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From small boy to author: a Thomian’s oddysey

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by Uditha Devapriya

“Farren the Wanderer”, written by Sachintha Pilapitiya and published by Neptune Publications, hit the shelves at the Book Fair on September 19

At S. Thomas’ Prep Kollupitiya, Sachintha Pilapitiya had trouble speaking in English. The problem hadn’t been his articulation or pronunciation; it had been his grammar. “Every time I opened my mouth,” he remembers, “I knew I’d trip somewhere.”

Ordinarily this would have discomfited someone, draining his or her confidence, preventing him or her from talking ever again. For Sachintha, though, the way forward seemed clear. “I resolved to speak no matter how many mistakes I made.” Having wound up as Head Prefect, he knew he had to brush up quickly. “I invariably had to speak at official functions, especially at the Assembly. So I’d go through the speeches I had written many times before I walked to the podium and delivered them.” For a while, he says, it worked.

But such a solution couldn’t last forever, and Sachintha knew that only too well. So when two of his friends – twins and batch mates – “introduced” him to the Prep School Library, he was thrilled. They would have been in Grade Three or Four then. “We discovered Enid Blyton: Famous Five, Secret Seven, and so on.”

From there they graduated to Hardy Boys, “though we didn’t move on to Nancy Drew.” When in Grade 10, he was indulging in Dan Brown, and when he offered English Literature for his O Levels, his tastes had considerably widened. By then he was poring over “serious” writers: Dickens, the Bronte sisters, and of course Shakespeare.

The Local O Level English Language paper lasts three hours, but can be completed in less than 30 minutes. At a term test Sachintha had written it in 10. That left well more than two hours to do anything he wanted in the classroom. So he reflected on the books he had read, the speeches he had made, and wrote down a story. The story was about an adventurer, an explorer, or as its author put it, a “wanderer.” It incorporated the genres he’d grown up on and grown up with, especially fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure. “I finished the basic structure in two hours. When I came back to it, I fleshed it out even more.”

That was years later. By then he had completed his A Levels, finished school, and entered university. Having added other characters and subplots, he felt ready to publish it. Through an uncle, Chamikara Pilapitiya, he met a publisher, and did just that.

Farren the Wanderer hit the Book Fair at the BMICH on September 19. While I have read the book, pored over its illustrations, and let it take back me back to a childhood spent dreaming of fantastic beasts, unrelenting explorers, charming princes, and beautiful princesses, I am less interested in its story, and how it will captivate young readers, than I am in its author, and how he grew up.

Sachintha Pilapitiya was born in Kelaniya in 2000. His father had found employment in the medical industry, while his mother worked in the IT Department at Brandix; after his sister was born two years later, she quit her job to look after them.

His parents fuelled his love for writing. From an early age his mother would tell him bedtime stories: of beasts, explorers, princes, and princesses. His father, a more practical and hands-down person, would take him and his sister out exploring, “from the north to the south and virtually everywhere in-between.” This soon brought him into contact with the immense diversity and richness of the land of his birth, a theme he has woven into all his written work thereafter. “My father put wanderlust in my blood. My mother, on the other hand, instilled a love for imagining things, for writing them down, in me.”

All that had been long, long before his education began. His first school, S. Thomas’ Prep, had contained a close-knit community, where, he remembers, differences of race and faith just melted away. “Even today, I can remember the names of almost everyone three years my junior there, and practically all the teachers and staff.”

A whole flurry of extra- and co-curricular activities, of sports and clubs, followed. In Grade Three he joined the school rugby team, and in Grade Eight he joined cadetting, two activities at which his father had excelled. While indulging in these, he straddled other pursuits as well: Cub Scouting until Grade Five, Badminton from Grade Six (winding up as the Captain), and the Interact Club from Grade Eight. Of these Cadetting had occupied him the most, and he climbed up to the post of Cadet Sergeant.

School concerts had also taken up his time. “I was always a girl: Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, you name it,” he chortles. (I tell him that he could have fared worse; after all some of us were flowers, trees, and bushes!) “I pursued Kandyan dancing and underwent an ada ves ceremony, short of a complete ves mangalya. Given my deficiency in grammar, I began attending St Theresa’s School of Speech and Drama in Kelaniya as well.

For his O Levels, Sachintha had offered English Literature. “Not that the books we did were that interesting, though they were – R. K. Narayan’s The Vendor of Sweets, plus an anthology of poems – but I personally found the stories I discovered at the library much more fascinating.” Nevertheless he came to like his subjects, and having passed them secured a placement at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia.

Sachintha entered S. Thomas’ Mount in 2017. At first, he didn’t see any difference. “It was the College version of Prep, or so I thought.” Later, however, those differences came to light, especially after his parents boarded him at the College hostel. “At Prep we had been a tight and close community: everyone knew everyone else. Here, on the other hand, it was difficult to establish contact with everyone you met.” This issue had been heightened by his parents’ decision to enrol him at the hostel, “a necessity, given that otherwise I’d have to travel to and from Kelaniya every day.”

One of the most frequent themes that run through Farren the Wanderer is the importance of understanding other communities. This came to Sachintha in his hostel years, particularly due to the people he befriended there. According to Sachintha, most of them were even less equipped with English than him. That had underlined a more glaring division: not just of language, but also of class.

“Most of those in the hostel hailed from far-off places, and nearly all of them had attended S. Thomas’ Gurutalawa or Bandarawela. They were encountering English for the first time here, in Mount. The first few days at the boarding became hard to adjust to. Once I got to befriend them well, they taught me about life. In turn I taught them English. I believe, and I hope, that I succeeded, because it was my way of repaying my debt to them.”

The crowning moment of these encounters had been an Inter-House Drama Competition in 2018. Accordingly, the boarding students who belonged to Sachintha’s House – Sachintha being the House Captain – had to jump over their linguistic handicap, since they were competing against ordinary College students “all or most of whom hailed from English speaking backgrounds and could muster only broken Sinhala.” The odds were not in their favour, clearly; everything seemed to favour their competitors.

And yet, they emerged runners-up. That had shocked everyone. For a while thereafter, the feeling persisted that, somehow, the “bounders” had triumphed.

Sachintha found the experience refreshing. “It showed not only that we could prevail, but also that we could rebel against the stereotype of us being rasthiyadukarayo, which is how many ordinary students viewed those boarded at College.” Along the way, he managed to seal his friendships with them. “Even now, I know that if I call them up, they’ll be with me and by my side. They may have been demeaned as loafers, but I know that they are much, much more sincere than those who demean them.”

I feel I’ve written too much. I’ll conclude by mentioning that Sachintha offered an unusual combination for his A Levels – Combined Maths, Literature, and Economics – and topped them so well that New York University Abu Dhabi offered him a scholarship. He plans to leave the next year, in January or February, and “to carry forward my wanderlust.” He could have added, though he didn’t, that he’ll continue to write there, as he has here: while majoring in Economics and Legal Studies, he plans to minor in Creative Writing. In those two paths, no doubt, lies the key to his future.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com



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My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment says Beyonce

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Beyonce, shown attending the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, is slated to release a new album in July 2022

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, r Six years after she shook the culture with her powerful visual album “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s seventh solo studio work is a pulsating, sweaty collection of club tracks aimed at liberating a world consumed by ennui.

Beyonce, the paradigm-shifting music royal whose art has long established her as one of entertainment’s seminal stars, released her hotly anticipated album “Renaissance,” a house-tinged dance record primed for its summer needle drop

Eminently danceable and rife with nods to disco and EDM history — Queen Bey interpolates Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder along with James Brown and the archetypal synth line from “Show Me Love,” the 1990s house smash by Robin S — the 16-song album is poised to reign over the season.

Prior to releasing her opus Beyonce had dropped “Break My Soul” to acclaim, setting the tone for her house revival that highlighted the Black, queer and working-class artists and communities who molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.The megastar has indicated that “Renaissance” is but the first act of three, in a project she said she recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyonce on her website.

“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving,” she continued. “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking.”

“A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

– ‘Expansive listening journey’ –

In the weeks preceding the release of “Renaissance” Beyonce teased the album with the steady stream of glossy, curated portraits of herself that over the past decade have become her signature.But though she’s received wide praise for keeping the world of music videos on the cutting edge, Beyonce put out her latest record sans visuals (they’re promised at a later date.)

In a statement her label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records lent insight into the decision, saying the artist “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey.”

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, rap, house and disco.

“Unique / That’s what you are /Stilettos kicking vintage crystal off the bar,” she sings on “Alien Superstar,” which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a sonic ode to voguing, the stylized house dance that emerged from the Black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 1960s.

That song closes by sampling a speech from Barbara Ann Teer, who founded Harlem’s National Black Theatre.

On “Virgo’s Groove” Beyonce gets raunchy with an unabashed sex anthem, adding a titular nod to her star sign — the Virgo turns 41 on September 4.Along with a smattering of deep house cuts as well as tributes to gospel, funk and soul, Beyonce’s collaborators on “Renaissance” include Nile Rodgers, Skrillex, Nigerian singer Tems, Grace Jones, Pharrell and, of course, her rap mogul husband Jay-Z.

– Album leaks, Beyhive stings –

Beyonce has long bucked music’s conventional wisdom, and is credited with popularizing the surprise album drop.She later made waves by releasing “Lemonade” — the groundbreaking work that chronicled her own emotional catharsis following infidelity within a generational and racial context — first on cable television, and limiting its streaming availability.

Since “Lemonade” she’s released “Homecoming,” a live album and film featuring footage from her mythic 2018 Coachella performance, as well as the critically acclaimed song “Black Parade” — which dropped amid mass protests ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.

That song saw the megastar, who first gained fame as a member of Destiny’s Child, become the winningest woman ever at the Grammys with 28, and the gala’s most decorated singer.But for all her cultural clout and an indisputable throne in music’s pantheon, Beyonce’s songs have not seen the same commercial dominance as other contemporary global stars — her last number one solo hit was 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

That’s poised to change with “Renaissance.”

The album’s release saw Queen Bey return to music business as usual, deploying pre-sales, a lead single drop, a tracklist and polished social media fodder.But it wasn’t without a hitch — in the days prior to the official release, the album leaked online.

Bey thanked her hive for waiting, and added that “I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

“We are going to take our time and Enjoy the music,” the megastar told her fandom. “I love you deep.”–AFP

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Choosing high fashion brands is your best bet

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Women all over the world love branded clothing. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest reasons why women still prefer high fashion brands is because they are generally so much better quality than off-the-peg pieces of clothing. The best designer fashion brands always use top quality materials. And that means the clothes are more durable too. So, quality material doesn’t only feel good against your skin; it’s also a sign that the clothing will last for much longer without visible depreciation like stretching and colour-fading.

Wearing clothes from just one high fashion brand allows women to develop their own styles. There are various high-end brands to choose from, so you can effortlessly select one that suits your style and taste. High fashion brands like Chanel or Ralph Lauren highly recommended, as they are committed to helping clients develop their individual style via professional selection and a personalized-service. By sticking with just one brand that you adore, you can become identified with a particular style or design, and keep your fashion consistent.

Many women prefer high fashion brands because wearing designer clothing makes them feel prestigious. If you want to boost your social status, all you have to do is wear high-end brands. You can then brag about how you have the same designer as specific celebrities and gain attention from those around you. By wearing clothing designed by famous names, you can taste a little fame yourself.

Many women still prefer high fashion brands because they can be collectible. Who doesn’t want to own limited editions that will be the talk of the town? If you enjoy collecting, gaining a collection of high-end designer clothing could be a great hobby. By buying limited editions and collectibles, you will also find the items increase in value over time. So, collectible branded clothing could be a good investment.

The greatest reason of all for why women still like high fashion brands is simple: they’re fashionable. By wearing high-end designer clothes, you can feel like you’re somebody. You will stick out of the crowd by not wearing what everybody else is wearing. And you will show that you are up-to-date with all the latest trends. If you want to stay abreast of the current fashion trends, choosing high fashion brands is your best bet.

Celebrities and their favourite fashion designers

Ever noticed that certain celebrities seem to stick to their favourite labels like glue? Whether it’s because they’re BFFs with the fashion designers, are spokesmodels for the brands or are simply smitten with a certain

maison’s aesthetic, it seems that once an A-lister finds their fashion comfort zone there is no going back. With awards season in full swing and red carpet speculation heading into overdrive, we examine who is costuming whom.

Anne Hathaway and Valentino

It’s been said that Italian couturier Valentino Garavani’s popularity rivals that of the Pope in Rome and he has found his ultimate red carpet disciple in Anne Hathaway. Unabashedly one of “Val’s Gals,” the newly-engaged actress wears his molto elegante designs almost exclusively and, it’s been whispered, will walk down the aisle in a bespoke Va-va bridal gown.

Renee Zellwegger and Carolina Herrera

Quick, can you remember the last time Zellweger hit the red carpet in anything but Carolina Herrera? The Texan beauty is a true devotee of the New York-based designer saying that her clothes “make me feel as though I’m not trying too hard and that I’m telling the truth.”

Kate Middleton and Alexander McQueen

Between her now-iconic royal bridal gown and the breathtaking black velvet dress worn at a charity dinner over the holidays, the Duchess of Cambridge has quickly made the house of Alexander McQueen a household name. Sarah Burton, the creative director and successor to the designer, has emerged as a brilliant and inspired choice for a modern royal and together the two have managed to impress the entire fashion cognoscenti with every outing.

Pippa Middleton and Temperley London

When your big sister is marrying the future King of England, you can bet you’re getting your A-game on. Enter Alice Temperley, whose Temperley London line has long been the go-to

party-wear of choice for London’s glitterati. Pippa, was spotted in a glam emerald chiffon gown at the Royal Wedding reception and only a few months later took a front row seat at Temperley London’s Spring 2012 catwalk show.

She may be American’s quintessential golden girl but Blake Lively flies the flag for all things French, particularly when they form two interlocking Cs. As the newest face of Chanel’s Mademoiselle handbag line – hand-picked by the Kaiser himself – Blake makes the red carpet rounds clad in her favourite label and, in fact, is so crazy for Coco that she turned down other lucrative contracts to hold out for.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney

With two young kids and a rock star husband, Gwyneth’s look is decidedly more low-key than it once was but when the style maven does get kitted out, she selects

Stella McCartney’s form-fitting frocks to show off her intensely yoga-sculpted body. And why not? Over the past few seasons, sexy yet intellectual body-con have quickly become McCartney’s oeuvre.

Ashley Greene and Donna Karan

When Ashley signed on as the face of DKNY )last fall, the gig came with some serious perks namely in getting the First Lady of American fashion Donna Karan to custom design several of her red carpet confections. Apart from fronting the label’s campaigns and acting as a brand ambassador, theTwilight Saga star has already turned out in a spectacular array of jewel tone dresses.

Sienna Miller and Matthew Williamson

Despite having a fashion brand of her own in Twenty8Twelve, boho queen Sienna Miller has long been a muse to British designer Matthew Williamson. His effervescent bohemian-inspired designs are, quite literally, made for her.

Natalie Portman and Rodarte

Natalie isn’t just a friend or muse to Kate and Laura Mulleavy — the design duo behind the California-based label, Rodarte — she’s their golden ticket. When the

Black Swan actress stood up to collect her Oscar statuette last year, she did so not in a couture Dior design (for which she serves as a spokesperson) but clad in a frothy off-the-shoulder Rodarte confection. She also managed to hook the sisters up with a costume credit for the film and, based on their performance as well as Natalie’s avid support, we suspect it won’t be the last.

Lady Gaga and Mugler

Mother monster’s penchant for outré outfits and looks makes her hard to please. And while she’s often turned to Italian labels like Armani and Versace for her tour and stage costumes, Gaga’s fashion needs are fulfilled by one Nicola Formichetti, her stylist, BFF and newly installed creative director of the storied French fashion house of Thierry Mugler. The singer vamped it up for her modelling debut at Mugler and managed to get her paws on the entire collection in every colour.

Tilda Swinton and Haider Ackermann

In today’s cookie-cutter, keeping-up-with-the-Kardashians world, making an impression on the red carpet means making bold choices. Enter Scottish lass Tilda Swinton who transcends trends and embraces out-of-the-box designers like Jil Sander, Dries van Noten and, most notably, Belgian designer Haider Ackermann. His drapey silk dresses and jewel-toned pantsuits may not be everyone’s cup of tea but Tilda, ever the trailblazer, remains transfixed.

WOW, I was interested in brand names thought that brands made me a better and more respected person. When I was in college I got a part time job at a well known big name retail establishment. It was then when I realized how stupid I was. I stopped on my shoes and have never bought into the brand name fettish again said a top fashion designer.

I do own some luxury items like handbags because I love them, but if I can get same luxury goods I buy clothes now that look good on me, that flatter me and make me look younger. Who wants Ralph Lauren shirts that make you look like great granny? No, I would rather buy a blouse tht is low cut, no collar and sexy in nature that flatters me than a brand and a rider on the breast. I have strayed from big names brands and I intend to keep it so. Most of my matured friends are into this crap and we argue all the time. they think I can tell and otherc can tell that the jeans they wear are high dollar, really I cant tell unless they raise their blouse and show me the label. So stupidi so believe in you that labels aren’t everything. you can’t buy style, right? i grew and live in a place that only the richest can buy those designer pieces and where the there are so many malls but finding a really good place to shop is like a fortune. as my taste for clothes evolved, i realized that the best place to shop here without having to save so much are actually thrift shops said one of the models.

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The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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