‘The Tide Will Turn’ by Shahidul Alam: A cri de cœur of photography & prose

Alam’s power as a photographer, bearing witness to so much around him, is a belief that we – Asians, people of colour, brown folk, those from the Global South or in Hans Rosling’s framing, those from Tier 2 or 3 countries – are the best placed and able to tell our own stories. Alam started … Continue reading ‘The Tide Will Turn’ by Shahidul Alam: A cri de cœur of photography & prose

Some thoughts on ‘The Inhuman Race’

Ordered Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s ‘The Inhuman Race’ no sooner than I saw a tweet by him and Harper-Collins, in quick succession, flagging its availability. Wijeratne’s writing is significant. A few thoughts on ‘Numbercaste’ published on Groundviews noted how original a voice he is and in that book, how a vivid imagination combined with solid research created … Continue reading Some thoughts on ‘The Inhuman Race’

Some thoughts on ‘Close to the Bone’

‘Close to the Bone’, billed as a theatrical collaboration between Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke and Isuru Kumarasinghe, was part of Colomboscope 2016 and held at the Presidential Suite, Cinnamon Lakeside. Almost exactly three years ago, Welandawe-Prematilleke directed ‘Paraya’, also an immersive theatre experience held as part of that year’s Colomboscope, albeit in a markedly different, much more … Continue reading Some thoughts on ‘Close to the Bone’

A review of ‘The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lankan & The Last Days of the Tamil Tigers’

This review was originally written for and published on Groundviews. ### I was elated to take delivery of my copy of The Cage by Gordon Weiss yesterday. Having pre-ordered it off Amazon UK, I fully expected it to be held up by Customs officials in Sri Lanka, given the incendiary issues the book is anchored … Continue reading A review of ‘The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lankan & The Last Days of the Tamil Tigers’

Thoughts on ‘Dancing for the Gods’ by the Chitrasena and Vajira Dance Foundation

“I strive to preserve the pure traditional styles, and to evolve new national dance forms based on the Kandyan technique, so that in the fullness of time a truly national ballet may emerge out of our humble efforts.” - Chitrasena I recently asked the illustrious Bijayini Satpathy, Director of the Odissi Gurukul at Nrityagram how she … Continue reading Thoughts on ‘Dancing for the Gods’ by the Chitrasena and Vajira Dance Foundation

A brief glimpse of “Kumbi Kathawa” (Ant Story)

“We give you something that is very traditional and something that at the same time is not. This is discipline. You can’t do this without thinking” Chitrasena, quoted in Bandula Jawayawardhana’s essay “The Meaning of Chitrasena” published in Nŗtya Pūjā: A Tribute to Chitrasena 50 years in the dance To witness first and then attempt … Continue reading A brief glimpse of “Kumbi Kathawa” (Ant Story)

Thoughts on Chatroom, a play by Enda Walsh directed by Tracy Holsinger

Chat rooms can be at once engaging and frightening, faceless yet full of character, distant yet palpably close and real, and often perceived to be, by those who frequent them regularly, a real connection to a world beyond the confines of one’s own occasionally claustrophobic life and relationships.Escape through death is a leitmotif in the production.... This of course is a larger discussion that I think serious directors such as Tracy should take up with a broader audience with a view to creating a foundation for artistes to produce their works that is not wholly reliant on the largesse of commercial enterprise.I came into Chatroom expecting it to be a play aimed very much at a teenage audience, with necessarily, a light treatment of social concerns.

Review of “Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis” by William Clarance

The effort expended to convince those far removed from ground realities, the author notes repeatedly, was indicative of serious structural flaws in the UNHCR, resulted in stifling the agency’s mandate to protect civilians caught up in violent conflict, and at times even threatened to exacerbate the human tragedy by cutting off vital communications links between affected areas in the North and East of Sri Lanka and operations in Colombo.It is fascinating to read the author’s battles against those unfavourably disposed to the radical innovations he proposed for civilian protection in Sri Lanka and how, if this book is to be believed, the author facilitated a new paradigm of civilian protection within UNHCR by expanding its mandate to protect and look after those unable to escape hostilities, those displaced on account of it and those unable or unwilling to move from conflict zones.... However, the conceptual development and subsequent operation of open relief centres (in Madhu and Pesalai), food convoy’s led by international UNHCR staff without military escort in order to feed displaced persons in Madhu and the active protection role of the UNHCR at the source of the conflict, engaging with the dynamics that were triggering the IDP and refugee outflows (protective neutral engagement), gentleman’s agreements with the Army to ensure the protection of those in the open relief centres, the financial stringency of the operations (under US$ 1.5 million), the deployment of a small but dedicated team (7 persons) and the strict neutrality of the UNHCR are those that are fascinating to read, ennobling to those still involved in civilian protection in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, and humbling when we recognise that the author, sometimes single-handedly and doggedly, pursued a vision within an often hostile UNHCR bureaucracy to alleviate the suffering of those on the ground in Sri Lanka facing violent conflict.