In the past two to three years, various characters have sprung to life in this column, discussing the vagaries of the weather, gossip in the village, political happenings to – last but not least – the health of the economy and business developments. Through conversations with these individuals, the column has brought to the fore [...]

Business Times

Theatrics in the ‘Kussiya”


In the past two to three years, various characters have sprung to life in this column, discussing the vagaries of the weather, gossip in the village, political happenings to – last but not least – the health of the economy and business developments.

Through conversations with these individuals, the column has brought to the fore the issues confronting the nation, its economic health and the way forward.

Many readers have called and commented with laughter over the phone on the weekly antics of either ‘Kalabala Silva’ or ‘Pedris Appo’ as they discuss all kinds of issues with their ‘expert’ opinion.

As I watched Kussi Amma Sera, her comrade-at-arms Serapina and down-the-lane gossip Mabel Rasthiyadu in conversation under the Margosa tree with these thoughts, the phone rang.

It was ‘Dosai’ Danny, my new-found, verti-wearing buddy from Trincomalee.

“Helloo …,” he drawls. “How are you my friend? How is Trincomalee? I ask. “Fine… fine,” he says, adding: “I called you because a news story about the lottery tickets in the Sunday Times was very worrying.”

He was referring to a recent Sunday Times report quoting an audit by the Auditor General.

To quote the report: “The Development Lotteries Board (DLB) prints a strikingly smaller number of tickets for each draw than is required on the basis of the number of balls in the draw machine. This means the probability of there being a winning ticket in your hand is minimal, the Auditor General’s Department has said in an explosive new report available on its website. It also found significant drawbacks in the DLB’s conduct of the lotteries. For instance, there was no evidence that the number of balls in the draw machine is verified or their quality inspected before each edition.”

“This is very unfair if the lottery cannot be trusted. Poor people are the ones buying tickets,” Dosai Danny said. “It is indeed unfair,” I said in agreement. A few days after the story broke, the DLB authorities are learnt to have explained that these issues have been sorted out and the lottery is a safe bet now.

Moving on and coming back to today’s discussion on the characters that make alive this column as they constantly interrupt a nice Thursday morning (today, of course, it was a gloomy day with rain), hats off to Kussi Amma Sera whose regular forays into ‘kitchen economics’ are also seen as a guidance to our ‘esteemed’ rulers for whom nothing can go wrong, in spite of functioning in a swirl of corruption and being part and parcel of it.

Serapina, by the way, comes from a village surrounded by small tea plantations and hence knows a little Tamil, while Mabel Rasthiyadu is a key part of this trio as well.

Then there is Pedris Appo, short for Appuhamy, who is a retired agriculture expert and involved in farming. Appo brings life to this column with his knowledge of agriculture and, often, general issues.

Arthika, my nonsensical economist friend, can discuss the economy for hours and often his long-winded conversations eat into my deadlines. Nevertheless, he is a delight to listen to as he talks on the economy and its ills.

Then there is good-for-nothing Somey, lazy-as-ever but sometimes, surprisingly, comes up with some good points.

Jolly-mood economist friend, Sammiya, short for Samson, is another character who evokes laughter whenever he calls with his jokes-laced economic issues. His knowledge of economic affairs is sound and to-the-point.

Seeni Bola, my banker friend got his nickname from friends after once boasting that compared to his bank, other banks were handling ‘seeni bola’ deposits. Nevertheless, Seeni Bola is an authority on banking but also comments on anything that attracts his interest.

‘Human resource’ pundit, HR Perera, is another character whose valuable suggestions on governance bring life to this column but too is he not restricted to human resource matters.

Kalabala Silva, the often-agitated academic, is a delight. Kalabala often starts the conversation with anxiety on some issue or other but settles down to talking about problems that affect you and me.

A newcomer to the weekly theatrics in the kitchen as this column attempts to weave through complex economic and business issues using Kussi Amma Sera’s concoction of ‘kitchen economics’, is ‘Cardboard’ Sando, the muscle man from the nearby petti-kade. He will soon be a feature in these columns.

Karapincha Perera is the tea-kade gossip who loves to talk for hours when deadlines emerge and long conversations are taboo. He is, however, a delightful character with juicy gossip also on the rulers of this country and their kith and kin.

Koththamalli’ Fernando is the Kokatath Thailaya (oil-for-any ailments) expert who has a remedy for any issue. His remedies can range from running the economy well to tackling the cost of living; curbing unfair taxes to how the government should tax the rich; and how to ensure free healthcare services to the people. Whether his ‘oil’ theories have worked remains to be seen.

Know-all neighbour Haramanis of broken English fame is another character that springs to life when the nation is confronted with a crisis. His usual opening words in a sentence, “I say …” are always good to hear since his conversation is witty as he wades through economic issues with an interesting choice of words.

Reconditioned’ Ranjith, a know-all on the second-hand car market, is a newcomer to the column like ‘Dosai’ Danny and ‘Cardboard’ Sando. Another newcomer to the column is ‘Nana’ Mohideen, the jolly trader from Moneragala, who will be featured soon.

Shifty’ Silva, the always-inquisitive IT expert, is often consulted when there are issues on technology and information communication. While being an expert on these matters, he also tends to annoy some people with his probing questions.

All these characters bring life to this column with their comments, taking a complex economic issue and making it readable and lively. Kussi Amma Sera, of course, is the main character with her cup of tea being legendary and her comments often forming the core of this column.

As if reading my mind, Kussi Amma Sera walks in with a second cup of tea for me, saying: “Mahattaya, oya me davaswala liyanne monawda (What are you writing these days?)”

Oya gena … oya gena,” I reply, laughing and settling down to another refreshing cup of tea that makes this country famous around the world.

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