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Positive belief and confidence

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by Zanita Careem

How do you react to the public eye of being a model and beauty queen?

I have been in the fashion and Beauty Industry for almost 3 decades having been a Supermodel and a Beauty Queen and traveled to many countries representing our Haute Couture and my country as an Ambassador. The respect and recognition I have garnered in the public eye for representing Sri Lanka and making my country proud of me is irreplaceable. People know the contribution that I have made to uplift these two industries. I want to be a citizen who had contributed to my country and made a change, uplifted and strived for progress in whatever I do and adulation and accolades will follow suit. The admiration I have earned being in the public eye for many years as a Super Model and Beauty Queen still remains the same.

You were also a co-founder of one of Sri Lanka’s first web development company, what have you achieved in this field?

WEB Syndicate which I co-founded in ’96 went on to become a highly successful company creating the blue print and bench mark in web development in the country. We developed the world’s first online Tea shopping carte facility for Dilmah Tea. The company was also the first fully integrated web development company to build and own a state-of-the-art multi storey design studio in Pelawatte built as a SOHO complex in line with the San Francisco Dot Com revolution. We had the most diversified client portfolio of Exporters, Hotels, Multi Nationals etc. and quickly established ourselves as the number 1 web development company with the birth of the information Superhighway.

As an entrepreneur how do you see yourself a success or failure?

As an Entrepreneur I see myself as a success. Entrepreneurship is in the birth of ideas.
Innovation, talent, skills and vision which makes an idea a success but to achieve success throughout the years you need to have dedication, commitment and far sighted strategy and plan to see it progress through the years. During the 3 months lock down in this Pandemic I decided that I need to study further and make use of this long in house vacation we were forced to take and thereby studied ‘Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies,’ conducted by Harvard University. An enriching experience that paved the way for me to start my own company ‘Island Properties.’

How do you see yourself in the Real Estate Business?

I was excited to start my own property business and we have a portfolio of properties that comprises of villas, chalets, hotels, resorts and lands in tourism hot spots as well as commercial, residential and apartments for sale that many expats living overseas want to come back and invest in our Island. Though the pandemic has placed an obstacle with capital investments down or taking a back seat it will improve since this is the right time to purchase properties. I see Sri Lanka as the most attractive destination for new projects since we have so much to offer, therefore I see progression in this business.

You’re the brand ambassador for REM Solar, say something about solar solution and renewable energy.

Renewable energy is the way forward if we are to protect the environment and restore the losses experienced through centuries of industrialization and pollution. I believe in sustainable development while protecting our environment therefore I was happy to endorse REM Solar which is dedicated to provide Solar energy to companies and residences. The company in collaboration with the Rainforest Protection Authority is planting a tree with every KW purchased. They also have the best industry solutions and I am pleased to partner with them. We are an Island and each one of us should strive hard to protect our country from bio degradation. Green energy is vital to live a healthy life and with resources vastly depleting around the world protecting the environment, fauna and flora is important for the next generation. The pandemic has taught us that nature should be protected or there will be devastating consequences.

You also promote Sri Lanka Tourism through your Instagram, what are the obstacles you face in promoting tourism in Sri Lanka?

I am blessed to be part of this Island nation that has the most unique bio diversity in the world. We have everything from beaches, tea plantations, cultural sights, hill country, wild life and so much more. We depend on tourism as one of the primary earners to the economy. The pandemic resulted in many hotels facing closure. Promoting my country was always my first priority from the time I started representing Sri Lanka on an international stage. The social media and Instagram being a powerful platform to reach out to a wider audience, I decided to blog my travels promoting the scenic locations in our country as a blogger. It was to promote local tourism to bridge the losses from the pandemic since the country was closed for overseas visitors. A picture speaks a thousand words, so Instagram gives a beautiful story for the discerning traveler and it was a great way to promote tourism in our country in these challenging times. Most important aspect of Instagram is the pictures should be of high quality and have to tell a story. Therefore, compiling this along with promoting it takes time and effort which is not an easy task.

Politics is your passion; will you take politics at any time in the future?

I was invited to support Anura Fernando, co-founder of Viyathmaga at the General Elections by Honorable Namal Rajapaksa. I took this up and supported him via the social media and through political write ups and it was the first time I undertook to do this. Politics always interested me since the country is shaped by the government we choose to elect. Every time I represented Sri Lanka I felt I had the platform to bring in change and contribute as a citizen of the country. My grand uncle S.F.De Silva, the famed author of many Geography books and former ambassador to China was an influence to me along with my father the famous cinematographer and film director and the country’s first Diploma holder in motion picture photography A.V.M Vasagam who has contributed immensely to the film industry. His Film ‘Sigiri Kassapa,’ depicting the God king of our magnificent Fortress will go down in the anals of our historical movies as unforgettable. Therefore Yes, I would be involved in politics in the future.

Shivani you are known for your beauty touch on the modelling part and tell us the international exposure you received?

The international exposure I received first as a Super Model having traveled to Belgium, Italy, France, Oman, Abu Dhabi through ‘Shades of Sri Lanka’, Senaka De Silva’s fashion Troupe as well as India and Singapore promoting the country’s Batiks, Silks and Handloom industry to international heights where we received a standing ovation. It was followed by representing the country at Miss. Asia Pacific Quest in Philippines. I won the Miss. Sri Lanka in ’95 and the Miss Universe was held in Namibia where I placed 22nd out of 82 countries and was asked to open the national costume round. I also received a special spot on the Jon Secada Music video. Finally when I won Mrs. Sri Lanka in ‘99 I went on to win the 4th runner up at Mrs. World held in Jerusalem, Israel. The international travels and recognition I got representing my country is one of the most memorable moments in my life. I have been to 10 countries just representing my country as a Super Model and Beauty queen. Every time I wore the sash ‘Sri Lanka’ it gave me immense pride to be a Sri Lankan. All this was possible since I received the foundation from the fashion industry which paved the way for success in the other fields.



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Life style

“ForHer” campaign for breast cancer awareness

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As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Street Burger -home of Sri Lanka’s original gourmet burger-, launched its inaugural annual “ForHer” initiative, in collaboration with the Indira Cancer Trust and Suwara Arana -the first paediatric palliative care centre in Sri Lanka. The campaign kicked off on the 1st of October, and for the entire month the restaurant chain committed to donating a portion of every order placed at its outlets towards breast cancer research, medication, and support.

The ForHer campaign was initiated with the intention to not just raise funds, but also increase awareness on breast cancer – the most common type of cancer among females in Sri Lanka-, with the aim to also create a real and tangible impact on how we can steer conversations on the disease to the focus. Throughout the month of October and at all of its outlets –Bambalapitiya, Ethul Kottte, and Mt.Lavinia-, employees wore the iconic pink ribbon as part of their uniform, and all Street Burger customers were given the opportunity to participate and support this health campaign just by purchasing a meal.

“The statistics on breast cancer in Sri Lanka are alarming,” said Mafas Saheer, Operations Manager of Street Burger. “The launch of our ForHer campaign was our way of honouring the women in our communities, and doing our part to provide as much support as we can by raising both awareness and funds for the cause.”

Although launched to coincide with “Pink Ribbon Month”, Street Burger hopes to keep the campaign going well beyond October, with more initiatives to educate and engage its customers and the public for the benefit of all women in Sri Lanka.

Born from humble beginnings from a food truck on Marine Drive, but bolstered by a passion for innovation and love for burgers, Street Burger has now cemented for itself a reputation as the pioneers of gourmet burger culture in Sri Lanka. Street Burger sources the freshest premium-quality ingredients for the preparation of its intensely flavoursome and wide range of signature hand-crafted burgers, fries, and shakes – all made in-house; contributing to the ultimate gourmet burger experience. The brand now operates from three dine-in outlets across Colombo: Bambalapitiya, Ethul Kotte, and Mt. Lavinia.

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Top bridal designer of today

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Indi’s bridal designs design are renowned for its distinctive use of colours, quality of fabrics, intricate embroideries and a glorious rich Sri Lanka culture.Indi is included in the list of best Sri Lankan bridal designers and she is one designer who is acknowledged on the international pedestal for her different and unique designs of bridal ensembles. Her designs are elegant, her taste heavily inspired by local culture

Indi’s reimagination of traditions and styles is what sets her apart. And rightly so according to her the quintessential Indi’s bride is the one who’s self assured, highly confident and well aware of the craft and art.

A bridal attire is no charm if it is not designed under the signature label of popular designers. Indi is one designer whose collection provides ease with style. She creates magic when she puts together her mind and creativity to design any bridal attire.

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Life style

To the Ends of the Earth

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by Rajiva Wijesinha

Before the recent publication of Off the Beaten Track, Godage & Bros in this same year produced To the Ends of the Earth, yet another book by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha about his travels in exotic places.

That earlier book looked at four continents, North and South America, Africa and Asia but, as the title indicates, it was about the lesser known extremities of those areas. Beginning with Brazil, the book explores seven countries in South America, and also Mexico and three other countries in Central America along with three in the Caribbean. The travels there began in 1986 and concluded in 2019 with a journey to Bolivia.

That first visit hooked him as it were with the range of people and places he saw, for Brazil ‘struck me not as a melting pot, where everyone strives to settle within particular confines, but rather as a sort of fondue, where individual fiavours can be retained, while a common thread that provides reassurance adheres to each segment.

Being in effect a continent rather than a country does help. There is room for the Teutonic farmers of Rio Grande do Sul, with their expansive ranches and the fabulous churrascarias where one can pig oneself on all sorts of meats cooked in all sorts of ways, while animated conversations, characteristically Latin one would say, flow from all the tables around one; the blacks can have their energetic carnivals in Salvador, only to be outdone by the range of races in Rio who have made a multi-ethnic version of that art form emphatically their own; the mestizos, initially those of mixed American Indian and white blood, grow increasingly darker as one moves northward, and one finds too groups of oriental Indians and Chinese, adding their own characteristics to the mix; while out in the Mato Grosso and the Amazon areas to the west, pure Indians still live, some with lifestyles just the same as those their ancestors had practised for generations before Columbus sailed. ‘

In Peru and Ecuador he found fascinating the blend of Indian art and Christian imagery, the San Ignacio Chapel in Arequipa, decorated by a devoted Indian artist in murals that recreated the delicate plumage of tropical birds, in natural dyes that had survived over two hundred years, later the statues and pillars in many churches in Quito, the exciting capital of Ecuador.

But what entranced above all in this continent was the magnificent civilization of Aztecs and Incas and above all the Mayas. In Mexico he had a glimpse of a continuity of culture when at the great pyramids of Teotihuacan he came across a ritualistic dance, hundreds of young men dressed in evocative traditional costumes, headbands and elaborate cloaks, bare strips of cloth at the waist and intricate leggings, moving or rather stamping energetically in a complex rhythm, up and down, forward and back, persistently, powerfully, to the relentless beating of drums. They continued while he climbed up the pyramids of both the Sun and the Moon, and were still at it when he got back, an absolutely breathtaking sight, close up as well as from the heights that placed the pattern in even more vivid perspective.

And then there were the Mayas, the Temple of the Magician at Uxmal, a pyramid that somehow also had an oval shape, that took his breath away. That motivated another visit, this time to Guatemala, where a helpful consul at the border let him in without a visa to see the great complex at Tikal, deep in the jungle, which he wandered through on his own, to the sounds and sights of exotic birds, toucans and coucals and the colourful Peten turkey.

There were also other sorts of jungle adventures, jumping into the confluence of the two rivers that make up the Amazon at Manaos, fishing for piranhas for supper in the Kumaseva river near Iquitos in Peru, walking in the jungle there while his guide swung on lianas Tarzan fashion in dripping rain.

There are jungle trips in Africa too, crowded safaris in Tanzania and Uganda, tailor made trips in Mozambique and Angola, which allowed for lingering over glorious sunsets over river and sea. More unusual were the religious fantasies of Ethiopia, what was supposed to be the palace of the Queen of Sheba at Axum, the Debre Dammo monastery which had to be reached by climbing a rope, which he was dissuaded from trying to do, a long trek up a steep hill to see the Mariam Korka church, an impressive small building with wonderful paintings on its walls, and its neighbour the Daniel Korka church which required slithering along an open cliff.

There were too the fantastic rock hewn churches of Lalibela, and the monasteries nearby, one a long cave under a rocky ledge, with pilgrims clad in white and swaying gently to the relentless gentle rhythm of wonderful chanting. And there were beautifully illustrated bibles, which the priest held open for inspection without allowing them to be touched. These, and exotic crosses, which you were permitted to kiss, were drawn from ramshackle cupboards with total nonchalance.

Then there was rocking across the crocodile infested Nile in a coracle in Sudan, to see the multiple remains on Sai Island, a temple from the days of the pharaohs, a Byzantine Cathedral and the remains of an Ottoman fort. And nothing had prepared him for the pyramids of the Sudan, not one cluster but two, framed against a large rock at Karima, framed against the sunset at Begrawiya. That had followed a sight of whirling dervishes far outside Khartoum, a whole host walking round and round the open area in the middle, whirling and chanting, while the surrounding crowd joined in what seemed a marvelous frenzy.

Lions and hippos in the Serengeti pale in comparison, though that visit to Tanzania also included the beautiful architecture of Zanzibar and its quaint palaces. As exotic was the hilltop capital of King Moshoeshoe in Lesotho, a surprisingly beautiful country, which even boasted dinosaur footprints.

The Asian sections, looking only at the island nations in the east, provide equally unusual experiences, including ferries through the Moluccas islands, ending in New Year on a far away beach in the Kea Islands, abounding in giant tortoises and colourful starfish.

There were several visits to the Philippines, but the most exciting was the first, when he explored on his own, taking a bus up to Baguio and then to the underground caves at Sagada and the terraced rice fields of Banaue. Very different were several meetings with Ninoy Aquino, President of the Philippines from 2010, including a lunch when he had to make conversation in lieu of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister who gazed blandly into the middle distance.

The range of experience is splendidly illustrated, pages of lively colour and black and white pictures which capture the lines of the different arts and crafts of the different continents.

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