Gift of love’ from German friends

Iresha, a 26 year-old music teacher from southern Sri Lanka, was simply overjoyed last month. The young woman, who lost her beloved violin in the December 2004 tsunami that ripped Sri Lanka's coastline, apart killing more than 30,000 people and destroying houses and property, was gifted another violin – all the way from friends in Germany.

A happy Iresha (centre) with her parents and her new violin.

“I'll never forget this,” she said accepting the violin from Feizal Samath, President of the Country Music Foundation (CMF), who handed over the ‘precious’ gift on behalf of Dirk Maverick, a veteran Country and Western musician from Germany.

The CMF, a not-for-profit organisation that has been organising a concert series titled ‘Country Roads’, supporting UNICEF initiatives to raise funds for needy children since 1988, has been hosting Dirk and his band, The Mavericks, since the mid-1990s.

On one of those regular trips, Dirk befriended Iresha's father Mahinda D. Peiris, who owned a batik and curio shop in Bentota. The Mavericks had been staying at the Bentota Beach Hotel on a work cum holiday visit, in addition to playing at the Country Roads charity concert in Colombo.

Mahinda, whose Latha Batiks shop was swept away by the tsunami, said he met Dirk seven years ago. “We instantly liked each other,” he said and whenever the Mavericks came to Sri Lanka, they visited Mahinda's shop.

Mahinda also sewed some of the costumes that the Mavericks Dance Ladies use in showbiz events in Germany. Last year was a poignant moment for the Peiris family when – at Dirk's invitation – they attended the February 2005 Country Roads concert at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. It was a moving show to remember the tsunami victims and those affected like the Peiris family who had lost all their business and family home. That concert raised more than US$ 7,000 and went to UNICEF to help rebuild school libraries affected by the tsunami.

When the Peiris family told Dirk about Iresha’s ‘loss’ (her violin), Dirk promised to raise enough money back home to get her a new one. The German musician kept his promise and sent the special gift with ARAMEX providing free delivery to Colombo in March. In April, when Dirk arrived for his annual Sri Lanka visit for this year's Country Roads concert, he unfortunately missed meeting the Peiris family, as they had been displaced and moved to another temporary location, also in Bentota.

In Dirk’s absence, the CMF President did the honours and handed over the ‘gift of love’ that had travelled thousands of miles to help a young woman, who was saddened by the loss of her musical instrument. Iresha, happily clutching her ‘precious’ gift in Samath's office, recalled the days when she played her violin to visitors to Latha Batiks in Bentota.

“I love the violin,” she said. Iresha now teaches singing, vocals and violin playing at the SOS Children’s Village in Piliyandala, twice a week. Her new violin is bound to accompany her now.

As for her father, Mahinda, he is still wondering how to recover from the tsunami that destroyed his business, 16 months ago, still waiting for the promised government support. The CMF has promised to help this tsunami-affected family to revive their business.


Poetry in motion – literally

Erroll, Tracy and Mike teaming up for a poetry offering with a diference

A very short evening of performance poetry written by MASii a.k.a. Mike Masilamani, a name closely associated with the Dark Art of Advertising will be held at the Barefoot Gallery on May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. The evening is an informal one, with the audience encouraged to even bring their cushions along.

Directed by Tracy Holsinger, it stars Sean Amarasekera, Nimmi Harasgama, Ryan Holsinger, Anushka Pereira and students of the Wendy Whatmore Academy.

The poems address subjects such as the effects of advertising and consumerism, the electronic media and matters of the heart. They include ‘Looking Thru’ My Earphones: Errol’s Story’, ‘Man on the Run’, ‘Tits’, ‘Fashion TV’, ‘Vesak’ and ‘Human Arrow’.

‘Looking Thru’ My Earphones’ for instance is inspired by MASii’s close friend Errol, who ‘showed how powerful and insidious consumerism is,’ which MASii maintains, ‘has brought in a new caste system based on brand loyalty.’ ’Fashion TV’, likewise showcases MASii’s fascination with this medium, which ‘unites the Lounge Lizard with the Lecherous.’

Tracy Holsinger is Artistic Director of the Mind Adventures Theatre Company, responsible for productions such as ‘Slag’ ‘Virgo Intacta’, Ubu Rex and NNNK.


Lucky balloons for surprised fisherman

By Tharangani Perera

Bonifus Perera has been a fisherman for the past twenty years. On a routine fishing trip last month, he was surprised to see a bunch of colourful balloons floating in the sea. Picking them up, this fisherman from the little village of Sinnapaduwa, some 15 km from Puttalam, took them home for his children to play with.

The family at the MLH

But these were no ordinary balloons… They were balloons released for the launch of the Mount Lavinia Hotel’s 200th anniversary celebrations. 200 colourful balloons released from five different locations throughout the island (Mount Lavinia, Kandy, Hambantota, Negombo and Polonnaruwa), with gift coupons attached to each balloon, some worth Rs. 100,000, the others worth Rs. 1000 and some offering a 5% discount on weddings valid till December 31, 2006.

Only when Bonifus returned home, did he notice the gift coupons. His neighbours, having seen the launch of the bicentenary celebrations of Mount Lavinia Hotel on local television, informed him that these were the gift balloons from the hotel.

Bonifus won Rs. 7000 from seven coupons. “This is a very unusual event, and we are very happy ” said his wife Lalitha Padmini, adding that they were immensely surprised that a few balloons held so much fortune. “We will be giving a quarter of our winnings to my friend, who was fishing with me,” Bonifus added, explaining that he would deposit the rest of the prize money in their children’s bank accounts.

The couple have three children – Sharon Sameera Perera (15), Thushan Perera (12) and Dilum Nilaksha Perera (9).

So it was last Monday that Bonifus Perera and his family were special guests at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, where they enjoyed lunch at the Governor’s Café and a tour of the hotel. Unfortunately, son Sharon who is currently at a Catholic Seminary in Kandy was unable to join them. Yet, his two little brothers, who were enthralled to be shown around had a wonderful time. The hotel arranged transport back home for the family and gifted them with three boxes full of toys for kids in the village.

Public Relations Manager, Osadhi de Silva said that the Mount Lavina Hotel was happy to have hosted Bonifus and his family. “We urge everyone to be on the lookout for the coupons that have not yet been found as among them there are five coupons, worth Rs. 100,000 each,” she added.


It’s wedding fever!

By Salma Yusuf

Indu Dharmasena’s hilarious comedy ‘Oh Colombo’ staged last year will pick up from where it left off, as his latest production ‘Oh Colombo 2 – Weddings!’ hits the Lionel Wendt on May 19, 20 and 21.

The cast of Oh Colombo 2 – Weddings!

The play begins with Suresh’s mother-in-law, Mala, announcing that she has hired Chamathkara, a wedding coordinator, from the US to plan and coordinate her daughter’s wedding. Mala, is a typical Colombo mother, ever conscious of her image in society and thus wants her ‘only daughter’s’ wedding to be remembered as the best ever in Colombo.

Daughter Natasha and her fiance Suresh, go along quite reluctantly. All they want is a simple, beautiful wedding with close family and friends, but of course, the bride’s mother won’t hear of it. She claims that if it isn’t a ‘one of a kind’ wedding, the ‘HI magazine’ won’t even cover it!

In the meantime, Harold, Suresh’s uncle is also soon to be married to Rathna, and they announce that they have hired the classiest wedding planner in town, Menaka Suralova. The moment the two coordinators meet, fun and entertainment spark off, with each trying to outdo the other and ‘steal’ the other’s contract.

“The last scene is very action-packed,” says Indu. At the beginning of the scene, both couples have mysteriously gone missing and the speculation as to what might have happened to them lends itself to great entertainment. The cast includes Koluu (whose costumes are done by Lou Ching) as Rathna, Angela Seneviratne as Mala, Indu Dharmasena as Suresh, Delon Weerasinghe as Harold, Sanjana Selvarajah as Karishma, Michelle Herft as Suba, Sanawada Abeysirigunawardena as Natasha, George Cooke as Ranjith, Danu as Chamthkara, Gehan Cooray as Marvan, Ishkey Irshad as Jeevan, and Kaushalya Fonseka as Menaka. Hair and make-up will be by Conal.

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