Shaken not Stirred

What on earth would I do with an expensive camera like  D200 howled my son Ranil.  Well, no logical reason at all, specially as my bank balance is never that good.  But, then I haven’t let logic dominate this last part of my life.  It has largely been the untravelled other road and as they say I’ve gained on the swings what I lost on the merry-go-round!  The highs were there from the first day onwards…

I’d played with the camera  at home but the first time I took it out so to speak was when I was on a field visit in a hill country town.  Nice crisp chill in the air, bright morning and I woke up all excited and strolled out nice and early as all good photographers do I am told.

Street sweepers were out on in the main town centre in their brightly coloured sarees.  People  were just gathering at the bus stops to go to work, to school or had brought bread, or was just having a smoke and reading the day’s headlines in a newspaper.  An everyday morning we see in every town in Sri Lanka, but oh ever so gentle  on the eyes.  Fresh faced children in crisp white uniforms, brothers holding younger siblings,  mothers dragging some reluctant ones to kindergarten and some kids sitting side saddle while a father’ peddled at a leisurely pace.  There was a huge sign that said in Sinhalese “No Violence.”

Two schoolgirls walk pass a board saying "No to Violence."

Two schoolgirls walk pass a board saying “No to Violence.” Photograph Chulie de Silva

A gaggle of  Muslim schoolgirls with a solitary brother  came into view and was just right for a piece on education I was thinking of writing.  I stopped them and asked if I could photograph them — they smiled shyly and nodded and I tentatively tried to take a few photos.

Schoolgirls and brother on the way to school. Photograph Chulie de Silva

Schoolgirls and brother on the way to school. Photograph Chulie de Silva


And then, whoosh a blue Police jeep pulls up, three guys jump out and I get to take a ride in the official buggy for the first time in my life to the cop shop.

I am told at the invitation of the big boss.  And  also for the first time too I get to taste what it was to be a photojournalist on the wrong side of the law.  Well, to cut a long story short, I didn’t get to spend a night in the royal boarding house as various friends and colleagues rushed to my rescue  – just in time too.

It was a citizen’s complaint I was told. … for photographing school children. The boss still in a track suit after an early morning jog, apologized and we shook hands.  I  left  shaken but not stirred and  non the worse for the experience.

Welcome to the club said a professional photojournalist friend. …

5 thoughts on “Shaken not Stirred

  1. male photographers taking pics of boys get into trouble. Therefore, if you had any logic in your brain ,as a female phographer , you should have avoided taking pics of girls. Next time , concentrate on old women and men (older the better) they are more photogenic. Also try stray dogs and cattle (not around a parliament though). If you really want action try men urinating in every main highway (take a rear shot though).

  2. You’ve missed the point –if I was a logical person I won’t have the camera!.Plenty of photos of stray cattle – bovine 4 legged variety, old men and women. — I do like to photograph. However, I’d pass on the last category as a smelly assignment of no interest to me. –C

  3. I will concede that you are not a logical person, hence the camera. You do take excellent pics. If you wish to change the Sri Lanka landscape to a better place then you MUST do photo essays on stray cattle and stray dogs. They are not only a nuisance and they should be off the streets in Sri Lanka if Sri Lanka is ever going to be a Singapore, Sydney or Paris. So this could be a one woman’s crusade. By the way take pics of dead dogs and emaciated cattle as well in different situations to get your point accross. i was surprised to read your comment that dogs, cattle, old men and women pics have been done to death. Are you losing your creativity? As for the smelly assingment please do it. It is a disgrace. How come only men urinate on public roads and the other 50% of the population namely women can wait to find a toilet. Only a woman like you can help clean up this act. You must have a mission for your talents. That way you become a different photographer. Let me know when you have your exhibition on these three themes. It will be a Sri Lanka FIRST. And it will bring to focus the need to clean up our landscape.

  4. Hey Chuls,

    The picture from Mahadangasweva looks awesome and a great piece of writing too. I’ve heard the story from you before….but its much more interesting when I read about it.

    Keep it up.


  5. Pingback: 7 Photos and stories within stories | Chuls Bits & Pics

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