Connect with us

Features

AN OPPORTUNITY FROM A CRISIS – Part 24

Published

on

A small glass-bottomed boat operated by Coral Gardens Hotel in early-1970s.

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

Crisis Management in the Post Pandemic Era

Last week I chaired the eighth International Conference on Hospitality & Tourism Management (ICOHT 2021). Professor Suranga Silva of University of Colombo was my Co-Chair. We chose ‘Post Pandemic Tourism & Hospitality’ as the theme for this year’s conference. Some 105 scholars from over 20 countries made some thought-provoking presentations via Zoom. Apart from my welcome speech, I was involved in moderating a webinar on ‘Spiritual Tourism’ and a Worldwide Hospitality And Tourism Themes (WHATT) roundtable discussion with a dozen experts from different countries.

A key theme of discussion was re-building the tourism and hospitality industry after the pandemic. The importance of leaders’ ability to manage crises was discussed. The participating scholars agreed that crisis management should be well covered in syllabi of hospitality and tourism management educational programs. Increasing of global energy prices was seen as the tip of the iceberg of a series of new crises that may affect tourism and hospitality industry. Scarcity of hospitality trained labour was also identified as another crisis.

History shows that tourism always bounces back, but it will take a longer time in the post-pandemic era. Crisis management skills of managers, therefore will be essential in the ‘new’ tourism. Whilst appreciating that crisis management now has a new level of importance, it has to be noted that it always played a role in hotel management around the world.

A Crisis at Coral Gardens Hotel

In August, 1975, Bentota Beach Hotel became somewhat busier again. This was due to the mini tourist season resulting from the Kandy Perahera held on 10 days with over 100 elephants and more than 1,000 dancers. Some of the tourists who arrived in Sri Lanka to see the Perahera visited the west coast for a few days even though the sea was still rough. As the Trainee Executive Chef, I also became involved in helping the management team to plan for the next tourist season.

One day I heard some news about the sister hotel of Bentota Beach Hotel – Coral Gardens Hotel, which was located in the seaside town, Hikkaduwa, just 23 miles south of Bentota. Coral Gardens Hotel was one of the earliest hotels to open in the mid-1960s soon after Sri Lanka identified tourism as an industry with potential for economic growth and employment generation. The key attraction of this hotel was the nearby underwater garden famous for its corals and schools of beautifully colourful fish. The hotel operated the main glass-bottomed boat excursions for tourists visiting Hikkaduwa.

As Coral Gardens operated with a very small leadership team of just two managers (Manager and the Assistant Manager), Bentota Beach shared its Chief Accountant and the Maintenance Engineer with its sister hotel. Coral Gardens frequently faced problems with trade unions, and local fishermen and villagers who tried to sell handicrafts and corals to tourists. Therefore, although smaller than Bentota Beach, it was difficult to manage. A well-experienced hospitality manager – ‘Pappa’ Paranawithane was the fourth manager in four years to manage that property. He had suddenly retired and around the same time the Assistant Manager – Bobby Adams, resigned to accept a good offer to open the first hotel developed by John Keells/Walkers Tours Group – The Village, Habarana.

Meeting Bobby Adams

By then I had learnt that career building depends on relationships one fosters throughout one’s career journey. I met Bobby Adams for the first time in 1975, two weeks prior to his departure from the company. That was at Bentota Beach Manager’s (Malin Hapugoda) office, when Bobby came to say goodbye. A few days after that, on Bobby’s invitation, I visited him at Coral Gardens. He was a humble man who began as a dishwasher working his way through a hard life. For professional training he had done only a six-month craft course in Cookery at the Ceylon Hotel School while working as an Assistant Cook for Joe Wallace, then a well-known caterer in Sri Lanka (later Bobby’s father-in-law).

Bobby was also a rolling stone, but gathered lots of practical operational knowledge while changing jobs frequently. He was impressed that, just like him, I had worked at 10 establishments in a short span of four years in the hospitality industry. We compared our experiences in establishments where we both had worked at different times – Pegasus Reef Hotel, Windmill Restaurant and Havelock Tourinn. At the very youthful age of 25, he was now becoming a Hotel Manager. Three years later, he became the first-ever hotelier in Sri Lanka to become a director in charge of a hotel company in the corporate office (John Keells), surpassing all Ceylon Hotel School graduates of his age group.

Bobby Adams was the most ‘street-smart’ hotelier that I ever met. He was also a good story teller who often ‘spiced up’ the story in his favour. From the friendship I developed with him, I got a lot of practical tips. The main thing I learnt from him was how to create a positive image and make a name for myself as a hotelier.

A few years later, I worked under Bobby twice as one of his Hotel Managers and later as the General Manager for the largest and best two hotels in his corporate portfolio of seven hotels. When I was 27, I also became his deputy at John Keells head office. When I married in 1980, he was my bestman. Also in the same year, Bobby and I invested in a small boutique hotel in Matara – Beach Lodge, where we were partners and directors. I last met Bobby when he attended my 50th birthday party held at Mount Lavinia Hotel towards the end of 2003. A year after that, sadly, Bobby passed away at the age of 54.

Exploring a New Opportunity

“Chandana, come out of the kitchen and join me to go to Hikkaduwa for something very important”, Indrapala Munasinghe (Muna), the Assistant Manager of Bentota Beach Hotel told me while I was getting ready for lunch service one day. Muna was five years my senior at the Ceylon Hotel School and was subsequently trained in France on a hotel operations scholarship. On our way, Muna told me that he was offered the position of the Manager of the Coral Gardens Hotel. Up to that point the kitchen department there was jointly managed by a Kitchen Clerk and a Head Cook. Muna had convinced the board of directors that the hotel needed a professionally trained Executive Chef. That suggestion had been accepted and in spite of my young age, I was his choice for the job. Thank you, Muna!

While we were driven to Hikkaduwa by one of the hotel drivers, I negotiated with Muna that my salary will be increased by 50% to Rs. 750 a month and that I will be promoted as the Assistant Manager and Executive Chef if I perform well during my first six months. We shook hands and that was the deal. Exactly six years later, Muna and I both joined the Ceylon Hotel School as Senior Lecturers on October 1, 1981.

Just before reaching Hikkaduwa, I was surprised when Muna stopped in Godagama to meet two tough business people from the area – Lesley and Dudley. Then we went to their seaside inn – Beach Cabins in Hikkaduwa which was a small rustic place with six rooms attracting diving enthusiasts travelling on shoe-string budgets. I soon realised that Lesley was the boss of the town. He was well-built and strong and owned a few fishing boats and employed many villagers to do the fishing for him. He was also the best deep-sea diver in the area. After a couple of rounds of arrack and devilled beef, we shook hands and proceeded towards Coral Gardens Hotel. Lesley was pleased that Muna and I came to get his blessings prior to commencing work in his territory. We had his assurance that none of the local fishermen will create any trouble for us.

While we were approaching the hotel, Muna explained to me that “It is always better to do Public Relations (PR) with the people who matter well in advance, prior to any problems arising.” I was convinced that Muna was correct. I used this concept in my later career whenever I worked in an area that was particularly hostile to hotels seen as rich and selfish institutions by poor fishermen and villagers struggling to make ends meet. We walked around the hotel, looked at the office we were to share from the following week and adjoining apartments within the hotel provided to the Manager and his Assistant. Bobby Adams was packing to leave for Habarana to lead The Village Hotel opening project.

When Bobby showed me the kitchen, I was disappointed. It was outdated in terms of equipment and layout compared to the Bentota Beach kitchen. It was also behind time in terms of menus, operational procedures, production processes, buffet presentations and kitchen uniforms. Some of the members of the kitchen brigade were surprised to be told by Bobby that I would be in charge of the kitchen in one week’s time as the first Executive Chef of their hotel. Looking around, I guessed that most cooks were in their forties. I was only 21.

Career Mentoring by Malin Hapugoda

When we returned to Bentota Beach that evening, I began packing and saying goodbye to my colleagues. I had a motivating meeting with the Hotel Manager – Malin Hapugoda (Hapu). He told me to consider all those shortcomings I noticed at Coral Gardens as my opportunities to make a significant improvement to products and services. He also told me that as Coral Gardens will have only two managers, Muna and I have to be aligned properly to achieve common goals, revenues and profits while managing the demanding unions with a lot of tact and patience.

On my last day at Bentota Beach where I spent only one year, I felt that Hapu saw some greater potential in me. Four years later, as the manager of neighbouring Hotel Swanee, I became closer to Hapu, with whom I served on an association committee as office bearers. Four years later, in 1983, the day before I left Sri Lanka for graduate studies in the UK, the phone rang and it was Hapu. He wished me luck and checked when I will be back in Sri Lanka. When I told him that it will be most likely in 1985, Hapu said, “Call me the day you return and I will have a job for you.” That was as the first manager of a 150-room four-star hotel in Hikkaduwa which Hapu was in charge of developing at that time.

Around 2006, Hapu called me in Canada. By then he had become the Managing Director of the only Sri Lankan hotel chain operating hotels in four countries – Aitken Spence Hotels. This time, he offered me the post of Chief Executive Office, Aitken Spence Hotels in Oman, in charge of five hotels. Although I would have loved to work with Hapu again, due to my commitments in Canada I could not accept that lucrative offer.

Finally, in 2014, forty years after working as a junior member of his management team at Bentota Beach Hotel, I did a short consulting assignment for him. Hapu was then in charge of 27 hotels. I designed and delivered a team building session for his senior team of Vice Presidents and General Managers of Heritance and Aitken Spence Hotel Group. I felt deeply honoured when Hapu sat through all my training sessions with his team in their corporate office in Colombo. To me, Hapu is the most accomplished hotelier Sri Lanka has ever produced. I am proud to say that he is my friend.

Muna and I left Bentota Beach on October 1, 1975 and took over the management of Coral Gardens.

(Next week, unexpected challenges as Coral Gardens Hotel’s first Executive Chef at age 21)



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