Category Archives: People

‘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!

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!

 

 

 

 

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.

Are you feeling angry today ?

AUDIOBLOG by Meena Serendib

 
For whatever reason, I have been so angry lately. And I mean like angry. My daydreams have turned into fantasies of punching passerbys who piss me off. Old, young, men, women. I’d like to punch the world in the face.  Punch it in the face, the stomach…and then in the face again. Now I’m not normally a violent person. In fact for the last three years, I have been studying Non-Violent Communication.

Listen to Meena Serendib’s Audioblog

 


Continue reading Are you feeling angry today ?

Artists & Life: Ru Freeman the Author

Ru Freeman by Peter Hurley©

Listen to  Ru Freeman, Srilankan-born writer talking to Gaya Fernando on her life, thoughts and writing. Disclaimer : This is not a literary review and if you have not read her book you will still enjoy Ru’s perspectives. We discussed girls, growing up, the belief a mother has in her children, loving the place you were born in and the difference between abrasive and gentle discourse on war topics to name some of the themes of our conversations apart from the books she has and will publish.

There is nothing pretentious about Ru Freeman. Her voice, expressions, words and thoughts flow with no hesitation, disclaimers and qualifiers, which today precede most opinions publicly shared.  You won’t hear cautious preambles to Ru’s take on politics or poetry.

I was interested in hearing Ru both as an author and a young woman on many issues Continue reading Artists & Life: Ru Freeman the Author