Sri Lanka, Writing

I’ll just jump into the Beira now

Being a woman, a patriarchal world is never a good option, but I was under the impression that Sri Lanka wasn’t right there at the bottom. This is not to say that Sri Lankan women don’t face a variety of issues, which limit their choices, impact their ability to live their best possible life, and cause physical and mental damage. I say this simply because the bar hasn’t really been set too high by the rest of the world, and we do manage to tick some of the most basic boxes.

However, everyday sexism, micro-aggressions and a disturbing rape culture can sometimes make you feel like you are drowning in the patriarchy. And to be quite honest, I’d pick being tossed into the Beira over that, any day. But, for a brief moment, it felt like our heads were above the water. The Finance Minister repealed an archaic law (from colonial times) which prohibited the sale of alcohol to women. Now this is was a largely ignored law, so the significance was in the principle, and less in the consequences of repealing it. Unfortunately, this was done smack-bang in the middle of local government elections, and the president announced that the gazette repealing the law would be removed.  We go back to square one. Worse, now that this has caught media attention, it is unlikely that the law will go back to being largely ignored.
The age old story of playing with the rights of an individual, or a group for political gain, is clearly not okay and in this case, unconstitutional. But the backdrop to this decision, and the narrative it perpetuates is more than ominous – that women are inextricably linked to the culture of a group or country, the idea that it’s fine if men are ‘immoral’, because boys will be boys and there’s obviously nothing to be done about it. This is evidenced by statements made by the president, along the lines that the country will be ruined if women buy alcohol. There is no mention of what will happen to our culture because of men buying alcohol.

This draws disturbing parallels to Espiritu’s argument that family honour and national integrity is located in a group’s female members. In her paper, she explores how Philipino-American families have different standards for their male and female children. As females are seen as repositories of culture, greater restrictions are placed on their movements, choices, in order to preserve their culture through the women. Male children are given more freedom, as they redeem their behaviour by marrying a suitable wife. The moral policing of women, is one of the most effective, and commonly used methods to assert male superiority, which is exactly why we should not deal with lightly.
Moving back to Sri Lanka, the same story holds. Men decided that women could not do something, simply to hold on to political power, preserve archaic conceptions of culture, and assert a position of dominance.

And, if you want to leave aside the disturbing narrative, and for some reason think that women should not buy alcohol, refer article 12 (2) of the Sri Lankan constitution.

“No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds”


If you’d like to read Esperitu –  “”We Don’t Sleep around like White Girls Do”: Family, Culture, and Gender in Filipina American Lives,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 26, no. 2 (Winter, 2001): 415-440.



Scenery, Sri Lanka, Travel, Writing

Intense, breathtaking beauty

From watching a golden moon rise above the waves, to a sea bath at sunrise; where everything was bathed in the most perfect light, Kalkudah was beyond words and the pictures barely do it justice.

That I saw all this beauty with my own eyes, I felt the sand on my feet – I was in that ocean, so calm and inviting is something that I honestly cannot believe.

Beaches aren’t anything new, and neither is a good sea bath or a stroll along the beach at sunset. Especially for a Sri Lankan. Even more for a Sri Lankan living near the coast.

But we take it for granted. Or atleast I do. That we have access to such awe inspiring scenery. That we live around it. That I can see a jaw dropping sunset on my way home from work – but does it matter if we don’t stop and stare? the world will continue to be beautiful. Continue to be awe inspiring and breathtaking, and we will just walk past it.

‘Pics or it didn’t happen’, but if you didn’t take it in, did it really happen? I did take many, many pictures on this trip, and am so glad I did, but there was more to it that the pictures on my camera. Most of my most vivid memories, the one’s where I truly felt alive are not captured on my camera.

I can close my eyes and see it, feel it.

The way the sand billowed under my feet as I stepped into the water. Water that was so clear, the sand reflected the sun and looked like gold dust, floating in the bluest of blue.

The lush greenery that edged the beach, juxtaposed against the deep blue of the sea and the sky, with the sandy beach a dividing line of colour.

Getting into the ocean at sunrise, the water warm, with sudden cold undercurrents, and everyone bathed in a golden morning light. I tried to capture that but couldn’t. How can a camera capture the feeling of being on the edge of the world? of feeling like we were bathing on the horizon, with the sun just an arms length away?

You can’t capture the walk back one evening. The feeling of being tired but oh so happy. The way that everything, from the mud on the path to the headlights of an approaching vehicle took my breath away.

I started this blog because of the feeling a picture can give you, so don’t misunderstand me – I love photography, and I love the feeling of life it gives. I guess what I am saying is that pictures aren’t everything. They are important, but not everything.

I don’t have pictures that do justice to what I saw at Kalkuda, so these will have to do.


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Sri Lanka, Writing

For Me

It’s too easy for me to forget why I love photography, it’s too easy too fall into a rut of comparison – where someone else always has a better picture.

Photography has always felt like a deep calm breath. It’s a way of not holding everything in your life together, letting it all go for a minute. You have your camera, your settings and you have control. The ability to look at something; through your eyes and save it. Or share it. Show it to strangers on the internet. Or just keep it for yourself as your desktop background.

I remember during exams, before getting back into the hell that is an incomprehensible journal article which I should have read a week ago; a half a minute of looking at my desktop background – at a picture I loved for myself, not anyone else – was enough. It would keep the panic away, and just help so much.

My friend tossed this cluster of flowers onto a barrel of old oil at an abandoned railway station. She makes good choices in life.

I haven’t forgotten the feeling when I first took a focused picture on manual settings – a picture with decent light that wasn’t shaky. That feeling of pulling the prints out of the white kodak envelope, and realising that my settings were alright.

It felt great.

It still does (Minus the kodak envelope).

I just need to focus on that feeling and not the rest of them.



One big step out of my comfort zone

I think the title says it all.

Posting my pictures on the internet is scary, and now I’m posting my writing. Excuse me while I go die of multiple fear-induced heart attacks.

The waiting game.

It comes uninvited, if not unexpected.
Moving from my stomach to my ribcage, it sits.
And waits – patient. Enduring.
No logic, or reason
No cajoling, good food, promises of hot tea
And nice people will make it go away.
I wait for it, expecting it on every street corner,
Hesitant to say yes, for what if it joins too?
I wait for it, tip toeing around the idea of a good month.
But even still,
It comes least expected.
In the middle of a week of calm and good it appeared.
Till Eleven
As I lay in bed and gave in to it.
Until it decided that I had had enough
Until it decided that I should take a shower
Until it decided that breakfast, my lectures, my friends, my life
Were things that I should get back to, it waited.
And I waited.