Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Where is the Media – in explaining the futility of the opposition Parliamentarians’ protest on a day that is historic for ensuring a democratic future for this Country?

The Fourth Estate after January 8th 2015 is a disgrace. They have not risen to the occasion and endorsed the will of the people for checks and balances and the end to unadulterated corruption. The most forceful and demanded promise was that the 19th Amendment would be passed in Parliament as soon as practical. When there is a bunch of hooligans, drinking and making the parliament floor look worse than the floor of a place where the drunkards gather in the evening for a bit of revelry, seeing inebriated bodies lying around, and no one having the gall to comment unfavorably on treating this august place like an after party junkyard, what more can one say of this profession in Sri Lanka today.

It is time the media take stock, and understand their responsibility in such a historic period of our Country. They seem to have joined in this inebriation, rather than have the knowledge and the nerve to report what they see objectively criticizing the depths to which these brigands have sunk their legislature to.

It is important that the Sinhala Meida, more than the English speaking media, get a grip on their true responsibility to the hapless public they MUST reach out to. Further the TV in the form of Rupavahini and ITN DO NOT HAVE even one journalist of stature who is able to explain fairly what the law is, and how reasonable or unreasonable some of the steps taken by our elected representatives are in this tragicomedy.

We have waited 10 years for this event, of reducing some of the powers of the President and the restoration of the checks and balances to ensure Good Governance and a fair balance with the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, and it seems that the Parliamentarians opposed to this just don’t get it. Sadly we have elected these Morons and have only ourselves to blame.

Actually a more responsible journalistic tradition, such as that in India, would have taken the lead role in influencing public opinion, which in turn would ensure the legislatures heed their word, and NOT resort to antics that are puerile and seen as puerile by a more discerning public, educated in the art of analytical news, not in the art of slavish belief of what they see and read, and reported as seen and as not as it SHOULD BE seen.

When history comes to be written, let it not be me who has to write the role played by the Sri Lankan Journalists, in their acts of Omission in removing the best chance this Country has had in recent history of returning to the fold of civilized politics, and government, where the citizen’s rights are paramount and NOT those of the few who choose to trick an electorate into being elected and then pursue an agenda far from the best interests of their countrymen, and ONLY in their personal interests.

The objective of this blog is to safeguard the inalienable rights of the people, and to protect them as much as is possible from the actions of the few, that wish to return this Country to a state of a waste land, after bleeding it, and milking it dry.

All journalists, especially those communicating in the Sinhala medium it all YOURS!                

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rogues Gallery – where they should be on the Parliament Floor.

I found it quite funny to see the people who now must obviously be those who both received disbursements over and above their station, purported to venerate a dictator, and then thrive in some way to make and disburse ill-gotten gains, by virtue of their veneration, knowing they will be protected from prosecution by their sponsor, sprawled on the floor of Parliament, in protest at the mere request of this sponsor being hauled before the Bribery commission!

Surely if he has nothing to hide from them, one would not need a gavel of traitors who have bled their country of legitimate income, trying to prevent him the leader of the pack from having to explain the misdeeds under his rule.

This is simply NOT taking revenge, but merely taking cognizance of the people’s verdict of January 8th to prosecute those who have embezzled unconscionable amounts of money from the State, and treated the State Coffers as some sort of Piggy Bank of the leader and his band of rogues all lined up for us to see.

There are other rogues who did not wish to show their face in Parliament but who hope to gain from one or the other side of the power circle. Nevertheless it is important that the people realize that it is best to get the people from the top, held to account for 10 years of rape of the Nation.

It was interesting when the Ex- President said that there is nothing in his name, and that he nor his family did nothing wrong during his administration, when all the evidence is contrary to that statement. Any fool knows that no account will be in the name of the President and his family. Similarly we also know who pulled the strings and abused the laws of the land so blatantly, that to say that they are innocent is showing the lack of legal knowledge these supposedly legally qualified should be aware of.

The article below is a good read to know that we are actually in a far better position today, than at any time in the Rajapakse Administration, whatever the minor hiccups any new administration of less than 100days can hope for especially bearing in mind the 10 years of ruthless mess covered up by dictatorship, that prevented any finger pointing by the press to the public of the egregious crimes happening under their noses. When they now come to light people have become blasé as to the severity of their venom and lack of concern for the citizens whom they purported to serve.

So now that the Governor of the Central Bank has been interrogated, grilled by the Bribery Commision and been shown to be clear of the allegations, in something that happened about a month ago, why not take the others to task on something that has happened continuously for 10 years. It is high time fairness prevails and justice is at least seen to be done. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let’s not be fooled by the belief that only fools can fool the fools!

How people can still think Mahinda is a hero is beyond my imagination. The reality is that people believe Mahinda’s lies and they do not believe the Government’s truth! Mahinda being a clever, devious and cunning politician knows how to appeal to the voter, and play on his weakest point. A free press, willing to report lies as much as truth, and an electorate with short memories can easily swayed, when the greed that represents our people, is NOT satisfied. They still don’t realize that for 10 years we had a controlled press!! So idiotic.

Every complaint about this Government is about, promises NOT being fulfilled. The worst promises are those that relate to greed, for jobs, for subsidies, for pay raises, for purchasing at prices well above prevailing market prices, and then the inability to lock up the crooks that represent most of Mahinda’s hangers on.

No person, without unwholesome theft from the people or driven by greed wish to follow MR. I find it hard to find a competent person who is free of baggage who is willing to support a return of MR. It is simply the people who were enriched personally by the MR regime who are now making a comeback, THANKS to YAHA PALANAYA. If we had the similar brutish regime of MR all these jokers will be in jail, or worse killed in broad daylight, when they were taken out to show the loot they have allegedly stolen!

It is very important for a human being to question his humanity, when he wishes to defend the MR regime, as it is NOT defendable in any moral or righteous sense of the word. The way in which this Country has been sold off with regard to any exploitable resource, is simply unconscionable. It is simply pure treachery against a Sovereign State that this whole bunch of dealers who support Mahinda Rajapakse are guilty of.

The simple and logical sentence for this is simply the firing squad. For those who should face this sentence to have the gall to continue to back this abomination for a human being, who enabled this Country, along with Maithripala Sirisena’s family to squeeze every ounce of wealth from the Country, and its people, to use the redemption of war, when after the war, more people have perished out of their greed subsequently, and we continue to pull the wool over the people’s eyes by misinformation, is not forgivable.

I am concerned for my Country, for a future for our children! They are culpable of taking Rs2M from each person they put on a boat to Australia, when they should be preventing them leaving!! To vote these worms back into lead this Country for even a second makes me sick to the stomach. The fact that we can write in freedom is due to THIS Govt., whilst the white Van for those opposing was THAT Govt., so do we want “that” Govt.?

Anything is better than the past. Now there is hope when there was NONE. For pompous writers to back a claim otherwise is simply obnoxious, putrid and deranged.

Dissect this piece of perfidy at your own leisure, to realize that we still have people of this ilk breathing on this land, supporting a regime that is beyond human. Make your choice!     

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Desperate Need for a new Media Culture in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known as the place where “Arakku Botalayata Liyana Warthakaru” live, and we must change that!

Except for a few talented young females, like Dharisha Bastians, who was able to remove  the hollow Emperor Mahinda’s clothes by her writing skills for the FT, there are hardly any noteworthy reporters, especially in Sinhala, which is the language that matters for the masses, and which could change National Opinion, and more importantly attempt to educate this Mass of the basic principles of right and wrong, and thereby able to see good or evil of the actions of our  largely unscrupulous politicians.

Investigative Journalism, no easy art, and that which requires resources from a visionary Newspaper Owner to subsidize the cost of an investigation, is also sorely lacking in Sri Lanka.

It is also obvious that the end is nigh for many newspapers unable to survive due to the severe loss of Govt. advertising that kept them afloat for so long, and this advertising, bought the compliance of the papers, and their prostitute owners and editors to the cause of an increasing corrupt regime, with no scruples, morals or a care that they were wasting the current and future resources of the Country with their un-adulterated profligacy.

This strategy is further compounded by the fact that after the Tsunami that resulted in the Regime Change on January 8th, this gaggle of journalists have NOT been able to educate the readers to the obviously better environment for THEM, and therefore sing the praises of the ethos of this regime as compared with that of the previous. Instead they are merely using their new found freedom to present the MR point of view whenever they can, as that is permitted now, and blow up minor transgressions of the regime at every step, without reminding the readers, that they pale in comparison to the big time transgressions of the previous regime that they were prevented from reporting on, and which in comparison was grossly unforgivable.

It is time for a journalistic code of ethics that also require a compulsory program of study, and those who attain the highest knowledge are guaranteed a minimum monthly of Rs50,000, creating a culture of person, not dependent on being paid off by some unscrupulous politico, or business man NOT to report their wrongdoings but rise above that to report that which is for the public good.

We also have to educate the public in the ability to reason, as otherwise, like now they accept what they see, read and hear as gospel, and are NOT critical enough to analyze the angle of reportage. I know the international media are also not free from Bias, and they too have an agenda. However we have every reason to rise above that, and realize that we serve the local public to whom we OWE a sense of duty to report that which is right. This public then will have more faith in this profession, will create quality journalists who will join this profession, and eventually work to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Sri Lanka, by highlighting the wrong doings and prevention of the destruction of the environment and improving the caliber of those going into politics and bring an overall holistic improvement to all aspects of Sri Lankan life, a desperate need in a society, that is deteriorating, in whatever aspect one does a comparison of, beginning with the absence of being able to distinguish right from wrong.   

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Freedom of the Press confronts the inability of meeting Election Promises

The people who seem to vote for goodies for themselves, and NOT for the goodness of their Country, I suppose the natural effect of a give me give me political culture are now fed up with this Govt.

It is not enough that the fuel prices were reduced, food items of a significant bunch of necessities were reduced, state employees pay was increased significantly now pensions were increased along with the welfare benefits for the really poor, that people want the balance too!!

So now they are fighting that the Mahapola Scholarship is not up to Rs5,000 yet when it was set to go into effect in May, and that the Paddy is not purchased at the promised prices, as the money has now run dry, and the limit per individual is 2000kg, and no one it seems is receiving the Rs80/kg promise for bought leaf tea, (instead selling to traders at Rs52/kg) or Rs350/kg for latex rubber (instead selling at Rs220/kg) and that 3 wheel fares have not been forcibly brought down! And the reduced prices for a cup of tea has left most restaurants refuse to sell them as they cannot make a profit at controlled prices.

It what our people have not got that they harp on about, not that we now live in an environment of freedom. We can do anything and say anything, and Govt. waste and corruption has definitely been reduced saving the people at least Rs500M a day. That figure that will reduce our national debt by that every day, DOES NOT AMOUNT TO A HILL OF BEANS TO OUR MISINFORMED AND ILL EDUCATED PEOPLE who would rather we further indebted ourselves so they get what they want!!!!!!

I am speechless at having to explain this logic to people, who only want what was promised, and don’t care if MR returns and borrow Billions more dollars to feed this insatiable appetite of our people for further benefits, short term, but set to satisfy.

On the front of bringing crooks to book, the objections are where are all those Lamborghinis, and helicopters? and why aren’t all the crooks in jail? because they got used to White Vans and Abductions and killings while running from the law and never protested that innocent until proven guilty was even required! Do they want to hear that MR was killed while running away when he was going to show where he had hidden the billions of kgs of gold stolen from the LTTE holdings? If that is so then we live in a cruel world of cynics, ungrateful imbeciles, and greedy humans that don’t care a damn how much this country has been ruined by one family that treated everyone and everything as their personal property, and dealt severely with people whose views deferred to theirs.

The Govt has a huge image problem because even their owned media, in the interests of fair play is giving sufficient face time to Govt. critics, something MR never allowed, and people with short memories have refused to give credit for. Picking on a minor governance issue on the Bond trading scandal, when a major one where the Executive was controlled by one brother, and the legislature by another brother for 10 years was bad governance of the worst kind. We know the complete lack of parliamentary democracy in 10 years of MR rule and people have the cheek to even suggest that things were better under his administration, tells a lot of the psyche of our dear citizens steeped in ignorance and fed on lies! God help us!     

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The shocking revelations of the Rajapakse Cronyism Era

 still does NOT cause sufficient outrage amongst a very pliant populace: Do they need their heads examined?

Thus the fact that Mahinda Rajapakse even dares to make asinine statements, and worse reported by a media incapable of analyzing the psychological game he is attempting, and enlightening the populace to ironies of his statements, adds to the frustration that sane people have to the actions of the Fourth Estate.

After all while it is normal that a sitting Government is fair game for the media, the unnatural attention is given to a despot who is desperate to redeem himself in an environment where people still appear to be so foolish as to give him the benefit of the doubt. The wholesale destruction of the Country in the past 10 years is now coming to light, where all attempts at reversing this environmental outrage, was actually prevented by a culture of cronies who did not care a damn for the Country but just for self, cannot be denied.

Just read the two links above to even get a taste of if MR could be even forgiven for being ignorant of the goings on! Not at all, he just cannot deny all knowledge as much of the actions were purely and simply for the benefit of the his immediate family, and so they were the direct beneficiaries of not appointing people on merit to the Foreign Service or allowing his philandering Brother-in law make an absolute ass of himself in levels of abuse which in the UK would put him in jail for a few lifetimes!

This shameless approach where the sycophants DON’T find anything wrong with this behavior is at the heart of the psyche of many Sri Lankans who have grown up, simply unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

We as a country have to go back to basics to teach morality to our citizens, and even begin to retrain our teachers on basic ethics, as parents are simply unable to teach their children due to a huge parenting void created by the social upheaval of the workplace where there are large numbers in foreign lands, and an equally large number in jobs where they have to live away from their children, whose home location determines where they go to school, and their parent’s jobs which in most state sector jobs, involve relocation every 5 years as part of the transfer and promotion systems in public service, and the children stay put.

Simply put 70% of school age children DO NOT have a mother or father at home during the school week!!! That is a startling fact, where just one parent and in many instances just an aunt or grandparent takes care of the child. The child therefore does not get the care and love of both parents, and we are breeding a society of irrational, uncontrollable and deviant children left to fend for themselves. No wonder that the drop out rate amongst boys is so high, and society does very little to reverse this fall into the abyss. I digress, but the Rajapakse regime merely did not understand this and did not care, as that was NOT EVEN a priority.           

Monday, March 30, 2015

There is a crisis in the Diplomatic Service – a temporary solution must be found!

With the recall of the friends and family syndrome of the past Regime, where over 50 heads and deputy heads of mission have been recalled, there is a huge vacuum within the Country’s foreign missions of vacancies that currently do not even have temporary staffers filling in the roles. This has created a serious problem in our handling of important Diplomatic Issues as it relates to the Country, in a period of critical need for notifying our friendly Countries as to what is going on within this political process in Sri Lanka.

For example a Leader of a Country or his Foreign Minister may have read in the news about this National Govt. consisting of Governing and Opposition Members, in Sri Lanka and require some explanation as to what is going on, and how they can understand the new structures.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the current incumbents in the missions at Counsellor level have NO CLUE as to how to explain the recent events. A senior diplomat in the form of an Ambassador or his deputy would be sufficiently well versed in the political upheavals to explain to them how this unique system of Govt. has come about after the earth shattering changes that took place after the 8th January Presidential Elections, when a sudden seismic shift or irruption for the better, quite unprecedented in democratic governance, took place.

I am certain that many Countries would wish Sri Lanka to go on this new route to democracy, but due to the inability of our foreign service to engage in an analysis and explanation, they have not been able to give our new democratic order the needful encouragement and support.

These things happen just once in a lifetime, and if we miss the bus, there is no method of recouping the lost time. It is therefore essential that the External Affairs Ministry NOT DILLY DALLY, but pick on a list of capable people with a clear and unblemished track record, even from Industry or respected people to fill these roles, until the Foreign Service can train and have sufficient capable people to fill these positions in the longer term.

It would take the Foreign Service a minimum of 5 years to train and get the right carder to the level of competence needed for these positions and posts, so it is necessary to pick on respectable leaders, preferably not from the Services or Tri forces to lead this charge on behalf of the new Government. Please be on notice that for the sake of Good Governance family members of serving Ministers and MPs must at all costs be excluded.

I am not sure if the Ministers at this level, are waiting for the Elections to be done and dusted to fill these positions, as that would be too late, as time really is of the essence. Some say recalling all these Ambassadors at once created the problem in the first place, but I defer, as that was a necessary evil.

Sri Lanka is NOT short of intellectuals and people of stature that could fill these roles, until career diplomats can be trained to the level necessary. They are just waiting for the call to serve their country, and I am sure that any criticisms can be avoided, if the basic checks of people’s reputation and credibility and family connections can be are done first. I realize that with the free press we now enjoy, it is difficult for even the new Govt. to realize that they must be on notice for any potential conflict, whether real or imagined, but the risk is necessary!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The drag of Govt. Employment to Sri Lanka’s development!

It should come as NO SECRET to the people of Sri Lanka, that what seems to the people to be a great and wonderful policy of the 10 years of Mahinda Rajapakse rule to stuff an already bloated state sector with 600,000 new jobs (yes 600K) has been one of the greatest tragedies of Sri Lankan Govt. policy, more so than the 30 year war that cost 100,000 lives.

To carry this deadweight in public sector, NOT ONLY means we have to pay salaries, pensions and other benefits to people in State Service, but we DEPRIVE the private sector of workforce.

There is always the added attraction for those NOT in state service to go overseas too, due to the remuneration levels offered and the false incentives given to people who look at income over social upheaval and family destruction.

Due to this anomaly the Private Sector suffers from a double whammy, and I would say triple whammy due to inflexible employment laws, that prevent increasing the carder in the private sector as the ENGINE of the Economic Growth we so want to see for Sri Lanka.

200,000 jobs going abegging is not something to sniff at, as it is a serious labor shortage in Sri Lanka. Companies are leaving our shores to build factories in Bangladesh and India where labor is less costly, and with the added problem of labor immobility, and high price required to be paid for mobility, creates further labor market inflexibility.

Of course the MR Govt. made a huge political miscalculation in that it believed the people who got jobs in the MR Public sector, would be faithful voters for him. Further their greed showed, that when they were offered Rs10,000 increase by the new Govt. they were lured to that lucre, even though the new Govt. must regret making this offer, as it hugely expensive to keep! This further affecting the Private Sector ability to compete, and immense pressure the Private Sector now finds itself with their labor for wage increases that could bankrupt many a company.

So what are the alternatives or options available that are politically acceptable to the people? Therein lies the rub. The New Prime Minister, has said he is setting policies such that 1M jobs will be created in his administration, by encouraging the creation of employment in the private sector, though he has NOT mentioned this due to our aversion to work in that sector.

I distinctly recall him saying he wants 500,000 more entrepreneurs or self employment jobs created, using the innate talent of our people to build their own businesses, if they are shown the way, and SME loans are freely given for this.

Sri Lanka is a middle income country now. However many of the benefits have NOT reached at least 50% of the population. This can only be done, if huge productivity improvements are made in the agricultural sector, and Universities churn out skilled graduates in sectors of vacancies and NOT surpluses. Then the pressure on the Public sector would diminish, and within 5 years 500,000 state jobs can simply disappear out of normal attrition, and in a population that is NOT growing anymore, we can absorb the new entrants into the workforce into the private sector, with the Public sector savings, achieve the goals we set ourselves.   

Friday, March 27, 2015

The search for permanence in Employment! Job Security is paramount so lets price it right!

I had an instance today, where a young lady came to me for a job, where what she wanted above all was permanence of that employment! (Isthira rakiawak) She currently has a job where she likes her work, and has been at it for over a year, but it is NOT permanent. She could be let go at any time. So she wants one that she cannot be fired!!! This is the Sri Lankan job search psyche, and results in a lot of inefficiencies in the labor market. (marriage material)

This has been further exacerbated by this Government which has introduced a Rs10,000 a month extra for government servants when some in the private sector struggle to earn Rs10,000 as a basic wage. This has added a further very debilitative effect to an already rigid labor market, where an overloaded state sector is bleeding this country dry, with people who are not carrying their weight in that sector, and there are 200,000+ vacancies in the private sector that go unfilled, as there is no demand by the labor to take those jobs, either because they are not permanent! Or they pay too little, or they are not sufficiently dignified for those who they wish to attract. Further there is skills mismatch, where there are not sufficiently skilled people to fill the vacancy, at the higher level, while at the same time there is a brain drain of the self same skills to pastures new, as the terms of employment are not sufficiently attractive to retain these people. These are all factors in the current labor model, where the price point at which people will work, even if they are unemployed, is very high, for most people, due to the social insurances of living with family, entail livelihood security despite the lack of personal income.

Getting back to the theme I wish to introduce, due to the premium put on permanence, and the rigid labor laws, that make the private sector very wary of giving permanent jobs, THERE MUST be a lower pay grade for the Govt. job, NOT HIGHER! That is the challenge facing Sri Lanka today. People’s quest for permanent employment, and the public sector is the only one that possibly give some of these guarantees, should pay less. Only then will working in the private sector become more attractive.

I am inundated with people in the private sector seeking Govt. jobs, it is beyond comical, as it is the apparent employment security that the people are hankering after. So then pay them less. The other challenge, where it is held that Govt servants take bribes because they are paid less is also hogwash. They take bribes purely due to the bad example set in their service, not that they are badly paid, especially as they are simply greedy, and the offerings hard to decline!

Do not mix that with the fact that a PS member is only paid Rs10,000 where he takes bribes to supplement his meager income, and pay of his debts for winning office. They surely need a living wage to desist from taking bribes, not the current crop of Govt. servants. There are a few anomalies, like for judges, where unless they are paid a lot more, one will not get many with unquestionable superiority, who wish to serve in these positions, as being a lawyer is far more lucrative. That however is due to the profession itself that has gone out of its way to mislead the people who they serve, to enhance their remuneration, (read: cheat the public of life and limb by charging too much and dragging the cases for far too long)

Unless this anomaly is rectified, and supply and demand is matched, we will have this perception gap, that will affect free labor movement to fill the vacancies in the labor force.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Noise pollution in Public BUSES – Public Nuisance

I made an emergency day trip as some urgent work cropped up in Office in Colombo, while I had taken a few days off to work at my own and more productive  pace at my forest retreat in Ratmale. So I took the 5.15am bus (SLTB) from Kaduruwela to Colombo, which arrived in Colombo at 11.30 am! The Fare was only Rs249 so the Conductor famous for no change keeps the change out of Rs250.

The problem was that I unfortunately found the seat right under the speaker of this new State Bus, and the music was put on so loud, that 6 hours later when I had alighted, I was almost deaf!!!  There is NO other word to explain, but torture of the worst kind that I had to endure throughout the journey.

I know the people of Sri Lanka like to enjoy music at all times even sleeping time! However this decibel range, should be punishable, but more importantly today’s youth the driver must have been twenty something, realize that there are other people who are not in the same mold. I think consideration of others is severely lacking in youth today, as they are NOT parented and no one shows them the way of right and wrong and consideration of to others who may not be in the same frame of mind as them.

It is due to this social ill, that we may need rules to ensure that the peace of the average person is not severely disrupted by ignorance, and callousness at the extreme.

Personally, I don’t know for whose benefit this music is? Is it for the Driver and Conductor who are used, want, and immune? Or for the passenger who is harassed, and cannot even speak on a mobile phone for this shriek at the back. My ears were ringing when I got off the bus.

Another point to note that those who make the rules DON’T travel by bus. The secretaries in the Transport or the Ministers, who are blissfully unaware of this interference to people’s basic rights. Further the commuters themselves don’t realize they can make a stand. They are not strong enough, and their organization does not take this into consideration, when making other demands, or don’t believe this is sufficiently important.

The result is that thousands, no hundreds of thousands of us travelers daily are inconvenienced by this roar during the journey and seem to accept as inevitable and one they cannot do anything about. I would see if we can have NO sound designated buses, then if there will be a clamor, or no drivers to drive, as they need this as part of the opium for them to drive!!!

I returned on the same evening on the 7.15 train that dropped me off Gal Oya junction at 1am making it an exhausting journey, but well worth the experience to comment on how to improve both bust travel and train travel in Sri Lanka. The treatment of public with respect in public transport provided at a far higher level is important, as they are paying customers, and they should get their money’s worth! The train trip was Rs480 with a seat booked in third class sleeperette, and there it was lit right throughout the night, there were fans, and reclining seats, and in a sense a much more pleasant journey, as the express just stops at Gampaha, Polgahawela, Kurunegala, Maho Junction, Kala Wewa, Kekirawa! Still even that takes an age, and I would have preferred a sleeper in 1st class to rest my tired body, but this was the only seat available on reserved train!