16 May, 2022

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Maintaining A Sense Of Humour In This Land Like No Other

By Manel Fonseka


Manel Fonseka

On 6th February, The Sunday Island carried “Fixing the dollar exchange rate: A major mistake,” across 2/3 of its editorial page, headed by a grim portrait of the author, economist, Romesh Dias Bandaranaike, Ph.D. I emailed a crazy response. The editor ignored it.

Four days later, the article appeared in the Financial Times, again, alongside the editorial. Sorry to see the impulse of a moment spurned, I ventured another foray into the murky realms of finance, this time prefixed with: “I wonder if my sense of humour (born & bred in England, alas) might appeal to any of your readers.” Persistence paid off. Two days later, I, too, occupied the editorial page – at the very bottom.

Dear Editor

“Fixing the dollar exchange rate: A major mistake,” by Dr Romesh Dias Bandaranaike

On reading this article in the Financial Times on 10 February 2022, a stream of brilliant ideas poured forth from this economic neophyte.

If they don’t provide solutions to our parlous situation, maybe – maybe — they will at least give you a good laugh. If not, forgive my wasting your time.

Kindly tell the writer I particularly appreciated his article because I could more or less understand everything he said. No mean feat on his part! And no wonder he looks so grim in his photo.

Can’t he gather up whatever educated, like-minded, experienced economists are left in this Land of Hope and Glory, and carry out a raid on one ANC’s CB office, late at night or very early in the morning — when the poor guy sits there, pouring over basic books on economics, when no one is around to see, tho so far, he has only picked up a few economically-speaking, expert-sounding words and terms that he can impress with when the Minister of Finance, Poverty and Corruption calls upon him to disclose his latest take on the state of the economy — when he (ANC) least expects it?

Romesh (Editor, please note, I am economizing on the appropriate form of address) should arrange a safe house — preferably in the Vanni — where the gentleman (?) in question can be accommodated with every facility except a phone, a computer and an unlocked door or open window.  A bill may be presented daily for his previous day’s expenses.  This need not worry his ‘bearers’ (i.e. R & co.) as he is one of the blessed in this Land of Hope and Glory for whom money is no object.

The experts can then proceed to act for him (in wotever guise they find convenient, and the Minister of FPC won’t see thru), gather up all the necessary data, apply to it their abundant acumen, and work out what — if not too late — can be done to stem the rush to chaos, set the wheels in motion and bring us at last a glimpse of those long-promised Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.

Most important, Romesh, arrange for the regular delivery of first-class meals from the best chef in town, to keep your bodies and spirits up, while your mental efforts to save us all from the flood about to engulf us threaten your health and sanity.

Naturally, your valuable service to your long-suffering country will be entirely honorary.  And not a cent will be borne by the Bank or the Ministry.

To this end, a special assistant must be assigned to record every expense incurred during this noble undertaking.  Nothing is too small to be included: electricity, water, paper, biros, tea, coffee, sugar, saccharine, toothpaste, Kleenex, Siddhalepa for aching necks, regular cleaning of offices in use, and so on. And don’t forget special overtime rates for the poor watchers guarding you night and day from the elite members of the tri-forces who will certainly be ordered to do wotever necessary to extricate you from the seat ordained for that gentleman in the Vanni.

That gentleman will be only too happy to receive your bills until such time as you have installed a permanent solution that even he cannot mess with.

When that day dawns, appoint a force of experts different from the ones who bore him thither, to release and carry him back to his freshly painted office, where a dainty tray of tea and milk and sugar and biscuits awaits him on his new desk.

Thinking to sink into his erstwhile plush and comfy luxury chair, he will be brought up short as his bottom hits the hard seat with a bang.

But his lonely days in a room in the Vanni, with only Andy Capp & Jiggs cartoon books (not even Calvin & Hobbes!) to keep him company, have inured him to accept any situation.  He even tips his bearers.

Finally, the oath-taking ceremony, when he swears to keep his hands, and wotever is left of his mind, off anything to do with economics, the country’s economy, expertise, etc.  All he has to do is turn up for work at 8 am every morning, sit on his hardback chair, order tea whenever he wants and leave everything untouched, neat and tidy, at 5pm, and drive himself home.  He will receive an allowance for as long as he continues to occupy that chair 5 days a week, an allowance that will provide for his tea and biscuits.

He is to leave the economic plan he has inherited in place until such time as he feels like bowing out for an ‘expert’ to take over.

And don’t worry about his financial situ…his investments will keep him laughing to his grave.

So, Romesh, you’ve got your job cut out for you! Go ahead!

Manel f

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    “Romesh Dias Bandaranaike” …….. he did his graduate work at U of MD ……. had left by the time I started undergrad …….

    Met him in dos around DC ……. he had a stunning black girlfriend ………. Naomi Campbell territory! ………Old Codger Sinhala_Man eat ye hearts out; Palki in the shade ………….

    Always remember gals ………. nothing much else ………….

    • 4
      0

      I only figured out now who ANC is ……… his cousin Anil also did his graduate work there and had left for WB or IMF (they all end up there) before my time ………

      Anil is a pretty decent guy

      Manel, you seem to know a few Terrapins ……… :)) ……. All boys, eh? …… I only know the gals: lucky Old Codger wasn’t in the scene ………

      • 3
        1

        ANC – Ajith Nivard Cabral?
        .
        I’m rather too dense to deal with the best of British Humour!
        .

      • 3
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        I had time only now to read Romesh’s piece. It’s well written, to the point and comprehensive.

        Now I get the humour in Manel’s comment ………

        After a lifetime with Ramona, OC will tell you ……….. what gets one through the darkest of times is humour …………..

      • 1
        0

        ANC – Ajith Nivard C.
        Surely that was obvious, Nimal, especially as CT prefixes the column with a photo of the guy!

        But what are terrapins.– when they’re not floating about?
        .

        • 2
          0

          Great article Manel Akkandi (Akkandi is the term being used to call beloved sister) and thanks also for the cute photo 👍👍👍👍
          .
          I really don t know what goes through the head of Cabral (ANC) these days.

          The situation before my motherland, is worsening by hour.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5AhgDgag-8

      • 2
        0

        What are terrapins, Nimal, when they’re not swimming about?

          • 1
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            Curiouser & curiouser, Nimal. Who the devil is LM?

            And what are the names of some of these Terrapins I’m supposed to know?
            I’m totally ignorant of this use of the word.

            • 0
              0

              Manel,

              I thought one of the comments was from Leelage Malli (LM) …….. later, looking closely realised both comments were from you.

              U of MD alumni/alumnae are called Terrapins ……. after the mascot ……

              I thought you knew Romesh ……. but later realised you may only know him from the piece he has written ……


              If the guy upstairs bothers you ……. why don’t you give him a thundering slap like Will Smith? …….. That’ll put him in his place! …… If he is not Native Vedda, I’m sure he won’t hit back :))

    • 7
      0

      There is an internet meme floating around these days, showing photos of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) and Nivard Cabral. The blurb says : ” One of these is an Oxford- qualified engineer pretending to be an idiot. The other is an absolute idiot pretending to be a smart man”.

    • 3
      0

      Dr Romesh Dias Bandaranaike’s article:
      *
      https://island.lk/fixing-the-dollar-exchange-rate-a-major-mistake/
      *
      I’ve not been able to find it in the Financial Times – so we don’t know what the “gals” comment there was. Never mind, Manel says it was the same article.

  • 3
    11

    manel

    are you the gal who comments with us.You are beautiful.can you show your latest photo.

    • 3
      1

      Wow! Manel has made a conquest here.
      .
      This is unfair by us men; however handsome a photograph we post, nobody is going to direct “shankar’s” sort of comment at us.
      .
      No doubt about it, the gals belong to the more fortunate half of humanity.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)
      .
      Will CT allow me to post my email address here. That way, some of the gals may write to me.
      .
      P.S. shankar,
      .
      Manel sends me quite a few emails – some of them pretty disorganised. But I’ve not met her.
      .
      Hope for you still.

    • 2
      0

      I hope the new photo satisfies yr curiosity, Shankar, tho, sadly, few CTers seem to share yr opinion of the old one. And none of them my sense of (misplaced?) humour. I guess I shall remain an outsider – as Jit says – but then I didnt support Brexit either…

      Actually, it wasnt I who chose that old photo. Uvindu attached it to an article by me on CT in 2014, on Weather & Elections. I think he found it on the web. I dunno how it got there.

      But now that I have “come out” how about you reciprocating — what is yr full name?

      Which prompts the question: Why is it ok to hide behind a pseudonym but not a photo of the early me? Not that I had any intent to hide but just let CT post whatever they had. In fact, after I saw what CT used I emailed asking if we really should continue with such an old photo.

      • 3
        0

        A Rose will always remain a Rose.

      • 3
        0

        Manel, I always feel that you do not belong to Sri Lanka. Not in bad sense. You’d made yourself a world leading journalist or author (like Micheal O)or an artist of any other nature had you decided to forego the stupid racist remarks some stupid people made while you were back in the UK. Certainly, you’d’ve made very positive things for the world population than you’ve been allowed to do in an island full of petty minded people who elect world class rogues to run their daily life!

        P.S: Your photo is very nice :)

      • 1
        0

        ooh you are still looking good manel so life has treated you well as you aged.The rebellious look in your younger photo has of course mellowed out as indeed for all of us as we get older and wiser.As for those who displayed that you were not beautiful,they must be females who were jealous.Anyway beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and for me you were beautiful and and still beautiful even now.

        As for your query who am i and what am i doing,i am shankar,not a pseudonym.

  • 6
    0

    Manel, I just wrote a comment under Azhar,s article but decided to copy here . The financial problems we face started before year 2000 got worse by 2010 and now we are told “failed and bankrupt”.The hatred and division betweens communities were created by our own politicians before INdependence which later culminated in 30 years of arms struggle. Same with corruption, nepotism which were there from the time of INdependence JR expoited it where as mother of all Rajapaksas made it a living and culture. Our media and intellectuals identify the origin of these ill will, to their convenience to present to us , as though it was never there before. Sorry it this is not appropriate to your article but I still decided to copy my comment hoping readers will take notice.

  • 4
    0

    Hi Manel,
    Well written article.
    Thanks.

    • 3
      0

      Thank you, Mahila, but did you have a laugh? If not, it was a wasted effort.
      Certainly my last one here

      • 0
        0

        Yes, certainly Manel.

  • 1
    0

    mf – at least give him a glass window so that he can enjoy the neon lights of Vanni

  • 1
    0

    Hi MF,

    You can find the information you were after : Diyawanna Oya drama
    The following is an extract from the book ‘An Unfinished Struggle’ by archives.dailynews.lk/2010/03/06/fea10.aspVictor Ivan which caused a stir in civil society, given the nature of characters embroiled in it.

    • 3
      0

      Thank you, Hancho, I will read it when I next open my computer, which I uncover less & less these days as almost every room has leaks in the ceiling since late 2020…from the flat above. And the condo management wont approach the owner of that flat to attend to the cause. So far the moisture has killed off one ceiling fan and blanked out my tv screen — which I need to watch films. .. When this first happened 6 years ago the upstairs owner came & yelled at me before striding thru all my rooms, disbelieving my complaint. After he finally attended to the source he refused to helo me with the huge bill I incurred to repair my 2 ceilings. This time 6 are affected. I guess he is pretty well off…the surgeon who operated on Lalith Aththulathmudali when he was bombed.
      I certainly need a sense of humour to keep going in these awful times.

  • 2
    0

    HI MF. I thought you are domiciled in England. Sorry to hear that. It must be pretty awful.

    • 3
      0

      Are you a newcomer to CT? Not read anything by me before? Not that there is much but recently I described something of how I came to settle down here & when faced with the option of remaining a Brit. cit. & not being able to work here (no dual cit. here in 1975), or give up Brit. & take SL cit. & be allowed to work, I really had no choice but to abandon my birthright — as it were. And it wasnt a very auspicious time here then either. Funnily, my far better qualified better half waited several months before he was able to be employed & the malignant trickery of his Head of Dept to be nearly deprived him of that chance as well.

      God! wot a book I could write about this country!
      But I try to laugh, instead.

  • 2
    0

    Great tongue-in-cheek article, Manel. Look forward to reading more from you.

  • 0
    2

    Manel,
    .
    Your article was a good one, and targetted one of the guys who has to be exposed.
    .
    These are difficult times. All is quiet up here, and in fact I went down to Badulla (i8 miles away) by bus in the early afternoon, and returned after dark. Although there are diesel queues, I managed to get some petrol for my motor-cycle about 8.00 pm.
    .
    The electricity is what worries me. We’ve got so used to communicate using all sorts of devices, all of which rely on electricity. Many shops, and such enterprises have got themselves generators. Proves again how foolish the government is. electricity produced that way is so obviously wasteful.
    .
    Keep writing; yours is still a sharp mind, but don’t over-tax yourself. You’ve lived a very generous and responsible life.
    .
    However, operating a computer without a UPS, and a fridge without a power guard, are both irresponsible acts in these circumstances.
    .
    Good luck!

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