Rude road monsters
By Nedra Wickremesinghe
Question:Why are Sri Lankans so inconsiderate when it comes to etiquette
on the road? And to whom does the pedestrian crossing belong?
Answer: Apart from cricket, we Lankans are famed for being inconsiderate.
Our drivers, are the best example. They have, in most instances, scant
regard for any rules or etiquette that should be observed on the road.
Strangely even the gentlest of persons becomes a maniac when she or
she is on the road. The driver, no doubt, should be in full control of
the wheel, but some act as if they are the lords and masters of the road.
The worst offence committed by most drivers, is their callous disregard
for the pedestrian crossing. They conveniently forget the existence of
the "zebra crossing" and cruise along as though the road belongs to them.
Pedestrians aren't allowed to cross the road even at a "crossing" but are
expected to fly over to get to the other side. The worst culprits, of course,
are the three-wheeler drivers.
Now just think of the hapless mortals trying to cross the road to catch
a bus. They have to carefully choreograph their crossing ( on the pedestrian
crossing) to avoid being knocked down. This is how it goes - they stick
their necks out left, right and left again, wait for the right moment,
all the while sweating in the infernal heat and inhaling the gas fumes
till a considerate driver lets them pass. If one doesn't come along, they
are compelled to do a "Susie" sprint not withstanding their age - ailments-disabilities
etc to get across.
Some other annoying habits displayed by drivers are:
* Honking relentlessly when trying to overtake
* Screaming insults and making obscene gestures at other drivers and
* Parking and blocking the entrance to others' homes and roadways
* Double parking and disappearing
* Breaking traffic rules even when no one is looking
* Tailgating slower cars
* Parking on either side of narrow lanes
Try to remember that by adhering to road rules you can avoid unnecessary
accidents. Showing courtesy on the road will make life less stressful and
driving pleasurable all round.
Eloquence in Stone - is the history of Sri Lanka as seen through the
camera lens of two of the country's foremost photographers, Nihal Fernando
and Luxshmanan Nadaraja who have collaborated with writer Dr. SinhaRaja
Tammita-Delgoda to produce a book.
The exhibition presented by Studio Times Ltd., at the Indian Cultural
Centre from March 22-24 will feature selected photographs from the book.
These selected photographs have been taken in the past few months of
ancient sites and artefacts that have rarely been visited and even more
rarely photographed. Kudimbigala in Okanda, Kosgas Ulpotha cave in Dimbulagala
and Mailla cave in Kotiyagala with its Sigiriya-like murals have been explored
and photographed by the Studio Times team. A fascinating Veddah drawing
of a man riding an elephant from a cave in Hulan Nuge and a dramatic photograph
of Mudumaha Vihara in Potuvil at sunset will also be on display. Photographed
in infra-red, perennial favourites such as the citadel areas in Anuradhapura
and the Vatadage in Medirigiriya take on a haunting beauty.
Light and life
Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda on "Eloquence in Stone'
I always used to imagine that having a camera prevented you from really
seeing and feeling, because you were always so busy focusing, looking for
scenes, twiddling and fiddling that you never had the time to do anything
else. Travelling with Nihal Fernando and Laxshman Nadaraja, I began to
realize that a camera can also help you to see, closely and intensely.
Nadaraja thinks and feels through his camera lens and working with him
I started seeing things in a different way.
I had previously thought of the camera as an artificial thing, which
could dictate and control the environment at will. A work of manipulation,
it gave you the world at a click. But no, you needed the light and the
background, they were all important. One was not enough, often you needed
both together, at the same time. Sometimes the light may be good but then
there was the background. The atmosphere dictates what you do or do not
do as much as any other factor. The clouds for example, may not be the
colour you want, the sky may be too grim or too blue, the light too pale.
If you are a painter you can always paint whatever you want, in whatever
colour, later on if you feel like it you can always change it. As a photographer
however "you are a total prisoner of the environment". Often this means
you have to hang around for hours just to get the shot you want. A very
fluid art, it is always changing, from moment to moment and place to place.
You may use the same camera to take the same picture but it will not necessarily
be the same, but somehow you will see it differently.
The most important elements of all is light. It is not something we
generally think about when we look at a photograph. The nature of the light
and its quality can determine the whole photograph, enabling us to see
different things at different times of day. Early in the morning, the light
is soft and gentle, later in the day as the sun rises higher, it becomes
hard and cold. Then once again in the late afternoon and early evening,
it becomes warm and full of feeling.
For the photographer the source of light needs to be very low. It is
this condition which provides the warm, red and orange glow which he relishes
so much, giving his work both colour and texture. However in the tropics,
the sun does not hang on the horizon. Instead it shoots straight up until
it is high overhead.
From this time onwards the glare becomes harsh and very white, throwing
deep dense shadows. At times like this when the light is too intense, it
leaves the image flat and dead. We have to wait for the sun's rays to fade
and soften before the photograph can come alive again. Sunrise is the best
time of day. In the early morning, the light is golden, it is like life
itself lighting up the sleeping world. When it comes the photographer has
to be ready and he must already have his subject worked out beforehand.
A rare and very precious thing, for Laxshman Nadaraja, it is more valuable
than anything else.
"It comes suddenly, a fleeting, thrilling moment. Pure golden light,
when I see it I start shivering." Seen through the eyes of the photographer,
stone also becomes a living thing, telling a story of its own. Constantly
changing, it is never the same, seeming different everytime you look at
it. Wind and water for example can alter its shape and texture, while nature
grows into it, changing its appearance. Its character too varies from moment
to moment, sometimes it is deathly cold, at other times it is full of warmth
However it is through light that we perceive stone and which brings
it to life. Light brings shadow and feeling, drawing out the colours with
the stone and lighting it up from within.
It is here that the key to our story lies. The direction and the change
of light is fundamental to the photographer's art.
The play of light, when and how it falls makes the stone talk and come
alive. It brings out every nuance, giving feeling and adding depth. This
is the meaning of Eloquence in Stone.