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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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Mix of nostalgia and modernity among the young

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As a fashion studies major,the greatest interest has been seeing how younger generations are slowly changing the fashion world without really noticing. Many fandoms, as well as influencers, have created many important changes in fashion such as starting new trends through popular social media platforms.

Meanwhile how Younger Generations Have Influenced Fashion

Many people have considered that interests brought by younger generations such as fandoms and fashion are two different worlds, that younger generations and fandoms focus a lot on pop culture and other entertainment interests, and that fashion enthusiasts focus on the latest garment and color trends.

However, many don’t really realize how much pop culture, fandoms liked by younger generations have influenced fashion and vice versa simply because there has been a line made to divide these two into two worlds that most likely will never intersect, though this line has slowly disappeared within the most recent years, creating a fashion aesthetic strictly inspired by popular fandoms and pop culture.

Not only that but many people began creating and designing clothing that features strawberry designs inspired by the popular trending dress. This was a huge influence that younger generations have had in the fashion world, but this fashion trend also inspired many anime fandom artists to unleash their imaginations and create a wonderful world with their favorite characters wearing this magnificent dress.

This influence is only one of the many influences that pop culture, fandoms, and the younger generations have had in the fashion world. There have been many other fashion aesthetics that have trended and inspired many new garments and colour combinations. One of the popular aesthetics or commonly known as “core” was the cottagecore trend.

What is cottagecore? It is the aesthetic surrounding life in a rural and peaceful environment. This aesthetic has left an important impact on fashion because garments such as flowy and delicate dresses, sun hats and more headgear, sweater vests, among other styles of clothing have become quite popular as well due to the influence younger generations have had in the fashion world. Another important pop-culture interest has been the many entertainment sections such as many different series, anime, dramas, music and band groups, comics and manga, influencers etc which has led to the creation of many fandoms that have influenced the fashion world heavily.

But how has this been done? Well, with the rising popularity of pop culture and every entertainment loved by younger generations, designers and brands have decided to change their fashion path into a more laid back and casual but just as a trend and exquisite specifically made to appeal to Millennials and Gen-Z which are the cause in this sudden change in the fashion industry.

Popular stores have been the spotlight of fashion influenced by these generations and pop culture. Stores like these have a wide range of many innovative and creative fashion garments which were either inspired by a tv show, a band, an anime, a comic or manga, or even Disney and Nickelodeon classics and have been designed specifically to appeal to Millenials and Gen-Z by creating unique and playful accessories as well as garments. These stores have managed to make pop culture fashionable and made fashion more hip and exclusive for those lovers of pop culture. Another way of how younger generations have influenced fashion has been by making past trends come back to our modern times. For some reason, Millennials and Gen-Z have actually been so interested in old fashion trends, or more commonly known as retro fashion aesthetic. Many past fashion garments have made a very strong comeback, and young generations have even recreated its original style into a mix of nostalgia and modernity, giving this certain fashion trend a complete and new innovative aspect. Another interesting aspect of retro fashion was the incorporation of retro sources of entertainment into popular fashion aesthetics.

Many younger generations have been very innovative and unique in creating trends, sometimes they do not notice the impact that they are making for an entire industry and the inspirational fashion garments created due to the trends created by these generations but it is undeniable that the fashion industry has entered a world where the younger generations are determining how the game is played and introducing new and exciting trends that are fun, fashionable, and fresh. Embracing tradition, as well as modernity, has been the tool that the younger generations have made great use of when establishing new, wonderful, catchy and popular trends.

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How Young People Are Changing the Fashion Industry

New York Fashion Week is here and there is a growing fashion movement that has the potential to fundamentally change the industry: sustainable fashion. If designers want to endear themselves to Gen Z, they’ll take note of this important shift.

The last ten years have seen a dramatic rise in the educated consumer, one who thinks not just about the quality and value of the finished product, but how it got on the shelf — where the materials come from, who made it and under what conditions. This desire to understand the backstory of consumer goods has spread to fashion, and young people are forcing brands to take a look at what they do and how they do it. Gen Z, in particular, wants to align themselves with brands that stand for something (hello, Nike). Sustainability and ethical fashion are quickly becoming a part of this generation’s values set, as the negative impacts of fast fashion come to light (think environmental hazards and human rights issues).

But while there is a cohort of front-row influencers, celebrities and brands such as Allbirds, United by Blue, Girlfriend Collective, Reformation, Outerknown and Everlane that devote themselves to sustainable fashion, the movement still has a long way to go before it’s mainstream. Most young people today would consider sustainable fashion more of an ethical bonus or nice-to-have, not a requirement. The primary reason: The cost.

Most sustainable fashion naturally comes with a higher price point because of the devotion to ethically sourced fabrics, thoughtful construction methods, improved factory conditions, and improved pay for workers. When the average cost of one eco-friendly item is about $80 (at the low end), young people often have no choice but to shop elsewhere. Especially when you can buy several outfits at stores such as Forever 21 or Old Navy for that same amount. Young people are still in that fashion phase of wanting to wear the latest looks — and changing up their outfits daily. They don’t yet have that mindset to buy more higher-quality clothes and keep them for a long time.

–Vogue

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How Celebrities Influence Fashions

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Celebrities have always shaped and influenced the ongoing fashion trend.

Celebrities both Hollywood and Bollywood influence fashion by wearing whatever is in fashion and also sometimes they create their fashion trend by wearing something enormous, created by the world’s leading fashion designers.

Some of them are known to having better knowledge with fashion than other celebrities, we look to them as fashion icons. They are numerous ways celebrities can influence fashion.

Celebrities set the rule on how to dress to a certain event or how you should dress at a certain age. A lot of times celebrities will promote certain fashion trends. People dress a certain way because their favorite celebrity that they stalk on social media is wearing the same thing.

Fashion can be influenced by social media, the person wearing a certain type of designer or a piece of clothing from that designer.

Research says the some individuals who are referred to as opinion leaders has a major impact on what society thinks of a certain type of fashion. With having celebrities as a fashion opinion leader it leads to higher percentage of market sales. It is agreed that they tend to have more knowledge about fashion than a regular person would, even though if they do not dress accordingly to society at the time. The key aspect of fashion on celebrities is to be seen in the public eye which helps the consumer/designer get more clients or fame.

When it comes to celebrities and trends, clothing is one of the easiest ones to follow. It doesn’t matter what article of clothing celebs have on, if it’s in a magazine or on an Instagram feed, the next day stores are selling the same piece of clothing that said celebrity wore in a photo. It is easier to keep up with the changing trends because of Instagram and TikTok where many celebrities will post videos of their outfits when going out for an event or just spending the day at home. Everyone has their own unique sense of style but how do celebrities influence our style, and are we really dressing in the clothes we choose because we like them, or are we doing it to follow a trend?Celebrities have been known to popularize trends even after they go out of style. One of the reasons why people are so drawn to the styles celebrities wear is because many will choose to dress in a style that brings back nostalgia.

For example, some fashion trend that has been in and out of style for the last couple of years. Various stores and clothing brands have been selling items from tthis fashion collection for a while such as Hot Topic, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters. But the downside to clothing trends is that we realize “I’m never gonna wear this again,” or “I don’t even like this style, why did I buy this?”

Celebrities are good at advertising the clothing items they’re given because it’s part of their job, but sometimes they don’t even like the items they wear. So, why do we continue to follow clothing trends? They have been given lots of beautiful pieces of clothing to wear and when we see them in it and how people respond to them, we want the same reaction they get, so we choose to follow the trend people say

These celibritiescan also influence where clothing is sourced from. Some of the clothes that we wear are made from animals and harmful products that we don’t even realize are made from insects (silk), goats (cashmere), and sheep (shearling). Numerous celebrities have taken a stand against animal products in clothing, and have chosen to wear clothing that is vegan and animal-free.

For example, Ariana Grande’s wedding dress was made from stating vegan which, according to VeganFashionWeek, has “the soft and lustrous texture of satin to create the perfect wedding gown for Arianna Grande. Satin is made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, rayon fibers…)” The choice to buy ethically can influence fans’ styles because they may be inspired to purchase clothing that is made from vegan materials and animal-free products.

Another reason could be because many items that celebrities wear can be used on various occasions. Because celebrities have millions of fans who follow everything that they do, some celebrities have their own clothing lines designed to fit every size and every occasion so that they’re fans can dress comfortably and stylish. Cardi B partnered with Fashion Nova, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have a namesake clothing line, as do many other celebrities. It gives fans the confidence to expand their wardrobe, and it has made people feel comfortable in their own skin.

More positively, celebrities can influence our style by advertising to their fans to dress as themselves and not for anyone else. Angelina Jolie shared her views on fashion in an article last year, saying, “I think we all know boldness when we see it. Nothing makes me smile more than when I see someone being fully themselves, with their own individual style and character, whatever that is.”

Remember: celebrities have their own individual styles that match their own unique personalities and so do you. They can influence our styles because we might like how they look in movies, TV shows, and Tiktoks. It is worth mentioning that celebrities have stylists who dress them for special occasions, and designers who want them to wear their clothes. Style and clothing should be about self expression and instead it has become about trends and influence. Clothes are the reflection of the person you are on the inside so instead of following a clothing trend that’ll be over in a few weeks, dress for yourself.

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Sade Greenwood Miss Sri Lanka world 2022, speaks about Fitness and lifestyle 

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by Zanita Careem

The reigning Miss Sri Lanka world Sade Greenwood gives insight into the importance of a balanced and healthy lifestyle for achieving goals and overall wellbeing.

Sade is currently a student at Tokyo International University in Japan where She studies International Relations. She hopes to make a difference in her country using her degree, where she hopes to be involved in youth programmes and education. When Sade is not studying she is usually doing her charity work which involves environmental services and animal welfare. .

Sade with her sparkling personality and penchant for positivity personifies ‘beauty with a purpose’. She has brought immense pride to us all with her ‘walking the talk’ through her numerous charitable endeavors.

Q• Sade tell us about your journey from modelling to competing nationally, and winning the coveted Miss Sri Lanka World 2022 title?

A•

It’s been a surreal journey! Definitely a lot of adjusting as it was a huge shift in my life but all the same I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to represent my country on the  international stage. 

Q• You have always been in model shape. Have You had to change your workout routines when focusing on the beauty industry? 

A• I think I more so needed fitness to help me balance my busy schedules. It was always great to have a release from everything through fitness, it’s definitely something I used more for my mental and physical health in becoming a stronger version of myself.

Q• Being a part of The Fitness Connection Family and working out at the Gym what do you feel has been the biggest change? 

A• I think learning to achieve my goals. One thing about fitness is that consistency plays a huge role but so does diet! Learning to cut out on some of my favourite food is a little tricky!

Q• I know You have a hectic schedule and many commitments. How have your workouts at the gym impacted you positively? 

A• It’s impacted my mental and physical health and overall helped me balance my life and find a release from all the stress and strain.

Q• As you and your pathway have inspired so many, what advise would You give to those looking to balance their goals with their everyday lives? 

A• Make sure you love what you do! That makes it easier to balance anything in life because you’re putting your heart and soul into what you do. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ then, so train your mind!

Q• What motivates you the most, and gets you moving even on the most tiring of days? 

A• My goals and how the future version of myself would be proud that I made the decision to do something then and there.

We are all looking forward to your next chapters in what is definitely going to be an exciting and fulfilling journey. I will surely be speaking with you again soon!

*Sade Greenwood photographed at The Fitness Connection,

Racecourse Colombo 07

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