Sydney Diary: Lunch at The Greens

It’s day 3 in Sydney, still a tad sleep deprived and jet lagged and waved Tara off to school very bleary-eyed. Manage to wake up and tagged along with Granddaughter no 2, and daughter-in-law where she introduced me to The Greens – a North Sydney Club, set next to a beautiful park with plenty of shady trees.

Best of friends head to the Children's park. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Best of friends head to the Children’s park. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The Park , next to the club with a children's playground. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The Park , next to the club with a children’s playground. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not much of the history could be gleaned but there were some giant posters that gave a clue to the original founders of the Sydney Bowling club. The photos below reproduced with permission from the club tells the story.

A giant posters with the Founder members keeping a close eye on the Club they founded. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

A giant posters with the Founder members keeping a close eye on the Club they founded. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

Rephotographed from a framed photo on the wall. This Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Rephotographed from a framed photo on the wall. This Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

The new bowling green. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The new bowling green. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The decor is modern except for these old photos.

Right at the entrance and to the left of the Bar is this classic menu on the wall. Rephotographed from a framed photo on the wall.  Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Right at the entrance and to the left of the Bar is this classic menu on the wall. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The well stocked Bar. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

The well stocked Bar. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orders taken here for a delightful menu that caters well for children.  Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Orders taken here for a delightful menu that caters well for children. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

We ordered the Barman’s Platter for Two, Wagyu Beef Burger, and they didn’t disappoint us. Incidentally, all food was served on light printed paper titled “Our Australia” and had news on Anzac Day, Sydney Harbour Bridge, a recipe for Anzac Biscuits etc.

Barman's Platter with Pork Terrine, Scotch Eggs etc in front and the Wagyu Beef Burger behind.  Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Barman’s Platter with Pork Terrine, Scotch Eggs etc in front and the Wagyu Beef Burger behind. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

More lunch time guests were arriving by the time we left. It is amazing how this large sprawling city has kept large green areas in its central business districts. Residents make full use of it all. There were people playing basketball on courts in the ground, personal trainers were putting some new mothers through training in a Mother’s Boot Camp, and we even so boxers being trained to box among the tree trunks. Blue skies, cool breezes, and a distant glimpse of the sea were all there in the panoramic view,

View from The Green. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

View from The Green. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

The Berlin Wall & Death Tower, I Saw

Part of the Berlin Wall from the berlin Wall Gallery at the Newseum, Washington, DC. 11 May 2008. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Part of the Berlin Wall from the Berlin Wall Gallery. 11 May 2008. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

25 years after the fall of the Berlin wall and over six years since I glimpsed a piece of this history, it was time to dig up my photos. It was on a cold blustery morning in May 2008, that I saw the eight 12-foot-high concrete sections of the wall and the creepy three-story East German guard tower that had once been located near Checkpoint Charlie — Berlin’s best-known East-West crossing. Each section of the wall apparently weighs over 3 tons.

Where was I? No, this was not in Berlin but at the Berlin Wall Gallery at the Newseum in Washington. Newseum, as the name implies is a news museum — all 7 stories of the plush glass and steel  building that took 4 years to build at a cost of 450 Million dollars. It is one of the most expensive museums and  I suppose no expense was spared to get these artifacts too,

The Berlin Wall was strong enough to stop a tank, but it couldn’t stop news from getting into East Germany by word of mouth, smuggled messages or radio and television,” so the Newseum said.

The watch tower stands behind the wall. Newsuem, Washingotn DC. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The watch tower stands behind the wall. Newsuem, Washingotn DC. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Interestingly, the red blur on the back of this photo below is a reflection of me taking the photo.

The Newseum tells the story. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The Newseum tells the story. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The Death Tower, Berlin Wall Gallery, Newseum 11 May 2008. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The Death Tower, Berlin Wall Gallery, Newseum 11 May 2008.
Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Amidst the Berlin Walls lethal restrains of razor wire, guard dogs was the dreaded three-story towers that housed the armed guards and searchlights. This one stood at Stallschreiberstrasse less than a mile from Checkpoint Charlie.

Originally there were more than 116 towers says Wikipaedia, but today, only a few towers have survived. The Newseum claims that this is the only one in the US. The death tower, as they came to be called  guard was gift in 1994 to the Newseum from the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin and was facilitated by Rainer Hiderbrandt, the Museum’s director and founder.

The tower is creepy. I stood looking at it for ages. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The tower is creepy. I stood looking up at it for ages. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

So, the icons toppled…. Stalin’s headless statue.

Stalin's headless statue, Newseum, Washington DC. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Stalin’s headless statue, Newseum, Washington DC. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

and there were celebrations.

Newsuem, Berlin Wall gallery. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Newsuem, Berlin Wall gallery. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

So what do we have after 25 years…. Old order did change, but we are still a world in conflict, mired in wars and definitely not at peace. The euphoria  has subsided, Europe is fraying at the edges and icons may have toppled but there are others that have sprung up….  sort of like the venomous creatures on Medusa’s head. One can hardly escape the sobering 24/7 news that hits you from all sides, unless you are a meditating forest monk. Us, the lesser mortals will reflect on what has happened in the last quarter century this Sunday, on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

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.

 

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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Bawa’s Lunuganga – a masterful self portrait

It was on a rain-washed morning like today, that I drove to Bentota to see for the first time Geoffrey Bawa’s famed Lunuganga Estate. Bawa is Sri Lanka’s legendary architect and Lunuganga has been described as his “first muse and experimental laboratory for ideas.” Michael Ondaatje, the writer, poet, is quoted as saying the gardens were “self portraits” and leafing through the photos I had taken in 2007, and reading again about Bawa, I couldn’t agree more. Hiidden within the many stories and this beautifully landscaped garden of Lunuganga lurks a visual autobiography of the man himself.

The red terrace, so named after the naturally occurring red laterite at  Lunuganga. Photo Chulie de Silva

The red terrace, so named after the naturally occurring red laterite at Lunuganga. Photo Chulie de Silva 

The red terrace was what I saw when I first arrived. The trees, the leaves, the red earth all were imbibing the soft rain that was falling.  This was 2007, the time of the Galle Literary Festival and my first opportunity to see the estate.

Finding where Lunuganga was not easy. I had stopped past the Bentota bridge at a small roadside cafe to ask for directions. The man I asked, looked blank and dragged the “Mudalali” — the head honcho out to speak to me. Lunuganga made no sense to him too, but a smile dawned showing his betel stained teeth only when I mentioned Bawa’s name. “Ahh. …. Bawa mahaththaya’s watte” ( Bawa Sir’s estate) said the man breaking into a broad grin and directing a spew of betel cud carefully into the drain he gave me the directions.  I finally arrived, clambered up a slippery muddy slope clutching my new camera.  We were still strangers – my camera and  I, but became good buddies by the end of the day.

The red earth was unexpected. So was the news that I read recently on the Bawa Trust website that the building to the right was once a chicken coop. Bawa having kept chickens in a beautifully proportioned and designed chicken coop is not a surprise. what was amazing was the news that the chicken coop in proportions and structure is almost a miniature model of the National Parliament Geoffrey Bawa was to  build in 1982.

A first glimpse of the estate seen through a lush cache of trees and foliage at the Lunuganga Estate. Photo Chulie de Silva

A first glimpse of the estate seen through a lush cache of trees and foliage at the Lunuganga Estate. Photo©Chulie de Silva

Lunuganga means salty river. The most striking for me was the view of this salty river seen through a huge branching frangipani — Araliya tree. The tree apparently was planted in 1947 — the date is questionable as his biography says he bought the estate in 1948 — unless of course it was there when he bought it.

View of the lake  through a large frangipani tree dwarfing the garden statue, The island in the back ground was purchased by Bawa in the 1970s and is a official bird sanctuary. Photo Chulie de Silva.

View of the lake through a large frangipani tree dwarfing the garden statue, The island in the back ground to the left was purchased by Bawa in the 1970s and is an official bird sanctuary. Photo©Chulie de Silva

Bawa used to hang weights on the branches for it to spread wide and trained peacocks and peahens  to sit on the tree, to effectively make it look like a Chinese painting. If your imagination can get to those days, you would see Bawa having sundowners on the verandah with his brother Bevis, maybe friends like Donald Friend, the famous Australian artist whose diaries mention his stay with the Bawa’s at Lunuganga. Friend left behind a rich legacy of art work in Lanka. Some are in private collections here. A couple of striking work I have seen at the John Keels main office building and some at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Bawa was born in 1919, and his father was a wealthy and successful lawyer, of Muslim and English parentage, while his mother was of mixed German, Scottish and Sinhalese descent. An awesome lineage that probably gave rise to the creative genius he was. Bawa read English at Cambridge and then studied Law in London and was called to the Bar in 1944.  Back home in then Ceylon, he wasn’t happy as a lawyer and set off on travels for two years. Bawa contemplated settling down in Italy.  However, his plans to buy an Italian villa didn’t work out and he returned to Ceylon in 1948.  That’s when he bought Lunuganga, an abandoned rubber estate, hoping to create an Italian garden out of it.  However he soon realised that “his ideas were compromised by a lack of knowledge” that led him back to England to qualify as an architect.

The portico ( the porte`cochere ) and the Glass room above itt were part of the 1980′s additions, which replaced an earlier coconut thatched carport there. Photo Chulie de Silva.

The portico ( the porte`cochere ) and the Glass room above itt were part of the 1980′s additions, which replaced an earlier coconut thatched carport there. Photo©Chulie de Silva.

“Concrete tiles reflecting those that are inside the Garden room visually connect the porte`cochere under the Glass Room to the Garden Room itself. This is an affectation often seen in the work of Geoffrey Bawa which helps to connect the inside of the spaces with the outside and make them appear as seamless spaces, only some covered and others uncovered.” (Bawa Trust website)

The water garden was one of Bawa's favourite places. Photo Chulie de Silva

The water garden was one of Bawa’s favourite places. Photo©Chulie de Silva

The water garden with the wind rustling the clump of bamboo was where Bawa often had lunch served.The Black Pavilion at the end of the central path across the waterways marks the eastern edge of the Garden.” ( Bawa Trust website)

A little canoe waits for the master as time and space stands still at Lunuganga Estate. Photo Chulie de Silva

A little canoe waits for the master as time and space stands still at Lunuganga Estate. Photo©Chulie de Silva

A C B Pethiyagoda writing in The Island in 2004 said “The whole complex is 50 acres in extent inclusive of two small islands in the Dedduwa lagoon, which borders two sides of the property. This was planted in cinnamon in the eighteenth century and in the 1930s was replanted with rubber. Both islands are preserved in their natural state and are today bird sanctuaries. A little over fifteen acres round the house on the hilltop is artistically landscaped with dozens of levels of varying sizes; the lowest with two large ponds, a fresh water well, sun dial and a rain fed paddy field of 10 liyaddas. From which ever part of the land one views the vista, close or distant one feels, as if by some charm, an instant sense of peace and contentment.

The fragility of the tender paddy contrasts with the gnarled old tree standing like a sentinel at the edge of the field. Photo Chulie de Silva.

The fragility of the tender paddy contrasts with the gnarled old tree standing like a sentinel at the edge of the field. Photo©Chulie de Silva.

Ming jars add to the timeless tranquile beauty of Lunuganga Estate. Photo Chulie de Silva

Ming jars placed around the garden add to the timeless tranquil beauty of Lunuganga Estate. Photo©Chulie de Silva

A view from one end of the garden. Photo Chulie de Siva

A view from one end of the garden. Photo©Chulie de Siva 

“In my personal search,” Bawa wrote in 1958, “I have always looked to the past for the help that previous answers can give.” He found this, he said, in Anuradhapura but he was also prepared to look at the latest building completed in Colombo. He would look for the answers he sought from Polonnaruwa to the present day. Geoffrey referred to this great spectrum of building as “the whole range of effort, peaks of beauty and simplicity and deep valleys of pretension.” (Neville Weeraratne.)

The Cinnamon Hill House, the last addition to the gardens of Lunuganga Estate

The Cinnamon Hill House, the last addition to the gardens of Lunuganga Estate.Photo©Chulie de Silva

This part of the estate was a former cinnamon plantation, hence the name Cinnamon Hill. “… he whittled away at a hill, Cinnamon Hill he called it, until he could view the lights on a temple far off reflected in the lake below his garden. Then he placed a huge Chinese stone jar in the middle distance to draw all three elements into a single perspective, says Neville Weeraratne.

A close up of the Blue doors of the Cinnamon Hill house. Photo Chulie de Silva.

A close up of the Blue doors of the Cinnamon Hill house. Photo©Chulie de Silva. 

I had first heard about him and the house he built for Ena de Silva, where a tree grew inside a courtyard and every family member had their own space to carry on their individual interests. This was the time in Colombo when Ena’s and Anil Gamini Jayasuriya — Ena’s son’s batik art and Barbara Sansoni’s handlooms were the rage.

Bawa’s architectural designs were uncommon then. We knew of the inside courtyard — “kotumidula” in old houses and verandahs but seeing these incorporated to new houses, extending the garden to the inside of a house were new concepts. Old was fashionable, old was gold.  He caused a run  on old doors, windows, lattice framed woodwork, old wrought iron fanlights and even the salted fish stored jars.  Hotels Kandalama, Triton and Galle Lighthouse are my favourites and bought Bawa’s work to be admired by the public and foreigners.

On top of the stairs to the left partly hidden by the foliage of the Gate House ( see photo below)  is a magnificent wrought iron panel which was actually a fanlight from a 18th Century house in the now demolished Jaffna Fort.

At the bottom of the Cinnamon Hill nestling among a grove of trees is the Gate House. Photo Chulie de Silva.

At the bottom of the Cinnamon Hill nestling among a grove of trees is the Gate House. Photo
©Chulie de Silva

Neville Weereratne, in an article titled “Geoffrey Bawa: a valediction for a colossus said:If there are any secrets in the art of architecture as practised by Geoffrey, it was his constant effort to co-operate with nature. If, however, nature was not always prepared to lend itself to his purpose, Geoffrey was quite happy to bend it to his will. …”

 “He manipulated nature. He knew precisely what he was doing when he hung weights on the branches of the araliya trees outside his house so that their limbs would fan out, extend and become expansive patterns of flowers and foliage.”

“Lunuganga is a masterpiece which, Geoffrey once said, had grown over the years, ‘a place of many moods, the result of many imaginings, offering me a retreat to be alone or to fellow-feel with friends.’ A lorry driver who once walked around the garden while his bricks were being unloaded exclaimed: “But this is a very blessed place!”

Note: No article on Lunuganga can be comprehensive. This is only a brief memoir of mine and readers should follow the links below to learn more. I would like to acknowledge and thank the writers featured below for many interesting comments and analysis of Bawa’s work that I have enjoyed and used for the compilation of this post.

Website of Geoffrey Bawa Trust

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lkawgw/gbawa.htm

http://www.geoffreybawa.com/lunuganga-country-estate/virtual-garden-tour

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Bawa

Sri Lanka Style: Tropical design and architecture by Channa Daswatte, photographs by Dominic Sansoni, p. 154-163.

For more images see: http://pinterest.com/freepin/geoffrey-bawa/

Random Clicks and Musings at Dupont Circle, Washington DC.

It’s hard to believe that the now posh cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Dupont Circle was once home to a slaughter house and a brickyard. There had also been a creek, Slash Run, within a block of Dupont Circle, but the creek has since been enclosed in a sewer line.

I loved to stay at Dupont Circle whenever I got a chance to go to Washington, courtesy of my former  employees. Early morning before work or after work I’d wander around with my camera and took a large number of photos. Some I’ve misplaced but here’s some from the ones I have found.

From the vantage point of my hotel room sipping my Sri Lankan tea, I’d watch the people saunter in for their quintessential brew at Starbucks. Everyone kept more or less to themselves — in their own capsules, not talking, not smiling, basically minding their own business as they do in big cities. Not quite like our famed “kopi kade” where anybody’s business was everybody’s business.

Starbucks Cafe from my room at Jury's hotel. Dupont Circle, Washington DC.  Photo Chulie de Silva

Starbucks Cafe from my room at Jury’s hotel. Dupont Circle, Washington DC. Photo Chulie de Silva

The Circle is named after Samuel Francis Du Pont, in recognition of his service as a rear admiral during the Civil War.  The surrounding area is full of historical houses, cafe’s, Museums — like the Phillips Collection with its Renoir’s famous “Luncheon at the boating Party” plus works of many other famous artists. A bit further away on Embassy Row is Gandhi’s statue. I remember spending hours trying to get the light right on some buildings and the Gandhi statue but just can’t find them now!

One section of the traffic lights at the Dupont Circle. Photo Chulie de Silva

One section of the traffic lights at the Dupont Circle. Photo Chulie de Silva

A popular haunt of many Kramerbooks & afterwards cafe was just across the road. Photo Chulie de Silva.

A popular haunt of many Kramerbooks & afterwards cafe was just across the road. Photo Chulie de Silva.

The Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market held every Sunday morning is very much more posh than our humble farmer’s “Pola” but the concept is the same. The farmers’ come  early to set up shop and offer for sale fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, fresh cheeses, fruit pies, Jams, breads, fresh pasta, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps and herbal products etc.

A lady stoopes to pet a dog as she walked out of the market. Photo Chulie de Silva

A lady stoops to pet a dog as she walked out of the market. Photo Chulie de Silva

The bread queue was the longest but most orderly and reminded me of the mid 1980’s in Sri Lanka when we queued up as early as 5:45 am to make sure we got ahead in line for our fresh loaves of bread. We took our own cloth bag kept solely for the bread, no plastic bags then. Here in DC, it was either wrapped in brown paper or you held out your own bag. Something else was different – In Lanka we spoke with others in the queue while waiting for the shop to open — we grumbled about the high cost of living, the current political issues, illnesses and deaths in our families and laughed at the expense of the politicians. Putting aside these thoughts, I would get fresh bread, very sinful, very fatty but absolutely delicious almond croissants and then cross over to buy fresh goats cheese and tomatoes for my lunch.

The variety of bread for sale and the fresh baked smells was mouth watering. Photo Chulie de Silva

The variety of bread for sale and the fresh baked smells was mouth watering. Photo Chulie de Silva

Well, a hard job picking from this lot! Photo Chulie de Silva

Well, a hard job picking from this lot! Photo Chulie de Silva

We don’t have fresh made soaps at our Sunday markets but we do have good old Sri Lankan specials like Kohomba (using neem — my favourite) and the other long time best seller the Rani Sandalwood soap now has a gorgeous shower gel too. I suppose its all about packaging and customer relations as this seller knew his customers and had a friendly word for everyone.

Home-made soap seller at the Farmer's Market Dupont Circle. Photo Chulie de Silva

Home-made soap seller at the Farmer’s Market Dupont Circle. Photo Chulie de Silva

In place of our Sri Lanka”s Virindu singers who sing improvised poems to the beaten melody of a rabana, on trains and bus stands to earn a living, here there were these two gentlemen providing the music and the case open on the ground for the contributions.

Entrance to the Farmer's Market. Photo Chulie de Silva.

A mother encourages a toddler to put a contribution to the musicians at the entrance to the Farmer’s Market. Photo Chulie de Silva.

Te fresh produce for sale is displayed very attractively. Photo Chulie de Silva

The fresh produce for sale is displayed very attractively. Photo Chulie de Silva

No, its not quite the same as our village sunday markets — the displays, the temporary tents of the sellers, at Farmer’s market sets them apart from our village markets but then who knows — paddy farmers now come to their fields in motorbikes in Sri Lanka, and we now have clean streets, so maybe — just maybe in the future our humble “polas” might go posh too.

Sunset at Galle

Sunset at Galle. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The sun of the first day

Put the question

To the new manifestations of life –

Who are you?

There was no answer.

Years passed by

The last sun of the last day

Uttered the question on the shore of the western sea,

In the hush of the evening –

Who are you!

No answer came.

From “Last Writings” by Rabindranath Tagore.

A Virtual Escape to Gokarna Forest

Today on World Environment Day, I needed an escape from all that is gruesome about our planet, and a few questions I am asking myself for which I don’t have any answers at the moment.  Today is a “hartal” day in Dhaka and streets had emptied but my escape was away from all this too, to a virtual haunt  of a forest against the backdrop of snow capped Himalayan mountains. The forest was  Gokarna, the forest that Shiva, the most popular god in Nepal escaped to – for my part I was lucky enough to have visited it last year.

Gokarna Forest Reserve, Nepal, January 2010. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

In the depths of forests like these Buddha would have roamed and practiced penance seeking Nirvana

The Gokarna Forest was the hunting grounds for Nepali Royals. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

Legend has it that God Shiva disguised himself as a one-horned golden deer, and went into hiding in Pashupatinath forest. While he spent his days “frolicking”, the world suffered.
Vishnu the preserver, Brahma the creator, and Indra the king of gods, started a search for the absconding God. It’s usually women who give secrets away, and so was it in this instance. Apparently it was a goddess who revealed Shiva’s disguise and when they finally caught the deer by the horn, it burst into fragments and there was Shiva in all his splendor. He asked the three Gods to establish his horn in their three worlds.

Vishnu installed his section in his celestial abode in Vaikuntha, Indra in his realm in heaven, and Brahma enshrined it at the sacred site of Gokarneshwor.

A little shrine in the midst of the Gokarna Forest. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

A little shrine in the midst of the Gokarna Forest. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

The forest was the private Royal hunting grounds of the Kings of Nepal and was known as Rajnikunj.  I can’t help but wonder whether the hunting got the Royalty into the bad books of the gods – specially if they were shooting deer.

Workers at the edge of the Golf Course and the entrance to the Gokarna Forest reserve. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

Little of the meeting I attended is on my mind now, but the setting sun streaking colour  across the sky will be with me for a long time.

Twilight over the Gokarna Forest Reserve, Nepal, January 2010. Photograph©Chulie De Silva