Category Archives: Discover

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

‘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

In Benghazi today or Jaffna then, the teachers kept on teaching despite the shelling!

The BBC reported this today on a school reopening in Beghazi

“I hope my country can find a way forward. By opening the school, we’re trying to establish some kind of normality here. Despite this war, despite all the destruction, we are still keeping on. We need to live. We need a future for our country. We need peace and safety. Enough of war, enough. For the future of our children, enough.”
Fauzia Mukhtar Abeid, head teacher of a school on the border of Libya

This reminded me of what the Jaffna teacher said …

Continue reading In Benghazi today or Jaffna then, the teachers kept on teaching despite the shelling!

Do you remember Johnny Batta? The irony of it all…

A comment on De-Mining Sri Lanka: A Job for Widows and Survivors

Screen shot 2016-01-19 at 11.40.22 AMRead Smriti Daniel’s article on Al-Jazeera published on 12 January 2016. Enter a world you didn’t know existed, but one which Vimaleswaran Gunamala, Ananda Chandrasiri, Damian O’ Brien of the HALO trust —and even His Excellency the British High Commissioner James Dauris, who previously in Columbia knew de-mining and HALO’s work and visited Kilinochchi last May—are fully aware of.

This is Mahumalai, Kilinochchi in the baking heat of a northern sun.

The LTTE laid a circle of explosives around a well where soldiers might stop for water or in the gardens of homes they abandoned to the advancing Sri Lankan army. Mines have been found in pots of curd and plastic cricket bats.

Continue reading Do you remember Johnny Batta? The irony of it all…

A mother’s tribute to her community !

 

Natalie Soysa: A Mother’s tribute to her CMB Community from iSrilankan on Vimeo

 

NATALIE SOYSA

 

I’ve often complained about everybody knowing everybody’s business in too-small Colombo.
Today, I’m ready to eat my words.
I am bringing up my son in what you would call a single-parent household.
But there’s never really been just a single parent in my home.
I thought the benefit of being a photographer meant that my son’s every moment would be frozen in time.
Juggling a camera and baby was not as as easy as it looked, but I still have so many pictures of him!
And its only because he’s always in someone’s arms!
So many different arms have come to spend time with him, play with him, dance with him, change him, bathe him and feed him.
My son doesn’t have a single parent, he has a village.
Its been a wonderful reminder that humans are essentially pack animals and not isolated family units.
My son is being community raised and he’s going to be all the better for it.
This is a tribute to all the arms that have held my son close, reminding him that he is loved.
This is a tribute to my community.

 

Words & Photographs – Natalie Soysa

 

Bio

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Natalie Soysa in her own words : I am a freelance photographer and journalist based in Sri Lanka who quit a 13 year career in advertising in 2010 to pick up a camera and head off on what most would call a fool’s journey.

After a few photography & photojournalism projects that feature the post-war explosion of arts & culture in the country, this June, I will be taking over as new Manager-Arts at the British Council.

Most importantly – I’m an incurable Star Wars geek.

Visit Natalie’s about me page for more info.

 

 

 

Photo by Indu Bandara

 

 

 

Ravi has one beautiful eye!

GAYA FERNANDO

 

Journeys start with chance encounters and deliberate action; both are needed.  Nothing just happens and wherever there are dire survival needs there is also an energy to make like-minded people set out on a journey together.

 

 How I met the little children

 

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I met Tharindu Amunugama at a rather noisy festive location in Colombo in August 2011. It didn’t take long to find out his inspiration in life: the Children’s project he believed in which his Chairman Mano Nanayakkara had launched titled Glorious Jaffna. I had seen the book.   Curious, I watched the Youtube vid of the launch and there was something about the ‘Wheel-Chairman’ and his commitment that was riveting. Had I not heard this name before? Maybe as a young lawyer at Paul Ratnayeke’s I may have, but I didn’t ask anyone about it and pledged to support two kids in the project in the name of my own two kids in 2012.

When Trehan sent me the pictures of the kids I chose the little boy cos he had one eye and the little girl cos there was an angry expression on her face as though she did not realise that a smile would help her case. Nor care.

Continue reading Ravi has one beautiful eye!

And so it is.

 

The Sri Lanka Diaries blog


My first glimpse of Sri Lanka was from the aircraft.

Having forgotten to carry a book amidst all the hustle-bustle of carrying and checking in multiple bags, I was on my third perusal of the surprisingly well-written JetWings magazine when I happened to look out at the exact moment the plane was flying over the little strip of ocean between India and Sri Lanka.

It’s an amazing sight – one I haven’t been lucky enough to see before: bright blue ocean meets vibrant green land. It’s all very Google-maps, except it’s actually right under you!

What struck me right away (and I venture to say that it’s probably what strikes most folks) about Sri Lanka was the green.Read more at  Sri Lanka Diaries 

 

Gaya: Sri Lanka Diaries is the only name I have for her at present but soon she will tell me her name on iSrilankan when we have that  papaya juice at the Barefoot Cafe with the lady in person. She is in her own words  ‘An Indian on the serendipitous island of Sri Lanka, discovering life and the world, one day at a time!’

This is her first post arriving in her new home Sri Lanka. Through her words I once more marvel at serendipity.  I love featuring non-Srilankans living in the island who write good crazy-honest stuff and are fearless gutsy wanderers. Strange thing is, so far they are both women 😉 but I have hope that some good men will turn up !!

 

The face of Sri Lanka : postures, gestures and smiles

by NATALIE SOYSA

A simple idea set to an arresting photomontage which needs no explanation or subtitles.

Gaya’s Intro: Natalie Soysa is one of the core contributors to iSrilankan (you will see more of her work and insights in the future as am getting better at drawing blood from my favourite peeps). Natalie stimulated and encouraged me in creating iSrilankan over a year ago. She offered me with characteristic generosity, unlimited access to her amazing collection of photography. Here I would like to say that I am surprised and humbled by many of my Sri Lankan friends who have offered resources with none of the caution, conditions and cynical strings that usually accompany sharing one’s work on digital media.

The logo of iSrilankan is an image by Natalie Soysa: an artistic interpretation of the face of the moon. I knew when I saw it that this is how I imagined the logo : spherical, independent of bias, original and distinctive sans lettering. She is one of those rare talented people who will suffer from an abundance of talent not a lack of it. I hope to direct some of her creative energy, insights and personality into the sentiment at the core object of iSrilankan: Featuring a collage of evolving Srilankanness in diverse forms in Sri Lanka and all over the Planet.

Bio

Natalie Soysa in her own words : When I was a child I wanted to be a photographer. And a writer and an actress and a musician and a lecturer and an archeologist and an anthropologist and an activist and a journalist. I’ve realized along the way that I can’t be a Jill of all trades, but I can be of some.

I presently shoot with my very first camera, a Sony Alpha 230 purchased in late March 2010 with the 18-55 mm / 3.5 – 5.6f kit lens, a 50mm / 1.8f prime and a 75-300mm / 4.5-5.6 zoom lens.

Visit Natalie’s Creative Studio and her Flickr gallery.

Natalie is available on assignment both in Sri Lanka and overseas as a photographer, journalist and ideas consultant.

Veddah Chief of Rathugala Veddah Clan

 Veddha Chief

 

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

By Tharindu Amunugama

Meet Danigala Maha Bandaralage Suda Wanniyalaeththo, the current chieftain of Rathugala clan of veddahs,who are originally from Danigala in Galoya.They had to relocate due to construction of Senanayake reservoir and making of Galoya sanctuary ( I think it was in 1950s). This is one of the remaining veddah lineages along with the ones you find in Vanni and the less distinct coastal veddahs. Continue reading Veddah Chief of Rathugala Veddah Clan