Interview with the Vampyr — a Sri Lankan Mercenary in Iraq

A private military contractor in Iraq (Ed Kashi/Corbis).
A private military contractor in Iraq (Ed Kashi/Corbis).

I walk into the bar at the Sapphire, knowing I’m early for this interview, but I don’t want to keep my contact waiting. He’s obviously a busy man, but has been convinced by a mutual friend to give me half an hour of his time.

The bar itself has a certain well-worn charm that reminds one of friendly little pubs in Europe — all dark wood, fake leather and dim, smoky corners. Except that there’s no smoke anymore. Sri Lanka’s draconian anti-tobacco laws have banished smoking to a glass-walled cage at the far end of the room. I curse softly and park myself in a cubicle, ordering a gin-and-tonic, and wait for the man.

The place is more or less empty — it’s not yet 6pm — and ten minutes later, I’m on my second G&T, when he walks in. Or at least I assume it’s him. I’ve no clue what he looks like, though he should recognize me since I mailed him the link to my blog the day before. It’s all a bit James Bondish, and I feel quite silly until he spots me and veers over to the cubicle.

Major Rohan — I’ve agreed to use only his first name, and not take any pictures — shakes my hand and sits down. He’s a big guy in his late thirties, close to six feet, but athletically built, with shortish hair and skin that’s negro black from long hours in the sun. He’s dressed in a short-sleeve button-down shirt and jeans, and looks exactly what he is — a businessman out for an informal drink. Continue reading “Interview with the Vampyr — a Sri Lankan Mercenary in Iraq”

Who’ll Stop the Rain?

Long as I remember, the rain’s been coming down
Clouds of mystery pouring confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages trying to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?
I went down to Virginia, seeking shelter from the storm
Caught up in a fable, I watched the towers grow
Five-year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains
And I wonder, still i wonder, who’ll stop the rain?
Heard the singers playing, how we cheered for more
The crowd rushed together, trying to keep warm
Still the rain kept pouring, falling on my ears
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?

— Creedence Clearwater Revival Continue reading “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”

The War of the Claymores

The Claymore directional fragmentation mine seems to have captured everyone’s imagination lately as a sort of all-purpose magic weapon. We’ve seen it accused of the attempted assassination of Gota Rajapakse, the attempted bus bombing in Pettah, the Hotel Nippon bombing in Slave Island last week, as well as the Col Charles assassination yesterday (6th January). Google Grenadiers and other armchair warriors wax eloquoent about the mine’s magical capabilities, extolling it as the perfect way to Win The War — the Hind gunship, long-range sniper, and the LRRPs, have all had this supernatural status bestowed on them from time to time. Continue reading “The War of the Claymores”