Sri Lankan Wild Cats – The Island

Part IV

As all movie buffs in Sri Lanka know, the gallery is known as “The Gallows”. Long ago, on a Saturday night at a popular cinema, the gallery was full of undergraduates who had gathered there after a cricket match.

They were in a good mood and the usual friendly slurs were thrown here and there, good-humored jokes and all the good fun.

Suddenly there was a diversion. All necks were strained behind the Dress Circle, as who should enter only Pieter Keuneman, the idol of young intellectuals of this period.

As he walked to his seat, an irreverent Gallery student shouted? “Hey! Comrade Pieter, why don’t you come to the gallows with the masses?”

With that charming smile on his face, Pieter, the falmour boy of local politics, waited for the laughter to subside. Then: “Comrade,” he replied, in his impeccably beautiful Cambridge accent. “I will go to the gallows FOR the masses, but not WITH the masses.”

***

“The late BP Pieris, former cabinet secretary, was driving to a party one evening when he had to stop at the Kollupitiya traffic lights. When the light turned green, BP accidentally put his car in reverse and crashed into the car behind him.

The driver of the second car ran out, shouting curses at BP and demanding that BP accompany him to the Kollupitiya police station.

“Look, my dear,” BP said soothingly, “this will all take a long time. Can’t we sort this out here and now?”

But the other did not want to hear about it, insisting that BP accompany him to the police station.

Finally, BP started to get a little angry.

“Look here, my man, remember that it will be your word against mine. And suppose I say you hit me from behind, won’t the police accept this as the most plausible story? “

The other driver now started to look a little dubious, and took his advantage, BP identified himself, gave his card to the man and said, “Get your car fixed and send me the bill.”

***

A club member and his roommate, also Sri Lankan, exited a London suburban train into the biting cold. The member had commented to his friend in Sinhala “Machan Adiyak Athanm Maru” (“It is a good time for a drink)”. And to their astonishment, a doorman passing through had said “Arakku nam thavath maru!” (“Even better if it’s arack)”. Apparently the man had served here.

***

This member also stated that he was staying in a hotel in Madras with another Sri Lankan and that one evening during their rice and curry dinner he commented very sarcastically on his friend: “Machan! Bain vala seagull ”.)

(“There are rice in the stones! Mahattaya, buth vala gull!” (“There are stones in the rice)”.

A drunkard got up one morning and found 42 mosquitoes around his bed, all of them dead from alcohol poisoning ”.

A truly stung husband is a man who needs his wife’s permission, even to kill himself.

The holiday season was in full swing and all the hotels in this city were full. And, these two men, totally unknown to each other, were forced to share the same room. That evening, one of them, due to attend a gala dinner, was getting dressed.

Lifting his tie, he said apologetically to his roommate, “My wife has always tied my tie for me, so I wonder if you could oblige….?”

– Certainly, answered the other cordially. Just lie on your back on the bed ”.

Rather puzzled, he did as he requested, and learning about him, the tie was tied. “My wife couldn’t have done better. But why did you ask me to lie down to do it?

“See, that’s the only way I’m used to doing it for other people. I am an undertaker.

***

William (not his real name) was the bartender at a popular club, and lavish tips and tricks of the trade had greatly flattened his bank account, making him greedy, conceited and ambitious.

So when he heard that his lovely daughter Ruvani was having a clandestine love affair with the region’s new Grama Sevaka, he almost blew his top off. Her daughter married an insignificant Grama Sevaka? Would he see her dead first?

One day, during an off-peak hour, a palm reader passed by the club and offered to give William a free reading.

(It had been sent by William’s daughter and had been well briefed). Naturally, he said amazing things about William’s daughter and was well informed). Naturally he said amazing things about William’s past, and after gaining the unconditional trust of his “client” the palmist went on to say “Almost a month ago your life entered its best period and fame and wealth are in store for you. She will marry a man of her choice, and the couple will get better and better. You are a conceited and ambitious man, and you will make the biggest mistake of your life if you put yourself on their way, because this marriage will bring you a lot of luck, to YOU, the father of the girl!

A few days after this “reading”, the young Grama Sevaka moved his office to William’s house!

***

During the Sinhala New Year, a club member visited a friend of his.

After a little chat he called his wife, Darlo! Bring my friend a cool drink, ”adding after a pause,“ one to four ”.

As they were chatting with the member while sipping his cold drink, a person in a sarong arrived and after a very respectful “salaam” the man sat down on the step. He spoke quite nicely to the man and called his wife again.

“Darlo! Bring another cold drink. One to six “.

The club member was quite intrigued by all of this, and after the man in a sarong left, the member asked his friend if he was betting with his wife or something.

“No, no” laughed his friend, who had a reputation for being stingy. “You see, your drink was one part cordial to four parts water – quite rich and tasty, while the man’s drink was a little more watered down. This man is just one of my workers.

***

This happened at a time (like today) when there was a severe oil shortage in the country. It was rumored that a certain government storekeeper was exploiting the situation by siphoning off his stocks of kerosene on the black market, and some of his jealous colleagues informed their bosses.

There was a surprise check, but no shortage of stocks was noted.

What the ingenious storekeeper had done was quite simple. He had attached a length of rubber bicycle tube sealed at one end to the opening in each of the barrels from the inside, filling the tubes with kerosene oil, and when the sizer (a foot ruler like thing) with a series of marks indicating the amount of oil in each barrel was inserted into the bicycle tubes filled with kerosene, the readings corresponded to the storekeeper’s stock books, when in reality the barrels were empty.

***

“Love is blind,” says a madman to his cellmate.

“Who said that?” asked the other.

“God made”.

“Garbage” said a voice from the next cell.

“I have never done.”

***

A devotee who visited a temple found that his new pair of shoes had been pinched. S, he bought a new pair and on his next visit to the temple, left a note in a shoe.

“I am a black belt in karate,” he said.

Upon his return, he found his shoes missing and a note from the thief. Don’t worry, I am a racing champion.

***

One day, a member of the club recounted these blunders of a teacher. During the Hartal violence of August 1953, a central school was completely destroyed. The next day there was a headline in a newspaper: “Central School Burned Down!” Suspected arson.

The teacher above exclaimed “Arson must be a damn communist”.

***

One day he went to a cricket match, where the incompetent wicket keeper conceded a lot of extras.

Looking at the dashboard he had said “I say” that the other extras seem to beat very well! “

***

This teacher lived in a house behind the cemetery in Galkissa. When one of his colleagues asked him where he lived, he replied “I live behind the funeral”.

***

One day he went Christmas shopping with his beautiful daughter. She was heavily laden with many parcels and as she followed in her father’s wake, she stumbled and narrowly avoided a fall.

“Father! I have lost my balance”.

“I told you to be careful” he told her angrily.

“There are pickpockets all over town these days.”

“How much have you lost?”

***

It was a social wedding at the Galle Face Hotel and this teacher also attended in his usual national attire.

The next day, he told the class, “All the people were well dressed and only I wore the national dress. Aiya! Boys, I felt like a goddamn cat out of the bag ”.

One day a tourist asked him “How far is this place?” Pointing to the distant lights of Colombo.

“It’s about seven miles by road. But only three miles while the rooster crows!

***

In 1954, when there was a total solar eclipse, some students traveled to Hingurakgoda, which was supposed to be a good place to observe it.

The next day, as he went to his class, he said: “I heard that some of you went to see the Cyclops!”

***

One day he said to the class, “You know boys, I come from a good family. My older brother is an excellent doctor and very wealthy. My second brother is also a very wealthy prominent lawyer. And, I’m just a poor teacher and the black dog of the family!

***

One day he wanted to see a friend who had a fierce-looking Alsatian dog. So he asked his friend “I say! Is the dog edible? “.


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