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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I cannot remember my mother

For all of us who remembered our mothers on Mother’ Day, there are an equal number or more of children who didn’t for reasons of their own. This beautiful poem by Rabindranath Tagore, is for them with love. …

 

Blue skies through the coconut trees at Siriniwas Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Blue skies through the coconut trees at Siriniwas Hikkaduwa. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

I cannot remember my mother,
only sometime in the midst of my play
a tune seems to hover over my playthings,
the tune of some song that she used to
hum while rocking my cradle.

I cannot remember my mother
but when in the early autumn morning
the smell of the shiuli flowers floats in the air,
the scent of the morning service in the
temple comes to me as the scent of my mother.

I cannot remember my mother
only when from bedroom window
I send my eyes into the blue of the distant sky,
I feel that the stillness of my mother’s gaze on my face
has spread all over the sky.

One summer at Hikkaduwa

The paper was crumbling, in the journal I had kept in my teens.  The collection of photos was damaged. But they were special and had survived among my treasured possessions despite many home moves across countries.

Then it was always summer. ... Photograph copyright Aruna Kirtisinghe.

The memories of the summers in Hikkaduwa can be only rebooted and read from a forgotten hard drive  — of sea baths, walks early morning with the high tide washed silky soft sand oozing through your toes; long chats sitting on catamarans; fishing in rock pools in the burning hot sun; plopping and killing the deadly jelly fish on the sand with sticks; walking at low tide hanging on to cousins to the big reef; watching at sunset the fishermen pushing their boats out to sea; cricket in the back garden and even doing geometry on the beach.

Then there were the long arguments and discussions on every topic –politics, religion, arranged marriages, and the voicing of doubts about what the future had in store for us — would we be happy, have enough money to travel; would we be rich enough to have shoes to match the dresses; would we marry out of caste and religion, —   the list went on. Accompanying us gyrating Elvis crooned Love me tender, It’s now or never; we wrote  love letters in the sand with Pat Boone, and star gazed trying as Perry Como did to catch a falling star. We loved itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini –  but bikinis were strictly taboo in the Kirtisinghe clan—room was made for the single piece swimsuits by the English ladies who married uncles, but jeans and shorts were out.  We’d sit on coconut tree trunks that had fallen across the beach as if in worship to the mighty sea and dream… about love and careers, marriage and children … Scrawled across the journal in my ungainly handwriting was the poem.  I hadn’t noted the author’s name, but I still remember coming across it — one summer at Hikkaduwa.

Then it was always summer, so it seemed,

As each day slipped to night

Softly the grasses stirred as if they dreamed,

And such a light

Lay in the noonday hour

As never was before

And will be nevermore:

And love was sweeter then, a flower

But now unfolding, holding

All the promise in its cup:

Then was the heart aware of every door

That opened on to beauty, where

Uncounted bluebirds soared upon the air:

That was the time when life was one long song

And we the singers, then…

They were the years when

We and the world were young.

Note:

This is my 110 blog post, posted on 11.11.11 @ 11.11 pm.

Best Photo Memories of 2010

 

This is it.  The last day of the year. What did I write in the book of my life in 2010?  Did I get it right? One never knows but the time flew.  From the comforts of a known world it’s been a dodgy journey through unfamiliar territory. Joys of daily life that family, friends – new and old — brought, were marked poignantly by the loss of loved ones.

Olu flowers in my house. January 1, 2010. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

January started with me playing around with my camera trying to teach myself photography. On hindsight,  that was a good start for what was to come by towards the end of the year. January also brings fond memories of Nepal.

Glass bottom boat at Unawatuna. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

February brought my sister on a visit from Brisbane and we spent time in Galle and Unawatuna. A photo review won’t be complete without one of the sea!

March brought an unforgettable experience of  travelling again on the A9, meeting the IDPs being resettled.

Mother and baby at Mallawi hospital. Photograph©Chulie de Silva


  

Cattle on the A9 road. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

 

Barefoot to school: recently resettled children from IDP families at assembly in school in Thenniyankulam, North Sri Lanka. Much value is placed on education and parents strive to give the best education for the children. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

April was Sydney and time to  see the star of my life my granddaughter Tara.

Tara and Ranil in Mosman. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

August was a time to celebrate my mother’s 88 th Birthday.  From a beautiful young wife who came to Hikkaduwa from Panadura, she now is the epitome of a gracious beauty.

Amma on her 88th Birthday 22 August 2010. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

 August is also a time we remember my father Benny Kirtisinghe.  My mother, Manel sang a lilting poem from memory that he had written to her from Hong Kong in the 60’s that told her how much she missed him. For him till he breathed his last she was his Flower of Love. Today, I spoke to her on Skype.  She was full of smiles. Her grandson, my brother Prasanna’s son Mathisha has passed his A level exam with 3 A’s.

There were moments, after the tsunami that I wondered if we were going to get this far.. We are a bit like veterans of a famous battle, recalling the bad times and proud we have survived the storms. Will life be free of troubles in 2011? Of course not. So on this last day of the year, I’ll leave you with a mantra I picked up from my constant companion and the modern treasure trove of knowledge—the Internet.

Sit cross-legged on the floor. Close your eyes. Now, repeat the following ancient spiritual phrase: ‘Ai amdi veribest’. That, of course, is the phonetic version. The original Sanskrit is hard to read. Anyway, if you want to know what it means, just say it over and over. It will swiftly reveal its own, very personal message to you.

Best wishes for 2011 and beyond.  

 
 

Statue and lotus flowers at my father's almsgiving. 31 August 2010. Galle, Sri Lanka. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

 

Monsoon Longing

Waiting for tourists in Lanka. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The  monsoon rains are here. The sea is grey, a weary old man, beating a deserted beach. I feel the salt wind on my face the sadness I feel at monsoon times near the sea, but the morning sun lifts my spirits as it lights up the polished floors of a hotel verandah in the south of Sri Lanka. …

Ambition, Disunity and Conspiracy and the Tragedy of 1815

 

INTIMATION OF THE NEXT MEETING

of the

Ceylon Society of Australia

 Colombo Chapter

 

Ambition, Disunity and Conspiracy and the Tragedy of 1815.

Mr. Haris de Silva

Retired Director, National Archives

 

Questions and discussions will follow

Date: Saturday, 5th December 2009 at 5.30 p.m.

 

Venue: Lions Activity Centre, Vidya Mawatha, Colombo

 

Directions:

(Vidya Mw, which joins Wijerama Mw to the Independence Square, is now accessed from its Wijerama Mawatha end. Proceed along Bauddhaloka Mw, turn into Wijerama and then turn left –  towards Independence Square – at the lone tree junction.

Enter the Lions Activity Centre through drive-way on your right between the SLAAS and the Institute of Engineers buildings)

Interested ? Please contact persons below. No fee for attendance.

Chulie de Silva, (President)

Tel:  077 777 2220; e-mail: chuls201@gmail.com

Daya Wickramatunga

Tel:  077 317 4164 ; e-mail dawick@sltnet.lk Mike Udabage, (Treasurer)

e-mail: mike_udabage@itechne.com

About the Ceylon Society of Australia (CSA):

The CSA is a non profit organization, incorporated in Australia. Its main objectives are to foster, promote, and develop interest in the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, especially the post-medieval period when this country was first exposed to, what we now call, globalization.  Apart from publishing the journal- The Ceylankan which has attracted much international appreciation, the Society holds meetings quarterly in Sydney, Melbourne and Colombo. Most importantly, it is non-political and non partisan, and studiously steers clear of political and similar controversial issues. CSA is not a formal, high profile Society but, rather, a gathering of like-minded people, open to receiving and imparting new ideas, who would enjoy a quarterly meeting in reasonably modest and intimate surroundings. The Colombo Chapter caters to CSA members in, and passing through Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan public. ! 

 

Sunrise, sunset and in between in Maldives

Sunrise at Kurumba. Maldives. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Sunrise at Kurumba. Maldives. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Wake up early in Kurumba island, walk the few paces to the beach, sink your feet into the cool cool pristine white sand, look East and there you have it — all the joy of  a magnificent sunrise.  The Kurumba atoll in Maldives was a picture postcard sight. Tiny waves lapping softly, the  water crystal clear inside  a man made reef.  Ahh, Once long long long ago, we played at Hikkaduwa on a beach like this behind our house.

The view from my bedroom. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

This now is the playground of the rich — the honeymoon paradise.

Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Maldives was a poignant reminder what Hikkaduwa  was before unregulated tourism destroyed the corals. Then we would  try to catch the  little fish we called Batayas in rocky pools behind our house.  We’d  take bread to throw at the multi-hued  reef fish and watch spell bound as they clustered around the pieces of bread,  just as they did off the pier at Kurumba.  But here too were the signs of climate warming  — more dead corals and only a couple of new brain coral were alive.  Maldivian atolls are renowned for these exotic luxury holiday resorts, with the tourists laying the golden $$$ eggs.  Threatened by rising sea levels, impacted by the global financial crisis Maldives’ newly elected democratic government is struggling to give a better deal for its citizens. It is however not an easy task. Life for the people in the little atolls is a far cry from the luxury enjoyed by the tourists.  The delivery of services such as health, education and welfare to these scattered islands presents a different set of problems.   To really see Maldives and its people and understand these issues you need to leave the luxury of the resorts and visit an atoll where there are no hotels .  Life here in the small atoll Felidhe atoll Fulidhoo  is  relaxed. You can  just watch the sea or rock gently in a hammock as life flows on.  No problems are visible and you yourself begin to hunger for the smell of the sea, feel of the sand, a hammock to lie in, and a good book to read.

Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The sea would have provided everything for the islanders including the coral to build the houses.  Coral is not allowed to be used now, but there are still houses and a few remaining coral walls.

Coral wall  detail. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Streets were generally empty and people were more shy at being photographed and disappeared quickly into the houses.Still shy but one that didn't run away.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Leftover election graffiti. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Leftover election graffiti. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Maldives had a peaceful transfer of power after a first ever multi-party elections in October of 2008.  Out here  this little peaceful island has many mega issues to solve. It has a population of 421,  living in 61 houses, one school with 84 students and 16 teachers and one health post. There is a Community Health Officer manning the post but there is no doctor and to consult a doctor the islanders need to travel to another island that can take about 2 hrs by boat.
Solid waste disposal systems are not there and the aged old system of disposing human excreta into the ground has polluted the fresh water of the island. The  one and only school in the island has a principal “imported”  from India who is enthusiastic to give the kids in the island a good education.  He yearns to upgrade the computer labs and have Internet facilities.
We had a lot to reflect on as we walked through the village.  Fishing still remains the main livelihood. One could also see two huge partly built boats in sheds.   Maldivian  seafarers regularly traded with Sri Lanka brining the much priced Maldive fish (sun dried tuna) and the smaller smelly sort of salt water pickled fish called “jadi”  to Sri Lanka.  Down in Dodanduwa where the dhoani’s came, there were a string of small shops that sold these in huge earthenware jars.
On the beach children were busy building sandcastles as all children (and adults) do all over the world.  No bathing suits for the girls but they were having fun fully dressed.
No sign of my cap. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

No sign of my cap. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

One last look at the island, many of the problems still ringing in our ears it was time for us to start our return journey in our very fast boat back to Kurumba.  My one and only cap had gone flying over the boat as the wind whipped it off my head. One more item polluting the sea.  Victor sitting next to me had gallantly quipped “no worries, we’ll pick it up on our way back:-))”
Back in Kurumba, it was time for a swim and there I was on the beach with a lonely bird at sunset . And a little private chat time for me with my old friend the sea.
Sunset at Kurumba. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Sunset at Kurumba. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

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