Sunday, 20 June 2021

My Father's day


Today my lovely daughters 

gave me a father's day gift with flowers

with hugging and kissing

they are making a cake with my wife

she bought me flowers and Champagne

she is doing schichtkraut for lunch

It's a German affair



This father's day

I remember my poor father

There were no father's day

I have no idea 

how he raised us 

on his meagre allowance 

When we passed exams,

doing well at school, and out

That's his father's day

he left us early, at 62

My Mother was younger

 than what I am now

I can't imagine, because

I think I am still young

at least at heart at 56

I can't imagine how lonely for her

how sad its for her

I can promise you,

dear  father

We will look after

Love of your life

For the rest of our lives

The least we can do

For all you did for us

your four children

only treasure you left


 


Thursday, 3 June 2021

A & E visit to a NHS hospital



I had my second Astra Zeneca jab recently.  About week and half ago, my head started constantly aching. I took paracetamol (Panadol) 3 times a day to ease the pain. To make matters worse, my blood pressure started going up as well. By Thursday and Friday, it had gotten much worse and I called the GP. They advised me to call the NHS using their 111 service, who in turn told me to see the GP. On Tuesday, I called GP again and the doctor advised me to go to the nearest A&E in order to get a blood test done now that I had taken the vaccine. This was to check D-Dimer levels in the blood to rule out possibility of serious blood clots forming.
I didn't want to stay in A&E for seven, eight hours with Covid-19 around so I asked the GP to write a letter to give to my Private Healthcare Provider so I could go private. She agreed but insisted that, because private hospitals may take a day to arrange an appointment, using the NHS A&E was better. I decided to adhere to her advice and my wife dropped me at the North Middlesex hospital's A&E at around 1:00pm.

There were only 3 people in the queue to the receptionist, and within 5 minutes I was directed to a waiting hall. There were about 30-40 people in there and 5 or 6 rooms with specialist nurses who were trained, like doctors, to do the initial check ups. It took only 15-20 minutes for them to call my name. The nurse checked my blood pressure and sugar level, asked some questions and decided I should see a doctor. 4-5 minutes later I was called to a phlebotomist to have a blood sample taken for the tests. 

I was later moved to the bigger waiting room on the other side and told to wait for the doctor's call. About 30 minutes later, a Doctor Riva came and asked me to come to the patient room. She checked few details with me, did some testing and assured me that I did not have a problem, despite the high blood pressure and headaches. It might have been migraine but she was going to consult with a specialist and then come back to me. In any case, I had to wait for the blood test results as well.

After about 10 minutes, she returned and told me that the consultant agreed with her. She apologised for the delay in getting the blood test results. "We're a bit busy," she said. There were about 50 people in the waiting room. 

I was told that if I wanted to go home, she could call me with the results and that if they were bad I could come back to the hospital. At around 4:00pm I was on my way home and received the call from Dr Riva, who told me the D-Dimer test results were good and that I was in range.

Amazingly, the whole process took only 3 hours. A courteous, efficient care and service by the NHS. 

Well done. 



Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Quarantanians

It's already the 8th day of the quarantine period. One can walk up to 300 meters to the left side, then 250 meters to the right side and hit the walls and security. Then one can walk up to 300 meters to the front, there is the beach. You can walk 150 meters up and down the beach but not allowed to go beyond the yellow line. You can come back and walk by the swimming pool, climb up the staircase about 20 meters to the upper floor rooms. That's about it.
Once a busy hotel, but now the place is almost empty apart from package tourists from Kazakhstan or China and us quarantenians. No Germans, No Brits, No Russians. At times silence is deafening. There are only 2 police officers and around 10 private security personnel. You know that there is a world outside these walls, from the facebook 😏. It's more like Soviet Union or East Germany but in a smaller scale. Anyway, the point is, you can get used to the situation and accept it as new normal. Then someone asked what about North Korea. Immediate reply was "oh there are Government run hotels". I hope second dose of the vaccine will make the difference. There you go. Happy quarantine day.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

I was given a Vaccine, I posted in facebook

I was given the Astra Zeneca Vaccine and  I posted it in facebook. I said thank you to NHS. It riled some people. 

One reason I posted in here that, I was given the vaccine against the Corvid 19 is this, I was talking to a young man about 24 years of age and who is still believing in fairies. I seriously thought he is one of Peter pan’s long-lost sons. He told me that vaccine has a small chip that is very difficult to detect. Through that chip government can dictate to us what we should do. We will be fed wrong information. I told him that’s already happening through YouTube, face book, twitter and other media anyway. They don’t need a chip to insert.

Then he said they can control us and we will become robots. So, I asked him, are we going to walk like Robots as well? To that he has no reply.
And I found out that his whole family, mother, fathers, sister, aunt, uncle , gran and all of them think vaccine is not needed. Face mask is BS and whole coronavirus saga is a lie.
Well, I asked them what about the deaths?
They asked me, have you seen them? I said no.
“Well, there you go. No one saw these deaths. All these numbers are media lies. Hospitals are empty.”
You know what, first time in my life I stopped arguing. Because I was laughing so hard I forgot to argue.

--It is not me who wrote this false story. _ RobotR2D2XYZ0101010122£$%

Saturday, 30 January 2021

East German simple food - Schichtkraut aus der DDR

These days, Ines enjoys testing different types of food recipes on the family. I call them Lockdown Recipes. Yesterday she tried out a recipe we’ve never had before. She told me that it was an easy old GDR recipe (GDR standing for German Democratic Republic, or the former East Germany, as it is better known).

Apparently, it is called ‘Schichtkraut’. It’s pronounced ‘Shiçt-kr-out’* (see below) but for the sake of convenience I omitted the ç. I was lucky Ines didn’t throw the spoon at me.


What I like about this simple recipe is that it only has 3 main ingredients: minced meat, cabbage and sliced potatoes. Ines added goat’s cheese on top, as well as cumin and other spices, and then put it into the oven for half an hour. And that’s it.

I call it 2 in 1 food because you can drink the sauce afterwards as if it were a nice cabbage soup. My stomach has very high acid levels, so this dish is ideal for me. It’s not very heavy on the stomach, and the cabbage and cumin make it easier to digest.

Try it if you’re interested.


*The ç is pronounced like the hissing sound between the ‘h’ and ‘yoo’ sounds of the 1st pronunciation of the word ‘huge’. It’s difficult to learn, so can be substituted for a ‘k’ or ‘sh’ sound instead.




Thursday, 3 December 2020

Cuba and the cold, hard truth - Cuba and the Cameraman

Cuban Houses
Recently, a friend of mine helped me reconnect with a four of my old friends who studied with me in the USSR through Facebook - another good reason to keep my Facebook account anyway. They were from Cuba, and Mr Rathnapala, the friend who helped me, was also working in Cuba at the time.

They still have these carts like in Eastern Europe

I have always had a soft spot for Cuba. It is partly because of the Cuban Revolution and its charismatic leaders: Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. In our youth, we had somewhat romanticised that revolution and its leaders. In somewhat of a pure ideological dream-world, we assumed Cuba was a socialist paradise, and that the USSR was a socialist heaven. To my utter surprise, some Labour party members in the UK also regarded Cuba as a model socialist country. 

Few years back, some even said they wanted to move to Cuba, and some still say that today. I think to myself, 'would you really enjoy living there when the mass media shows you how much they still don't have? I mean not only the freedom to chose your rulers, but comfortable life in the West. What's wrong with life in UK? Yes, it's a capitalist country but you still have the NHS as a free healthcare facility. If you don't have a job you are given government benefits. There are problems but housing is still decent.'

Although I have never been to Cuba, I studied in the socialist USSR during the '80s. I soon realised that it was no heaven, nonetheless we loved the Soviet Union in our own way. We enjoyed the hospitality of the Soviets and appreciated the free education given to us. It was a unique country. Coming from the island of Sri Lanka, it opened our eyes to the world. 

Living in the UK gave us the chance to progress and earn money. It was same for most of the other foreign  graduates who ended up in western countries like the USA, Australia, New-Zealand,  Canada and EU. They have now built new lives in these countries and settled in nicely. Some studied further and became educationalists, scientists and specialists in their respective fields. They used the opportunities they were given in the western world. But the nostalgia and yearning for the socialist USSR still exists among them.

I always wondered what happened to my Cuban friends. They played football and never forgot to call me even in the mid winter. Russian winter was very harsh, yet we played our football.  I have only found Uday, Osvaldo, Ariel and Rubén. Most of my other friends emigrated from Cuba to greener pastures. I can't blame them. Uday and Ariel live in Cuba and are happy there. Uday lives with his family. Osvaldo is working in Tenerife, and Ruben is in Argentina. Ariel, now a director in an Electrical firm, told me that life in Cuba after Soviet Union collapsed was very hard. I knew it was hard for the Cuban government because economic aid from the Soviet Union was invaluable to them. They also gave other types of aid in the form of cheap oil, military alliance, and support with the Cuban industry. All of this stopped after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc. It was a very hard time, and the existing US embargo against Cuba since the '60s did not help either. 

However, there have always been two opposing opinions on Cuba. The Socialists would say that Cuba had been developing fast, and that all would be well if the US embargo were lifted. And then there were those who condemned Cuba to be a third world banana republic. Although, as we all know now, Cuba has made lot of headways in their tourism and health sectors. Where is the unbiased truth? 



I watched a brilliant documentary very recently. Apparently, Fidel Castro never attacked the American people, however he always criticized American Foreign policy. He valued American achievement in science and other fields, never condemned it, and this documentary proved that. But when Castro flew to United states to deliver his speech in United Nation's headquarters, American immigration treated him very shabbily. They did not offer him any diplomatic courtesy. Castro accepted it with a smile on his face. 

The film was written, directed and produced by John Alpert. He visited Cuba in 

the 1970s. He was interested in Cuban history and its politics. The best days for Cuba were during the '70s and '80s; although there were shortages, generally life was good. Shortly after 1992, however, Cuba spiralled into an economic downturn when the Soviet Bloc collapsed. John documented this very sensitive time for Cubans with compassion and understanding. He didn't judge them when he met a family desperate enough to raid their neighbour's farm and steal the only 2 cows the farmer owned. Throughout many decades, he visited the same families over and over again. Some of them, he found out, left Cuba altogether after some years, like most of my friends had, who had studied with me in Moscow.

 Osvaldo goes back to his village in Cuba from Tenerife and happy to be back in his homeland. But Osvaldo and Uday have very different opinions. Osvaldo believes that Cuba needs a multi-party system. Uday supports the status quo, although he accepts it has its own problems. Uday said "Cuba is a good place to live, but really our economical system isn't working properly. We have to change many things in our economic system, but we can do it with one party. There are many reasons why our economic system does not work properly, but if we think just having multi party system would  fix everything, then we are wrong."

 And who doesn't? Look at the USA's very own Trump: he is not even leaving his post. Look at countries like Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, who all have their multi-party systems but with corrupt politicians. However, I must say the Western world still doing much better economically than anywhere else.

John Alpert shows with his own excellent narration how Cuba lost their socialist zeal, and how it was tourism that finally saved Cuba. They may have stopped proselytising Socialism but countries like Venezuela still give them chap oil while having economic crisis of their own. Raul Castro slowly changing the Cuban economy. People can engage in limited trade activities, own their houses  and offer services in a limited scale.

I think Cuban socialism has failed, and that they must change their economic policies. There is no other way for them. We must accept the cold, hard truth, even if it is difficult. This is what John's film "Cuba and the Cameraman" showed me. 

I did not understand the scale of Cuba's deterioration after the collapse of Socialist Block until I saw this film.


Pictures were taken from Osvaldo Oliva. 


Photo taken at Moscow Power Engineering Technical University in 1985 or 1986. Front row Ruben and Uday, Behind them were Huertas, Jorge Benitez and Badia. In the background Omar Pino.

Director John Alpert on Making the Documentary 





Friday, 6 November 2020

An evening with Stratford International


A Black boy walks with a White girl

Hand in hand

An Indian girl walks with a White boy

Hand in hand

A Japanese girl walks with a

Mixed Race boy

A woman with a niqab

Walking with a woman wearing jeans

An English builder with his Polish buddy

Buying egg and bacon rolls with coke

From a Chinese vendor who is

Selling German bratwursts    

And American hot-dogs

A disabled man clutches loads of

Sandwiches, distributing them

among the homeless in front of the

Shopping centre, where

All the luxury goods are on full display

Meanwhile trains are passing by

From The Stratford International

A gateway to Europe

Even though the real link

Was severed some time ago

Once rundown city but

Now a cosmopolitan giant

Rising above the skylines

Beautifully as always

Showing us there is

nothing to fear because

People are together

- By Ajith D.






Saturday, 10 October 2020

Raising Bridges in Neva River - St Petersburg

Walking along the Neva River is something I enjoy very much. We did the same thing in August 2016 when we visited Russia. Many sailors, their girlfriends, wives and children roamed the area because it was the Navy  Day. We waited until nightfall to give the two daughters a chance to see this bridge opening.

This is really a brilliant show. The opening and closing of bridges in St Petersburg. It Happens from April to November. There are altogether 12 bridges. The mainly cargo ships going along the Neva river to the Gulf of Finland. This last stretch of the canal was built during the Soviet Era.


Saturday, 3 October 2020

Aurora



උපුටා ගැනීමේදී කරුණාකර යොමුව ඇතුලත් කරන්න.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Russian Street Artist Performing in St Petersburg

 I have seen many  Performances of street artist in Arbatskaya Street (it's called ulitsa Arbat in Russian) quite often. It was not a new Phänomena in Russia. For  centuries street artists performed all over the Russia. In Saint Petersburg, most of the time they were Performing alongside Newsky Prospekt, Palace Square (dvartsovi ploshad  - Дворцовая площадь) and near gostini dvor (Guest Door -гостиный двор). 

The soviet art produced in the soviet union had two main categories.One which glorified Soviet realism and other one which thrived outside of it. It was called soviet nonconformist art and it thrived after the Stalin's death to 0l the perestroika Period,  from 1953 to 1986. It was also called "underground art " as well. After the perestroika era started, most of these artists came out  to popular culture as  soviet realism faded into oblivion.



Sunday, 27 September 2020

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Climbing Scafell Pike



Climbing Scafell Pike



scafell pike map

Scafell Pike route



Our last hike for this year was to Scafell Pike. That was on the 29th of August after our walks in Langdale Pike and to see the highest waterfall in the lake district, Scale Force. Shania, our elder daughter, left the lake district by train to go  home to fill out her university application forms and work on her budding fashion business. We were sad because only three of us were left to hike the highest mountain in England. The height of the Scafell pike is 978 meters. It's about 3209 feet and even though it doesn't look that high, one shouldn't underestimate the long winding climb to the summit.







It was supposed to take 3 hours to climb and a similar time to descend. But Ines and our younger daughter Shakyra had a slightly different idea, and revealed it to me only on the last day. The usual hike from Wasdale to the scafell and back is about 9 kilometers, but Shakyra wanted to take the longer route and climb down from the other side of the Scafell Pike, which meant there were another two mountains to hike - the total length was around 11 kilometers.

The surprise did not end there. I realised there were another 2 summits to climb on our way. That's Shakyra's great idea. The first one was Broad craig, which is 931 meters high (3055'), and the second one was Great End, which is 910 meters high (2955'). (Please see the maps). 

We travelled to Wasdalean, and the car park was already full. Luckily we found a place to park by the gate. However there were many cars behind us and they all had to turn back.

When we started the climb, there were no people walking with us, as you can see from the pictures. But half way through the ascent we realised we had made a mistake. There were many people climbing as well as descending from the summit already. We had to stop each time there was a narrow passage to avoid clusters of people because of the Covid-19 virus. But I realised some people simply ignored that. Sometimes we had to move completely out of the way from the normal route because people were climbing up or coming down in groups. At that point there was no way back either. 







When we reached the summit, in that small space where the last 2 meters to get up were, there were so many people crammed into those 4 square meters that we completely avoided it. Therefore I may not have hiked all the 978 meters, but only 976 meters.

Maybe this is one of the reasons that the UK government was forced to declare the 6 person rule - because people simply ignore the 'safe distance' rules. 

So, we climbed up to the Scafell pike and soon realised that there was very very cold wind that was difficult to bear. Summit was widely open to the strong wind from Irish sea and, boy it was cold evan in a summer day. We sat inside a small area where kind hearted climbers built small walled area with stones. There were three or four structures like that around the summit head.

But it is still cold and I realised Shakyra and I was shivering while Ines was insisting that we should move quickly. But Shakyra took her time to eat her sandwich slowly like she was sitting in the house in front of the TV. Well, she was quick to climb up and down and I am the one who was walking slowly. I was worried about my knee.

To climb down from otherside of the scafell towards Broad Crag was really difficult and steep. Someone already cautioned me about this. Apparently on the other side of the ridge there were few deaths few years back. They mistook the descent route and ended up in the most steeped part of the mountain.
I saw Ines slipped and fell down when we were hiking towards the Broad Crag. There was no way I could help her. I was struggling myself few feets away .Two ladies rushed towards her to help. But Ines got up at no time and moved on.

Climbing to Broad crag was difficult but once there it was amazing. It's partly because naturally created stone wall shielded the climbers from cold wind and one can rest there, while enjoying the beauty of the nature presented to the eyes. I wanted to stay there for a while but very few people were going on in this route so Ines wanted to hurry up. Also there was no proper route as such. You have to negotiate through the heavy boulders surrounding the mountainside. Then we went half way up to Great End where height stands from sea level at 910 meters. We turned to right there and then to an easy descent. When you turn left to get the final part of the journey I could see the beautiful lake called 'Spinking Tam' below.

Descent onwards was not that difficult but very long and tiring. But in the end, after long eight hours we made it.

Video:



Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Scale Force - highest water fall in Lake District





We hiked to see Scale force waterfall situated  in Cockermouth on the 27th of August. Scale force's name "force" derived from Norse term for waterfall. It's about 170 feet tall (around 51.8 meters) and originate from stream Scale beck. It took us about 2 hours to walk there.

When I was very young I remember walking long and hard path through a forest to  see Duninda Waterfall in Sri Lanka. That was in the seventies.  Sheer force of the water from Dunhinda was amusingly beautiful. It's about 60 meters high and 10 meters higher than the Scale force. Sri lanka's tallest water fall is Bambarakanda which is 260 meters tall and around 5 times higher than the scale force. 

As you can see the walk to see scale force was beautiful because of the surrounding mountains and the lake below in the valley.

In my point of view there is no point of scolding at people to save nature and environment. No point of posting hundreds of facebook posts to stop people and politicians destroying the forests and wild life. You have to show the people how to enjoy the nature. Those people who enjoy the nature will love the nature and  would not destroy it.