Monday, December 31, 2012

About the other man…


It’s crazy what a song can do to you. I want to apologize.

I haven’t been exceptionally horrid I guess, considering I’ve been sick. It’s just difficult. You know, how you have a million things planned and you find that all that can actually be done is precisely nothing. First you lie on your butt, then you lie on your face, then on your favorite side, and then on your other favorite side and then you start wondering if you can lie on your head or something. And the sweating? It’s supposed to help get the bug out of your system but its just infuriating to be first cold, then hot, the cold, then hot, first dry, then soaked, then dry, then soaked. What happened to the middle ground!? I forget there’s no grey areas with you.

I know I should have been waiting for you. But its difficult. And sometimes, it’s just plain boring. So I start thinking. And when you’re sick, you don’t think straight. No, I’m not trying to justify myself or make excuses (only YOU do that) I’m just being real.

I tried to keep my mind on you. But honestly, I can’t remember the last time I saw you. I’ve forgotten what your voice sounds like. I’ve forgotten what it feels like when you touch me. Well, almost.

He’s just so much closer. And that makes it all that much easier. I’m sorry, but you’ve see him, you’ve seen what he does to me, and I kept you in the loop, so I might as well let you know – this is all your fault. You should have stopped me before it was too late. Why didn’t you do something? I mean, I don’t pretend to understand what you do, but I let you do it, don’t I?

Yes, I am petty. I am petty to blame you, I am petty to not take account for myself. I am petty for being a woman, petty for wanting a man that will stand next to me, hold me, smile at me, laugh with me. I am petty for loving that he’d hold my hair tight and kiss the corner of my mouth where I’d forgotten it burns. I am petty for finding reassurance in a voice that I can hear, petty for being pleasured by a form I can see and touch, petty for being a human with a body and a soul apart from the spirit that gives me life.

I am sorry I looked at what I saw. I am sorry I stared, and made him speak. I am sorry that when he spoke, I had to touch him and make sure. I am sorry that this still all about me.

All I have of you now is a vague memory of something I never perceived. Help me remember. Please.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Am I? - Alumni


Morning emails carry stories
of tea-parties, lunch and walking the town
Nostalgia, finally, will probably never end
No end, no closure for me.

This must be how the bug begins.

Monday, December 10, 2012


But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.

I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And this life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.


I will stand firm there, and not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
(Psalm 94)

Depart from me, all you workers of evil; for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
(Psalm 6)

Monday, October 29, 2012

“…to fill the world’s cracks with needles that will let us hear those cracks speak…”

William H. Gass

from Reading Rilke

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Falling Down



I know this feeling

I know where it comes from

And I know who’s leading



Writing as always

Opens up the floodgates

Now it’s going high ways



I will not be lost

You will always remain

The one who paid the cost


Blood from the darkness

Power from the name

And glory when it all comes falling down



*disclaimer: I am not proud of this as writing, but as action.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


The sun has set. We’ve wandered along the riverbank and trotted back. It is a quaint street. One of the many, but we gasp about “O! How lovely!” it all is.

The candy shops are magical. Willy Wonka was real. So was the Mad Hatter.

Lights from the wharf glitter on the water now. They’re adamant not to be carried away by the flow of the river.

Chatter in the lamp light. Slapping thighs and necks to massacre bugs. Old friends meeting as tea glows gold by candle-light.

The chill coming down and we rise to leave.


Finally in Savannah.

It’s neither hot nor cold, it’s neither bright nor dark. There’s noise but one can find silence.

The Savannah Marriot Riverfront has a balcony and walk along the bank of the Savannah. Terra-cotta deck chairs and old metal lamp-posts on red cobble-stones. Breeze. Quiet water.

A half-mile up the river a steel bridge. A half-mile down, the wharf. Right across me, just trees.

The distant sound of a guitar, somebody jamming on a yacht.

Good one coming.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Love Affairs

Shiny Baby,

I really don’t want you.

Your daddy raped me

He already broke my heart too


I don’t

have his




Glitter Baby,

I really quite hate you.

You will be ugly

I wouldn’t wanna touch you


I won’t

leave you




Precious baby,

do you know what I will do?


Kill you.


Baby like an emerald.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


‎"Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry"

― Jack Kerouac

In Equilibrium

Monday morning was super weather. The sun was out but there was considerable rain also, and the heat and humidity of Colombo mid-morning was lifted by the coolness of the drops of liquid breaking free of pregnant clouds. Such a long and ineffective sentence.

I sat on the front steps leading up to the old Walawwa where I’d spent the night, gazing through the lush mango and jack leaves now greener and looking heavier, for the water. Once in a while I’d suddenly find myself staring into the rays of rotating sun whizzing momentarily through the foliage to stun me. The gravel is purple-brown-orange. The picture is simple and serenely gorgeous.

Closer to me is a row of little plants with dripping flowers and rebellious buds. The tiny leaves are so gently and effortlessly curved that I wonder, as I often do, whether God caresses each and every one to just that way each morning. What love that must be!

The rain has stopped. On two of those God-finger-curled leaves I find droplets of water growing. This is an amazing thing. I think, “how many photographs I’ve seen with this exact image focused, shot, color-balanced, brightness-edited and published!” There is something so lethargic, stagnant and still about these pictures; even the ones with the bright sparkle hiding inside the droplet. How they all fail to capture the energy and intensity of the connection; the inevitable dependency.  But this leaf and this droplet are so flabbergastingly alive!

I am jubilant because there is life!

And then I think, which is it? Does the glittering droplet cling desperately to the thinning end of the leaf, or does it strain and strain to be free? Does it alone, or do they both?

Friday, June 15, 2012

“This, too, shall pass.”

Sometimes when things go wrong – or right, just not how you planned them – it’s a good idea to deal with shit before it hits the fan. Most times, it’s good to leave the world alone.

I develop this idiotic urge to verbal-puke when I am in a “rush”. This is what I am doing right now. Technically this is not true, since I am not quite in a “rush” right now. I just want to be, I want to create some drama for myself. This is usually just my personal universe of boredom escaping via my skin, but today it is utter dissatisfaction. No. Disillusionment.

It was not there.

I knew it was not there.

I knew it was possible it could be there. Now,

I know it is not there. Because,

It is not there.

How boring when you realize you really were not expecting the unexpected. How utterly drab to find your self among the masses. How blah that your imagination can’t run riot in your world anymore and turn your biology into a whirling cyclone of blood, bone and muscle. How clear that all this is so unimportant!

What’s done is done. Tough *ish.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Melomanic 4

I’ve been meaning to get myself to the Melomanic Sessions for some time now. Not out of professional interest (these things are sprouting like caterpillars!) or anything of the sort. Comment made to maintain due aloofness.

The atmosphere, as people keep commenting, is nice. There’s close, warm lights to counter the bareness of the warehouse (though not enough to balance the glare from the string-lights behind the performance space), and couches and whatnot bring some familiarity to the place – a bean-bag or two would have been just perfect! This paragraph was completely unnecessary. It gives away the fact that really, I have nothing to say and makes me sound every other random blogging person. I am not every other blogging person btw. Remember this.

So Imaad opens. Apparently he doesn’t do “covers or whatever you call them” so hits us with stuff off his “upcoming EP”. Lets not talk about EPs right now. His first two numbers were (I think) My Love and Love Is a Bird, that had, as he admitted, pretty much the same chords. This brings me back to – but we’re not talking about it right now. This guy is something like 21 years old but manages with some long hair to come off a little more mature. Good. I’m not much of a guitar person, but as accompaniment, his playing was nice. His voice is rather thin and obvious jitters made him waver a bit so he kept straining, but the instrument kept the vocals up admirably. And the vocals, though lacking polish and articulateness, were strong; he had the kind of punch one doesn’t expect from a wiry frame.

I couldn’t help notice how uncomfortable the boy looked perched precariously on the barstools lined up on the performance space, and was glad when Dani, vocalist for the next artist Not Another Metal Band, decided to do his thing standing. I’m sorry that sounded wrong. If it didn’t sound wrong, I’m sorry I have my moments. So Dani stands to sing and I am already hopeful. But honestly, I don’t understand the name. Technically, this has nothing to do with their performance, but it tells me they’re ambitious. And the ambition just might be not so off-the-mark. This guy also pushes his voice a bit (I mean, most singers do), but is otherwise smooth. Super falsetto and cool delivery makes a stark contrast between him and the rest of the band that were (from an amateur p.o.v) only alright. I can’t remember what covers they did, but I remember thinking they were not exactly easy, and so, I’d imagine a bit more accuracy and these could be very good indeed.

Now one man I expected would be “very good indeed” – to quote myself – is Asela. I don’t where the expectation came from; possibly the fact that he was involved in the organizing, and his namesake Bandara from Paranoid Earthling, but this I know: it was not fulfilled. In fact, I decided as he finished his first number that I would put my Complete Works of Shakespeare – Histories Vol. 2 aside, because there was enough murder in the atmosphere without Richard and Bolingbroke and the rest of the lot slaughtering each other in my head. I am hugely critical. I admit. People find it irritating to sit beside me at any event related to music/theatre. But honestly, something was wrong. I don’t listen to much alternative/acoustic anymore, so I actually came home and checked out Naked As We Came by Iron and Wine. It’s a lovely song, but I was left wondering whether Asela even sang the right notes! With all due respect, I am sure this was a bad day for him. If it wasn’t, I must have been in a super-lousy mood.

I probably was, because when Kei “and her little friend” the ukulele joined Asela for a duet, my mind was scream-dialing stage-911. Forget fashion police (its probably cheaper to maintain a reward-system for well-dressed people than the opposite: I should know!), get them in the music-force. Please. But I forget, it was my mood. Their second number together, You And I by Ingrid Michaelson with Dan Romer was miles better. The song itself is incredibly simple-souled and Kei’s coy smiling and carefree singing (unfortunately completely shadowed – for me at least! – by her attire (or the lack of it) and killer heels) did the whole thing a nice shade of quaint. They were both obviously much more relaxed by then, and I was made happy. Thank you!

The men were the beginning and end of all things that night, so we had Kavya immediately after Kei. Finally. The sound system was overdoing it by this time, but that hardly compromised the maturity of the voice and performance. Even the two boys who played guitar for her and also sang were so much more confident. Their rendition of Nickelback’s ‘Hero’ was impressive to say the least; Kavya doing some super-controlled ornaments and smooth voice modulation.

Salvage after these was good. They’d built the space for some noise. And I realized why people rave about CC’s voice. (note: that sort-of rhymed). After last year’s TNL Onstage (shudder!) I was really confused about all the hype and discovered at ‘Melomanic’ that he can shout. There’s good strength in the lungs there and decent pitch. He just seems to have a tendency to overestimate himself. But we are going to be very forgiving, if not in consideration of the coolness of creating a thing like ‘Melomanic’, then in consideration of the face he possesses. Their cover of Flood by Jars of Clay got people (me) pumped though the instruments and voices didn’t gel so well together. Storm and Sunshine (provided this is what they were called) fared better after the warm-up.

Either way, the crowd (and we kept hearing it was bigger than last time) was hyped by the end of this set, and Gehan was understandably worried about being next in line. I am possibly biased, but in all honesty, the worry was unwarranted. The keyboard involvement complicated matters a bit, a heavy left range drowning him, but this was the best controlled voice in the program so far. He was also by far the only singer that absorbed in the music, a refreshing thing, though not always good.

And then along came Natasha from a completely different league. Her voice is mellow and more definitely controlled, and when she talks of Barbershop quartets the coin drops. She’s been trained. At the risk of sounding sadly old-school I assert and maintain: it made a huge difference. But then her numbers were not right for the crowd, and the arrangement of In the Still of the Night not right for the duet with Svetlana. Pity’s the thing because a good artist knows her platform and her audience, though these two were the best voices. Hands down.

After that little anti-climax CC brought on Cynosure to send people home “feeling good”. These boys are so enthusiastic and vocalist Shezri (three cheers for facebook band-pages!) having so much fun dancing around that it’s impossible not to get a little bubbly and giddy. He lost pitch here and there, but infectious harmonies (despite being simple and predictable) and an odd genuineness to the whole thing made up completely.

So that’s that.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The First Day of the Second Half of the Year.

It has been a long, long time since I last experienced this twisting in my stomach to such an extent. It quickens the blood even to my extremities; the palms of my hands are prickly, and the only reason my fingertips don’t itch is that I am typing. My eyes refuse to focus and my mind sleeps. I am going into nervous-system hibernation.

But I must stop this thing and break out. The more dramatic moments in my life have been preceded by such perceptive shut-downs; and I am not enthusiastic about most of the “more dramatic moments in my life” so far. I need some clarity.

But this heat will not help. Kandy is warm these days, but Colombo is just oppressive. It is not so much the heat but the humidity. This is not news to you. I don’t break out in sweat, the droplets themselves fear the sun and struggle to remain hidden under my skin, and so I am bloating. My pores are begging with their bulging eyes to be allowed to open their mouths and scream. I am not saying no, but the atmosphere is. And I have no control over the atmosphere.

Hara-Kiri must indeed have been release. I want now only to slit my stomach open and let the guts flow out so I can carefully sever whatever connection they have to the rest of my being.

Choices. My toes curl at the thought. My teeth itch.

But I must decide.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I’ve heard Christ called a rebel (cheers to unpleasant labels!). And I’ve read Paul writing “do not conform to this world”. So I should just follow my gut and do what I know I want to do, right?

Today, I believe the answer is wrong.

Jesus was in the temple when his parents didn’t expect it. His defense: “don’t you know I should be in my father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). I read these lines this morning and couldn’t hold some part of my soul back from stretching itself out of my body with such yearning to be free. I wanted to get up and run and tell my mother, my mentors, my family, my friends “People! Look! This is who I am, this is what I was made to do, this is what Christ said, so LET ME BE!”

Let me be selfish, let me be ungrateful, let me be irresponsible, let me be irrational, let me be insane. This is how I was made and this is how I will be. I am wonderfully and fearfully made, and God has a plan for me, not for evil but for hope and a great future that no eye has seen nor ear heard!

Oh wait, the passage continues:

50They couldn’t understand what he said…

51Then he went down with them…and was obedient to them.

WHAT!? *yearning-stretching soul snaps back on elastic cord* Look, this is Jesus Christ of Nazareth we’re talking about here. He knew God like, like no one had even imagined a human being could know God. His parents could not understand the things he knew! And still he went. Like, hello!? WHAT was WRONG with him!?

So I sat there at the foot of my bed, staring at the words, my eyes popping.

*dejected face-palm*

You know what? I think his time hadn’t come. He was twelve. It took him not another ten, not fifteen, but eighteen years to get there. And after that? Well!


It’s misty out, and I see only the shadow of the second step. But I see that shadow without a doubt. I’m gonna put my foot there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My second thoughts on the future.

I have been called stupid and irresponsible among other unpleasant things. And by general standards I probably am*. But even by these “general” standards (forgive me for generalizing), I can twist my words about decently well. Now while I get paid well enough for a growing child my age, to do this thing with words, I have other uses for it also.


We used to live very high up at the very top of a little mountain called Upper Hantana. It connects to one end of the Hantana Range and – needless to say – commands a lovely view. The drive there, past where I live now, takes you by the little muddy lake which sometimes homes demure manel pondering the clouds, up the quieter and quieter tarred road watched on either side by the towering forests of pine, to cooler air. On an evening, one inevitably meets villagers traversing up, down and sometimes simply across the road – furred ones, quilled ones, tusked ones, spotted ones, and all generally inoffensive and shy.

The thing I remember today is the mist. Mornings up there are freezing, cold at best. To splash tap-water on your face is to have it slightly numbed for some time or stinging at least. To open the front door or even windows before the sun is clearly out is to invite the clouds in to gulp the warmth right out of your tea. On a bad day, to step out of the house at dawn is a thrilling adventure.

I can see the upper step, but the second is only a shadow. The lowest one is completely invisible. But I know it’s there. I can’t see the flat stones that pave step-by-step the eight or ten yards between the door and the little swinging gate that leads out to the pine-carpeted vehicle path. But I know they’re there. I have only to stretch my arm out in front of me to lose my hand, although I know it’s there. It is cold. And despite the thrill of the dewy air teasing my blood, making my skin tingle, my brain is hassled by the familiar unfamiliar.

If I venture off the first step onto the shadow of what I know is the second, I will begin to see the shadow of the third. If I step off the second onto the shadow of what I know is the third, I will see the first stepping stone. I can make it to the gate and beyond.

I can have a whole adventure.

All I need is a shadow, without a doubt.


If, after this whole artistic harangue, you still hold the opinion that my policy on “planning the future” exposes a character that is stupid and irresponsible, let me bring your notice to the fact that there was an asterisk (*) – gosh, Live Writer turned that into a orangey-balooney-cartooney-graphic-monstrosity! – just after “I probably am” in the first paragraph (it’s alright if you absolutely must scroll back up to check). This, dear uneducated reader, denotes what is called a ‘footnote’. See below. FAIL.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt” -- James 1:5,6

*disclaimer – my standards are completely different and by those, people who think me stupid and irresponsible (and let me add irrational also, for good measure) are just failures.

In Praise

In the praise of a man…


In the praise of his flowing hair

I forgot, O Lord,

a crown of thorns.

In the praise of his mellow voice

I forgot, O Lord,

the breath of Life.


In the praise of his strong arms,

wrinkled elbows, the tender crook

I forgot, O Lord,

shoulders. bearing weights.

heavy weights.


sin. fear. shame. anger. lust. hate.


In the praise of his fine hands,

tap’ring fingers, the shocking touch

I forgot, O Lord,


skin bruised. pierced.

flesh torn. ripped. shredded.

bone cracked broken crushed. shattered.


In the praise of his shining skin

glowing soft coveted honey of bees

I forgot, O Lord,

a back.


red. lashed.

cut. lashed.

blood. lashed.

open flesh. lashed.

gaping wound. lashed.

throbbing muscle. lashed.

screaming nerves. lashed.

naked bone. gleaming lashed.



lashed. lashed. lashed. gasp lashed. lashed. moan lashed. lashed. teeth chatter. lashed. bladder leaks lashed. lights. lashed. blur. lashed. black.

And we are not even half done.


In the praise of a man

I forgot his maker.


O Lord, have mercy on me.

* “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the creator – who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25 (NIV)

My thoughts on the future.

I have been wasting too much time today (and yesterday, and the day before, and for many many days before that) in front of the computer, producing ZERO work. So, despite the fact that there are now two computer screens and four hands (two left and two right, the middle two oddly juxtaposed onto each other - the wonders of our sensory system, really!) in front of my eyes (I jumped the gun with the "sensory system" comment there it seems...) I WILL WRITE.

The elder places of a "young mind" doesn't seem all that accurate a description of the source of these rants anymore. I am starting to worry. As much as I drill myself to walk the walk and trust that "so much more" will God provide for me, my thoughts often go to actually having to foot my own bills rather than doing it simply because it gives me a kick. I have come to another one of those places.

Suddenly it's all about my "plans" again. With only six months left to go with the blasted degree, people want to know what I'm "going to do next". So far, I have not had a problem with the question because:

a.) I don't worry much
b.) I have (and always have had) a (very vague) "plan"
c.) Talking about it helps sort things further
d.) It also allows me to enjoy the sounds of my voice
e.) I love the sound of my voice
f.) I'm so much fun to listen to
g.) People don't always care so very few problems occur in the rare instance my monologue develops into an actually conversation/discussion
h.) If a problem occurs I can always still enjoy the sound of my voice
i.) I'm so much fun to listen to!

But I really do have a problem. But you already knew that. Only you never knew what the problem was. Good.

Bite me.

*And forgive me the arrogance of deciding to leave in the typo.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I couldn’t find the Word.

He is like


the world

tells me I should remove.

             If I am woman,

             I should be ashamed-

to love?


And then, I am not of this world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


thoughtful posts are generally not my thing. but considering I’m supposed to be studying for an end-semester in two days and facebook has got stale, I have to write something. and at a complete loss for any other sort of inspiration, I’m going to have to think to write.

We all have people who inspire us, and these at different levels. there are those you only hear about on the news and you can’t help think wow. [honestly, I don’t feel you on this one – I hardly admire anyone I don’t know personally – I just wrote it to sound well-researched or something.] and then there are those you know so well, whose struggles and victories have been close to your heart, and they come out letting you know for sure that God put bits of himself in us.

but I’m thinking of those in between. the people you don’t know so well, but for whom you’ve created an identity and character you could admire. these are the people who make you feel you can do better. you know them, so they’re real. but you don’t know them, so they’re better. and so “better” is real. it can happen.

until you discover they’re human.

they’re not perfect. they’re not awesome. they’re not untouchable. scrap the pun, it wasn’t intended. this is serious.

I REALLY need some source of inspiration. sigh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Last weekend must have been the busiest in the (admittedly extremely short) history of our southern expressway; Galle Fort was packed with tourists. So much so that by Friday evening one was being jostled on the way in and out to and from Galle Literary Festival events. What makes the crowds that are drawn to the dusty streets and the plastic chairs in the sweltering January (or February to December) sun bigger every year? The cobbled streets and mosaic-like collage of structures that make up the Galle Fort are there all year round, and so are the beaches and sunsets and the quaint little restaurants and guest houses and kids whizzing around on rickety bicycles five times their size! It could be the glitz. It could be the heady atmosphere. It could be the sparkling discussions as well. Or, just the amazing list of guests! Most of them are just so interesting to watch and listen to that it hardly matters whether you know their work well or not.

Simon Sebag Montefiore on Jerusalem: The Biography was unforgettably illuminating and fun, a good save after the opening panel which was called a “disaster” by one participant. How he looks humorously at the ugly parts of what he calls the “holiest” yet “angriest, dirtiest, bitterest city” is what sets him apart from Jerusalem’s other ‘biographers’. Far from being disregard for the spiritual “centre of the world”, it seems to be Montefiore’s deep conviction that “the apocalypse will take place outside the golden gates and it WILL all end there” that allows him to let Jerusalem be Jerusalem and not turn it into a dream or a nightmare. Another man who took his audience (and at times the moderator too!) in hand was Tom Stoppard, though in a different way. The Halle de Galle was packed 15 minutes before schedule and the audience erupted in applause as the famed playwright took the stage. Quietly, coolly and convincingly he rambled through his life, life’s work and politics, calmly fielding controversial questions from the audience. Izzeldin Abuelaish was unbelievable it seems, and during his session on I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, a session that was called “incredible”, moved many in the audience to tears. John Boyne, Joanne Trollope, Nayantara Sahgal, Shashi Tharoor, Richard Dawkins, Ingo Schulze, Juliet Nicolson...the list continues.

Despite the big names, stimulating discussions and colourful fringe events (especially those from the Sunset and Mayhem Past Midnight Series), GLF, as any major event, has its problems. “Elitist”, “exclusive” and “commercial” are some of the major foundational claims laid against the event, but one that’s most pressing seems to be the issue – sadly – of washrooms. The situation is in fact better than it initially was, the condition of the available facilities having been improved (my respiratory system thanks GLF for that!), but there was the inevitable queue building up soon after the main sessions. But leaving aside such “petty” concerns, let us look at the more “serious” ones.

The ‘LitFest’ is pricey, that is undeniable, and this does ultimately lead to the event becoming “elitist”. But in all fairness to the organizers, the student rates are nearly unbelievable. This year the American Centre sponsored (as part of the GLF outreach programme’s North-South University Collaboration venture) fifty students from eight universities around the country in a bid to build cultural bridges, providing transport, lodging and subsistence to the chosen undergraduates, besides festival passes and other perks. The “elitism” claim comes mainly from academic quarters, and seems to be on its way to being addressed squarely. Rajitha, second-year English student from the University of Sri Jayawardenapura acceded that he had previously refrained from attending GLF due to an “impression” he had received “that it was certain types of people that went” for the festival, but now that he’s been there, he “would definitely be interested in coming again”. The students also say they find themselves encouraged to participate actively in sessions. As they point out, GLF is interested in hearing more youthful opinions added to the typically older ones. And all this democracy aside, a ‘typical’ audience makes sessions fun, especially when dissenting voices get booed off the floor.

Now someone is going to say that GLF is intolerant. This has been said before. It has also been said that GLF is exclusive. True. But in an attempt to address that issue was introduced the ‘Sinhala Writers, Sinhala Writing’ series featuring a panel on Martin Wickramasinghe as well as a session with two authors famous among Sinhala readers: Buddhadasa Galapallatty and Sunethra Rajakarunanayake. Setting the ‘Sinhala’ writers out there in their own little cranny doesn’t quite seem to address the issue, but “it’s a start” claims session moderator Madhubhashini Disanayaka-Ratnayake. “I would rather light a candle in the dark than curse the darkness”. Strong words and a clear image, and so we may keep our fingers crossed, looking forward to authors who write in Tamil as well as better integrated sessions, next year.

But the (very small) size of the audience at the Sinhala Visions, Sinhala Realities session presents this very small (negligible, really) question: is it a matter of selling tickets? Because as the glaring HSBC logo above the light-blue ‘GLF’ box on the promotional material tells us, the festival is getting rather commercial. And some of the participants feel this is resulting in a decline in festival standards. Amidst claims that “the mix of authors is not very good”, initial impressions tend to be of “pretentiousness”, and some events are “no big deal” are also more positive ones. Musician Rukshan Perera tells me enthusiastically that despite being simply “disappointed” at the lack of even a “touch” of jazz as was promised of the Mayhem Past Midnight session with Jason Kouchak, he enjoyed Eshantha Peiris’s performance of “religious” pieces by the likes of Bach, Schubert and Lizst at the Dutch Reformed Church “very much”.

And then one hears interesting stories of accidental fans like Ravi Ratnasabapathy who arrived at the first GLF simply to keep a friend company and upon being offered a free pass to hear Thomas Keneally was converted. “It was fascinating!” he grins, adding that despite never having been a “reading person” he now finds himself buying (and actually reading too!) books of authors GLF introduces him to. Ravi believes the festival improves every year. Aslam, who was the youngest (thirteen year-old) volunteer at the first GLF too thinks the festival has “obviously” improved. He looks at things from a volunteer’s perspective and is convinced that things are better organized each year and that sessions are just “awesome”. Ameena Hussain though, is incredibly generous. “Every time I have a choice [between events], I’m struggling” she laughs, “I think it’s fabulous, I always think it’s fabulous”.

Tempting it is, to leave it at that!