The Sunday TimesMirror Magazine

27th April 1996





By Chunky Monkey

Back in the stultifying heat of Colombo after four blissful days in Nuwara Eliya. Yes, fans of the Chunked One will remember that I vowed to avoid "the season" like the plague last year, but the lure of the city in the hills was too much to bear. Together with the Marquis de Pitta Kotte, La Bete Noire, Klepto, Ganja , Queen Su and the Human Vibration, the Chunk zoomed up on Saturday morning pausing only at some place called the Peak Rest where the early morning silence was being brutally mugged by somebody playing screeching Hindi songs at full volume. The people who lived in the area didn't seem to concerned - they were too busy watching a television with an image so blurred that the only way to watch it was cross-eyed. Moving rapidly onwards, we ended up in Nuwara Eliya where we were confronted by the dust, water shortages, petrol fumes , the tacky roadside boutiques and the even tackier yeah-boys who were roaming the area. (Note: "Yeah-Boy" - baseball capped, be-jeaned young roustabout of the kind found at shopping centres. The name comes from their distinctive mating call which goes "yeah….boy" at infrequent intervals ).

At this point the Chunk would like to give anyone who has managed to avoid being in Nuwara Eliya during the season, a brief lesson in verbal etiquette in the town, otherwise known as the Big Four Questions. On meeting anyone, it is essential that you ask them these queries a) "How, machang, how ?" b) "When did you come down ?" c) "Where are you staying ?" and d) "When are you getting back?" Next year I am getting a t-shirt which says "I'm doing fine. I arrived yesterday. I'm staying in a shack on a mountain. And I'm leaving tomorrow."

The other essential thing to do is walk through the Grand Hotel, where like Broadway, you are bound to encounter someone you meet at some point.

Actually, the disco at the Grand last Saturday evening was rollickingly good, with Dr.J from TNL Radio and Viran from the Blue, rocking the crowd till 2 a.m. The sounds of the Prodigy, Tori Amos and Cypress Hill blasted around the cavernous dance floor, which was the ideal location for a club - rough, not too glamorous and with a complete absence of things to break or bump into . After that we drove outside the town to try and spot Hale Bopp and failed miserably. Astrology has never been the Culture Vulture Posse's strong point.

Sunday passed by in a blissful haze of snooker and putting greens, and then it was time for the Golf Ball at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club. After a funereal start, it rapidly turned into a full scale baila blast with music from Sohan and the X-Periments, and Manilal. Memories of the first tee linger…………the following day it was off to the races and then for lunch we visited the Tea Factory hotel in Kandapola. The hotel is cursed with an abominable approach - a convoluted, badly surfaced road which I understand is being fixed in the near future. As some of you may know, the hotel is a converted tea factory (hence the name ) and as such the older bits of machinery have been cleverly worked into the body of the refurbished hotel - with bits of drying machines and rollers bulging out of ceilings and overhanging the public areas. When asked what he thought of the place (from a design perspective) , the Marquis expostulated "It should have been more outward looking than inward looking." After looking at him curiously , we let it pass . That's what happens when you ask architects a simple question.

The lunch itself was pretty indifferent, and the service wasn't as switched on as we hoped - we were still waiting for some drinks to arrive by the time we finished . But we were compensated by the stunning view that was visible through the large windows around the dining room. All in all though, it wasn't somewhere the Chunk would have wanted to spend a weekend - a little too isolated for one's blood. And that bar some scandolous anecdotes and lots of substance abuse, was the weekend that was. But this weekend the Chunk is in travelling mode again.

Vasantha to spread his wings

By Yvonne Gulamhusein

Vasantha of Kess, hair dresser and hair specialist says he's getting better all the time. "Even when I am old I'll still be learning. I'm 36 now moving to 37 and my life has always been centred in hair dressing. I enjoy every minute of it."

"How did it start? I met, by accident a girl in Italy. Her whole family was all in the hair dressing business. They were looking out for a shampooist - soon I was trained and I began learning to cut hair and what better than in the Italian way? I trained in Milan for four years," he explains.

Vasantha will be winging his way soon to Hongkong to participate in the forth-coming Asian Competition there and is all excited about that event. This time he hopes to take a model from here, and carry back to Sri Lanka the biggest and most prestigious cup from that competition.

Vasantha says "When I work, I always put my clients first giving them priority, then I consider the headshape before every haircut. I like to make people look nice. It is not the Diploma that counts, it is the way the job is done," says this dedicated hairdresser.

Here are a selection of hair styles by Vasantha, modelled by Sudharshi, Anita, Jose, and Sulari.

Pix: Mettasena

Paintings, from France

An exhibition of paintings and sculptures by French-speaking artists in Sri Lanka will be held from Monday May 5 at the Colombo Hilton. The artists are Angela, Jean-Louis Merre, Katarina Monnier, Michael Morf, Patrick Morin, Nado and Saskia Pintelon.


Angela whose mother is French and father Indian, is Sri Lankan by marriage. She left France at the age of seven to live in England, and then went on to India to a British boarding school in fashionable Mussorie where her interest in art began and where she was awarded certificates from the Royal Society of Drawing, England for her portrait drawing.

While residing in Sri Lanka in the sixties, Angela studied briefly with the late Mudaliyar Amarasekara. It was a painting of the eminent Sri Lanka Judge the late Justice Noel Gratiaen that got her a place in the prestigious Ruskin School of Drawing and Arts, University of Oxford, 1972.

Angela is also a restorer of porcelain and oil paintings, having studied both techniques in Geneva. She says she enjoys restoring as much as painting or sculpting.

She will hold a solo exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Gallery from May 8th to 11th.

Katarina Monnier

Artist Katarina Monnier values two things - good friends and spiritual experiences. And these two aspects inevitably weave together to enrich her life.

Monnier's thoughts about the great religions of the world and spirituality from the crux of inspiration for her works.

The artist's helpful friends, on the other hand, enable her to share her art with the public.

As an artist, Katarina Monnier has been able to establish herself wherever she goes, including Morocco, Sweden, France, Brazil and the United States. She currently operates her own foundry in Sri Lanka. "I think living in different places allows me to discover a certain kind of spiritual unity that runs through the world," Monnier says.

Favouring metallic colours, the sculpture's patina and bronze shades carry over to Monnier's paintings. The artist uses a traditional technique, mixing glue, plaster and water with oil colours that give her works a luminous colour and sheen.

Jean-Louis Merre

Jean-Louis Merre was born to French parents in the North African state of Morocco in 1943. His earliest memories of culture and art date from his childhood spent playing with nomad children on the floors of neighbouring homes. He recalls: "I found the patterns of the rugs fascinating, and I puzzled over them for hours. Looking back now, it was as if I instinctively knew that the intricate geometry was an attempt to look beneath the veil of existence."

Though the desire to look beneath the veil may be common to all who wonder at the purpose and meaning of existence, it has taken on an urgency in Merre's painting. His desire to learn and to communicate grew during his tenure in France where, as a student at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in Le Mans and at Ecole d'Art Decoratif in Paris, he refined his varied technical skills and later, as a commercial artist and designer, developed his command of contemporary visual language.

Michael Morf

Michael Morf was born in 1961in Zurich, Switzerland. He works and lives in Sri Lanka (since 1992) and Switzerland. He has held an exhibition at the National Art Gallery (Alliance Francaise), Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1995.

Patrick Morin

Patrick Morin was born in Quimper, Brittany, France. He works and lives in Sri Lanka and has been here since 1986.

He has held exhibitions at the Alliance Francaise, Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1993 and National Art Gallery (Sri Lanka in 1995.

Nado Lise Nadeau was born in Riviere du Loup, Quebec, Canada. She works and lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka since 1993. Having studied at several institutions such as the Ecole Normale de Riviere du Loup, Quebec, Canada, Art Centre of Design, Pasadena, California, USA, Phoenix College, Arizona, USA and Centre d'Art, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, she has held several exhibitions in Canada and Sri Lanka.

Saskia Pintelon

Saskia Pintelon is a Flemish Belgian artist who has made Sri Lanka her home for the last 17 years. Her paintings embody the symbiosis that occurred between the artist's Flemish, Western background and the cultural and religious traditions of the East. This hybrid character of the artist enables her to abstract a lot of the superfluous elements of man and society and provide the viewer with a meaningful, often humorous or macabre message about life.

From her work emanates a strong spiritual power through which a whole new reality is created. The creative process is one in which painting, drawing, collages and words are juggled together by the force of the artist's perception of things and her boundless imagination. Saskia's palette includes both sombre and warm earth colours, blacks, greys, reds, blues and whites. She is with her palette in constant search of the unknown depths of colours and plays with them in infinite texture variations as she explores the technical possibilities of her medium. Saskia Pintelon's paintings are primitive yet complex. They are like frescoes from another era yet unmistakably contemporary.

Continue to the Mirror page 2 - * Babyface: Do you know him?, * Of push and pull technology, * Golden Wonder, * Servants in the sky

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