Connect with us

Features

A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS… – Part 22

Published

on

The team of Chefs relaxing in between hectic lunch and dinner shifts – Nuga, Padde and I.

CONFESSIONS OF A GLOBAL GYPSY

By Dr. Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena DPhil

President – Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada

Founder & Administrator – Global Hospitality Forum

chandij@sympatico.ca

7th International Tourism Research Conference

I was involved with the University of Colombo, 40 years ago, as a Business Administration executive student, and during the last decade as an occasional guest lecturer in their Master’s Degree program in Tourism Economics. On October 22, 2021, I participated in the seventh International Tourism Research Conference, organized by the University of Colombo. This year I had a dual role in this significant event of the oldest university of Sri Lanka – as one of the two conference co-chairs and as a panellist. As usual, Professor Suranga Silva did a very good job as the conference chair. We will collaborate again in 2022 in co-editing a British academic journal theme issue on ‘Tourism Re-building’, with case studies from around the world.

This year’s conference theme was: ‘Resilience Building and Entrepreneurial Innovation for Sustainable Tourism’. Due to the prolonging global pandemic, the annual event was presented totally virtual this year. However, a diverse pool of 34 international tourism experts presented via Zoom, enriching the quality of the conference and learning.

The panel I served focused on ‘Evidence-Based Research Findings’ with input from academics from ten countries – Argentina, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and UAE. Our panel also focused on global best practices. Throughout my career as a hotelier, academic and consultant, I have been an advocate of learning from the global best practices. It does not make any sense operating like ‘a frog in a well’. ‘Thinking outside the box’ attitude has helped me to be well-informed of the trends and be more successful in performing my varied duties as a global gypsy over the last 50 years.

Chefs Learning from the Best Global Practices

In September 1974, when I arrived at Bentota Beach Hotel to commence my new job as Trainee Executive Chef, I first reported to the Assistant Executive Chef – U. C. Jayasinghe (UC). The Executive Chef, Padde Withana (Padde), was away in Switzerland working in a reputed restaurant in Zürich for a few months. This was during the Sri Lankan west coast off-season months for tourism (May to October). When Padde returned, he commenced sharing the knowledge he had acquired in Europe with the key members of his kitchen brigade. His sharing of those best practices from Switzerland with us was refreshing not only in learning to cook Swiss dishes, but in learning to be more efficient for which the Swiss are famous.

To my delight, our learning from global best practices was not limited to Swiss dishes. The previous Executive Chefs at Bentota Beach Hotel were German and Hong Kong Chinese. As a result, I was able to learn some dishes from those two countries which had been on the rotating menus for a few years. One day, Indrapala Munasinghe, the French-trained Assistant Manager, heard that one of the guests was a French baker and that he was willing to share his skills. Quickly, a special bakery training session was arranged for us. Another day, one of my former cookery lecturers from the Ceylon Hotel School (CHS) – Kumar Thambyah, came to demonstrate an international dish that had become popular during the Münich Olympics where he had worked as a trainee cook.

As a large majority of our guests at the Bentota Beach Hotel were Scandinavian, we occasionally encouraged our Swedish Tour Leaders to teach us Scandinavian dishes. When one of the first Japanese cruise ships arrived in Colombo, Bentota Beach Hotel was booked to accommodate a large Japanese group for two days. None of us had any experience in hosting Japanese guests. The challenge was that they were not flexible with their meals. Providing Japanese meals was a pre-requisite for us to get this large room booking. With the help from the chefs in the Japanese embassy we quickly learnt to make the most common Japanese dishes sufficient for meals over two days. Our new guests were satisfied and we were richer in our gastronomic repertoire. Learning from the global best practices, helps all industries and all departments of any business.

Executive Residents at Bentota Beach Hotel

I worked with UC for only two weeks. After serving Bentota Beach Hotel for five years along with his CHS batch mates and fellow members of the Chef team – Padde and Vijitha Nugegoda (Nuga), UC had accepted an offer from the brand new, Hotel Neptune, to become their first Executive Chef. Nuga was promoted as the Assistant Executive Chef. That created a good opportunity for me. I was grateful to receive an offer to join as the number three of the kitchen, to fill that vacancy. Thank you, UC!

I was one of the eight members of the management team who lived in the executive quarters built within the Bentota Beach Hotel. Manager of the hotel, Malin Hapugoda was the only team member then married and with separate living quarters. The rest of us hung out and had all our meals together. We worked very hard and we had a lot of fun after work. Nuga and I worked split shifts covering lunch and dinner. We shared the largest room in the executive quarters which became the common meeting place for after work parties and card games with executives of nearby hotels. In between shifts we went for long afternoon walks or played games on the beautiful sandy beach in front of the hotel.

After work, most of us met at the public bar of the neighbouring, Hotel Serendib, if there were no other “important” appointments. During the tourist season (November to April), none of us hardly took any leave or weekends off. Sundays were usually, our busiest work day of the week.

In the kitchen I worked shoulder to shoulder with Padde in all sections. I was like a blotting paper, absorbing skills and knowledge from a culinary master who was then widely regarded as the best Executive Chef in Sri Lanka. I worked everywhere in the kitchen – requisitioning, butchery, advance preparations, hot range bulk cooking, à la carte cooking, managing the food service counter, buffet decorations, and my favourite duty – working at the buffets.

Sunday Lunch Buffets

Just like Bentota Beach Hotel, all other top hotels in Sri Lanka, at that time – Inter Continental, Pegasus Reef, Mount Lavinia Hyatt and Browns Beach, had large Sunday buffet lunches. The trick for success was to have a wide variety of dishes to satisfy a diverse range of tastes of the German, Swedish, British and French guests, as well as, an increasing number of non-resident Sri Lankan customers. As the best resort hotel in Sri Lanka, at that time, Bentota Beach Hotel set the standard very high.

Some Sundays, a few Executive Chefs from other hotels in nearby towns came to check out our buffet and copy ideas in the range, quality and presentation of dishes, as well as buffet decorations. One Sunday, there were around six such Executive Chefs visiting us. Our Food & Beverage Manager, Tilak Peiris jokingly complimented, “Padde, you are an inspiration to all these Executive Chefs from other hotels. You should start charging them!”

Ariyadasa, a cook, who was also the Culinary Artist of the hotel, was my regular companion to set up the buffets and work behind the buffet tables for three hours. Interestingly, he was also the Trade Union President. It was an era when most trade unions were controlled by the leftist political parties in Sri Lanka who were then an influential part of the socialist government coalition. From the brief chats while at work, I learnt a lot about the mentality of unions, worker’s grievances and union strategies, from Ariyadasa.

Friendly Competition

Hotel Neptune opened just before Christmas in 1974. It soon became the main competitor for Bentota Beach in terms of quality of the products and services. Both hotels were near each other with impressive beach fronts. Neptune’s owning company, Aitken Spence, a traditional shipping/plantation management/insurance company, was very serious in getting involved in tourism, then a new industry in Sri Lanka. In fact, they sent one of their most charismatic and energetic senior corporate executives – Ratna Sivaratnam, to open Hotel Neptune as its first Manager. He was a versatile sportsman and a friendly person. Some of us called him by his popular nick name based on his favorite food for breakfast during his school days at Royal College – ‘Roti’.

Roti was totally new to tourism and hospitality, but he was clever in hiring a good team of experienced hospitality managers to work with him as his deputies for the hotel opening. Most of the Hotel Neptune opening team came from Bentota Beach Hotel and its famous sister hotel, Coral Gardens, owned by the Ceylon Holiday Resorts. This included the Assistant Manager, Chief Accountant, Executive Chef and Stores Manager – all of whom later succeeded Roti and held the post of the Manager of Hotel Neptune ‘back-to-back’ over the next 25 years. Those four managers were later promoted to serve as Directors in the corporate office. Roti’s key visionary contribution was moving the blue-chip company into the field of tourism which it came to dominate in a short time, while directly competing with the largest group of companies in Sri Lanka – John Keells Group, later led by Ken Balendra, a class mate and rugger team mate of Roti.

Our management team from Bentota Beach Hotel frequently visited Hotel Neptune from the day it was opened. As both hotels were designed by the great Architect, Geoffrey Bawa, some aspects such as open spaces in the context of the tropical modernism concept, were common. The aim of our visits was to check their standards as well as to hang out with our friends who then worked for the friendly competitor. My friends at Hotel Neptune included my CHS batch mate, Patrick Taylor and Gemunu Goonewardena (later, a member of the Aitken Spence Hotel Company Board), who assisted U. C. Jayasinghe in the Neptune kitchen.

The two hotels also competed in sports, notably cricket, for the Geoffrey Bawa Trophy. This annual match was played during the off season, followed with an awards ceremony and a long party till the early hours in the morning. Those were fun-filled days.

Later, as the Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence Group, Roti led the company to emerge as the first Sri Lankan company to become a regional hotel chain with over 20 unique hotels in four countries (Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Oman and India). In the early 1980s the group opened the first five-star resort hotel in Sri Lanka – Triton Hotel with Mahinda Ratnayake as the General Manager. In the mid-1990s it opened, one of the most iconic and environmentally friendly hotels in Asia – Kandalama Hotel, with U. C. Jayasinghe as the General Manager. Both these hotels were designed by Geoffrey Bawa. To me, Kandalama Hotel is Geoffrey Bawa’s greatest creation.

Eventually, Aitken Spence Group recruited Malin Hapugoda (Manager of Bentota Beach Hotel in 1970s) to lead their hotel company as the Managing Director, during an important decade of expansion and re-branding most of the properties of the hotel chain as ‘Heritance’.

Next Sunday, more about my memorable time at the Bentota Beach Hotel and the neighbouring hotels …



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Features

Beyond the fiction of Alborada

Published

on

By Sarath Chandrajeewa

“No matter how much a work of art is sweet, if it hides the truth and disregards humanity it can only be equalled to a beautiful but empty shell that attracts us.” (L.E. Kerbel – Russian Sculptor)

‘Alborada’ is the Spanish word for ‘the dawn’. In 1984, a music group was born in Peru, South America by the same name and they gained immense popularity. Their music mainly spread among people in North and South America. Their music’s foundation was the traditional music of Native Americans who lived in the Andes mountain range (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTD2VDcxvNc). Likewise, in 2005 a soap opera by the same name was broadcast in Mexico, North America, which became very popular. This story was based on a series of events that took place during the historical period when Panama and Mexico were on the verge of gaining freedom from Spain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iM5s_d1vls).

In 2021 Asoka Handagama made a film in Sri Lanka by the same name, Alborada. The protagonist of this film is Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973), the Chilean Consul in Ceylon for two years, from 1929 to 1931. He was very young, only 25, when he was appointed to this post. Ceylon was a colony at the time and he was lodged at No. 56, 42nd street, Wellawatte, Colombo 6, a place close to the sea. He had written down his reminiscences, in his own language, in book form. Later it was translated into English and published under the title ‘Memoirs’. According to this book, he had referred to his house as ‘My solitary bungalow’. It is said that the name Alborada was proposed by Pablo Neruda for the house of his friend, Lionel Wendt (1900 – 1944), who had lived at Guildford Crescent, Colombo 7.

Wendt too was fluent in several languages including English, Spanish and some other European languages. It is apparent, from documents and events that took place at that time, that his house, Alborada, had not been a lonely or tranquil place. It is clear that house Alborada was always full of people, such as painters, dancers, actors, photographers as well as pianists and those who enjoyed music. It was more like a cultural centre where discussions, art critiques and debates took place. (L.C. Van Geyzel, et al. [2000]. ‘Lionel Wendt: A Centennial tribute’. Lionel Wendt memorial fund; Sampath Bandara. [2017]. Lionel Wendt Kalava Saha Jeevithaya, Sarasavi Publication. [Sinhala]).

Though Handagama’s film was titled Alborada, the actual location, where incidents mentioned took place, was the Solitary Bungalow, the Chilean Consul’s official residence (Jamie James. [2019]. ‘Pablo Neruda’s life as a struggling Poet in Sri Lanka: A young poet’s Adventures in the Foreign Service’. Retrieved from https://lithub.com/pablo-nerudas-life-as-a-struggling-poet-in-sri-lanka/). In the 20th Century Sri Lankan context, Alborada was a distinguished active cultural centre. As a Sri Lankan cultural symbol, it directly connects with the character of Lionel Wendt. The creator of a work of art has the total freedom to create his work as he pleases and also to choose whatever name for the particular work. Handagama’s Alborada is similar to a poem, set to inspiring music. It includes a series of artistic figure compositions and features a number of skilled performing artistes. The trailer of Handagama’s film gave me some ideas.

When creating a work of art based on historical events, rather than myth and imaginary incidents, its trustworthiness depends on the people who faced the incident, the actual incidents, exact places, time period and the political and cultural background. Consequently, thorough research is necessary to identify accurate works based on historical incidents. It is difficult to rectify myths or false assumptions ingrained in society by unreliable books, documents, magazines or films. People will always embrace falsity, deception and myth, over the truth. Our culture as well as other cultures are replete with many such examples.

Alborada

‘Alborada’ is the name of Lionel Wendt’s house. It is important as it is the house of a great Sri Lankan cultural icon of the last century. It is also important as Alborada was the name given to the renowned cultural centre of modern history, in Sri Lanka. It is from this place that art activities in our country were taken to the international arena. Alborada was situated at No. 18 old Guildford Crescent. Today this street is called Premasiri Kemadasa Mawatha. Six years after his demise, in 1950 his friend Harold Peiris (1905-1981) demolished his old house, Alborada, and built a gallery and a performing arts centre (Lionel Wendt Art Gallery and Theatre) to commemorate him. It was designed by painter Geoffrey Beling (1907 – 1992), Principal Art Inspector, Department of Education, and Bernard G. Thornley (Manel Fonseka. [1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

When Lionel Wendt was alive, renowned upcountry master dancers, Amunugama Suramba and Nittawela Ukkuwa used to lodge at Alborada with their troupes, when they visited Colombo (Dancer Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, daughter of Master Dancer Suramba, Personal communication, 2017).

A documentary movie ‘Song of Ceylon’, directed by Basil Wright in 1934, was placed first at the Brussels International film festival in 1935. The creative segments of the movie were organized at Alborada. Manel Fonseka reported in an article, ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt’ in 1994, that in an interview with Julia Margaret Cameron, Basil Wright had said this about Lionel Wendt; “I think he was one of the greatest still photographers that ever lived. I should place him among the six best I’ve come across”.

As a result of discussions held at Alborada, master dancers Nittawela Ukkuwa and Amunugama Suramba were taken to England for a recording of drum beats, for the movie ‘Song of Ceylon’. This trip was sponsored by painter Harry Peiris (1904-1988). A dance school was established to develop up-country dance, in Gunnepana, Sirimalwatte, Kandy in the 1920s for Master Suramba, as a result of discussions held among a group led by Wendt and George Keyt (1901-1993). This troupe, which included the group of up-country dancers, Ukkuwa, Nittawela Gunaya, Punchi Gura and Sri Jayana Rajapakse, was later upgraded as the ‘Dance Ensemble of Central Lanka’. Jayana’s coming of age ceremony, inclusive of his ‘Ves ceremony’, held at the Degaldoruwa Rajamaha Viharaya, Kandy, in 1939, and Jayana’s dance training in India later, were all sponsored by Wendt (Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, Personal communication, 2017).

The first art inspector appointed to Sri Lanka, during the colonial era, was Charles Freegrove Winzer (1886-1940), an Englishman. He became close friends with Wendt, during his tenure in Sri Lanka. In the early years, Winzer and Wendt both wrote reviews on exhibitions of George Keyt, Justin Peiris Deraniyagala (1903-1967) and Geoffrey Beling. Wendt also translated Neruda’s art reviews from Spanish to English and published them (Manel Fonseka.

[1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

The first avant-garde art movement in Sri Lanka, the ’43 Group’, was born under the leadership of Winzer and Wendt. The 43 Group consisted of Wendt (Chief Organizer), painters Harry Peiris (Chief Secretary), George Keyt, J.W.G Beling, Richard Gabriel (1924-2016), Ivan Peiris (1921-1988), Justin Pieris Deraniyagala, George Claessen (1909-1999), Aubrey Collette (1920-1992) and L.T.P Manjusri (1902-1982). The meetings of the 43 group were held at Alborada until Wendt’s death.

Afterwards the meetings were held at the house of Harry Peiris, Sapumal Foundation, Barnes Place (Sarath Chandrajeewa. [2010]. ‘Modern Art in Sri Lanka and its socio-political environment’, Artful resistance: contemporary Art from Sri Lanka, ZKF publishers. Germany).

As mentioned above, Pablo Neruda was only 25 when he was in Sri Lanka as the Chilean Ambassador (1929-1931). At 29, Wendt was four years older. In his book ‘Memoirs’, translated from Spanish into English by Hardie St. Martin, published by Penguin, Neruda had written thus about Wendt, on page 93.

“Little by little the impenetrable crust began to crack open and I struck up a few good friendships. At the same time, I discovered the younger generation, steeped in colonialist culture, who talked only about books just out in England. I found out that the pianist, photographer, critic and cinematographer Lionel Wendt was the central figure of a cultural life torn between the death rattles of the Empire and a human appraisal of the untapped values of Ceylon.

Lionel Wendt, who owned an extensive library and received all the latest books from England, got into the extravagant and generous habit of every week sending to my house, which was a good distance from the city, a cyclist loaded down with a sack of books. Thus, for some time, I read kilometers of English novels, among them the first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, published privately in Florence” (Memoirs by Pablo Neruda, translated from Spanish by Hardie St. Martin [1997]. Penguin Books).

To be continued

Continue Reading

Features

Politics at its most primitive

Published

on

By Uditha Devapriya

Review of Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell

Sarasavi Publications, 2021, 118 pages, Rs. 300

Half-way into Shaveen Bandaranayake’s novel, the Minister at the heart of the story tells us that the wealth he earned was people, not money. This is what politicians usually say. In the very least, it is what people who dislike politicians imagine they say.

Come to think of it, both amount to the same thing: we’ve turned politicians into objects of hate so much that we’ve come to love them for being who we think they are. Since we can’t control them in real life, we want to dominate them in popular fiction. The number of plays and films that poke fun at Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ministers testify to how badly we want to be, not like them, but above them.

I am deeply suspicious of satire of that sort. In his excellent review of Pusswedilla, Hafeel Farisz tells us why political parody ends up serving the people and objects being parodied. This is not rocket science. At its best, political satire can move us to anger, disenchantment, and rebellion. At its worst, it can lull us into a sense of complacency with things as they are and as they seem. Farisz seemed to think that Pusswedilla epitomised the latter, reinforcing cultural stereotypes while offering no proper critique of the political establishment and the ruling class. I suppose you can say the same thing of Vijaya Nandasiri’s comedies: at his best, he makes us aware of the corruption of the political class; at his worst, he turns the corrupt into objects of love-hate, full of tropes and clichés but nothing substantive.

Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell reads as a political satire, though I have my doubts. Interweaving different stories and unfolding like a film, it goes back and forth. I won’t call its ending funny, but then how can any novel involving politics end on a funny note?

What Bandaranayake does in his story, short as it is, is to tell us that nothing good can come out of a system mired as much in corruption as in patronage. Since these people are tied to each other through politics, politics can prove to be their undoing. The way he forays into this theme and explores it, without regurgitating the usual political clichés, puts the novel at a notch or two above what you come across at, say, the Lionel Wendt. Without conforming to crude stereotypes, he attempts to humanise his characters, showing us why connections matter in politics, and why they don’t always work out.

The plot is simple enough. A woman comes across a corpse of a man at the foot of a hill one fine morning. She informs the police. By the looks of it, he seems to have lost his grip and fallen to his death. The story then rewinds to a political rally at that most obtrusive site of political rallies, a temple, where we are introduced to Sarath Aluwihare, a Minister trying to win his next election. We are also introduced to Sunil, a young man endeavouring to land a job. Events will unfold in a way that will bring the two of them together.

We are told that Sarath hails from a family of politicians, and that this family has been in politics for over two generations. The surname tells us as much. Sunil, on the other hand, is so unobtrusive that Shaveen doesn’t grant him the privilege of a surname, which, after all, is the preserve of those who matter. Like other village youths lacking employment and in dire search of a patron from the ruling class, Sunil clearly is not important; even when he finds a job as Aluwihare’s driver, his status rises, but not so much as to protect him from the novel’s ending. He is as destined to his place in life as Aluwihare is to his.

There are other characters though, and they have surnames. There is the head priest of the temple, for instance, an unabashed admirer of Aluwihare who uses him to achieve his not so religious purposes. Then there is Dileepa Jayanetti, who rises “from rags to riches” and ends up becoming the owner of the country’s biggest media house. Dileepa finds his way up by befriending the daughter of another prominent politician, who introduces him to Aluwihare, who in turn becomes his biggest benefactor. You sense the pattern here.

Halfway through the story, Dileepa hires Lasantha Muthukumarana, a journalist who tries to stick to the tenets of his trade. Dileepa does this because he thinks that by hiring the honest, he can keep them from being honest. For someone who is so bright and manipulative, this is far from the most brilliant decision he could have taken: a few pages later, Muthukumarana is investigating a hit-and-run incident which may be connected to Aluwihare.

In Bandaranayake’s world, everyone seems to know everyone else. That is why it comes to no surprise that the man run down by a vehicle in the middle of the night should have been married to a woman Aluwihare just happened to hire at his Ministry, and that she should be rumoured to have formed the object of Aluwihare’s affections. That Lasantha thought for a moment that a news report linking all this to a prominent Minister would make it in a paper linked to and blessed by that Minister is, of course, intriguing. But he tries to get it published it anyway. When the predictable opprobrium follows and he finds he can’t get it in, the story moves to its inevitable and in many ways unsurprising conclusion.

In saying all this, I am by no means revealing the plot. In fact, surprising as it may seem, the plot is what least interests me about Bandaranayake’s novel. This is a narrative I have come across many times, in many forms. Bandaranayake takes great pains to make it all relevant to the immediate political situation, i.e. the one we are in, now. Those who manage to draw links between his characters and their “real-life counterparts” should, therefore, be forgiven for thinking that he has attempted political critique masquerading as satire. My interest in it, then, has less to do with the novel than the genre it belongs to.

If Groundswell can be called a satire, it is satirical only to the extent that his characters are caricatures. Yet, as I implied earlier, it is not a satire in the way that a work like Pusswedilla is. The characters fit into preconceived and familiar patterns, but that doesn’t make them the clichéd tropes they turn into elsewhere. These characters are more rounded, certainly more complex. Sarath Aluwihare, for instance, does not possess the overstuffed tummy his counterparts from countless parodies do, while Sunil doesn’t become a Renfield type figure hell bent on catering to his “Master.” Even though Bandaranayake can be facetious, and is pugnacious, he refuses to dabble in the kind of satirical humour which could have turned his story into a Vijaya Nandasiri style parody of politics in Sri Lanka.

Depending on how you view it, this may be the strongest point or the biggest weakness in Bandaranayake’s novel. Groundswell makes several important points, and they should be considered pertinent whether they be couched the language of satire or of serious political critique. The medium is hardly the message, contrary to what people might say, and the way you communicate your ideas should not really impact the importance of those ideas.

And yet, there are one or two episodes which reveal Bandaranayake’s funny side. It is here that the disjuncture between the satirical undertones and the ponderous overtones of the narrative, and the author’s voice, proves fatal to the development of the story.

Bandaranayake is at his best when he is setting up situations, and these situations are, all things considered, effective in setting up the plot. He tries to create atmosphere, and does a good job of laying the context. But when each and every point is prefaced by laboriously long explanations of social phenomena, such as the separation between temple and State in Sri Lanka, or the wretched fate encountered by a million or so menial workers in West Asia, you struggle to distinguish between the narrative and the commentary.

For local readers, these explanations will at best be passé. I suspect they will be for foreign readers as well. Groundswell is a novel, or more correctly a novella, which could have been shorter, tighter, and more effective without them. Not surprisingly, the story gains strength when Bandaranayake cuts to the chase, and loses track when he does not.

I have read this kind of story many times before. What makes this one interesting is that it is Bandaranayake’s first attempt at fiction, and that, for a first attempt, it’s damn good. Even within its limits, he has come up with something enjoyable. That I enjoyed the book, and of course the brilliant illustrations that more than just decorate it*, is why I wish it were leaner, shorter, and tighter. Less can be more. More often than not, it is.

* With one exception: the eighth drawing depicts a scene that, if you think about it carefully, is at odds with the text on the opposite page.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Features

Thirty two little ballerinas win awards at TBSC’s 2021 prize giving

Published

on

Text and pictures by
PRIYAN DE SILVA

Thirty two little ballerinas were presented with certificates of achievements and awards at the 2021 prize giving of The Ballet school of Colombo (TBSC) held recently.

Directors of TBSC Tara Cooke and Romina Gyi said that they were extremely proud of the achievements of their charges and thanked the students and parents for their dedication in attending classes diligently despite the trying conditions.

Certificates of achievement were awarded in the baby ballet, junior ballet and intermediate ballet categories to students who excelled in pre-classical and pre-jazz ballet.

Debbie McRitchie, International Director of the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (to which TBSC is affiliated), in her congratulatory message thanked the parents for investing in their childrens dance education and the teachers of TBSC for preparing the candidates. She said that dance is like life and is a journey but not a destination and encouraged all stakeholders to work harder.

The prize giving was a proud moment for both students and parents as it was a parent who presented the certificates of achievement to their child. Five-year-old Shenaya de Alwis Samarasinghe was the youngest candidate at the prize giving, passing with honours in pre-classical ballet.

The Ballet School of Colombo was the former ‘Oosha Garten Sschool of Ballet’ pioneered by the late Kalasuri Oosha Saravanamuttu-Wijesinghe and was instituted as the ‘The Ballet School of Colombo’ in 2016.

Continue Reading

Trending