Moments which Take your Breath Away
The Phi Phi Islands
by SinhaRaja Thammitta Delgoda
Limestone mountains climb out of the sea. Rearing up suddenly before us, great ridges slope down into the water. Their sides are crusted with clinging trees and bushes, their cliffs riddled with caves and gushing streams. Lying between the island of Phuket and the western coast of Thailand, these are the Phi Phi Islands.
Easing down, the speedboat glides round the rocky peaks. Skimming through openings we had not seen, it emerges into the sheltered bays and hidden coves of Koh Phi Phi Ley. There are many boats and many people, yet the sound of birds is in our ears. There is also another sound, the noise of rushing water. Pouring down the mountainside in streams of sparkling silver, it falls into the sea. In the distance we could see caverns opening, tunnels running into the mountainside. In one corner, a sliver of sand curves round the corner of the bay.
On the way out I had found myself near the prow. Finding an empty space I sat and mused, trying not to dream. Another passenger beamed at me. I felt self-conscious.
“Do you mind if I sit here and talk to myself,” I asked.”Not at all,” she said, “I hope you get good answers.”
Her name was Brenda Waterbury, a teacher from Canada. She and her friends would meet every evening, to watch sunset on the top most deck. Her friend Wendy was lugging a large mysterious bag, which she had brought on board. “What on earth is she carrying,” I wondered politely to myself, ” and why on earth is she carrying it here.” It turned out that she had the only flippers in the group. I watched in envy as she swam effortlessly across the bay, beneath the shadow of the looming rock.
In places the water is dark and blue, shaded by the towering cliffs. Elsewhere it is green with the shadow of the trees; clear and light in places where the sun shines through. There are no waves here, just a deep and languid swell. Beneath our feet were massive domes and moulds like brains, huge blooming flowers and sprouting cabbage leaves. Darting between them were moving forms, bursts of colour, stripes and spots, Parrotfish, Angel Fish and Butterfly Fish, Wrasses and Groupers.
North of Phi Phi, is Koh Mai Phai. In Thai, it is Bamboo Island. Here there are no looming limestone crags, just white sand and a lapping turquoise calm. Nature here is less dramatic; softer and more gentle. The water here is not so clear, shallow and full of sand. It is also full of boats and people.
Swimming out, the spell began to fade. All I could see was a murky haze. The floor was littered with coral pieces, some were broken, others were bleached and lifeless. Swimming out further I passed the throng. The water here was deeper. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity. Two large fish loomed out of the sandy blur, they were feeding or trying to feed. Snapping in gulping movements, they were pecking at another fish. Surrounding them were swarms of smaller fish. Nipping and tearing in furious rushes, they fought back in numbers, holding the larger fish at bay. It was the first fight I had ever seen underwater. A glimpse of magic, a world of make believe. It seems only to exist in films and documentaries but there it was in front of us: a moment which we could reach out and touch. All of a sudden we were there, we were a part of it and it was part of us.
Crowding back into the boat, we clustered near the bows. As the bow lifted out of the water, we thrilled to the glow of speed, the sheer romance of rushing towards the sunset. The speedboat was a torpedo, cutting through the water like a streak of light. When we looked to see, we saw that we were travelling along a carefully defined path, along a channel marked in the sea.
They were other boats too, all travelling home along different paths. Trundling fishing boats, wide, wallowing catamarans and long tailed boats with curving fan shape prows, which swayed from side to side. In the distance the islands glowed and smouldered, aflame with falling light.
Flying back through the setting sun, Brenda recalled these words.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments which take your breath away.”
Rupert Murdoch set to marry for fifth time at 92
BBC reported that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has announced his engagement to his partner Ann Lesley Smith, a former police chaplain.
Murdoch, 92, and Smith, 66, met in September at an event at his vineyard in California.
The Businessman told the New York Post,one of his own publications: “I dreaded falling in love – but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.”
He split with fourth wife Jerry Hall last year.
Children’s happiness with gardening
By Arjuna Hulugalle
On October 7th 2022, Homagama Subarathi Maha Vidyalaya in Godagama Homagama commenced their Home Garden Program, with the support of Nest, a Community based Mental Health organisation. The objective was to reduce the short fall of food in the diet of the children and to deal with malnutrition in the school population. Both the teachers dealing with Agriculture and Domestic Science have been involved in the initiative.
The outcome of the programme has many positive developments. Both the teaching staff and the children have shown great enthusiasm. Children’s happiness with gardening became evident. The students began to understand the importance of eating organic vegetables and the role of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Open air exercise which gardening brings with it has added to better health. The students have also realized that our country does not have to worry about hunger and malnourishment, if one uses available resources.
The first stage of the Subarathi Maha Vidyalaya program is to create a model garden in the school premises. Even classrooms are encouraged to be used for accommodating “grow bags” with various types of yams.The second stage of the programme is to make model gardens in the homes of 100 senior students with special interest in agriculture. The parents of the students are also drawn into this program.The third stage is for the 100 seniors to concentrate on the balance 2500 students and motivate them to set up model gardens in their homes.
The Model Home Garden in School
The School garden has a representative selection of vegetables but is concentrating on Dambala, Cabbage, Long beans of two varieties, Turnips, Occra and KankunA spice garden is being developed with three varieties of chillies, two varieties of kochchi, mint, celery and pepper.
Yams are being grown in “grow bags” inside cClass rooms. The varieties propagated are Kiri Ala and Bathala.Trees grown in the school premises are Delum, two varieties of Nelli and Murunga.
Model Home gardens of the selected 100 students
These are being trained for their tasks of developing their own model home gardens and also to motivate the other 2500 students of the school and set up Home Gardens in their own homes.Intensive training sessions have been conducted starting with Dr Lionel Weerkoon, a world renowned authority on home gardens and Dr Anuruddha Padeniya who spoke on the value of organic agriculture.
The students were given packets of seeds of bitter gourd, pumpkin, kankun, Occra, long beans, dambala, green chillies and beans. Those students who have space in their homes, were also given trees and plants to be planted in their own home gardens. The saplings included Murunga, Jack, Nelli, Del, Delum, Avocado, Orange and Divul.
The Role of the Parents and the past students
The Home Garden program is supported by the Parents and past students and soon will interact more with the community at large. Already, they have contributed towards a sprinkler system for the School Garden.In the long term the Home Garden program can grow into market gardening in the community.
Dance Epicure first Dinner Dance Theatre
A captivating evening of dinner and dance – Dance Epicure by ‘With My Feet’ brings UK champion dancers and the best of Sri Lankan talent to the same stage Dance Epicure, Sri Lanka’s very first Dinner Dance Theatre concept produced by With My Feet is all set to entertain and delight on the 2nd of April at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. The vision and brainchild of the legendary Naomi Rajaratnam, the uniquely curated evening of dance and gastronomy produced by the Colombo Dance Theatre will feature a roster of extraordinary international and local dancers paired with a night of culinary delight.
The latest initiative by Naomi, the Colombo Dance Theatre comprises of a company of elite international and local dancers woven firmly together by masterful choreography and a great love for dance. Dance Epicure will not only be the Theatre’s inaugural performance, but also the first of its kind in Sri Lanka; where artfully choreographed dance segments will be performed between a four-course sit-down menu. The highly anticipated event will feature the likes of world-renowned dancers – namely five-time undefeated UK National Latin American Champions Gunnar Gunnarsson and Marika Doshoris, as well as the formidable Nauris Kalva and Manuja Hughes, Blackpool Open Smooth Champions – sharing the stage with the best Sri Lankan dancers from Naomi’s own dance company With My Feet.
Naomi’s desire to uplift dancers from far-flung rural areas in Sri Lanka by providing them with the opportunities and spotlight they deserve has always been encapsulated in her dance showcases. It is with this vision in mind that Dance Epicure will also feature a heart-warming performance by the children of the Warehouse Project; an urban community solution in partnership with the Sri Narada Foundation. Additionally, as with all of Naomi’s shows, part of the proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will go towards the Dev Siri Sevana Elders Home in Welisara.
Commenting on the upcoming event, Naomi Rajaratnam said, “I am so honoured that some of the UK’s leading dancers have chosen to collaborate with us, and I am equally thrilled to be able to showcase the best of our Sri Lankan talent on the same platform.”
“The concept of a Dinner Dance Theatre has been on my mind for the longest time and I couldn’t think of a better moment to finally turn this dream into a reality,” she added. “The calibre of these world-renowned dancers paired with the best of With My Feet dancers is the perfect opportunity to offer a something truly unique to our Sri Lankan audience.”
The principal partners of Dance Epicure are Standard Chartered Bank Priority, Maliban Biscuit Manufactories, John Keells Properties, Sri Lankan Airlines, Shangri-La Colombo, Wijeya Newspapers and Capital Maharaja Group.
Tickets for Dance Epicure go on sale on Saturday the 11 th of March 2023 and can be purchased online at https://withmyfeet.com/. With My Feet social media pages will soon be updated with where tickets can be purchased offline.
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