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


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.
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Image of the Week – Charmed snakes at Galle Fort

Image of the Week


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 and I was reminded of what the Jaffna teacher said …

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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.

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Image of the Week

sunset sri lanka
“The setting sun flames up the sky. The sea is like molten lava. The people frolic in carefree abandon. It’s 2015 signing off.” Lilamani Benson
Gaya: ‘Peace in a time of grumbling’ on good governance and new governments may be the chirp of the times, but such cameos of carefree fun in paradise remind us how far better off we are now in contrast to the uncertain no-hope dawns of consecutive new years, not so long ago.
LilamaniLilamani Benson is best known for being herself—Lilamani—rather than Founder and CEO of a leading advertising agency or as an artist. As Lilamani, she inflames her art, her ideas business and life with flamboyance and passion. This casual shot she took on her phone on New Year’s Eve is used with permission.


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



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.

Puttalam1I have wanted to visit them for a long time, but till a restlessness born of inchoate melancholy drove me into taking the trip, I had been postponing it.  I am curious to find out how much they have integrated into the Sri Lankan culture, perhaps due to my own feelings of displacement; I am grasping at straws, in desperate search for a source of attachment to Sri Lanka. I am hoping that they might have it, and I could learn from them. [Read more…]

Image of the Week


 Tharindu monk meditating near the sea

Waves of sea,
Break one upon the other,
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Profile: Veddah Gunabandiyale Aththo


Gunabandiyale Aththo is the brother of the present chieftain Uruwarige Wanniyale Attho of the Indigenous (Veddah) community of Sri Lanka – 300 km from Colombo at the remote jungle village of Dambana. Being descendants with a history dating back to 16000 BC and the ‘Vedda’ community presently comprises of around 350 families and was originally hunter-gatherers using bow and arrow to hunt games, and also gathered wild plants and honey.

Gaya: When I worked with Mahinda Jeevananda he was an Art Director at Grant McCann-Erickson and did not click a camera that often (at least not one that I knew of).  As Sri Lanka emerged from the no-travel-zone wartimes and people started moving around and gazing at the country they little knew, Mahinda Aiya took some glorious shots of the Jaffna Fort.  When I saw em I asked him whether he was into photography and it was his fervour and knowledge of the history of Sri Lanka that surprised me.  Did I know my countrymen?  Has the space for peaceful travel in our country made us evolve and realise our passion for photography, documenting communities and being out on a limb? Maybe Mahinda Aiya was all these things and I didn’t know him well. But now on the digital media he shares his work which should be on display in a gallery. iSrilankan would love to bring you  Mahinda Jeevananda’s Sri Lanka in the times ahead.

Image of the Week – Thai Pongal Celebrations in Kegalle

Photo by Thisara Nishad


Kegalle (Galigamuwa) Thamil community celebrating Thai Pongal Day January 14, 2014.

 thai pongal in kegalle

Thisara Nishad: In Kegalle, Sinhala, Tamil n Muslims have lived together, but Tamils live in several places Karandupana, Galigamuwa, Bulathkohupitiya, Galigamuwa, (away from the city). Most Tamils’ livelihood is tea plucking yet they celebrate their festivals like Thai Pongal very nicely with festivity and character.

Gaya: I love this image captured casually by Thisara in Kegalle as the posture and gait of the different participants young and old somehow give it a movement very natural and captivating. The colour, detail and the aura of peaceful purpose and carefree composure they exude make it an exceptional capture.

Keep it Clean and Cycle On | Son of the Morning Light




IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Keep it Clean and Cycle On | Son of the Morning Light.: Conservation art on Leyn Baan Street in the Galle Fort, shot with a Canon EOS 600D and EF-S 18-200mm lens at 18mm, 1/8, f/3.5, and ISO 100.

The above mural is by Simon Blackfoot and  one of a series with Rah Akaishi. Read more about the Moral in the Mural in Conversation with Smriti Daniel here.

“On Layn Baan St in Galle Fort, two exquisitely melancholy sea monsters are separated by a rusty gate. Stricken by grief, one wears a tower for a hat, the other towers above the lighthouse, rising above the fort with a ship bleeding oil cradled in its thin, long arms. The black ooze around their waists makes it clear these, intricately patterned creatures are fugitives of a man-made disaster. Artists Rah Akaishi (New Zealand) and Simon Blackfoot (Canada) painted them together – a response to the oil slick the bulk freighter Thermopylae Sierra left behind when it sank off the west coast in 2012.”

“A dedicated surfer, Rah says Sri Lanka has been pure inspiration: “I’m inspired by so much here visually also, the colourful religious imagery, folk arts and crafts, the architecture, land, seascapes, animals and people.” He’s designed for skateboards, apparel prints, tattoos, logos, posters, stickers and editorial illustrations and his work is rich with environmental themes and often incorporates wonderfully detailed animal motifs. A volunteer creative director for PangeaSeed, Rah says he uses art and design to educate, raise awareness and funds for the protection of sharks and preservation of their habitats.”

Read on with   Smriti Daniel