Shortcut to the talk shop

Friday, 10 August 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

I think I stared at it for a good five minutes. The picture on the web news media was of the chairman of a local council and his peon, cuffed together, led into courts on a charge of accepting Rs. 3 m as a bribe.

What really caught my eye is the reason for this spiel. I just couldn’t pick out the boss from his charge. Funnily, the man of slightly better demeanour could well have been the peon. The caption bizarrely didn’t say who was who, unwittingly illustrating the fate of our society.

Should we implore our children to grow into professionals and entrepreneurs, sacrificing their childhood and youth to the tempestuous marathon we call education? Surely, there’s a facile way out! But then, what parent in their right mind would incite their offspring to become drivers, peons and fraudsters? Even if they get to be politicians, wield power and wealth, enjoy status and dominance… the very reasons we spur them on with their education.

His Lordship of Colombo not so long ago was a taxi driver. Surely, a rarity it may be but you do come across honest, law-abiding taxi drivers. Same with politicians. But umpteen politicians are seasoned fraudsters and tricksters. Some even brandish degrees. They don’t wear the business suits their counterparts in the corporate world do, where you can still tell the boss from the peon.

A white Lamborghini was parked at the foyer of Cinnamon Grand as frenetic onlookers hustled for a fleeting moment with an auto legend. It’s then that I knew what I had to do.

Become a three-wheeler driver. I did some background checking and it isn’t as easy as it looks. There are over 300,000 three-wheeler drivers, not counting other commercial drivers in the island. So where have all the men gone, including your coconut plucker and handyman? They are all gone to drivers, every one.

As I was walking towards Park Street Mews I was drawn impulsively to a verbal duel between three-wheeler drivers. One was claiming territory and the other fighting for his civic right to park where he wanted. I think I’ll stick to my current job. The other side looks tempting but my CV doesn’t rack up the tough requisites required for survival.

It’s proven beyond doubts that it is a man-eat-man world; dogs have moved on to a better world. Here’s from an e-mail from a reader Maxwell Slegers:

My dog sleeps half the day. He has his food prepared for him. He can eat whenever he wants. His meals are provided at no cost to him. He visits the doctor twice a year for his check-up, and at all times when he is under the weather. For this he pays nothing and nothing is required of him. He lives in a nice neighbourhood in a house that is much larger than he needs and he is not required to do any upkeep. If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. He lives in the lap of luxury and hasn’t got a worldly care. All of his costs are picked up by someone else who works his butt out; ME!

I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it dawned on me.

Called Otara to ask if something could be arranged. My bark didn’t convince her, besides I’m not homeless, she reminded. I resigned to the fact that I still have to work for the finer things in life. Woof, woof!

(Dinesh Watawana is a former foreign correspondent and military analyst. He is a brand consultant and heads The 7th Frontier, an integrated communications agency which masterminded the globally-acclaimed eco tourism hotspot KumbukRiver. Email him at [email protected])