Archive for February, 2011

Okay fine, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but to be fair, which of my blog posts aren’t?

Nevertheless, the weirdest thing happened to me today. I don’t know whether to call it creepy or bizarre or just a random occurrence that meant nothing. Gave me the heebijeebis though.

So there I was, minding my own business, standing at a bus stop in Dehiwela – in broad daylight, at around 10.30am. Staring out into the distance, thinking about eclairs, that sort of profound stuff. I was waiting for my mum to pick me up in her car.

There was a flash of blue in front of me, and I realized it was a blue car and it horned once. I thought, okay shiny random blue car, whatever, and went back to silently contemplating life.

The blue car horned twice more, and the man inside looked at me. It was sunny so I couldn’t see his face clearly since the sun made his car windows shine.

So obviously, my brain was like, what car would pause for twenty seconds on Galle Road and horn a couple of times at you, unless the person in the car knew you? The guy smiled and from where I was standing he looked just like this friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in ages, who lives in the vicinity. Naturally I thought he was stopping to say hi.

It was the bus stop, so there was a big angry red bus behind this guy’s blue car. So he slowly moved his car in front and parked it into that indentation in the pavement reserved for bus parking. I walked over there, about seven feet ish from where I was standing, because I thought it was this friend stopping in the middle of traffic to greet me!

Smiling, I stopped next to the passenger seat window and looked in, expecting him to put the shutters down to say hi. But instead he took the stuff off the passenger seat, cleared it up, and gestured to open the door. That’s weird, I think, but I just open the door and look at the angry bus and say ‘dude I don’t think you’re supposed to park here.’

When I look up I realize it’s not my friend at all. My friend has a shaved head and this guy has hair. O_O
He looked in his late twenties, fair, friendly face, but not so friendly to be excluded of the ‘potential rapist’ label.

He said something like, ‘hey, yeah no prob, get in.’ He’s smiling and gesturing at the seat next to him, like it’s the most normal thing in the world for a stranger at the bus stop to climb into his vehicle and let him drive away.

I’m thinking, WTF. But I’m so perplexed at his nonchalance and so unsuspecting of creepy things happening in broad daylight in a public road, that I think perhaps it’s someone who knows me and I don’t recognize them, or my mother actually sent a driver to pick me up. So I say, ‘Wait a sec, who are you? I thought I knew you.’

‘That’s okay, hop in, I can give you a ride, where are you going?’

What the fuck.

And thanks to all the horror stories I’ve read about and heard about, and my innate phobia of sexual predators (like pedophiles even though I’m way past pedophile-prey age) and my imagination that’s always got running shoes on – my instant reflex was to RUN FOR MY LIFE. Before he kidnaps me and takes me to a seedy little brothel in Maharagama. The little voice in my head’s like ‘HE IS GOING TO CHLOROFORM ME’ and sirens go off.

I say ‘uh nevermind!’ and slam the door and walk away really fast, thinking omg rapist.

I go back to where I was standing and look in the opposite direction, trying to process wtf that was about.

A few seconds later I look back and he’s obviously fled the scene.

Can anyone answer me: WUT?

Who does that? One possibility is, he is not a rapist or pimp or creepy pervert but just totally stupid and socially inept, and thought actually stopping in front of a bus stop and giving a random girl a ride would be a smooth pick-up move.
The other possibility is he is a scary creep who was going to chloroform and kidnap me. AARGGH.
Another one is he was just drunk, but really good at not showing it on his face.
And the other one is he preys on foreign girls cuz he thinks they’re easy – maybe he thought I was Maldivean cuz people keep saying my face looks Maldivean, and I dress a little weird too. Keep in mind I was all covered up with a shawl and what not, so it’s not like I even looked remotely ‘come and get me, creepy boys of colombo’ (ew).

Still, what an utter weirdo. Mum says I should have caught his license plate number, but I was too busy thinking of chloroform and brothels at the time to do this. Dad was annoyed that I even opened the door, what if he’d grabbed and pulled me in and drove away? Yeesh.

Mum narrated to me a similar story, where a young guy in broad daylight had stopped in his van in front of a 40-something year old friend of hers, and said ‘get in, aunty’ with a smile. And in her old ageyness and total non-suspicion of young boy calling her aunty, she got in, assuming it was a friend of her adult son’s.
Instead of dropping her to where she was going, he drove through a foreign route, and she asked him why, slowly realizing she couldn’t recognize him. He’d said, ‘why don’t we just take a drive around a bit before dropping you.’ She’d quickly said roughly, ‘stop here for a second please,’ and he did and she jumped out and walked away fast.

What the hell? Has this sort of thing ever happened to any of you? It’s just unfathomable to me that there are young men in Colombo who stop during daytime and actually offer rides to female strangers, in public really. Are they bored or lonely? Or part of some scaryass kidnapping via chloroform ploy? What I want to know is if it’s just men coming onto women inappropriately, or actually doing it with nefarious intent. Either way, it’s fucked up.

What if I’d been half asleep, as I usually am that early in the morning, thought it was my friend and casually got in on request. Argh! The very thought makes me flail in horror. Girls, do not get into anybody’s car alone, no matter who it is, unless they’re a very close friend or family member.

And guys, if you stop in front of me in your car after this and wave, I’m going to just ignore you even if we’re friends. I can’t risk being driven to a seedy brothel in Maharagama, sorry.

Yeah, I said it. Booyaka!

I’m totally disgusted by the epic lack of criticism that ‘artists’ get in Sri Lanka, and I mean actual meaningful criticism, not the stuff you read in the Sunday Obsoletever. Whether it’s playwrights, visual artists, photographers, event managers, musicians – people check out their stuff, and leave criticism to the gossip at the water cooler, while sugar coating their actual written reviews with totally bogus praise.

Why do you want to criticize? It’s not nice, asshole!

Criticism of someone’s work, is not necessarily saying bad things about it. It’s actually just speaking the truth, whether its nice or not; or your perspective of the truth based on your personal opinions. It’s not saying ‘your art is a piece of shit,’ but rather ‘your art fails to convey any meaning to me, maybe you should explain it better or try out a new medium altogether.’ But yeah sometimes if it is just that bad, it’s kinda just saying ‘your art is a piece of shit.’

Why should we criticize?

If you don’t criticize an artist, the artist thinks his work is just dandy, and continues doing what he does – and if what he does is crap, then we have a problem. Simple logic. Artists can only evolve if they receive brutally honest feedback.

The amount of ass kissing that ‘writers’ in Sri Lanka receive makes me lol so hard. Bad writing, and lately I’ve noticed really bad journalism, goes totally unacknowledged and unaddressed – like you’re at a wedding and someone whispers that Aunty Monica just got into rehab after going absolutely bonkers, and everyone says ‘Sshhh! Don’t bring that up, it’s not nice.’ We’re not a family at a wedding, folks. I wish we were. I wish work and art was about wattalapam and fun tunes, but no.

I weep, sometimes, listening to some of the music local bands play. And not from joy either. They really do suck. And yet, you open a magazine review page, and at most it’ll say something painfully subtle and polite like ‘the turn out was rather disappointing’ or ‘although relatively young and inexperienced these musicians show some potential’ or my personal favourite, criticism-quickly-coated-with-an-asskiss ‘there is much room for improvement for these maestros of melody.’ I would like to say, ‘the band’s music was so horrifying I was in physical pain,’ but I’m pretty sure any magazine editor would opt to make it sound more ‘gentle,’ lest the poor, poor little sensitive band members read it and cry into their palms.

Why don’t we criticize?

I think Chavie put it aptly when he said, “Sri Lankans don’t criticize because Sri Lankans don’t like to be criticized.” It is a dumbass community-mentality of, you be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you. Falalala! Hand in hand goes the need for most self-proclaimed critics to kiss ass in order to maintain friends higher up.
Sri Lankans take criticism personally. Which is understandable if you’re an impressionable young naive thing just learning the ropes in your field of work – so harsh criticism can get you down. But really, I’ve seen even the most hoity toity utterly experienced of Colombo playwrights get all angry-monkey for the show of the slightest honest criticism. Grow some balls, fools. So somebody thinks your work isn’t absolutely wonderful, doesn’t mean you have to throw a tantrum or cry in a corner over it. Scoop your ego off the floor and get over it, you’re not twelve.

The biggest problem about this norm is that even artists who want criticism – can’t get it. Because everyone is too busy being ‘polite’ and wouldn’t dare tell the ‘artist’ what they really think.

Who’s a critic?

A critic is somebody with an opinion, in my opinion. Some critics are less qualified to say what they say than other critics, based on their intelligence and knowledge of the subject they’re criticizing. Tolerating criticism is basically tolerating a wide range of opinions. Nobody can really say they’re the supreme judge of all things (unless it’s like, Shakespeare critiquing you on your grammar or something), but it’s basically the notion of getting different ideas from your audience on the stuff that you do – there is real constructive conversation between you and the people you’re serving or entertaining.

I want to actually start something, maybe online before it becomes something more real, that serves as honest critique. Of Sri Lankan art, plays, music, events, hangouts, food joints, whatever. Writers will probably be anonymous, at least at the beginning till people get used to it, what with people getting all butthurt and ‘oh no you di’nt!’ about hearing what’s hard to hear.

What’s the best part about the existence of criticism?

When those same critics look at your work some day, and if its truly good work, they’ll say it is. And it’ll actually mean something for once, instead of just sweet nothings meant to pamper your ego and keep the peace.