යුදෙව්වන්ගේ රජ (ජේසුස් වහන්සේ බෞද්ධ භික්ෂුවක්) – නීතිඥ සතිස්චන්ද්‍ර ධර්මසිරි


යුදෙව්වන්ගේ රජ (ජේසුස් වහන්සේ බෞද්ධ භික්ෂුවක්) - නීතිඥ සතිස්චන්ද්‍ර ධර්මසිරි

යුදෙව්වන්ගේ රජ (ජේසුස් වහන්සේ බෞද්ධ භික්ෂුවක්) – නීතිඥ සතිස්චන්ද්‍ර ධර්මසිරි

“යුදෙව්වන්ගේ රජ” පොත මට ලබා දුන්නේ (තරමක් දුරට බුදු දහම උත්කර්ෂයට නංවන්න කැමති) යහළුවෙකි. ජේසුස් වහන්සේ ඉන්දියාවට පැමිණි බව කියවෙන ලිපි කිහිපයක්ම මේ පොතට කලින් මම කියවා තිබුණත් ඒවා කෙටි ලියවිලි විය. එහෙත් මේ පොත සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම උත්සාහ දරා තිබුණේ උක්ත කරුණ තහවුරු කිරීමටයි. ඇත්තෙන්ම මේ පොත Johan Forsström පාදිලිතුමාගේ “The King of the Jews” නමැති පොතේ සංක්‍ෂිප්ත සිංහල අනුවාදයකි.

පොතේ දිගින් දිගටම ඇත්තේ ජේසුස් වහන්සේ බෞද්ධයකු බව තහවුරු කිරීමට තාර්කික නොවන කරුණුද පදනම් කරගෙන කළ ආන්තික උත්සාහයකි. බුදු දහම හෝ කිතු දහම සම්බන්ධයෙන් ගැඹුරු දැනුමක් මට නොමැත. ඇත්තටම ජේසුස් වහන්සේ බුදු දහම හැදෑරුවා වුවත් මට එහි එතරම් වැදගත් කරුණක් නොවේ. හේතුව අන් ඕනෑම සාශ්තෘවරයකු මෙන්ම සිදුහත් තවුසාද විවිධ  සාශ්තෘවරයන් සොයා ඔවුන්ගෙන් දැනුම ලබාගැනීම කළ දෙයකි. එමෙන්ම බුදුන් වහන්සේ හින්දු හා උපනිෂද් දහම් වල අභාෂය යම් තරමකට බුදු දහමට එකතු කළ බව කියවා ඇත්තෙමි. එහි කිසිම වරදක්ද නැත. අපි සියල්ලම උපන්දා සිට දැනුම වැඩි කරගන්නේ මේ ආකාරයටයි.

අවශ්‍ය වන්නේ කඩතුරා හැර සත්‍ය දැකීමට මෙන්ම අන් මත ගරු කිරීමට මනස විවෘතව තබා ගැනීමයි. අන් මත ගරු කිරීමේ මුවාවෙන් ආගමික අන්තවාදයට ඉඩදී මානව අයිතිවාසිකම්  කඩවෙන අවස්ථාවලදීත් නිහඬවීම අදහස් නොවේ. ආගම්වල නාමයෙන් දරුවන්ට මෙන්ම කාන්තාවන්ටද කෙරෙන කෙනිහිලිකම් බොහෝය. අප 21 වන සියවසේ සිටින බවට කෙතරම් පාරම් බෑවත් ආගම් ස්වරූපයෙන් එන මානව හිමිකම් කඩවීමට විරුද්ධවීමට ධෛයිර්ය ඇත්තේ සුළු පිරිසකට පමණි.

Kularathna Rajapaksha – A School Principal Who Uses Facebook for Community Development


Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Many adults in Sri Lanka are against the use of social media, especially Facebook, as they see only the negative sides of it. Public school principals and teachers are the most vociferous among them. But today I am going to talk about a public school principal who does a yeoman service for the students and the community in Mahawilachchiya.

He is none other than Mr. Kularathna Rajapaksha, a social servant in Mahawilachchiya. He started his career as a science teacher since he was still a high school boy. I was one of his students while I was in Grade 11. We had no science teachers during that time as most of the teachers in my alma mater, Thakshila Public School in the village got transferred to their villages. So, we had no science teachers to prepare us for the Ordinary Level (OL) exam which is held to identify which students can go for high schools. Kularathna came to our rescue by teaching us every weekend. The best thing about his teaching was that he had this special talent to teach most complicated areas in science like physics and chemistry in a very interesting way. Usually experienced and trained regular science teachers dreaded to teach those parts in science and only taught biology parts of the subject while this schoolboy-teacher showed us how easy those subject areas were. Thanks to him, a lot of students in our classes got good results for Ordinary Level (OL) national level exams.

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna is 50 now and recently was promoted to the post of principal in Seevali Primary School in Mahawilachchiya. I am not too sure if the promotion as a principal will hamper his talents as a teacher. Too much administrative work has affected many good teachers.

Kularathna started his Facebook account in 2014, much later than I did but mastered the craft in no time. I can still remember his first Facebook post which he posted about the need of library books for Thakshila Public School where he then taught. The post brought a lot of donors donating books to the school and today the school library boasts of having 4,000 odd books. He did not stop there and constructed a separate building to store and read the books with the help of his donors and the members of the Civil Defense Force who volunteered with their labor.

School Library at Thakshila Public School

School Library at Thakshila Public School

Kularathna spends about 3-4 hours with Facebook on a daily basis. He does all his work through his old desktop computer, recently acquired laptop and the smart phone while taveling. He spends around 3,000 LKR (20 USD) monthly with his own funding. But he works for the others in the village. This is a good example for most of the ICT teaches in the country who do not do much with government sponsored 24X7 internet facilities at their computer labs with 30-40 PCs connected to internet.

Kularathna does not stop his duty by just donating money or resources. He ensures that the money and the resources he collects and disseminates are properly used. He visits the people whom he helps and monitors if the money is spent on the intended purposes. He has to spend a lot for traveling too. (I think it is the high time his donors work on reimbursing his internet, phone and fuel expenses. Otherwise he will end up broke just like I did.)

RO filter installed in Thakshila Public School

RO filter installed in Thakshila Public School

Kularathna’s biggest achievements are building a school library, building houses for those who cannot afford them, providing scholarships for the needy students, and providing RO water filters to the village. He does all these through the funds donated by both local and overseas Sri Lankans whom he befriends through Facebook. He has won the trust and the respect from those donors as he spends the money frugally and monitors the result of these interventions.

house

A house being constructed

When asked how the teenagers and the youth should use Facebook, his answer was “Use Facebook in such a way you educate you and work for the social good.” This is easier said than done though. Teenagers and the youth tend to use Facebook mostly for time and money consuming fun and have romantic relationships.

Groceries donated by some donors

Groceries donated by some donors

Kularathna also says that the other teachers who use Facebook should use it in such a way that they improve their knowledge by subscribing to educational Facebook feeds and also changing the negative attitudes towards the social media.

Ongoing drought in and around Mahawilachchiya disturbs the villagers’ lives as they either do not have or cannot afford drinking water. Kularathna shared this with his Facebook contacts and they promptly collected funds and sent to Kularathna so that he could hire a small tractor with a plastic barrel and distribute drinking water totally free of charge to the villagers. Such is the trust he has gained from his donors.

Distributing drinking water in Mahawilachchiya

Distributing drinking water in Mahawilachchiya

When asked what were his biggest challenges with FB and his community work, his answer was, “Not yet.” That is the spirit.

Motorcycle Journeys – Trip to Mahawilachchiya from Koradekumbura via Nuwara Eliya and Kandy with Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia


Route to Nuwara Eliya from Koradekumbura

Route to Nuwara Eliya from Koradekumbura

Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia and I were woken up by Jayaweera Jayasundara in the morning of May 17, 2017 as we had asked him to do so to see how his “students” practiced physical exercises early hours of the day in the village playground.  Jayaweera arranged a three wheeler for us and I felt bad as to why we can’t walk while others in the village just walk or jog to the playground. But he wanted us to be comfortable I guess.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

I was ashamed of traveling to the playground by a vehicle as there were 50 odd people – young, middle aged and very old – were already there and they all had walked to the place before 5.00 am. How many things do we take for granted when there is an initiative like this? (I will write a lengthier blog post on this later to do the right justice to Jayaweera and his followers.)

Jayaweera's family with Aleks

Jayaweera’s family with Aleks

Jayaweera’s wife took the pain of cooking us Kiribath and Katta Sambola for breakfast.  She was very caring for us and arranged two lunch packets also for us to have on the way. We said goodbye to the family and Koradekumbura.

On the way to Nuwara Eliya we stopped at Seetha Amman Temple to take few pictures. This is a temple which the Indians value and respect more than the Sri Lankans. The temple is situated in Sita Eliya and is believed to be the place where the King Ravana, the all-powerful ancient Sri Lankan king kept the Indian princess Sita imprisoned to take revenge from her husband Rama who insulted Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha . Read Ramayana to learn more details. This is just a legend than history.

Seetha Amman Temple, Nuwara Eliya

Seetha Amman Temple, Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya City from a distance

Nuwara Eliya City from a distance

Road to Nuwara Eliya City

Road to Nuwara Eliya City

We went to Nuwara Eliya and spent some time at the Lake Gregory which was a very picturesque site. Water level was low as Nuwara Eliya does not get sufficient rain in the summer. I wanted to ride a horse here but we did not have enough time for it as we had a long way to go back to Mahawilachchiya.

Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

In Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

At Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović at Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović at Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

A vegetable stall by the roadside

A vegetable stall by the roadside

We spent some time to take pictures of spectacular extensive tea estates. The greenery and the intermittent fog with the mist made the place very romantic. I was lucky to spend the whole year 2006 surrounded by this type of stunning environment. I want to return to the hills for good. In fact, I was planning this since I was a kid and saw the beauty of Nuwara Eliya in Sarath Madhu’s comic ඉතිං ඊට පස්සේ (Ithin Eeta Passe) in the comic weekly සිත්තර (Siththara) where the story was wound around the hills in Sri Lanka. The only thing which prevented me settling down in here was my commitments to Horizon Lanka at Mahawilachchiya. But now I am planning to transfer the project to the safe hands of the youths in Mahawilachchiya who are being given responsibilities to run the place on their own. It will take time, but I am confident about them.

Route to Mahawilachchiya from Nuwara Eliya

Route to Mahawilachchiya from Nuwara Eliya

 

A tea estate in Nuwara Eliya

A tea estate in Nuwara Eliya

In Nuwara Eliya

in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović in Nuwara Eliya

1 Aleksandar Isailović in Nuwara Eliya

We had some tea at a small tea shop in Pussellawa and it was not hot enough. I complained the shop keeper and he apologized and waved off the price of the two tea cups. We paid for bananas we had there though.

A fruit stall in Pussellawa

A fruit stall cum tea shop in Pussellawa

We did not want to go via Kandy City as Aleksandar had already visited Kandy the previous week. Kandy is a congested city with a lot of traffic and I didn’t like to get stuck in there. The only time I loved Kandy was when I was in love, a long time ago. I loved to walk along the Lake Nuwara Wewa holding hands with my sweet ex-girlfriend. Those were the days….. Aah….

A jackfruit stall in Matale - Dambulla road

A jackfruit stall in Matale – Dambulla road

We bypassed Kandy and directly reached Katugastota via Gannoruwa. Had our lunch by the roadside and proceeded to Anuradhapura. We had some delicious jackfruits in a small village between Matale and Dambulla. Aleks loved jackfruits. He had earlier eaten cooked raw jackfruit as a curry and it was here he ate the ripe ones first.

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

We reached Anuradhapura by the evening and had tea at my sister’s house. Then we proceeded to Mahawilachchiya around 6.30 pm. The whole journey was a fascinating ride for me. But my friend was exhausted as he had to be on the pillion of the bike throughout the whole bike hike as he was not comfortable riding my bike model (Bajaj Pulsar 150) despite having an international driving license.  Thus we ended 630 km – 3 day- bike hike. The whole ride was a “chanceless” one. There was not a single බුදු අම්මෝ! (Oh My God!) moment throughout the ride. At least not for me. I don’t know about Aleks though.

Motorcycle Journeys – Trip to Koradekumbura from Bandarawela with Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia


Route to Bandarawela from Mirahawatta

Route to Bandarawela from Mirahawatta

In the morning of May 16, 2017, Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia and I went to Devananda Public School (Sri Devananda Madya Maha Vidyalaya) in Mirahawatta with Nimal Gunarathna, the ICT teacher of the school and did a presentation on how the school can be benefitted with foreign volunteers as teachers.

Mirahawatta-Presentation-1

Presentation at Mirahawatta Devananda Public School (Sri Devananda Madya Maha Vidyalaya)

In the afternoon we had a similar presentation at a private tuition class at Bandarawela town to the students and the parents that had gathered there. The problem with the students there is that, despite attending to some of the best public schools in the town, still their English knowledge is not satisfactory. I don’t know why the big monies spent by the Ministry of Education on teacher training do not reflect in the students’ English knowledge.

The busy Bandarawela town

The busy Bandarawela town

Route to Koradekumbura from Bandarawela

Route to Koradekumbura from Bandarawela

In the evening, we went to Koradekumbura to meet a retired Physical Health Inspector (PHI) who was introduced to me by a friend of mine called Daya Wijesinghe from Kandana. The PHI’s name is Jayaweera Jayasundara and he runs this wonderful program where he teaches martial arts (mainly karate) to the villagers. You will be surprised to hear that men and women who are even over 80 years of age practice karate with him. (I will write a comprehensive story about him in the coming days.)

The road to Koradekumbura is not carpeted still it is decent and travelable. (Now that most of the roads are nicely carpeted by the former government, we expect them everywhere we go.) We reached the village around 7.00 pm and had a good shower at the bathroom of Jayaweera’s massive house. His wife is a sweet lady and she cooked a huge feast with a lot of delicious dishes. We were treated like princes there. I can never forget the kind of hospitality they extended to Aleks and me.

Motorcycle Journeys – Trip to Bandarawela from Mahawilachchiya with Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia


Our route from Mahawilachchiya to Dambana

Our route from Mahawilachchiya to Dambana

I started the trip to Bandarawela from Mahawilachchiya around 7.00 am on May 15, 2017 with Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia and reached Mirahawatta (off Bandarawela) via Mahiyanganaya the first day. Despite having an international license, Aleksander could not ride the bike as my Bajaj Pulsar 150 is not a model he had any experience with. In fact, it was my fault that I did not give him enough time to get accustomed to my bike during his stay in Mahawilachchiya.

On the bund of Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

On the bund of Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

Aleksandar Isailović on the bund of Basawakkulama Reservoir

Aleksandar Isailović on the bund of Basawakkulama Reservoir

Scene from the bund of Basawakkulama Reservoir Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Scene from the bund of Basawakkulama Reservoir Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

We had breakfast at my sister’s house in Anuradhapura and proceeded to Dambulla first. From Dambulla, we took the road via Kandalama – Bakamuna – Laggala up to Mahiyanganaya. The road from Dambulla to Bakamuna was not carpeted as yet but it was still a pretty good road and we never had any problems with the road condition. We had lunch at a small place at Girandurukotte. It was a delicious lunch with fresh vegetables and freshwater fish.

Bridge of Yodha Ela in Bakamuna

Bridge of Yodha Ela in Bakamuna

Ricefields in Girandurukotte

Ricefields in Girandurukotte

At Girandurukotte

At Girandurukotte

After lunch, we proceeded to Mahiyanganaya then to Dambana where the Vedda (a Sri Lankan aboriginal ingenious tribe) people live. I have been to this place several times and hence I personally know Vedda tribal chief, Mr. Uruwarige Waniyaleththo. The houses in Dambana are very eco-friendly. They are made with mud walls and hay stacks roof. You don’t feel the heat that thrust upon the village by the hot sun. We had a chat with the chief and then came back to Mahiyanganaya and then proceeded to Bandarawela. Roads are very well done, thanks to the previous government.

Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe in Dambana, Mahiyanganaya

Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe in Dambana, Mahiyanganaya

The roof of the hut of Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe in Dambana, Mahiyanganaya

The roof of the hut of Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe in Dambana, Mahiyanganaya

With Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe in Dambana, Mahiyanganaya

We took some pictures at beautiful Loggaloya Lake. This place is so beautiful and even if you spend hours here you won’t feel enough.

The route we took from Dambana to Mirahawatta.

The route we took from Dambana to Mirahawatta.

Aleksandar Isailović at Loggal Oya

Aleksandar Isailović at Loggal Oya

Mahiyanganaya - Badulla Road

Mahiyanganaya – Badulla Road

The little tea shop we had tea on Mahiyanganaya - Badulla road

The little tea shop we had tea on Mahiyanganaya – Badulla road

We resumed the journey to Badulla and spent some time in Badulla, the small town where I spent honeymoon for year!!! Badulla is a very peaceful and beautiful small town. I love this place.

We left for Bandarawela and met my friend Nimal Gunarathna there. He is a computer teacher in Devananda School, Mirahawatta. He also conducts some private tuition classes in Bandarawela town. We spent night at his house and had a delicious dinner cooked by Nimal’s wife. We had a wonderful tight sleep as the weather was cool and there was not a single mosquito to disturb with their buzz.

If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st-Century Leaders – Doug Moran 


If You Will Lead - Enduring Wisdom for 21st-Century Leaders

I am an admirer of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If.” First I read its Sinhala translation while I was a schoolboy and I felt it was exclusively written for me! Later, when I came to a stage I could understand the original English version; I just fell in love with the poem. In fact, I use this as the main inspiration to me whenever I am dejected and hopeless.

When I came across the book “If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st-Century Leaders,” I was overjoyed and read it as fast as I could. It is a book filled with inspirational stories about the people who won despite being challenged by many a negative force. All the people discussed in this book are leaders who achieved their goals while being forced to abandon their struggles on the way to success. But their “never say die” attitude took them along to where they wanted to be. This is a good book to read if you want to be a leader. You will understand that sky is the limit if you wake up your inner sense and align all the forces to a well set goal.

The book gives examples of legendary leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela who achieved extraordinary heights despite being at the receiving end for most of their lives. The book also tells you how American presidents such as Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Reagan fought against all odds to achieve what they aspired. The book is written in a simple style and you won’t be able to pause reading it till you get to the end. The author uses the style of storytelling to inspire the readers to make the reader feel that they too can achieve more or less the same heights that the role models in the book achieved.

We are at a time we do not meet that many exemplary role models to follow. You would say I am wrong as you could argue that the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are good enough to be role models. I agree with you. They are living legends we have today. But the leaders talked about in this book never had the luxury and the sophistication today’s leaders have access to.

Doug Moran, the author of this book talks about “If Sixteen Leadership Attributes” that Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” talks about. When I read the poem I did not understand its value in management, but only as a set of guidelines one should follow to resist failure and win. But now, after reading this book, I treat both the poem and the book as the best management lessons I took. If you want to upgrade yourself from a good leader to a great leader, consider this book as your Bible.

Thanks Nuwan Samaranayake, my friend in the United States for giving me access to read this wonderful book.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (Movie)


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Earlier I had written reviews on two (Circumstance and Fire) films where the theme was lesbianism. This is the third in line and hope you would enjoy reading this (and watching the film subsequently.) Be prepared to experience unlimited excitement of 179 minutes. And, of course, ensure your kids are asleep before you watch the movie. Expect the unexpected!!

Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a 2013 French romantic film written, produced, and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. The cast include Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. The movie is based on the French graphic novel of the same name by Julie Maroh. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The actresses were also given the Palme as a special prize. The film runs for almost three hours (179 minutes) yet not boring at any stage of it.

This is a controversial film that stirred so called established society. There have been enough films based on lesbianism. I have seen at least three of them. Deepa Mehta’s Fire from India, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance from Iran and now this. All three films stirred the conservative societies like India and Iran and Blue Is the Warmest Colour also became controversial due to its extremely lengthy graphic content of lovemaking of the two girls.

There is this recent research that says every woman is either bisexual or gay and never straight. I don’t know much about it. And the big question is why not? After all, women have more sensitive parts in their bodies that are related to excite both opposite and same sex and one cannot rule out such attractions to both the sexes.

However, the movie Blue Is the Warmest Colour is full of “explicit sexual content” and you might feel embarrassed to see them even all alone! I enjoyed lesbian sex scenes in the two movies I mentioned above but not in this. They are too much under any circumstance. I don’t know why the director wanted to dramatize the sex scene to this level. I was uncomfortable watching it. Cannot understand how one could see this on the big screen.

The movie depicts how love, jealousy, hatred, betrayal, and revenge that lead one to another while one is in a relationship. I thought it was common for heterosexual love and not in gay love.

When shown at Cannes, the film stunned some critics with its long and graphic sex scenes and they were of the view that the movie should be reedited before it goes to public theaters.  The movie won the Palme d’Or prize. The judging panel, which included Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee and Nicole Kidman, made an unprecedented move to award the top prize to the film’s two main actresses along with the director. If Spielberg thinks it is praiseworthy, you can hardly disagree.

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Blue Is the Warmest Colour Graphic Novel

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Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Real Life with the directer Abdellatif Kechiche

 

Trip to Mahawilachchiya from Trincomalee with Benjamin Pages on My Motorbike


mapRiding was extremely fun as the road was so straight that you can virtually see Anuradhapura from Trincomalee J. Such straight roads usually bring the death to the bikers as we tend to forget our speed limits.  This was the road I rode my fastest ever speed. Don’t ask the speed as I don’t want to be fined for my confession.

Bay of Trincomalee

Bay of Trincomalee

A restaurant alone Trinco - Anuradhapura road

A restaurant alone Trinco – Anuradhapura road

The last leg of the journey. We left Trincomalee around 11. 00 a.m. on April 22, 2016. We spent some time taking photographs of Bay of Trincomalee. We took some pictures of Kantale Reservoir.

Kantale Reservoir

Kantale Reservoir

“The Kanntale reservoir dam breached on April 20, 1986, killing more than 120 people (exactly 30 years ago.) It has since been reconstructed. The dam impounds the Per Aru, a small river discharging into the Koddiyar Bay, at Trincomalee Harbour.

According to Mahavamsa, the tank was built by king Aggabodhi II of Anuradhapura and further developed by King Parakramabahu the Great. It was also known as Gangathala Vapi at the time. The reservoir has a catchment area of 216 km2 (83 sq mi) and a capacity of 135 million cubic metres (4.8×109 cu ft).

On April 20, 1986 at 03:00AM, the dam breached, sending a wall of water over the villages downstream. The floods killed approximately 120-180 people, destroyed over 1,600 houses and 2,000 acres of paddy, affecting over 8,000 families. One of the main causes of the breach was said to be due to extra-heavy vehicles being driven over the dam.” Wikipedia.’

Horowpathana Town

Horowpathana Town

Kahatagasdigiliya Town

Kahatagasdigiliya Town

We passed Horowpathana and then Kahatagasdigiliya on the way. My heart almost stopped when I passed Seeppukulama Junction as it is the place where road to Seeppukulama starts. It is my ex-girlfriend’s village and I get very emotional when I pass this area.

Seeppukulama Junction

Seeppukulama Junction

Mihintale Junction

Mihintale Junction

Pemaduwa Junction, Mahawilachchiya

Pemaduwa Junction, Mahawilachchiya

Riding with Benjamin was fun as we both enjoyed riding the bike. I wish I had a bigger bike than my Bajaj Pulsar 150. I was a damn fool to sell my Bajaj Pulsar 200 for a song. The company discontinued assembling this model and it has become a rare model since then.

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

Back to Mahawilachchiya - Benjamin Pages and I

Back to Mahawilachchiya – Benjamin Pages and I

Ben and I reached Mahawilachchiya around 5.30 pm (after ending almost 900 km/4 day trip) and had what they call “a well-earned rest.”

 

 

 

 

Trip to Trincomalee from Batticaloa with Benjamin Pages on My Motorbike


We said goodbye to our friend from Batticaloa, Mr. Roshan Pratheepan and started our ride to Trincomalee in the afternoon on April 21, 2016.  Benjamin Pages (the first French volunteer at Horizon Lanka) and I took turns in riding the bike as it was comfortable for both of us.

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After leaving Batticaloa, we passed an area where the landmines set up during the civil war were yet to be removed. These are the remnants of the futile war that dragged Sri Lanka backward for almost three decades. Hope these landmines will be demined when I next take this road.

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We passed several rivers and I do not remember their names. If you can identify them, please help me so that I could add the captions to the photos I publish here. Despite the presence of a number of blue rivers, there were large areas like below that did not have easy access to water for drinking or cultivating.

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The presence of 3G and 4G mobile coverage in the areas along the road was inspiring. The billboards along the road tell you the importance of communication as a large number of Tamil people in these villages had migrated to other parts of the world due to the prolonged civil war. At least one member of most of the families is abroad according to the people I talked to. So, they need decent mobile coverage and the telcos exploit the conditions. Can’t blame them. For them, it is a business and for the people, it is a luxury.

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Trincomalee City

I met Ruwan Deepal Sooriyarachchi, a former colleague of mine at Trincomalee. He is a member of the Sri Lanka Air Force. He worked for Horizon Lanka Foundation a long time ago. He works hard, reads a lot and speaks good English. We had a delicious dinner at a Saiva Kade and said goodbye to each other.

Ben and I spent some time in the beach which was lit by the moon. Then we spent the night at a rest house in Dyke Street (:-)) in Trincomalee beach side.

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With Ruwan Deepal’s  friend and Ruwan Deepal

Trip to Batticaloa from Mahaoya with Benjamin Pages on My Motorbike


We woke up early and started our ride to Trincomalee on April 21, 2016, Benjamin Pages (the first French volunteer at Horizon Lanka) and I started our bike ride to Trincomalee from Mahaoya.

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Our breakfast, boiled corn cobs

Due to our folly in selecting an unrepaired route to Batticaloa from Bibila, we were still paying for that decision as we had to continue the same route up to Batticaloa. But it was still adventure. Thanks to the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa government, it is hard to find an unrepaired main road in Sri Lanka anymore. If you accuse me of being a Rajapaksa loyalist, go ahead and do it. I admire the man for having the courage to end the war and develop the infrastructure in rural areas. Too bad he messed up his political future by trying to entertain his relatives too much. It is not your relatives that are count in an election. It is the people’s votes that decide your future chances. Being such an experienced and cunning leader, he messed up big time.

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Road to Batticaloa from Bibila via Maha Oya

I don’t understand this. When you enter the North and the East of Sri Lanka, the lush greenery suddenly vanishes and you enter a semiarid climate. You feel this as soon as you pass Anuradhapura district boundary and enter Vavuniya from the North. It is the same when you enter the East from Ampara or Batticaloa. Is it due to natural reasons or due to the civil war that hampered any chance of enhancing of irrigation projects to the war ravaged North and East? I don’t know. I must ask my friend Mr. Weralupitiya, a retired civil servant who knows better.

From Chenkaladi, a small town in Batticaloa, the road was superbly carpeted. So, the ride became fun again. We were dog-tired and ate some bananas and gulped down several glasses of fruit juices here. Despite me not being able to speak in Tamil, the people were very amiable and helpful. This is a Muslim dominated area and there are a lot of Tamils too. But I did not see any of them being hostile to Sinhala people here. The psychological wounds of the long-drawn civil war are healing it seemed. What I believe is that the three main communities in Sri Lanka had more common things to unite than to divide. It is the dirty politics of our Big Brother, India that botched up the peaceful coexistence of the island. Local politicians rubbed salt into the wound.

We next went to see the much talked about Batticaloa Fort. According to Wikipedia, the Batticaloa Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1628 and was captured by the Dutch on 18 May 1638. Later, the fort was used by British from 1745. There is not much to see here except some remnants of the colonial times but if you are into colonial architecture, this is a good place I guess. Definitely not my cup of tea.

Next we entered Batticaloa city. I was surprised to see green trees in the middle of the city. Batticaloa does get a lot of rain but the temperature too is very hot. These green trees were a treat to the eye. In fact Batticaloa is an estuarine lagoon. The city is spread in the land masses in the lagoon. It is a very beautiful place with the azure Indian Ocean and the brackish lagoon. My only complaint is its extreme heat. You cannot expect everything to go with your tastes, can you?

There is no point in going to Batticaloa if you don’t spend some time in amazing Kallady Beach. Beach is cleaner when considering the number of people who visit it. But not to the standard you would like to. You could see kids flying kites here. The view of the blue sea is mesmerizing. I am not a much of a beach fan. Surely not after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 that devastated the coastal belt of Sri Lanka. I prefer the hills more. But here in Kallady, you sure will love the place.

As previously designed, we met Roshan Pratheepan, a young entrepreneurial English teacher, from Batticaloa. He runs some English classes in and around Batticaloa. Even though I wished to see him in action in one of his classes, we did not have time for it.

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With Roshan Pratheepan from Batticaloa