31 May 2010

Once upon a time...

in a far away land.. the bright full moon smiled upon a little village that sprawled on a hillside, overlooking a lush paddy field.

Little stars popped from here and there, not on the sky but on the ground! They were twinkling and even changing their hues.. like a stunning spectrum.

These were not stars.. for stars can never be on the ground. These were lanterns, illumined with bulbs of all types and sizes.. varying from incandescent to LED. They weaved mesmerizing patterns.. like an endless kaleidoscope.

It all began when the entire land was getting ready to celebrate a festival called Wesak, this little village too was no exception. Every year a bunch of youngsters from this village got together and made something special for Wesak. Instead of their usual spot, this time they chose a space lying at the border of the paddy field by the roadside.

The next morning the youngsters went from house to house, from one village to another, to raise funds in little sums. Then they met at the usual spot and planned things out. The following morning the empty spot was no longer empty.

23rd of May

There stood a scaffolding, where the busy youngsters were working eagerly. As the days passed the scaffolding grew more and more.. and was covered in canvas from almost all sides. They didn't want anyone to see their masterpiece until it was completed. They simply wanted to surprise their own village folks, and so didn't mind the inquisitive eyes of their neighboring village.

24th May

The empty scaffolding was no longer empty, for now it housed a frame.

25th May

As time passed, the frame took shape, little by little. The frame was perhaps around 10 feet tall, for it was towering above the youngsters, making them look like midgets. Time to time they reinforced even the scaffolding, so that it can withstand the gushing winds and occasional rains.

25th May

The scaffolding was lonely on the 26th.. for no one visited the site. Perhaps the youngsters declared it as their rest day. But then.. something miraculous happened. As the sun dawned next morning.. the frame was no longer empty.. but seems to have metamorphosed beautifully!

27th May

It was covered in paper.. a light toned paper.. topped with another layer of dark toned paper with elaborate paper cuts. So it seems that 26th wasn't their rest day. They needed a whole day to make these intricate paper cuts. They may have pasted them one by one, with utmost patience. Without patience one can never build a lantern of this magnitude or charisma.

28th May
The lantern metamorphosed once more. And this time it was surrounded by its offspring! A bunch of little lanterns were suspended from the big lantern, like satellites orbiting the Earth.

When the sun sank beneath the horizon, hiding behind the little hill, the moon slowly rose to the zenith and smiled upon this little village. The lantern dazzled with twinkling lights.. going on and off in vivid tones. But the lantern was not alone.

Can you guess what that brightest star on the lower right is?
The lights below are mere reflection, upon the puddles collected on the paddy field.

Lanterns big and small, ones and twos and dozens, of all shapes and sizes and colors, joined together with our protagonist to beautify this moonlit night.

The brightest star above is the very lantern these youngsters all made together, and presented to their villagers and their neighboring villagers (like us) every night.. until last night. Today afternoon they took everything apart leaving only the scaffolding. The site will be soon empty, but it would definitely await yet another endeavor on another festival day.


PS:  The reason why most of these pics were small is cause of the distant (prolly 30-40 meters) from my cam to the lantern. This lantern was on the other side of the paddy field, but at a distant I could clearly see from my window. Couldn't resist recording their earnest efforts daily with the help of my paparazzi cam. ^__^

PPS: oh and my own decor (which is quite humble and simple and nothing close to this magnificent lantern) will come up with my next episode. =D

27 May 2010

Happy Wesak!

Hope you all are enjoying the festive mood. Yep, for Lankans it's time for Wesak! And not just us.. most Buddhist countries, especially ones following Theravada Buddhism, are celebrating the Wesak Festival.

Wesak is the most important day *for us Buddhists* that celebrates three most significant events of Lord Buddha - the birth, enlightenment and passing away (Parinibbana).

I've added a 'Wesak Special' page (check on the green tab above) for bits of trivia on Wesak Festival and how we celebrate it the Lankan way.


So did anyone go see Wesak decor? Made any lanterns? Ate from a Dan Sel? =D

After 2 days worth toiling I managed to finish decorating one small Wesak kuudu (lantern) and now it hangs in front of the house nicely. *I'll post some pics of it later*

I'm also planning to tour Kandy to capture the Wesak vibes during the coming days. Also wondering if I could ever feast at a Dan Sel again, as it's been ages since I last ate from one. Mom's so particular about hygiene.. though me and dad think it's the taste that matters the most. lol


So for all the Buddhists out there..

Wish you a Very Happy Wesak!

21 May 2010

Don't be serious.. be sincere.

I usually don't post images on this blog other than the ones taken off my lil cam but this time I just couldn't resist sharing this particular one that shares a timeless message.

It says it's time to pause a lil and ponder where you stand on the balance. Are you on the side where you enjoy your life every single moment.. or on the side where you suffer every single moment? Decide where you stand.. and where you'd wish to be.. after reading this.

* Thanks Spring for this wonderful mail forwarding! ^__^

* CTRL + click on the image below to read. You can also continue reading without magnifying, if you think your eyes are good enough to handle ant-size letters! =D

17 May 2010

Clinging on to Life

Life.. is so fragile.. lived by moments. Moments of hope, despair, delight, distress, comfort, pain, courage, fear, success, defeat...

Lives at the borders are nothing like the lives elsewhere. This is a lil story about them. About the ones who cling on to life... like this delicate flower *I think it's a flower* fluttering in the air.. hanging on to an invisible web fibril.

Location: at the lil school we dropped by in Hingurakgoda

They survive in an arid territory.. stained with a heartrending history. This is the shocking tale of the village called Sungawila, which happened many years ago, when the land was cursed with the plague called terrorism. I'll be relating this story as I heard from my punchi (mom's youngest sis), while en route to Somawathie.

If you think you can't stomach a shocking tale, then please skip the below paras *yep, they're invisible as I've put them in white* and check out the rest of it and the pics instead. For those who wish to read, simply highlight the text below or simply press the keys, CTRL + A.. and you'll be able to read.

Long time ago.. Somawathie Chedi used to have four temples built right around, bordered by the strict Somawathie nature reserve. The site underwent an invasion by a minority group with Mughal descent, who destroyed these temples and built their own religious sites and a village on top of them. Sungawila became their haven. The village thrived, it was peaceful, but not for long. As terrorist activities grew in the area, the inhabitants were constantly in fear, fear of their lives, of children, of weak and elderly. 

And then.. came the fateful day. Early morning on this day some folks went from door to door asking them to assemble at the ground next to the village. Perhaps they were told they'd receive some rations, as survival became hard those days. They all gathered happily, every single one of them, from the youngest infant to the oldest folks and even the sick and the weak. 

And then.. came the fateful moment. A blizzard... a bloody one.. swept past each one. They were sliced, diced, mutilated in broad daylight. Perhaps they didn't even have time to scream or yell or plea to spare their lives. Not a single life was spared.. not even the babies or the pregnant moms or the frail old men and women. The site was bathed in crimson blood.. by the hands of terrorists.. on that fateful day.

Next the terrorists vandalized the Somawathie chedi, killed the surviving monks, stole the 'Chuda Manikya' (the large gem stone that sits at the pinnacle of the stupa). But they couldn't get away with it. As per the high priest of Somawathie, a big elephant came dashing out of the forest, grabbed the gem stone from them and trampled the terrorists. Then it hid the stone carefully. Some say the terrorists shot each other out of insanity and all died and got buried under sand.

Time stood still.. for months and years.. until our heroes freed our motherland completely from the clutches of terrorism. During excavations the archeologists and workers discovered the Chuda Manikya (a large gem stone, that sits on the pinnacle of a stupa) hidden inside the nature reserve, well preserved for all these years. And today they have restored the Somawathie Chedi (that enshrines the right tooth relic of our Lord Buddha) completely to its former glory.

So what about the lost village of Sungawila? This is what I found...

when we passed through..

And reached here..

where we found... the new Sungawila!

The once lost Sungawila village today has thatched roofs standing on slender sticks.. here and there.
The inhabitants are probably the relatives of the perished, who used to call Sungawila their home.

The land is not theirs.. as per the law of the country.
This is called encroachment.. as per the law books.
But they too are humans.. struggling for survival.

Posters dazzle in bright tones in front of these gloomy haunted village, where folks here keep a low profile during day and come out after dark. Dignitaries only visit rarely, grinning from ear to ear bringing meager incentives.. all for the sake of a vote or two. And then.. they forget.

Forget the existence of this lil village. Forget about these people who cling on to life.. with all they've got.

How about a small plot, a proper one for each family? Materials to build a proper home? Livelihood to support their loved ones? Aren't they a part of our motherland too?

13 May 2010

mYStiFyiNg, mYstEriOuS & MyStiQuE...

Sorry if you couldn't read the title in one go.. using title-case for titles all the time is a bit.. um.. boring. *sigh*


Today's bunch of photos had something unusual, mystifying or special about them. So they were grouped under the title 'Mystique'. And yep, these too were captured during our trip to Somawathie on 28th of April.

The photos were captured while on the move, except for the ones taken at Medirigiriya and Hingurakgoda. As usual did a slight tweaking to make the pics look clear.


Enter a zone...
Wrapped in Mystifying Mysteries...
and Behold...
the Presence of Mystique!

Egyptian sunrise

doesn't it look like a pyramid? probably it was a roof of a house or a mountain

Lilliput under the spotlight

those palm trees in the distant looked like Lilliputians bathed in that blinding sunlight

Perfect symmetry.. above and below

Location: around Sungavila *nearest village to Somawathie*


Location: around Minneriya Tank
the tinted sticker on this shutter had minuscule holes I think

Rock wrapper

Location: few meters before Medirigiriya Watadage
this tree was so huge.. and so was its roots

Divine cave

above tree's roots led us to this cave, which sits on the side of a stairway.. I think. see a bench inside? it was empty when we arrived at Medirigiriya site. but when we were about to leave, an old villager was sitting there meditating! I was about to take a snap again *cause his face was well hidden, there was no harm in snapping right?* but mom stopped me and I got an earful. -__-
I was only trying to prove if he was a human being or an ethereal being. *sigh*

Giant human torso

Location: stairway leading to the site of Medirigiriya Watadage.
was only trying to take a snap of this rocky stairway. just when I was about to click my cousin sis and the rest of our crew arrived. result, as you see a giant human torso (shadow), formed in the middle of the stairway!

Medirigiriya Watadage

there's nothing unusual about this photo. but it hides something quite mysterious. see the place where the dark round brick parapet wall meets the light straight rocky parapet wall? that's where the mystery begins..

Secret tunnel

Location: Medirigiriya Watadage
this is what lies right beneath the stairway of the Medirigiriya Watadage. a well concealed narrow sloping tunnel, enough to fit in one person. the rocky floor is covered in moss and is quite damp with streaks of rain water/ spring water constantly flowing. my lil cousin sis found this tunnel and we were all hyped up about exploring it. but after seeing the dangerously slippery floor we had to back down meekly.*sigh*

Rainbow lens flare

Location: a lil school at Hingurakgoda
was trying to capture the Araliya (frangipani) tree and got this lens flare. there's an interesting story about this lil school which I'll talk about some other time.

Location: Habarana jungle

Location: unknown!

Twilight Zone

Location: around Minneriya Tank.. I think
time was only 4.39 pm but this spot looked unusually dark (and spooky) compared to its surroundings. and yep, this too was captured while on the move.

12 May 2010

Mumble.. whisper.. utter.. shout.. yell...!

*that's the weirdest title I've ever had* -__-

Anyway yep, as you've seen (or not) I've added a new Shoutbox to my blog. *see.. it's right on top of the right side navigation panel* The idea was suggested by Anjana (thanks again!) and I googled up for a one with more controls and management, and finally ended up with this.

By the way shoutbox = chat + guestbook.

This site also provides 2 other boxes for comments and chatting as well. But I settled for Shoutbox since it's more convenient and had a formal touch.

If you'd like to add a one to your blog, here's where to look for...


So the next time you visit my blog and see more than 1 person online, go for a chat! ^__^ And mind you.. the other might even turn out to be an intelligent entity greeting all the way from a few light years away..! you never know. O__O

Truth is out there!

07 May 2010

A mere coincident?

... or an alien intervention? I think it might be the latter. You see I've all the right to believe so *not cause am a die hard fan of Mulder but..* cause we've had a UFO sighting in Polonnaruwa! Oh well.. those who believe will believe.. those who don't, won't. That's life. *sigh*

So is this post about UFOs? Nope.. it's about a strange, weird, bizarre, eccentric, odd coincidence. I had no idea it happened until I started categorizing my photos and had these 2 pics in one folder, juxtaposed with one another. The site is the Minneriya Wewa which I snapped while zooming past it, once on our way to Somawathiya, second time on our way back from Medirigiriya.

Take a look at the two photos.. and then at the times I took them. Apart from their wee difference in the angle, motion blur and the scope of the landscape.. what do you think?

8.51 am


03 May 2010

Signs of prosperity in the Dry Zone

Yep, another set of pics from our 28th trip will be unloaded here. I've only used 'Auto Level' or tweaked their brightness and contrast .

Today you will see nothing but paddy fields.. from the chocolatty mud spreads to the lush green carpeted fields.. and even farmers in action.. and covering almost all seasons in one go. And as an added bonus, some of them have stunning blue/ gray/ white dry zone skies wearing silky/ fiberly/ fluffy/ stormy clouds.. and you'd see some known critters too.

PS: Sorry for their fuzziness. I snapped them *all of them* while twisting my neck 180 degrees this way and that way while our cab was driving/ flying at high/ warp speeds as I demonstrated here. -__-


9.00am | Endless blue sky and acres of cultivated land

9.00am | Arabian oasis and water filled paddy fields

9.33am | Hardworking farmer and his thriving paddy field

9.34am | Azure sky and fiberly clouds
9.52am | Chocolatty paddy fields and fringe of palm trees

2.23pm | Fluffy gray clouds and muddy paddy terraces

2.32pm | Narrow drain and solitary tree

2.32pm | Trimmed paddy and bundles of straw

2.43pm | Thatched hut and heap of rice straw

2.43pm | Stormy clouds and the golden paddy

4.06pm | Bright sun and the dark land

4.15 pm | Lonely bull and swarm of egrets

01 May 2010

Motion blur and the speedometrics

Today I thought of posting a bunch of photos as a prequel to my Wednesday's adventure. And yes, this is all about motion blur. But.. not the one you've tried on Photoshop. This is the Real thing!

Like last time, the cab driver this time *a different guy with same racing instincts* was all hyped up on racing at break neck speeds.. and luckily the roads ran straight for miles and miles.. with hardly a soul daring to cross over. *except for a couple of carefree iguanas*

And these photos were meant to be sceneries en route but instead they turned out to be some real life motion blur. I just didn't have the heart to cast them aside.

So... take a deep breath and put on your seat belt! You are about to experience how the F1 drivers and Test pilots see the world outside while racing/ flying at break neck speeds..

revving up the jet engine...

accelerating g-forces from 0G to 1G in 0.5 seconds...


3-2-1-blast off!

Slanted.. in the Pisa-way

accelerating g-forces from 1G to 2G in 0.4 seconds...

Pulled.. into the oblivion

accelerating g-forces from 2G - 4G in 0.3 seconds...

Painted.. in bold brush strokes

accelerating g-forces from 4G to 6G in 0.2 seconds

World.. adrift in a hazy blur

That's all folks. ^__^
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