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THE WINTER ADVENTURE IN 16 COUNTRIES – Part “C”

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CONFESSIONS OF A GLOBAL GYPSY

By Dr. Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena DPhil
President – Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada
Founder & Administrator – Global Hospitality Forum
chandij@sympatico.ca

… Continuing from Wales, Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain …

Reaching Morocco in a small, old ship from Spain was exciting. It was the first time we had set foot in Africa, the second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia. Out of around 50 African countries in 1985 (today 54 countries) we were visiting just one. We did not notice the time passing during the four-hour voyage as we enjoyed the company of three university students travelling on the ship. Robert and Fritz were from West Germany, and their university colleague, Kalik was from Morocco. On their request, we changed our original plan to visit only Tangier, a port city in Morocco. We decided to travel with them from Tangier to Casablanca, where Kalik’s family lived. That was a good decision.

MOROCCO

During the time of modern history, Morocco’s strategic location near the mouth of the Mediterranean drew renewed European interest. In 1912, France and Spain divided Morocco into protectorates. Following intermittent riots and revolts against colonial rule, in 1956 Morocco regained its independence and reunified. The Kingdom of Morocco is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to the east, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara Dessert to the south. Morocco’s population in 1985 was 22 million.

Tangier

Tangier is on the Moroccan coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. Many civilisations and cultures have influenced the history of Tangier, starting from before the 10th century BC. Between the period of being a strategic Berber town and then a Phoenician trading centre to Morocco’s independence era, Tangier was a nexus for many cultures. In 1923, it was considered to have international status by foreign colonial powers and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, bohemians, writers and businessmen. The population of Tangier in 1985 was around 350,000.

Our first impressions of Tangier were unpleasant. Moroccan custom officers were unfriendly and delayed us for over an hour. All our bags were thoroughly checked and we were interviewed one at a time. They were suspicious as my wife and I came to the customs barrier together with the three university students we met on the ship. After we were allowed to enter Morocco, we were then harassed by a pack of aggressive touts trying to sell us drugs. To escape from them, the five of us got into a taxi. After that we went on a tour visiting an exotic Sunday market and the colourful city centre.

We spent that night in a small guest house by the port and the next day, early in the morning, we took a train to Casablanca. During the five-hour train ride, Kalik showed off his talent in singing and Fritz joined in the singing providing us with some entertainment. I taught Robert to play Gin Rummy and my wife coached him to beat me. We passed some breath-taking scenery along the coast. We did not have time to explore the capital of the country, Rabat but were pleased to have a short train stop there. We reached Casablanca, the commercial capital and the largest city of Morocco with around 11% of the nation’s population, by mid-day.

Casablanca

From the main railway station, we took a taxi to Kalik’s brother’s house in the suburbs of Casablanca. We were warmly welcomed by his brother’s family which included his two wives. After some nice mint tea and welcome snacks, we left our bags in that house and commenced our city tour. Kalik was happy and proud to act as our unofficial tour guide of this historic city. He introduced us to a few of his childhood friends living in that neighbourhood. Two of Kalik’s brothers joined us and were excited to meet the four foreigners who had come to visit their humble home with their elder brother. It rained heavily, and Kalik’s brother Abdul said, “You bring our city good luck. It has not rained like this for five years!”

The sites we visited in this vibrant city had a unique blend of Moorish style and European culture, as French Art Deco effortlessly with classic Moroccan design. We explored impressive mosques, cathedrals and palaces. We also visited the bustling Marché Central and the sandy beaches of La Corniche. Old-fashioned buildings were sandwiched between mushrooming new buildings and bad roads with potholes. Casablanca reminded us of Colombo.

Immortalized in a classic World War II era movie which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1942, Casablanca had always carried a romantic and intriguing mystique. However, with my efforts to find locations where the movie ‘Casablanca’ was filmed, I was disappointed to learn that it was shot entirely within California, mainly at Warner Bros. studios!

Casablanca is located on the Atlantic coast of the Chaouia plain in the central-western part of Morocco. In 1985, the city had a population of about 2.5 million (today, after 37 years it has grown to 3.7 million). It is the eighth-largest city in the Arab world. Leading Moroccan companies and many international corporations doing business in the country have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. The port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial ports in the world and is Morocco’s chief port. It also hosts the primary, naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous

On our second day in Casablanca, we were keen to taste authentic Moroccan food. Kalik became excited. “My mother makes the best lamb stew with couscous. She will cook it this evening for you at my parents’ home”, he announced to our delight. One of Morocco’s most famous dishes, it is a tasty, one-pot meal which has to be slow-cooked. It is based on cooked semolina wheat to which meat and/or vegetables are added. It is cooked in a clay pot, which is hermetically sealed with a cone-shaped lid. The result is a very savoury dish because spices and herbs such as cummin, turmeric, saffron, black pepper, parsley and ginger are added.

It is unclear when couscous originated. Some food historians believe that couscous originated millennia ago in the ancient kingdom of Numidia in present-day Algeria. The word couscous was first noted in early 17th century French, from Arabic kuskus. While many people today use a fork or spoon to eat couscous, traditionally couscous is eaten with the fingers which we were prepared to do. Our two West German friends were not so sure about that, particularly when all our portions were served on one, large plate.

Kalik’s mother, Salma spoke very little English. When she heard that I was an executive chef some years ago, she was a bit nervous but soon commenced to demonstrate her cooking method to me step by step. Kalik’s duties were expanded to become an interpreter, as well. Another middle-age Moroccan lady was helping Salma with the cooking. As they were laughing and behaving like best friends, I inquired if they were sisters. Kalik hugged that other lady and said, “This is Nora, my second mother.” As we looked confused, he clarified, “Nora is my father’s second wife.”

The aroma from Salma’s dish was amazing. The saffron she had added created a strong, leathery and earthy aroma. We were impatiently waiting around a large round table to have our dinner but none of the ladies in the family sat with us. As Kalik’s father was out of town on business, Kalik acted as the head of the family in hosting us. The authentic hospitality Salma and Nora and their daughters provided was outstanding. They simply wanted us to enjoy their food, company and home. “The main ingredient in our cooking is love!” Salma told us in her broken-English. She was correct.

After dinner we were invited to stay in their house. Considering that they had eleven members of the family living in the three-roomed house, we politely declined. Kalik’s brother arranged accommodations for us in a nearby inn. Salma and Nora were too shy to pose for a group photograph with us, but eight of their children, including very, pretty teenage sisters of Kalik joined us after some gentle persuasion. They giggled the whole time.

After checking into the nearby inn for the night, we heard a loud noise from the adjoining room given to our West German friends. We heard Fritz, screaming at Robert in German, using some bad words. He was saying, “Surely I cannot use this f***ing toilet!” It was a culture shock. Squat toilets are found throughout Africa and are especially common in Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Essentially, they are holes in the ground equipped with a pan to sit on, rather than the seat and bowl of Western toilet systems.

THE WINTER …

Leaving Africa

Leaving Africa I became keen to explore this continent further. After a lapse of 14 years, I eventually returned to Africa in 1999 to explore Egypt briefly during a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean. In 2000 I was offered the position of the General Manager of the 700-room Le Meridien Red Sea in Egypt, an offer I did not accept, to pursue my second career as a university professor. In 2004 and 2005 I was fortunate to get opportunities to visit Africa for long trips on three occasions. I visited South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Botswana for work combined with leisure. My experiences and some adventures during these trips will be narrated in future episodes of this column.

Passing Gibraltar

Although we did not enter Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory and city located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, we were pleased that our ship from Africa to Europe sailed very close to the rock of Gibraltar. It has an area of only 2.6 square miles and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 29,000 people, primarily Gibraltans.

                                                                        BACK TO SPAIN

                                                                           Algeciras

When returning to the Port of Algeciras we realized that it is one of the largest ports in Europe and the world in terms of containers, cargo and transshipment. Algeciras is principally a transport hub and industrial city. It serves as the main embarkation point between Spain and Tangier and other ports in Morocco as well as the Canary Islands and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. It is ranked as the 16th busiest port in the world.

The city also has a substantial fishing industry and exports a range of agricultural products from the surrounding area, including cereals, tobacco and farm animals. Gradually it was becoming a significant tourist destination, with popular day trips to Tarifa to see bird migrations; to Gibraltar to see the territory’s sights and culture; and to the Bay of Gibraltar for whale watching excursions. We boarded another night train to reach Valencia.

Valencia

Valencia is the third-most populated municipality in Spain, with 750,000 inhabitants in 1985. It is also the capital of the province of the same name. It is one of the major urban areas on the European side of the Mediterranean Sea. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC. Islamic rule and acculturation ensued in the 8th century. After a Christian conquest in the 13th century, the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia.

The city’s port is the fifth busiest container port in Europe and the busiest container port on the Mediterranean Sea. Valencia is famous for the City of Arts and Sciences, the Valencia Cathedral, the Old Town, the Central Market, and as the birthplace of paella. As recommended by a Spanish couple in our train, we decided to taste the authentic Valencian paella during our short visit. One of the most well-known Spanish dishes abroad, paella originated in Valencia.

While watching the chef of a small café cook the paella in a large, flat pan with chicken and rabbit, we made a quick request. We preferred he did not include rabbit in our dish but he was not happy. “Rabbit is an essential item in Paella Valenciana” the chef grumbled, but changed his recipe specifically for us. I observed his cooking method closely. After browning the pieces of chicken in olive oil, he added green beans (originating from Valencia), Garrofón butter beans, tomato, saffron and water. Rice was the last ingredient added to the reduced broth. The most commonly used rice in paella in Spain is called Bomba. It’s a short-grain rice cultivated in the eastern parts of Spain. It absorbs liquid very well, but stays quite firm during the cooking process. It is often referred to as paella rice.

Barcelona

I loved Barcelona, as it is very rich in art and architecture. The fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museum Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. The City History Museum with several Roman archaeological sites, enhance the value of this great destination. Founded as a Roman city in the Middle Ages, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. It was wrested from Arab domination by the Catalans, in the late 15th century. Barcelona has a rich, cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination.

As I was getting ready to explore the city on our second and last day of the stay, we had to suddenly change our plans. My wife had taken ill and was shivering with a very high fever. The lady who owned the guest house we stayed in the middle of Barcelona was very kind and helpful. At age 24, my wife was the same age as the guest house owner’s daughter. She prohibited us from travelling further until my wife had recovered fully. I realized that my plan was too structured and too ambitious. We took a break and stayed in Barcelona for four days. I changed my role from an adventurous traveller to a care-giver.

Will continue in next week’s article: THE WINTER ADVENTURE IN 16 COUNTRIES – Part “D”,

with adventures in France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and in the boarder to Romania …



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Science vs religion-I

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Like oil and water, science and religion are immiscible and belong to mutually exclusive domains without any interface. Whenever they have been attempted to be brought together, the result invariably has been confusion, conflict, and bloodshed, of which there are too many gory examples in history. Allow religion to explain the origin of the Universe, according to its own ideas, and you end up with corpses of men and women burnt at stakes.

By GOVIND BHATTACHARJEE

In Tao of Physics, Fritzof Capra wrote that science does not need religion and religion does not need science, while a man needs both. I am not so sure. Again, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan wrote, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.

“When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.” If spirituality implies appreciating our own insignificance in the Universe and the resulting feeling of humbleness, then this has nothing to do with religion.

But, leaving aside spirituality, religion and science have never been compatible. While science teaches us a systematic, rational way of exploring this universe to understand the laws of nature that guide life and non-life, religion has brought untold misery and suffering upon humanity. throughout the course of history. by claiming certainty in “information” and “facts” amenable neither to reason nor to observation.

Like oil and water, science and religion are immiscible and belong to mutually exclusive domains without any interface. Whenever they have been attempted to be brought together, the result invariably has been confusion, conflict, and bloodshed, of which there are too many gory examples in history.

Allow religion to explain the origin of the Universe, according to its own ideas, and you end up with corpses of men and women burnt at stakes. Same with politics. Allow religion to rule a nation, according to its own theories, and you end up with Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran where the laws of Sharia are more important than human life or human happiness.

Given the chance, religion would turn this world into a demon-haunted place in no time – in fact it has attained a remarkable degree of success in doing so. But, what exactly is science, and what is religion? According to The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “One way to distinguish between science and religion is the claim that science concerns the natural world, whereas religion concerns the supernatural world and its relationship to the natural. Scientific explanations do not appeal to supernatural entities such as gods or angels (fallen or not), or to non-natural forces (such as miracles, karma, or qi).

“For example, neuroscientists typically explain our thoughts in terms of brain states, not by reference to an immaterial soul or spirit, and legal scholars do not invoke karmic load when discussing why people commit crimes.” Science concerns itself with what is or can be observed and seeks an immediate answer. Religion claims the answer is either unknowable or explained only with the help of faith, that is acceptance of something whose existence is indeterminate.

Science claims to explain phenomena or mysteries only through the tested method of empirical inquiry which is a series of steps involving observation-hypothesis-experiment-inference-theory-prediction-testing. This process is indispensable, even where it may not succeed in explaining all observed phenomena, whereas religion takes recourse to God and finds it absurd that by studying STEM subjects (Science-Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) alone, the concept of God can be reduced to irrelevance. Given the chance, it will subsume science, too.

In fact, a great deal of effort has already been invested towards this end, to start a dialogue between science and religion that is actually an exercise in futility.In 1998, the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson in his book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, argued that knowledge is a unified system that embraces science, morality, and ethics as well. The aim was perhaps not to make science spiritual but to make religion scientific.

In the 1990s, with its multi-million-dollar grants, the John Templeton Foundation launched a magazine called Science & Spirit, “to explain what science cannot, and asking science to validate religious teachings”. The magazine died a natural death in 2009.The Foundation also financed several documentaries like “Faith and Reason”, “Cybergrace: The Search for God in the Digital World” or “God & the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony Between Science & Spirituality”.

Scores of bestselling books, written by eminent scientists, followed, like Belief in God in an Age of Science (1998) by John Polkinghorne, a Cambridge physicist turned Anglican priest, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006) by Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, or Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe (2021) by Stephen Meyer, Director of the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute which is the main organization behind the so-called Intelligent Design Movement, according to which the universe was created by an intelligent designer, the God almighty.

But physics explains the origin of the universe convincingly from quantum electrodynamics as arising from a vacuum fluctuation and biology explains the evolution of all life, starting with a chance molecule that learned to replicate itself. But both intelligent design and evolution cannot be true at the same time, hence the attempt to find a middle path – an absurd one at that – that God created the universe and left it to the laws of nature, also designed by him, to run it, without any further interference in its future course.

As the New York Times science journalist George Johnson wrote, thus “God becomes a metaphor for the laws that science tries to uncover.” On the question of faith, there are deep divisions among the scientists themselves. While Einstein’s God was one “who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists”, and not one “who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind”, many scientists hold radically different views. Some, like the cosmologist Allan Sandage, wonder: “‘How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself to contemplate itself? That’s outside of any science I know”, while others, like the Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, believe that pursuing God is a “waste” of time that never has “added anything to the storehouse of human wisdom”.

Believers in God hold that a grand unified theory to explain the universe in terms of a single theory that is the holy grain of science would be incomplete without the integration of faith and ancient wisdom in it, while others, like Christians, were outraged when the radiocarbon dating of the shroud of Turin suggested it as a medieval forgery and not the burial cloth of Jesus, feel that as science develops more sophisticated techniques, their religious beliefs will be vindicated.

Fortunately, the endeavour of all these new-age scientists to blur and finally erase the boundary between science and pseudoscience has not yet succeeded. Similar efforts are on even in our own country. Religion is essentially about worship, and worship means surrender.

Faith is necessarily blind and has to disregard evidence in order to reinforce and validate its belief system. Human life is full of misery and suffering ~ indeed it is a “flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery” from which faith alone can provide a temporary deliverance. “Happiness is but only an occasional episode in the general drama of pain” that surrounds us, as Thomas Hardy said, and if surrender could mitigate even a little of that pain, it should be welcome.

Surrender can also be made more convincing when imbued with love and fear that a God is capable of inspiring in human minds. Finally, if the surrender can hold out the promise of something eternal, like an eternal deliverance from pain or from the endless cycles of birth and death, such an eternal vision becomes too tantalising to resist by most.

All that remains is to remind and reinforce these ideas continually through repetitive rituals, meaningless though they are, and the whole package becomes so overwhelming that few could emerge out of its enchanting aura to be able to see the world and reality with objectivity.

After all, we still do not know how the objective reality conveyed to our brain through the senses acquires a subjective meaning in our mind, how the scent of a rose gets transformed into the memory of our first love, or a fading photograph brings back long-forgotten emotions.

Subjectivity rules the roost, everything else, even hard evidence, becomes mere speculation. Blind faith has no rival, and when blind faith masquerades as science, the conquest of the mind by religion becomes total, and all logic has been clinically erased. The evolution of life and that too on a tiny planet called earth that has just about the right conditions with the right values of fundamental constants among billions of such planets is an awesome mystery that the believers cite to establish intelligent design as the only explanation.

They ignore the fact that there are planets with all possibilities and ours happen to be the one with only just one of these permutations that made life – and God – possible. Logic and faith, like science and religion – are incompatible; if bring them together, there will be combustion and conflict.

But bring complexity to replace conflict, and the science-religion debate immediately acquires a political dimension ~ struggle between secular liberalism and traditional conservatism, authority versus individual liberty, herd mentality versus reason, and state versus individual. In each one of these struggles, rationality is the obvious victim that is left bleeding to die.

(The Statesman/ANN)

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Vijayabahu, Gajabahu, and meanings of names

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By Uditha Devapriya

The Sri Lanka Navy recently commissioned Vijayabahu, a former US Coastguard Cutter. The ship joins two other US origin vessels in the Navy. For some reason, the name seems to have caused consternation among certain circles. Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group, for instance, has noted on Twitter that it is “loaded with social and political meaning” and that “it’s hardly an advertisement for the multi-ethnic, multicultural #SriLanka western govts say they want to promote.” He cites two other names, Gajabahu and Samudura.

The Pali and Sinhalese Chronicles depict both Gajabahu and Vijayabahu as national heroes: Gajabahu (113-136 AD) for having led a campaign to rescue 12,000 Sinhala captives in the Chola (or Soli) kingdom, and Vijayabahu (1055-1110 AD) for having driven Chola invaders from Polonnaruwa and laid the foundation for the unification of the polity by one of his successors, Parakramabahu (1123–1186 AD). Alan Keenan’s reference to the “social” and “political” meanings of these names is doubtless based on how Sinhalese Buddhists imagine these kings today, and how military regiments have appropriated them.

There is no denying that nationalist historiography has reduced these personages into mythical heroes today. It’s not just the military. Even popular writers prefer to see history through a particular prism. Their interpretation of the past places these kings as saviours of the race (jatiya) and unifiers of the polity (rata). This presents an interesting problem. In praising these monarchs for having brought the country together, nationalist writers tend to impute contemporary terms, like sovereignty, on what was essentially a non-unitary State. This is historical anachronism at its best (or worst?), and it is from there that these writers extract the contemporary meanings of these kings and their names.

I have implied in many of my essays that by viewing history through these prisms, Sinhala nationalists have done a disservice to their own history. In other words, they have not been fair to their past. We must be careful not to commit the same mistake when criticising these writers. While pointing out the errors of their methodology, it would be prudent not to use the same categories and binaries they deploy. To that end, it would be more constructive, instead of pointing out the “contemporary” meanings of Sinhala kings and their names, to highlight their historical and non-mythical meanings. Once we do that, we will be able to reconstruct a past more in keeping with the multi-ethnic, multi-caste character of Sri Lankan history, particularly in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods.

Vijayabahu, for instance, was the product of a period that saw deep and close interaction between Sri Lankan (Sinhala) monarchs and their South Indian contemporaries. In his book Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157-1270, Alastair Gornall notes three “interrelated” changes in the 10th and 11th centuries that profoundly shaped Sri Lankan history: the invasions of two Cola kings (Raja Raja and Rajendra I), the “fragmentation” of the ruling family, and “changing attitudes” to Sanskrit literature, which influenced Sinhala and Pali literary works. The early Chola invasions laid the foundation for Kalinga Magha’s conquests in the 13th century AD and the later shift from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa. In other words, there were linkages between an ostensibly “Sinhala Buddhist” polity and a “Hindu” South Indian dynasty that makes the use of binaries like Sinhala/Tamil, Buddhist/Hindu, and Sri Lanka/Soli redundant, if not anachronistic.

Indeed, the kings of these times actively involved themselves in the politics of South India. During the first millennium AD, Gornall writes, conflicts within the State were “contained.” What this means is that they never threatened the social and political patterns of the country. Once we pass this period, though, the Anuradhapura State becomes embroiled in the politics of its neighbouring states. As Professor Raj Somadeva has argued, between the reigns of Sena I (833-853 AD), Dappula IV (924-935 AD), and Mahinda V (982-1029 AD), Sinhala kings sided with one or the other contending dynasties in South India, thus exposing themselves to “the threat of outside invasion.” These interventions eventually lead to the humiliating deposal of Mahinda V, the last ruler of Anuradhapura.

Vijayabahu is celebrated in nationalist reconstructions of history as a just and able ruler who put an end to these humiliations, recaptured the State from the Chola invaders, and fortified the State. However, his hold was considerably tenuous. In seeking to unify the State, he had to account for and accommodate certain realities: he therefore entrusted the tooth relic of the Buddha to Velaikkara mercenaries. Gornall suggests that the Chola invaders harboured very little cultural ambitions in Sri Lanka: it was the South Indian social and mercantile elites who patronised and built Hindu temples in Polonnaruwa. Yet they did exert an influence on the political, social, and literary landscape of the post-Anuradhapura State.

In his book Foreign relations of Sri Lanka, from earliest times to 1965, Vernon Mendis argues that history has not been fair to this ruler: he is castigated for having capitulated to South Indian overlords and mercenaries. Nevertheless, to borrow an oft-quoted phrase, there was little that he could do. Vijayabahu’s response to these geopolitical realities was pragmatic, if not inevitable: in the interests of the State, he put up with a South Indian presence, to the extent that an inscription eulogising him was carved in literary Tamil, and married a Kalinga princess, Tiloka Sundari, to ensure “the longevity of his own lineage.” Not surprisingly, it is in this ruler’s reign that ties with South India become complex.

What nationalist interpretations of Vijayabahu’s achievements and failures thus omit is that the times he lived in were simply too complex to accommodate the binaries that popular writers impute to their reading of history. Long before Vijayabahu, before even the collapse of Anuradhapura, Sinhala kings had begun a tradition of claiming descent from the Kalinga line. This was, at one level, to add respectability to their office. It was also a creative way of accommodating the rise of South Indian power and the decline of Sinhalese power, both of which can be dated between the fourth and 14th centuries AD.

Following these cycles of decline and revival, we come across literary works, predominantly Sinhalese, that legitimise certain colonisation and nationalist myths. While the authors of the early Chronicles, especially the Mahavamsa, sought to validate specific religious sects, the authors of the later Chronicles, especially the Rajavaliya, sought to romanticise if not mythologise these cycles of decline and revival and to valorise the supposedly “enduring” character of Sinhala society. Hence the Rajavaliya eulogises Gajabahu for having rescued 12,000 captives from the clutches of a Chola king, though as Obeyesekere has pointed out there is little historical evidence for this. It also depicts him as settling Tamil communities in and around Kandy, though the rather anachronistic inclusion of Kandy indicates that this episode would have been the basis for a colonisation myth.

The polity and State presented in these stories are, to be sure, Sinhalese and Buddhist, and they admittedly legitimise the hero/villain distinctions that popular writers deploy in their re-imaginings of the past. Yet embedded with these same stories are important clues and signs of a vibrant, diverse, even multi-ethnic society. Gajabahu is presented as a Sinhalese hero, but there are narratives that depict him as the patron of the Pattini cult in Sri Lanka. Obeyesekere questions these myths and posits that they are “worthless.” Yet the inclusion of this king in a major Tamil literary work, the Silppadikaram, and the invocation of him in a ritual associated with the Pattini cult, the gammaduwa, tells us that the society of his time was more multifaceted that what the Chronicles would have us believe.

The Pattini cult itself shows clear linkages between Sinhalese and Tamil communities that have survived the many fratricidal conflicts we have seen since independence. Gananath Obeyesekere’s advice, in that sense, is probably the most important: when reading these myths, it is essential that we do not literalise them, since a literalist reading can pave the way for conflict and tension. That is why Alan Keenan’s point about the social and political meanings of names is highly relevant. However, it is important to not only highlight those meanings, but also look at possible alternative meanings. This admittedly requires historical and anthropological research of a sort we simply do not have here. It is only through such research and scholarship that we can prevent the country from sliding down into the murky waters of ethno-supremacism. For that, we need to return to our past.

The writer is an international relations analyst, researcher, and columnist who can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Relationship between sleep and blood glucose levels

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Therapeutic sleep might furthermore reduce lethal blood sugar levels by facilitating healthy systems. Curtailed sleep is a risk aspect for improved blood sugar levels.

SNS: Sleep and blood glucose levels: Contended Sleep and good health is inseparable with immense health benefits. Sleep deprivation leads to many health complications including blood sugar levels which has a major link with sleep cycle. There are proven facts that decrease in sleep impacts the blood sugar level leading to diabetes which, if stretched longer may result in heart diseases.

However, the connection between sleep and blood sugar is complicated. There is not a reasonable formula that demonstrates a relationship between the amount of sleep and an interconnected increase or decrease in blood sugar.

How does sleep impact Glucose Levels in Blood?

It sounds antithetical that sleep can both raise and lower glucose levels. According to a Rutgers University study report our bodies encounter a cycle of changes every day which is called a “circadian rhythm” which naturally boosts blood sugar levels at night and when an individual sleeps. However these natural blood sugar mounds are not a reason for worry.

Therapeutic sleep might furthermore reduce lethal blood sugar levels by facilitating healthy systems. Curtailed sleep is a risk aspect for improved blood sugar levels. Even discriminatory sleep deprivation over one night improves insulin resistance, which can in turn upswing blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been linked with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder.

Additional analysis is needed to better understand the relationship between sleep and blood sugar.

Factors managing the relationship between sleep and blood sugar levels:

-The abundance of time a person sleeps.

-The phases of sleep a person experiences.

-The time of day a person sleeps.

-A person’s age.

-A person’s eating habits (which coincide with nourishment and sleep).

How does inadequate sleep and Blood Sugar levels?

According to Dr Stuti Sharma, PG Resident MAMC Delhi, inadequacy of sleep and blood sugar levels are connected.  Inadequate  sleeping significantly increases blood sugar levels. Researchers have conveyed the following relationships between sugar and lack of sleep or sleep problems:

Sleep-disordered breathing is related to higher glucose levels

Obstructive sleep apnea is attributed to defective glucose tolerance

More intense sleep breathing issues are linked with higher blood sugar

Obstructive sleep apnea stringency is associated with increased fasting glucose

Poor sleep is associated with a decreased capacity to control glucose levels in diabetic patients

Sleep loss is correlated with risen glucose levels in hospitalized patients with and without diabetes

Relationship between blood sugar levels and heart disease

People with diabetes have a higher chances of developing various health problems including heart disease. High blood sugar levels over time can damage the blood vessels of our heart and other organs leading to different health problems.  It means the longer you have diabetes the greater your risk for heart disease. Because of higher blood glucose level the heart may suffer from stroke and even death. But if blood sugar levels are maintained then there will be less chances of heart diseases. And it can be done by sound sleep as discussed earlier.

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