Tripin 2019 - page 95

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On a scale of 1-10 how serious
would you say our colonial
hangover is?
1-10 is hard to say. I think it lives in
our value system. We still believe
that in order to be successful we
have to employ western habits. The
British kept knocking Sri Lankan
men for their tradition of growing
their hair long and wearing
jewellery. In the 1920s they passed
a law that if you were going to
work in the civil service you had to
cut your hair. So now people cut
their hair - that’s what you do to be
‘modern’.
Why do you think there is a lack
of contemporary evaluation of Sri
Lanka’s ancient history?
The main stream is still so trapped
in the prescribed route. Our
education system doesn’t really
allow for independent or critical
thought. Just shut up and do as
your told.
What inspired you more in this
endeavour? Unearthing truths
behind mythical tales? Or,
exploring the natural wonder of
these remote places?
I’ll always explore - if I write Books
or not!
Your passion for Sri Lanka is
palpable. What would you say are
the highlights of traversing this
island?
I get excited about everything
I see, New or old. For instance I
went to Arugam Bay last week and
it took us 12 hours to get there
because on the way we stopped
at a place where we could have a
picnic breakfast and bird watch
at the same time. Then we took
an inland route to Katuwana, a
Dutch Fort that I had only heard
about - fascinating. We took
another hour there. Then we went
to the Ranchamadama village,
to the ruins of an ancient house,
from which several iron knives, a
metal eye liner pencil which still
has kajal in it and an Ochre stone
which had been used for makeup,
had been excavated. The house is
left abandoned on the side of the
road. The items found there are
indicative of a highly sophisticated
civilization which dates back to
over 4000 years ago.
What tips would you give
travellers who are interested but
don’t have the access to local
knowledge?
Come with a specific goal - a
focused agenda. For instance,
Birders who visit, get off the
beaten track and hike through
difficult forest trails in search of
endemic species. If they are keen
to see pre historic stuff then they
should go to Ibbankatuwa Museum,
near Dambulla - accessible and not
your usual historical site. I don’t
think even I will see everything
I want to on this island in my
lifetime.
What has time spent exploring
taught you?
That I know nothing. I’m just a
wanderer, a vagabond.
What is one of your favourite
stories within the book?
The Ravana story fascinates me
because we are on the brink
of discovering this unexplored
expanse of a civilization. I went
again to the knuckles, about a
month ago, and saw signs of
civilization I’ve never heard of
before….
What do you hope this book
would inspire in your audience?
The next generation to think again
and not swallow the standard spiel
given to you. There’s a lot more.
And that really is your heritage. Its
a not the two dimensional story
that they have conjured up!
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