Stories of the open road

Tales of a Vagabond...

When I saw a “Double-Decker” bus coming towards me, teetering, it was like seeing an old comrade. As a little boy, I always wanted to ride on a Double-Decker bus, but never had a single chance. When the bus stopped in front of me, I hopped in and ran to the upper deck with glee, settled in a corner seat. Slowly the dusk clouds are closing down around the city yet Colombo looks sheen and shining!

The enchanting city of Colombo is always a heaven after the sunset. Yet I can feel an extra glamour, a feeling like an invisible aroma hovering throughout the city. Yuletide Splendor you could say.

What are the best color themes for Christmas in tropics? Will “Red and silver” do the charm, or could “White Christmas” add a special allure? In Sri Lanka, you will find neat combinations of Yuletide colors around Colombo city limits and suburbs. And instead of snowy and crepuscular ambiance and dim lights lucent through mist; you will find bright and fulgent light arrangements, yuletide decoration and a living vivacious Christmas feeling floating around the Colombo night.

If you are in Sri Lanka where the majority of population is Buddhists, you will find out that Christmas is a season which even Buddhists enjoy together with their Christian brothers and sisters. As well as the Wesak festival, Sri Lankans celebrate Christmas too, maybe not with an idea of a religious ceremony, but surely in a chromatic manner.

When I’m eagerly looking outside the window of swiftly moving Double-Decker, I could see light arrangements and vivid Yuletide decoration hanging on walls, down from ceilings and roofs of almost every building passing by. Big huge hotel buildings and malls, arm to arm with tiny shops and wayside boutiques are picturesque with not just classic Yuletide decoration, but innovative and creative modern decorations as well. Especially I loved this new wave of creating Yuletide ornamentations with traditional Sri Lankan art and crafts. It’s a brave new world...

If you decide to take a walk in the heart of this Commercial city-Colombo after the dusk, you will probably be amazed by seeing the practically unending deluge of raving people who are eagerly wandering around to do shopping during Christmas season. Not just malls and big shops, but diminutive boutiques comparing to those giants bestow amazing Christmas discounts and runs numerous Christmas Promotions Island wide. However that is not the only reason behind the shopping spree during Yuletide almost in every major city of Sri Lanka, it’s simply the festive attraction, the intriguing, spirit of yuletide and people’s tendency to celebrate, being joyous!

To love Santa, you don’t need to be a devotee Christian. Everybody loves Santa Claus, especially when he offers gifts and candies. When my bus stopped for a moment in a traffic jam, I felt a sudden jolt in my arm. It’s from a giant candy stick and in the end of the pole; I could clearly see a Santa, with the red and white suit and his Classic deep laugh, pointing me to a newly opened mall! An advertising representative Santa, a creative concept to commercialize the pure yuletide, so I thought!

Many Hotel lobbies and malls are adorned with Christmas trees embellished with Angels, stars, snowflakes, icicles and chimes, and cribs with tiny statues of baby Jesus, Virgin Mary, Joseph and three wise men. Even from the jogtrotting Double Decker, I could see outdoor Crib decorations which reminded me a painting, "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst.

Double Decker sauntered toward and stopped in front of Galle Face open space. I could hear “Silent night” in the breeze. I didn’t want to leave the city. I didn’t want to see an end of Yuletide season. When I stepped out and looked back, I could see heart red, snowflake white, pine green and celestial blue tiny lights in the city, glittering against the cloudless night. It was Yuletide in Colombo...

Pathum Punchihewa

surf 2"...there was purity and there was the dream, and the adventure, and there was the counterculture aspect. It was like shove society, shove the nine to five, shove the rules... we're just going to follow our hearts, treat each other well, eat well and enjoy the ocean. It was not for money and it wasn't for fame... that's what we're going to do... purely because that's what our hearts want to do. That was amazing."

~ Jim Banks

It is sheer madness if you ask me. It is a madness bonded with the search for great tidal waves, the hunt for a perfect ocean to surf… It is the desire for the ultimate ride, its surf 5

Surf subculture arose to its peak as a part of a popular culture within the decades of 50’s and 60’s. Simply the sport of surf board riding or "surfing" is the core idea of the subculture and it enveloped with the lifestyle, fashion, music, literature, films, jargon and many more aspects related to ‘surfing’…

The history of modern surfing roots back to the 20th century but the spirit of surfing runs way back in the pages of history. The first known occurrences of surfing are connected to the ancient Hawaiian tradition of "he'e nalu", meaning "wave-sliding". For this ancient Hawaiian culture, the sea had an attached persona, which could reflect emotions. A good day of surfing required the proper waves, and in order to convince the sea to provide these waves, ancient Hawaiians relied on ‘Kahunas’, the Hawaiian priests to pray for good surf. Kahunas would engage in ritual chants and dances, with the intention of pleasing the sea to provide the people with ‘surfable’ waves!

surf 4Surfing subculture feeds its own terminology; its own slang, admixed with Valley-speak. If a surfer says “Point break”, you ought to know it means an area where an underwater rocky point creates waves that are suitable for surfing…

Surf music is a reflection of the allure of ‘surfing’, the feelings they share with the great ocean waves and the experience of floating on waves… Surf music dawned as an offshoot of early rock music or rock n’ roll and it branched off again to sub genres such as surf rock and surf pop. ‘Jan and Dean’, ‘The Beach Boys’, ‘The Surfaris’, ‘Dick Dale’, ‘The Shadows’, and ‘The Ventures’ served as pioneers of ‘surf music’ and still we hear their surf music creations among the popular culture…

surf 3As the hippie culture also peaked in the 60’s and being free spirited being a shared credo of both cultures, ‘Surf visual art’ also inscribed free spirited themes and the hippie nature of many surfing lifestyles into their paintings and murals.

“Surfing culture” even gave birth to many aspects of popular culture we experience today. For an example, how do you think the term ‘surfing the internet’ originated; not forgetting popular comics such as the ‘silver surfer’ or ‘Captain Goodvibes’ in popular culture.

If you remember classical television legends of the X generation and most of the time Y generation such as ‘Baywatch’ or ‘Hawaii Five-O’, you can have a pretty much have an idea about the elegant perspective of ‘surfing’.

As final words, being a surfer means not to just show-off among tidal waves but look for the real thrill of just ‘being alive’! Waves of the great ocean speak about life. It’s all about seeking the life betwixt great waves, amalgamating with the persona of the Great Ocean… Believe me, surfing is one of those things that you should do one day before you die…surf 1

By Pathum Punchihewa

Special Thank: to my friend who ignited the deep down buried desire of surfing in my heart…

Published on Daily Mirror (20th October 2011)

By Pathum Punchihewa

This is a short story. As the Star Wars prologue quotes, “A story probably happened in a galaxy far far away...” A dead man’s crepuscular confession maybe; or a perturbing near death experience... Who knows? What matters now is William Shakespeare quoted ages ago, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages…”

William Shakespeare was a man who lived among two eras, the baroque and the renaissance.  Yet his phraseology and his poems inherited quaint and sombre baroque aspects and those blear yet intriguing and eloquent words dispersed into some tarnished lives, lives that had already determined their lives had come to an end…

Again, this is a story. Maybe a real story… But what matters right now is what should be in ones death quote? The suicide note that helps others to figure out what really happened and construe that life is like a daffodil, you bloom with the sunrise, you wilt with the sunset. What should unveil on the suicide note? A poem, a prose… It’s hard to understand but even the expectation of death makes a human creative. Just like romance…taobw_01_std

Ah, romance… Isn’t it beautiful? That even right before your life ends, you crave for romance? Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life… If you want to love the world, you have to learn to love yourself. It’s as simple as that. But, is it possible that the love towards yourself guides you to the top of a hill and creates an extreme desire to jump off the edge and end this life of love. Maybe you want to end your life as you love yourself too much.

This is a story. Maybe a story about to happen after another era... nevertheless the suicide note is still empty. On the other hand, what is this ardor to leave a note after death? Does it really matter after the end? Is it for justifying the fact, or is it for glorifying the act?

What is the point of dying when you are able to live a few more moments? Sure there is a reason. Every time there was a reason. ‘Depression’ and ‘Lost in romance’ can be ruled out. Maybe you are looking for yourself. Maybe you wanted to peek through the mystique kaleidoscopic colours of your inner self and erupt from the hype you experience, but failed.  You have no idea who you are anymore…

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly I awaked, and there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man."

You better come up with something, at least a Chuang Tzu quote thereupon you can complete the note and just die!

I hear a distance voice echo in my head. ‘Obey the reverse perspective, that’s nature…’ I must be in a stage of hallucinations. The momentum of thoughts might kill me slowly. I want to write my suicide note and I want to die. I’m tired of this identity crisis and all I can think about is the deep sleep my heart yearns.

I start to write. It was Osho… An Osho quote would make a perfect death note. Is it a suicide note or a love note? Seems my mind deludes me. It’s like a psychedelic drug in my system.

“Love has to be just your flavour, your aroma, your fragrance. When you pass by the side of a rosebush, the rosebush does not bother whether it likes you or not. Its fragrance is available to you as much as to anybody else, unconditionally, without any expectation in return. Its fragrance is available even when there is nobody present to enjoy it, appreciate it. It simply goes on releasing its fragrance; that is its nature…”

Wise words I must admit. Yet somewhere deep in my conscious there is a spark of aspiration about life. Did Shakespeare ever want to suicide? ‘Nirvana’ legend Kurt Cobain did. I guess it’s not my day to end my footprints of shore. It’s funny. I have a perfect suicide note but no intention anymore. Maybe an ‘Osho’ love quote might change the day…

“We are the raw materials, elements of dreams… In a trice, our curt life ends with a deep sleep…”daf132a870291488

Published on Daily Mirror (04th August 2011)

By Pathum Punchihewa

He is ready to make his move. The Knight… the menacing yet the most tactful dynast of the chess board… And still there are some advantages left on the board for you but you ought to concede that it’s all about saving your king at all cost, by any meaning. Hence through that meaning, “the king” is the most important fact of the chess board but even as a rookie chess lover, you know that you are able to do nothing if you are left on chess board with only the king and winning desires!

checkmate-chess-widescreen-wallpaper-2And that’s not all. You might possess pawns alongside the king. Soldiers on the chess board that you are willing to sacrifice without a blink. But remember, a Pawn is not just a low level soldier just for ‘open fire’ and ‘sacrifice without a heartache’.  Three pawns in definite positions can protect king from attacks.  Three pawns in definite position can check mate opponents king. It’s your chess 101. Never underestimate a single piece of the board, neither Queen nor Pawn!

Now the Moral of our little chess talk... Let me put it in this way. Once, in a web page I have read something like this: "Whether one is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or non-believing, man or woman, black, white, or brown, we are all the same. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are all equal. Each of us has hopes, worries, fears, and dreams.”

If you decide to follow the philosophical stream and consider life as a one giant chess board, well you are just another piece that is game to contribute your part. A piece with the ability to attack, counter-attack, defend the whole wing, allow taking the biggest turn of the game and even the one that make pronounce the end line: “Check mate”!

Life is a chess board and we all are pieces who move toward till the game ends… Twisted Shakespeare if you ask me!checkmate

Now it’s your turn to take a look at inner ‘you’. Are you willing to accept each and every fellow human as a part of the brotherhood despite all the differences, asymmetries and discords? Consciously or unconsciously, all the time we becomes a part of the society, we renege a certain set of people over many reasons. Class, cast, knowledge, education, color, status… yet when it comes to the big picture, does those inconsistencies really matter? We all are the crew of a one giant space ship after all. Just pieces of a giant chess game…

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” That’s by Dalai Lama and that explains a lot about being human, the unique equality.

As I highlighted before, ‘Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box’. An Italian Proverb and wise saying… we all are earthlings after all!

Published on Daily Mirror (21st July 2011)

By Pathum Punchihewa

“You are dreaming… You see a tranquil meadow with lambs browsing grass under the wide bluish empyrean. The skyline is mysterious with a thousand various cloud patterns thus the enchanting and picturesque scenery was complete.”

“Indeed you are dreaming… You are about to wake up to the reality far far away from the blissful meadow, you are in aCyberpunk_Cityscape__concept city where bums are strolling around, the dark and eerie city core where the sun shine will never be able to touch you. You are a citizen of this future city which means you are a loyal servant of the corporation and you are even prohibited to dream about a meadow under the radiant sky. Technology is high, but life is low…. You are witnessing the near future man made, post-industrial dystopia… a Cyber punk world…”

A futuristic or a sci-fi writer will nod to the above sentences and acknowledge them as the perfect “Cyber-Punk” plot which elaborates a dystopian world that humans become slaves to. Technology is absolutely in a high phase but it used to stabilize dominance. Artificial intelligence, mega-corporation or a ruthless dictator is behind the world authority and under the boot of despotism; the world is corrupted and destructed.

"Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous data sphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body." 

~ Lawrence Person

What is ‘cyberpunk’, really? For what does that movement stand for? It’s better to have a definition for such word rather than taking the reader through a psychedelic tour of a crepuscular future world. “Cyberpunk is about expressing ideas -often dark- about human nature, technology and their respective combination in the near future.”

subterranean_cyberpunk_by_tadayouNegative Impact of technology on humanity: In a cyberpunk near-future, technology runs rampant, and usually manipulates most societal interactions. This was the idea of cyberpunk literature. Some believe that ‘Cyberpunk sub genre’ is a relic of the 80s but we still witness cyberpunk themed masterpieces from time to time and those creations keep reminding us to take care of our their planet, about avoiding the dystopian dreams!

The term cyberpunk was first coined by “Bruce Bethke” in his short story ‘Cyberpunk’ published in 1983. "Cyber" was derived from cybernetics, a control theory that studies, for example, human/machine interaction and is often used in connection with information technology. "Punk" was taken from punk rock music, suggesting an urban anti-establishment sensibility.

Cyberpunk visuals, ideally, are dirty, hyper-realistic “lived in” looks at the near future. Often cyberpunk films will have a single dominating colour that permeates the film. We also see patterns of dark motifs contrasted with shocking neon colour schemes. And just as important, a sense of slick style often pervades a cyberpunk movie.

When the Cyberpunk themes collide with literature, most people would like to describe cyberpunk as a sub genre of science fiction. William Gibson with his novel ‘Neuromancer’ in 1984 is likely the most famous writer connected with the term cyberpunk. Then his ‘Count Zero’ and ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ arose to the peak, completing ‘The Sprawl’ trilogy.

‘The MarĂ®d Audran’ series by George Alec Effinger, ‘Bridge’ trilogy by William Gibson and ‘Chimera’ by Will Shetterly also represent the cyberpunk literature among many other fiction and short stories.cyberpunk_symphony

If you wish to understand the Cyberpunk themes and styles, I would like to recommend you some. “Matrix Trilogy” “Blade Runner”, and “Terminator franchise” are most influential cinema creations that adopted the Cyberpunk genre.

In Video games, there is one of my favourite, Deus Ex game trilogy that perfectly elaborates a cyber punk theme, a dystopian world and the revolution arose against the hegemony from inside the system.

There are several other role-playing games called ‘Cyberpunk exist: Cyberpunk’, ‘Cyberpunk 2020’ and ‘Cyberpunk v3’ which runs with the same genre. In fact ‘Cyberpunk 2020’ was designed with the settings of William Gibson's writings in mind as developers speak.

There are a few other subcultures that arose with the influence of the core ideas of Cyberpunk movement and literature. ‘The Cyberdelic’ counter culture of the late 80s and early 90s is a fine example. Cyber-Goth is a fashion and dance subculture which draws its inspiration from cyberpunk fiction, as well as rave and gothic subcultures.

Personally, I would like to construe the word ‘cyberpunk’ as not only a film noir and literature genre but as a Political movement also. The cyberpunks have been the most powerful single influence on science fiction over the past two decades. And I believe that it’s not just an illusory world created by writers. I believe there is a potential of future cyberpunk worlds.

Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

~ The MatrixCyberpunk_by_hackerkind

Published on Daily Mirror (21st April 2011)

Take nothing but memories… Leave nothing but footprints…

By Pathum Punchihewa

Life reveals its true form to us, humans in such mystique ways. One day, out of the blue, life unveils its intriguing, miraculous and resplendent panorama in front of your naked eyes, and it might be the very moment before you die…

Life 1280Did you ever wonder what really happen to Alice, in wonderland? Well, she met a genius cat who can disappear from tale to head; there was a ‘tea-holic’ mad hat man, a wise caterpillar who stuck to his Hookah, Queen of hearts with her army of card soldiers and et cetera, so far if the memory serves well… It was quite a fantasy story that makes you wonder and believe about such a world full of mysterious and wonderful, magical and flourishing matters. But when Alice is back, she is the same old Alice. When the wonderland started to be familiar to Alice, she just accepted facts and things just went on and on…

We dropped in somewhere into this grandeurs of a world from somewhere and began to wonder how lucent the world is and in the very next moment start to take the world as norm. Now even death cannot make us wonder! My friend, if you cannot marvel about how astonishing death is, you never can wonder how beautiful life is. Yet we are like Alice in Wonderland; just wandering through paving streets of life, looking for the missing piece, the purpose of life…Walk

What really spins the wheels of life? What really Blossoms the sprint of existence…? Family…? Bonds…? Fame…? I believe it’s the purpose, what ignites your passion of living. When you reach to the purpose of your life, when you reach the peak of the Great Mountain, the only thing you can see is the abstruse, deep blue sky. You can see the whole world up to the skyline and it will make you complacent about your achievements… Nevertheless it is the end and dramatically all you have to do is look down and view the panorama of picturesque simulacrum of life and fly away from the peak. After you fulfill the purpose of life, after you understand the meaning of existence, literary it is the end... Death is such an apt word to replace ‘the end’!

Have you ever felt the tranquility of life? The sound of silence…? The reticence between two notes, between noises, between people, between life and death… My friend, the longest walk on earth is between birth and death… the greatest quietude is between a silent note and another silent note… between life and death… feel it my friend, discern it…

To this world, we came alone and we depart alone; withal we take with us nothing but memories. There is nothing we can claim as possessions or tenures in our short life but still, leave your footprints on world, on hearts… Then thou art the brave passenger of the greatest voyage, the longest walk…

I believe you Shakespeare… "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages…” Farewells my friend… That was our last act…Oblivion





Published on Daily Mirror (21st April 2011)