Archive for April, 2012


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.


This Isn’t Over Yet, Lakegala

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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: