All posts by gaya

A Must-see: N.O.W an art exhibition by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran

 

Siva is an artist,  survivor, citizen and a human most extraordinary.  His work is a testimony to how the human mind with artistic expression can transcend the violence of war, the other myriad constraints and negotiations that await the unsuspecting human and the navigation of pain and moving beyond. 

Do share this post, and drop in at the theertha Red Dot Gallery from today the 6 March to 21st and say hello from Gaya if you do! Am gutted to have missed out and to be locked out of the island especially at times like this!

Siva is my friend and always will be. Since I shared his first solo exhibition Stranded in March 2016 on this website, five years ago, I decided that Siva’s new exhibition will be my attempt to revive this iSrilankan space where middle-of-the-roaders wrote their thoughts and we connected across the planet in a struggling post-war mindset. 

Somethings change in Sri Lanka but there are they who remain constant. And this has saved our souls in ways that we can only be thankful for. 

Siva’s story may also be found here as he told it to me five years ago

5 years ago the national anthem was sung in two languages: Happy Independence to Diverse Srilanka!

This post was published five years ago on Independence Day 4th Feb, 2016. It was a historic moment when the national anthem was sung in Thamil for the first time. I recorded below the contributions of those in and outside Sri Lanka and in some ways nothing changes, the maskeliya views, the people’s desires and the sentiment, no not even the bad stuff that muddies up the picture changes. Reviving this space, I bring you the first then and now snapshot! 

depps
Maskeliya, Sri Lanka. Image Credits: Deepthi Peiris,

So we got our land back from the British and before that the Dutch and Portuguese. It’s one hell of a land with mind-blowing pics of each strand of sea n foam, pasture and plain, paddyfield and rubber estate, coconut palms to the south and palmyrah to the north, sunrise on white sands in Nilaveli, the gorgeous Arugam Bay and Passekudah, and sunset on Galle Face and golden sands of Mount Lavinia to Bentota.
Continue reading 5 years ago the national anthem was sung in two languages: Happy Independence to Diverse Srilanka!

Sri Lankan–Africans from Puttalam: visiting my “long-lost relatives”!

MARYANNE KOODA

[Maryanne wrote this in her inimitable style many years ago. But the comments kept rolling in and I am thankful for saving this piece for anyone who is interested in the hidden histories of our people and their ways]

Along a narrow trail that wound a short distance from the Puttalam /Anuradhapura road, lay the quiet village we were searching for.  We reach Sirambiandiya after a four hour trip by bus from Colombo.  We are unsure of what type of reception we will get, as the research we had done on them, told of a people who were fed up of being treated like a circus freak show!

The knowledge of their existence has since been publicised by musical performances at the Barefoot Café,  so the novelty had worn off. Yet we were still interested in meeting them, despite the possibility that they may be wary of visitors. We took the chance and were delighted to find them open and friendly.

Continue reading Sri Lankan–Africans from Puttalam: visiting my “long-lost relatives”!

Eight years ago: Batti 2012 Divided by Date Trees, United by a Net Café

Batti, 2012: Another insight into the beyond-Colombo life of Srilankans by the forthright Sandya Salgado 

 

SANDYA SALGADO:

Batticaloa District, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka is an ethnically diverse city with a population of approximately 490,000. The three decade old civil war wreaked havoc in this beautiful coastal town where the majority of the people are Tamil (74.5%) with a smaller Muslim (23.5%) and a Sinhala (1.3%) community living amidst some amount of tension over their ethnic differences.

 Driving into Batticaloa town was a pleasant surprise for me after almost ten years. The bustling town was visually coming alive with the excellent road network that made the long drive from Colombo a real pleasure. Well-constructed roads, the new and gleaming centre median lamp-posts and the ongoing construction work painted a very positive feeling about the overall development of downtown Batticaloa, which was a welcome change for me. Batticaloa town’s landscape was surely changing. Needless to say I was wowed!

Manchanthoduvai, a village passing down town Batticaloa was my destination beyond Ariyampathi and Kaaththankudi. As I passed Ariyampathy, I was suddenly struck by a unique landscape. I drove through an arch in the middle of the road and the rows of center median lamp posts were replaced by beautiful date trees from this point onwards.

Continue reading Eight years ago: Batti 2012 Divided by Date Trees, United by a Net Café

Five years ago: ‘Stranded’ an art exhibition (and so much more) by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran

Five years ago, Siva called me up and said ‘please can you do a post for my exhibition?’ That was this post on Stranded which he exhibited in Jaffna.  Today, am waiting for another call from Siva to create a post on his N.O.W exhibition which is at the Theertha Red Dot Gallery on 6 March 2021. It is incredible to think of how one phone call could have created an encounter. But we Sri Lankans have not snuffed out that ‘energy’ to ‘initiate’ ‘create’ and ‘encounter’ all by our own wee selves. Yes, from all over the world. We are here! 

Stranded 1STRANDED: by Sivasubramanium Kajendran

Première at  2.30 pm on 28th March at the Art Gallery, University of Fine Arts, Jaffna.

Exhibition dates: 28th March-1st April 2016.

I still hear Siva’s strong voice as he concluded our conversation a little while ago with the words ‘give my regards to your family.’ Bitterly ironic, given what Siva has left to call his own.

Continue reading Five years ago: ‘Stranded’ an art exhibition (and so much more) by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran

‘I can’t remember my sister’s face’ – the story behind ‘Stranded’ by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran

BY GAYA FERNANDO

Stories find you and not the other way around sometimes—Siva Kaja’s story just burst on me without warning. It was not a by-the-book introduction. He sent me a photo of his exhibition STRANDED on FB and I asked him to send me a write-up that I could share with my friends in Sri Lanka.

‘Call me and I will tell you the story behind my exhibition’, he said, and – little realizing that he would find it hard to convey the meaning in written English – I insisted that he write something first.
Continue reading ‘I can’t remember my sister’s face’ – the story behind ‘Stranded’ by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran

Interview with Tanuja Turairajah on the making of Project Belonging

Living as a migrant for the first time in Zürich, Tanuja Thurairajah found herself thinking about the narratives that people were exposed to in their daily life.

“When I came here I met other Tamils, but somehow I felt that they reached out to a different narrative and I reached out to a different narrative…”

Continue reading Interview with Tanuja Turairajah on the making of Project Belonging

In memory of Nandakka!

KASUNI THEWARAPPERUMA

180072_499196102580_2336557_nA little remembrance on this day for Nandakka.

For some, she might have been a servant, but to us she was family. That’s why we called her Nanda-akka (Nanda-big sister). She carried my dad when he was a baby and she looked after us. Cooked like a demon and was a friend to our late aunty who never married (like herself). Feisty as a chili on fire, but she was a good sort.

KasuniOnce you asked me what I would do if you died. I said ‘I’ll cry so hard’. When I heard that you passed away, I did sit under a tree in the backyard and cried. I miss your funny laugh, you tiny hair bun, and walking to the market holding your hand.

Hope you rest in peace.

Nandakka passed away on 14.02.2011

 

 

Gaya’s note: First in a series of posts on undomesticated domestics! In the Wild West, when we say we had domestics, people don’t know what to think. But those relationships just widen your circle of reference as a child, reveal the bold and ugliness of life and the sweet indulgences one takes as the privilege of the Baba in the house. It won’t hold up well through the lens of social science perhaps, or ethics, but where all things raw and beautiful thrived in Sri Lanka, the steps, the back verandahs and rattan chairs where they sat, the mats they laid on and the stories and yarns they spun, with many an advice and sarky retort from a beetle-chewing gum or rasping throaty voice- dulcet tones, they had not. Thank God for them! RIP all!

A Masters worth its Salt: Master of Development Practice, Peradeniya Uni

GAYA FERNANDO

[Re-posting this from 2012 Dec ]

Some people get into development work without a clue as to what it’s all about. They joined up to a corps of people who wanna make the world a better place. That’s fine.

Then there are professionals who slog away at commercial jobs and half-way take a break, unwind in the mountains or beaches of Sri Lanka and wonder if this is all there is to life. Then they apply with their corporate skills and experience for jobs in the non-profit sector. That’s great!

Some people are very career-minded and would like to start out with a degree in an area that will give them experience in working with communities and are interested in the concept of sustainable development.  That’s wonderful !

Oh yes, and what about the experienced employees in NGOs who think they are too ‘senior’ to come into a University classroom and take on a challenge sitting beside the young hopefuls twenty-something but are crazy about getting a Masters in the area of work they love?

Well, all of you are absolutely welcome !

Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya

“Sri Lanka and its neighbours face compelling challenges as they move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the context of pursuing a sustainable development agenda. These include threats from climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, demographic change, persistent and substantial levels of poverty and malnutrition especially in lagging regions and among vulnerable groups. Addressing these complex issues requires professionals with many areas of core knowledge, practical skills and an interdisciplinary approach” MDP, Peradeniya University website

Why it is innovative and unique

There are some features of this MDP that make it an incredibly practical and workable challenge to those committed to development. They are not listed in order of importance.

FIRST, the MDP is open to those who may not have a University degree but instead may be able to meet the equivalent in terms of experience. We could give you a few courses you may need but the gates are not barred; they are open.

SECOND,  the MDP is conducted entirely on weekends so those who are working full-time as most of us do, can travel up to Peradeniya on the weekends when lectures are held.

THIRD, it’s just great that the MDP is inter-disciplinary, drawing on humanities, social sciences, management, law, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, to name a few. And this inter-disciplinary thinking gets you good marks with UN and NGOs, non-profit sector as the work at hand demands this perspective rather than expertise in one discipline.

FOURTH, the MDP can place the students in ‘placements’ for their field work in unique locations and working with top-notch Development orgs, the range and scope of which cannot be rivalled by any other Masters in this field.

FIFTH, the faculty, the liaisons and connections with Columbia University and the global network makes this Masters a valuable experience and one that will give you the insight and professional knowledge to further your career and to expand your perspectives on Sustainable Development.

Applications for the following academic year 2016/17 are NOW OPEN  Dec-Feb. Please see the student resources page on the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Applications Page.

Student Testimonials :

“when I found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and yes, I thought this is it!”  Natasha Yatawara. Read her story from Gambia in this interview.

The Master of Development Practice is a programme in 17 countries.  The Peradeniya University is one of the five Asian universities to be included in the global MDP network. It’s a Masters programme worth its salt. iSrilankan is proud to promote its benefits to the Sri Lankan local and international student community.

Like the MDP Facebook Page  right away and you can keep up with the news and updates easily.

The images of Peradeniya University above and the collage below are credited to Kalpa Rajapaksha