08 November 2020



Somewhere in the Eastern Province. Somewhere in the Dry Zone, so called. A tank. A swing. A capture and that which resists all capture.

If the above was a brief for a photographer, delivery would require time, patience, a sense of the moment and a feel for the pulse of stillness, the transient and the abiding. The photograph that decorates this article or rather inspired it can be titled using all the elements of the above ‘brief.’ It could be captioned in that way too, not surprisingly since that first line was inspired by the image. Here’s one way of putting it:

we move when we don't
we are still when we are not
we reflect and are reflected
we compose and are composed

So there’s a human form. A posture. Worship. Art directed. It could have been in color with or without filters chosen in accordance with the preference of the filterer. It’s in black and white. On the other hand, who or what directs the wind and the sun, the storks that did not stray into frame, the cormorants that did not come up with catch? A photograph can still of course, but the elements don’t conspire to produce stillness all the time. It happens of course and that makes the work of the artist easier.

There is patience that colors this picture, waiting that is an integral part of the composition exercise. In other words, there are Dry Zones and Dry Zones, the ones that meet the casual eye and those whose secrets are not as apparent.

There is a land in this island that is mystic. Rather, mysticism, which has multiple residences, can be found here too. But where?

In the Eastern Province. In the Raja Rata. In the Dry Zone.

These are the easy answers. Tharindu Amunugama, who took this photograph, loves this part of the island so much that he is almost a permanent resident now. The reservoirs, the shrub jungles, the rock formations, caves and so many other things slow down the movement of time. It seems. It’s a paradise for ‘mystic shot-making,’ so to speak. However, like all places heavenly, we pass them without seeing. Fixated by destination and things to do, paradisiacal shards shy away or are unconsciously footnoted or dragged to the mind’s trash bin.

But where? That’s a question we can repeat. Only in the Eastern Province? Only in the Raja Rata? Only in the Dry Zone?
The answer would be ‘no’ and Tharindu, for all his love for the peace that space offers, would no doubt concur. As much as it is about that upon which gaze falls, it is also about the gaze, and therefore, the gazer.

We can sit in one place, but our thoughts could in an instant circumnavigate the earth, swing from one end of the galaxy to the other, fall in and out of constellations, flit from one love to the other to the other, drown in one sorrow now and another the next moment. We can move and yet remain still. We reflect and our reflections reflect the places we’ve been, the texts that touched, the warm and cold that graced our lives. We are composed in our compositions.

Somewhere in this process there’s a stillness that is as mystical as the photograph. Somewhere, right next to us or in a faraway we don’t have to sweat to reach, there’s an image that swings and a swinging which is at once a definitive and resolute stoppage.

There’s a frame and an image. We fall in and out of these things. And they, for their part, are not averse to blush, blur and scramble.

And then, there’s the Eastern Province. The Raja Rata. The Dry Zone. A photograph and a photographer. A viewer and a view. A human construction. A frame within a frame. It’s a conspiracy that says ‘reflect.’


Other articles in the series 'In Passing...':  [published in the 'Daily News']  

Sean Connery, his many faces and one that I will keep

Ajith the Indomitable

Eyes that watch the world and cannot be forgotten   Let's start with the credits, shall we? 
The 'We' that 'I' forgot 
'Duwapang Askey,' screamed a legend, almost 40 years ago
Dances with daughters
Reflections on shameless writing

Is the old house still standing?
 Magic doesn't make its way into the classifieds

Small is beautiful and is a consolation  
Distance is a product of the will
Akalanka Athukorala, at 13+ alre
ady a hurricane hunter
Did the mountain move, and if so why?
Ever been out of Colombo?
Anya Raux educated me about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Wicky's Story You can always go to GOAT Mountain
Let's learn the art of embracing damage
Kandy Lake is lined with poetry
There's never a 'right moment' for love
A love note to an unknown address in Los Ange
A dusk song for Rasika
How about creating some history?
How far away are the faraway places?
There ARE good people!
Re-placing people in the story of schooldays  
When we stop, we can begin to learn
Routine and pattern can checkmate poetry

Janani Amanda Umandi threw a b'day party for her father 
Sriyani and her serendipity shop
Forget constellations and the names of oceans
Where's your 'One, Galle Face'?

Maps as wrapping paper, roads as ribbons
Yasaratne, the gentle giant of Divulgane  
Katharagama and Athara Maga
Victories are made by assists
Lost and found between weaver and weave
The Dhammapada and word-intricacies
S.A. Dissanayake taught children to walk in the clouds
White is a color we forget too often  
The most beautiful road is yet to meet a cartographer