For schooldesk friends!

Elton John and Kikidee are singing  ‘don’t go breaking my heart’ on BBC Radio Two. I remember sun-filled Saturday mornings with Bevil Palihawadana (bless him) and kikidee’s dungarees and shiny bob – another world protected from the war, protected from political shit and reality, in an old homestead nestling by the coast.

It’s my close friend’s bday today. Her desk and mine were together for many years. I could tell her – and do tell her – anything. We are born just one week apart. Then on facebook I see a post about the loss of someone’s deskfriend. This someone lost another friend to the war possibly and others gunned down senselessly. My friend is alive, God bless her!  I didn’t lose as many as he did. I only lost one unforgettable ‘aiya’ from our village. His father literally went out of his mind.

We are more or less sane but not completely insensitive or divorced from the strange vibes thrown up by the people of the island nation and the other life. We were and are in parallel universes and in our mind will never be just one person ever.

– Despatches from London on a grey overcast morning in late October.

 

Where does the world begin

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-37-37-pmAnd where does it end?

Fragments of a rainy season,

Or big wheel turning,

Earth moving on its axis…

One man struggling while another relaxes.

 

Does our history breathe in sentiment

Rather than statement?

Sing dirges than waste time

Composing rhymes with reason.

 

In Now-days ‘Trail’ brings out the freedom cry

And the heartbeat of a

Damaged, yet still human,

Still awesome,

Still weeping,

Still abandoned by political leaders,

Still hopeful,

Still can-do vibe

Of a nation

That breathes in sentiment

And sings in dirges

to us so far away.

A vibe and wavelength here and now.

Inexplicable.

Unrivalled.

Stimulating.

Tethers that can never be torn or rent away.

– Gaya

 

Image credits: Rajiva Wijesinha

 

Let’s give a moment’s silence for the 150 poorest of the poor buried alive in mud. RIP !!

Dear friends,

I am the most rubbish blogger or website writer or whoever.  My motherhood and otherhood life is too busy and demanding to consistently write and respond on the digital media. I hardly have time to read. But this is different. At times like this, you are once again reminded of who you are and what hardship is borne and tragedy encountered by the communities on a little island which surely has had more than its fair share of disaster.

Meeriyabeddawatte is in the Badulla district and many have heard of it since Thursday.  Likewise, we  got a geography lesson in Mullaivaikkal and Aranthalawa and Kokillai and the entire world realised during the Tsunamis of 2004 where Banda Aceh and Sri Lanka were located on the world map. Maybe it’s not just the Americans who learn geography of the world in strange ways eh?

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 10.23.36 AMOne hundred and fifty people are now given up for dead, buried alive in mud.  In an ironic twist, the custom of parents to send all the kids to school saved the children or most of them from being killed, but left them orphaned. Too many of them. Poor little souls. My FB friend whose been living awhile in Badulla District, Padraig Colman’s blog is a responsible read on the tragedy.

A line room is a sad place to begin with.  It is a phenomenon that should not continue to be a ‘home’ in the Sri Lankan landscape and the poor Tamils of Indian Origin brought as near-slaves by the British from India to work in the tea plantations continue to live in these sad circumstances. When I read on Cesar Chavez’ s nonviolent campaign it was all too close to home and to the sad state of some of these tea estate workers.

If you would like to help, there are many calls put out on Facebook.

The catholic church has put out theirs. Sirasa is collecting for a lorry that leaves by nidnight tonight SL time.

My friends have created whatsapp groups and messaged us overseas.

I am trying to call my cousin’s home – he is the Chief of the Paediatric Hospital in Badulla.

I will be adding numbers to this or a new post. Please feel free to add your info as a comment below.

In all this, one of the proud moments is to see the speed of disaster response among ordinary people. The Government and churches and institutions are not lagging behind it appears.  All respect to the armed forces who scrabbled with their bare hands for survivors in the first rescue operations.  We have had a period of relative calm recently. I was stung by how each tragedy brings it all back somehow. The long shadow cast by the memory of pain, tears, tragic loss and damning sensation is revived by news on a community yet again suffering in Sri Lanka.

tea 150 dead, too many missing, 60 line rooms, 2 houses, a Kovil, A supermarket, a playground… a village, a community.

When you drink your next cup of tea, savour it, sip it slowly and observe a minute’s silence for the poorest of the poor who are today’s victims of an incredible tragedy.

Note: Harin Fernando’s callout:

Harin Fernando the famous record-breaking politician has published his. Call  Bala on 072 9113305 or email harinfernando@hotmail.com.

“My dear friends
With an extremely heavy heart I wish to put on record that I was in Meeriyabedda, Koslanda in Haldummulla whole of yesterday and today to offer my condolences to victims of this unimaginable disaster and also to see how best we as citizens of Sri Lanka could help this very innocent and poor people living well below the poverty lines.
About 400 persons are reported missing, submerged due to an earth slip owing to torrential rain and regretfully many are feared dead. A geographical area of about 200 to 250 acres have been effected and many other areas are deemed as high risk.
In a few days’ time, we will able to gauge the lives lost, the seriously injured and the long suffering. I honestly don’t have any idea at this stage of the physical and emotional recovery process which would be very long, lengthy and painful journey.
My dear friends, It will be with the support of people like you that will measure our compassion for others and our fellow citizens.
We are in dire need of following items
1) Drinking Water
2) Food ( dry rations & non-perishable items )
3) Milk Powder
4) Clothing ( Ladies Kaftans, gents sarongs and tshirts, kids clothing and blankets since its very cold )
5) Temporary Shelter
6) Personal Hygiene Products ( Toothbrushes / Soap / Toothpaste / Sanitarywear For Ladies & Infants )
7) Medicine.
8) Volunteers ( Doctors / Nurses / Physiatrists etc
9) cash donation for minor expenses
As we ask for your generous financial support ( in cash or kind ) to rebuild their lives in a way that can bring the most comfort during these very difficult times, I would earnestly like to request for your heartfelt prayers to those who were lucky to survive, injured from this calamity and also the diseased. Please be kind enough to re-forward this message to people whom you might think will be generous and kind enough to help us.
Those who wish to step forward to help this worthy cause, please feel free to directly get in touch with my staff Bala on < 072 9113305> or email me harinfernando@hotmail.com
Yours sincerely
Harin Fernando”

Credits: Above photo of soldiers in rescue operations credited to this website http://www.nst.com.my/node/47846

SIGN the petition against racism !

You wanna do something on the social media network? Do it. Sign it. And do more… !

Here’s the Petition.

ONCE you’ve signed the petition, read on…not before 😉

AM sick to the teeth with the BBS. And then I saw this on FB : Status of Lasith Fernando ( reproduced with permission )

My brother is a Christian, my best friend since kindergarten is a Muslim and one of my band mates is a Tamil. The first girl I fell in love with was a Baha’i, the last was a Burgher and there even was an Indian somewhere in between. I’ve shared some of the best meals of my life around Sawans and Christmas Dinner tables with my Muslim and Christian cousins. I’ve known tranquility walking around a temple at dusk and I’ve felt at peace watching a friend pray at church. I’ve felt my heart race countless times watching Angelo Mathews take Sri Lanka over the finish line and I’ve even literally fallen off my seat cheering Murali during the ’96 world cup.

 To me the people I live, laugh and talk music with each day are Sri Lankans. And the Sri Lanka I know is so diverse and beautiful that it sometimes makes my heart ache.

And all I ask of this so called Bodu Bala Sena and whoever else that supports its views, or any form of racism for that matter, is that they not ruin the Sri Lanka I know and love. The battle to protect your religion and your philosophies is not fought on the streets or over your brothers’ beliefs, it’s fought on the plains of your own heart and over your own principles.

And always remember, in the words of the mighty Iron Maiden…’We’re Blood Brothers’.”

 

cycling nov 21

 

Protected: A little bit of Jaffna came home that day!

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Congratulations to Subhash Pinnapola and the Ad team for winning the first Cannes Lion for Sri Lanka !!

 

Subhash and the team at Leo Burnett Advertising came up with this idea of giving the newspaper Mawbima a practical twist.

On Independence day 4 February the newspaper had the national flag on both sides of the page and there were simple instructions on how to cut, roll the paper up and wave the flag. A great idea but also something that takes you back to the times when people used to cut out stuff from papers and created crafts, crosswords, lyrics and articles of interest were called ‘paper cuttings’

Read more

Well done for winning the Lion, Leo Burnett !!

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.

Shame on You: The Story of Kanth when Australia says I dont know I dont know I dont know

You would probably have a better chance of hearing Kanth’s story if you were a balloon.

Yes, and I am not the one going round the bend either. People do when, after a hard life in which migration occurred under hardship, they are told I don’t know when you will be let out of detention which is indefinite, I don’t know what you could do about it cos there is no right of appeal and I don’t know exactly what I could say about why you are here, on what information and who supplied it cos you have NO RIGHT TO KNOW.

Why this story of Ranjini and Kanth should be followed up on is that it is no ordinary sob-story. This is not just about freeing Ranjini but to create awareness of the need for justice by institutions and processes that control and influence the freedom of asylum seekers but also victims of wars who have in their past winessed terrible tragedies, personal trauma and loss of loved ones. [Read more…]

Never Again : 31 years ago the ashes of the Jaffna Library were scattered in the wind

31 May 1981

 

“On this day 31 years ago, the Jaffna Public Library was burnt down by the members of the Sri Lankan security forces. All its collection of more than 90,000 volumes of books turned to ashes within hours. This act of cultural genocide left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the Tamil speaking people.”

 

Ashes – to the Jaffna library

 

by Rasika Jayakody

 

History’s footprints
are ash.

There are ash people,

ash places,

ash memories,

and ash eyes.

This library,

the one you see,

is ash too.

There were ashen people here,

wearing ash spectacles,

sitting on ash chairs

and reading ash books.

Those ash books

contained ashen lessons;

the lessons of 1981,

1983,

1987-88-89,

and onwards,

ash years;

and the ash walls here

still recall

the ash words

heard on the ash day.

Where would all this ash go,

one day?

maybe there is an ocean,

somewhere,

an ocean of time,

made of ash

and ashes.

The ash ocean,

will kiss

the ashen shore of

Jaffna,

the city of ashes,

and caress

the ash heartbeat of my nation,

“Sri Lanka maatha…”

The featured part-image of a burning book was part of the Colombo Art Biennale’s exhibition in 2009.

Image of the Week

 

On Vesak Day at the Sri Dalada Maligaawa, Kandy

Sri Lanka Kandy Temple Vesak Day 5-

From Colsteel’s Flickr photostream

Image of the Week : Kadala Karaththa, Galle Face, Colombo

Street Cart, Colombo, Sri Lanka

 
Image of the Week : Kadala Karaththa, Galle Face, Colombo
 

 

This is a photo that appears in Migration Mark’s Flickr Photostream.