30 December 2014

Mahinda, Maithripala and their Money-Pestos

It’s Christmas time.  This is when even the bulathvita (betel chew) comes with a discount tag or so it seems.  This is when stores hand out leaflets, put up poster and advertise all kinds of deals.  Some even send booklets detailing which items are going at which discount prices.  But there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to beat the deals advertised in election manifestos. 

The only difference between manifestos and other kinds of promotional material is that there’s some truth in the latter.  We all know that there’s some truth in advertisements.  We also know that there’s a lot not being said as well.  Things are not heaven-sent after all.  ‘Sales’ are about stock-clearing and getting rid of damaged items.  Manifestos are different. 

Wait, I am getting ahead of my story.  You may have wondered why I butchered the word, why I say ‘Money Pesto’ and not ‘Manifesto’.  Everyone knows what ‘money’ is.  Very few know what ‘pesto’ is.  We know.  That’s us Kolombians.  Pesto is a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil, typically served with pasta.  Yes, ‘basil’ is a leaf, not just a name and personality, but that’s another story.

The reason I say ‘money pesto’ is because I overheard some yakkos butchering the word ‘manifesto’.  I didn’t bother telling them what ‘pesto’ meant, because I know they would ask me ‘what is festo?’  Kolombians can only take so much of queen-murdering, god save the lady. 

But in a way, they got it right.  It’s all about money.  And it is essentially an ingredient mix that gives flavor to a meal; except of course that it is us Kolombians who get to taste it. 

Anyway, to get back to our story, these money-pestos are not really ads.  No one really reads them.  They are lengthy, boring stories.  A lot of promises which no one really believes will be kept.  They are so long that if anyone has the patience to read to the end, he/she will find dozens of contradictions and there will be a whole bunch of things that are impossible to deliver.  The one thing that keeps one side from taking apart the money-pesto of the opponent is the pot-kettle matter.  One is as ‘black’ as the other. 

Now we don’t do money-pestos.  Kolombians know that it is easier to keep things simple.  The French who rose up against the monarchy in the 18th Century came up with a three-word money-pesto: liberty, equality and fraternity.  Easy on the tongue.  No one really knows what these words mean now and I doubt anyone in France knew it either, back in the 18th Century.   I think the Russians were as clever when it came to a tight money-pesto but they made the error of using easy-to-understand words: land, peace and bread. 

Kolombians know all this.  Kolombians know that money-pestos are documents meant to be junked soon after the election is over.   We know it’s all about money-making.  This is why you won’t find any of us blasting the USA.  We won’t utter a single bad word about capitalism.  And if our guys are in control you won’t find us blasting human rights violations, the problems of judicial process, theft, embezzlement etc etc.  We know what is what.    We are not money-pesto people.  We are a money-making tribe.  The only issue we have about money-making is when non-Kolombian upstarts want to mimic us by making money themselves.  That’s something we can’t stand. 

For now, though, it’s enough to say that we find this fascination with money-pesto utterly stupid. It is just something that only non-Kolombians are fascinated with.  We say, ‘enjoy, suckers – while you sweat over your precious money-pesto, we are busy making money!’

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 twelfth in a series published in 'The Nation' under the title 'Notes of an Unrepentant Kolombian'.