You may say I’m a dreamer………………

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John Lennon would have been 73 years had he lived till October 9, 2013. But he was shot dead on a New York street in December 1980 for no apparent reason.  It makes me wonder what it is about men of peace that evokes the wrath of a fellow being to want to kill them? Who would want to still the voice of a man who sang and wrote beautiful songs and advocated passionately the cause of world peace?screen-shot-2011-05-05-at-4-57-35-pm

While some of the methods adopted by Lennon to send out the message of peace such as the famous/infamous Bed-in for Peace he staged with his wife Yoko Ono   in 1969 had mixed recreation,  no one questions the power of his music. His song Imagine has come to epitomize the universal message of peace that millions of people worldwide subscribe to.

Some of the thoughts that John Lennon expressed in an interview he gave in London on May 8th 1969 to a BBC Radio-One program called ‘Scene and Heard’,   gives  an insight into what kind of man he  was and are thought-provoking. Here are some extracts: –

Interviewer:  A lot of people also feel that if everyone goes to bed and stays in bed for a week or a few days for peace, as a protest for peace, the whole country will come to a standstill.”

JOHN:        “Well, wouldn’t it be better than producing arms and bombs. Imagine if the American army stayed in bed for a week and the Vietnamese army. Or Nixon… and Chairman Mao. Imagine if the whole world stayed in bed. There’d be peace for a week and they might get to feel what it was like. The tension would be released.”

 Interviewer:        “If there was enough trouble and there was obviously going to be a war and you were asked to fight, John. Would you fight for your country?”

 JOHN:        “I wouldn’t attack, no. I’d defend myself, probably, in a situation. But I wouldn’t attack. I’m a pacifist, you know.”

 Interviewer:        “What do you want out of life most of all now, John?”

 JOHN:        “Peace, you know. Really that’s all I want.”

 Interviewer:        “If anything happened to you, how would you like people to remember you?”

 JOHN:        “As the great peaceniks.” 

John&Yoko
John&Yoko

 Interviewer:        “You said you don’t believe in hitting a child.”

JOHN:        “I don’t believe in hitting him to correct him. I don’t believe in corporal punishment as the answer. I can understand people think it’s the only way to deal with them ‘cuz I understand those people. I don’t think they’re right, because it doesn’t help murderers to hang them or help violent people to be violent to them. It is all they understand but… Violence begets violence, you know. And you can’t kill off all the violent people or all the murderers. We’d have to kill off the government.”

Interviewer:        “Do you take everything you do seriously?”

JOHN:        “Seriously with a pinch of salt. You know, I don’t take it too seriously because I think that’s the trouble with Art quotes, Music quotes, the Peace Movement quotes and the World quotes, you know. So I take everything with a pinch of salt. But I take life seriously, you know. The serious job of being happy.”hqdefault

Interviewer: “Do you really feel you are God?”

JOHN:        “We’re all God, you know. I mean, Christ said, the kingdom of heaven is within you. And that’s what it means, you know. And the Indians say that and the Zen people say that. It’s a basic thing of religion. We’re all God. I’m not a God or the God, not the God. But we’re all God and we’re all potentially divine and potentially evil. We all have everything within us. And the kingdom of heaven is nigh and within us, you know. And if you look hard enough you see it.”

Che Guevara in Ceylon ……………

Ernesto Che Guevara epitomizes all the romanticism attached to revolution and rebellion and remains an enduring image worlwide till today.

Nearly 54 years ago, Che Guevara visited Sri Lanka to look into the rubber planting methods adopted in the country. He visited the Yahala Kele rubber estate in Horana   and planted a Mahogany plant on August 7, 1959 which today has grown into a giant tree.

Dingiri Mahattaya, the man who served Che  and his group of visitors from Cuba with biscuits and bananas  during the visit, is still alive and likes to tell about  his close encounter with the famous man.

Here are some pictures that were taken when we visited the estate some time back.

This is also a link to a story I wrote on Che’s visit to Ceylon.

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/090906/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_03.html

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An ode to a pet……………

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

Mark Twain 

I cannot remember exactly how we came to adopt Siriya as our pet dog but what I remember is that she was a stray animal who used to wonder around   in our neighborhood before she became a regular visitor to our home. That was eight or nine years ago.  She was the neighborhood dog of sorts and almost everyone around knew her but for several years she had been spending most of her time in our home.

She died on Wednesday morning, in her own quiet and dignified manner. When I got up this morning and opened the front door, she was no longer sleeping there on the floor of the garage, wagging her tail on hearing the click of the door lock.

My sons   started calling her Siriyawathie, later shortened to Siriya and she fully deserved the name. She was a smiling dog and was of the most loving sort. She was also a no fuss animal and not an attention seeker. She would sit around quietly, have her meals when hungry and pretty much hang around till one of us took the time to stroke her head and spend some time with her. The one thing she hated was water and bathing her was no easy task. When she sensed   it was bath time, she’d run away and come back much later.
She had her fair share of visits to the doctor  and she loved the short car ride to the animal clinic. We just had to open the car door and she would jump right in and make herself comfortable.

She had been breathing heavily for a couple of days and despite a visit to the doctor, she did not recover. I went to check on her shortly before she died. She was seated and breathing heavily and looked at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and I just knew that she knew then it would all be over for her soon.

 Siriya getting bullied by Falco. Her last photo taken on June 16
Siriya getting bullied by Falco. Her last photo taken on June 16

Learning not to take things for granted…………..

“You are special. You understand me,” said Anoushka when I met her last Sunday. Her words almost made me cry because Anouskha is a beautiful and intelligent 27-year-old girl who has lived almost her entire life on a wheel chair.
We were at Anoushka s house to send the day and it was truly a memorable and inspiring experience for me.

I first met Anoushka less than a month ago at my sister Indini’s birthday party. They attend the school for differently abled persons in Colombo but while Indini suffers from schizophrenia, a mental illness, Anoushka suffers from a physical handicap. But both those with physical and mental handicaps have their fair share of challenges to overcome and issues that have to be dealt with a lot of patience.

Though confined to a wheelchair, Anouskha has her dreams like all of us. The first time I met her she asked me to find her a boyfriend. That is when I asked her how old she is. “Twenty Seven,’ she said. She asked me how many kids I had. “Two,” I said.  She said she wants to experience motherhood. To feel what it is like to carry a baby inside of her.

It made me think later that being a mother is  indeed a privilege which I have almost always taken for granted. It was, for me, something  I excepted to happen soon after I got married and I did become a mother within little over a year of being married. But that was after suffering a miscarriage. I had always dreamed of being a wife and mother from my young days probably influenced by all the fairy tales I read and later by the Mills and Boons romances.  I always wanted to be the perfect wife and mother which I have to say I have not even come close to becoming. But I think I have managed to raise two decent boys and hope they don’t get into too much trouble in the future. That of course time will tell. I ve also managed to juggle home life and work, thanks greatly to the two grandmothers who pitch in to help out so generously.

But getting back to the issue of motherhood, what I now understand is that it’s not something that can be taken for granted. Not by a long shot. When I see my friends struggle to get pregnant and when my own sister is struggling to be a mom, I know that nothing in life can be expected to take a certain path.

Looking back –   miscarriages, Caesarian sections, stretch marks, leaking breasts, sleepless nights and emergency trips to hospitals, all seem worthwhile.

It’s so easy for any of us to be on the other side by some twist of fate and  Anoushka’s words made me realize that nothing should be taken for granted in this life.

Anoushka & indini
Anoushka & indini

And the Mountains Echoed…Another nostalgic journey…

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When an author writes a universally loved book like The Kite Runner, then anything else that follows is going to be a little disappointing. So Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan born American writer who became a literary sensation overnight with the release of The Kite Runner in 2003 has a tough act to follow even if it is his own act. The Kite Runner was followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns and I was disappointed with the latter.  The Kite Runner has such a special place in my heart that I was already biased when I picked up Hosseini’s second book. And now with his latest book, And the Mountains Echoed, I feel the same way.

But even if it does not measure up to The  Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoed is written with the same sense of nostalgia with which Hosseini writes about his native land Afghanistan. He revisits the country that was an idyllic place in the early 1950s and disintegrated into a place of bloodshed and misery by the 1980s and 1990s and continues to be a troubled nation till today.

The story begins portraying the deep bond between a brother and sister who are separated when the girl is given away for adoption to a rich couple who live in the Afghan capital Kabul. It beings in the early 1950s and ends  in 2010 by which time lives have changed dramatically, many of the  main characters have lived and died  and everyone’s life has got more  complicated. There are families and extended families, there are secrets that get gradually unraveled as the pages turn but some secrets remain untold till the end.
The inspiration for the Book’s title is a poem by William Blake (1757–1827) called the Nurse’s Song. Here is the poem for those who would like to read it.

WHEN the voices of children are heard on the green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,

My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.

‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Come, come, leave off play, and let us away

Till the morning appears in the skies.’

‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep;

Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.’

‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed.’

The little ones leapèd and shoutèd and laugh’d

And all the hills echoèd.

Graffiti art in Colombo…………

French street art graffiti artist Da Cruz along with an artist’s from the CoCA (Collective of Contemporary Artists)    finalized a Wall Art at the BMICH in Colombo  recently.

Here are some of the scenes from Saturday night when the Wall was formally launched.

A painted chair
A painted chair

Da Cruz'  art work
Da Cruz’ art work
CoCA groups wall
CoCA groups wall
By Lankan artist Deneth
By Lankan artist Deneth
Eleonore & Chandani
Eleonore & Chandani