Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Colomboscope 2014 Highlights - Video Recaps for the 4 Days

We were able to cover some interesting sessions from this year's Colomboscope. The event which covered a wider range of literature, music, film and dance acts and was held at some interesting venues such as Whist Bungalow in Modara, Rio Cinema in Slave Island and Grand Oriental Hotel in Fort

Here's a recap of some of the interesting sessions we managed to cover, in 4 short video sequences. Also there are two full sessions: Keselmaduwa by Venuri Perera and Terry Riley's "In C" performed by Chamber Music Society of Colombo.

Btw we revamped our website - have a look and let us know what you think. :)


Colomboscope Highlights (Playlist)

Keselmaduwa by Venuri Perera 

Terry Riley's "In C" performed by Chamber Music Society of Colombo 
(St. Peter's Church, Fort, Colombo)

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Pavement is Mine.

It's around 7PM and I'm taking a short walk from the Coffee Bean towards St. Bridget's Convent where my husband was to pick me up from. I'm wearing a dress, flat shoes, my handbag, a paper bag in one hand and my phone in the other.

I see a man in trousers and a shirt coming towards me. He looks like any ordinary man in the city.

I hardly think, but I mechanically avoid him to take a longer route, away from the pavement, away from him.

I catch myself doing this and stop in my tracks.

WHY? - in the question my mind asks itself. Why the hell should I mechanically... instinctively... do this? Yes, the dress which I wore to work does make me feel like a bull's eye target painted red and white. A dress which easily reaches down my knees but the mateiral which fits my body a little closer than chiffon would, or cotton would. A dress which does not draw comments in my office - only because the embarrassment of an HR inquiry stops it. I feel my legs are an attraction to the myriad of men in cars on the other side of the road, a sight to gawk at while they wait for the fucking green light to come back on. Men in three-wheelers literally twist back from their seats to look at me - yes, I'm out of your league gentlemen, move on..move on... but all I'll give you is the sight of my 'pretty white legs' which you remind me of in Sinhala while passing by.

The man who's walking towards me is closer. I brace myself, then again I tell my mind to -fuck-this-.

Tell me something mister...whisper something...sing me something under your breath...swing your arm so you'll 'mistakenly' touch me on my thigh...change the course of your path so I'm forced to move onto the gravel. Force me to change MY path which I CHOOSE to walk on.

We are literally steps away. He passes me by. My eyes are on the pavement so I don't have to look at him, looking at me. He doesn't say anything, and our brief meeting is over.

I keep walking. I am relieved. I didn't have to spew a torrent of words which I thought I'd need to. "Modaka? Prashnayakda? Ammala akkala nangila nadda? Angata enne mokada? Monaada ballanne? Parei yana eka eka gaanunta eka eka kiyanne mokada"...words I've practiced and even uttered at.

I am at the place my husband is supposed to pick me up from. Another man passes by, I am pretending to ignore his staring. Stare. From head to toe. Move on fucker.

A nice, fatherly-looking man passes me next. Whatever, I don't trust any of them. Finally, my husband comes and slows the car in front of me. I walk towards it and he moves it further. I keep walking with a wry smile to catch up. He does this three times for fun, I don't lose patience. I finally get in and close the door. A kiss his cheek and say Hi.


It's good to be with him. A man. Because sometimes, its tiring being a woman.

In reply to the Speaker's appalling words. Happy belated Women's Day, Sri Lanka.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Quick Guide to Camping in Horton Plains

The idea behind this post is to offer a quick insight into the 3 campsites in Horton Plains. We had camped out on campsites 1 and 2 in the past several years, but this year when we wanted to camp out on site 3, we weren't able to find any detailed comparisons on all three sites. So as I have been able to camp out on all 3 sites thought of drafting this breif post on the 3 campsites in Horton Plains.

To put things in perspective this is the latest update from January 2014.

Booking the Campsites

You would have to visit the Wild Life Department Office in Battaramulla to make a reservation to any of these campsites. It would cost you LKR 2500 per day, and you could accommodate upto 10 people. If you are travelling by a vehicle they will charge you a vehicle fee at the park entrance which would be around LKR 280.

Wildlife Offce Contact Number - 0112888585

Getting There

If you are travelling through public transport, its advised to take the Fort-Badulla train and get off at Pattipola or Ohiya stations, from there its a ascending hike of around 9kms, but if you are taking a TukTuk it will cost around LKR 1500-2000, which is worth-it if you are carrying lot of camping gear.

A rough map of the 3 campsites in Horton Plains

Horton Plains Campsite 01

This is the closest campsite to the Wildlife Conservation Office. This is my favorite camping site out of all 3. If you are camping for the first time I would recommend to book this. It doesn't have much space to camp out, but has easy access to constantly running stream of water, which will make your life much easier. It is also completly sealed off from the public eye, giving you much privacy.

The campsite is located on a small island like strip of land with water on three sides.
Getting there - below is the campsite 1

Best thing about campsite 1, a great flowing stream just next to your site.

campsite 1, its covered by the stream from all other 3 sides.

Horton Plains Campsite 02

You could camp here if all other options are out. This campsite is located just across the hiking path to World's End, so you will have visitors passing by your campsite during the daytime. So you will not have much privacy unless you are inside the tent. However, this campsite is located closer to the Chimney Pool, which is a great place to have a wash and a bath.

But I would recommend to avoid this if possible as this doesn't have much privacy and on a weekend the path would get really busy with visitors.But if privacy is not a concern it is a great place to camp as it has easy access to running water.

campsite 2 - Water Bund at campsite 2 (other than privacy, its a great place to camp)

Horton Plains Campsite 03

This campsite is located between campsites 1 and 2, and has a lot of space to setup your tent. However, the only downfall here is that you would have to walk around 100 meters along the water stream to get to a decent place to have a wash, as water just in-front are stagnant and  harder to access.

Since its not covered by larger mountains like on campsite 1, it has a great view at night and in the morning.
Campsite 3 is seen ahead, this is from the path to campsite 1 which is to the right
Campsite 3 is seen ahead- the picture is taken from where you can get access to running water, so you would have to walk a bit to have a good wash

General Tips 

  • All campsites are located within around 500ms from the Horton Plains Wildlife Centre and all sites consist of a permanent toilet (squatting) and garbage disposal facilities.
  •  If you have a lot of equipment to carry its best to get there before afternoon so you can setup your camp and be prepared for any weather changes.
  • No plastics or polythene is allowed within the park, the officers at the gate would check your bags occasionally but are not that strict, in any case if you bring any plastics please make sure to dispose them accordingly at the garbage pit at the site, don't leave them scattered in the campsite.
  • Nights in Horton Plains will get really cold, so make sure that you take enough warm clothes including socks and warm gloves if possible.
  • Make sure to take a raincoat, as it rains often, you would at least get caught in a small drizzle.
  • You are not allowed to make campfires, but the officers would not come to check on it at night but it its advised to take a gas-cooker to cook food ( with smaller gas cyclinder) as it is harder to make fires with the constant mist and rain.
If you are further looking for some solid advise on camping, traveling and sightseeing across Sri Lanka the best place I would recommend the awesome travel community Lakdasun ( It has a massive load of trip reports and a helpful forum where you can get loads of information. We managed to speak to one of its founding members, Mithila years ago, and you can check out that video on Idea Pettiya.

Special Thanks to Kelum, Varuna, Thinu & Thisara for the pics from our trips through the past few years.

Happy Camping Everyone!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One week in Nepal - things to do

Here's my quick guide to Nepal, where I was incidentally, last month.

1. Firstly, get to Nepal through Delhi because there aren't any direct flights from Colombo at all. CMB to DLH is about Rs. 50,000 +/- and DLH to Kathmandu would be about Rs. 15,000 on a budget flight like Indigo. (Indigo is the most AWESOME budget airline EVER). Get a data sim at the airport.

When you get to Nepal, you'll probably hang out somewhere in Kathmandu. It's actually a lot like Sri Lanka!

2. A touristy place to stay in would be Thamel or Patan (I hear). Its like Negombo times 100. Lots of bars, restaurants, bakeries, jazz bands in corners - you name it. It can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. Mostly cheap though, say you'd pay about Rs. 600 for a cocktail. Something like that. A great place to meet fellow travelers, buy little trinkets to take home and just breath in the coolness of it all.

3. Next, go to a Himalayan viewpoint. It's best to view the sunrise of sunset. Nargarkot takes about 1 hour from Kathmandu and is really beautiful (and bloody cold). There are about 5 such viewpoints to visit if you like.

4. People watch. Nepalese people are sweet and a lot like Sri Lankans. The cities are very commercial though, even the temples. I didn't really get the peaceful feeling when I visited a lot of them...they even have restaurants and trinket shops inside the temples sometimes. Apart from that, there's a LOT of beautiful wood and metal work and art to go ape over. (If that's your thing)

5. Get to Pokhara. It's like the Kandy/ Nuwara Eliya of Nepal. Its about 300KM but takes about 5-6 hours in a rented car and Rs. 15,000 for about 4-5 passengers. I'm told you can fly there for about Rs. 5000pp...not sure about that though.

In Pohkara? Great. Try Paragliding. You literally run and jump off the face of a mountain. The parachute drags you back but you have to keep going, hoping for the best. The initial flight is terrifying but you get your air legs back and it's quite rad. A must try. One trip would cost about $90 +/-

6. Visit Davis Falls in Pohkara, visit the adjoining cave of Davis Falls. It's quite magical. Davis? A Swiss lady who died there. :(
Nepal is most water-rich country in the world after Brazil. You can see a lot of gorges, lakes and rivers which are super click-worthy. (BUT WHY do people litter so?!) Also, have authentic Tibetian food in Pohkara. They also have a lot of Tibetian art and handicrafts close to the Tibetian Refugee Settlement. Close to the SOS Children's Village.

7. Back in Kathmandu? Visit Bhakthapur/ Durbar Square, a 17th century royal square where ancestors of those who built it still live today. Get a guide for about Rs. 500-1000 and get him to take you around. The Karma Sutra carvings are ahem!... (All these sights are quite close by, so take a cab from the street and haggle for a acceptable price! DO NOT take hotel cars... Rs. 3000 IS a rip off)

 8. Buy a Thanka and a Singing Bowl. Thankas are traditional Tibetian/ Nepali/ Buddhist art. No, I didn't buy the one below.

9. Visit Swayambhunath and Boudhanath temples - ancient sites sacred to Newar Buddhists and Hindus alike. Remember to read up on the history of the temples, you don't get guides there. They are also close together and a street cab is the best bet.

Well, those are my tips for a short trip to Nepal. Of course there's a million other things you CAN do, like trekking, volunteering, travelling to other cities, bungee jumping, going native or smoking up (yes, it's everywhere and very pungent). I really think we only scratched the surface of Nepal and did a lot of touristy things and there's a lot more to discover.

Oh and the food? Looks a lot like Sri Lankan/ Indian cuisine but about 5 shades blander. Not something to crave after :) 

Happy traveling!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crossing Beyonds - My timelapse project from India

Just finished off uploading my first proper timelapse short, with footage from Manali, Ladakh and Kashmir. These are truly amazing places, Ladakh in particular is simply breathtaking. Called the Moonland, the feature thumbnail of the video is also from Ladakh overlooking the Indus Valley.

Planing to write more on the travels to India and also on time-lapse videos on some later posts. Hope you will enjoy the video, feel free to let me know your feedback.

Crossing Beyonds (Timelapse Short) from Mathawaada on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Royalty free Music for Filmmakers and Other Projects

Recently I have been involved in editing one of our short documentaries and was trying to get some good music to compliment the visuals. Obviously the best option is to work with a composer to get the right music done for your requirement, but for many of us independent filmmakers this can be tough and costly. But luckily there are many like-minded musicians who would like to collaborate and who would like to allow their music to be used for free, its just that you need to locate the right site.

I did some research and these are some good places you could try and find some good royalty free music for both commercial and non commercial purposes.

YouTube Audio Library

Launched in September 2013, this place features some great music that can be used for both commercial and non-commercial projects. Its a great initiative by Youtube, where even musicians and artists can submit their work to be featured.

Moby started to give out some of his awesome music to filmmakers for free several years back. Now the site has been updated and relaunched to offer a large number of tracks from his album. You could apply for a track and it will take only 24hrs to get approved most of the time.

Personally this is the best place for me. Free Music Archive is a great initiative, where you would find a wide variety of music for your projects. It also arranges music under "curator" categories where the admins does a great job in bringing music from creative commons licenses as well as other reputed organisations into one place. Its also a great place to discover free music!

There are two more places that I would recommend,

This is a great place to discover great free music! Since almost of of the music here are licensed under creative commons you can find tracks for non-commercial projects for free. You could also contact the artists directly and see if they are willing to give their music to your projects.

Vimeo started off a music store for filmmakers as well. This site features both paid and free music that you can use for your projects. I haven't really used this directly but since its vimeo it should have some great tunes in thier library.

What do you think of the above sites? Are there any other sites which you have had an experience with?

Good luck with your productions!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Black July - Only in knowledge can it be prevented.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Black July, I’m not 30 yet, and I wasn't born during that time, though like most youth I grew up with 20+ years of war and destruction. The anti-tamil riots during the month of July in 1983 should never be forgotten.

As kids I remember my parents telling us about how they saw innocent tamils stopped from cars and taken out or how houses were set on fire. My parents who went for their daily jobs in Colombo couldn't do anything but to watch in despair as angry mobs ransacked shops and harassed innocent people.  These killing and violence made a permanent scar in the Sri Lankan society, and any Sri Lankan would clearly know the implications it had on the war and the divide it brought forth.

Any young adult of my age in their 20s or early 30s who grew up in the 90s should clearly know the implications of racial extremism and what destruction a communal riot would bring to this small country. Partly for political mileage or otherwise state media used to shower the public with news and articles about Black July every year for its anniversary. So any kid growing up those days knew of the harm such a riot could bring to a country.

Ironically, it’s sad to see how few extremists seem to ignore this lesson learned and act with no responsibility whatsoever. Particularly the Muslim phobia that some elements try to create is pathetic. Public hate speech, attacking places of worship or businesses are carried out occasionally by a small minority who just want to instigate a clash or a riot. This could spark a communal clash at any moment.

I just finished watching the amazing WWII documentary series  “The Nazis – A Warning from History”, which takes an in-depth look into how Nazi ideology flourished in Germany through propaganda and manipulation and how an entire nation became obsessed with racial purity and domination. Though Sri Lanka can be hardly compared to the Nazi Germany its important to remember the ending notes narrated in its closing episode. It echoes words from Karls Jaspers a prominent German philosopher about World War II and the atrocities that were committed, which I think are pretty much relevant to Black July as well...

"That which has happened is a warning. To forget it is guilt. It must be continually remembered. It was possible for this to happen, and it remains possible for it to happen again at any minute. Only in knowledge can it be prevented."