Werewolf in Nuwara Eliya

Werewolf in Nuwara Eliya

That night in Nuwara Eliya
when Dom and I stumbled
into the Grand, we had just re-met
and every moment was precious.
It took us ten minutes to find the bar.
It was cold for Nuwara Eliya and we
needed a drink, desperately.
A single malt for Dom and a Port
for me. This was in 1993.

I turned towards the barman to place our order
and stopped, shocked. Next to us was the most
extraordinary man I had ever seen, he was about
7ft tall. He had pointed ears nearly as large as his head
a beard that tapered to 30 degrees
his sideburns, thick, wide, reached
his mouth.
A sweet smile. It was disconcerting.
Basically, your friendly neighborhood werewolf.

He bought us a round of drinks and
seemed very glad to meet us.
We drank with him.
and must have chatted
he was from Northern England.
We said our goodbyes

Staggered outside into a sea
of mist. It was midnight
the moon was full.
Shining bright with light
to show us the way
to the car-
we drunkenly
drove the windy
road back to the club.

Quietly distressed by the
meeting of the man
who looked like a wolf.



MAURITIAN COLOUR now available at the Barefoot Bookshop

Photographer, Dominic Sansoni, has just published Mauritian Colour, a book of photographs taken while travelling in Mauritius for just two weeks. Available at THE BAREFOOT BOOKSHOP Rs. 5000/-
“The book is breathtakingly beautiful. It is distilled colour, now.
Pure texture, the next minute. A feeling, the very next moment. A hymn
to the ordinary people of Mauritius and to the things they make,
paint, fix up, and to the places we live in, work at, eat and drink
in. A homage to each person we see on the page. It moved me to tears as I paged it. From its sheer love of life, its discovery of such extravagantly vibrant visual beauty in the “ordinary”. Just leafing through the book, especially for anyone who knows Mauritius intimately, becomes an uplifting experience. And stopping to contemplate a particular photograph becomes almost transcendental.” Lindsey Collen

Nine Lives (available at the Barefoot Bookshop)

A Buddhist Monk Takes up arms to resist the Chinese Invasion of Tibet-then spend the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death. Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the continuity of ancient traditions.

Book Singing by HM NAQVI (winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Book signing, reading and Q & A on 19th March from 12pm to 1 pm @ BAREFOOT

Not a huge turn out, but those who came enjoyed it. Thanks to AHS Symth for the questions, Harper Collins Publishers for the heads up; Have HN Naqvi’s books in store, take a look at DSC PRIZE for information on author, book and prize.
After the talk and lunch at the Barefoot Cafe, Naqvi headed off to watch the Pakistan – Australia match of which Pakistan won. You can see a portrait of Naqvi here

Vihares and Verandas

Vihares and Verandas, originally uploaded by nazreen.sansoni.

More Barefoot Spam on my Barefoot Blog, the review, written by C. Anjalendran is succinct and begs to be read by as many people as possible. It notes facts, and events that some people may not be aware of, making it of even greater import to an interested reading public.

Vihares and Verandas, originally uploaded by nazreen.sansoni.

Originally published 1978, reprinted 2007 (in a limited edition of 500 copies)

Barbara Sansoni’s fascination with buildings had begun in her childhood through high ceiling , wide veranda residencies which were occupied by her father as Government Agent in Batticaloa, Kurunegala, Matale and so on.

Her love affair with architecture crystallized in the early 60s. Unable to save the many beautiful buildings that were being knocked down or being remodeled in the name of progress Barbara Sansoni decided she would own these by recording them. Her drawings initially appeared in a weekly series called “Collecting Old Buildings” in the Ceylon Daily Mirror in 1962 and 1963.

These helped to create a public awareness of our heritage and also kindled an interest amongst the students of architecture at the newly formed Government Training College, Katubedda.

In this early endeavour she was joined by Ulrik Plesner (who was a partner of Geoffrey Bawa at Edwards Reid and Begg) who wrote the accompanying texts. Furthermore Plesner assisted by Laki Senanayake and Ismeth Raheem proceeded to measure and record seven such notable buildings. Of these the Walawwe at Gintota and the Slave Island Barracks are no longer in existence.

Furthermore, the splendid image house at Padeniya Vihare is no longer seen as intended with the roof floating on the head of a lion frieze, and reflected in the pond below, as observed by Barbara Sansoni, as this image house has been modernized and ruined by the insensitive placing of obtrusive columns in the exterior and numerous ‘cloud walls’ in the exterior.

In the 30 years that followed these seven measured drawings have reached a 100 with the scholarly companionship of Prof. Ronald Lewcock whom she first met in 1969, and later married in 1981. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the open house of Mrs. Sansoni during this period often formed the center of fun and creative dialogue with the participation of some of the most talented students who have helped at various times with this massive compilation.

A lavish hand printed portfolio of her drawings were made available as “Vihares & Verandas” in 1978. This magnum opus was eventually published as “Architecture of an Island” in 1998. These documents shows in comprehensive detail our rich vernacular building traditions, though many of them are fast disappearing as has nearly a third of her documentation.
“ Vihares & Verandas” has been reprinted in a limited edition of 500 copies and available at the Barefoot Bookshop. In 1978, as a recently returned architectural graduate I clearly remember purchasing an original edition of “Vihares & Verandas” . At that time there was nothing else that described our beautiful and varied heritage in architecture, neither old nor new. The books on Geoffrey Bawa, Tropical Asian Style, Sri Lankan Style were yet to come.

To say that these drawings show a wealth of architectural detail and legacy would be an understatement. These drawings also show an understanding of drawing for publication where the clarity of each line must be respected. For in reproduction thin lines tend to disappear, while lines too close to each other merge. Furthermore these architectural drawings in their setting were perhaps, inspired by the art of the Australian artist Donald Friend who was living with Geoffrey Bawa’s brother Bevis’s garden at Brief in Aluthgama at that time. Through Laki and Ismeth who had helped with the measured drawings and were working for Geoffrey Bawa, these renderings, no doubt helped to create the Bawa style of drawings buildings in their natural environment, which has had such a wide impact in south-Asia.

For all those genuinely interested in the culture of architecture, rather than fleeting ‘styles’ of interiors which are much in vogue today, and for those who were too young to buy it when it was published nearly28 years ago, it is a strongly recommended gift in this festive season.

Anjalendran. C (architect, December 2007)
First published in the ISLAND newspaper Dec. 12, 2007