Category Archives: Friends

Cup a Tea and University Education

Pol Sambol, Kiri Bath and and cup of tea were standard diet of a student out side the university residence.

Within the university residences we were served, cheese, butter, Pariipu, beef, fish and Cadju (for the pure vegetarian students from Jaffna) on a regular basis.

No wonder most of the non-resident student would come for Gajai and Wala on weekends when many of us go home to tell our parents that the food in the campus was horrible (big lie) to supplement our liberal pocket money which were spent on cigarettes, alcohol and once a year gambling during Perahara Carnival.

One should not take that to mean we did not go to cinema.
I used to hit the first day first show since if somebody tells me the plot I never used to enjoy the film and fortunately most of my friends used to find a boarding place near a theater and would be in the queue well before me and jumping the queue the was not an issue.

Unfortunately some of our professors also used to hit the show on the first day.

But our modus operandum was changed and skipped the first two days and go to the 9.30 show and that also was only to the gallery for 60 cents and the money saved was well spent on beer and if the show was bad we would leave after a round of beer sometime well before the interval.

Suffice is to say the back row was reserved for us by default for English shows and when we start  to move in for a Sinhala film “market somes’ (city thugs) would move forward leaving the back row empty.

We used to command respect from even these guys those days and that was the respect for an undergraduate of yesteryear.

To recap good quality Pilsner Beer (we could not come to halls of residence drunk, though–now even booing, smiling and even cracking a joke of political nature is prohibited) was Rs.1.80 and two of us could enjoy a round meal or mixed grill for Rs.10/= which included a liberal tip for the waiter.

I would go home have a little nap and have a run round the lake with my dog till all the smell of alcohol is dissipated to fresh air around Kandy City and I never wondered what my friend would do-may be to the gym).

This is the way we kept our friendship and never got involved with private life of others .

We were fiercely independent.

I promised our team which I captained that I would throw a party (lunch) if our team wins the inter-university championship and that was the only encouragement that was needed to lift the cup, beating Colombo on a Penalty shoot out.

I never liked the way Colombo guys reacted to the defeat and they turned down my offer for a round of refreshments on my account (not University).

I still wonder what happens to people when they migrate to Colombo from far away villages and many of them become monsters (or is it ministers) in no time including politicians.

The cost for the lunch was Rs.110/= and that was raised by me on one day of gambling at the carnival.

Thank god we did not have Casino then but Tombola only in Kandy Lake Club and I never told the guys how I got the money but I made sure I got some extra money from my mother too, in case guys would double my expenses on beer.

Now my mother is no more it is more than enough time I kept all these secrets from her which she would only know from heaven.

I believe she still won’t believe that her small brat was capable of such feats.

Extra Rs. 10/= was the tip for the waiter with left over beer.

What was obvious none of us had the gene for alcoholism unlike our politicians, even when the prize of alcohol was very cheap.

We were soon graduated to VSOA (Very Special Old Arrack) and the price was Rs.7.50 at Union Place Grill (with full birds-this was the time cats and dogs meat were substituted for chicken) in Colombo.

Soon afterward, I was baptized with 6 rounds of beer in a Pub in London and that was the last time I had a drink with that crowd and told to myself, I would never have in excess of a glass of beer and that is also with good company and never with a crowd of drunkards.

But I could not resist myself half a chicken for lunch and another half a chicken at night (free from NHS on days I was on night duty) and liberal amount of fresh milk instead of beer (half that from the NHS).

Now to the present moment and cup of tea in Sri-Lanka.

It was only today I went out to buy some bananas and the Muslim guy who sells me good banana and runs a tea shop round the corner got little chatty now the Vesak fever is over.

I asked him how many cups he makes from a Kg and told him unless his raises the price of cup of tea he has to close the shop for good.

He was not convinced.

I told him tea has gone up in price even before the election by 100%.

I told him if I put two good blend tea bags in a cup (without water or sugar) it costs Rs. 90/= and the cheapest brand costs Rs. 75/=.

(Needs little explanation here to see how simple arithmetic is used. Two tea bags will cost only Rs.7 to 10 but when it is made  in to a cup of tea it is called value added and it is rounded up by ten times-in other word  value added means a profit is 10 times.

It used to be Rs.25/= if one bag is dipped (dipping a tea bag into hot water costs, 10 times) 10 years ago but 50 if two bags were dipped. Now the price of tea has gone up by 100% and if one ask a cup with two bags it costs Rs.100/= or more.
Two years ago in a reasonable hotel in Kandy (not 5 star-one needs a decent swimming pool for that classification) the price of tea pot for two was Rs.175/= (before the election). Gods only know how much it costs now.

But I can assure you that take away prices have doubled. in this city .
I give a break for my family members (all adults) and stay at home with the dog (cannot afford to hire a watcher and thieves have increased in numbers even in our neighborhood and practically every house has been broken into either day/night.

I do go for take away  regularly and spend an eat out once in a way when friends from abroad visit me  since thing have improved security wise.

The cost for a meal for my dog (fish for the dog) and me which was Rs.450/= will cost now over Rs.1000/=. That was my experience last time round.  Strangely enough in Majestic City in Colombo  a tiny peace of fish is Rs.250= (10 times value added) and a buffee that costs over Rs650/= per head was so horrible (another place in the Colombo City) none of us finished the meal and went to an American take away and  had ice creams of all sorts to satisfy our hunger and drown the anger with delight.

There is something horribly wrong in our hospitality trade.
There is no exaggeration here.
This is miracles happening in broad day light.

I have to spend Rs.100/= for cup of milk tea (if somebody else makes the cup of tea for me) and from 6 cups (in 10 years) I have come down to 2 or three a day and very soon I will stop drinking Sri-Lankan tea.

I went on to say for the last one year I do not drink tea in my office, and he was more than convinced.

He still sells his plain tea for Rs.10/= and he has to have 100 to make Rs1000/= turn over.

I do not think he gets 30 even though he works 7 am to 7 pm (12 hours).
In my case I have to make my own cup of tea and stay away from drinking tea while on work.

I told him to make as much tea as possible from his bulk tea strainer for him to stay in business and display the price one (1) Kg tea in a prominent place in Sinhala and let the customer calculates the number of tea one can make from a kilo of tea.

They are very poor in arithmetic’s and would blame the Gods or Tamil State Worker for the price but never the present government to which they are immunized and anesthetized.

Coming back to University, the teachers and students should do their teaching and studies without a cup of tea.

We must teach students that tea is addictive and it is good for only foreigners.

For teachers who are asking a pay hike should stop drinking tea and coffee and should drink the miracle water the government promised them before and during elections.

If they go for an audience with our president I am sure they will be provided with a different type of miracle drink that would make them to think that the miracle will come in two years after the predicted end of the world and with new world order taking shape where intellectuals are persecuted for telling the truth like what happened to Hippocrates.

History repeat itself!

That is a normal phenomenon.

Making amends and Friends

I find present day young persons live very detached life.

True they have cell phones.

They have portable MP players and lot of gadgets in their possession to keep occupied in lonely engagements and attachments but when it comes to making friendships they find it difficult to make meaningful relationships.

I wonder why?

They also lack the humour what was inherent in our time and in our youth.

We had very little aspirations but we worked hard probably seen how our parents we struggling without complaining. That generation always enjoyed a joke and they always carry some sense of humour even in an unfamiliar situation. Probably I also acquired some of them even though my external appearances were made to look like serious.

I hated bulling and I was always on the side of the underdog. Having seen very poor people and having grown up with them in early years relating to them and sharing what little we had was no problem.

Making friendship was no problem.

In fact everybody was a friend. We were secure with each others company.

Moment I moved into the urban situation for schooling I found a very distinct contrast and making friends was difficult. From the beginning it was antagonism and friendships were not spontaneous.

It was just getting the 10 or 11 players in the filed to play cricket. Who bats first was difficult to decide. We had to draw lots. Often we never get the chance to play since one who bats somehow outlast the interval. No retiring!
It was always fielding and when we go to bat somehow we tend to get all the nasty deliveries. So we were weeded out and most of us gave up cricket but I continued to take part in athletics which was a solo effort.

The rat race was evident in a subtle form and image building was going on at the expense of friendship.

The accent was different in the city.

As we grew up we out manoeuvered all these difficulties and became smarter in the academic fields. What we could not mange in the field (I think it should have be the other way round) we managed in the class room.

After a year or of roughshoding I was beginning to come to term with the city life always keeping my semi-urban background and make more and more friends and becoming bit popular.

We managed to meander through the rough patches but unfortunately this situation seems to be much worse today.

In private tutories children almost kill each other for a seat. Bulling is there in a subtle form and this trend continues to the campuses and the rat race continues.

Talking to them in group activities I begin to discover the followings.
1. Loneliness
2. Inability in making friendships
3. Difficulty in working in groups
4.Isolation in religious, ethnic groups. and schools of their entry
6. Often not communicating these difficulties
7. Sadly lack of humour

This makes them to go for affairs with the opposite sex often dating back to their relationships probably initiated (not new) in school days. This coincides with the severance of the parental control.

I find this as a very abrupt approach.

I tell them you must make lot of friends before jumping into long term relationships.

I tell them first casualty is losing the few friends you already have.

The next casualties are your freedom and hobbies.

They find it difficult to comprehend my argument.

Then I ask them can you count the number of friends with the fingers in your hands and can you count them after 5 -10 years later and remember what I said.

True friends do not drop one by one each year.

They remain true through thick and thin.

They are not counted by the number of years, the number of years add to them.

Better make some friends now before it is too late.

Urbanization has its own casualties.

No true friends.

This is evident when we see how we treat cats and dogs.

Dogs needs friendship more then humans.

Everyday, I see a dog (looked a crossed with a good breed) in front of the hospital bus stop. This dog has no place to go. Come rain, come sunshine he is always there. No shade for cover, soaked in water with little fur. Many a times I think the fellow is dead but the next morning I see him ambling.

This us a drudgery for this poor sole but he goes on without a friend.

The other day I found a cat mauled to death probably by the owner’s dog but owner took no notice of the dead for three days. The particular dog for some reason is also very poorly treated without friends.

I cannot blame the dog for its behaviour.

So my argument go little further, if you cannot make friends please do not rear cats or dogs.

We are now very poor making friends with 30 odd years of hate, anger and war mentality.

Politicians are still firing this theme.

It is time we invest on a course in schools teaching “how to make friends” and make it compulsory instead of regular competitive examinations.