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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The marvel that is Bata

I was going to say Rubber Slippers, but decided not to. It doesn't nearly have the effect as much as it does when you say Bata. A pair of rubber slippers is not a pair of rubber slippers for us, but a pair of Bata, ain't it? Oh, the SriLankanism!

So... where do I begin?
OK, let me put it this way.
It is the greatest footwear invention in the history of mankind, and will remain so until either the world runs out of rubber or we humankind perish. Maybe they'll remain even after we are doomed. If ever aliens happen to pay us a visit, I'm sure this will be something they'll be taking back with them, among other things. Thus, Bata could end up being one of the very few truly universal products. You never know.

It is truly a wonderful product, and you've got to give it to it's simplicity. A piece of rubber attached to a couple of straps. It can't get any simpler than that, can it? Yet it is so efficient, convenient and use any other word you like here that would say something good about it. I couldn't think of any at the moment.

Specially in a place like Sri Lanka, it is nothing but a god sent thing. In a burning hot day, it keeps your feet cool. In a rainy day, all you have to do is fold your denim a couple of times. Notice the use of the word 'denim' here. There is no other pant goes as nearly well as a denim does with them. Throw in a T-Shirt to the mix and you're good to go - anywhere. Age, race and gender doesn't matter. Five year old kids and 80 year old fellas, not to mention everyone in between can be seen basked in the glory of this marvel. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and even the Askimos reportadly have been wearing them. Guys and girls - and whomever else as well - they all use them.

Honestly, I've fallen in love with them a long time ago, and could never let go to this day. For the most part of my university life, it was a part of my uniform, which consisted of a further denim and a T-Shirt, preferably. And even after that, whenever possible - and I mean it - I always wore them. How can I not?

Bata Story #1
The biggest fan of them all. Even though I'm so fond of them, I wouldn't dare to claim the 'Most-ardent-fan-of-Bata' title. It belongs to one guy and him alone. Let's call him S. He was a batch mate at the uni, and wore Bata for the whole duration of his university life bar one day. And it was reported that there was a minor earthquake around Kandy area the day S decided to wear a pair of shoes instead of his trusted soul mates, so he assured us that he would never ever do that again. And I believe him. There weren't any earthquakes after that. S even wore them to his convocation. True story.

Bata Story #2
Now it's my turn. It was back in the uni days. I was on my way to the university in a ragged denim, messed up T-Shirt and my trusted pair of Bata. In my last year there, I never really attended any lectures, so there was no real need to be bothered with notes and all that. I was in this private bus which was crowded to the point of exploding, as the norm in Sri Lanka as you all know only too well. You know that the conductors don't ever allow you to go on the foot-board however crowded the bus is, but the guy was friends with me and he didn't mind me being there. Now, this conductor guy (henceforth referred to as C) was quite a fashionable fella. He always wore pretty 'fancy' stuff and wore them well. That day, he was in one of those pants where you have like 150 pockets, quite a classy shirt and a pair of sports shoes (or decks as we call them in Sri Lanka). Oh and a reggae style cap too. Compare that with my standard gear. You know what I'm getting at.

So, after a couple of minutes the bus had to stop because there was a railway crossing and the gate was closed. Now I and C were on the foot board while the bus was waiting for the train to pass. It was taking a bit of time, and one of the 'aunties' in the bus decided to walk the remaining distance so she got off the bus and..... gave me a Rs.10 note.

"Err... what?" I asked.

"Salli ganna putha, mama ithuru tika payin yanawa"
(Please take the money son, I'll be walking the distance)

I was like what the hell for a split second, then I realized.
Obviously it was me who looked like the conductor, not C. There was really no point trying to explain her the situation, especially with a bus load of gorgeous ladies, some of whom I knew. Explaining it means attracting more attention. So I accepted the money and gave her the Rs.3 balance, resolving the matter calmly.

And all this time that bastard C was sniggering behind me. So when I arrived at my destination, I paid him only my fee and kept what my pair of Bata earned for me.

Bata Story #3
This time it's my ex-girlfriend. I don't think I'd ever seen a better fashion-killer than she was. You know the type, who just wears whatever they feel like without a care in the world. She was like that. And she shared a great love for Batas with me. Combination of the two (not I and her, but fashion-killer who loves Bata) is always a recipe for disaster. Trust me. We shared another thing. Oh we shared a lot of things. But what I mean is, she hated those family-weddings even more than I did. You know those weddings of your parents' friends' son's or daughter's weddings? That kind of thing. Most of the time, you're lucky to find one guy or a chick you know there, you've got to stay with your parents and be a display on a showcase for their friends. And answer the standard set of questions again and again and again.


"What do yo do these days?"
"Study. University"
"Oh that's great. Where?"
"Really? Engineering I suppose?"
"No. Mathematics"
"Hmm... what kind of career opportunities you have, in that field?"

Compared to that, Sirasa Ran Depaya is gold!

Anyway, this day she was attending such a wedding but obviously got bored probably within five minutes entering the hotel. So she called me.

"Sach, can you be there at XXX in half an hour?" A place we used to meet regularly.

"Err... but aren't you supposed to be in a wedding?"

"Yeah, that's what I mean"

"What do you mean that's what you mean?"


And I knew that tone. It means the red light is on. It means that danger is loominig. It means you need to answer without further questions.

"OK, fine, 3o minutes then"

So I was there in like 25 minutes - I was never late for appointments, but not because I was afraid of her or anything, I assure you - and waiting for her. Then a sexy black Mercedes pulled in front of me, and the gorgeous lady stepped out. Now, can you picture those kinds of scenes from Hollywood movies? The car pulls in front of you, a jaw-dropping hot chick gets out and the camera spans from her top to bottom. That kind of scene. So there she was with this lovely and newly done hair, probably for the wedding itself, beautiful hanging earrings (I always loved to see her wearing them), a blood red gorgeous wedding dress and...


Have you heard that tire screeching sound that is sometimes used in comedies etc? The one that they use in a situation like this, to interrupt the flow of a scene? So, if you have, imagine that. If you haven't, imagine something. Either way, you need to put a sound like that here.

Because after all those lovely matching stuff, she was wearing a pair of Bata.

"N (let's call her that), what the hell?"


"Since when did that fashion become popular in weddings? I didn't know. Or are you trying to set a trend?"

"Oh no no darling, I wasn't wearing this to the wedding"

"I can tell. You're still alive"

"Na aney... you know how much I hate those high heels. I managed to steal the car keys from dad, he doesn't know I got out. And there was this pair inside the car. Sooooo..... it's OK ne aney... we have until 3p.m. Let's go somewhere shall we? Pleeeeease?"

When she use that tone, it's really hard to say no. I usually melts at that one. And she knew that.

So off we went to Crescat first. In no time, we started to attract odd looks though. Hand in hand, we must have looked a very odd couple to be honest. I was dressed in a short that day, (no need to mention what the footwear was) and N in a wedding dress and a pair of Bata. Not a sight you'd see everyday.

Oh and I managed to send her back in time to the hotel, with the heels back on of course.



  1. dude you shared batas, thats true love, get her back before its too late.

  2. it's already too late Damith, she's no more in this world...

  3. Legendary man! jeans, bata, t-shirt is urban culture in SL! cheers man. Im very very sorry to hear about your loss

  4. Hei man,
    This is great...
    Wonder when I would again wander the Col streets with shorta and bata..
    You did gushed the urban being inside me man..

  5. Thanks LD and I put up the post a short while ago.

    Whack, I know. Ain't that so convenient and all. It is indeed an urban culture...
    Oh and thanks man, I am too sorry about it... but there's nothing left to do...

    Elephant Drive, thanks bro.
    Oh yeah I know, but I will be wandering around there in a few days.. oh I can't wait...

    Serendib, thanks mate.

  6. hey, nice post. reminds me of the sci fac guys (always in a denim, T and a pair of Bata)who hoot when we walk past the hostels!!

    and sorry about the girl bro. you should have been having a nice time together

  7. Deeps, hoot at girls? We? NEVER! :P
    Btw, were you at Pera too?

    And thanks friend, yeah we indeed had a great time... but life is such... :(

  8. I'm guilty of being a rubber-slipper-fashion-killer as well =P

    In fact, I had a few press conferences to go for today so I dressed up real smart. But the thought of wearing shoes was just too unbearable, so I wore my flip flops instead! =D

    I didn't care about what people would think. Comfort comes first.

    Bata slippers rule!

  9. Puppeteer, there's nothing to be guilty of!
    Bata ROCKS!