23 October 2014

Walkways belong to Kolombians!

Pic by Hiranya Malwatte
Everyone takes note.  Some keep notes.  Some in diaries and journals.  Some in their minds and hears.  Some of these are shared via email or on Facebook or blog; some are not.  Among these people are Kolombians, people from Colombo who know much -- so much that they are wont to think that others don't know and can't think.  This is the second in a series published in 'The Nation' under the title 'Notes of an Unrepentant Kolombian'.

I suppose the war had to end for us to see Colombo.  I mean, really see Colombo. For some thirty years Colombo was made of walls.  High ones.  Now the walls have come down.  We can see each other.  We can see splendid architecture and lovely lawns.  And being able to actually see cricket being played as we drive past some of the grounds whose existence we seemed to have forgotten is serious stuff.  I mean, seriously good stuff.   Took me back to the seventies and even earlier when we would stop and watch a few overs without even knowing what the teams were.  Laid back, that was how life was then.  We got that back.   Well, not all of it, but still!

The best was when Gota really got down to beautifying the city.  For heck’s sake, I didn’t know that Colombo had so many water bodies!  Now I am no landscape architect so I can’t be blamed for not imagine a Colombo like the one we have now, but I am willing to bet that even those who know about city planning, architecture and let’s say about art in general would not have thought Colombo could ever look like this. 

Initially, though, I was skeptical.  When I saw people digging around Independence Square I thought to myself ‘yes another tasteless project by the Rajapaksas!’  I thought they’ll ruin the place.  I also spent more time thinking about someone making a packet out of contracts than what Independence Square would look like.  I must humbly apologize to Gota (if I ever meet him).  Good job sir! 

It was not just Independence Square.  There was the Dutch Hospital renovation.  ‘Fort’ was just work for hard-nosed businessman.  We just go, make the deals, put the money in the bank and come home.  It was not a place to chill out.  But all that’s changed.

I am a diehard, born-bred Kolombian – no one can blame me for being cynical. But being a superior breed we know when to show grace, even if it comes out grudgingly.  I confess that I was grateful. Grudgingly, but still grateful. 

But then there is a saying that you can’t have too much of a good thing.  There’s a thing called ‘overkill’.   Now they are digging up the whole country.  Just the other day I saw walkways being constructed someone near Bellanwila.  There’s one at Boralesgamuwa. My fello-Kolombians who work in and around Biyagama tell me that there’s one there too.  Now I was a bit upset when I saw a walkway coming up around that extensive tract of paddy fields near the turn off to the Jayawardenepura Hospital near Pelawatte.  It used to be an ugly marsh but they could have sorted that aspect of it and leave it at that.  The walkway along the Diyawanna with the Parliament in full view was nice.  They could have stopped there.  I was upset but I told myself ‘there’s more Kolombians than I thought there were and there has to be room for everyone to exercise, shed some kilos and feel good; after all we earn enough not to have to attend to household chores and the hours have to be spent somehow!’ 

But this!  Walkways here, walkways there, walkways everywhere.  Is Gota out of his head?  I am pretty sure there are no Kolombians living anywhere near Boralesgamuwa.  I am sure there are none in Biyagama.  But seeing the number of cars parked around these facilities and the number of people walking I felt pretty deflated.  What’s the joy of being a Kolombian if you are not in an exclusive club?  What’s the joy if every Siripala and Ranmenika do what you do, look like you, and if others can’t distinguish us from them?  It’s us that eat well and even over-consume.  If everyone had calories to burn, we would no longer be special.  The others are supposed to be starving.  They can’t have leisure time.  If they did, how can we even complain that the Rajapaksas are hitting them in the stomachs? 

I am in a pretty pickle, really.  I tell the world that Gota is wasting public funds.  I tell the world that people are probably making a lot of bucks through contracts and kickbacks.  I even tell the world that the quality of the work is poor.  But deep down, I know that’s not the problem.  Deep down everything that gives me meaning in this life.  My identity.  My identity as a Kolombian. The walks ways are ours and ours alone.  They belong to us Kolombians.  Get the heck out of them.  This is big time identity theft.  Gota, I positively hate you man. 




Anonymous said...

Now this Kolombian column is classic! Reading it is like taking an anti-depressant! Lifts up the spirits! Good read Man!

Anonymous said...

This column is ingenious Malinda. This may come across as a joke but it's not.

Many Kolombians are going through this agony of not been able support all the things happening around Colombo because it is done by the wrong man. Deep down they know that the party they support has done nothing for Colombo compared to what was done in the last 4-5 years. The attempts to hide that fact with hair-splitting arguments are so entertaining.

gIL said...

I couldn't agree any better its not merely walkways but true symbols of how we can walk fearlessly, Colombian or not !
To walk on the right path is what we teach the youth today AND WHAT WE SHOULD DO OURSELVES!

However irrelevant it may seem what I am about to write has a bearing on digging ! Canadians (Harper & EU in particular) has dug into cesspools of lies faulting Sri Lanka's fight against terrorism, & today an attack at his own doorstep had woken them up, can this be compared to the thousands of terrorists attacks we had in in Sri Lanka ? Did the whole world condemned them AS THEY DO NOW, or did they fuel them further in their acts by arming them ? As to their continual "digging" into our internal affairs is it not principally for their political survival?

Anonymous said...

What’s the joy of being a Kolombian if you are not in an exclusive club? What’s the joy if every Siripala and Ranmenika do what you do, look like you, and if others can’t distinguish us from them?

This is the best part of it. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

these articles are gems!my go to for a "pick me up" Malinda's got talent ;-)
Keep it flowing