Profound & ‘Coloured’ Insights into Our Environmental Degradation

Prasad Abu Bakr, in Sunday Observer, 7 July 2019, …. http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2019/07/07/art/book-review-slow-cooked-thoughts

This is a ‘must-read’ book for those who lived during that glorious past, which is quietly slipping out of our grasp. It is also one for the next generation, who live in a world of make-believe – thinking that demolition of that glorious past and the pristine environment that was there, in the name of ‘development’ is aimed at making the world a better place to live in.

In her Foreword, Jill Macdonald refers to Slow-cooked Thoughts as a compelling compilation of writings both occasional and various, linked by a common motif of the writer’s passionate and unwavering belief of what constitutes a right relationship with the world around us.

This kickstarts any book lover’s interest to discover the occasional and the various. As the reader leafs through the pages of this book, illustrated with 68 colour photographs, they are taken through the variety the world has to offer lovers of art, nature and travel. Macdonald sums it up by referring to a few lines by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the closing note to her Foreword, which goes thus:

He prayeth well, who loveth well

Both man and bird and beast,

He prayeth best who loveth best,

All things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all.

I started reading Slow-cooked Thoughts a few days before the tragic April 21 incidents. Though it is mostly about art and the environment, it is also, perhaps unintentionally, a philosophical meditation on the very nature and purpose of being, as Macdonald has observed. So it was that I found to be soothing, moving me through that troubled time, when I read it after those shocking incidents. The book is also a record of how the world, too, was a place of freedom by choice.

The writer describes his overland trip by car from London to Colombo. The many countries his friend and he drove through then, not only cannot be driven through now, because of the unsettled conditions due to wars there but cannot even be flown over in some cases because of the possibility of being hit by a missile!

So one should not miss the point that we are fast losing our humanity. The disconnection that the younger generation is experiencing, by drifting away from art, culture and environmental awareness, and into a cyber-world of make-believe, is causing them to react in unpredictable and unhealthy ways all over the world.

In his Preface, the author writes, ‘I believe that any kind of love is better than any kind of hate, subject to the laws of the country we live in’. A song he quotes from the musical South Pacific sums it up very pithily:

You’ve got to be taught to love and to hate,

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late;

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

At the beginning of his Preface, the writer refers to his book as, ‘a collection of articles and essays I have written, talks I have given plus a few other things’. However, further reading takes one through a soul searching journey, not only through the past but also through the present and an indication of what might happen in the future. It gives an insight into how people respond to situations, how other people and life-forms view us. It shows what would happen if we lose the values we were once taught to live by, and we continue to destroy our habitat, as a result of our own insensitive attitudes and ill-considered decisions; that, once lost, many precious things in the way of relationships and surroundings, can never be recaptured to be a part of our lives.

The ‘technological jungle’ that may be created in the name of ‘development’ can never make up for the loss of the many natural wonders surrounding us and the vision for innate creativity. The title of the book alone, “Slow-cooked Thoughts” sends a message to us about what lies within its pages; that sometimes ‘Thoughts’ need to be ’Slow-cooked’ before hasty and ill-considered actions result in our losing forever the wonders of the natural wealth of our still more or less salubrious land.

Slow-cooked Thoughts is currently available for sale at the BAREFOOT Bookshop, 704, Galle Road, Colombo 3 and Sapumal Foundation, 32/4 Barnes Place, Colombo 7. It is also available as an affordable ebook through www.rohandesoysa.com

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