people are still passionate about cricket. Yet, soon enough, the roads wont be closed off for cricket matches between the neighborhood kids and even adults. No families would crowd before their TVs, cheering for the team they love the most.

Which is sad, because no matter how uninterested in cricket I am now, I love that it played such a huge role in my childhood. This love has become a part of the identity of a Sri Lankan.

Sri Lankans love their food, they love gossip and they absolutely love cricket.

Yet, cricket is slowly becoming what politics has become. What religion has become. He who is the most corrupt wins. And this sad reality, it makes me want to get my brother and cousins together and play a good game of cricket. It makes me want to let the sun burn me, and later watch the sun set as the final overs are bowled. It makes me want to either cheer because we won, or call the winning team a bunch of losers.

It makes me want to visit the past.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No to Harassment!

So today a guy sat next to me on the bus and I felt that he was inching closer to me. I went away from him as much as I could and looked out of the window. Then he began to say things like "why are you looking away?" etc. Ugh! I frowned, stood up and walked away.... I know it's a small incident but it's annoying and we feel so helpless at those times, don’t we?... Later, I got to know that 112 could be called to complain about such incidents. Or even talking with the bus conductor about it is a good idea it seems…
-Recent experience of a female friend

I work in Maradana, and even though my office is walking distance from Town Hall, and Odel, for you posh ones, walking down those roads is a hundred times different to say, walking down Flower Road. I have to be careful about my clothes and in general, the people are more, well, human. Having gone for short walks to buy lunch, never have I not been met with at least one comment from a man. They don't even care anymore about dress or looks. If they see a female, preferably a young female, men are just tempted to make some comment. And we are not talking about men who drive their Hondas (I mean, a man who owns a BMW rarely actually drives it!) while talking to someone on the latest smartphone. These are mostly trishaw drivers and those odd characters who hang around garages and little shops all day!

So once when I walked with a man, it felt like heaven. Not a single male on the road said anything. And when I later told this to my friend, he was quite surprised to hear what females go through daily!

But it is something we have to put up with. The men who make crude comments, try to strike up conversations with you, inch closer to you, and sadly, to the less fortunate, try to touch you. This could be while traveling in public transport, walking about and even in places like shops or bus stops. Women are constantly being harassed!

What's sad is how people usually say something like, "oh men will be men." Hello!?! Men will be men is the stupidest excuse anyone could ever give. So it's okay that men harass you, because see, they don't want to do it, they just can't help it? That's the kind of attitude that encourages men to be less human and more monster!

Another reason given for the harassment is how women dress inappropriately. I will never ever cover my self head to toe and I believe women have been given nice figures to flaunt it a bit. BUT as comfortable as those butt-shorts are, do not wear them in public! Seriously women, especially young girls, cover those legs at least a bit! So women should know to dress in a modest manner, and not show a whole lot of skin. The issue is that men comment on women who wear figure hugging, short or sleeveless clothes. But they also comment on females who show nearly no skin. And who wear non-figure-hugging clothing. So what should we wear? A raincoat like outfit that will cover us from head to toe? Umm not in this weather! Also we should have the freedom to wear what we want. Even though we shouldn't abuse this right!

Something my grandmother, having also worked at a newspaper office, tells me is that I'm incredibly lucky those I work with are not harassing us females at work. Maybe times have changed or maybe I work with a bunch of good guys, but I have so far, not have had to deal with sexual, or any other kind or harassment at work.

So its not all men whose minds only focus on one thing (the one thing being sex!) There are men who know how to treat women, and for this I'm thankful.

Now a recent event that was on my facebook wall was to stop harassment of women. Which is all good, except, men too are sexually harassed. And while females can actually tell someone about their bad experiences, men are more reluctant. I mean, even an anonymous comment about your bad experiences will be getting something off your chest, trust me, people have no right to judge! But anyway, men have more reason to be ashamed of being sexually harassed. Two reasons, people are still quite reluctant to accept that homosexuality exists and also it affects a man's masculinity ( "You were harassed? What kind of a man you are!" )

So people are harassed daily. Sometimes, it's exhausting and you want to snap at them, but you don't and you can't because it will only make things worse. But men or women (trust me, there are female perverts too! Especially older women who prey on young and naive males!) get your life together! Do not try to get over your frustrations and needs at someone else' expense.

Because harassment, of any kind, but especially sexual harassment, is a serious issue. It scars the victim and it makes life so much more difficult. There are enough and more battles to fight, but harassment, I think, is at the top of the list!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Face upto your Fears

We all have our share of fears. Sometimes they extend to phobias. Whether it’s a fear of spiders or a fear of flying, there will always be things that limit us. One of my greatest fears is related to needles. I don’t mind the sight of them, and even touching them. Yet, a needle through my skin, whether it’s to draw blood or inject medicine, is something I fear. This is beyond an acceptable fear of pain. I feel faint and need to hold on tightly to someone’s arm or hand when there’s a needle piercing my skin.

Two years ago, I was down with the flu during a time when the dengue mosquitoes were at work. After three days of fever, the doctor insisted on a blood test. The night before the test, I prayed, even though I usually did not.  I didn’t pray for a painless blood test or the strength to go through with it. I prayed for death because at that point, death seemed better than the torture of drawing blood. Of course, my prayers weren’t answered and the blood test proved to be useless, since as I suspected, the mosquitoes were yet to get to me.

A week or so ago, another blood test was required. My mother explained to the young nurse that I was mortally afraid of needles and let me hold her hand. Once I felt the needle through my skin, I thought to myself, “You are an adult. You better get over this fear. So take that step, and look. Look as the syringe fills with your blood.” I looked, and the nurse kept trying in wane to draw my blood. She then pushed the needle further. Empty syringe. An older nurse pushed the needle even further, and by now I was once more praying for death. They didn’t draw enough blood and then moved on to my other arm. I left the hospital scarred for life.

So I haven’t conquered my fear of needles yet. Even the thought of it makes my skin itch and watching others go through the ordeal makes me faint. Needless to say, I may never go back for a blood test. Somehow those seconds of pain don’t seem worth knowing what’s wrong with you. My faith in medicine is still non-existent.

Moving on to another fear of mine- children. Yes, small humans. Even though I was a kid not that long ago, any child below the age of 10 or 11 gives me the chills. I usually avoid them, although children aren’t easily avoidable. So I tend to not make eye contact, pretend I didn’t see them and walk away. This is because fainting in front of them wouldn’t help either one of us.

Recently a child came up to me and spoke to me. This same child has spoken to me before but I never answered. Children leave me tongue tied, or rather more tongue tied than usual. So when this child asked me a question, I did consider ignoring her. Yet, I wanted to get over that fear. It is simply impossible to live in this world with a fear of children. So I spoke to her. It was one sentence, but it was something. It was that first small step I needed to take to someday be able to talk to a child without any fear.

Someday I will be able to pet a dog without having a panic attack. Someday I will climb the fourth rung of a ladder. They may not seem like real fears and people may laugh at the things that I’m afraid of. Yet, these fears, as silly as they may be, limit how far I can go in life. Fears can be conquered and it can only be overcome by doing something about it and not avoiding them. Don’t sit and think, go and do!