Call any family friends and invite them to dinner. If the husband answers the phone he will politely say, “Thank you, I’ll get back to you.” That is the Lord of the Manor, the almighty playing the semi-final role and postponing the acceptance of a simple dinner invitation. If it is the wife who took the line, “Sure we will be there,” no postponement, no checking with the supposedly head of the house, the answer is instant and intuitive; there is not even a moment’s hesitation. Isn’t it a very clear indication then who the concert conductor is and who is simply there to play a minor role such as blowing a flute?
Familiar? Better be, unless you too are one of those who think you run the show. Yes, we husbands do make all the major decisions in the family. I always do; consider me an expert on this category. It is I who conclude in dinner conversations that Ernesto Che Guevara made a greater contribution to mankind than John F Kennedy with his Pulitzer and his father’s billions. I also conclude that Dr Jonas Savimbi did a better walk in Angola than what Mao did going across China in his Long March. Of course, I touch the local scene too, especially the cricket story. See what happened to Pakistan? Australian coach – and lost the semi-final. They should have given old Imran some duty leave, and brought him to coach? See New Zealand? Kiwi coach and won the semi-final. These are facts I predicted long before they started the Emirates Cricket Carnival. It is I who decided that instead of a foreign head coach we need a ‘Ape Kolla’ to get the show on the road. These major decisions keep me busy. That is why I have no time for trivia.
But small matters, just leave it to the wife, well I do not even bother. Like whether we should sell the family house and go live in a condominium, or whether we need a 52-inch new TV set that has a screen concave to the audience and which bank should hold our miserly-hoarded measly savings?
Now, do you get it? That is why I call my fellow brethren of the husband brigade ‘Semi-Final’ men. For all our colours of power and merriment, our songs have been mostly sad or diluted. Never had the ability to make the final decision, and quite unconsciously or consciously we have accepted this role to be the ‘also- rans’ in the home team. Even if we acquire the almost rare opportunity to make a decision, we all know who has the veto powers: “Are you mad? Don’t talk nonsense; have you lost your marbles?” With such over-riding authority I guess it is prudent to sing seconds and harmonise and say ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ and remain a consistent semi-final man in all family matters.
Now, if you have children, the problem worsens. One time, they sat on your knee and were like little angels. Then the legs grew longer, and the wings got shorter and the ‘holy picture’ sweetheart cherub disappears and became a know-all; mind you that generally happens when they are around 15 plus and then that lasts till they are about 23 when they meekly convert back to know-nothings and seek the elder interventions and wisdom. But sadly, when that happens, oftentimes the bridges are burnt, and the gorge has become wider.
So, as the kids grow, the once semi-final man becomes a quarter-final man and if the sibling numbers increase you are often times disqualified from the ‘decision making process’ altogether. God help you if the children live abroad. That’s when any confusion is referred to the ‘Third Umpire’. If that is a son, you may have a semblance of a chance or a Pontius Pilate act of washing the hands. But if it is a daughter, just forget it, that jury will never go against its grain. And if her husband is a semi-final man nodding like a cockatoo, you will be barbecued by the entire family. Better not go to the third umpire, the wise thing should be to give up in the first round. Sometimes you could even be giving a fight to the domestics for a place in the podium (if they are senior types). The home story is supposed to be a culture of democracy, but unfortunately for the husband it is more a vulture of injustice.
Man, how the mighty have fallen, all these powerful people outside their homes, CEOs, GMs, Chairmen, the head honchos of any and many organisations and certainly Airline Captains do get reduced to ‘pol kudu’ level once they come home through the front door. The baritone voices in boardrooms are neatly packed into the Saatchi brief cases unless you are hell-bent on starting a battle royal on home grounds, which you are sure to lose by an innings.
‘The world was sad, the garden was wild and man the hermit sighed! Till the woman smiled!’ What a load of hypocritical rubbish! Whoever who wrote that must have been either from the fairer sex or a confirmed super fool.
Who reduced the mighty City of Troy to ashes? Who lost Mark Anthony (of lend me your ears fame) the world? Who prompted Samson to become the world’s first known suicide killer? All these historical heroes would have been so much happier if the garden had remained wild and the world continued to be sad and the woman never smiled! All you men! Please agree with me, let’s band together as I am sure to be cannon fodder to the ladies who may read this.
Let’s go one step further, back to the originals, Adam and Eve and their fig leaves and apples and snakes. If you go biblical, the book of Genesis never said that Man is the boss. He was only told to toil and with the sweat of his brow to be the provider. It is men through the ages who had misread the content and self-appointed themselves as the Boss of the Family.
In China, there are the Mosuo people living by the shores of Lake Lugu in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. They got it ‘all sorted’ out. It is a matriarchal society, women rule, lock, stock and bed, none of this big-show outside and ‘mouse mode’ inside the house. The Mosuo men know who the boss is and the place runs like a well-oiled wheel. The Chinese did have ancient wisdom. Maybe, we should borrow that from them. Ask them to grant us some scholarships to the Yunnan Province so that we can fly there and officially learn from Mosuo tutors how to be semi-final men. Maybe, we could even make the Port City a Matriarchal Society? After all, China has given us so much, airports, harbours, highways and what not. What is the problem with a few battle-scarred husbands going to Mao land to learn what ‘woman power’ really means? Let’s borrow the knowledge from the Chinese, I got no problem with who our new ‘god-parents’ are. We’ve seen it all from 1505, and still march soft to the colonial rhythms. So, what is a noodle or two given as gifts?
Let’s get back on track, some more on semi-final men.
Many a truth is said in jest – I sure am a semi-final man and I have accepted the role and lived ‘happily ever’ so far and will continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I am merrily married for the last 46 years, and the recipe is simple. Just learn to ‘nod’ and say ‘yes’. Don’t get into battles that you are sure to lose; we are not the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae or the 960 Jews of Masada who fought to the death knowing they had no chance to win.
We are just husbands, big bosses to the world and miniature models at home. Let’s admit that and be happy. If your wife wants you to wear blue, don’t argue, just wear blue and if she then changes her mind and says wear indigo, do that too. We are talking of world peace here, what’s the big deal in the colour of a stupid shirt?
Ok, ladies of the wives’ brigade, you win, we surrender, and all you young and bright and powerful husbands and husbands-to-be, take a lesson from well themparadufied people like me. We’ve seen it all, tried all the bravado and the flouting of rank and riding roughshod on the marriage field and have got bogged down in the mire and clean-bowled every time we opened our mouths. Just simmer down and follow the Yunnan Chinese; be a semi-final man and maybe downgraded to quarter-finalist or lower, but peace will reign. That is the paramount need today. We all have conflicts in wherever we work, be it the boss or the lowly-paid minion, why continue battling at home too? Let the lady reign, try it and see, they sure get totally confused when you come with the white flag.
‘Blessed are the Semi-final Men, for they shall inherit peace at home.’
Obtaining fresh mandate unavoidable requirement
by Jehan Perera
The government’s plans for reviving the economy show signs of working out for the time being. The long-awaited IMF loan is about to be granted. This would enable the government to access other loans to tide over the current economic difficulties. The challenge will be to ensure that both the old loans and new ones will be repayable. To this end the government has begun to implement its new tax policy which increases the tax burden significantly on income earners who can barely make ends meet, even without the taxes, in the aftermath of the rise in price levels. The government is also giving signals that it plans to downsize the government bureaucracy and loss-making state enterprises. These are reforms that may be necessary to balance the budget, but they are not likely to gain the government the favour of the affected people. The World Bank has warned that many are at risk of falling back into poverty, with 40 percent of the population living on less than 225 rupees per person per day.
The problem for the government is that the economic policies, required to stabilize the economy, are not popular ones. They are also politically difficult ones. The failure to analyse the past does not help us to ascertain reasons for our failures and also avoids taking action against those who had misused, or damaged, the system unfairly. The costs of this economic restructuring, to make the country financially viable, is falling heavily, if not disproportionately, on those who are middle class and below. Fixed income earners are particularly affected as they bear a double burden in being taxed at higher levels, at a time when the cost of living has soared. Unlike those in the business sector, and independent professionals, who can pass on cost increases to their clients, those in fixed incomes find it impossible to make ends meet. Emigration statistics show that over 1.2 million people, or five percent of the population, left the country, for foreign employment, last year.
The economic hardships, experienced by the people, has led to the mobilization of traditional trade unions and professionals’ organisations. They are all up in arms against the government’s income generation, at their expense. Last week’s strike, described as a token strike, was successful in that it evoked a conciliatory response from the government. Many workers did not keep away from work, perhaps due to the apprehension that they might not only lose their jobs, but also their properties, as threatened by one government member, who is close to the President. There was a precedent for this in 1981 when the government warned striking workers that they would be sacked. The government carried out its threat and over 40,000 government officials lost their jobs. They and their families were condemned to a long time in penury. The rest of society went along with the repression as the government was one with an overwhelming mandate from the people.
The striking unions have explained their decision to temporarily discontinue their strike action due to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s willingness to reconsider their economic grievances. More than 40 trade unions, in several sectors, joined the strike. They explained they had been compelled to resort to strike action as there was no positive response from the government to their demands. Due to the strike, services such as health, posts, and railways were affected. Workers in other sectors, including education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development, and banking services, also joined the strike. The striking unions have said they would take up the President’s offer to discuss their concerns with the government and temporarily called a halt to their strike action. This would give the government an opportunity to rethink its strategy. Unlike the government in 1981 this one has no popular mandate. In the aftermath of the protest movement, it has only a legal mandate.
So far, the government has been unyielding in the face of public discontent. Public protests have been suppressed. Protest leaders have been arrested and price and tax hikes have gone ahead as planned. The government has been justifying the rigid positions it has been taking on the basis of its prioritization of economic recovery for which both political stability and financial resources are necessary. However, by refusing to heed public opinion the government has been putting itself on a course of confrontation with organized forces, be they trade unions or political parties. The severity of the economic burden, placed on the larger section of society, even as other sectors of society appear to be relatively unaffected, creates a perception of injustice that needs to be mitigated. Engaging in discussion with the trade unions and reconsidering its approach to those who have been involved in public protests could be peace making gestures in the current situation.
On the other hand, exacerbating the political crisis is the government’s continuing refusal to hold the local government elections, as scheduled, on two occasions now by the Elections Commission and demanded by law. The government’s stance is even in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s directives that the government should release the financial resources necessary for the purpose leading to an ever-widening opposition to it. The government’s determination to thwart the local government elections stems from its pragmatic concerns regarding its ability to fare well at them. Public opinion polls show the government parties obtaining much lower support than the opposition parties. Except for the President, the rest of the government consists of the same political parties and government members that faced the wrath of the people’s movement a year ago and had to resign in ignominy.
The government’s response to the pressures it is under has been to repress the protest movement through police action that is especially intolerant of street protests. It has also put pressure on state institutions to conform to its will, regardless of the law. The decisions of the Election Commission to set dates for the local government elections have been disregarded once, and the elections now appear to have to be postponed yet again. The government is also defying summons upon its ministers by the Human Rights Commission which has been acting independently to hold the government to account to the best extent it can. The government’s refusal to abide by the judicial decision not to block financial resources for election purposes is a blow to the rule of law that will be to the longer-term detriment of the country. These are all negative trends that are recipes for future strife and lawlessness. These would have long term and unexpected implications not to the best for the development of the country or its values.
There are indications that President Wickremesinghe is cognizant of the precariousness of the situation. The accumulation of pressures needs to be avoided, be it for gas at homes or issues in the country. As an experienced political leader, student of international politics, he would be aware of the dangers posed by precipitating a clash involving the three branches of government. A confrontation with the judiciary, or a negation of its decisions, would erode the confidence in the entire legal system. It would damage the confidence of investors and the international community alike in the stability of the polity and its commitment to the rule of law. The public exhortations of the US ambassador with regard to the need to conduct the local government elections would have driven this point home.
It is also likely that the US position on the importance of holding elections on time is also held by the other Western countries and Japan. Sri Lanka is dependent on these countries, still the wealthiest in the world, for its economic sustenance, trade and aid, in the form of concessional financing and benefits, such as the GSP Plus tariff concession. Therefore, the pressures coming from both the ground level in the country and the international community, may push the government in the direction of elections and seeking a mandate from the people. Strengthening the legitimacy of the government to govern effectively and engage in problem solving in the national interest requires an electoral mandate. The mandate sought may not be at the local government level, where public opinion polls show the government at its weakest, but at the national level which the President can exercise at his discretion.
Sing-along… Down Memory Lane
Sing-alongs have turned out to be hugely popular, in the local showbiz scene, and, I would say, it’s mainly because they are family events, and also the opportunity given to guests to shine, in the vocal spotlight, for a minute, or two!
I first experienced a sing-along when I was invited to check out the famous Rhythm World Dance School sing-along evening.
It was, indeed, something different, with Sohan & The X-Periments doing the needful, and, today, Sohan and his outfit are considered the No.1 band for sing-along events.
I’m told that the first ever sing-along concert, in Sri Lanka, was held on 27th April, 1997, and it was called Down Memory Lane (DML), presented by the Moratuwa Arts Forum (MAF),
The year 2023 is a landmark year for the MAF and, I’m informed, they will be celebrating their Silver Jubilee with a memorable concert, on 29th April, 2023, at the Grand Bolgoda Resort, Moratuwa.
Due to the Covid pandemic, their sing-along series had to be cancelled, as well as their planned concert for 2019. However, the organisers say the delayed 25th Jubilee Celebration concert is poised to be a thriller, scheduled to be held on 29th April, 2023.
During the past 25 years, 18 DML concerts had been held, and the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will be the 19th in the series.
Famous, and much-loved, ‘golden oldies’, will be sung by the audience of music lovers, at this two and a half hours programme.
Down Memory Lane was the brainchild of musician Priya Peiris, (of ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do’ fame) and the MAF became the pioneers of sing-along concerts in Sri Lanka.
The repertoire of songs for the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will include a vast selection of international favourites, Cowboy and old American Plantation hits, Calypsos, Negro Spirituals, everybody’s favourites, from the ’60s and ’70s era, Sinhala evergreens, etc.
Singers from the Moratuwa Arts Forum will be on stage to urge the audience to sing. The band Echo Steel will provide the musical accompaniment for the audience to join in the singing, supported by Brian Coorey, the left handed electric bass guitarist, and Ramany Soysa on grand piano.
The organisers say that every participant will get a free songbook. There would also be a raffle draw, with several prizes to be won,
Arun Dias Bandaranaike will be the master of ceremonies.
President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, Melantha Perera, back from Australia, after a successful tour, says: “All music lovers, especially Golden Oldies enthusiasts, are cordially invited to come with their families, and friends, to have an enjoyable evening, and to experience heartwarming fellowship and bonhomie.”
Further details could be obtained from MAF Treasurer, Laksiri Fernando (077 376 22 75).
CATCH 22 for
‘Ranpota’ hitmaker Nimal Jayamanne has got a new outfit going, made up of veteran musicians.
The band is called CATCH 22 and they, officially, started performing at The Warehouse (TWH), on 2nd March 2023.
The members are Nimal Jayamanne, R. Sumith Jayaratne, Duminda Sellappruma, Keerthi Samarasekara and Sajith Mutucumarana.
Says Nimal: “I took this name (CATCH 22) as a mark of respect to the late and great Hassan Musafer, who was the drummer of the original Catch 22.
You could catch Nimal in action, on Thursday evenings, at TWH, from 7 pm onwards.
Till recently, Nimal, who underwent a cataract operation, on his left eye, last week, was with Warehouse Legends, and has this to say about them:
“Thank you Warehouse Legends for letting me be an active member of your team, during the past year and 14 days. I wish you all the best.”
Cabinet nod to provide land for victims of floods and landslide
Philadelphia will pay $9.25M to protesters over police use of tear gas and rubber bullets during 2020 unrest
Showers in Sabaragamuwa, Central, Uva, North-Central and North western provinces and in Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar districts
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
U.S. Congress to probe assets fleecing by US citizens of Sri Lankan origin
Sports6 days ago
Dickwella – a monster the selectors created
Features4 days ago
Earth’s Greatest Rivalry
Breaking News5 days ago
Credit Suisse slump renews fears of global banking crisis
Midweek Review6 days ago
All praise for Lanka’s saviours!
News2 days ago
Sri Lankan recognized as a Fellow by Society of Architectural Historians
Features6 days ago
A middle path for Sri Lankan agriculture: Sustainable intensification – PART I
News5 days ago
Underworld figures flown to Colombo from Madagascar
Editorial4 days ago
Smash glass ceiling