Category Archives: meditations

Footsteps across Continents: Hedi Simon and the Stadlens of Austria and Britain

Matthew Stadlen, in The Telegraph, 11 November 2013, where the title is “Family history: retracing the steps of a romance disrupted by war”

In 1938 my grandfather, the pianist Peter Stadlen, was returning to his native Austria from a concert tour of Ireland when he happened to meet a girl on the ferry home. As a result he caught a cold from chatting to her on deck, and had to stop over in Amsterdam. The fates were with him, because the following day – 75 years ago – the Nazis marched into Austria; Peter was a secular Jew. He was able to communicate with his mother and sister, who were still in Vienna, and urge them to leave by the next train to Holland. From there, all three made it to London as refugees, and that is where my family has been based ever since. They were lucky.

 Hedi Simon … also known as Heidi Keuneman before her second marriage to Peter Stadlen

My great-great-uncle, known as Onkl Friedl, did not escape. He was one of the very first to die at the hands of the Gestapo when they moved into Vienna. He had been chief economic adviser to pre-Nazi Chancellors of Austria, and was immediately put under house arrest. A paraplegic, he always kept cyanide in his ring in case he should ever be caught in a fire, unable to escape. He tricked the Nazi guards into leaving his room and took the poison. I have red hair but neither of my parents do: Onkl Friedl was a redhead and I’ve always believed it comes from him.

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The Historian’s Craft via Lakshman Perera’s Deciphering of Lanka’s Ancient Inscriptions

Sudharshan Seneviratne, reviewing Lakshman S. Perera: The Institutions of Ancient Ceylon from Inscriptions, (from 3rd Century BC to 830 AD) Volume I ….. with Introduction and supplementary notes by Sirima Kiribamunne and Piyatissa Senanayake, ICES, Kandy 2001, … 322 pages … reviewed in http://www.infolanka.com/org/srilanka/cult/45.htm

 

The Antecedents: My first encounter with the historian was in 1974 when I visited the University library at Peradeniya as a postgraduate student. It was never a formal introduction – not even a personal meeting. Yet, it was close enough for me to admire the man and his work. The silent space afforded by the Ceylon Room at Peradeniya was ideally suited for a dialogue with the past. I reached out to the past through the volumes of a doctoral thesis – so immaculately completed a year before I was born! Page after page three volumes of information unfolded a dimension hitherto less known in the history of Sri Lanka. This study I thought, will always remain as a testimony to the ‘historian’s craft’ (apologies to Marc Bloch) so purposefully executed by a scholar with a sober perception to the study of history. Continue reading

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Where Music transcends Ethnic Divisions: Sinhala Nona

Pon Kulendiren, courtesy of The Tamil Mirror where the title is “True Story of coincidence: Sinhala nona”

Kaffrinha –Pic from The Localist

It was snowing heavily. A few days were left for Christmas. I was enjoying a sip of Scotch on the rocks and watching Discovery channel on T.V. My wife walked into the sitting room after preparing the dinner for the family. She looked at the clock that showed 5.30 in the evening. With a grimace she turned towards me. It showed that she did not like me having a second drink. Black label bottle was a quarter empty. She quietly took the bottle and disappeared into her room. I ignored her action as I was reluctant to start a fight as she may have a long face while serving dinner. She returned after a few minutes. Continue reading

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Daya’s Study of Suicide Bombers of Sri Lanka

http://repo.jfn.ac.lk/med/bitstream/701/1011/1/Somasundaram-Suicide%20bombers%20of%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf

Daya Somasundaram … http://repo.jfn.ac.lk/med/bitstream/701/1011/1/Somasundaram-Suicide%20bombers%20of%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf

 image of Asian Journal of Social Sciencedaya-11

ABSTRACT  The phenomena of suicide bombers in Sri Lanka share some similarities with but also have some marked differences with what is seen in other parts of world today. Increasing discrimination, state humiliation and violence against the minority Tamils brought out a militancy and the phenomena of suicide bombers. The underlying socio-political and economical factors in the North and East of Sri Lanka that caused the militancy at the onset are examined. Some of these factors that were the cause of or consequent to the conflict include: extrajudicial killing of one or both parents or relations by the state; separations, destruction of home and belongings during the war; displacement; lack of adequate or nutritious food; ill health; economic difficulties; lack of access to education; not seeing any avenues for future employment and advancement; social and political oppression; and facing harassment, detention and death. At the same time, the Tamil militants have used various psychological methods to entice youth, children and women to join and become suicide bombers. Public displays of war paraphernalia, posters of fallen heroes, speeches and video, particularly in schools and community gatherings, heroic songs and stories, public funeral rites and annual remembrance ceremonies draw out feelings of patriotism and create a martyr cult. The religio-cultural context of the Tamils has provided meaning and symbols for the creation and maintenance of this cult, while the LTTE has provided the organisational capacity to train and indoctrinate a special elite as suicide bombers. Whether the crushing of the LTTE militarily by the state brings to an end the phenomena of suicide bombers or whether it will re-emerge in other forms if underlying grievances are not resolved remains to be seen.

KEY WORDS: Altruistic suicide; Ethnic conflict; Insurgency; Sacrifice; Sri Lanka; Suicide bombers Continue reading

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Being an ex-Tiger Today. Where have all the roads gone, long time passing!

Arthur Wamanan & Ruwan Laknath Jayakody courtesy of The Nation, 11 March 2017, where the title is The battle after the war”

Life continues to be a struggle for 45-year-old Kathir, a former Tamil Tiger combatant, and his family. Kathir was one of the 12,000 Tiger cadres who underwent a rehabilitation process soon after the end of the war. Kathir was lucky to be released after a year of rehabilitation. “I was disabled due to the war and therefore my time at rehabilitation centres was just one year,” he said.

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Professional Mourners in Ceylon and Southern India

Michael Roberts

 My interest in the topic of disappearances in Sri Lanka over the past decade and the allegations presented by one “Floyyd” in his comments on my central frontispiece named ”Sinhala Mind-Set” on the 25th November 2013 led me to supplement my posts and inquiries on that topic with a serious question I sent to several friends and personnel on  the 9th December 2016 and the week that followed.  Only a few responded to my inquiry in the course of that month. It is of some significance that most of those whose information is presented below are of the older generation and, like me, in the age-bracket seventies. For that reason they are calling upon their younger days in supplying ethnographic information that is of considerable value. For this reason I refer to “Ceylon” in my title because the data seems to refer to practices before the name change in 1972. However, this does not mean that the practitioners of mourning and the capacities for lamentation on cue have been totally buried.

oppari-22  Women in oppari lamentation in southern India — cf Balachandran’s note below oppariFrom https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellbredkannanclicks/14228110375

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Here, There and Almost Everywhere! Jaraa in Sri Lanka

frances-fFrances Ferdinands, in Sunday Island, 19 February 2017, where the authors’s chosen title is “Becuase I Care”

As a Sri-Lankan born Canadian Artist, I have had the privilege of spending time here in Sri Lanka within the last two years. From January – March 2015 I was here on a Canadian Government sponsored project geared towards exploring my artistic heritage and incorporating this experience into my own art practice. I was mentored in the traditional arts and crafts of Temple painting, and Beeralu Lacemaking. I recently returned in early January of this year to study the traditional craft of mask making. Continue reading

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