18 Till I Die!

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18 Till I Die!

Life’s good, but what’s the deal with growing old, I mean at sometime in your life you reach a peak and then it’s all pretty much downhill from there. For me, I can’t shake the feeling that 18 was my peak. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a life out there to live and the future has some really cool possibilities, build myself a career, get married, have kids, win a Nobel Prize, retire, start losing my memory, die. That all sounds great but I might just give that all up to be 18 again.

When you’re young you just can’t wait until you turn 18, it has some magical meaning that you just can’t shake. Growing up in Botswana that was the age you started driving, having a few drinks going clubbing and just being out there. The sad part is it only lasts a year, after that you are officially being called uncle by little kids, oh the humanity! Then by the time your 20’s roll in girls no longer seem to want casual relations it’s all about long-term relationships, now for some people that’s cool, I on the other feel I’ve got plenty of time for that later, all I want is fast and furious.

Now, I’m 23 years old and you might think I’m feeling sad about getting further away from the magical 18, but no, I’ve found a solution. Just pretend I’m 18 and keep the party going. It’s been 23 years getting here and I’ve really enjoyed the ride and someday I’ll be 18 going on 55 and look back and smile. Just in case you wanted to have a bit of a smile I’ve posted some chronological photos of myself below. Have a blast and stay 18 till you die! :D

I've had my share of being caught with my pants down in compromising situations lol

I’ve had my share of being caught with my pants down in compromising situations lol

There was the occasional accident getting here, but nobody's perfect ;)

There was the occasional accident getting here, but nobody’s perfect ;)

Why do parents always dress us up with matching everything, we are not circus folk

Why do parents always dress us up with matching everything, we are not circus folk.

Thirteen and the seeds of awesomeness have been planted, what up?

Thirteen and the seeds of awesomeness have been planted, what up?

Eighteen, red highlights and a tad too much make up, but still awesome!

Eighteen, red highlights and a tad too much make up, but still awesome!

A new look some say a better one well the Twenties are here.

A new look some say a better one well the Twenties are here.

So far so good.....Now let's see what comes next!

So far so good…..Now let’s see what comes next!

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Originally posted on Global Public Square:

By International Crisis Group

The International Crisis Group’s Robert Blecher, director of ICG’s Israel/Palestine Project, discusses the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza, and what it means for the region. The views expressed are Blecher’s own, and are based on a video interview conducted today.

Why is the violence we’re seeing today so much worse than in recent years?

The violence today between Israel and Gaza is the worst that there’s been since Operation Cast Lead four years ago. Israel right now is in an election season and the government is running on a platform of security and stability. It makes them look completely impotent if they can’t stop hundreds of rockets from raining down on their citizenry. The citizenry has a real demand for safety and security.

Also, from the perspective of the Israeli government, they want to change the rules of the game. They want to…

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Amanthi’s Story

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Amanthi’s Story

Let me introduce you to a fourteen year old girl I met in Sri Lanka this summer. Her name is Amanthi, and we met not in a coffee shop or shopping mall but in a courtroom. She was there for her hearing, and I was there for a lack of a better idea. Although I didn’t have a camera with me I can tell you every physical detail about this girl, such was the impact she had on me. She stood at the front of the court, her eye’s fixated on the floor never looking up, not even to answer any of the questions asked to her by the magistrate. She was so thin, that you would think she had recently recovered from a great illness, her skin was as pale as snow. Her hair was long and straight yet wild and uncontrollable, which she used to hide her face so people would not be able to see her. She wore a red top and an old skirt made of denim, her arms were joined at her back as if she were restrained, but there were no cuffs. She stood there, barefoot and alone, in front of the crowd of onlookers.

What was she doing there, what was her crime? As the hearing unfolded I discovered her reason for being there, she had escaped a children’s correctional facility. The judge asked her why she had been sent to the facility in the first place. She was silent, the question was asked again but she remained silent, her eyes still fixated on the floor. After a few moments she spoke, in a sad tone of voice, she said she couldn’t answer that question in front of the entire court room. The judge, who by the way is my aunt, called her into chambers to speak to her privately, and asked me to join them as well.

We were now alone just the three of us. Amanthi looked at me, and for the first time I saw her eyes. They were red from the tears she had been fighting back. Her eyes looked at me as if to ask why was I there, and if I could help her. My aunt looked at her and told her who I was, and that she could talk freely in front of me. It was then that I heard the saddest and most shocking story of my life.

Amanthi told us of how she had been raped by her grandfather when she was thirteen, and how her parents had disowned her because of it and abandoned her at a police station. While at the police station an officer who did not know what to do with the girl, had her sent to the local magistrate, to decide what should become of her. That magistrate decided, as a temporary measure, to have her sent to the correctional facility until something more permanent could be done for her. A year passed, and she remained in the correctional facility, her plight was ignored by everyone who could have helped her. She spoke to us at length regarding the conditions in the facility, and how poorly treated she was by the staff and of the beatings she had endured from the other girls in the facility. As she told her story my eyes widened and I looked at my aunt with sheer confusion printed all over my face. I thought to myself how could this happen, this girl has been treated as though she was a criminal when in fact she was the victim of a heinous crime that stole her innocence.

After half an hour Amanthi had finished her story, and now she began to beg to my Aunt not to send her back. Then she turned to me, and stared at me sobbing uncontrollably. I realized she wanted me to say something, to try to help her, but what could I say, I was not a lawyer or a social worker, but in my heart I realized I had to say something. So I told my aunt the only thing I could say, “You can’t send her back.” Yet, she had no choice, she couldn’t just remove her from the facility without finding a place to send her. As I discovered an orphanage was out of the question, because they were full up with legitimate orphans. So, there was no choice but to send her back for now.

A court officer was called into the room to escort her back to the courtroom where the hearing would continue. But, Amanthi wouldn’t leave, she refused to move and had to be dragged out of the chamber by the officer. She didn’t fight for a moment, she just cried and fell to the floor. As her body was dragged passed me I remember thinking to myself, “Grab her, don’t let this madness continue, get her out of there.”  Then my brain kicked in and asked me what would you do once you got her out of there, who would look after her, where would she go? These were questions to which I had no answers so I watched as this poor girl was pulled out of the chamber, and I didn’t even move a muscle.

After she was dragged out of the chambers I sat down and told my aunt that I just had to do something for her. My conscience wouldn’t let me just walk away from what I had just seen and heard. We talked for a while and eventually came up with an idea, to help her overcome the trauma of her experience I would pay for her to undergo counselling sessions. I would do this by funneling money through my Aunt who would make sure she received the service. As such to this day I have been sending $125 a month to try to help Amanthi overcome the demons that have taken over her life. However, last night I  received the most disturbing of news. Amanthi has again escaped the facility and has yet to be found. She escaped four days ago and according to what I have been told there is little chance of finding her now. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that she has escaped that god awful place. I hope that she finds a better life but I also fear for her survival out there in the world, on her own.

I do know how I feel about her story though. I feel ashamed of the society that did this to her. How could we as a people abandon a young girl the way we did, didn’t she deserve more? I feel ashamed of myself for not doing more, in hindsight I see I just did the bare minimum, so I could feel better about myself. I should have done a lot more and I will live with that for the rest of my life. I feel sorry for the many children who have similar stories to Amanthi’s. On average 25% of cases before Sri Lankan courts deal with abuse of children, yet very few of them end with a succesful prosecution, this number could be even greater when we take into account those that do not even go to court out of fear. Today in Sri Lanka four girls under the age of sixteen are raped everyday. That number is also increasing constantly as more children are raped each successive year. Just for a moment click this link and see how bad it truly is.

Yet, how can we stop this, how should we take Amanthi’s story to heart, we being those fortunate enough to have a better life, to attend university, to have personal security. I believe it is our responsibility to create a new world society where injustices like this are not overlooked and their victims are not forgotten. By sharing this message with you I hope to take a step to doing just that, and by being informed about it you take a step as well in the right direction.  I think the following words by Robert Kennedy show just what we can learn from Amanthi’s story.

“For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. All of us will ultimately be judged, and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that event.”

Sam’s Story

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Last week I had the good fortune of attending the South Asian Film Festival (SAAF) here in Vancouver, Canada. The festival showcased artistic films from numerous south asian countries such as India, Bhutan, Nepal and even Sri Lanka. I’ve always enjoyed watching films from different parts of the world and evaluating them using my very modest and highly limited skill set. However, I had never seen a full length Sri Lankan film before and was very excited by the prospect of breaking this boundary.

The film was titled “Sam’s Story” and this was its world premiere, not only that but it was also the director’s first full length film, a man by the name of Priyankara Vittanachichi. I considered the moment highly auspicious because I would be among the first members of the public anywhere in the world to watch the film. As I sat there waiting for the film to begin a horrible truth dawned on me. I was the only one in the cinema! I looked around at the empty seats and I had a real mix of emotions. Firstly, it felt nice to be the only one in the cinema, I could scream or laugh as loudly as I wanted and didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone. Yet the second and more powerful emotion I felt was sadness, here was a film somebody had spent so much time working on and nobody except me had show up to watch it. You would expect that with such few opportunities to watch Sri Lankan movies on the big screen here in Canada that at least a few Sri Lankans would have shown up. It really was a shame because as I soon discovered they missed out on a wonderful film. The clip below is meant to be a trailer.

The story is about the life of Siriratne or Sam as he was named by a western couple that had employed him as a domestic. What makes Sam special is that he is handicapped and the story explores how Sri Lankan society treats him. Throughout his life he encounters many people, some who take advantage of him in the worst possible ways and others who show him kindness.

In understanding this film it is important to recognise two different kinds of films, the artistic and the popular variety. Artistic films are those that are shown at film festivals and are centred around neo-realism, in which they try to showcase the human condition as real as possible. Example’s of these are Deepa Mehta’s trilogy of Fire, Earth and Water. They are never seen by mainstream audiences while popular films are those that you see at theaters and compromise 95% or more of total film production. They are filled with song and dance and over the top action as well as over dramatized situations. I’m sure you can come up with a plethora of movies that fit these characteristics.

Sam’s story is an artistic one in every sense of the word. It explores the social treatment of handicapped people in Sri Lanka through the interaction Sam has with other characters. Also it explores the political frustrations of people living in a country divided by war and the tensions between the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnicities. It also explores the structure of the family and their devotion to each other. These all serve to imprint upon us the lives of average Sri Lankans, their hopes, dreams, desires and fears.

I wouldn’t want to go into too much detail about the movie but there was one realization that came out of it that really hit home. I don’t consider myself truly Sinhalese because I’ve been raised abroad so the difference between Sinhalese and Tamil is really not something that influences me as much as it would others, in fact I’m barely Sri Lankan. So the movie really spoke to me because it showed how the violence in Sri Lanka had affected both ethnicities and was not concentrated against either of them. During the film we learn that everyone both Tamil and Sinhalese have lost loved one’s due to the conflict and that the people the conflict affects the most are the poor who have everything to lose and barely anything to gain from it.

Sam’s Story is a wonderful tale of human life and the struggle of every day life. I doubt many of you will be able to see it but if you ever get the chance to then go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka’s Only Choice

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Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka’s Only Choice

Sri Lanka’s appointment of Angelo Mathews as their new T20 captain has confirmed that the time for the changing of the guard is upon us. A new generation of Sri Lankan cricketers has emerged and they will slowly take the reins in all formats of the game starting with the T20. The question is can this new generation of cricketers hope to match the quality of their predecessors? Well no matter what the pundits say or whatever anyones predictions are, the truth is only time will tell. Angelo Mathews has become the poster boy for this new generation and in him we see both the strengths and weaknesses of this new team.

Angelo Mathews has undeniable talent

The honest truth is Mathews was the only choice for captaincy given the resources the team have at their disposal, yet it might have very well been the case that in a stronger Sri Lankan team such as the 2007 one, he might not have even made the team sheet. This is not because of the lack of his talent, there is no doubting his first class record or his technique, what is in doubt is his consistency. He really could be the best player in the world as evidenced by his immense temperament and superhuman will to win when he rescued Sri Lanka from an impossible situation versus Australia in Melbourne back in 2010. However, at the same time when called upon to give even a modest showing to win the T20 World Cup versus the West Indies he faltered in a far less than superhuman manner. In these two performances we see the two sides of this immensely talented but highly fragile player.

Angelo Mathews is a new breed of Sri Lankan cricketer, one who did not grow up ever thinking that his side were minnows. In fact he would only have been nine years old when Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup and began their ascent to being one of the best teams in the game. It is this fact more than any other that both strengthens and weakens Mathews cricketing pedigree. Having grown up with a highly regarded team of world beaters as his idols he probably feels no inferiority complex when playing the game against the other big guns. This is shown by his extensive range of flamboyant shots and his willingness to take on bowlers with towering reputations. Much like Jayawardene and Sangakkara, he plays with a little bit of a swagger and a great deal of self-confidence.

However, he wasn’t there for, and did not play with any of Sri Lanka’s pioneers of the game. The 1996 team might not have had the supreme talents or flamboyance of the current team, but they did have a great deal more mental strength. Players like De Silva and Ranatunga had long been treated as inferiors by the rest of the cricketing world and so it took a lot from them to finally break this way of thinking and make Sri Lanka into a team of world beaters. The immediate beneficiaries of this were the next generation, players like Jayawardene learned his trade in a team filled with these personalities making him an all round cricketer one with both immense talent but a great deal of mental strength. Yet, the current crop, including Mathews did not have this opportunity and in some cases have been found wanting when the going has gotten tough. Sri Lankan culture makes it difficult to promote this steel needed to win the important games. Unlike Australia and South Africa who put their youth through a Spartan method of playing sports,  Sri Lankans are a far more gentle people.

Mathews will have the safety net of the big three to fall back on for the next two years at least but he has to start planning for a team without them. So the time for turning his talent into application has arrived, the idea that he is a still in development and is too young for this kind of pressure can no longer be used. He has had three years at the highest level of the game and is now a recognised member of the squad.

He will not be solely responsible for the teams fortunes on the field because no matter how important the captain is, cricket is a team game. The team he inherits is full of holes, winning a test match may be very unlikely because he doesn’t posses the bowlers to bowl a team out twice and his younger batsman have still to prove themselves in the longer format of the game, Mathews himself only has one century from forty-one test innings. In the shorter formats of the game he has a little to smile about in the undeniable talents of Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal and he would hope that the eventual retirement of the big three would give them the opportunity to shine.

The Changing of the Guard

The Sri Lankan team is now in a stage of change and rebuilding. As a new team and leader start to walk in the shoes of their illustrious predecessors it will take them some time to get the balance right. In this time it won’t be unusual for them to lose some games and maybe have a slight to moderate bad patch. What matters is how they come up from that, whether they fix their problems in a way that leads to a long-term period of success or if they plaster over them hoping for short-term fixes while sacrificing their long-term ambitions. One thing is for sure, whether we like it or not Mathews is our only choice in getting the team to where we want it to be.

My Favourite Bizzare Cricket Moments

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My Favourite Bizzare Cricket Moments

I don’t think too many people will argue with me when I say cricket is a complicated game. Cricket’s rules are ancient and unyielding just like the law in the real world and at time’s you find that things get really complicated out there on the field. Some of the things I’m going to discuss with you are part of cricket folk-lore and will probably never be seen on the field of cricket ever again. Thanks to YouTube we can all witness these moments again and again and so I’ve attached videos for your viewing pleasure as well.

1) The new super bat!

Dennis Lillee will always be remembered as one of the world’s most feared fast bowlers, so it is surprising that he was the one who decided to try to reinvent the age-old wooden bat. His new super bat of the future which he claimed would hit the ball further was made of aluminum. The only problem with his idea was that he didn’t invent a new ball, because the aluminum bat served to damage the traditional leather ball thus making the game unplayable.

2) But my arm’s straight ump!

A basic rule of cricket is that a bowler deliver the ball with a straight-arm action, otherwise we might as well be playing base-ball. Now, Lasith Malinga put a new twist on this by keeping his arm straight but horizontal, you might think he’s amazing for doing this but here’s someone who is more amazing, Trevor Chappell. Trevor you could say was the victim of peer pressure when he was asked by his two older brothers Ian and Greig to bowl an underarm delivery so New Zealand couldn’t score the six they needed of the last ball and win the game. Now, the odds of a New Zealander hitting a six in regular conditions is bad enough so in my opinion the New Zealand team should take it as a compliment that the Australians would stoop so low.

Although this incident was disgraceful it’s always good to see how this stuff is actually remembered after a great deal of time has past. More recently, Glenn McGrath thought it would be funny to do it again and Billy Bowden thought being a ballerina for a day would be his ticket out of the umpiring business.

3) Wait Sri Lankan’s can’t fly!

Whether Angelo Mathew’s ends his career as the greatest cricketer ever or as a guy who flopped worse than Courtney Walsh’s batting record at least he will always have his moment in the spotlight. I don’t know how many status updates Facebook had when he decided to do this but I remembered mine went something like, “is it a bird, is it a plane, No it’s Angey.” The way I see it he’s not just acrobatic in the way he pulls this off, but he’s intelligent too, because he probably only had a split second to come up with this plan as the ball was hurtling towards him. Then again he also has to be comfortable enough with looking like a fool in case he messes up!

4) Who’s out anyway?

The third umpire has a tough job, he has the ultimate ruling over whether a batsemen is out in the event that the naked eye fails to produce a decision. In this scenario you would think he had it relatively easy since it’s obvious that the guy is out because both batsmen are at one end, but who is the guy?

5) Let’s call in the lawyers!

Cricket needs its own lawyers, this incident with Mark Waugh proves it. It would probably go to far to ask them to stop the game and start a court case to see if Waugh is guilty but it shows that intentions and premeditation does matter in cricket. In this video Mark knocks of the bails of his wickets while facing pollock, out right! Don’t be so sure?

6) Match cancelled due to bees!

Speaks for itself….

Only in Sri Lanka….

Let’s Talk Cocktails

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Let’s Talk Cocktails

I love cocktails, I think they’re so enjoyable on so many levels. They’re creative and anyone can invent their own perfectly original cocktail, they’re pleasing on the eye and can be colourful and have many different kinds of garnishes. No matter what kind of mood you’re in or what the occasion or company you find yourself in, there is a cocktail with your name on it.

In this post I would like to teach you the basic science behind making a great cocktail and introduce you to a few of my favourite go to cocktails. Firstly let’s talk about what characteristics a basic cocktail should have:

- It should be made from good-quality, high-proof liquors.

- It should whet rather than dull the appetite. Thus, it should never be sweet or syrupy, or contain too much fruit juice, egg or cream.

- It should be dry, with sufficient alcoholic flavor, yet smooth and pleasing to the palate.

- It should be pleasing to the eye.

- It should be well-iced.

Probably the most important point is the first one, remember that a cocktail is only as good as the quality of its worst ingredient. Moving on, there are three basic components of a cocktail, and they are the base, the modifying agent and any special flavouring and colouring agents.

The base is the principal ingredient of the cocktail. It is typically a single spirituous liquor, such as rum, gin or whiskey, and typically makes up 75 percent or more of the total volume of the cocktail before icing.

The modifying agent is the ingredient that gives the cocktail its character. Its function is to soften the raw alcohol taste of the base, while at the same time to enhance its natural flavor. Typical modifying agents are aromatic wines (such as vermouth) and spirits (such as Fernet Branca or Amer Picon), bitters, fruit juices and “smoothing agents” such as sugar, eggs, and cream.

Special flavoring and colouring agents include liqueurs (such as Grand Marnier or Chartreuse), Cordials, and non-alcoholic flavored syrups (such as Grenadine or Orgeat syrup). These are typically used in place of simple syrup, and are to be used sparingly.

Any cocktail is made in a manner that uses these three components. The final two aspects of a good cocktail which I will touch on briefly are the garnish and the glassware. They are both very subjective and are more to suit the mood of the cocktail, tropical drinks such as the Pina Colada invariably are garnished with a umbrella and served in a tall glass. Most man drinks are served in short glasses and sparingly garnished with a lime wedge or a cherry such as in the case of an Old Fashioned.

The following are five of my favourite go to cocktails (click on their names for mixing instructions):

#1 Martini

This is the classic that epitomizes the standard for a good cocktail. It’s perfect for any time of the day and any occasion and if you like olives then you’re in for double the fun. I drink it all the time.

#2 Old Fashioned

They call it this probably because people have been drinking its main ingrediant whiskey for a long, long time. The cherry in it makes it more of an evening drink and one I usually order when surrounded by friends. It’s very smooth and the cherry at the end provides for a sweet finish.

#3 French 75

A champagne cocktail at long last. This is a perfect drink for when you’re on a date with that special someone. It’s very luxurious and the cherry in the glass makes sure your date knows where you hope the night will lead.

#4 Mojito

A very green cocktail which always makes me think I’m in Cuba because it was my Cuban spanish teacher who introduced it to me. It’s a great party drink and good for lounging on a hot day by the beach.

#5 Screwdriver

A citrus blast. A perfect wake up in the morning cocktail for all us alcoholics. No matter what people say, I’m not an alcoholic but I guess denial is the first symptom.

A final piece of wisdom before I end this post. REAL MEN DON’T DRINK PINK DRINKS!