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Taste for good cars

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BOOK REVIEW

VINTAGE DENNIS AND ROBEY VEHICLES IN SRI LANKA by Ali Azeez; 60 pages, A5 size, numerous black-and-white and colour illustrations; published privately in 2014.

Copies in PDF format may be obtained free of charge by emailing the author at aliazeez07@gmail.com .

Reviewed by Roger Thiedeman

The pioneers of Sri Lanka’s vintage car movement in 1953 were Capt. E.B. ‘Tabby’ Murrell, Mr. Edward ‘Bugs’ Mason, Mr. H.C. (Chitru) Peiris, and Mr. W.R. Daniel. In following decades the old car ‘baton’ was passed on to other stalwarts, of which Mr. Vere de Mel was one. Another was the author of this book, Mr. Ali Azeez.

Ali’s enthusiasm for motor cars, especially what are today considered vintage and classic automobiles, began at an early age. Born into a family noted for its good taste in cars, it was inevitable that Ali would develop an interest in all things automotive: driving, maintaining, owning, and collecting a variety of vintage vehicles, while reading extensively on the subject. Today he is the proud owner of a 1936 Riley Lynx ‘Special Series’ tourer that once belonged to a close relative, and a 1937 Citroën Traction Avant 11CV Familiale (11B) long-wheelbase saloon. Land Rover is another marque beloved of Ali Azeez.

In time Ali became an active committee member of a succession of veteran/vintage car clubs in Sri Lanka, culminating in him holding senior positions in the Vintage Car Owners’ Club of Sri Lanka (VCOC). That was a period when, in addition to his knack for organising and promoting numerous vintage car rallies, road races and exhibitions, as the VCOC’s Newsletter Editor Mr. Azeez began to research and write ‘dossiers’ tracing the histories of interesting old cars for publication in the Newsletter. The subjects he chose were mostly vehicles owned by club members, but others from Sri Lanka’s motoring past were featured too.

One of Azeez’s in-depth profiles is the only detailed history of one of the rarest and finest cars to grace the roads of old Ceylon: a 1924 Napier 40/50 hp Cunard limousine which was imported by a distinguished member of his family.

In view of the passion, time and energy Ali Azeez selflessly invested in serving the VCOC, his involuntary exit from the club more than a decade ago in circumstances of which he was an innocent victim, can only be described as unjust and senseless.

Despite that blow, Ali Azeez never lost either his love of vintage cars or avid interest in motoring history. If anything, it gave him more time, opportunity and motivation to begin learning about types of vehicles that most other vintage enthusiasts might regard as ‘unglamorous’ and unworthy of their attention. This book is partially the result of that work.

Inspired by photos this reviewer took in 2011 of the Kandy Municipal Council’s preserved 1929 Dennis G-type fire engine, and two Robey steam wagons at the Sri Lanka-German Railway Technical Training Centre (SLGTTC), Ratmalana, Ali began his quest to discover as much as possible about the individual histories and mechanical characteristics of those vehicles. With encouragement from Mr. Brian Elias, a personal friend of Ali’s and Editor of a local newspaper’s motoring supplement, Mr. Azeez contacted several organisations in the UK dedicated to the preservation and history of old fire engines and steam-powered wagons (lorries) and traction engines.

Key members of those societies, with whom Ali forged close relationships, generously provided him with vast amounts of information, including rare photos and excerpts from specialist journals pertaining to that trio of vehicles before and after they arrived in Ceylon. Much of that material has been used in this book, which is all the better and more attractive for their inclusion.

Supporting the author’s text and pictures in both black-and-white and colour of Kandy’s Dennis fire engine, registered G-1010, official Dennis factory records provide more fascinating details. Extracts from Customer Order Books, Works Production Orders, and Chassis Lists and Despatch Records – each occupying a full page of the book for easy reading – comprise a potted ‘biography’ of this historic fire appliance, beginning in 1929 at its birthplace in Surrey, England.

As a bonus, the book contains information and photographs of other Dennis fire engines that served in Ceylon. Most notably a 1955 F8 model used by Britain’s Royal Navy at the dockyard in China Bay, Trincomalee. It later returned to the UK where it is now the prized, pristine possession of a fire engine enthusiast who also proved helpful to Ali in his research project.

Another comprehensive chapter is titled ‘Robey Steam Wagons in Sri Lanka’. Commencing with a brief explanation of the technical aspects of steam propulsion in roadgoing vehicles, the narrative shifts to a short history of Robey & Company, the Lincoln, UK-based makers of the two steam wagons of 1925 and 1928 vintage that are this chapter’s principal subjects.

Official records, correspondence relating to the two Robeys, plus a table of their ‘vital statistics’ aside, photographic coverage of both wagons is particularly impressive. Sure to please any lover of transport nostalgia and memorabilia, not just motor or steam vehicle aficionados, are photos of both vehicles working hard for their then employers, the British Ceylon Corporation (BCC), at various locations around Colombo. Two such ‘period’ pictures in colour are stand-outs, although others in black-and-white from the pages of UK-published Steaming magazine, are equally appealing. More colour pictures depict one of the vehicles (registered C-6037) at VCOC rallies and exhibitions before and after restoration by the SLGTTC.

But Ali Azeez’s interest in vintage motoring goes beyond classic motor cars and the utilitarian commercial types that are this book’s main subjects. As a fervent advocate for the preservation and fostering of Sri Lanka’s motoring heritage, for many years he has been campaigning and lobbying relevant authorities – and anyone else willing to listen – for the establishment of a national motoring museum, with State backing and continuing upkeep.

In a chapter titled ‘Transport Museum: An Immediate Need’ Azeez describes some of the museums in Sri Lanka, extant and defunct, small and large, dedicated to other types of transport. For example, the Old Town Hall Museum in the Pettah (which houses another steam wagon, built by Sentinel), the Sri Lanka Navy’s Museum at the Dockyard, China Bay, and the excellent Sri Lanka Air Force Museum at Ratmalana Airport. In fairness to the author, given that this book was published in 2014, no mention is made of the National Railway Museum at Kadugannawa, which was opened in late December that year.

Not entering into the author’s ‘calculations’ either are the motoring museums established in Sri Lanka over the past few years by a small handful of private and discerning car-collecting connoisseurs. Their extensive, varied and dazzling collections of motor vehicles are displayed in purpose-built ‘showrooms’, one in particular rivalling the facilities of better-known motoring museums overseas. But they are not open to the public, with visitors admitted in small numbers and only by special arrangement with the owners.

Rather, what Ali Azeez would like to see is a unified transport museum, accessible to the general public, that would accommodate, all on the same premises if not under one roof, the many road transport relics currently scattered around various government institutions. To demonstrate his point, he has depicted several of those vehicles within this chapter’s pages. Such a facility might induce private owners of historic vehicles to place some of their precious automotive possessions on public display in a secure environment, perhaps on a rotation basis as determined by the museum’s curators.

Almost as if responding to his own pleas, Ali Azeez cites numerous instances of how and when similar proposals were mooted, attracting tentative interest from the authorities, only for those grand plans to be shelved or disappear altogether. From this reviewer’s pragmatic point of view, the current economic climate in Sri Lanka – COVID-19 notwithstanding – will never be conducive to any such ambitious albeit laudable project getting off the ground, let alone reaching fruition.

Yet that should not detract from Ali Azeez’s well-meant intentions and dreams. Nor from his passion and foresightedness as a lover of all things motoring, not only when he wrote this book but over the years before and since. This slim but pleasing volume, packed with information, historical records, and attractive illustrations, is recommended to anyone interested in all aspects of road transport history, especially in the context of Sri Lanka.

 

 

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My life in Moneragala

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Memoirs of a GA’s wife

by Carmen Ranjini Amarasekera

It was in 1965 that Wimal assumed duties as GA Moneragala. We were just married and having been born and bred in Colombo, I was longing to live in an outstation. Moneragala was the ideal place for me because I loved jungle life. Kataragama, Yala, Bibile, Mahaoya, Nilgala, Lahugala and Siyambalanduwa were all within that district and close to Moneragala. The district also had a rich cultural heritage with many temples, not well known but of historical value. It was even more interesting because many people did not go there because it was not so developed.

There were only few people we were able to associate with – among them the DRO, (District Revenue Officer), DLO (District Land Officer), SSO. (Social Service Officer) and ACCD. (Assistant Commissioner of Cooperative Development). Most of them were bachelors except Mr. Talagune, the DRO. Wellawaya and his wife Kalyani whom I was quite friendly with.

About two weeks before the Katara-gama firewalking we had to be there in situ. As the GA, Wimal had to go about a fortnight earlier and take up residence there. He had to resolve problems arising there officially and I too joined him. That was the first time I saw the real Veddahs. They were from Pollabedde and their language was quite different to ours. I got used to Wimal being called Mahahura as they called the GA. We stayed till the firewalking and early next morning the water cutting ceremony in the Menik Ganga where the whole procession got into the water.

I enjoyed the firewalking spectacle even more at Kotabowa where they had another such ceremony annually. It was quite different because the GA and officials had temporary huts built for them during the festival. We took our mats, pillows, cooking utensils, lamps etc. and stayed there for two days. That was an enjoyable experience with the jungle all round us and a river flowing nearby.

I met many people who used to come there for the festival – the real rustic people. Sometimes I think most of us prefer to have a simple meal wrapped in a plantain leaf seated under a shady tree near a stream than eating with the best cutlery in a five star hotel. The memories I treasure are the simple ones even from childhood. Maybe we will always remember a picnic we had rather than a party. Just like that the two days I spent in Kotabawa stays in my memory.

Apart from the govt. servants there were two people there who were very friendly with us, Mr. & Mrs. Berenger, the Superintendent of Moneragala Estate. Millie and Clarence as they were called were very hospitable. At Moneragala Group they had a lovely bungalow on top of a hill and it was as cold as in Nuwara Eliya up there. A swimming pool, blue grass lawns, and a beautiful house with the best furniture and well stocked bar. I liked everything about them except that Mr. Berenger was a hunter and I never liked to go on trips with them.

If we went with them he had to promise that he will not shoot any animal or bird while he is with us. One day we went to the jungle and he saw a wild boar and reached for his gun, but I told him firmly “if you want to shoot at something get us some woodapples high on the tree over there”; and that is exactly what he did. They are no more with us now. A few years after we left Moneragala they met with a tragic accident and died together.

Bibile was also a very nice place. The DRO Mahaoya, Mr. Abey Danuwille, was quite friendly with us. We always went to see him when we were there. Once when we visited he had two leopard cubs. They were very small like big cats. He had them in the house and they were very tame following him all the time. But that did not last long. Next time we went there they were in chains tied outside. I sensed a change in them. They snarled at me and I got a little scared. Abey told me they didn’t like females (unlike other males) maybe because he was a bachelor and they didn’t see many women around. He couldn’t keep them for long when he started feeding them with raw meat and they became dangerous and had to be given to the Zoo.

Once we went on a very interesting trip across the Strict Natural Reserve. The two DROs, DLO. SSO and ACCD went with us. We went in two jeeps from Yala to Kumana. That was the route that the pilgrims from Panama, Pottuvil and even Jaffna used to take. They start from Kumana and come to Kotambawa a month before the festival with their cooking utensils, dry rations, etc. When we planned the trip I was in charge of the food being the only female in the group. I prepared quite a lot of ambul thiyal, roast wild boar, accharu, seeni sambol, boiled eggs and potatoes; plenty of water, soft drinks and tinned foods were also packed. In Moneragala I used to bake my own bread so I took plenty of home- baked bread. The driver said we had to take an axe because the path was not used much and we might have to cut the branches off trees. That was back in the 60’s but things may be quite different now. A tracker from Yala accompanied us.

The first animal we saw was a fox. Someone said it was lucky to see a fox at the beginning of a trip and that made us very happy. I later thought that there may be some truth in these sayings. First we crossed the Menik Ganga and as it was the dry season there was only a little water in the river and we were able to cross it without any problem. On the way we saw plenty of wild boar, deer and pea fowl. Everyone who goes to Yala sees these species. On the banks of Menik Ganga we saw the pilgrims – one man said it was the 19th day of their long march. They were all men and one was scraping coconut, the other was cooking the rice in a pot. I asked them whether they encountered any elephants or leopards; they said when they see any animals they chant a manthram. That is their only weapon and they have never been harmed. Sometimes I feel that even if I walk in the thick jungle nothing will happen to me. Nowadays we have to be careful of terrorists rather than wild animals!

The second river we crossed was the Kumbukkan Oya which had more water than the Menik Ganga. The first jeep crossed the river safely but we were in the second jeep. Just as we were about to cross the water, it stalled and then I saw the biggest, hairy-est and the most ferocious looking

wild buffalo I have seen in my life. Wild buffaloes unlike elephants have a way of looking at you as if they are about to charge at any moment. We were almost helpless then with our jeep stalled with water in the engine. In the circumstances we had nothing we could do but stay quiet in the jeep. I suggested putting the shutters up and got some cold looks from the others who seem to be saying “as if that is going to help us”. Those few moments were so full of tension and suspense perhaps without which a trip to the jungle would not be worthwhile. After sometime the animal went away. We gave him plenty of time and the two drivers got the jeep going and we resumed our journey.

There were times we had to cut the branches off the trees to make a drivable track. Suddenly we heard the sound of branches breaking and just then on to the left of us we spotted a tusker, a loner who is dangerous. He was not blocking our path so we had a good look at him and drove slowly past without disturbing him. Our next destination was the Kumana school where we planned to stay the night.

It was a small village but I saw one of the prettiest girls I can remember there. Maybe she was of mixed blood because she was very fair, with dark brown eyes. We had time for a small walk before nightfall and we went a little further to the jungle when we heard a noise. The tracker told us that it was a leopard looking for prey. They all insisted that we should return to the school specially because there is a lady in the group. I protested saying I can run as fast as any one of them.

We shared our meal of bread, seeni sambol, fish etc. with the principal and he gave us some kurakkan roti and dried venison. After the meal we sat by the fireside and he related some very interesting stories and experiences he has had while there. We were very keen to know local customs and asked about that. We were surprised to hear that for the six years he had been there, not a single death had occurred. For a sickness the medicine they take was very simple. Once a month the Apothecary came on a bike from Panama with just two medicines – a cure-all that had been very effective. I don’t know how it is now over 50 years later with the development that has occurred. But there is more sickness and more problems as life becomes more complicated. Next morning we started about 9.00 a.m.; it was a holiday for the children that day. As GA, Wimal wanted to know the needs of the school and the other officials noted the shortcomings as stated, promising to see to their needs immediately they get back to work. We left the principal saying that we will return soon.

We saw some beautiful birds in Kumana. It was a bird sanctuary and we saw so many different kinds of birds. Next we went to Okanda. There was an old devale there near the sea. Almost on the beach there was a stone boat and the priest told us a very interesting story connected with it. According to him God Skanda had come in a boat and landed there. He with his friends had gone into the jungle to explore when two thieves had come to rob the valuables in the boat. When Skanda returned he saw the two men and with his supernatural powers turned them into stone. The rock boat had two fixtures in it like men and two oars on either side. We even stepped into it.

When we were in Moneragala a little baby elephant had fallen into an abandoned gem pit in the Okkampitiya area. He was rescued by the villagers and brought to the residency. He was so lovable and when the villagers got to know that we had a baby elephant in our garden, they all came to see him. Once I saw a man picking the hair off his tail. There was a superstition that if you have a hair from a wild elephant is a ring or locket it wards off evil spirits. I strongly forbade him to do that; just imagine if everybody started to pick his tail hairs, the poor fellow would have been minus a tail at the end of it all!

Wimal contacted the zoo authorities and asked them what to feed the baby elephant on. Because he was so small we were told to give him Pelargon (a branded milk food), but unfortunately Wimal forgot to ask how to feed the milk to the little one. Someone suggested a bottle and feeding him his milk from it. Because he was getting used to me, I gave him the bottle of milk which he promptly broke into bits.

My first instinct was to put my hand into his mouth but I quickly took it away. I thought the best way was to put the milk into a bucket and feed him, and that is exactly what I did. He drank as much as he could and squirted the rest on his head with his trunk. He was so cute and it was very sad to see him go to the zoo. I shed a few tears because for the week he was there he got very attached to me. I still treasure the photographs I have taken with him.

Nilgala was another interesting place we went to. It was near Bibile. We went there with our usual crowd in a jeep. There were many medicinal trees like aralu, bulu etc. in the forest. I also saw some rare orchids growing wild on the trees. They were beautiful and undisturbed. We went to the Gal Oya stream. It was lovely, with plenty of water and flowing through thick jungle and quite a sight to see. I had got into the habit of always taking a chintz cloth with me whenever I go out and when I see the clear water I just can’t resist getting into it. Wimal and his friends were chatting over a bottle of beer and I quickly got into my diya redda and stepped into the water. I ventured boldly further downstream when I suddenly felt as though someone was watching me. Sometimes we get the instinct that we are not alone.

I looked around to see a man with long hair behind a tree looking at me. I cried out for Wimal and they all came running. They called the man and we discovered that he was living close by. He had not seen Wimal and the rest and when he saw me he thought he was seeing a spirit. We seemed to have scared each other! Later on he took us to his hut and I gave him some bottles of achcharu and seeni sambol he accepted very gratefully. In return he gave us some bees honey and dried venison.

A few days after I went to Moneragala I stopped eating meat altogether. I used to get such a lot of wild boar and venison from our friends. I did my own cooking there and when I used to cut the meat I got a dislike for it. But for the visitors who came there, I cooked and served them game meat. People who came to Moneragala always like to eat wild boar etc.

Lahugala was one place that we usually took visitors to. That is a place where you can see elephants anytime, specially at twilight. So those who came to see us, even our foreign friends, we always took to Lahugala. There is a special kind of grass elephants relish there. They come swimming across the tank in herds to feed on it. In Lahugala there is an ancient temple, the Magul Maha Vihara. I have seen many Magul Maha Viharas but this one was unique. On the outside there were hanuman (monkey) carvings unlike in others which have the bahirawa carvings. The vihara was well preserved even though the rest of the site of was in ruins.

The Maligawila Statue had fallen in the jungle with the neck of the statue broken. Buduruvagala, Yudaganawa temple were some of the historical sites I was fortunate to see during that time. There were quite a lot of ruins in that district – not too well known but ever so fascinating.

Moneragala was quite an under developed and backward area. As the wife of the GA, unlike in Jaffna and other places Wimal was stationed in, I did not have many official duties. Annually the Avuruddu festival where I had to give away the prizes and a few school prize givings were events I attended. The hospital didn’t even have the basic facility of a dentist. The villagers had to go to Badulla, a distance of about 60 – 70 miles, for a simple toot extraction. As a GA, Wimal has always done his best for the districts he served in and when he heard about it he got a dental unit installed there.

The farmers in the district did a lot of chena cultivation. There were a few schemes we used to visit to see to their water problems, loans etc. Mostly they grew gingelley (thala), groundnut, chillies, pumpkin, cucumber and kurakkan, apart from paddy. There were plenty of mangoes and papaw which we used to buy on the roadside for about five or 10 cents each. I tasted the most luscious oranges in Bibile. They were so sweet and big that we couldn’t imagine they grew in ours country.

Our stay in Moneragala was short and we had to come to Colombo when I was expecting our first child. I cherish the memories I have of Moneragala and hope one day my two sons who are doctors will serve there.

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Yoland Aluwihare – the legend and icon of the batik industry

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With more than 30 years of design experience, the name Yolanda Aluwihara has always been synonymous with fashions in Sri Lanka. An icon in the batik industry, she has taken the Sri Lankan batik designs to the world by showcasing her designs on the runway on international platforms like Germany, Italy, Australia, Switzerland among others. Her main aim is to make batiks internationally recognised.

by Zanita Careem

How did you start a career on batik fashion?

Fashion has always been an important part of who I am. As I was good in art and designing I followed a course in Batik and a diploma in scientific dress making. I thereafter started doing it as a hobby.

You are known not only locally but internationally too, what is the secret behind it?

I never dreamt that my label will be a household name in Sri Lanka and in many other parts of the world. It was not an easy journey. Hard work, strong passion and team work brought the Yoland brand to the top of the competitive world in fashion. When I am with my team, it is extremely inspirational as we complement each other and create amazing designs.

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

As I have travelled to many countries with my products and worked with renowned international designers I had the opportunity to learn many techniques. We used to exchange ideas and knowledge. This helped me to incorporate different techniques. The result then is amazing. The feeling of your creation coming to life is inexplicable.

If you were to relate your personality with a specific batik technique or pattern, what would it be?

The technique that best describes my personality is the incorporation of our local tradition of batik making together with a twist which creates my signature look. The Yoland brand name is synonymous with femininity and elegance. It is a perfect harmony of traditional and innovative ideas from the west.

Where do you see batik fashions in the long run.

I am extremely delighted that finally we have a Minister who has been assigned the task of promoting and helping our industry. So I see a very bright future for our artisans. In the near future, Sri Lanka will be well known for batiks and other traditional crafts like in Indonesia.

Last but not least what’s next for Yoland collection?

In the future I would like to bring together my iconic art form with 21st century sensibility. Therefore, I intend making my silhouettes and designs on par with new innovative ideas.

Year, awards and achievements?

Awards and Certificates

INTERNATIONAL AWARDS & CERTIFICATES

1984 – Marble & Bronze Trophy for Export Performance – Barcelona Spain. 1987- American Gold Star for quality – (BID Award) (Business Initiative Directions), 1988 – Diploma Fira de Barcelona Fib ‘88- (Spain), 1988 – Certificate of participation – awarded by The Australian Department, for the Sri Lanka Trade Display at the international Trade Development Centre, Sydney, Australia. 2010 – IIFA –Only person in the apparel industry to represent Sri Lanka. 2011 – Asian Awards, China – Asian Top Fashionable Selling Brand of the Year.

NATIONAL AWARDS AND CERTIFICATES

1993 – Sri Lanka Apparel -best stall display certificate, 1995 – Sri Lanka Apparel Institute certificate of participation, 1997 – Sri Lanka EXPO – certificate of participation, 2000 – Silver Award – The Women’s Chamber of Industry & Commerce, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, 2001 – SAARC Women’s Exhibition & Trade Fair – Award for best stall display, 2002 – Represented Sri Lanka at “COLOURS OF LANKA” Fashion show in Tokyo, Japan in view of 50th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan & Sri Lanka. 2005 – Pantene Miss Sri Lanka World – Second place awarded for the design & creation of National Costume for Pantene Miss Sri Lanka World 2005 Pageant. 2006 – Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry in recognition of Yolanda’s achievements in the Apparel Industry, 2007 – Hair & Beauty fair – certificate for the fashion extravaganza. 2007 – Woman Entrepreneur of the year – Silver Award -2007 Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 2007 – Industrial Excellence Award- 2007-Bronze Award by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the nation. 2008 – Industrial Excellence Award – 2008- Awarded by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the nation. 2009 – Industrial Excellence Award — Bronze Award- by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the Nation. 2009 – Certificate of participation presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksha & members of the Seva Vanitha Army Committee. 2010 – In Vogue Style Award 2010, 2010 – HSBC Colombo Fashion Week “Life Time Achievement Award”, 2013 – Gold Award (Large Business Category) Woman Entrepreneur of the Year-2013. Awarded by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC), 2013 – Gold Award “Winner” Women Entrepreneur of the Year-2013 (Large category) Awarded by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC), 2014 – 2015-Gold Category Woman Super Achiever – Awarded by Women for Governance professional and Career Women Awards – 201412015.

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Adolescents of today

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by Zanita Careem

Our teenagers have a beautiful shadow to their lives. Today, they are more aware, more health conscious, and they are regulars at the gym, they are also masters of self defence and strike gold in martial arts.

They know everything about protein and carb intake and tons of eating junk food.

They grow to be fitter, thanks to media awareness. They are conscious of substance abuse. At this age reducing weight is tried just for the fun of it. They even have their own ways of spirituality! They realize that God isn’t just in a mosque or temple but also within their hearts. They connect to whatever they need to connect. Romantic relationships are more common – something every spiritual school of thought encourages. Understanding sexual relationships is a chapter that is no longer taboo. It is respected and understood by teenagers with the repercussions it may bring.

Namith Swarnasinghe and her sister Savisha Swarnasinghe from Kandy are living examples of two beautiful teenagers in modern society,

They have a relationship with their own ego and they no longer see it as a mask. Besides that, they share a loving relationship with their family and in all this they are trying to create an identity in every sphere of life and mark and space for themselves. When this generation become the citizens of tomorrow, they will be healthy in body, mind and soul. The quote by Annanis Inn says it all: ‘And the time came that the pain it took to remain in a tight bud was far greater than the pain it took to bloom!’

The two adolescents namely Namith Swarnasinghe and Savisha Swarnasinghe I met spoke about their teen years, how their lives have been shaped by their parents, their education and their life styles.

They are no different to other young people whose lives are saturated by mobile technology and social media, but they never go out of the box.Brought up in a Kandyan conservative family their teenage years were shaped by family values and social ethos.

Our parents are our role models said the tall and swanky Namith and beautiful Savisha who is an icon of beauty. A fashionista in the making Savisha is lovable and pretty and versatile.

How do you feel to be in the millennial generation?

N&S:

Honestly, I think Mil

lennials are a very lucky bunch of people. We’ve got to experience so many things during our short period of existence.We mean we can remember waiting patiently while the cassette rewinds on the VHS player to watch movies. And today we have movies on demand on the palm of my hand at the click of a button. We’ve sent letters, postcards, SMS, MMS and even used telegrams faxes. So, we’ve experienced both sides of the tape so to speak and we think that’s a good thing. There are many changes going on in the world and personally we think it’s a very interesting time to be experience. 

– A time of opportunity

and risks

N&S: High risk, high reward. If you quantify the risk, it’s always correlated with competition. So competition is very high, be it from existing players or newcomers. This is a perfect situation as far as we’ve concerned. The higher the stakes the more motivated we are to improve our business and to make sure we carry forward our 70 years of history.

Are u both move buffs who is your favourite icon in cinema

?

N&S:

Oh yes! we both are a big fan of Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. I think Scorsese is a very clean story teller while Nolan has this mesmerizing ability to push the limits of what is and is not possible in film. They’re both artists of the highest order as far as I’m concerned.

– Do you both feel anxiety and depression at any time

N&S:

Karl Marx predicted this long ago. Alienation is unfortunately an inevitable by-product of capitalism, and we are living in the most capitalist time of human history. Also its no longer taboo to say you’re suffering from anxiety or depression. There’s lot of research that has gone into mental health that has proven how harmful it can be if left untreated or neglected. So while we’ve been lucky enough not to through depression, we’ve handled our fair share of anxiety well.

– How do spent your

leisure hours

 

N&S-

We’ve got several hobbies that keep us busy whenever we have some free time. I love to cook, it’s always been a passion of mine. I also spend time playing my guitar, watching movies and sports.

Are you into serious reading

N& S

. I’m deep down reading Polemicist Rabbit Hole these days. I love reading Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens and these days I’m reading Jordan Peterson’s books. I like people that question and provide cohesive arguments against the status quo.

The best movies you both enjoy

N&S:

The Dark Knight Arrival

The Terminal

You Dietary plans, are you both conscious of a particular dress code and do you both passionate about specific brands?

S:

– Our diet has always been kind of top priority at home with a little indulgence in our guilty pleasures once in a while. But we have pushed ourself to be more serious about it lately, with my big day approaching. Well, our dress code defines who you are, and yes, quite conscious of it. I love branded stuff; you could say I am obsessed with it.

N&S:

Your schooling in Kandy

We both schooled in Kandy, I went to Hillwood College and my brother went to Trinity. For my higher studies I obtained my degree from the Excelsior University in Albany and my brother pursued his higher studies at the University of London and later at the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting.

Your international exposure in Malaysia

N:

It has been a very interesting experience for me so far. The ability to live in a completely foreign country made me to be independent and broaden my knowledge.Meeting people from different cultures was a benchmark in my career

Your vision for the future?

S:

My vision is to see Sri Lankans designers,artisans, jewellers, designers are well known. Our designs are universally accepted and we hailed from a business family. Our gem industry and gem business are part of our life. We had business in our blood so it was natural for us to follow our father’s footsteps and carry the business forward.

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