The Mystique of Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa

At six a.m.  I set off for my fifth visit to the Gal Vihara. … like a pilgrim to Nirvana the jungle still dark but with shafts of dawn now appearing. The head of the standing figure — which I like to believe represents Ananda — was haloed with the first light , while the Master was in deepest shadow. The anguish on the face of the disciple seemed more delineated as he stood protectively over the reclining figure. Little scrappy dogs of all colours kept guard, and I was alone on this great plateau of gneiss,” so wrote Roloff Beny, a passage from his diary quoted in his most prized book in my collection “Island Ceylon.”

The standing statue Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86. One of the four great  medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the reign of Parakramabahu the Great. The statue was earlier thought t be of Buddha's disciple Ananda. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The standing statue Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86. One of the four great medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the reign of Parakramabahu the Great. The statue was earlier thought to be of Buddha’s disciple Ananda. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Beny, a charismatic reputed photographer uses a blue suffused surreal Gal Vihara image with the standing and reclining statues on the cover of his book.  “No words can adequately describe the feeling of exaltation that I experienced when the spirit of the Island took possession of me,” he says. On his diary notes he asks “How many times down the centuries had the dawn touched the sorrowing face and gradually painted the rippling robes of the Buddha and brought to life the dying features?

The standing Buddha is considered to be of the finest of sculptures and is 22 feet 9 inches (6.93 m) tall. “The expression is clear and precise, while utterly transcending the limits of spatial and temporal experience,” says Beny adding that “the statue recalls Greek modelling of the sixth century BC.”

Some like Beny are of the opinion that this statue is that of Ananda Maha Thera but Dr. S. Paranavitana identifies it as that of Lord Buddha in the attitude described as Para dukkha dukkhita – “He who sorrows for the sorrows of others”.

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. One of the four great  medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the Parakramabahu the Great. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. One of the four great medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the Parakramabahu the Great. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining image is 46 feet 4 inches (14.12 m) in length, and is the biggest statue in Gal Vihara,and is also supposed to be one of the largest sculptures in Southeast Asia.

The colour and texture of the rock with the banded striations gives an extraordinary effect almost differentiating the textures between clothing and skin. The carving on the pillow is beautifully executed too, with indentations which looks like the crushing of a pillow, with the weight of the head. The pillow has the wheel or chakra, the symbol, which is also found on the underside of the soles of the feet of the reclining Buddha. The slight drawing back of the upper foot in this statue is an indication that this is his withdrawal into parinirvana.

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The wheel – chakra – in Buddhist art symbolizes  Buddha as the one who in his first  sermon at Saranath, set the wheels of Dhamma in motion — Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion. His subsequent discourses at Rajgir and Shravasti are known as the “second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma.” The eight spokes of the wheel symbolize the Noble Eightfold Path set out by the Buddha in his teachings.

The wheel also represents the endless cycle of samsara, or rebirth, which can only be escaped by means of the Buddha’s teachings. And some Buddhists regard the the wheel’s three basic parts as symbols of the “three trainings” in Buddhist practice: The hub symbolizes moral discipline, which stabilizes the mind. The spokes (usually there are eight) represent wisdom which is applied to defeat ignorance. The rim represents training in concentration, which holds everything else together.

The  Gal viharaya, compound Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86, once the "Uttararama" or Northern Monastery  built by King Parakramabahu the Great Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The Gal viharaya, compound Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86, once the “Uttararama” or Northern Monastery built by King Parakramabahu the Great
Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The Gal Vihara or Gal Viharaya is so called because of the rock/granite ( Sinhala = Gal) face that was used to carve the four statues and it was part of “Uttararama” (the northern monastery), in the city of Polonnaruwa.

Wikipedia quoting the chronicle Chulavamsa says “the Vihara was one of the more prominent of the 100 temples built throughout ancient Sri Lanka by King Parakramabahu I (1153 – 1186). The chronicle mentions that Parakramabahu I,  had his workmen build three caves in the rock after finishing the temple: the Vijjadhara Guha (cave of the spirits of knowledge), the Nissina Patima Lena (cave of the sitting image), and the Nipanna Patima Guha (cave of the sleeping image). Although they are described as “caves”, only the Vijjadhara Guha is a cave, while the others were image houses similar to the Thivanka and Lankathilaka, with their walls connected to the rock face. These walls, which were evidently decorated with frescoes] have since been destroyed and only their bases now remain.

Vijjadhara Guha, Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Photograph Jerzy Strzelecki. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Vijjadhara Guha, Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Photograph Jerzy Strzelecki. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

While visiting Angkor Wat in 1993, I first noticed that there in Angkor was a temple very similar to the Sathmahal Prasadaya at Polonnaruwa and heard about the ties between Lanka and Cambodia during this period.

See Bernard VanCuylenburg’s article about; Lanka and Cambodian connections: http://lankavisions.weebly.com/the-cambodian-connection.html

[ See also Wikipedia for more history and images of the seated Buddha statues]

Reference:

Island Ceylon by Roloff Beny (1971, Hardcover)

Roloff Beny | ISBN-10: 0670402095 | ISBN-13: 9780670402090

Straying & Rummaging on the Dutch in Galle

All l I wanted to do yesterday was a quickie blog post with the photos I took recently in Galle. But, its no fun staying on the straight and narrow path. So I strayed.  Wonderful thing to do this straying —  intentional or otherwise — it gets you to interesting places — like the Portuguese who drifted into Galle after a storm in 1505.

It all started with this photo, the main entrance to the Galle Fort.

Main entrance to the historic Galle Fort. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Main entrance to the historic Galle Fort. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

It has history written all over it — partially blackened with mould and fungus; a 1.3 metre wide wall ; the grand coat of arms of George III and the Dutch VoC logo below it. I don’t think you can collect points for noting what doesn’t fit on this heritage building!

I remembered the history lessons, the stories of how the  Portuguese were seen as stone (bread) eating, blood (wine) drinking savages by the Ceylonese who took them on a winding route to meet the King. The Portugese did stay on in Ceylon and influenced us too. However, that’s a different story.

In 1588, Rajasinghe 1, King of Lanka lay siege to Colombo, and the Portuguese retreated to Galle and built a “fortalice” of palm trees and mud. Eventually the Portuguese innings ended when they were bowled out by the Dutch who captured Galle in 1640.

The cannons are no longer on the ramparts. Only the base stones remain. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The cannons are no longer on the ramparts. Only the base stones remain. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Phiippus Baldaeus, a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, who stayed in Galle for a year did an engraving that shows how the city looked in 1640.

Baldaeus view of Galle. Image in the public domain.

Baldaeus view of Galle. This Image in the public domain but there is a slight difference from the one in De Silva & Beumer’s book. The image in the book has the words “De STADT GALE.”

Baldeaus in his book  “Ceylon,” states that ” … the Fort is well built of stone on elevated ground with goodly houses, a stately church, pleasant gardens and deep and splendid wells.” He also mentions that the Fort is well provided with cannons for the security of the harbour.

To get back to the original photo which set me moving –The coat of arms of George III in high relief, was put up after the British took control.

The coat of arms of George III. Entrance to the Galle Fort. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The coat of arms of George III. Entrance to the Galle Fort. with the VoC logo below it. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The British were gentlemanly and retained the logo of the one time mighty Dutch East India Company (In Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC, “United East India Company”) below the coat of arms.

The VoC logo in high relief  at  the .Entrance to the Galle Fort. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The VoC logo in high relief at the .Entrance to the Galle Fort. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Rummaging around In Wikipedia on the Galle Fort, I discovered that the “Dutch East India Company was a chartered company and was established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia”

“It is often considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world and it was the first company to issue stock. It was also arguably the first megacorporation, possessing quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies.”

VoC Crest, Galle, Sri Lanka January 12, 2012.. Photo©Chulie de Silva

VoC Crest, Galle, flanked by two lions, a cock on top and the year ANNO: MDCLXIX at the bottom.  Sri Lanka January 12, 2012.. Photo©Chulie de Silva

Statistically, the VOC eclipsed all of its rivals in the Asia trade. Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships, and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tons of Asian trade goods.

So, what became of this company? As we kids used to say, “What happens to Mr. Heppenstall happens to all.” It was corruption that did them in. “The company went bankrupt in the late 18th century, and was formally dissolved in 1800. “Its possessions and the debt being taken over by the government of the Dutch Batavian Republic. The VOC’s territories became the Dutch East Indies and were expanded over the course of the 19th century to include the whole of the Indonesian archipelago, and in the 20th century would form the Republic of Indonesia.”

The powder house for storing gun powder, Galle Fort. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The powder house for storing gun powder, Galle Fort. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

François Valentijn, a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church who worked for the VoC, wrote in his Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (“Old and New East-India”), (a book about the history of the Dutch East India Company and the countries of the Far East), how ships needed a pilot to guide it safely in to the port.  He says that a gun was fired from the rock outside the bay every half-an hour to warn ships not to sail any further, without the guidance of a pilot.

Galle Ramparts. 12 Jan 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Galle Ramparts. 12 Jan 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

My rummaging got me also searching old files for a photo of the Dutch Reformed Church. On my recent visit the church was closed and a tourist bus was parked close by, blocking the view.

De Groote Kirk -- The Dutch Reformed Presbyterian Church, Galle. 6 January 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

De Groote Kirk — The Dutch Reformed Presbyterian Church, Galle. 6 January 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

“The state religion of the Dutch was formally established in October 1642,” says Rajpal K. De Silva and W.G.M. Beumer in Illustrations and Views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796.  “This present church, completed in 1755 is built on the site of a former Portuguese Capuchin convent. Unlike the churches in Colombo and Jaffna, the Galle church has no central tower. The two gables on the front and back walls make this the most distinctive church in the island.

The church is still in use, and on an earlier visit in 2008, I had taken this photo inside the church. Unfortunately, I can’t lay my hands on my notes! Maybe a reader can enlighten me!

Display inside the Dutch Reformed Church, Galle. 6 January 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Display inside the Dutch Reformed Church, Galle. 6 January 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

De Silva and Beumer also says that “Inside the Church there are plaques commemorating the deaths of Commandeurs  Abraham Samland in 1766 and Casparus de Jong in 1758. The Church was a gift from de Jong in gratitude for the birth of a long awaited daughter in 1752.” Poor de Jong, he lived only for 6 years to enjoy his daughter.

The Fort is a very much alive place today with tourists bus loads of school children roaming along the ramparts. Just past the lighthouse built by the British, steps lead down to the shore and is a popular bathing spot now.

Schoolboys swim in a sheltered cove in the Galle Fort. 26 August 2013.

Schoolboys swim in a sheltered cove in the Galle Fort. 26 August 2013.

Dutch influence on architecture is very visible even today.

Dutch influenced houses in the Galle Fort facing the ramparts. 12 January 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Dutch influenced houses in the Galle Fort facing the ramparts. 12 January 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Few houses still retain their massive doors which were in four sections, with iron fittings, and surmounted by carved and monogrammed fanlights. The Dutch also built an ingenious system of sewage drainage which utilised the ebb and flow of the tide to flush the sewers,” says de Silva and Beumer.

View of the port of Galle in Ceylon in 1754. Image from the "Travelogues of René Augustin Constantin Renneville. Published in Amsterdam. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

View of the port of Galle in Ceylon in 1754. Image from the “Travelogues of René Augustin Constantin Renneville. Published in Amsterdam.
This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Final words on the times when the Dutch were in Galle from Valentijn: It has a beautiful view off-shore and like a sea port is generally full of life and swarming with people thriving on the flourishing trade from many quarters. Of, course the fatherland fleet departing from Ceylon is loaded here and leaves for Holland on 25 December annually.

Thanks to historians like Baldaeus and Valentijn, etc of the past and to Dr. R.K. de Silva and W.G.M. Beumer for giving us a rich picture of the Dutch in Ceylon.

References: Rajpal K. De Silva and W.G.M. Beumer., Illustrations and Views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796.  London, Serendib Publications, 1988. Distributed in Sri Lanka by Lake House Publications.

Transient moments

I watched them walk down the road for a long time.  Or at least it seemed like a long time.

Mother and daughter Akashi at Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Mother and daughter Akashi at Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The mother and the child the mother held, standing, embracing one another across the road.  I got closer to ask her name — Akashi like the sky.

It was but a brief conversation. “She wants a yoghurt,” said the mother. I would go on and they would go on.  But the image lingers like many others of mothers and babes and they will not be forgotten.

28 year old mum Sewdini with Kuveneshi. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

28 year old mum Sewdini with Kuveneshi, Jeyapuram South, North Sri Lanka. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

These moments of pure joy we capture, in places I might never travel again.

Kuvaneshi steals a kiss from Vijay Kumar. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Kuvaneshi steals a kiss from Vijay Kumar at a meeting to resettle IDPs in Jeyapuram South, North Sri Lanka. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Transient, ephemeral, these images flash across my thoughts, like the swift flight of a blue kingfisher in the garden at Hikkaduwa.

A blue kingfisher among the pandaus bushes. World Photography Day at Hikkaduwa 19 August 2013. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A blue kingfisher among the pandaus bushes. World Photography Day at Hikkaduwa 19 August 2013. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Thank you to my readers!

It’s been an amazing digital romp keeping this blog going the last six years or so. Through the thick and thin days, I’ve appreciated your feedback comments. Taking stock today I now have 225 posts, 734 comments and over 135,000 hits,

So this is to say a Big Thank you to all who have supported and encouraged me to write. I miss the comments and feedback which usually came with a good dollop of characteristic humour, I got from Mike Udabage.  Sadly he is not with us anymore, but I can still see his comments and smile.

The image of the school children that landed me in trouble. 10 Nov 2007. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva

The image of the school children that landed me in trouble. 10 Nov 2007. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva

I started this blog in 2007, November with the first post  Shaken not stirred and my first experience of being hauled into a Police Station and having a ride with Police escorts in a blue jeep. At least, I got off without having to spend a night at the Royal Boarding House.

Prior to this in 2006, on the second anniversary of the  Tsunami in 2004, I started the Hikkaduwa Chronicles . This was supposed to be a jumbled memoir of a family that has lived in Hikkaduwa for over a century. The original intention was to keep the two blogs separate – one on family history and one as a photoblog. But once our web aggregator Kottu took Hikkaduwa Chronicles off its list, and with limited time it made more sense to keep the Chuls Bits & Pics going as my main blog. Now, I reblog on to Hikkaduwa Chronicles, the relevant pieces, as I still have some readers who follow that.

The smiling eyes, one of my favourite photos. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The smiling eyes, one of my favourite photos. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Gold winner on hits is:

Degas Little Dancer. The All time favourite blog with readers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Degas Little Dancer. The All time favourite blog with readers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The next favourite is:

The 200 year old Sri Lankan house photo on the blog that gets second most hits. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The 200 year old Sri Lankan house photo on the blog that gets second most hits. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

And the bronze goes to:

Birthplace of Martin Wickramasinghe. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Birthplace of Sri Lankan literary giant Martin Wickramasinghe. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The posts on this blog that got more than 1000 hits are:

Degas’ Fourteen Year Old Little Dancer More stats 10,194
Age Old Charm of a 200 year old Sri Lanka House More stats 9,530
Martin Wickramasinghe’s house, Koggala, Sri Lanka More stats 4,437
Kandyan Dancers & Drummers More stats 3,183
Selling Bananas and Discussing Climate Change More stats 3,169
The Not So Hi! Ladies of Sri Lanka More stats 3,093
Goddess Tara Time to Come Home ? More stats 2,809
Tsunami 3 years on: Remembering Prasanna Kirtisinghe More stats 2,227
  Images of Jaffna More stats 2,201
Much ado about Hikka nudes More stats 1,893
Afghan Treasures Exhibition: a peep into a rich heritage More stats 1,860
Painful wakeup call@Lighthouse, Galle More stats 1,825
Colours of Dhaka More stats 1,231
Maugham, Miss Pretty Girl, Cabbages & Condoms More stats 1,162
Bomb in a Bra: Don’t Cry Baby, Don’t Cry More stats 1,137
Smiling Eyes More stats 1,075
The shrine on the beach “Welle Dewale,” Unawatuna More stats 1,043

For me it’s always interesting to see the WordPress summaries and receive comments from someone from a far away place. This interaction is what makes a blog more interesting, than even writing a book. It’s the icing on the cake.

In this melee of blog posts, I’ve found another Chulie — Chulie Davey whose parents lived in Colombo in the 50’s and we exchanged Dear Chulie emails sometime ago; Dale from US who was a visitor to my parents home in the 1970’s and sends me links on classical music pieces to listen to and to read my blogs again; Klaus from Germany who was a great support to the family in the post tsunami traumatic times; nephews and neices who have found me on the blog and asked “Are you my Chulie Nandi?” …. and many more. such interesting virtual encounters.  Happy too that a couple of stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines.

So, my friends,  thanks again, wherever you are and do stay, and keep reading. The following stats are reproduced here with many thanks to WordPress — 3 more months to go for this year and I am looking forward to more blogging. Focus will be more on local history and travel stories. Do click on the Follow link on the blog and as always look forward to hearing from you.

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Home Sweet Home

The sea is a dull green. The beach strewn with jetsam and flotsam — broken coral pieces, empty bottles, rubbish, green and white dried seaweeds. A little girl skips along the shore, followed by a man carrying a pensive sad looking toddler that he is trying to feed from a plastic milk bottle. I stop to talk to him and learns his wife is in hospital and the toddler missing his mum is not keen on bottled milk. No, he is not from Hikkaduwa but from Medawachchiya, but had married a lass from here. The little girl, his daughter is a joy to watch — carefree, happy with the gloomy grumpy monsoon sea at Hikkaduwa. Sentimental me. I note every facet of the day, for this is the morning after the first night I’ve slept at Siriniwasa after the fateful tsunami of 2004.

A little girl skips and plays along the shore. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. 12 August 2013.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A little girl skips and plays along the shore. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. 12 August 2013.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Further along I watch a scene I have seen many times before. A man brushes his teeth with sea sand, rinses his mouth and splashes sea water on to his face. A simple easy villager’s way of starting the day.

Then in a Déjà vu scenario a wiry sunburned man saunters up, and starts talking to me, mistaking me for a local tourist with a camera. “You like to see coral, take you on glass bottom boat.” I can’t help smiling as I see his face change when I say he can’t show me anything as I am a born here person.” He turns points to our house. I nod and his Whose Who knowledge kicks in and he slinks away.

Monsoon sea at Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Monsoon sea at Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

So, were the tsunami ghosts disturbing? How easy is it slip back into a familiar world?

.Arriving last night, around 9 pm, it was a joyful reunion. My nearly 91 years old Mum was up at the door, all smiles to greet me.

Portrait of my Amma  Manel Kirtisinghe 12 August 2013. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Portrait of my Amma Manel Kirtisinghe 12 August 2013. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

There was much laughter as stories were retold, news bits updated as we sat chatting well into midnight. Out on the back verandah, I stood listening to the surf pounding on the reef. The garden was in inky darkness, with two little streams of light from the next door Poseidon diving station. Leaning against the slightly damp walls soaked with the salt breeze, I forced my eyes to see through the muted shadows till I could see the white foam on the reef as the waves broke. No twinkling lights of boats. Just the wind, the cool damp salty wind.

This morning my Mum proudly says “I am 93 years old now.” Padmini, my sister-in law gives me a knowing smile and says she was 102 years a few days ago. I quietly tell my mum she will be 91 soon not 93. Returning from my morning walk on the beach I find Amma sitting with a white paper and pen on her lap. Neatly written on it is 2013-1992=91. She looks a tad disappointed!

Padmini, my sister-in-law  combs and plaits Amma's hair. Siriniwasa, Photograph© Chulie de SilvaHikkaduwa. 12 August 2013.

Padmini, my sister-in-law combs and plaits Amma’s hair. Siriniwasa, Photograph© Chulie de SilvaHikkaduwa. 12 August 2013.

It was time for Padmini to get ready to go to open her Ayurvedha clinic.  I bring out the photo albums of Tara and Laxmi for my Mum to see her great grandchildren. Matheesha, my nephew and Padmini’s son is sweeping the garden. I try to pick my Mum’s brains on the ancestors from her Panadura side without much success but there are one or two new anecdotes of family that she recalls.

Later Mathhesha brings her to see photos of her great grandaughter Ella’s 10th Birthday on FB.  She reluctantly sits herself down in front of my computer and before long she has seen all her great grand children and two great grand nieces on FB. From this we move to see more photos on my computer. She recognises everyone and there are more anecdotes and she perks up as she sees her young beautiful self in the photos. Life and history and a cavalcade of relations roll by. This is family — the living and the departed, the ones near and ones far, the young and the old, intertwined network of strong bonds. This was like many other ordinary days that I have spent in this house without realising the value of such mundane days. One can say nothing much to write about —  but no, this was a day to be recorded. This was our family capital — our home sweet home, this was where I belonged.

Come Soon

by

The poem reblogged from Groundviews

Sepalika flowers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Sepalika flowers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Come soon. The sepalika
are growing wild and high.
You must see them before
you die, before I die. Come

soon. The book is finished.
The war is done. Yes, I know,
I know, boys appear still
in dreams and disappear

in dribs and drabs, and islanders,
who left for foreign lands,
must be interviewed by
the Minister of Defense himself

to recover citizenship. But come.
Come. Don’t leave me alone
for the rest of time. Give me
a hug, I have a garland for you.

One liitl flower... Photograph© Chulie de Silva

One liitl flower… Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The trees are waiting for
their prodigal sons. We will
be happy, make merry, until
the Minister sends his messenger.

Then just call your embassy. You
have free passage. You are American,
and He loves your democracy,
all democracies. Come soon. Come now.

A destitute woman sits on the steps of the war damaged Jaffna Railway Station,  Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 31 Aug. 2009. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A destitute woman sits on the steps of the war damaged Jaffna Railway Station, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 31 Aug. 2009. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A collection of the poems by Indran Amirthanayagam, Uncivil War has just been published by Tsar Books in Canada.

Indranphoto

Biography

Indran Amirthanayagam is a poet, essayist and translator in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. His first book The Elephants of Reckoning won the 1994 Paterson Prize in the United States. His poem Juarez won the Juegos Florales of Guaymas, Mexico in 2006. Amirthanayagam has published six books thus far: Sol Camuflado (Lustra Editores, Lima, 2011), The Splintered Face Tsunami Poems (Hanging Loose Press, March 2008), Ceylon R.I.P. (The International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2001), El Hombre Que Recoge Nidos (Resistencia/CONARTE, Mexico, 2005) El Infierno de los Pajaros (Resistencia, Mexico, 2001), The Elephants of Reckoning (Hanging Loose Press, 1993).

Amirthanayagam’s essays and op-eds have appeared in the Hindu, the New York Times, El Norte, Reforma, New York/Newsday, The Daily News, The Island, The Daily Mirror, Groundviews (Sri Lanka).

Amirthanayagam has played with Non Jazz at various concerts where his poems were set to music by Omar Tamez. He directed Mexico’s first ever program dedicated to conversations with poets “Palabras En Vuelo: Poesia en Conversacion” which appeared on cable television in Northern Mexico in 2006. Amirthanayagam is a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow and a past recipient of an award from the US/Mexico Fund for Culture for his translations of Mexican poet Manuel Ulacia. Amirthanayagam has also translated Jose Eugenio Sanchez, Julian Herbert and Jose Emilio Pacheco.

2010 in review: Chulie’s Blog review by WordPress

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 84 posts. There were 207 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 107mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 17th with 326 views. The most popular post that day was Goddess Tara Time to Come Home ?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were kottu.org, mail.yahoo.com, facebook.com, mail.live.com, and search.conduit.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for lankadeepa, sri lanka houses, martin wickramasinghe, beautiful eyes, and kandyan dancers.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Goddess Tara Time to Come Home ? August 2008
7 comments

2

Degas’ Fourteen Year Old Little Dancer June 2008
6 comments

3

Age Old Charm of a 200 year old Sri Lanka House January 2008
13 comments

4

Martin Wickramasinghe’s house, Koggala, Sri Lanka August 2009
7 comments

5

Images of Jaffna September 2009
14 comments