Isn’t it ironic that within 24 hours of me deciding to travel in Kalinga (present day Odissa) extensively for a month on a motorbike in November this year that this article http://scroll.in/article/814562/are-the-sinhalese-people-descendants-of-bengali-and-odiya-sea-merchants appeared out of the blue? I have a great friend from Kalinga and he will find me a bike for my tour. He is Prakash Nayak and the only reason for me to be a friends with him , was that we both share similar surnames. Me, Wanni Nayaka and him, Praksh Nayak. He says there are a lot of Nayakas in Kalinga.
I am not a historian nor a social anthropologist. But ever since I heard this story of us, the Sinhalese, are descendants of a lion and a princess (see more here http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/princess-vanga-sinhabahu/), I was both intrigued and ashamed (to find we are also descendants of incestuous sex between a brother and sister (Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali) to dig into this within my limited capacity. I won’t be able to compose a scholarly work after my travel but at least I will chronicle what I see and hear on a daily updating my blog throughout the tour. This will be my fourth trip to India.
I don’t look for luxuries during my trip as I can digest anything edible and sleep even under a tree for that matter. I am quite used to rough roads as I keep riding my bike almost anywhere in Sri Lanka without much hassle. So, hardships will not dampen my spirits at all. Traveling with Meer Ali from India throughout Sri Lanka for 5 consecutive days was fun and hope I can find someone like that who can also sing Bollywood songs with me. Well, since I was an 11 year old boy, I could sing more than 500 Hindi songs. So I would love to add some more to the list.
Back to the incest story, the legend is that no royal family in Sinhapur, Kalinga was happy to let their daughter or son to marry a lion’s son or the daughter and the only option the lion’s son and daughter had was to marry each other and produce a notorious prince called Wijaya who had to end up in Sri Lanka and my friends, the rest, is both history and legend. (The more sensible take in this lion’s story would be to take the lion as a leader of a lion tribe or a very strong and powerful and unruly man I guess.)
I will not have the luxury of taking a high quality still or video camera for this tour and would appreciate if someone can lend me one. If something happens to it, I will buy a brand new one of the same make and model. Since I have to pay for airfare and other sundry expenses, the last thing I can afford is a professional camera.
I love to watch stage dramas. I had the pleasure of watching Maname, Sinhabahu, Uthure Rahula Himi and Guru Tharuwa in my 20’s and enjoyed them a lot. I had the same fresh feelings when I went to see the dramas Makarakshaya, Booruwa Mahaththaya and Debiddo recently but became very disappointed.
My first complain is that the actors’ voices are not loud enough like during the good old days. Earlier we got the tickets for the last few rows and now that we need more comforts, went for the second class. Still the actors’ voices were not heard clearly to us. It was disheartening to see this happening to veterans like Jayalath Manorathna who lulled the audience a decade ago. I’m not sure if this happens due to the ageing or total collapse of the standards of the dramas today. I wanted to ensure whether it was me going old and not hearing the actors well due to my age and asked few of the young people around whether they could hear the voices and they answered in the negative.
The next main area to be improved is the supporting cast. In the past, even the supporting cast was more or less equal to the main cast in talents. But today, the support cast is awfully weak and only very rarely I see someone who stands out. Maybe the youth are attracted to tele-dramas more than the stage due to what it offers today.
With the modern technology, the stage should be an attractive place but this is not seen in many a case. They still use the old methods and the situation has even deteriorated. The same has to be said about the lightings. Maybe the money circulated in the stage is too small to expect significant improvements.
In the olden days, at the end of the drama, when all the actors came to the stage to say goodbye, we felt like we were part of them. The feelings of the audience and the cast became one as a result of the refreshing experience both parties had. This I didn’t feel of late. I’m not sure if something is wrong with me!
Thursday, July 13, 2000
Had a walk with my Nepali roommate, Bishnu. Whenever I walk outside, Chinese girls laugh either with me or at me. (A little of both, I suppose.)
Saw a Chinese opera in the evening. It reminded me of Prof. Sarachchandra’s “Maname” and “Sinhabahu.” The Chinese opera team displayed English subtitles of the opera on a digital screen. After listening to the comments made by the people about the opera what came into my mind was “We have all these in our country. We don’t have a proper system to preserve them and show the world how culturally rich we are. If the people in the West can see our Naadagam, Kolam, acrobatics, etc. they will really appreciate them. We have many attractive cultural things in our villages. If I can get a digital camera I’ll be able to do a lot of things in Sri Lanka. But how digitally handicapped am I?