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7th June 1998

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Our Man in LondonCricket and chatting

By Afdhel Aziz

For Sri Lankans living in the UK, the Festival of Cricket held every year in Bromley, Kent is an occasion to get together and let it all hang out. Celebrating its tenth anniversary last month, it mixes two great Sri Lankan obsessions, cricket and chatting . Actually, make that three if you count the incessant baila that is played all day. Overcast clouds greeted the crowds this year, but spirits weren't dampened by the grey skies and the sun soon came out and showed its support in the afternoon.

Around six to seven thousand Sri Lankans were hanging out in Norman Park, with three games going on simultaneously, as the old boys of colleges like Ananda, Nalanda, Dharmaraja and others relived their Big Match glory days - albeit with slightly larger potbellies and bank accounts. The teams played brisk six over matches, with the final being a much appreciated show down between Royal and St. Thomas. Pitch invasions slowed play down considerably, as over enthusiastic supporters galloped onto the pitch every time a wicket fell.

Burly security men huffed and puffed after them, trying to get them to return to their places on the sidelines - but after a while, even they gave up and became Sri Lankan. Some of the English crowd control staff even going so far as to wave college flags and be taught lewd baila songs, the lyrics of which they were completely unaware. On reflection, probably a good thing too.

While the husbands shouted and cheered on their college teams, the wives got on with the more serious task of socialising and scouting the crowds for suitable future spouses for their sons and daughters. The sons and daughters in question sensibly avoided getting dragged into all this and spent their time preening and posing around the grounds, doing their own research - and in an infinitely more pleasurable way too.

They also seemed to spend much of their time dancing to the swing, hip hop and jungle being played by a booming sound system in the Thomian tent. This was much to the dismay of the older folk who periodically rolled past, grumbling "Why can't they play some baila men?" Their wish was soon answered and for a while a little cross-cultural party reigned, with the sounds of Puff Daddy mixing surreally with the Gypsies and 'Lunu Dehi'from the tent right next door.

Myself, I found the greatest pleasure in the many stalls selling cutlets, patties and other assorted short eats that catapulted me back in time to my tuck-shop raiding days. God bless you ladies, and next time make the wadais a little spicier will you ? For the younger kids, there were plenty of fun fair rides, including one deadly whirling thingummyjig that had me feeling distinctly uneasy. OK, I was scared silly. The four year old kid ahead of me on the other hand was completely blase, even greeting my terror with mild disapproval. I'm getting too old for all this.

Getting out of there was a complete nightmare due to us Sri Lankans having a penchant for goodbyes that last several hours. Just when you think it's safe to go, you meet someone else you haven't seen for years and must have a good chat with.........

The only sour note at the entire event was the boycotting of the event by the Tamil colleges who were arranging their own event. Apparently political and ethnic differences had got in the way of their attending the Festival this year, and their absence did throw a shadow over the event, which was originally designed to bring together all Sri Lankans in a celebration of their country. (The other teams must have been breathing a sigh of relief since apparently in the last couple of years, the Jaffna schools have been boasting some fearsome players).

Anyway, let's hope when the Festival celebrates its eleventh anniversary next year the differences will be resolved and everything's going to be like it used to be. And ladies, don't forget what I said about the wadais.

Watchful Eye

Stop, Look, and Listen

Sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a crime that we wish to eradicate. In order to do this we have to recognize abuse when it occurs. There are three vital responses in detecting any signs of sexual abuse or exploitation of your child:

Stop and pay attention to your child. Teach them to trust their own feelings and assure them that they have the right to say NO to what they sense is wrong. Look at your child's behaviour and be sensitive to any changes. These changes are a signal that you should sit down and talk to your child about what caused the changes. Be alert to any teenagers or adults who are paying an unusual amount of attention to your child or giving them expensive or inapporopriate gifts.

Listen to your child's problems and fears and be supportive in all of your discussions with them. You may be the only one your child can come to.

No parent wants to see their child in this situation. It happens more often than we realize. Parents are the key protector of their children and are in a position to detect any of these signs. If we work together to prevent and protect our children, we can make our homes and cities a safer place for all children.

Child sexual abuse is devastating to both the child and the families around them. We as a community need to come together and be advocates for our children teaching them how to protect themselves. If you have questions or would like more information about his issue, please write to -

Watchful Eye,
P.O. Box 1174,
Colombo 10.

Watchful Eye is produced through the collaboration between ESCAPE and Save Lanka Kids.

Dear daughterValue honesty

My darling daughter,

Yesterday some of your younger friends came to visit me, and young as they are, were quite aghast at the dishonesty and corruption that seems to be abounding today. 'I wonder' said one of them 'whether there is any purpose in being honest'? See, the boys who copy at the Exams, get higher marks and we are fools for being honest.

"But that is cheating," said young Anil. "If I get high marks for school work that Ammi or my tuition teacher has done, then I know that I don't really deserve those marks." The conversation moved back and forth with all manner of examples brought of those who financially prosper by being dishonest. I listened and wondered. We adults sure are leaving you young a set of very false values. Financial or materialistic success is not the yardstick of goodness or greatness. We complain and talk so much of the dishonesty around us, but I wonder whether even we take any trouble to inculcate in our children the value of honesty.

I can remember a friend of mine who would do all the homework her son brought from school, while the little one enjoyed himself playing, and then when he brought the corrected work back home with full marks naturally, she praised the boy for his hard work and said what a clever and wonderful boy he was. I wondered, in a sense was she not encouraging him to be dishonest, for he himself knew that the work praised and the marks obtained was not for his own work. He would grow up to feel that whatever the means he used the only thing that mattered was to be successful. Insidiously I think we adults by our behaviour, our silence and our attitudes, have impressed on the child that what matters is not that he should be honest, but material gain. Daughter our country is so full of religious teachings, even the national media carries daily messages of religion, yet why have they not permeated into our lives? Has religion lost its meaning in our lives, or are we so dishonest to our ownselves that we pay lip service to our religion and act contrary to its teachings?

I wish, daughter, that those young friends of yours who were with me will strive to create a better society, for as Anil said, you yourself know what you have done, you cannot hide from yourself, and the world will some day get to know the real you, specially when you are old or have lost the power or the wealth you have.

Shakespeare was correct when he said, "to thine ownself be true, thou can not then be false to any man." Well daughter I hope you and your generation with the idealism that yet remains in you will bring back to our country those principles of honesty which we appear to have lost.

- Ammi

Kenny's WorldKenny's World

Take the Hit

Stand-up comedian David Spade thinks more people should learn to take a hit. Like he says, it's no big deal taking a hit occasionally. What's a hit? Well, a hit could be just about any comment aimed at you that isn't particularly easy to take a cutting remark, a cruel joke or an out and out insult. Sometimes it's almost impossible to ignore them. But there are some that you later feel it would have been better to let go. I'm saying let them go. You'd be surprised at how easy it becomes after a while.

Have you ever come back on a cutting remark and failed miserably at it? Most of us have. What is our obsession with coming back on cutting remarks? True, if you can come back well on a cutting remark, then that would make the cutting remark useless and would put you one up on the other person. But what if you fail miserably? That would only prove that you probably deserved the cut in the first place. Cutting remarks are usually intended as jokes, and there's nothing more annoying than someone spoiling a perfectly good cut with a pathetic comeback. Man, take the hit!

Politicians have got to be the absolute worst when it comes to taking hits. Even if what has been said about them might be true, politicians would plead their innocence to the last. And the funny thing is, we expect it of them. We would be extremely surprised to see politicians admit to anything if they had a choice. Take dear uncle Bill, for example. Unless the next woman who claims that he made "unwanted advances" towards her actually catches him in the act and ties him to the nearest immobile object while his pants are still down, we would expect Billy boy to keep on saying, "never seen her before in m'life."

In fact the entire business of politics is built around taking, throwing and dodging hits. In that business you can survive only if you take very few hits. So successful politicians are really expert dodgers. And in our country I guess they have to be, because here politicians take the hit for almost everything. Rising fuel prices, food shortage or the neighbour's dog pooping in your in your back yard, some politician, somewhere, is to blame.

So the politicians have had to come up with effective ways of diverting the attention of the public. Denial is of little use, because if the guy's a politician we know he did it. Of course they could try reasoning with the public and pointing out that there is very little they can do about pooping dogs. But that wouldn't work too well either. The tried and tested method that seems to work for everyone here is blaming the previous "regime". I mean, the pooping must have been much worse then after all it was a "regime".

OK, so we don't mind politicians not taking the hit. Someone has to abuse each other in parliamentary debates broadcast live across the country. But what about the rest of us? We grown-ups? Does taking a hit have to be like taking a bullet in the butt for the rest of us too? Do we still have to keep feeling it long after it's stopped showing and everyone else has forgotten about it? It doesn't have to be like that. Pick your battles don't tire yourself and everyone around you by fighting tooth and nail over every little thing. I'm not saying roll over and play dead and let everyone walk all over you all the time. But just try it at those times when it's not absolutely necessary to come back. Let the little ones go, that way when you come across something that's really worth fighting for, the people around you will take you more seriously.

We are all guilty of not taking hits. It's not in human nature to just roll over and let the other person score a point at your expense. But what does it hurt, really?

A little bit of ego perhaps, but not much else. You might actually impress more by keeping your mouth shut and showing some control. So the next time someone throws you a curved ball don't try to dodge it just try standing there and taking the hit.

Any feedback (comments\criticisms) on this column or cool ideas and suggestions can be e-mailed to (short e-mails please!) kenny@somethin-

Pets breed togetherness

Pets could become desir- able wedding presents following research published recently that suggests couples who own cats and dogs have more durable relationships.

The truth about the animals is that not only do they bring couples closer together, but they also make owners more satisfied in marriage and respond better to stress than couples without pets.

The findings, presented in Florida at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, arose from a study conducted at the state University of New York, Buffalo, backed by the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, Britain.

Health checks taken "during a situation known to be source of conflict between spouses" showed that blood-pressure readings of couples with pets were lower at baseline, rose less in response to stress and returned to baseline quicker than in couples without pets. Pet-owning couples also had more frequent contact with each other and with others and those most attached to their animals dealt more with their spouses, according to the findings.

"Many studies have shown that social support is protective of cardiovascular health," said Dr. Karen Allen of the University of Buffalo."We know that people who have many social interactions are healthier than people who don't. In this study people who owned pets had significantly more interactions with other people than couples who didn't.

"We don't know specifically why this is so," she said. "Pet owners may be the kind of people who inherently seek out more social contact. Onto other hand, there may be something in the relationship between people and pets that enhances social interaction.

"It's also possible that for some people, contacts with a pet provide the same healthful psychological and physiological benefits as human contact."

She studied 100 couples, 50 who owned either cats or dogs, and 50 with no pets in the household. To evaluate responses to stress, Dr. Allen hooked up spouses to heart and blood-pressure monitors to measure stress and introduced a topic identified through questionnaires as a source of tension or disagreement.

There were no significant differences in response between men and women, or dog- and cat-owners. Her previous research has shown that during a stressful situation a pet has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, and that for women living alone who have little contact with the outside world, a pet provides the same beneficial effects on cardiovascular health as meeting other people.

The Daily Telegraph

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