Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 18 September 2011





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Have we all gone gaga?

Silly, crazy, senile, doddering, mentally or physically infirm with age, completely absorbed, a feeling of extreme ecstasy, infatuated or excited, marked by foolish or unreasoning fondness: they all can be attributed to mean gaga.

Going by this definition of gaga; and, if each of the several meaning for the word is individually and separately applied; it can be surmised that all most all Sri Lankans have gone gaga – me included.

I certainly am not implying that we have all gone crazy on Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta - better known by her stage name Lady Gaga. There may be, amongst us, some who may be gaga about Gaga; but Lady Gaga is by no means gaga. She has been included in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world as well as being listed in a number of Forbes’ annual lists. Besides her career in music, Gaga has enhanced her repertoire as a philanthropist who has contributed to various charities and humanitarian works. Compare this with our own Lady Gagas to whom altruism is as foreign as a forest fire is to Eskimos. However, in many circles, Gaga’s appeal is in the “shocking” way she presents herself – whether through her dress style or her utterances. And that is where I say Sri Lankans have all gone gaga.

Take for instance the dress sense of our village belles. Recently, in urgent need of a domestic help; I telephoned, for what it was worth, several of those agencies that supply such personnel. Mostly, such places are run by dubious females of the species who trade on the desperate situation of those who approach them. One madam in one of the agencies I telephoned said she had a maid available and could bring her if I agreed to pay the agency fee equivalent to one month’s pay of the domestic. Though fully aware that such places are run by female racketeers who supply these personnel, having coached them to find some excuse or other to leave the service once the first months salary is given, so that the same person could be supplied to another gullible customer on the same terms; I yielded to the temptation hoping that this may be different, and consented to the deal. Couple of hours later, in walks a madam in her late fifties, all doled up to look like a specimen out of Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ followed by what appeared to be Lady Gaga.

Sunethra (name changed), 24, hails from a remote village in Maho (Mahawa). She was wearing something that looked like underwear as outerwear. She was dressed in an Agent Provocateur leopard-print body that she wore over a skirt or shorts, and something that looked like the 1940’s bullet bras covered the area of her breasts. She had on a Gaga-esque hair style to boot. When I questioned her about her dressing style, she said that she dresses to show off her assets even if it did provoke some funny stares. According to her, in the villages these days, the trend is to be in with the fashion – the type of fashion one sees on those countless music channels and musical (and dancing) shows telecast by our television stations. I, of course, did not wish to go gaga over her and packed her off along with her madam to go try another needy one.

The experience, or may be the lesson, cost me a thousand rupees which the madam insisted was her travelling expense. But I wondered! Who on earth said that our village maidens lag behind the city folks? I am aware that in the city night clubs, and Karaoke bars that dot the countryside like flies, especially on weekends, you see some extreme examples of the Gaga look - bodies teamed with the full-on hair and make-up; evidence that definitely suggests that the young females of the species in this land of serendipity are all going gaga – at least in their choice of inner and outer wear – ‘La Dolce Vita’ style; and to me they look as though they have just hatched themselves from an egg.

If that is the state of affairs of the youth from the fairer sex, look at what is happening to the opposite sex. Let us start at the top and go by their utterances – in public and private. Take our legislators. Only an imbecile will believe in the kind of rubbishy utterances that is doled out on a regular basis from all and sundry hued personalities that occupy this august institution. They truly must be gaga and prepossessed to believe that the whole nation is gaga to accept and trust in their preposterousness. On the other hand, the whole nation must be gaga to have sent this kind of preposterous personage to a noble establishment. I am aware that most of the politicians looking to cozy up to Gaga fail to replicate her most endearing quality:She is fearless to tell the truth. Obviously, for politicians, “fearlessness” to be “truthful” occupies a different hemisphere.

Another instance that proves that we are all going gaga is that all most all who aspire to serve the people of our nation; begin by spending a huge fortune in ransom – begged, borrowed or stolen - in order to gain the privilege. The same amount - this wealth - if invested wisely will give sufficient return to enable the aspirant to be of service to the people of his country for the entirety of his life. Instead; he, she or the gender in-between; and, going by their character, or the lack of it, it would be difficult to place them in the first two categories; hoping to be benefactors of the people, choose the more difficult, insecure, and unpredictable path to become the deliverers of hope to our people.

Well, if that is not sufficient proof of their true intentions; and, about them being gaga; I know not what is.

I give below an example of how people in public service ought to be. This was sent to me by a friend of mine, and is about Harry Truman – a past president of the United States of America: “Harry Truman was a different kind of President.

He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding the history of the USA as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and his wife Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves.

There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale”.

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth.

Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices.

Political offices are now for sale. Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician.

And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!” I say dig him up and clone him. Perhaps then, we will cease to go gaga.

See you this day next week. Until then, keep thinking, keep laughing. Life is mostly about these two activities.

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