Of baking and soaking
By Rajpal Abeynayake
When it's raining cats and dogs in Colombo, one needs
imagination to think of a drought. But weeks ago Colombo was sizzling
with the news that Anuradhapura was suffering from a drought. Everyone
went around teary eyed, eyelids drooping with sympathy for the unfortunates.
the rains came. Not in Anuradhapura but in Colombo. Anuradhapura
may have got a little. But certainly with drains getting clogged
in Colombo, this was not time for any thoughts of a baked Ruwanweliseya..
we are not sure that the drought victims have yet been able to find
enough water or whether they have been able to get their lives back
we went round asking various NGOs whether they would be following
up on the drought story. And some unnamed news organisations too.
Take NGO X for example. We had a rough time locating its Chief Executive
Officer. Finally we found him with his air conditioner off, and
staring at a picture of a sunny beach.
me," we said " would you not want to do a follow up about
the drought victims of Anuradhapura?''. "But you have a funny
sense of vicitimhood'', he said chuckling. "My friend look
out of the window -- very soon we will be needing flood relief in
but…'' we said. "just weeks ago there was a massive drought
relief effort in Anuradhapura - -and we only want to know what the
follow up is?''
Chief Executive offered us a beer, saying "it will help calm
frayed nerves.'' We politely declined, upon which he called for
steaming coffee that on second thought, he said, was the best beverage
considering the weather.
we want to know'', we said sipping some excellent coffee "is
whether you have been monitoring the conditions of the drought victims
of a month back.'' The CEO rang his bell. He whispered something
to an aide, and said "they are doing well -- but I have asked
Mr. Perera here to get more information on them tomorrow.''
asked me whether I would like to have some beer on top of my coffee
but I politely declined. Then we left and arrived at the television
news room of the Z channel. The Z news Editor was all agog saying
the latest is that certain school principals in Colombo are declaring
excessive rain holidays. "We have to explore their dilemma
too -- on the one hand they will be blamed for not covering the
syllabus, but on the other it will be totally unfair by the children
if he expects them to keep abreast of their work when there are
torrents of rain disturbing their normal lives.''
he nudged one of us and said "ha! ha! which of us didn't enjoy
a rain holiday?'' and asked the office help to arrange for some
tea."We have come,'' we persisted 'to see whether there is
any follow up on the drought victims in Anudradhapura.''
drought I say - - rain holiday,'' he said and chuckled. He said
we really do not understand television. "We run a tight ship
here,'' he said “you do not know how incredibly high the story
turnover is.” "The pressure is so enormous" he said
' that I'm eternally suffering from gastritis.''
we asked whether that means that the drought victims in Anuradhapura
are now doing perfectly well? He said the news cycle is over. It
means the drought victims must be happy, he said. “Until the
next drought comes along at least.”
that the next drought or the next news cycle?'' I wagered."Whichever
comes first'' he said distractedly. He said there is nothing to
worry anyway. A report is being done on the excellent media coverage
of the drought.
its the follow up…'' we ventured nervously, but as our voices
trailed off, he said he is urgently needed for a spot on Things
to do During Rain Holidays. "Ta'' he said. We said 'ta ta',
still holding on tight to our umbrellas.