Likeness in diversity
'dvitva' to be held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery from Nov. 23-25 is a collection
of photographs taken in India by Anoma Rajakaruna during a period of three
months early this year. The collection highlights her work on tour from
Old Delhi to Gaya in Bihar.
This exhibition which was held at Rabhindra Bhavan, Lalith Kala Acadamy,
New Delhi early this year was supported by the India-Sri Lanka Foundation.
Every human face is unique, and yet we are always fascinated by the
likeness between mother and daughter, father and son or brother and sister.
We often see the shadow of old friends in the faces of strangers we have
only just met or hear the echo of lost lovers in the laugh of someone we
have passed on the street.
What is it that we are looking for in making these connections? A sense
of belonging? The recapturing of lost memories?
Whatever the object of the search it seems that our minds are often
grasping for a natural rapport, whether it be with friends who share a
common understanding or between countries that are looking for ways to
understand each other more profoundly. This is the process that can be
found in Anoma Rajakaruna's photographic essay in India.
The origins of 'dvitva' may be as ancient as India itself, a Sanskrit
word with connotations of pairing, doubling and halving.
If we look closely enough we can see this twinship everywhere around
us, in the duet of a tabla and a sitar, in the reflection of a palm tree
in a pond, and in the union of Rama and Sita.
'dvitva' has thus been chosen as the title of Anoma's essay to reflect
the essence of the project: the engagement of one photographic image with
another to express the duality that can be found in life with perhaps our
most fundamental tool, a pair of eyes. 'Overflow' is a good example of
that understanding, two images which when brought together speak to the
viewer of creation and destruction in both the Hindu and Buddhist worlds.
The images have been coupled like acquaintances or lovers or something
that binds them together as a pair. A bond, a likeness, an undertow of
diverse and powerful currents that flow beneath the same eternally winding
(Tim Denoon is an Australian poet and film maker)
Lost generation comes alive with historic insight
Book reviewGreat Days- Memoirs of a Ceylon Government Medical Officer of
1918 - P.R.C. Peterson. Compiled and edited by Manel Fonseka-Social Scientists
Reviewed by Nimal Sanderatne
Here is a book you can read on a long after- noon and be transported
to a by-gone era, feel nostalgic if you are old enough, and when you have
completed reading it, feel sad that the tales are over.
It is a compilation of a series of stories spanning the life and times
of a doctor in his own style and language. The supreme merit of the book
is that the author has retained the flavour and style of Dr. Peterson and
not let her own language intrude.
The mood and ambience of the lost era are vividly captured in a series
of simple anecdotes. Long after one has read them one continues to be amused
by them, telling them to friends for their pleasure, as I have done.
My favourite story is the one where the Doctor and Dr. Van Rooyen lunch
at the Badulla Rest House. They are served a "fine soup". As it was so
delicious they thought it was venison. They then had a course "like a stew",
which they thought was chicken, and the next dish they thought was "chicken
or deer or one of these jungle animals." Each time they told Punchirala,
the Rest Housekeeper, that the dish was fine and asked him what it was.
'Vambotu, sir," he replied to each query. Vambotu cooked in three different
Peterson's operation on a boy laid on a tea bush, with the kangany's
wife being the anaesthetist, tedious trips on a push cycle or walking long
distances, especially on the estates, to attend to a patient, attending
to deliveries on estate lines without a bed for the mother, are among the
astounding stories capturing the difficulties of the time.
One would shudder at the thought of Dr. Peterson, a general physician,
extracting teeth. Yet it appears to have been the practice. It may not
be that disconcerting if one is aware that the first people to practise
the removing of teeth in Europe were barbers!
The chapter on the estates conveys more forcefully the plight of these
people than any comment could. The hardships and inhuman living conditions
on the estates are poignantly conveyed through the incidents and the observations
of the doctor:
"Their rooms were very small, and mother, father, children, married
children, all slept in one room. Four sticks propped up a zinc roof. After
some time, that would leak and repairs were painfully slow...
"All they had, these people, was one kambili. If it was raining...they
could put that over their heads and collect the tea in the rain. And when
they came home - it would still be raining - they would shake the kambili
to dry it a little and then, not long after, they would wrap themselves
up in it and go to sleep - in this damp shawl."
The doctor's years at the Hendala Leper Asylum depict the commitment
of public servants of that generation to improve in whatever small manner
the conditions of their stations and leave them in a better state. 'Great
Days' is a cameo of a cross-section of social life and a useful contribution
to the social history of the country.
Through the experiences of Peterson we, too, are privileged to live
through a myriad of experiences. The "little unremembered acts of kindness
and of love" are captured as much as a slice of Sri Lanka's social history.
Older readers would find it evocative of many leaves of their own memory.The
book is delightfully entertaining, replete with implied comment on a by-gone
society and exquisitely crafted with sketches by Barbara Mututantri and
carefully chosen photographs.
Korean eye on Lanka
Korean photographer Ms. Choi Young-yoon, will hold an exhibition of photographs
on several facets of Sri Lankan life titled 'Sri Lanka Through Korean Eye'.
The photo exhibition will also feature various aspects of life in Korea.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the
Sri Lanka Tourist Board and will be held at the National Art Gallery from