Author Archive for Gerald Pereira

02
Apr
13

Peace and stuff

Going over the last few posts, it’s like I’m always complaining about some business or the other. So this time I’m going to complain about something else.

As far back as I can remember, there’s always been some cause to get all worked up over for young people. Like the feminist thing. It’s like all the women I know were always attending meetings or getting harassed. Busy with feminist-ey things all the time. Maybe that’s why men are higher paid in the workplace. idk.

Now we have some kind of racial/religious pot brewing and everyone’s up in arms about it. A mob even recently attacked a fashion bug outlet claiming that a woman was assaulted in there. Nobody deserves to have their business vandalised over things like that. I mean, if they’d at least claimed that they wanted to demolish it because of the horrible clothes they sell, I’d have been cool with it. I mean really. Stop supplying people with more shiny dress shirts and ridiculous beach shorts. No wonder everyone’s all worked up.

So there’s this facebook page of hippies people passionate about voicing opposition to all the violence and stupidity. I decided to post this here for a multitude of reasons. To convince myself that I’m not so full of myself that I think I’m too jaded and world-weary to be optimistic about people doing activist things, and so that I can weasel out of being obliged to share everything on facebook. Mostly though, it’s probably because my internet is so slow today that I can’t watch any tv shows online.

01
Apr
13

We don’t go to urban kitchen

Semi-accurate depiction of the average meal at UK

Like Ravenholm, Urban Kitchen might have once been a sole beacon of shining hope for the famished and the hopeless. But, like Ravenholm, it seems to turn into a pretty hellish environ with less-than-hospitable inhabitants in the evenings. A few friends and I used to go there quite often, we’d end up there after some loitering about after work for a beer and some pizza. Even back then, service was always a bit spotty. It seemed that weekday night-shifts were when they brought out the new recruits. “A pitcher please” “A pitcher? we don’t have those :(” was an exchange that was had nearly weekly. This was always followed by “those big jugs of beer. you have them, go ask the bar”, and a pitcher at the table a few minutes later. Food was incredibly slow, but we stuck with it. The waiters weren’t bad people. Or, at least, they weren’t downright hostile.

For some reason or the other we switched to other, actual bars after a few months. Aside from the occasional short visit, it was abandoned. Till last week. Last week a group of us decided to go to Urban Kitchen partly because of Malinthe’s  insatiable lust for duck pizza and partly because, hell, it was right next door to where we were. How bad could it be? -he thought, while ominous music played in the background.

I couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d chucked a vinegar dipped cat into a vat of baking soda, and then stayed in the same room. Since this is not a local newspaper restaurant review, I’ll list out the details in an orderly fashion, untainted by useless details and ridiculous boot licking.

First, getting the attention of a waiter. It was a fairly average night, not overly crowded but not deserted either. After about fifteen minutes of faffing about, a waiter comes over. We start to recite our orders and he says he’ll be back with his notebook. I haven’t attended hotel school but I’m pretty sure if a table of seven calls you over for the first time, it’s not to ask you about the weather, is it? Maybe we interrupted him in the middle of his bar tending class right before the section on beer containers and pitchers. So we wait.

Another ten minutes. I wave over a waiter after furious gesturing(which, I admit, might have scared them off) for another three minutes at random employees standing around trying to look busy. You know the type. With the expectant look on their faces. I’m waiting on something important, you peasant. Go away with your orders and things. So after the second waiter comes over, I ask him if we can order yet. He says “yes, but you’ll have to wait for your server, because I have to go stand over there and look meaningfully at the pizza oven while occasionally glaring at customers who dare to ask for attention. Gawd, it’s like their parents never hugged them”. Maybe not all of it, but you get the gist.

So we wait for the server to return, later. We order. I try to smile and be polite, maybe he’s having a bad day, be nice to people making your food, blah blah. He goes away, we go back to talking and, our new national pastime, waiting. Hunters are sent out to hunt wild fowl, foragers go in search of herbs. Things are set in motion for us to receive our meal. Soon. In the meanwhile, a manager looking sort comes over to the table and asks, in that tone, if we’ve ordered. Yeah, you know that tone. I know that tone, the dude knew that tone. Oh he went there. “Have you vagrants ordered yet or will I need to call security?”.

I scowl and say yes. I would have liked to kick him back into a pit à la 300, but alas, there was no pit to speak of other than the growing chasms caused by our collective hunger. We could have tried to drown him in stomach acids but that could have gotten a bit messy. Besides, what would we eat with if we dissected ourselves to drown a mere cog in the complex machinery of Urban Kitchen’s inefficiency?

Anyway,

The food actually arrived faster than before. We ate, paid and left. Well, some of us stuck around for about an hour outside because it was raining heavily. In other words, the rain reflected the weight of the burden placed on our minds by the suckage of urban kitchen.

So yeah. Urban Kitchen’s gone from bad to worse in my experience.

11
Dec
12

Dear Dialog,

You’re not that bad to your customers. Most of the time. Even when some of them are too lazy to write blog posts in the form of letters.

Now that I’m rid of that tedious literary device,

Over a month ago, I got a phone call from someone who claimed to be from Dialog, and asked me for some personal details like my NIC, claiming that I’d been selected as a “priority customer” and that I needed to “confirm my identity”. I’ve received too many emails from Nigerian princes to be completely trusting of such things, so I asked what being a priority customer entails, and why they would need to confirm my identity since it’s my phone line in the first place. The rep asked me if I could speak in sinhalese instead. Hey, I’m not the one who started the conversation in english. And then blabbed some vague spiel about “special offers” for phone accessories and things.

At this point I’m wondering why someone would want to scam my details off me. After a few more minutes of the rep sputtering and stumbling through what seemed like a failed script, I hung up.

I contacted dialog’s regular customer support and asked them if they knew of the number I’d been called from and if I’d actually been put on some loyalty card list. I was told yes, that was a legit call and I’m an asshole for making some apparently 14 year old socially inept girl working a miserable desk job all teary-eyed. Well they didn’t actually say the latter bit but I’m sure someone was thinking it.

Afterwards, I decided to write a scathing blogpost about Dialog and how their customer service agents come off as identity thieves. But then I got lazy and I stomped on the metaphorical fingers of my blog holding onto the cliff edge of activity over the abyss of lifelessness.

Then a few days ago I get a message saying I’ve been upgraded to a special credit category or something, as per the written confirmation. What confirmation? Did you skywrite it on the bright skies over Kadawatha for me to gaze upon leisurely as I brushed my teeth one fine morning? I’m yet to receive any letter saying I can now get into more debt than usual with my telco, as of five days from the date of the message.

IDK, Dialog, what’s up with the shady service?

04
Oct
12

Keells: a case study on sucking at saving the environment

So I have to go to the supermarket a lot now. Have a nexus card and all. I’m just missing the minivan, yes.

Keells has this big canvas bag they try to sell you when you checkout, saying that it’ll reduce plastic usage by x amount of African children killed etc. So I got one, since it was easier to carry and just 45 bucks.

Next time I walk in, proudly clutching my folded up red canvas bag/global warming solver, I was told to leave it in the baggage counter. Why? This just makes me use up the same amount of plastic bags and now has me fumbling about with the thing outside, trying to get all the stuff in, in a manner which I can only describe as reminiscent of a reverse childbirth.

I don’t even get to save the few cents they take off for not using bags.

Why must you piss in the wind, Keells? Why not let the bag full fill its purpose? Why do you hate it so? Why make me smuggle it in by wearing shorts with large pockets?

Why are people like this? Even my bank pulls stupid shit like this. I reset my online transaction password. I had to go fill out a form at a branch, log in and change the pass, and now I have to print out and send them an acknowledgement form. I use online banking because I don’t want to actually go to the bank, you schmuks.

The only alternative seems to be HSBC which apparently treats regular customers as if they were plague rats living on their estate grounds. Short of shooting people for daring to reset their PIN, I think HSBC has everything else from extreme condescension to outright harassment down pat.

21
Sep
12

Commuting

Since buying the motorbike, I’ve been commuting on the thing for about a month now. Ever since I got the thing, and a while before, I’ve been reading up on everything I could do to it and how it works.Most online resources are brimming with people who take motorcycling as a hobby. They’re all about waving at other riders and have ridiculously spotless bikes. The resources were useful though, and I’ve figured out how to take the thing apart and mess around with it. And it still works!

I always thought people were overreacting when they moaned about the traffic here. I was so, so wrong. So wrong I could have been a woman walking out of a kitchen.

Other than the occasional glimmer of hope in the form of a bus driver waving you ahead or a car giving way, it’s full of people outright trying to murder you. Cars honking at you when you’re trying to maintain a following distance, people merging into you and the worst of the lot, random vehicles leaning on their horns the moment a light turns green. I mean, what do they hope to accomplish? Is everyone under the impression that the horn is some magical device that’s going to blast all the other cars out of your way and rain down naked women(or men) on your laps while you’re at it?

If it is, mine’s definitely not working right.

Other people actually look surprised when you’re considerate towards em. Pedestrians smile! I’m like, what? And oh God, the motorcyclists.

How does everyone do this? Do you just gradually give into the madness and join in it?

19
Sep
12

Grownups

The last few days have been pretty strange. Friday I managed to get a fever, which I thought was just some light food poisoning from something I’d cooked(more on this later. much more).  Sunday had me at a doctor’s office, sitting in the chair flashing my torso at her.

As I was leaving, the nurses clung to me screaming “But you can’t have chicken pox! Your beautiful skin! What will we do??”, to which I calmly replied that I would deal with it like a man, and that any scars would just add to the ruggedness. The doctor slowly wiped a tear as she watched from a distance.

Apparently delusions aren’t a symptom of chicken pox.

So I’ve been lying mostly in bed for the last three days. Lobbing a handful of pills down my throat every five hours; I’ve had a lot of time to think. Most of it was about how unpleasant lying on my back for extended periods of time was, or how the pox seemed to have found my face to be the most fertile ground for multiplication. Some of this time was spent thinking about this whole “being adult” business. Which probably has something to do with why I haven’t been very prolific with the updates here, too.

My mom moved to India a few months ago, beginning the Great Exodus of the Pereira’s. The rest will probably go over in the years to come. This essentially means I’ve been left to my own devices as far as feeding myself is concerned.

As you can all see, I’m not dead yet.

I just had to get that out of the way (HAH, naysayers!). Cooking has turned out to be not unbearable and definitely produces results that I’m more than glad to eat. I actually look forward to consuming the stuff. Which is a little alarming, truth be told. Among other changes involve all the rest that come along with just generally living. Like cleaning things. Washing clothes.

Ironing.

Urgh.

I’ve also finally gotten that two-wheeled transport I was thinking of for a while. Meaning I won’t look like I’ve been in a sweatshop for six hours every time I go meet up with my friends.

Anyway, all these changes have just thrown themselves at me like so many damp cats. Unpleasant. But at the same time completely do-able. This is what regular people do with their regular lives. So this is “being grown up”. A coworker doing the same kind of work I was doing got married recently. Married!

My maternal grandad never really spoke to me about anything of substance. I was too young, and rarely saw him. He probably disliked me for stealing all his vitamin C tablets every time, too. But one random thing he did say that stuck in my head for some reason was that “no one ever really grows up”, or something. That’s actually very reassuring.

14
Apr
12

On Newspapers

You can't get a newspaper up there, but you _can_ get 3G.

I know I lead a fairly comfortable life. I mean, I’m not living out of a thatched hut somewhere in the hills, foraging for food. It’s not like I live in Kandy. For Sri Lanka, I know I lead an above average lifestyle in terms of creature comforts. Mostly in the form of how much technology I consume, like the internet and various gadgets. As such, I might have a very skewed view of how people expect their content delivered.

In the course of my average day, I come across plenty of newspapers, of all sorts. Top uses for them include:

  • Lying around in piles waiting for the bothal-kaaraya to come carry them off
  • Wrapping my lunch packets
  • Impromptu table-mat
  • I frequently use little strips to pad the extra space between the pump nozzle and the bicycle wheel’s valve

A long time ago I used to actually read the things. They carried the news, and cartoons. The news seemed to come from a different perspective on each paper, the cartoons were mostly the same. After a while I got used to getting my cartoons off the internet, so I just stopped reading the newspaper. Now, I just wonder why we waste a colossal amount of resources on publishing what is essentially an archaic form of communication. Sure, it gets you the news, but it reeks of slapping a jet engine in a horse drawn carriage.

So many wasted trees. The Sunday papers weigh in at about a kilo but most are half full of advertising supplements. It’s like you’re paying to see advertising. Personally, I just occasionally go over the local news websites, and stick to Twitter for the important stuff. Mostly because the local news sites are terrible, causing me palpitations to just look at them. Fair enough that most people wouldn’t know how to even use the internet, but come one, I know a lot of you internet dwellers still buy the thing.

In an ideal world, everyone would know how to get what they want through electronic means. No distributing piles of flattened tree-pulp around like it’s the year 200. No more gallons of ink used and discarded in the space of a day. You could probably have Holi every day and not use up as much dye as it takes to print the Daily Mirror each day.

Once the sinhalese/tamil newspapers figure out Unicode, and the people finally decide to embrace technology that’s been around for two decades now, maybe we’ll finally see the physical newspaper die off, and another little bit of Old Media disappear along with it.

Oh, and Happy New Year, to whoever celebrates it. Thanks for the sweet meats.

09
Apr
12

This Isn’t Over Yet, Lakegala

untitled shoot-087.jpg

The dogs constantly mocked our stamina.

Over the long weekend, we decided to finally head over to Lakegala in Meemure, a sort of remote village somewhere in the knuckles range. It’s pronounced Lak-gala, apparently. Indi managed to think it was Lake-gala (lake-rock, literally).

A bus and a van journey later, we wound up at Meemure village near the temple where we would spend the nights and paid off the peeved off van driver who hadn’t come this way before and was complaining that his van was all busted up.

The locals are really great and offered to cook our meals for us. It was pretty delish. Everyone we met from teenagers playing cricket to the shopkeeper told us we shouldn’t go up to the top because it’s raining/windy/too hot, and to just go up near the peak, then return. We found out after we came back down that the whole village has some creepy deal in place where they dissuade everyone they see from climbing the thing, to prevent injury and/or death by stupidity.

We started the ascent in the morning. About fifteen minutes later Himal and Raisa decided to turn back due to grievous injuries of the nonexistent kind. I kid, it was more like ten minutes.

After a few kilometers through jungle, we finally got to the base of the proper “peak climb”. There was a nice rock pool with cool water where we filled up, and made mental notes about how exactly we’d relax in the natural jacuzzi on the way back down. Getting to the peak is gradually more difficult, starting off with a short climb over a diagonal(thirty-five degrees or so) slope of what looked like cooled and hardened lava. It felt like we were climbing up a frozen river of chocolate. I didn’t try licking it.

After another stretch through some annoying bushes, the whole way to the base of the peak was loose soil sparsely populated by bushes and rocks which will stab you in the back and steal your wife if they could. Sitting there looking all stable and then trying to murder you when you step on them. Tch.

Finally, we got to the big prize. There was only a 100m or so left to the top. Unfortunately this last bit required us to climb along the equivalent of a butt-crack on a near vertical rock face. You so funny, nature.

I was undecided on whether to actually get up there since I was already feeling dead enough after what felt like a hike up a giant ball of cotton candy, but the guide said we’d need to take our shoes and bags off before proceeding, which would make it a lot easier. Note to self: Don’t take anything up a mountain if it can be avoided. Water and minimal food should be enough for most.

Halfway up the wrinkle on the rock, our guide tells us to stop and goes a bit further up to get the rope in place for the last bit. There was already a length of rope put there by a group who were just ahead of us, and the guide wanted to tie our rope to theirs. It was sent up. There was much talking. We (literally) hung out on the side of the rock, clinging for our lives and trying not to look down. Our friend from the village below decides this is a good time to ask us what religion we are. We answer. We also wonder how much your life expectancy is lowered when you get up here. He starts chanting pirith.

I get images of buddhist funerals with oil lamps and smoke billowing around in the wind, with someone chanting things in the background. I try not to pay any attention to it.

Eventually the group ahead communicate that they don’t want to go the remaining 40m or so because it looks batshit crazy. The guide recommends we go down as we don’t want to leave it to them to secure our rope, which is only just long enough to complete the climb if you’re clinically insane. I accidentally look down. I wonder if this is what having vertigo feel like. Indi’s at the bottom of the line, followed by Kirigalpoththa, myself and then Halik just below our guide.

We carefully claw our way down the rock, a task considerably more difficult than climbing it, and head back down, disappointed. Getting down to the lava river was a sea of bruises since the plants decided to get back at us for chopping our way through them on the way up. I even kept slipping and falling on my ass thanks to the loose rocks. A quick dash down the lava-looking thing and we were back at the pool.

After soaking in it for a bit, we headed off back down to the village before it started raining and made the whole trail back a mudslide.

Hopefully we’ll get back there soon, with a length of rope more suited to rock climbing duty instead of pulling-water-out-of-the-well duty.

Pictures will be on facebook soon, along with an ST post(really!). Till then, there’s this flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/indi/sets/72157629402568568/with/7056719387/

28
Feb
12

Corporate Annoyances

I’ve had a list of pet-peeves and full-grown, wild peeves about a few corporate entities for a while now, just never got round to jotting it down.

"Send people anonymous text messages professing your love!" - That's exactly what Sri Lanka needs more of.

Dialog Spam: Why oh why do I have to put up with Dialog’s constant text messages advertising everything from costume jewelry to creepy stalking services? My time is extremely valuable. Valuable enough so that:

Service provided < (Amount I pay them – Compensation for being spammed)

So in essence, Dialog owes me money for having to put up with this shit. Having to reach for my phone, be disappointed by the message, and going back to whatever I was doing before that is devastating, Dialog. I’ll be expecting discounts on my bill from next month.

The Cinnamon Grand: I have nothing much against this place, except that they treat regular locals like lepers or something. Most annoyingly, they have a sign up front to the effect of “You can’t get in if you’re wearing slippers or shorts. That’s just for dudes, by the way. Women can wear whatever the hell they want.”

This is supposed to be one of the classier joints in town? The hell? That message wouldn’t look classy if it were engraved on a golden plaque with a built-in caviar dispenser.

Pizza Hut Pizza: I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Pizza Hut. They used to have those all-you-can-eat things, which were the highlight of the term-end while I was in school. Now they have an “All you can eat*”, with the footnote being “*Good luck with that. Screw you, and your mother, random customer. Also, you’re fat. Bitch.”

Most of all, I hate the fact that half the pizzas I order from the local pizza hut get here hilariously undercooked. For some reason, the Super Supreme is the prime culprit for this. The center is always… runny. The dough is simply not suitable for consumption. It tastes like paappa. I could probably put up posters with it too. The first time I thought it was a one-off thing, but then it happened again, even after I complained about it. It’s like there’s some Pizza Hut employee in there with an agenda that includes killing me with salmonella infested pizza or something.

27
Feb
12

Movie Review Time

I recently watched Warrior, starring Tom Hardy and Joel somethingsomethington. It was probably one of the best movies I’ve watched in the past year. It was so good that I went all over the internet reading about it, and found it compared to “The Fighter”, another movie featuring two brothers and ass-kicking.

So then I watched that. The Fighter has Mark Wahlberg and Skinny Batman in a more realistic movie, with less emphasis on the actual fighting and more emphasis on the backstory about their family and stuff.

I’m not sure if I like these movies so much because I’m male. *cue “that’s such a stereotype, women watch macho movies too!”*

I mean, I loved Cinderella Man too. It’s like the magical formula to please my movie sensibilities is a fighting flick with just enough “story” in it to not be Mortal Kombat in movie form. I’ve seen Tekken, and some other fighter movie about convicts slugging it out that I can’t even remember the name of, but they didn’t really make much of an impact.

Either way, watch these movies! Unless you’re the kind of person who only watches movies that synchronize your menses with the rest of your sorority sisters. Warrior is the kind of movie that will punch your uterus in the face and make it question its existence. There might also be a scene where Joel professes his love for Tom, whilst they’re wrangling around on the ground half naked, but you’re sufficiently distracted by the soundtrack by then.

Hey Bruh






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