Chasing Jade Dragons with Mao Tsetung

The birds, squirrels and the monkeys that greet me every morning have deserted me and I sit a tad forlornly watching the rain pelting down.  Hmm, the grass will need cutting soon, but the more urgent need is company with the morning cuppa.The one I select is past its prime. A bit battered and worn out the outer skin crumbles at my touch. I remove the dust cover gingerly, savouring the touch of the deep red hard cover. The gold embossed letters glistens, beckoning me inside.

The deep red hard cover  with gold lettering.  Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The deep red hard cover with gold lettering. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Chairman Mao springs to life in a cool portrait photograph, giving a sideways glance as if he is acknowledging his readers. Here is the legend, the rational politician and the romantic poet, a good choice to breakfast with.

Inside photograph covered with a transparent tissue paper of Mao Tsetung. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Inside photograph covered with a transparent tissue paper of Mao Tsetung and a part of his handwritten poem “Laushan Pass.” Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The photo is not a printed page but is an actual black and white photo affixed to the page with a printed signature below it. I nearly miss the next page – a thrice folded paper. Open it out, and it is a facsimile of the poem Loushan Pass  in the poet’s handwriting.The book was printed by the Foreign Language Press, Peking in 1976, the same year Chairman Moa died and is minimalistic in design. Each poem’s headline is in red and the collection has 36 poems and a couple of author’s notes. Translators are not credited but there is a note on the verse form at the end of the book.

A section of the facsimile of Loushan Pass.Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

A section of the facsimile of Loushan Pass.Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Loushan Pass was written in February, 1935, during the Long March. The Pass is a gorge among mountains in Guizhou province, China. Mao wrote this poem after the Red Army defeated the local government army after a fierce battle and occupation of the pass.

Loushan Pass
— to the tune of Yi Chin O

Fierce the west wind,
Wild geese cry under the frosty morning moon.
Under the frosty morning moon
Horses’ hooves clattering,
Bugles sobbing low.

Idle boast the strong pass is a wall of iron,
With firm strides we are crossing its summit.
We are crossing its summit,
The rolling hills sea-blue,
The dying sun blood-red.

Wikipedia’s article author doesn’t think that Mao was one of the best Chinese poets. However,  says that like most Chinese intellectuals of his generation, Mao received rigorous education in Chinese classical literature, and therefore his skill in poetry is of little surprise. “His style was deeply influenced by the “Three Lis” of the Tang Dynasty: poets Li BaiLi Shangyin, and Li He. He is considered to be a romantic poet, in contrast to the realist poets represented by Du Fu .

Portrait of Mao Tsetung in the public domain

Portrait of Mao Tsetung in the public domain- circa 1935.

The book opens with Changsha written in 1925 and continues in chronological order to ones written during the Red Army’s epic retreat during the Long March of 1934-1936. Mao continues his poetry writing after coming to power in 1949.  The Note on the verse form at the end says “Those which carry the subtitle to the tune of … belong to the type of verse called tzu. The rest are either lu or chueh, two varieties of the type shih.

Unlike my first reading, this time I search for more info and discovered that Orange Island mentioned in Changsha, is an island in the middle of Hsiang River (also referred as Xiang River) near Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Mao attended the Hunan First Normal University around 1912-1917 and it was at Orange Island that Mao met many of his friends and discussed the way to change the world. A huge statue of Chairman Mao now dominates the landscape of this island.

I can’t help but reflect that with a few words changed Chansha could fit the JVP insurrection of 1971.

Changsha (1925)

Hsiang (Xiang) River at night. Reproduced under the creative Commons Attribution.

Hsiang (Xiang) River at night. Reproduced under the creative Commons Attribution.

Alone I stand in the autumn cold
On the tip of Orange Island,
The Hsiang flowing northward;
I see a thousand hills crimsoned through
By their serried woods deep-dyed,
And a hundred barges vying
Over crystal blue waters.
Eagles cleave the air,
Fish glide under the shallow water;
Under freezing skies a million creatures contend in freedom.
Brooding over this immensity,
I ask, on this boundless land
Who rules over man’s destiny?

I was here with a throng of companions,
Vivid yet those crowded months and years.
Young we were, schoolmates,
At life’s full flowering;
Filled with student enthusiasm
Boldly we cast all restraints aside.
Pointing to our mountains and rivers,
Setting people afire with our words,
We counted the mighty no more than muck.
Remember still
How, venturing midstream, we struck the waters
And the waves stayed the speeding boats?

View to the east from the Yellow Crane Tower. The eastern part of the Snake Hill is in the middle; the red-brick compound of the Wuchang Uprising memorial is to the right of it.  Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution.

View to the east from the Yellow Crane Tower. The eastern part of the Snake Hill is in the middle; the red-brick compound of the Wuchang Uprising memorial is to the right of it. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution.

Page 3, with poem 2 of Mao Tsetung's Poems. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Page 3, with poem 2 of Mao Tsetung’s Poems. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Yellow Crane Tower, a building on the bank of Yangtze River in Wuhan, is very famous in Chinese history and literary tradition, says Wikipedia. It is one of the Four Great Towers in China. Its fame mainly comes from a poem written by Cui Hao in early Tang Dynasty, part of which is :

The yellow crane has long since gone away,
All that here remains is Yellow Crane Tower.
The yellow crane once gone does not return,
White clouds drift slowly for a thousand years.

Mao later discussed the historical context of his poem’s writing: “At that time (1927), the Great Revolution failed, I was very depressed and didn’t know what to do, so I wrote this poem”.

The searches on the Net, brings an amazing array of photos that bring alive Mao’s poetry. Interesting sentiments are expressed in his poem Kunlun which refers to the Kunlun Mountains.

Photo of Kunlun Mountains reproduced here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Photo of Kunlun Mountains reproduced here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

KUNLUN 

– to the tune of Nien Nu Chaio
October 1935

Far above the earth, into the blue sky,
You, wild Kunlun, have seen
All that was fairest in the world of men.
Your three million white jade dragons in flight*
Freeze the sky with piercing cold.
In summer days your melting torrents
Flood the streams and rivers,
Turning men into fish and turtles.
Who has passed judgement on the good and ill
You have wrought these thousand autumns?

In Kunlun now I say,
Neither all your height
Nor all your snow is needed.
Could I but draw my sword o’ertopping heaven,
I’d cleave you in three:
One piece for Europe,
One for America,
One to keep in the East.
Peace would then reign over the world,
The same warmth and cold throughout the globe.

At last in Kunlun I meet the jade dragons of mythical fame. In the author’s note to the poem in the book he says  ‘While the three million dragons of white jade dragons were fighting, the air was filled with their tattered scales flying.”  Thus he described the flying snow. I have borrowed the image to describe the snow capped mountain. In summer, when one climbs to the top of Minshan, one looks out on a host of mountains, all white, undulating as in a dance. Among the local people a legend was current to the effect that all these mountains were afire until the Monkey King borrowed a palm leaf fan and quenched the flames, so this mountain turned white.”

Dusk on the Yangtze River. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution

Dusk on the Yangtze River.
Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution

So in the book I roam beside Mao, among the snow laden mountains and plum blossoms, rolling hills, deep gorges and blue seas to rejoice at the victory of the People’s Liberation Army capturing Nanking.

Amidst all this in the book, my attention is caught by a poem written as an inscription on a photograph and reveals why he admires the Chinese lasses.

Mao Tsetung Poems

The book was a copy I had pilfered away, from my father’s damp salt laden bookrack during the monsoon, a couple of weeks before he left us. I can only imagine now, how much joy my poetry imbibing father would have got from this book.

As always there’s another hidden story embedded in this book.  As  I remove the dust cover and look at the writing on the top left-hand corner, my thoughts drifts to a comment made by my younger son when I was gifting him a book.“Why do you need to write in the book it is from you. I know you gave it to me and you know you gave it to me -writing in a book is such an ego thing!.”  I didn’t disagree with him then. But, now I realise how a few words written inside a white ant eaten book cover can flood your memories of a very long and loving friendship.

Few words penned on the inside cover by my parent's friend Wimalatissa Indrasoma. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Few words penned on the inside cover by my parent’s friend Wimalatissa Indrasoma. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The book  was a gift to my father Bennie and my mother Manel by one of my father’s childhood friends Wimalatissa Indrasoma, fondly called Wimalaya by my parents. A gentle giant of a man, himself an author with a wonderful sense of humour. On the 27 August 1980, he would have been knocking on the long french doors of our house in Hikkaduwa, calling “Beniyo, Beniyo,” and my father would have come out as often he did, re-tying the knot on his sarong and smoothing his ruffled hair to greet him. My mother would have come out too, leaving her chores in the kitchen. There would have been laughter exchange of jokes, and an invitation to stay for lunch. … The past does come tumbling out, the clock gets put back, in expressive poetry, or even in a few words written with love.

On a Street Art Trail in Colombo

Chulie de Silva:

A side of Colombo I didn’t know — fascinating a must read!

Originally posted on A Life of Saturdays:

1

A man (Gihan, he tells me his name later) catches sight of me surveying a stencil of a smiling child sandwiched between a photocopy shop and a dilapidated building on Dawson Street, and signals from across the road: “There’s more over here”. Cheerfully appointing himself as my guide and with a number of wide eyed, bashful children in tow, we weave our way through a path punctuated with bird droppings, ceramic bathroom fittings, criss-crossing clothes lines, concrete debris, drains and enter the unlikeliest of art spaces.

2

*

Lately, I’ve been juggling multiple lives. I secretly revel in the bustle that working divergent jobs bring. One line of work brings in a hint of order and solidity that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life shying away from. The other brings in an element of uncertainty and creativity — never know if I’ll land up at a fish market, a five star…

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Jaffna Railway Station in 2009

Today, after 24 years, trains have started running to Jaffna, linking Colombo and the northern city. There are plenty of jubilant photos of President Rajapaksa aboard the brand new shiny “Yal Devi” train. It was time for me to dig my archives for photos I took on1 Sep. 2009.

Take a minute to pause and look at the station then, soon after the conflict ended.

The front entrance, Jaffna Railway Station. 1 Sep 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The front entrance, Jaffna Railway Station. 1 Sep 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

 

Ana Lakshmi, a destitute, wandered ainlessly around the ruined railway station. 1 September 2009.Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Ana Lakshmi, a destitute, wandered ainlessly around the ruined railway station. 1 September 2009.Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The platform side of the railway station. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The platform side of the railway station. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

 

The deserted platform. 1 Sep. 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The deserted platform. 1 Sep. 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

There was an unmistakable forlorn air about the place with a few travellers waiting for buses. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

There was an unmistakable forlorn air about the place with a few travellers waiting for buses. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Today, we have come along way. In my mind I am there, celebrating the opening of this railway station. Wonder where Ana Lakshmi is now?

Capering at Cape Byron Lighthouse

You take so many photos, you get us to stand this way and that way, but we never gets to see them,” yelled my sister, all the way from Brisbane, the other day. The line crackled, and I mumbled about lost computers and hard disks crashing, which sounded lame even to my own ears. Most of the time, we ignore her yelling bouts – but this one rang true, especially, as I had photographed her friends and was clicking madly on a memorable trip to Byron Bay.

So the question was where was those images. It was time to dig deep into the archives and voila! when I had almost given up hope, the files surface. Ahhh,amazing how photos reactivate your brain cells . … they are a tad wonky but it’s not easy to photograph these giants without a tripod.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, NSW, Australia. 6 March 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, NSW, Australia. 6 March 2009. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Completed in 1901, out of precast concrete blocks and painted white, the lighthouse against the blue sky was indeed a striking sight.

The concrete blocks for building the tower were made on the ground, lifted and cemented into position and finally cement rendered inside and out. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

I walked around the base, looking for good angles to photograph.  When building this the concrete blocks for the tower were made on the ground, lifted and cemented into position. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The most famous lighthouse structure from antiquity was the Pharos of Alexandria, although it collapsed during an earthquake centuries later.The roots of lighthouses lie in fires that were built in the very early days along hill tops to guide seafaring men safely ashore. Then it became a practice to put the fires on a platform to improve the visibility and that led to the development of the lighthouse.

A quick search revealed interesting factoids on the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

At the base of the tower there is an entrance porch, lobby and two service rooms, all having crenellated parapet walls, painted white with a blue trim on the bottom from the outside. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Another view of the lighthouse. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The tower is tapered, standing 74 feet (23 m) high, including the lantern. Ascending is done via an internal spiral concrete staircase. On top is the the iron floored lantern room which is domed, covered in sheet metal, and surmounted by a wind vane and a ventilator.

At the base of the tower there is an entrance porch. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The entrance porch at the base of the tower.
Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Legs a tad wobbly we climbed for a better view. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Legs a tad wobbly we climbed for a better view.
Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

It is Australia’s most powerful lighthouse, with a light intensity of 2,200,000 cd. However, it started life with a concentric six wick kerosene burner with an intensity of 145,000 cd.[This was replaced in 1922 by a vapourised kerosene mantle burner with an intensity of 500,000 cd. In 1922 an improved apparatus was installed, doubling the power to 1,000,000  cd. In 1956 the light was electrified, the clock mechanism was replaced by an electric motor, and the light source was replaced with a 1000 Watt120 Volt tungsten-halogen lamp with an intensity of 2,200,000 cd, fed from the Mains electricity, with a 2.5 KVA backup diesel alternator. At that time, the keeper staff was reduced from three to two. The station was fully automated in 1989, and The last lighthouse keeper left in 1989 when the station was fully automated.

Our friend Elaine, was giving us the history and pointed out that I was standing at the easternmost point of the mainland of Australia, located about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) northeast of the town of Byron Bay.

Standing on the eastern edge of Australia. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Standing on the eastern edge of Australia. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The view below into the sea is fascinating too, showing the jagged coastline. We did see some dolphins frolicking below, but couldn’t catch them in a photo.

The sea below, gives you the jitters when you look down. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The sea below, gives you the jitters when you look down. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Am always fascinated by the sea crashing on to the shores and can sit watching it for hours. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Am always fascinated by the sea crashing on to the shores and can sit watching it for hours. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The site is beautifully maintained and contains the head lighthouse keeper’s residence, and two assistant keeper’s cottages that were also erected from precast concrete blocks in 1901. These can be rented out now by holiday makers. See http://www.byronbaylighthouse.com/lighthouse-cottages.html

The view of the site from the lighthouse end. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The view of the site from the lighthouse end. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The total cost of building Wikipedia  says was £10,042 pounds to the contractors, £8,000 for the apparatus and lantern house, and £2,600 for the road from Byron Bay township. Adjusting for inflation, this equates to roughly $2.8M Australian dollars today.

Light was fading, heat cooling as we left, in search of fish and chips. The beach had been crowded but a few lingered. Gulls swirled and the adventurous ones were still having fun.

Flying high. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Flying high. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The light is operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, while the site is managed by Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water as part of the Cape Byron State Conservation Area, and by the Byron Bay Headland Reserve Trust.

 

‘It’s been way too long': Apple sends out invites for Thursday, October 16th iPad & Mac event

Originally posted on 9to5Mac:

Screenshot 2014-10-08 12.01.58

It’s happening: Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th to take place at the Town Hall auditorium on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California. Invitations to select members of the media and special guests indicate that the event will, as always, begin at 10 AM Pacific time/1 PM Eastern Time. News of the October 16th date broke last week. We’ll be providing full, live coverage on 9to5Mac.com of the event’s proceedings. Here’s everything we’re expecting Apple to discuss at the event:

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Unboxing the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004

The tsunami affected about one million people and devastated over two thirds of Sri Lanka’s coastline. The tragedy claimed 35,322 human lives, injured 21,441, and left 1500 children orphaned. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The tsunami affected about one million people and devastated over two thirds of Sri Lanka’s coastline. The tragedy claimed more than 35,000 human lives, injured nearly 21,500 people and left 1500 children orphaned. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The tsunami day is the longest day and the hardest night of my life and somewhere in the last ten years I neatly packed and put away my memories. So, why did I unbox them to look back at a singular tortuous experience that has haunted me for many years.

It was an invitation to speak about my experience at a Rotary Club meeting here in Colombo. No doubt, I could have declined but as the 10the anniversary draws near, there is a need — no almost a compulsion to go back over the bits and pics of this unforgettable event.

Only the outer shells of houses were left after the tsunami. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Only the outer shells of most coastal houses were left after the tsunami. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

True when my private film reel starts playing, the horror spills out. The images gradually become more vivid, intense, horrifying. Like in a slow moving movie, they appear… and last night the nightmare paid a return visit. But when preparing for the talk I realise that once the memories are unboxed there are things I didn’t write about when I wrote my experience of that day.

Now when I look beyond that trauma, I see now that I can section the disaster into 4 stages. This I think applies to most instance of calamities and disasters like flash floods too.

It was happy days when I snapped this photo of Prasanna, Padmini and the young Kanishka and Matheesha. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

It was happy days when I snapped this photo of Prasanna, Padmini and the young Kanishka and Matheesha. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The first stage is the environment you were in immediately before it happened – a nostalgic look back, remembering last words exchanged, memories of the person or persons you lost and thoughts like if I did this or that could the outcome be different.

The Back verandah of Siriniwasa, circa 1970's. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Photographer unknown.

The Back verandah of Siriniwasa, circa 1970’s. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Photographer unknown.

The way we were at Siriniwasa. as happy go lucky children. L to R My sister Yasoja, myself, Prasannna with cousins Lucky & Pem. Circa 1950s. Copyright Chulie de Silva

The way we were at Siriniwasa. as happy go lucky children. L to R My sister Yasoja, myself, Prasannna with cousins Lucky & Pem. Circa 1950s. Copyright Chulie de Silva

The second stage is the actual disaster – what thoughts went inside your head, how you survived, how you reacted at that moment, along with the shock and disbelief that it is actually happening to you and your family.

Third is what you did immediately after the disaster – for most caught in the tsunami this is the poignant bit when you confront the destruction, death and the slow walk through the twilight zone of devastation.

Then you finally come to the short term and long term coping mechanisms – something all of us worked at quietly. Most of these I have written about — a sort of a cathartic of memories.

Siriniwasa, taken a few days after the tsunami.

Siriniwasa, taken a few days after the tsunami. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The house, our house at Siriniwasa was the stage where the drama unfolded. This our ancestral house in Hikkaduwa, built by my grandfather K H Bastian de Silva in 1911, was not just a house. It had over nearly a century imbibed the laughter, the tragedies and indulged my father Bennie who inherited it. My grandfather — Seeya — had bought this land then for LKR 110 per perch and the whole block was 100 perches. The sea has eaten most of It away. Seeya, even then was thought a bold man to build a house with the back garden ending on the beach and he called it “Siriniwasa.”

My grandfather and grandmother with their seven sons. My father Bennie is seated on the left. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

My grandfather and grandmother with their seven sons photographed in front of Siriniwasa. My father Bennie is seated on the left. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

He was a building contractor by profession and is supposed to have built many bungalows for British planters and even the Hatton Post office.We have no written proof of his skill as a builder, but the main house he built stood strong against the wrath and fury of the tsunami. That’s proof enough for me.

A unique incumbent of Siriniwasa was the huge Chubbs ironsafe my grandafther had built into this house. According to Aunt Maya, my grandfather would light a huge hurricane lamp in the evening and keep it on top of the safe.The tsuanmi damaged safe in 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

A unique incumbent of Siriniwasa was the huge Chubbs ironsafe my grandafther had built into this house. AThe tsuanmi damaged safe in 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

He had a huge Chubbs iron safe, which was discarded by one of the planters. He must have got that down then by bullock cart. It was referred to as the “Yakada Almirah,” yakada being the Sinhala word for iron. My aunt Maya Senanayake remembers the evening ritual he conducted of lighting a huge hurricane lamp and placing it on top of the safe. All our valuables, including jewellery and even more precious the first letters we wrote as kids to my parents while at school in Panadura were in this safe. As a child I used to claim the safe was mine, because the first 3 letters were in my name too.

The mangled inside of the safe . The tsunami ripped the metal into shred. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva.

The mangled inside of the safe . The tsunami ripped the metal into shreds. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva.

My father who inherited the house called it the Garden on Sea and he converted the old “dara maduwa” (hut for keeping firewood) to a seaside cottage and added more rooms. However, the tsunami would show that he could not hold a candle to his father as a builder.

The cottage near the sea. Photo copyright Aruna Kirtisinghe

The cottage near the sea, which collapsed completely killing my brother Prasanna who was pinned under the collapsing walls.. Photo copyright Aruna Kirtisinghe

One year after the first anniversary I trekked back to be there at Hikkaduwa the time tsunami stuck to light lamps and bless my brother Prasanna who died here. Tragically, Prasanna was the last child to be born in this house and he is the one of our generation who closely resembled my grandfather. He was my lucky mascot, the one who made us laugh, the one person who was most of value to all in the family. The loss is huge and thoughts of him still brings tears.

What remains. ... Photo Copyright Chulie de Silva

What remains. … Photo Copyright Chulie de Silva

Lying on the hard mat on the floor that night in the house we sought refuge every bone in my body cried out. I dare not shed any tears for fears that I might not be able to stop.  I remember the bats crying, an owl hooting, the the smell of a dead rat that came with the changing wind on the roof somewhere. The film of the day’s events run and rerun in my mind’s eye. I keep repeating over and over a mantra I learned from my father “even this day will pass into memory”.  Daylight is a long way coming.

Lassie, our faithful pet. 16 Oct.2005. Elpitiya, Sri Lanka

Lassie, our faithful pet. 16 Oct.2005. Elpitiya, Sri Lanka. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

t was after we moved to safer grounds that Kanishka, my nephew went looking for our pet Lassie. Padmini, my sister-in-law through grief of losing her beloved Prasanna, remembered Lassie floating on a cushion as the tsunami waters ripped through the house. Kanishka found him still keeping guard underneath the rubble of the house. Left with friends at a house slightly away from the sea, Lassie refused to eat the food that was offered to him and threw sand into his plate or turned it upside down.

Finally, when we brought him home to Elpitiya Lassie went berserk licking everyone and running around.

High among our material losses is this photo, which disappeared without a trace. I can only think it was a photographer who knew the value of a lovely composed old photo, who took it as a souvenier, not realising that it was a much valued family treasure.

Wedding photo of Romiel Anthony Fernando and Eva Edith Engelthina Dissanayake, among the tsunami 2004 debris at Siriniwasa, Hikkaduwa. circa 28 Dec. 2004.

Wedding photo of Romiel Anthony Fernando and Eva Edith Engelthina Dissanayake, among the tsunami 2004 debris at Siriniwasa, Hikkaduwa. circa 28 Dec. 2004.

What's left of my room at Siriniwasa after the tsunami of 26 Dec. 2005. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.

What’s left of my room at Siriniwasa after the tsunami of 26 Dec. 2005. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.

Post tsunami, I grieved over the debris but no one wanted to repair and come back to the house.

What was left of the house where additions to the main house was made. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

What was left of the house where additions to the main house was made. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Amma at 82 was vibrant and active till the tsunami stuck.  The pain of losing Prasanna was a heavy burden for all of us. Gradually she became quieter and more fragile. She didn’t like Elpitiya or Galle and always wanted to get back to Siriniwasa.

Amma in front of the Birawa Almirah, which survived the tsuanmi of 2004. Elpitiya, 22 April 2007.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Amma in front of the Birawa Almirah, which survived the tsuanmi of 2004. Elpitiya, 22 April 2007.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

I didn’t think my mother would survive 6 months after losing her favourite child but she did.

Siriniwasa Hikkaduwa. 12 Oct. 2013. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Siriniwasa Hikkaduwa. 12 Oct. 2013. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Seven years after the tsunami, the main house was repaired and the family moved back. However, Amma never ever stepped on to the back verandah. All the coaxing couldn’t get her to go for a walk on the beach, something she did twice a day without fail before the tsunami.  When I tried to take her, she would peep out side, but gently and firmly say “Not today.” She always  wanted the window of her bedroom that opened to the sea closed. The “today” when she would walk on the beach never came and she passed away on the 17th January this year.

Related Posts:

Ashes of thoughts for what the tsunami took away

Tsunami 3 years on: Remembering Prasanna Kirtisinghe

 

In May I go a-walking in Washington

Yes, it was the Spring of 2008 and I was in Washington DC — the big city. Armed with my new camera I was drunk with the thrill of taking photos. Every moment of light was grabbed –early morning before going to work and evenings as the day ended.

Playtime in the gardens of the cathedral. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Playtime in the gardens of the cathedral. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Hearts are gay, blithe as May 
Dance and sport the livelong day;
Spring has come to make us glad, 
Let us give her greeting. 

Anon. The Cowslip

Weekends my friend Delores would plan my cultural forays to museums, art galleries, Washington Cathedral, Roosevelt Memorial Park . …the list was long. I was seeing Washington through my lens frame and she would slow down willingly as she did to catch this Sunday classic shot of baseball players.

On the road leaving Washington Cathedral, Washington DC, 17 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

On the road leaving Washington Cathedral, Washington DC, 17 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

My journeys would start in Dupont Circle, a very cosmopolitan area and I could have taken 100 shots here.

Men playing chess at Dupont Circle, Washington DC, 10 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Men playing chess at Dupont Circle, Washington DC, 10 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

I didn’t know about the genre of street clicks but that is what I was doing — see, like, click.

The ubiquitous Big Mac. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The ubiquitous Big Mac container at Dupont Circle. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Interestingly, McDonald’s tried to stifle a locally owned Lanka Spice Limited (LSL) from registering its trademark logo with the word McCurrie. Sri Lanka’s Intellectual Property Office rejected the notice of opposition. Its ruling said that the facts did not show any violation of the country’s intellectual property laws, noting that the LSLs “McCurrie” only sells raw spices through groceries and supermarkets in Sri Lanka and does not compete in the restaurant industry. LSL’s products have been in the market since 1982, according to local media reports.

Dupont Circle Metro. Washington DC. 25 May 2008.  Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Dupont Circle Metro. Washington DC. 25 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The grunting, groaning metro was there to get to the Washington Mall — often the most favoured destination.

Away from the hustle and bustle of a big city — the quiet read.

The quiet read. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The quiet read. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

As it fell upon a day,
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,
Trees did grow and Plants did spring.

Richard Barnfield. The nightingale

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial needs a separate blog but here’s is another shot taken as I was walking around.

Boy and his Dog at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memoria, Washington DC, 18 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Boy and his Dog at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memoria, Washington DC, 18 May 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

the Law and Order watchdogs.  Photograph©Chulie de Silva

the Law and Order watchdogs. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Then there are the other bikers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Then there are the other bikers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Yes, Washington was loads of fun and what could be more American than this of adults and kids playing!

The view from the Washington Cathedral. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The view from the Washington Cathedral. Photograph©Chulie de Silva