Tripin 2019 - page 82

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Colombo has been at the centre
of a multi-cultural explosion
throughout the decades, the
commercial heart of a country that
hasn’t truly discovered who it is
yet. A tropical metropolis boasting
sunbaked verandahs nestled in
lush gardens, narrow roads lined
with ancient trees, vibrant roadside
vendors lining the Indian Ocean.
Our cityscape was once iconic and
original, some might say to revere
colonial architecture as our own is
a contradiction. But it is very much
a part of who we were and are: a
reminder of where we come from,
what shaped our country and our
people. Thanks to architects like
Bawa (no article about Colombo
would be complete without a
mention) we can safely say we
made it our own. Growing up
during the war, we never realized
how many tall walls existed along
busy trunk roads and quiet leafy
avenues but just as soon those
walls came down and revealed
wonderful toasts to history and
design – sadly those buildings were
torn down bit by bit to make way
for new towers whose occupants
are still a mystery.
The changing face of Colombo
is not just about locales and
architecture but also about
attitude. There are many of us
who were raised by the city but
have expectations that are pegged
against our global experiences. The
question is, does our city define us
as the generation we believe we
are today? Are we proud of it or
are we quietly uncomfortable with
what it is becoming. Development
is a strange concept but it has
been thrown around a great deal
in the past 10 years. Colombo
has seen a dramatic influx of new
people, from around the world
and other parts of the country.
As the expectations of what a
big commercial city should be
rise, developers and government
believe this is their mandate to
deliver. But can’t a cosmopolitan
city be its older more assured
historical self, and still be relevant?
I believe it can.
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