Pundit Amaradeva

pundit-a-feature
Pundit Amaradeva – photographed in his home during an interview in December 2012.

Photocredit: Sandra Mack

 

‘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.
[Read more…]

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…”

[Read more…]

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!

Don’t miss out on Kenan Malik in Galle, Colombo or Jaffna!

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 2.15.12 PMA must-see, must-hear, writer-lecturer-broadcaster is in town—Kenan Malik— the author of the book I am reading right now and one of the cleverest dudes of our times.

Which town? If you glance to the right you will see the ‘what’s on’ listings of  the three listed events in Galle, Colombo and Jaffna as part of the Galle Literary Festival 2016. For the lazies, the Galle literary dinner is on the 16th January at the Galle Fort Hotel, the talk at the British Council Library with Smriti Daniel is on 20th and the Jaffna Public Library event on the 23rd January. How lucky they are; how jealous I am.

I discovered Kenan Malik right after the Paris attacks. His After Paris post on his blog Pandaemonium was refreshingly lucid and plotted the factors that many jihadi-junkies failed to draw together to create the admittedly-grey none-too-clear map of the nature and unknown multi-cause of radical extremism in Europe, today.

Then there was the analysis of multiculturalism. Clever writers you thank from the depths of your non-racist, shocked-by-Trump, non-convert-to-media-bullshit-awe, Self. Thanks for being clever and actually putting it out there from an angle that comes with a background in neurobiology and philosophy and an interest in ideas, race, immigration, religion, the works.

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 2.13.46 PMI am jealous. Reading The Quest for a Moral Compass, I wished that I had bought a ticket to be there at the GLF to hear Malik on home soil. How amazing Galle is as a backdrop to the arts: the beauty of the snow-white mosque overlooking the coast where the Portuguese named Galle after the proverbial rooster ‘galo’, the Dutch fort reclining on its haunches (claimed by many since), and the crows, rocks, restaurants, peddlar street cafes and sunset waders, all bringing Galle, the southern heel of Sri Lanka, to life.

I wish I were there to hear him. Instead, I am in London. So please do go in my place and read the book if you can lay your hands on it. If not, let me know and I’ll try to bring a copy in April for selected souls who will repay the favour with a nice hopper dinner or crab curry;)  I am sure you will find it stimulating your grey cells, your belief and your desires for your society in this odd phase of human evolution. He wrote others, but right now I am deep in this one, and so you understand.

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 12.11.15 PMThe GLF as it is known may not have an easy ride—as nothing ever has in Sri Lanka—as the tuk-tuk ride through the years of organised events and exercising discretion, reveals. It takes courage, as ‘Shyam-courage in the time of boycotting’ showed, takes belief and effort and thankless tireless passion and drive. So a vote of thanks to all those who stick their neck out rooster-fashion to crow in another GLF: For a tsunami-flooded, war-battered and post-colonial country, we have another event that brings in the world to a corner of paradise we know so well: Good on you!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Soap Opera – Brahmanawatte

I wouldn’t dare introduce Renu. She is a poet who doesn’t give a damn whether you read her poetry or not, a creator of food fusion that follows mood and emotion as one who is in a continuous sensual dance of life, which you may only sense by her writings, not imitate or follow. That is, until she decided to host a blog: Fenugreek from which, if I am good, posts could be shared on iSrilankan, which will touch a chord with many Sri Lankans living on this planet; most of all, with those who live away from where it all began.
 
RENUKA MENDIS
 
“My father is dead. For a few years now his body parts have been educating someone in some medical faculty somewhere.

From time to time when I go to the Tamil shop I buy a certain soap. Not that I make a list and go looking for it. I just see it and my hand reaches out and it follows me home…Read more

Rani soap

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

MARYANNE KOODA

 

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 AMUNUGAMA

 Tharindu monk meditating near the sea

Waves of sea,
Break one upon the other,
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Image of the Week

 

BY SHARNI JAYAWARDENA

 

sharni low resolution

 
In Kandy.