File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2003/postcolonial.0309, message 66

Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003 23:22:11 +1200
Subject: good real stuff re home and the other

From: "Siri Gamage" 
To: <Recipient List Suppressed:>
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2003 8:46 AM
Subject: September 2003 Bulletin

Two items are included for your information:

1. Pahana, a well laid out magazine published in Sinhala and
English,bringing literary writings to the readers.In the editorial team is
well known writer D.B.Kuruppu.  Tel: 03-9546 1236  Fax: 03-9305 3878 Email:

2.Bonda Vu Lowa(in Sinhala).  By Palitha Ganewatta
S.Godage & Brothers,Colombo, 2002, Rs.150,pp.76.ISBN 955-2-6349-3

Review by Siri Gamage
UNE, Armidale, Australia.

Literary works by immigrants to Australia, especially written in languages
other than English, are becoming increasingly popular.  Those who
experience a different culture, whether it is the colonial administrators
of the British Empire who went to the Far East, or the South Asian
professional who settled in countries like UK, USA, Canada and Australia,
such work provide rich observations, contrasts, and underlying themes of
cultural encounters between two or more peoples.  Palitha Ganewatta's
latest literary contribution, a collection of poems written in Sinhalese,
is no exception.

At a time when cultural tourism is becoming a part of fast globalising
world, many Asian tourists also embrace Australia's places of cultural and
aesthetic significance and representation. Even though small in scale, many
Sri Lankans who have close family, academic, and business or trade links
also have become accustomed to visiting these places.  Palitha's collection
of creative thoughts on Australia's cultural icons, many representing white
Anglo-Australian heritage, is a welcome contribution not only to cultural
tourism but also to the growing contributions made by immigrant writers
with a difference.  They represent the dispassionate reflections and
representations of Australia's cultural icons, life, experiences of
immigrants in Sinhalese poetic language. He captures natural beauty and
resources in very creative ways, combine these with the built environment
and people's daily imaginations and experiences in the process providing a
glimpse of what important national icons are there in places like Sydney,
and how the people intermingle with these icons and their contexts-natural
and built.  Situations that he writes about are those that provide
cross-cultural encounters for Sri Lankan immigrants, or  for that matter,
any immigrant.

He writes about situations where monocultural, bicultural and multicultural
encounters occur.  These include the Buddhist temple, the public library,
public park, the opera house, occasions of Sinhala ceremonies, funerals,
and cricket, Madi Gra.  His poetic eye has centred on issues that are
significant to the Sinhala immigrants also eg. Refugees, loss of place and
identity, identity comparisons, Australian citizenship, old age, attitudes.

The poems bring out comparisons between the two cultures, cross cultural
encounters that Sinhala immigrants face day in day out when living in
Australia, and the variety of emotions and imaginations generated.  These
comparisons are not superficial.  They highlight the meeting of two
cultures-one oriented to material progress and the display of such progress
in real and symbolic forms, and the other proclaiming to be advocating a
spiritual (adhyatmika) path to life and work informed by Buddhism and the
ritualistic traditions in a world materialism and its values are becoming
ever more invasive.  For example, the poem about the Opera House- a
national symbol of Australia- with a lotus rising above water, a symbol
used in Buddhist poetic literature only shows the deep perceptive abilities
of the author. ' Sudu Nelumaki Oba, Diyen Matu Una'.  Another example is
the poem about citizenship. 'Dutu Gamunu Rajun Men Weerayeku Vanta Situ,
Lak Derana Babalavana Ugatakuva Deguru Dutu, Nidahase Igenume pala labu lak
Putaku, Aussie Puravasiyeklu Deshapremaya Eyalu?.  The built environment,
natural heritages, and the symbols of national pride are all combined
around Sydney's tourist circuit-Darling Harbour.

These poems remind the reader of E.R. Sarachchandra's  early work when he
presented his experiences and encounters in Japan.  Palitha's poems are
similarly experientially informed.  For example, look at the following:

'Girihandu Pipena Heetala, Vahanaya Thulata Genena Mada Sulanga, Gas Yata
Patu Mage Avida Yana Katage, Muvin Nagena Sudu Mihidum Humalaya'.

About a woman who asked for the time when the author was in the library he

'Nava Yovun Sudu Katak
Sarasu Mada Hasin Muva
Velava Kiyanavada?
Duvai Ma Nuvan Yuga At Oralosuvata
Deka Hamarata Langai
Bohoma Stutiyi
Vivara Vu Mutu Dasan'

He doesn't stop looking at her and further imaginings there.  He continues
with more observations about the woman's body.

'Javi Varna Sihin Vata
Usva Pitupasata bandi
Dumburuvan Varalasina
Ran pahati Detola Men
Ran Pahati Dekapolada
Salena Ran Hasun Lama
Mitin Gata Haki Ingada
Vasee Ati Kadima SSS.(?)
Vakva Matuuna Vatora
Haree Balanava Yalith'

Remarkable capturing of varied emotions and attractions of a stranger!

Ability to be distanced from the cultural, materaial, and human
attractions, yet to be able to conceptualise and enjoy the encounters
instantly but temporarily as many immigrants do but also translate these
thoughts into poetic language for others to read is an exceptional skill.
This he does by a mixture of classical and contemporary Sinhalese.  He is
not bound to any given writing tradition or style. His poems mainly
represent a free style where he chooses the traditional or the free style
depending on the theme and occasion under the microscope.  For example,
when writing about the child in his lap he adopts the traditional style:

'Mage Ran Putuni Hindagena Ma Ukula Pita
Keli Badu Rasaki Atha Purava Sinaha kata
Ma Denetinma Neth Yomukara Vitin Vita
Vimasana Panaya Kimadai Novatahe Mata

Baha Torana Viye Sita Ran Puthuni Maye
Hela Basa PalaYai Ingirisiyata Biye
Ranvan mal Sihina Milinava Parava Giye
Vada Vee Danuni vatinakama Janita Daye'.

Palitha's work on Madi Gra is most interesting and substantially
imaginative in depicting the contrasts, and complexities represented there.

'Gahanunda Minisunda
Minisunda Gahanunda
Piyovuru bandi Minisun
Piyovuru Niravaranaya Vu katun
Nagimin Basimin Panimin Vatiremin
Sambhogaya Elipitada?

Sama Lingikayin Visama Lingikayin
Ambu Sami Yuvala Men
Ambu Ambu Yuvala
Sami Sami Yuvala
Sama Aitiya Apata Ona
Me Prajatantravadayai

Viyoyuruda Linguvada
Uluppa Dakvamin
Dekapola Ha Vatora
Chitrayen Sarasa
Rahasangada Uluppa
Depasa Rasvu Janee Janaya
Somnasin Naramba Naramba

Ratirasa Pulakita
Tharalita Siyolanga
Savanata Vaagena
Galarum Veda Eya
Vatspayana Enu Yalith
Nava Vidhi Yoda kam Sutura
Sanskaranayata Prastavak..!'

Writing about the emotions generated when leaving homeland by plane he
reflects on the inevitability of departure, distancing, detachment and
attachment, tearing apart of the body and the psyche.

' Nivi Nivena Ratu Eliya Dadi Handin Piri Avata
Kaulu Atarin Raum Pita Balana Dana Nuvana
Thada Kerunu Banda Patiya Ratin Giulihunu Banduma
Nikma Yana Atara rata Naasiyan Dama hara

Piyambana Ahas  Nava Ihalatama Ihalatama
Kola Pahati Pol Karati Dumburu Ulu Vahalaval
Nil Pahati Maha Sayura Sankava Purunu Sita
Vala Sayure Gilee Sudu Pulun Kati Atara'.

Toward the end he writes about the domestic challenges facing the authors
like him trying to write poems while there are domestic demands on time:

'Epa Kavi Liyannata
Hara Dama Anit Vada
Daruvanta Uganva
Geval Doraval Hada
Diunu Vee Hama Atin
Kavi Liyannata Bariya

Mage Sita Ida Nodei
Kavi Liyannata Sitei

Mokada Me Hadissiya
Lamun Loku Mahat Kara
Deega Dee Ivara Vee
Vsrama Suva Laba
Jeevite Sanda kala
Kavi Liyannata Bariya

Mage Sita Ida Nodei
Kavi Liyannata Sitei'.

The truth is either you write when you the imaginations flow irrespective
of the time and occasion, or you never write!  Who knows whether the same
imaginations and abilities will remain when you wait?  This poem reminds us
that not only the Opera House but also the poems like Palitha's represent
the lotus that arises from the (impure) water surrounding it.  Lotus can be
appreciated when it is displaying its inner and outer beauty against the
background of water.

Undoubtedly, this collection of poems shows the Sinhalese literary and
language prowess that the writer seems to possess.  He is using his skills
to produce ever more creative work capturing the essence of Sri
Lankan-Sinhala-Australian life experiences and their fracturings, dualities
and multiplicities set in a Western physical, social, and cultural context.
The readers would expect the author to repeat these imaginations in an
indigenous setting as well, as Australia did not start its history,
culture, natural resources with the white,  Anglo settlement. If the author
ventures into the indigenous world that is waiting to welcome a writer like
him, the readers of his work will be all the more ready in their
willingness to welcome Palitha's next work with both hands!

Dr. Siri Gamage
Senior Lecturer
School of Professional Development and Leadership,
Member, Education Context TRG
University of New England, Armidale
NSW 2351 Australia.

Tel:02-67733836 Intl:61-2-67733836
Fax:02-67733350 Intl:61-2-67733350
1. Gamage, S  2002. Childen of the Betel-chewing Villagers; social distance
and identity dilemmas of the Sinhala-speaking people in Sri lanka, in D.
Chandraratna(ed) Essays on Social Development and Welfare in Sri Lanka,
National Institute of Social Development, Colombo.

2.Florence  2004:  Exploring Cultural Perspectives Conference, 12 - 17 July
2004. The focus areas are: Childhood and Youth - history, health,
crime,substance abuse: Culture - theory, music, art, religion,media,
politics, language: Education  - primary, secondary, tertiary: Policy -
public, professional,national, global: Women -  rights, poverty, family,

--- StripMime Warning --  MIME attachments removed --- 
This message may have contained attachments which were removed.

Sorry, we do not allow attachments on this list.

--- StripMime Report -- processed MIME parts --- 
  text/plain (text body -- kept)

     --- from list ---


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005