I’ve been trying my hand at flash fiction. Rather clumsily, if I’m being honest. The following is part of a writing exercise that only said “write a story, any story, in 250 words or less, that feature the words/ideas ‘jockey’ and ‘coaster’ (or some variation thereof).

Bobby didn’t lift his head until he had slid the crossfader all the way to the right. He had queued up Uptown Funk, matched the beats, and was ready for a quick drink till Sophie Ellis-Bexter was halfway done burning the house down.

He took off his headphones and was about to reach for…

Image credit: Disney

If there’s one thing Black Widow (2021) proved beyond a doubt, it’s that the fewer superpowers the protagonists in these movies have, the harder it is for me to suspend my disbelief.

I’ll buy that a giant purple dude from space conquered entire planets in search of some magic rocks that would wipe out half the universe at the snap of his fingers. I’ll even pretend Bruce Banner owns incredibly elastic pants. But don’t tell me Scarlett Johannson walked away from that many car crashes and literally fell from the sky without so much as a scratch.

Which brings me…

Image credit: BookMyShow

This is something I wrote as a college assignment some months ago. Reproduced here with some light edits with permission from the lecturer.

About halfway into Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s directorial debut Paangshu (‘Earth’), one is struck by a thought that not all is as it seems. Though the film is unambiguously about a mother’s resolute search for her missing son, one cannot help but wonder whether Chandrasekaram — being a Sri Lankan of mixed ethnicity — is using the plight of a Sinhalese mother to underscore the grief of countless Tamil mothers in the north who, to this day, have no…

Have you ever noticed how time seems to move faster the older you get?

Picture this. You’re at the beach. The sun won’t set for another couple of hours, but you don’t mind just staring out to the endless sea. You notice how the cool breeze is offsetting the tropical afternoon heat just enough, as you reach for another sip of your drink. The ancient paperback you picked up at the hotel lobby lays forgotten next to you on the golden sand. You adjust your shades and try not to think about your inbox. You’ve earned this break, you remind…

This screenshot was doing the rounds on Twitter the other day.

Originally published at EconomyNext.com

When news broke in late November that the government was developing a Singapore-style regulatory framework for Sri Lankan websites, alarm bells rang in the corridors of slacktivism. The spectre of authoritarianism had crept into their own backyard: the internet, that last bastion of free expression subject to the whims of big tech and ISPs. With their sizzling hot takes facing imminent existential danger, the purveyors of liberal democracy had to speak up. At least until the next controversy in the 24-hour selective outrage cycle.

A couple of fire tweets and some decidedly non-threatening grunts were made…

Originally published in EconomyNext

A year is a long time. This year has been longer than most. While that is not an indictment of the incumbent government or of its leadership per se, few would disagree that 2020 has cast the powers that be in a less than flattering light. A historic parliamentary election victory notwithstanding, the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has been at the receiving end of some unexpectedly harsh criticism, not from opposition lawmakers or partisan pundits, but from ordinary citizens of different political hues including maroon. …

John David Washington running to the next plot point (Image credit: Total Film)

There’s an infamous behind-the-scenes clip from Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace in which writer-director George Lucas, speaking to a team of Lucasfilm underlings, says the character Jar Jar Binks is “the key to all this”. He then proceeds to talk about the parallels between the original trilogy and the then upcoming prequel movies, declaring — as the underlings dutifully nod along — that “it’s like poetry; they rhyme.” He adds, with the slightest of hesitations: “Every stanza kind of rhymes with the last one. Hopefully it’ll work.”

Over two decades later, what with the fandom now dominated…

Himal Kotelawala

Writer and journalist based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Byline on The New York Times, Time Magazine and locally EconomyNext, The Daily FT, The Sunday Times and Roar.

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