Monday, January 25, 2010

Sri Lanka's Big Day

Tomorrow is the big day. It just doesn't stop with our country, each corner we turn is more and more tense, filled with uncertainty and instability. When the war ended, with all the trauma there was still hope to look forward with a hope to try to rebuild and start with a cleaner slate - not making the same mistakes we have made so many times before.

And now, I feel that we're just twisting up in yet another difficult mess. The fact of the matter is, we're in between a rock and a hard place. We are facing a military leader who could come into the most powerful position in the country (and who will no doubt, like so many of his predecessors, lie and not give it up as promised) or we face the same unpredictable ruling party. The thing is, I feel more inclined to want what we already know, because with the other option - it is impossible to tell just how out of hand it could get. The truth is, Fonseka is more aggressive and racist - with no fear of showing what he really feels. He is rumoured to bring in Sarath Silva, the most corrupt Chief Justice in our recent history, as his Prime Minister with Ranil being left in the dust, as usual.

With the Rajapakse's, yes it is oppressive but at least we know our leaders - we know the entity that sits in office. It is one that we can contend with. Change and corruption are words being used with such fervour that I can only see it with a cynical eye - why? Because its nothing new. The UNP were always corrupt (more economically) just much more clever about hiding it - they are power hungry and play the cards just like the rest of the politicians that have danced on our country's historical stage. Politics comes hand in hand with corruption and to gasp at it in horror is naive; every government in our independent history has been corrupt on many levels and it is no surprise to me that this is an accusation hurled about. However I am surprised that the UNP/Swan Party are so confident to go in on that platform - pot, kettle, black anyone?

Yes the Rajapakse's are impossible to understand and deal with, they ended the war on unbelievably questionable terms - but how is this voting for the other side? They BOTH stood on the same platform before all this. I almost spat out my tea laughing when I saw Fonseka's "Change" campaign, so obviously ripped off Obama's and yet so far from that same standpoint I felt the utter ridiculousness of it.

I can't vote because I am away. And in a way I am glad that choice has been taken away from me, because for once I wouldn't know what to do with it.

All I can do is pray and hope that whatever situation we put ourselves into tomorrow, we all have the gumption to accept responsibility if it goes wrong and stop pointing fingers and just start making the country work. We can make the change we want to see by starting with ourselves and how we live - how we treat our fellow man. And take to the streets if what is done in our name doesn't feel right.

Lanka vs. London

It has definitely dropped a few degrees in the past 2 days and dear Lord its cold. Just thought I'd do a quick comparison of the weather forecasts and ask myself the question again: why am I here in the darkest of winters?

Germ strike!

I've been struck down by a crappy cold + cough and I've completely lost my sense of smell for the past 5 days which has been so bizarre. It has also affected my sense of taste so when I eat I can barely tell what it is I am eating... The smell thing has been odd though because from when we were in Wales on a beautiful walk by the waterfalls I couldn't smell the pinewood and when I spray myself with perfume I can't tell if I have any on or not. And could be embarrassing if I forget deoderant, which thankfully for all of you, I haven't.

It just makes me appreciate it because I have a good friend who is a photographer and she lost her sense of smell completely after developing film for most of her teenage and early 20's. Yikes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lankan Branding Genius

An orange juice drink that was launched in Colombo when I was about 12-14 years old, this is hand painted advert on the side of a building in Maradana - photo credit my buddy Deshan Koon Senior.


We went to see Avatar last night in 3D and it is the most incredible film in terms of revolutionary technology and imagination - James Cameron has a magnificent ambition. The plant and animal life of Pandora boggles the mind with its luminous landscape and intriguing species not to mention the Na'avi race and their language and body movement. The plot was predictable and many of the roles were stereotyped but for once, everything else overshadowed these let downs. Avatar's indigenous race had such great undertones of African tribal character - the language and dialect invented by a Harvard professor for Cameron.

The scenes with digital creations and real human actors/scenery were so seamlessly brought together its only after you make a point of reflecting on that do you realise how amazing it is.

The film is partly a profound reflection on what countless countries/govts and commercial corporations have done to indigenous nations in the pursuit of money, wealth and power. Native American Indians, Amazonian tribes, Chinese rural villages or even the Tamil people in the NE in some respects. Because it is not politics, legislature or constitution one thinks of as they run screaming from bombs blowing up their village centres, trying to save their families and what little they have.

Anyway, bravo Cameron - though as Lee said, I wish people would realise that we don't need to escape to an alternative universe to see this happening for real.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gaga Polaroids

Thanks to the Impossible Project (website not working at the mo but check later), Polaroid will resume production of it's film towards the end of this year. Late last year I was searching London for Polaroid film for a gig I was doing and it was a ridiculous hunt: in the end I found a place in Elephant and Castle called Silverprint which deal in speciality photography and it was going to cost £68 for 30 prints!! So all of you with the original Polaroid cameras can breathe easy, we're back!

More interestingly though, Lady Gaga has been made Creative Director at Polaroid for their special imaging products, it is such an incredible move considering the institution that is Polaroid and the culture/fashion icon that Gaga has become. Can't wait to see what they come out with, though am hoping its not going to be a leather studded camera cover.

I remember 10 years ago, going on a 3 hour car drive with my Uncle Tom around the Nebraskan suburbs looking for the house of a guy that my uncle had contacted to buy a rare Polaroid camera from. We left in the afternoon and it was dusk as we journeyed in his cool pick up truck and playing Alison Krauss on the tape player, and we finally found the place and bought the camera. It had a gorgeous leather cover. I must ask him whether he still has it?!


And so another year, hello 2010 - I’ve been expecting you. New Resolution 1: write more on my blog.

There are other resolutions but I think I'll keep them to the journal. Its a big year, I felt the significance of it a great deal more at midnight on New Years Eve than I have for a long time. Maybe because we entered a new decade, or maybe its because I turned 30 – yikes! As much as I thought there might be, there was no Leah-shaped hole in the wall - I was calm, intoxicated and surrounded by my family and friends which was just dandy.

I got some lovely thoughtful gifts and Tasha made me this awesome video of some of things I've done in my life so far - was hilarious and rather embarrassing! From TV commercials to bad dance routines!

This year is going to be a big year for me, for us, one with change and being much more committed to what I believe in. Starting with my life, my work and my country.

It may not be a fresh start or a clean slate but the situation in Sri Lanka has a lot more potential than it ever did. I just got back from a 3 week visit there and it was exhilarating. Most of my friends who live there had some very fascinating things to say – some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but people are much more alive than I remember.

I can’t say I feel buoyed by the impending elections, and the options we are faced with are frustrating after all this time – laced with opportunity but tied to an anvil.

Still, I have faith that we will work it out somehow. One thing I did feel when I was home was how much was happening on the ground - unknown to all the foreign media and big talkers outside, really you have to be there and be talking to the right people to see what is happening. How the locals from around the country are making their own advances to connect with each other and dispel all the bullshit that existed before.

We have to help support that, so there is no room for people to be wrongly influenced.