Friends, no doubt many of you have eaten at Lentil as Anything, the several restaurants where the cost of the meal, if anything, is determined by the diner. Their founder, Shanaka Fernando, travelled to Australia from his native Sri Lanka to study law, but — smart enough to get in, and smart enough to get out — quickly forged a different path. He used to be my across the road neighbour and impressed me as a serious and charismatic individual with sufficient eccentricity and joie de vivre to avoid sanctimoniousness. Having written that, I wonder to myself whether what I am trying to say is — relax: there is not an inch of hippy about him. Maybe. Anyway, it’s true: he plays tennis, gets about in a convertible, and is in training to be the first Sri Lankan to climb Mount Everest.
He was awarded the ridiculously named Australia Day Honour ‘Local Hero’ — quite a high award in the pantheon of these things — not so long ago, and tonight was — along with the Dalai Lama — a guest judge on Master Chef. Being on holiday, I uncharacteristically watched, and was reminded of the failed attempt at a live TV joke during the Dalai Lama’s recent Melbourne tour which made its way to Boing Boing, probably the world’s most popular blog (The Dalai Lama goes into a pizza shop and says ‘Make me one with everything’, which is kind of funny even though ‘being at one with everything’ is a Zen and not a Tibetan buddhist concept).
I like that Lentil as Anything is still going strong, and like that it provides hospitality industry experience and a panoply of other support to refugees and other recent arrivals to our shores. (The Dalai Lama must like it too because he invited Shanaka to come onto the show.) And I also like that they make unpredictably good coffee at the Abbotsford Convent, just down the road from me. Their lease is up for renewal by the good folk at the Convent, and Shanaka is looking for a lawyer to have a look at the text of a lease, pro bono. The Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) is unable to provide a referral to a pro bono leasing lawyer because they have a conflict — presumably they have referred the not for profit organisation which runs the Convent to a lawyer over the same negotiation. There is no controversy I am aware of; it’s a simple gig for a lawyer who knows their way around leases. If you can assist, and are such a lawyer, please let me know, and I will pass on your details to Shanaka.