Mirror Magazine

06th July, 1997


The young man on our Mirror cover this week is Swantha Jayasinghe, who poses in an outfit designed by Le Bon Design for Hameedias. His photograph was taken by Mettasena at Ceylon Motor Yacht Club Bolgoda


The Word

by Chunky Monkey

Dashing this column off today, my little chickadees, because I’m in a mighty rush. The Spice Girls are looking for an additional band member and I’m on my way to the audition in London, where I am hoping to wow them with my interpretation of the newest, freshest Spice Girl - Karapincha. Wish me luck sweeties!

‘The sunbirds are in town again’ I observed, looking around the crowded confines of the Blue Elephant. I was talking to the A&A sisters, dark and white chocolate, who looked at me inquiringly. You know, the sunbirds they fly down every summer and winter from London, Vancouver and Sydney , they all dress in The Gap and Miss Selfridge, wear the Body Shop cosmetics and get the DJ to dig up all the new records he hasn’t bothered playing. And for several months they blow the minds of every single man in the country. The sisters looked disgruntled. Yeah, right. Now if only the quality of men in this country had a boost like that every six months or so too. And while we are on the subject of dancefloor ethics, what is with this plethora of women who dance barefoot in clubs ? Is this some sort of weird Hare Krishna thing, some celebration of the liberation of the female race ? I asked Gringo, a female acquaintance of mine about this and she looked at me like I was a retard. Well, genius, it could just be because women find it hard to dance in high heels. Duh. Up the revolution. While I’m on this current feminist tip, it’s nice to see some female DJs on the radio giving some of the boys a run for their money - there’s Lua who does the 1-4 show on Yes FM who has a really good flow - very pleasant, unaffected, relaxed and bright. Also promising is Anita on Capital, a new recruit who while still a little raw on the mike does show signs of potential. And doing a good job on the bright eyed and bushy tailed Morning Zoo on TNL Radio has been Fiona who has been filling in while the Iceman has apparently been doing a round the world jaunt. Add Angel Wildheart’s new upbeat Generation X show on Friday nights (lots of Eighties stuff, not a single dark,dark thing about it) and you have a bunch of sisters who are doing it for themselves. As Helen Reddy says, I am woman hear me roar. The Chunk wishes them the best.

To the Don’s 5thAnniversary party last Tuesday, along with Culture Vulture members Cockney, Stick Insect and the Tie-Dye Queen (collectively known as the Witches of Eastwick) and their long suffering spouses. We commandeered a table and watched the rich and famous nod gently to the music of mariachi bands and Dr. Dre, a surreal combination if ever there was one. Models, businessmen, models who had turned into businesswomen, businessmen who wanted to look like models, the occasional media slut they all graced the occasion, draping them into every single corner - with over a hundred people crammed into that tiny space, the draping had to be pretty dextrous. The party had a Mexican theme to it, which meant lots of little South-of- the-Border hors d’oeuvres, like beef tacos and salsa/guacamole dips, plus lots of tamarind juice and Jose Cuervo to go around too. We sat and shot the breeze about the relative merits of Canadian literature and why karaoke bars should be declared a national menace ( a subject which I will vent my spleen on at a later date ). Some lucky sod won ten thousand rupees worth of free meals but us gringos were too ay-ay-ay-caramba to realise, our sombreros drooping over our forehead, our ponchos rolled in corner. Tired and happy we rolled home for our siestas and a very fragile day at work the next day. Don’s birthday party is turning into a regular annual event and it is certainly one of the best parties in town . Long may it rock..........

Surprises for celebrations

By Raushen Akbar

Anoushka Wilson and Ruvini Bandaranaike have picnics on their mind. Although many of us would be wary of ‘picnicking’ due to the hassle involved, these two have come up with a novel solution.

“We’d like to promote the idea of picnics on the beach or at some quiet nook away from the bustle of the city, or even at home in front of the T.V... Since we both love cooking, we decided to make picnic baskets whether for lunch or dinner, or even for breakfast in bed!” Anoushka explained.

A typical moderately priced dinner basket, serving upto six people, includes sesame and onion crackers with liver pate, almond danishes, croissants, seafood salad, chicken cordon bleu, strawberry tarts, liqueur chocolates, fruit, chocolate truffles and a bottle of wine (or a non-alcoholic beverage if so desired).

“The basket comes with all the trimming including candles, matches, corkscrews or bottle openers, cutlery and napkins, so that all you have to do is pick up the basket and go whenever the picnic is at” Ruvini said. She added that they even attached a little radio to the basket once, as well as a bunch of flowers to make the picnic more romantic.

“This is a more personal alternative to going out to dinner,” Anoushka enthused, and said that they would never undertake orders for more than six people, so that the quality of the food was ensured.

What would the breakfast basket include? Ruvini said that they had made such baskets for birthdays and anniversaries and that a Rs 1000-15 priced basket included danishes, bacon and cheese quiches, croissants, ham sandwiches (or meat )boiled eggs, juice, fruit salad an dchocolate truffles.

“We charge only for the food .The basket, the flowers etc are complimentary she said.

‘The due also undertake orders for fine dining (upto a maximum of 20 persons) and take charge of the complete food, wine and serving. “Since we undertake only 8 m orders, we don’t cut corners or skimp on the cashewnuts for example, and need only two days notice for a catered dinner” they disclosed.

Anoushka who has a degree in accountancy with many years experience as a wine taster in a wine company in England said that most people were unsure as to which wine would compliment the meat or the fish and of course the budget!” I’ve also found that people shy away from asking the waiters for their recommendation. However before we undertake an order for a dinner, we go through a list of possible option and decide together what would be suitable. Thus most people prefer a catered dinner to taking someone to a restaurant.”

Ruvini, who is studying for her law degree also markets a ‘heat’ n eat’ range at many supermarkets, which includes lasagne (chicken, beef or mutton) and macaroni cheese, to serve two people. They’re also undertaken organising and catering for kiddies birthday parties and also cocktail parties.

“We hope to open a shop and sell ready-made picnic baskets soon.” Whatever else they plan to cook going by the favourable recommendations of their clients I’m sure they’ll be only too delectable!

Ondaatje’s prelude to the Patient

In all the commo tion about the Os car winning film The English Patient, it is curious that none of the critics has reminded us that Michael Ondaatje’s novel is a sort of sequel to another brilliant book which he published in 1987 In the Skin of a Lion. I assume that, just as many of the people who enjoyed the film have not (yet) read the book, many of those who had read the Booker Prize winning The English Patient have not gone back to Ondaatje’s earlier work.

That’s a pity, not least because several of the characters in The English Patient first appear in The Skin of a Lion. The nurse Hana, for instance, is a child in the early book, befriended by the great friend of her step-father Patrick, the professional burglar Caravaggio.

To know this makes better sense of the plot of the film: Caravaggio, the allied spy who has been tortured by the Germans, comes to the Tuscan villa not because he is seeking the Hungarian Count Almasy, but because he has heard that Hana is there and in trouble. Equally amended by the film, Hana is in near-breakdown because she has heard of the death in action of her beloved father, Patrick.

imageAt this point it is necessary to emphasise how the film upsets the balance of the book. The English Patient is “about” four people of equal significance, whose stories interlock and who are all in some sense “patients” in retreat from the war. The film extracted Hana and the mysterious dying pilot. Caravaggio became a supporting part; the Sikh sapper Kip was near written-out.

This has made for a successful middle brow film but it denies Ondaatje’s prime purpose, which is summed up in the quotation from John Berger with which he prefaced In the Skin of a Lion: “Never will a single story be told as though it was the only one.”

Ondaatje developed his technique in In the Skin of a Lion. The central character is Patrick, a Canadian working man who is slowly radicalised by his experiences in the Depression years between the wars, but he is not always present. There is a Caravaggio, first seen tarring the Toronto streets and later learning his chosen trade as a thief, whose life is saved in prison by Patrick.

There is a young nun who is blown off a viaduct, is miraculously rescued by a Macedonian steeplejack, Temelcoff, and will eventually become Hana’s mother.

There is Clara the actress, mistress of the absconded tycoon Ambrose Small, who will become Hana’s step-mother. There is Cato, Hana’s real father, the loggers’ strike organiser.

Most of them appear again in The English Patient, where the counterpoint of the characters echoes Patrick’s discovery one day in Toronto: “He saw himself gazing at so many stories. His own life was no longer a single story but part of a mural, which was a falling together of accomplices. Patrick saw a wondrous night web - all of these fragments of a human order, something ungoverned by the family he was born into or the headlines of the day.

“A nun on a bridge, a dare-devil who was unable to sleep without drink, a boy watching a fire from his bed at night, an actress who ran away with a millionaire - the detritus and chaos of the age was realigned...”

In his earlier book Ondaatje demonstraates the same ability to create virtuoso sequences built upon esoteric research and imaginative foray. The book has the boy Patrick rescuing a cow from burglary; the arts of dynamite; the ordeal of the navy underground; and so much else.

There are also images that prepare us for the Patient - Patrick is set on fire by the millionaire; the nun tumbles off the bridge into a void (as Kip’s motorbike will plunge over a parapet). We are preparing for a central Ondaatje image, which has as much or as little symbolic power as you wish to attach to it: the English patient has parachuted from his plane, in flames. (The French edition is called L’homme en flammes). The film does not attempt this fundamental image, which seems odd.

Instead, we are given a closing sequence which is both fudged in its timing and cruder in its content. In the book, you don’t even see thqqe English patient die. There’s no need.

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