4th February 2001
Norm(an) de PlumePicking up my jet-setting aunt from the airport is a regular chore of mine in fact, it's my only one. Although most of the time I have to go at around that refreshing hour of 2 a.m. I don't complain as I meet quite 'interesting' people there. I remember the time I saw a girl at the airport dressed up in a small garish fluorescent-coloured top, tight jeans and boots which looked more at home in a swamp than the tiled floor they were on. Nothing unusual you might think. True enough, except for the fact that the 'girl' couldn't have been a day under forty ( I am being quite charitable here). Thanks to my mastery over self-control, I was able to keep my strong emotions to myself. As an afterthought, the presence of her massive son who looked quite skilled in the pathological arts also might have helped just a bit.
In this roundabout way we come to the issue of clothes. Tracing the evolution of clothes, we come across that first designer label 'Leaves', which was simply THE thing to be seen wearing at the time of Adam and Eve. Simple, yet with such wide variety and eco-friendly too. But I'm sure Adam and Eve would have had their problems as well can't you just picture a conversation of theirs which might have run - 'I think you should really have a make-over.' 'It's strange you say that, because I've been thinking of turning over a new leaf myself'.
Fast-forwarding a couple of millennia, clothes have become perhaps the most important way of expression today. Even songs are written about it, e.g. that intellectually stimulating 'Thong Song' and if such a minuscule item of clothing can create such a hit, just imagine the multiple platinums that would be created by songs on more elaborate clothing like tuxedos, saris, traditional costumes and the like. The possibilities are endless.
What we are, apparently, are not what we eat but what we wear. And woe betide if you venture out in inappropriate clothing, you might go unrecognized even by people you see everyday. Not clear? Let me illustrate.
There was a social event at an education institute that I attended some time ago. Everybody was dressed up, and in keeping with the mood, the head of our section was dressed in a feisty shirt untucked, bright colours and all. Soon it was his turn to make a speech and when he got up to the podium, a friend of mine, who to be fair was never famous for keen perception, turns around and sparks off a brief but entertaining commentary recreated below.
She : What's he doing up there?
Us : [ Blank Stares]
She : Isn't he the serving boy in the canteen ?
Us : [ Blank Stares evolve into hysteria ]
It just goes to show that clothes can make a whole new you. But it can
be positive too. People who are renowned for their lack of dress sense
can be in for a pleasant surprise when they turn up in a good outfit. I've
noticed that even wearing a nice shirt can cause shouted comments of approval
(when you're not there of course) in most unusual places such as showers.
So there you have it it's worthwhile to be well dressed. But be warned!
In the complex world of fashion, more than one opinion exists, and you
may just find you have spent a bundle on clothes which make you look like
a forty-year-old in teenager's clothes.
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True educationWhat is the prime purpose of education? What exactly should an "educated" person know? Have you ever wondered what the most important lesson you've learned is? It is not my business to discuss whether our education system is going in the right direction or not, but is it producing the men and women who are capable of taking the country forward? I believe we would be able to find them if we work together with a sense of purpose and commitment out of genuine care for the student population of this country and for Sri Lanka herself.
What should we know, "what is worth learning and how can we learn it?" In the classroom we learn many "subjects" that on the outset could be divided into two categories. Subjects that teach (or instill) traditional information such as Languages and Math and subjects that are relatively thought inductive and are debatable.I also think that it is very important that we learn Languages; our mother tongue and one more (ideally the languages of the people we have to work with in life) so that we would be able to communicate our ideas well and clearly. This may help solve most problems that our society is facing right now which are rooted to different ethnicities and races.
In school we also can learn to interact with groups of people of different ages and backgrounds. This is important because our success and the well being of our country as a whole depends considerably on how well we work together as one. The school is also a place where we can learn respect for others while maintaining respect for one's self. Schools are ideal places for us to learn many other things. While education is essentially a personal experience, I believe that school will be more effective if they could also motivate their students "to teach themselves". How to be a team player, how to hold yourself with confidence when talking to a stranger or to the President of the country, to lead and to be led. I want to highlight this point as I personally believe that this country not only lacks good leadership but also it lacks people who are willing to cooperate with their leaders or in other words, people who have been taught to respect leadership as well. It is therefore important I think that schools also motivate students to learn all these avenues that contribute towards making them more strong and effective personalities.
Harendra Alwis (School leaver)
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