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26th March 2000

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Canine love

By Yvonne Gulamhusein

Ten-year-old Nalaka Babapulle was adjudged the Best Junior Handler at the 55th and 56th Championship shows held in October 1999. He was nominated to represent Sri Lanka at the Federation Cynologique International (FCI), Asian Section Junior Handling Competition 2000, which will be held during the FCI Asian International Dog Show from March 24-27 in Tokyo.

At this Junior Handling competition, a competitor will be judged not only on his handling ability, but also on other areas such as rapport with the dog, effective use of ring space, co-operation with the judge during inspection by touch, courtesy, ring etiquette and sportsmanship, presentation of the handler, etc.

This prestigious event promises to be a great learning experience for the youngster. There will be numerous other participants from neighbouring Asian countries vying for a place which will enable him to gain first hand experience and knowledge of the correct methods of handling dogs. There will also be a FCI Asian International dog show 2000 which will offer him the opportunity of witnessing adults handling the dogs skilfully.


Lost statuettes, missing ballots, polling flop

Where's Oscar? Missing statuettes are the latest problem plaguing Academy Award organizers. The FBI and Los Angeles police department are trying to track down an entire load of statuettes believed to have been stolen last week from a loading dock in Bell, California, a community about 15 miles from Beverly Hills.

Roadway Express, the shipping company, is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Los Angeles Police Department has established a 24-hour hotline for tips too.

Bruce Davis, the Academy's executive director, likened Bell to a "kind of Bermuda Triangle for Oscar things" at a news conference Friday afternoon. He was referring not only to the statuettes, but to the 4,200 Oscar ballots that were misrouted as third-call mail.

The ballots were discovered at a distribution facility in Bell earlier this month, but not before Academy officials had to mail another batch of ballots out so that voters could meet the deadline.

It's expected that the votes will arrive in time to be tabulated. And the Academy doesn't expect the statuette setback to create any snags either.

"The show will go on," Davis pledged. The Chicago-based company that made the trophies is reworking its schedule to make another batch. R.S. Owens expects to complete 55 to 65 Oscars in time for the ceremony. Davis said the Academy already has 20 on hand.

Although Davis said the statuettes' location was unknown, he added that the LAPD had a number of what they characterized as "strong leads." The awards, in unmarked boxes that weighed some 50 pounds apiece, disappeared sometime after they arrived at the Roadway Express office on March 8.

"I doubt (the thieves) knew what they were stealing," Davis said.

"They were probably quite surprised and maybe dismayed to find them it'll be fairly hard to fence an Oscar statuette."

Looking at the violence today, one wonders what the younger generation calls fun.


Spin off

Trucking and flag waving during the Big Match season is part of the fun Unruly spectators are often escorted off the scene

By Ruhanie Perera and Laila Nasry

Come March, come matches, come mad- ness. The minute March dawns in Colombo, it transforms every single male in the city into a 'Big Match' freak. Out come the flags, the more adventurous ones stock up on the spray paints and all one hears is the names of the respective schools chanted endlessly, supported by the the 'papara' bands. And although every girl's heart races the minute 'match' sounds are heard, most of them with a red blooded male in the family is reduced to wondering - "is that the man I married?" or "what has come over my brother?"

"Every school has a rival school and the gentleman's game of cricket is an excuse to 'attack' them," says an old boy who was very much a part of the big match fever in his day. "Of course all the attacking is done with good spirit from both sides, since we were told to stick to cheering our side without jeering our rivals." It was also a time for having fun that was considered unacceptable on a 'normal' day. The main destination was the Oval, where the match was played then and the route that was taken was invariably through the girls' schools. A tour of the girls' schools in Colombo was never missed - especially since the girls always eagerly awaited the event.

Out on the road with no authority to supervise them they "had the satisfaction of breaking the rules we were bound by at College and at home". Of course there were limits - "we knew where to stop, because at that time we were given a list of do's and don'ts from school and it was signed by our parents." Even at that time the police came onto the roads during Big Match time, in case they were needed, but the boys always had a good rapport with them. "Their famous punishment was to detain us at the station, so that we couldn't make it for the match. Now we HAD to go for the match, so we made sure we didn't do anything to be taken in."

Those times could perhaps be called the best times of their lives and today have become treasured memories that can be relived every year. "Every generation has their own definition of fun and we certainly had our share of it," says the old boy who declined to be identified.

Yet, looking at the kind of violence that happens today, you wonder what exactly the younger generation calls fun. "Sure there were fights even in our time, but there was no large- scale violence."

"The schools can't control their own boys and that is why they get the police and special security for the matches," says 18-year-old Hiran* . "If the schools are more strict with the boys then there will be less violence. I agree there is a limit to doing things in the name of fun. Besides, it's not good for the school and the old boys, when we go out and misbehave with the school flag. Mostly it's the senior guys who go. It's their last year in school and they want to have as good a time as possible before they leave College. Some of them drink together to enjoy their last year."

Shehan* insists that all the activity surrounding the Big Match are all in the name of fun. While there is a tendency for things to get out of hand, in his opinion a lot depends on the individual. "And also the type of influence at the big match. I mean we can't really do anything about what the older boys do."

"When there is violence the police are helpless because for a tent of around 500 boys there are only two to three cops and they can't do much," says Hiran. "The prefects can only control the boys in the school but not the seniors, so there is bound to be a clash. In the mornings, everything is calm, it's only after lunch that everything starts heating up. In our school 'jumping into girls' schools is banned but some guys indulge in it, but in recent times it has stopped."

But Shehan sees the 'girls' school' question in a different light and that seems to be the popular opinion - "It's really the girls who want us in," he says smugly.

And what about the fairer sex? It seems that all of this takes place for their benefit, after all as the guys themselves put it "the girls will be disappointed if we don't get into school". The highlight of the Big Match season for every girl is when the guys "jump into school". "It's actually the highlight of the year," laughs Sharmila*. "It may seem silly, but we do get this thrill from just knowing that there are guys inside our school."

Ishani* confirms this point, but also adds that "the older you get the thrill is less, 'cos most of them are younger than you."

Though both of them have not experienced rough treatment personally, Sharmila says that this time there were some guys who were throwing stones at the girls. "That was totally uncalled for, and then the whole spirit is lost. The guys who just come in and make a racket are tolerated and they know when to leave - so there are no problems."

Ishani adds that when a school thinks they can't handle the guys they get down the cops. Sometimes that serves the purpose. In her opinion banning trucking was a great idea, 'cos guys can get hurt that way and no one wants that to happen.

Big Match fever is fun alright and everybody gets caught up in it. But what happens when it becomes Big Match violence. Parades and all that go with it are traditions, just a way of letting off steam, but today this has sadly taken a twist.

A parent, Mrs. Jayasuriya* said that what happens in schools and universities are symptomatic of what takes place in society. "Today there is a culture of violence in our society, that's why Big Match violence doesn't surprise me. The message that kids get today is that if someone hits you, you hit back. And that's what they go ahead and do. Although you can't really blame the kids for that, I feel that at the same time the teachers and parents must get more involved in guiding their children." Being concerned is a just a first step,"after that you've got to take action. Being passive will get us nowhere".

(*Names have been changed).

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