Thursday, 29 November 2007

Road Rules 101

A little while ago, I stepped out of commons with the missus after gorging down one of those delightfully sinful chocolate things. You know, the one that's slightly hard, but is made of a brownie casing, with chocolate mousse in the middle and icing sugar sprinkled on top. Wow!

So anyway, as soon as we stepped out, a plain-clothed policeman stopped us and told us to move back towards the door. He said the road was closed. The road was indeed deserted in a way that only Mahinda Rajapaksha can have done on a busy Thursday afternoon. So then the motorcade swept past, at which point my days of reading the Highway Code flashed before me. I've never seen the convoys go by so fast! Here are a couple of the road rules that I noted were broken in the minute of officials flying by at high speeds.

1. Excessive speeding - the convoy was easily doing well over 130km/h on flower road. How dangerous is that?
2. Driving on the wrong side of the road.
3. Driving without a number plate - almost all the vehicles had no plate!
4. Overtaking on the wrong side - a backup jeep over took one of the black beemers from the left!
5. (W)reckless driving - goes without saying. Put's a whole load of pedestrians and road-side buildings in jeapordy.
6. Exhaust emissions being over the allowed limit - the emissions were black. Just the other day I saw a cop stopping a vehicle for the same offence at Maradana junc. Wonder where he is today!

These are the days I wish we had the services of Kiran Bedi, the first female offer of the Indian Police Force, who is famous for being a tough cop - a reputation she earned by even booking the prime minister of India's vehicle for illegal parking.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Monsoon Sunday : The Gig

With all the confirmations finally in, we have a gig on our hands! 8th Dec, 8pm, at the Zetter (formerly known as Tabu). This is exciting for a whole bunch of reasons!

We paid a visit to the Zetter today and it looks abso-fucking-lutely super! Pristine white interior, with a bar that runs all the way through the club (you'll never be too far from the drinks) and the fanciest sound and lights system i've seen at any venue in Colombo! This is a far cry from the dark and intimidating interior and atmosphere of the old Tabu.

Hollowpoint Halo, probably the biggest band in the Sri Lankan underground scene, confirmed to play, and are promising a new sound, which would be a step away from the acoustic sessions they've been known to play. S.A.M. was one of the most exciting bands at Onstage this year, and we were more than happy to invite them along for the ride.

10 Second Rule will feature a new drummer: The fabulous Jim Sykes, the American that you've read about previously here. Our line up is also likely to include percussionist Ravihansa, which should add to the new flavour that we plan to introduce at the gig.

Over the next 14 days watch this space for more information about the gig. For now, make sure you keep the date free!

Monday, 19 November 2007

The Thing About Accents... that when it's not your own, you tend to laugh about it. This is true wherever in the world you are. I spent three years in Hull, where the locals probably have the worst accent in the whole of the UK, if not the world, and yet they'd laugh at people who spoke more 'normally'. This coming from people who would cry out "hunnaaay, fern curl fer yoooouuuuuuuz!" and "errrr neeerrrrrrr it's sooondeeeeey meeeernin".

So anyway, in Sri Lanka this accent thing is a big issue. I was at law college the other day, trying to cram in as much as possible in the 15 minutes prior to when the exam started when these two girls who were also about to take the exam started talking in raised voices and varied accents, one american, one british, disrupting the blissful silence. The deafening cackle of foreign voices disrupted the orderly exam preparation that was taking place along the corridors, which made the students sit up, peer at the cacklers, giggle, sneer and then try to concentrate again whilst the conversation continued. However, it didn't stop. Which made me stop studying and ponder.

How is it that when some Sri Lankans go abroad, they develop an accent that they can't seem to lose even when they come back?

While you live abroad, it is invariably true that you develop a particular way of speaking in order for the locals of that country to understand how you speak. That sort of adaptation would avoid the weird looks you would get if you break into "ado that kaalla was bloody hot nuh you bugger?". I worked in call centres for the entire three years I was abroad, so at first people could not understand me over the phone. So I had to adapt my ways of speaking in order to be more clear, and it worked. But i'd lose the 'accent' as soon as I got talking to people who would understand me normally. Hence, when I came back, it was easy to shake off.

But, some people who go abroad for a short period of time, come back with a stunner of an accent that just doesn't seem to go, and sometimes doesn't even fit in the locality where they were based. For instance, a friend from school studied in Durham, but instead of the Newcastle-ish drawl, he came back with a perfect, high class, essex-ish accent. Another example would be the medic who studied in Nepal, and now has an American accent. Maybe my geography just sucks and I don't know what the hell i'm talking about.

But, my question is, if you can acquire an accent by being around foreigners and speaking like em, how come you can't lose it when you're back and speaking with your own kind? For one, you tend to be the laughing stock of the town. Secondly, a foreign accent is not something that makes you cool. Thirdly, I just can't understand you when you go "eeeeeeer i gotta geeeeeeer, fern curl".

Sunday, 11 November 2007

TNL Onstage - The Finals

Onstage comes but once a year. Some say it's a good thing. But it's definitely a great platform for young and emerging musicians to get out and play in front of which was probably the biggest audience you get at a gig out here. Last night were the finals; 6 bands, 6 solo artistes and 4 from the hip hop and rnb category made it. I'd say there were roughly around a thousand people there, maybe more. However, I made the mistake of thinking that this year will be pretty much like last year where it started 2 hours late, the changes between the acts dragged on and it finished at 5am! So by the time I managed to get to the Convention Centre, Thriloka had already finished their opening act, which was a real bummer for I really wanted to see them! TNL had got their act together this time and started sharp at 9pm, and I must add the show was slick!

The stage was magnificent and was made up of probably the best lighting system I've seen at a local venue. The hall was decorated in black tapestries on which there were tiny lights which gave the effect of the night sky, but not so well. There were 2 drum kits on stage, instead of one, which was a great move, and helped reduce the loss of time between the acts! TNL also mixed in the order of performers so that the bands, solo singers and hip hop artistes were playing in random order. Last year the solo singers went first, then the bands. By the time the bands came on last year, everyone had left. So kudos to TNL.

I walked in to the sounds of S.A.M. (which stands for, believe it or not, Surface to Air Missiles!) who play a John Mayerish groove. They did an original of theirs and then did a medley of covers which included a bit of Cannonball, Calabria and ended When the Sun Goes Down (Arctic Monkeys). They were super! I had only been there 5 mins but I was jumping around. However, I still think their name doesn't match their genre.

Gray Mind Domain played a cover of Eric Clapton's Layla, but they failed to impress. It was just another cliche-ic rock band with nothing new about them. Merlock were technically sound, but a tad too heavy for my liking cause I'm not a death metal fan. But they were good in what they did. Could've had better vocals though. Wagon Park played a killer version of Comfortably Numb, and they looked the part of stoner rockers! Icarus started with Snow Patrol's run, which lacked oomph and zest. But their second song was brilliant, and it was an original! I could not understand why they did not play both originals, they would've had a better chance of winning. Hollow was the last band, again a little too heavy for my liking but boy were they good! Their drummer was off the hook! The guitarists had a great understanding and played great licks and leads and combined together very very well! They played The Final Countdown and that just blew the roof! However, being heavily influenced by my musical taste, my favourites were S.A.M. They need a new name though. Did I say that before?

Most of the soloists were nothing much to talk about. But Mariam, who opened by dedicating her first song to the late Ruwani Seimon, was great! She had lots of stage personality and, by the end of it, plenty of young male fans thanks to her gyrating grooves with an umbrella! CC, who was a classmate at school, brought with him a refreshing energy to his performance, which most of the others lacked. I have never seen him sing like he did last night and everyone was stunned! Two thumbs up!

Their were two hip hop groups, Dirty 4 Four and Nouty Coast (sic), who were quite good. The others didn't deserve a mention.

So any guesses for who took it away last night?

Well, I really can't remember who took the hip hop category, but it was one of those two groups. Wow, aren't I helpful!!!

Mariam was the first runner up of the Solo category and CC took away the honours for his scintillating performance! Great work! I hope we'll see more of the two of them!

In the band category, Merlock emerged runners up. The winners for 2007 are Hollow. Doesn't my opinion count though? Maybe it was the name.

Link here for pictures posted by Shehal.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Doctor of Drumology

5 papers down as of today, and lucky number 5 had to be the worst one. Who bothers with the constitution anyway? Bah!

So after trudging away from the exam hall looking and feeling all too glum, i headed toward the infamous green path hangout. The plan was to jam. On the way, I stopped at Colpetty junc and got a yummy egg bun and a chinese roll. Food always hits the spot right after an exam. Actually food always hits the spot, period.

At green path you always meet new people and, more often than not, they are fascinating! Today was plain ol' Jim, who is doing a PhD in drums and percussion! Now how fucking cool is that? It gets cooler. He's in Sri Lanka for a year to learn Sri Lankan drums as part of his course. So here he is, learning the language, suffering in the heat and playing everything from gata bera to hak gedi to kala, all the while earning more credits towards his PhD. So at the end of all this he's gonna be a doctor in drumology? Woah! Not only that, as soon as we started jamming I realised he's fucking brilliant!

Over the course of a couple of hours, about 8 of us switched between guitars, bass, drums (not me:D) and percussion. Probably the best impromptu jam session I've ever had! I'm still buzzed about it.

Tomorrow, 10 Second Rule heads off to record some new material in a strangely unusual way. I'm excited, but I hope it goes off well. Fuck exams. I know what i'm gonna do my PhD in!