|Wednesday, 17 November 2004|
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Rare, transcending gesture
We witnessed a rare moment in the post-independence political history of Sri Lanka recently when UNP Deputy Leader, Karu Jayasuriya, hailed President Kumaratunga's efforts to bring ethnic peace. He rightly honoured her with the description 'Mother Lanka'.
Here was a heavyweight in the opposition warmly complimenting the Head of State and Government for the last 10 years, on her constructive role in national politics.
Besides proving that statesmanship is not lacking in this country, Jayasuriya's gesture points to the possibility of Lanka forging ahead towards a better future under a more broad-minded leadership in the UNP if those of the ilk of Karu Jayasuriya come to play a decisive role in the affairs of the UNP.
As the President herself pointed out on the same occasion on which Jayasuriya made these comments, forging an alliance between the two major Southern political parties was even more difficult than bringing the LTTE to the negotiating table.
However, the country would wholeheartedly endorse the President's observation that the two parties must work unitedly, transcending all narrow interests, for the emergence of a Southern consensus which would in turn facilitate the peace process.
Thus far, broad agreement between the SLFP and the UNP on resolving the ethnic conflict has not been possible on account of the highly narrow, parochial and self-serving attitude of the UNP leadership.
However, once in a while there emerge politicians on both sides of the political divide who make an effort to forge unity between the parties and make them see the wisdom of joining hands in the cause of peace.
President Kumaratunga is one such leader whose peace overtures have been continuously rebuffed by sections of the UNP leadership.
But Karu Jayasuriya is proving vastly different. He has openly and publicly spoken of the need for the major political parties of the South to shed their acrimonious past and work harmoniously towards peace, thus placing the national interest above narrow, partisan, party considerations. We hope more such common ground would be built between these major political actors.
There is no denying that the lack of a broad agreement between the SLFP and the UNP is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to a negotiated settlement. If a Southern consensus is arrived at, the LTTE would be compelled to negotiate with a greater sense of urgency.
The exchange of pleasant and noble sentiments among those of different political loyalties and persuasions could also help change the current political culture which is based on divisiveness, bitterness and hatred.
The core values of our country are compassion and understanding. These must be made the foundational values of a national rejuvenation.
Recipe for success
We all love reading cookbooks. We may never actually try the recipes, but the colourful pictures are enough to whet the appetite and 'fill' the stomach. No wonder cookbooks are selling like hot cakes. It's a cakewalk for publishers hungry for profits.
Chefs, cooks and foodies around the globe had about 24,000 new cookbooks to feast upon last year. There's even a World Cookbook Awards ceremony.
The clamour for recipes across the world has been generated by the popularity of television cookery shows, as well as an increasing love of staying at home. The men who have invaded the kitchen are also more likely to depend on printed recipes for guidance.
They are also ideal for the armchair cook, who just loves to read the cooking instructions and glance through the mouth-watering photographs, without ever bothering to go near the stove.
It is interesting to note that many of the books concentrate on back-to-basics recipes and more health-conscious low-fat foods.
Some of the dietary schemes such as the Atkins Diet have also received blanket coverage. 'Fast' foods are also popular, as more people are looking for foods that can be prepared in a jiffy amidst their hectic 24/7 schedules.
Of course, there will always be a place on the kitchen table for the books featuring complex and exotic recipes from around the world. Books by leading chefs are the biggest sellers, though even simple housewives have tasted success in this arena.
The current craze for cookbooks indicates conflicting trends. It shows that we have lost the natural instinct for cooking. More young women are staying away from the kitchen, due to work/education pressures and lack of time.
They unfortunately have no time to spend on hands-on 'training' in the kitchen under the guidance of their mothers. Such 'on-the-job' experience is much better than reading any cookbook.
On the other hand, we also have a desire to try the unknown and taste something new. This is where cookbooks come in handy.
They guide us through the chore of cooking, making it more entertaining. It may sound paradoxical, but cooking a 'new' dish by following a recipe could be a very relaxing experience. At the end of it all, with your taste buds in heaven, you know you have hit the sweet spot.
Cooking is a fundamental necessity. We simply cannot survive that long without food. But monotony does no favours for our appetite and may leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Variety is indeed the spice of life. Cookbooks give that in plenty and we are better for it.
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