Category Archives: travelogue

MV Sun Sea Prosecutions in Canada: Noughts and Crosses

ONE: Item in THE STAR, 27 May 2017, entitled B.C. Supreme Court jury finds man guilty of smuggling Tamil migrants to Canada””

A prosecutor says a man accused of bringing hundreds of Tamil migrants into Canada illegally in a dilapidated cargo ship nearly seven years ago has been found guilty. Crown counsel Charles Hough says a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Kunarobinson Christhurajah guilty Saturday of human smuggling 10 or more persons. It was a retrial for the Sri Lankan national over his involvement in the voyage of the MV Sun Sea that travelled from Thailand to British Columbia’s coast in 2010.

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A Tale of Resistance: The Story of the Arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, a reprint of an article published in 1989 in Ethnos, vol. 55: 1-2, pp.69-82.

  This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Mārayā, the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior—thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.

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Honouring Sarath Amunugama through Essays in Home and The World”

Dhammika Amarasinghe, in The Island,  5 February 2011

The book mirrors the man. The man is Dr. Sarath Amunugama, eminent public servant of yester year, sociologist, scholar, writer, orator, poet, dramatist, connoisseur (of many things – including the fine arts) and at the end of his career, perhaps unfortunately – politician. The volume has been brought out by his ever-loyal daughters Ramanika and Varuni to celebrate their hero’s 70 years of ‘a full life’ (the title of another of their filial tributes in a different genre). The book is a festschrift in honour of Sarath Amunugama. The list of contributors reads almost like a Roll of Honour of contemporary Sri Lankan intellectual life, ranging as it does from Gananath Obeyesekere and Stanley J Tambiah through Siri Gunasinghe, J. B. Dissanayake and Carlo Fonseka to Jayantha Dhanapala, H. L. Seneviratne and Saman Kelegama (and many more of the same vintage). The standing of the contributors, almost all of whom are incidentally long-time friends and associates of Amunugama, and the wealth of high quality material encapsulated in this volume of 400 pages, makes the writing of a ‘review’ almost a daunting task. Therefore, what can be done is only to give some flavour of a selection of the contributions. The range of contributors mirrors not only the standing of the man being honoured but also the wide spectrum of his interests and accomplishments. Continue reading

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Kataragama, Yala and Festive All That

Juliet Coombe in Daily News, 12 August 2017, where the title runs Hidden Rituals

Juliet Coombe joined the exciting procession of regal elephants dressed in silk drapes, dancing girls and fire jugglers at the Kataragama Temple, where she learns about some of the mysteries that lie within these ancient temple walls.

As scented flower petals were thrown in the air, and incense smoke billowed in all directions, baskets of food were being loaded up to be taken inside as offerings to be given at the Kataragama Temple. I took off my shoes, out of respect, at the entrance step, which was already so covered in a sea of footwear that it had become totally hidden, and yet the colourful array of left-behind flip-flops and shoes was a clear demarcation that we were about to enter sacred grounds on a very auspicious day. I had come with a team from EKHO Tissa Safari who has created an exciting portfolio of curated experiences ranging from the deeply spiritual to hands-on plot-to-plate foodie safaris.

After the main ritual the big tusker covered in garlands of flowers makes his way back through the temple grounds

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Barron’s Mss History of British Planters via Three Case Studies

Tom J. Barron … a typed Manuscript I discovered in my study; …. an article drafted in 1972/73 [see below]; …..an essay that does not seem to have appeared in print [see elaboration at the end] …Highlighting emphasis is the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

The history of British plantation enterprise in Ceylon is a relatively neglected topic. Most historical works on 19th and 20th century Ceylon mention the estates, but few have troubled to give them any special attention. In some ways the neglect is rather surprising for by the 1870’s. if not earlier, Ceylon was celebrated throughout the world as one of the most progressive and enterprising centres of tropical agriculture. The reputation of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and of its most distinguished director, Dr. G. H. K. Thwaites, extended far beyond Ceylon, and Ceylon’s contribution to the science of botany and to the study of agricultural economics was widely regarded as second to none. But, for reasons that are not difficult to detect, the planters have never greatly appealed as heroic figures to the historians of independent Ceylon. For the most part the estates were situated in the hills of the central highlands, remote from the affairs of the mass of her people; the capital and business organization which supported these enterprises were largely imported from Europe; the proprietors, superintendents and assistants who ran the estates were mostly British by birth; and the labour force was recruited principally from South India. There is another difficulty, too; considered from the standpoint of independent, nationalist Ceylon, the planters, who relied upon and openly supported the imperial political and economic systems, are not very sympathetic individuals. Dr. Bastiampillai speaks for many people in Ceylon when he refers to the planters, in his book on Sir William Gregory’s administration, as ‘petulant and peevish,’ ‘self—interested’ and ‘unreasonable.’ It is interesting to note, however, that recently some local historians (of when Dr. Lal Jayawardena and Dr. Michael Roberts are principal) have begun to challenge the notion of the ‘dual economy,‘ to question the theory that most Ceylonese were unaffected by the changes introduced by large-scale plantation agriculture, and to re-examine the achievements which the planters made. Continue reading

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Travelling Lanka by Bike as a Different Light

When Subramaniam Sudakaran (32) and Jehan de Silva (26) decided to cycle from Kandy to Meemure one fateful Saturday, the two never thought they’d be in for the ride of their life, let alone start a company together. Soaked in heavy rain, cycling late into the night on lonely roads, first time ‘adventurer’ Jehan didn’t expect all that drenched and befell them as he followed the single torch light that fellow Rotaractor- Sudakaran tried to balance along with his bike and the 15 kg packs they each carried. But the next day, while gazing at a waterfall, “you should do this as a business” Jehan had suggested, and so, Ceylon Ramblers’ Club was born.

 Jehan and Sudakaran (L to R) . Pic by Amila Gamage

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The Ancient Rock at Kurullangala and Its Mystery

Stefan D’Silva,  courtesy of Asian Art, 29 March 2017 …. http://asianartnewspaper.com/?p=2226 .http://asianartnewspaper.com/?p=2226 ..where the title runs thus “The Mysterious Rock Art of Kurullangala”

Located in Uva Province of Sri Lanka, at an elevation of just over 1,200 metres, the Kurullangala rock art stands unique in Sri Lanka. Access to the site is via an extremely dangerous, steep climb or ‘rock hop’ where one has to literally walk on tree branches near the top to gain access to the site and the area is certainly not accessible in wet weather. There is a small rock ‘viewing platform’ approximately 5 metres long and 2-3 metres wide where one can stand to view the art work at eye level and above.

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