About a year ago I travelled to Sri Lanka to frolic around Galle Fort for a couple of days, lured by sunny, picture-perfect postcard images of the town in all its newly polished-UNESCO heritage glory. Of course I had arrived smack-bang in the south-western monsoon, but that minor consideration wasn’t going to deter me. No way! I had BIG PLANS – itineraries to follow, sunsets to capture and cuisine to devour with cocktail in hand. What could possibly go wrong??Read More
Pianist Druvi de Saram is among the few people who can say they have known Geoffrey Bawa almost all their lives. Their ties run deep. Druvi’s parents were old friends of Bawa, as were his uncle and aunt, Paul Deraniyagala—director of the Museum of Colombo—and his wife Prini, whose house was Bawa’s first independent commission as an architect in 1952. Bawa was a well-known art and music connoisseur, and moved in the same circles as Druvi, among Colombo’s artistic and social elite, often designing their houses along the way.
So, when Druvi and Sharmini de Saram approached Geoffrey Bawa in 1986 to help with the renovations to their eventual home, they didn’t anticipate the great man’s response: “No, I don’t want to do it”.Read More
Minnette de Silva is a hard act to follow by anyone’s standard. She was a pioneer on so many fronts – as a female, as an Asian and as an architect but also as that then unknown creature of “female Asian architect” (Minnette had a strong affinity with India after her time there and therefore considered herself Asian, not just Ceylonese or Sri Lankan). Minnette pursued revolutionary ideas about architecture which sought to modify the industrial building methods of the time by recognising that climate, community and traditional crafts were also essential components of architectural design in Asia.Read More
The first time I arrived at Geoffrey Bawa’s country estate of Lunuganga I had rushed up the old coast road from Galle Fort amid the monsoon. I had gotten waylaid languishing around the fort during a lull in the storms, unrealistically hoping to avoid the slow local traffic (which of course I didn’t) and was therefore 10 minutes late for the 2 pm garden tour. “I am sorry madam but the tour starts strictly on time and so you cannot come in,” said a stone-faced groundkeeper. What?? But I don’t live in Sri Lanka and I’ve travelled all this way … but … but.Read More
In Sri Lanka’s current travel boom, boutique hotels are a dime a dozen. But it wasn’t always this way. I remember a time when we would travel for miles only to stay at “rest houses” approved by the Sri Lankan Tourist Board because there just wasn’t much else on offer. Of course, those rest houses were perfectly fine and functional but hardly inspiring with their faintly bureaucratic uniformity. So you can imagine my awe when …Read More