Odds and Ends

Lanka for Iran or Japan?

Sri Lanka had a tough choice at Friday's UN vote for the Asian non-permanent seat in the Security Council. The two contenders, Iran and Japan, are both deemed close political and economic allies of Sri Lanka. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, last seen embracing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the General Assembly sessions in New York last month, was apparently more inclined towards Iran.

But the Foreign Ministry was rooting for Japan. The final vote was a major victory for Japan 158 votes compared with only 32 for Iran. But there was one abstention among the 192 votes.] Did Sri Lanka keep its conscience clear by abstaining? No one will ever know, except Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative HMGS Palihakkara, because the vote was by secret ballot.

Right colour, wrong car

A UNP MP arrived at a five star hotel in his Chrysler car last week and handed over the car keys for valet parking. Minutes later a man was seen speeding away with the car as the family members looked on. The MP panicked thinking the car may have been stolen. As attempts were being made to trace the car, it reappeared about 20 minutes later. It soon transpired that the man who had taken the key from the hotel staff was the owner of a similar car of the same colour.

He had come to the hotel earlier and asked that his car be left at the hotel for him. When the car key was being handed over by the MP’s son for valet parking, the man had taken the key mistaking it for his own car and driven away. It took a while for him to realize it was not his vehicle and made him return to the hotel.

Visa woes

Complaints of delays and inconvenience from many Sri Lankans who apply for UK visas is common now, particularly after the consular services were moved to Chennai. A lady working for an INGO in Colombo who applied for a visa on August 15 was told that she would know her visa status within one and a half weeks but since she had no response she had gone ahead with a visit to Switzerland and only on her return found a visa had in fact been issued to her to travel to the UK.

As visa applicants are encouraged to track their visa status on the web site of the company that handle visa applications, which the lady did, all she found out was that her documents had been handed over to the British High Commission. As the lady had to travel to Switzerland on September 5, she had called the application collecting centre and managed to get back her passport.

After returning from her overseas visit, the lady had gone over to the centre to collect her documents which she had submitted along with the UK visa application and was informed that she cannot have the papers back as a decision had been made with regard to her visa.

She had then decided to call the High Commission directly on October 4 and was surprised when she was told that her visa had in fact been ready for issue on September 4, and that her passport had been required for stamping the visa on it. The lady in question had now decided to lodge a formal complaint with the British High Commission.

Prior warning

The Heath Ministry announced last Monday that in view of World Food Day which fell on October 16, all eateries and hotels would be checked. The Ministry had also been kind enough to inform via a media release that the checks will be carried out from October 20 to 22. That way they will have enough time to get their eating houses and hotels in order so they can get off with a clean slate. Don’t the wiseacres in the health sector know that if they are serious about catching the real culprits, they will need to carry out checks without prior warning?

SMS cheaper than fine

Two motorists who were stopped for violating traffic rules in the city limits last week managed to get off without having to pay a fine. It was because the policeman who detected them said if they sent an SMS vote for his daughter who was taking part in a singing contest on a local television channel, he would let them off the hook. A two rupee SMS can sometimes save you several hundred rupees in fines, it seems.

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