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.
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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.

 

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.

What is a ‘chapbook’? Why does he do it? Imaad Majeed interviewed.

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 10.03.24 AMThis is a copy of a Chapbook stamped by the Jaffna Library. This is where you can take a look at what’s in it.

Gaya: What is a chapbook?

Imaad: A chapbook is a publication that consists of less than 40 pages. They used to be sold by peddlers known as chapmen in the Early Modern period in England. The word “chap” comes from the Old English for trade. There are 200 copies in print distributed organically, 6 copies to each contributor and the rest to two coffee shops, Charcoal Gallery and Hansa both who have shown interest in promoting the arts.

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Profile: Veddah Gunabandiyale Aththo

BY MAHINDA JEEVANANDA

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.

Dev Wijewardane: An awesome photoessay on the Pantanal, Brazil

Toucan

 

Go directly to the Gallery for an exhibition of Dev Wijewardane’s incredible Pantanal photoessay. Scroll down for the iSrilankan interview with Dev.

If the Pantanal is the Mecca of wildlife tourism in Brazil, there are a few prophecies and wise practices we could learn from in protecting our own wildlife-tourism and habitat sustainability experience in Sri Lanka. Dev Wijewardane the disciple who took off on a pilgrimage comes from a family tradition of wildlife enthusiasts who actually learn about the ways of nature and wildlife and have been taught at the toddling stages of wildlife-spotting how man and nature should treat each other.
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Just-published book on Sri Lanka : Nayomi Munaweera’s ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’

 
It’s a rare blend of war, love and migration. Am looking for the author to do an Artists&Life podcast with her on her book, her take on life and else. It’s the right time however to introduce her cos this lady is gonna read at the Samadhana 2012 Benefit Reading Series which is an SLWB event organised by Kumaran Nadesan in Toronto. SLWB is involved in bringing the North American Sinhalese and Tamil Diaspora together in events that will build bridges between two communities that do not ordinarily meet in the same space though there are many like-minded. Great stuff ! [Read more…]