Monday, February 17, 2020

The Strange Case of ALJUHARA

 - sometimes – because of a name, lives touch.

Because of a name, lives connected in strange ways. What's in a name, you may ask? Ever since I divorced and changed my name at roughly the same time Im prepared to admit there was some effect definitely. Underworld criminals probably swear by their aliases and their lives depend on them. So do singers, actors, artists and writers, don't you think? Madonna Prince and Shakira would probably project quite the same image if they were called Bandaramanike. Or would they , who can say? Well Sri Lankans are probably one bunch who spend a lot of time and money (on drunken astrologers) deciding on names for their babies and they say there is a serious reason for that. Your name can decide your life.

Why do you call your self "aljuhara" some people ask me (or actually they say mokoda bung mey aljuhara case eka?" or something like that) and its only now after almost  two years of writing this column under a myriad of different identities that I'm getting the chance  to  tell you the background about my pen name, and of course…. you can count on this being another schizoid story…

Years ago I watched a movie called "Jewel of the Nile" which the child in me thoroughly enjoyed. If I tell you that that was my favourite movie, it may describe my character to you. Playful, dreamy, fun loving, and not very serious, someone who believed in happy endings.  It had all those ingredients of a dream romance, there was the lovely scatter brained novelist lady, Joan Wilder ( with perfect legs and a tiny red nose), a heroic dashing action man, (played by Michael Douglas, bless his white cotton socks) and a vile but charming villain( predictably Arab) and also an absolutely amazing character, the actual "Jewel" (which is what the words al juhara mean) who is a Sufi. The adventure, danger and romance in this story leave him completely untouched but mildly bemused and the best picture that comes to mind is of him sitting peacefully deep in meditation on top of a speeding train while people are rolling about fighting near killing each other a few carriages away. I totally admired that cool aplomb and that's the character  I wanted to be although of course the child in me was completely fascinated by the romance, the action and the adventure of the story.

Another part of me completely delighted at the life of Joan Wilder who seemed to be having my dream job, and being a beautiful lady writer who actually gets paid and gets to go places to carry out the job she loves best. Ah, such a lucky creature, what an inspiration I would think. So when it came to choosing my pen name, there I had my two favorites and the rest of course you know- my best comic writing comes out under the nickname of aljuhara and sometimes I write under my own name (serious stuff) and even more serious stuff under a few other nicknames one of which is Joan Wilder. For all these I have booked the usual internet presences such as gmail, Face Book and a blog here and there.

About a month back I received a mail to my "Joan Wilder" email from a female telling me her name was Joan Wilder too and asking me if I was willing to sell the email account. She also asked me out of curiosity how come I had this email. A lovely chatty direct way of writing she has and so I thought she was a US school girl somewhere and replied that long ago Id seen a movie I really enjoyed and these were characters in it who I had related to, so I had taken these nicknames.
What she told me next was so amazing that I had to do a lot of research to check if it was the truth and now since Im satisfied with the answer, heres the email for you. 

hi Chandrika!

Thanks for writing. you live in Sri Lanka, eh? When i was little, in school, a long time ago, i did a long report on Sri Lanka -- then Ceylon -- and remember feeling that it was a special place to me. I've never been there. I live near Boston, Massachusetts.

well, here's a story for you…. My friend, Diane Thomas, wrote the original screenplay for Romancing the Stone. It was in 1980-1 or so. We were roommates just before she began writing it. I moved to NYC and she moved out the beach in L.A. - Malibu -- and committed to writing a script. She worked on it for a year on an old Ibm electric typewriter. At the end of the year, she gave it to a friend in the business who gave it to his agent. A week later, the agent phoned her up and said he'd sold it to Michael Douglas for $250,000, which at that time was the most an unknown writer had been paid for a script. So there were articles in the newspapers about it.

After the movie was released and did so well, Diane went on to writing more screenplays, including having a three-picture deal with Steven Spielberg. I spent the summer of 1985 with Diane at her then beautiful house in Malibu. at the end of the summer, I went back to NYC and she was going to come visit me for two weeks. A week before she was to come, she was killed instantly in a car crash a mile from her home. She crashed into a tree at the side of the road. The car was given to her by Michael Douglas as payment for her helping to think up the sequel to Romancing the Stone, which she had refused to write.

So. she named the character after me, although the character herself I see to be based on a combination of both of our lives at the time we were roommates.



If you are curious now, and you haven't seen or cant remember the movie run along and borrow it, because it will be great fun now just as it was then!( warning not in front of the little  kids because there are one or two very steamy scenes too)  but remember too that this was written by a city waitress based on the lives of two struggling student journalists and while it  led to  a magical interplay of character, fantasy  and tom foolery resulting in a movie which delighted millions around the world,  the happy story has a sad ending for the writer, who  died as mentioned in a car crash in the dream car she received as payment for her talent.  ( Didn't Hercule Poirot once say "Beware of the day your dreams come true , for then you will have nothing more to dream about  ,") A part of the romance lives on in my new friend who is the character behind the name, and is a talented, graceful and very young looking grandmother with three children and two grandchildren, living in Boston . Life is bittersweet we know and names make people, and sometimes make people meet for better or for worse….
Or maybe its just destiny finding an excuse...  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Pusheekat Diaries

Greetings and warm regards from Purradise.


It is I, Peachy the 23rd, descendant from a long line of regular backyard cats, distantly related to Serious the 48th, who was a rather foreign I hear having been brought into the country on a Portuguese galleon in the time of the Kandyan Kings. Knowing her character though Im sure she was not really formally imported, but just scooted into the ship kitchen when no one was looking and got locked accidentally in the provision cupboard, only to be discovered and let out  in a hot nightmare of an island named Ceylon…cat habits, just like Hewman habits, die hard. Cats habits actually die harder. Trust me.


Well, Im Peachy, or anyway that's what they named me although I am actually gray and white with yellow eyes. My mistress is a woman we nicknamed Ally, who writes letters to the weekly papyrus- Hewmans like to sit and look at these flaps of crackly  white stuff for a long time, whereas we just like to scratch it to shreds, or pee on them- even though in many households, we get our dinner on them. (If dinner is too drippy the papyrus melts and we have to lick the floor…boring.)


I have been keeping a series of notes on life which Im happy to share with you in your own language thanks to this friendly lady heuwman who has volunteered to translate from the Mewish…


Anyway here I am talking to you good Hewmans and explaining all about us catpeopple.


For a start,  for example,it's a myth that we have nine lives, please get that our of your heads. We are just as mortal as any other animal, we just look a lot alike so its easy to replace us – that is probably the foundation of this silly misconception.

We are delicate. Really.


Then there is the myth that we like eating rats.

We prefer sardines or salayo. If you look at this objectively for a minute you will easily realize that in the natural state there is really NO WAY for a cat to catch a sardine, so this means we need an intermediary. That of course is you, my dear long suffering host race…


To make sure that you understand what we want from you( fish, a hot lap or cow secretions) and give it to us(- unconditionally-), we have spent hundreds of years evolving a system of mews, purrs , fur explosions and quiet thrumming vibrations which those of you who are cat-sensitive will understand even subconsciously and the rest will positively hate. (Unfortunately there seems to be no middle path although we are working on it)


In return we provide good examples of stress free living.

It is known that spending as little as ten minutes with your cat is good for your heart ( unless of course said cat has done something under the sink- in which case it might be not so good) the truth is we show you Hewman people how to relax, how to not bother, and how to totally accept ourselves (and you of course)…

Now how bad can that be?


Next week: Diaries of an ordinary Sri Lankan house cat.

The Pusheekat Diaries


by Pushee.


September 30


I cant believe it – the year that seemed to have just started is now three quarters complete. Im older and –wiser, I think: Ive seen so much in this time.

Patchy decided to Expect.  .It made her young and frisky again. We were all expecting with her, but since she is an indecently old cougar way past reproductive age with a wound down biological clock….the catlet she got was actually rather dead. So she lost it and of course resolutely and determinedly as mother cats are supposed to, she spent so much time looking for it and mistress Ally had to console her and explain why the baby had had to go in a small cardboard box.

Our kind hewmie family  tried bringing another substitute catlet from a woman in Kotikawatta who has 160 dogs and 40 cats. This woman is amazing and spent some time explaining how she lived her life for the animals and how she worked like a machine and cooked 25 kilos of rice a day.

I personally thought it was a bit creepy when she told me about 160 dogs in cages ..and cats too.

Let me emphasize this :cats cant live caged, it's a fate worse than death as far as we are concerned. The thought of it makes me want to gnaw my legs off personally.

But to be incarcerated WITH dogs around , now that is concentration camp stuff. Let me change the subject somehow…



October 2

Ms Ally was crowing about two things she had done today. One was eaten bulath for the first time in her life (goodness knows what possessed her) and the other was to get bitten by a freshwater leech. I don't know the gruesome details but I think we should all be thankful for small things in life, such as BLOOD COAGULATION. Its scarey when you have blood that dosnt obey this principle, and oozes on and on and doesn't dry even when it hits the floor; her bitten leg smells so WEIRD my ears went back suddenly. How did she get a leech bite in red hot Colombo? Well, Ms Ally is always going off looking for land, and since she has no money to really buy any and dosnt really do the brokering thing either; I suspect that this is the closest she gets to  "budget tourism" taken to a new level of stingy…I know she loves this wild island, although it brings her grief. She can't even find a committed man here, generally I think because most Sri Lankan guys don't like cats and she has too many.

ETB is ok though, he generally leaves us alone and grudgingly feeds us with the belief that this will help his future prospects…

Did you KNOW by the way , that leeches are one of the FEW mindless, spineless annelids that care for their young , by carrying them around and feeding them? That we found on the interweb when she was trying to read how to stop the bleeding and that makes you stop and think. "Leech"is such a negative word for a maligned invertebrate who really doesn't hurt you, just takes a little blood and they are used in medicine for amazing procedures to do with keeping blood circulating . You knew that but did you also know it actually looks after its offspring giving it food and transport and protecting it like mammals do-  though it dosnt have much of a brain? .  One wonders how they got such negative publicity. But now you know what they are good for!

Monday, January 06, 2020


In July 2019 after ten years in a tumultuous relationship, I picked up the courage to walk out. I thought I would be devastated. I had loved him for more than a decade, he had rescued me after my first marriage completely broke down. It seemed to me that I desperately needed a man and needed love and intimacy and could not do without it. He was handsome, beyond my league in that way, and oh so manly. For ten years I  felt I would never find a match like him again in my life. He took my dependancy for granted and like some people do when you have someone dependant on you, he became complacent in his importance to me. His friends and alcoholism took precedence. I had tried many many times to leave him but the sheer gut-wrenching thought of not having him nearby and of being completely alone in this world as I thought, was terrifying, particularly for a lonely introvert like me.
But then one day I discovered Holotropic  Breathworks.


By Chandrika Gadiewasam

It is hard for me to describe Holotropic BreathworksTM to you. It is a system of breathing exercises which can send you into non-ordinary states of consciousness and expanded awareness leading you to find POWER WITHIN which you can harness. It reaches into hidden past trauma, and releases the pain, leading to much-needed catharsis, and unlike in meditation, there is nothing for you to actually DO (except breath!). You don’t have to sit in difficult postures. You can fall asleep if you want (most people don’t). You just have to release yourself, trustingly, to the loving Universe.

Well, honestly I can’t find the correct words to tell you how powerful it is. This isn’t a story about walking out of a relationship or breaking out of writer’s block, or banishing lifelong phobias, which all happened to me- this is about finding your inner strength, this like all self-improvement is about being able to fall in love with yourself. 

My own breathwork experience with only a one-day session, started basically with me not knowing what to expect, but trusting Sandy (my friend who introduced me to Breathworks) and the workshop facilitators and my sitter ( person looking after me) and allowing myself to let go control and go where the music takes me…
I think the key is in the breathing...we don’t usually breath so well and deep, allowing oxygen to go through our bodies so our brains etc ...the music supports that because we all naturally respond to these various drums, etc and are capable of soaring through music. The music is sourced from ancient cultures around the world, bringing together atavistic wisdom and healing.  This combination is magical
There were a number of things that changed in my life that day
I always had a fear of drowning but after the deep breathing my particular vision was of Swimming with whales and dolphins and I lost that fear of asphyxiation. in fact I stayed a long time without breathing at certain points and those moments were almost ecstatic! I had naturally the fear of mundane pain and suffering but this experience told me that I was strong enough to conquer anything physical and go something of an out-of-body experience. Yes, there were dark scary troughs into which I fell but I gained confidence that I could climb out of them when I wanted. There was a feeling of freedom, strength, love and of all my mundane worries falling away. This strength has lasted me to this day and I believe it will last much further. but im looking forward to a kind of re-charging of my breathwork energy in March when the next workshop comes to Colombo.

After the workshop, the 35 participants spoke of what visions they had seen. People of various faiths had religious experiences, similar to OBEs/NDEs. Except for one young woman all participants spoke of nature...mountains, valleys, trees, oceans, horses, jungles, birds, flower gardens..and comfort, healing and freedom. A feeling that the universe will look after you! I remember dolphins. I feel it just goes to show that humans miss nature, that’s why we are mentally and physically getting sick and stressed.
Another strange side effect was that the blocked artist in me who had struggled for self-expression for 30 years, buying paints and canvasses but being unable to paint, suddenly and miraculously burst into creative expression. Id always been a kind of copy cat, drawing from photographs and other peoples paintings but suddenly here was I composing my own visual dreams on canvas. I have to say without a doubt that it was the strength and power within discovered through breathwork that led me to this amazing exuberance.
To be honest you probably won’t see every participant bursting into song or uncontrollable creativity or taking very bold steps like walking away from stagnant relationships...but I know that many of the participants found that day immensely relaxing, cathartic and strengthening. Finally a word of warning too: Holotropic BreathworksTM is profound and powerful so sometimes it may cause temporary distress when you face your demons. 
My own theory is that the more trauma you may have behind you the more effective it becomes. In my case...after Breathworks: I am soaring. 

What is Holotropic BreathworksTM
Group Sessions are facilitated by certified practitioners who have completed the Grof Transpersonal Training program. With the aid of “evocative” music and occasional bodywork, participants are guided through breath exercises while lying down. This induces non-ordinary states of consciousness. Group sessions allow people to work in pairs and support each other’s processes. Sessions end with sharing and discussion so participants integrate what they have learned about themselves.  

How to participate in Sri Lanka: 

Next planned workshop dates: March 27, 28, 29 (2020) 
Venue: Community Education Centre,# 117, Talahena, Malabe
Fee: Rs.5000/ per day. Rs 15,000/for 3 days. Those who apply before 15th January will receive a discount of Rs 1000/ for each day. You can participate on 1 day, 2 days or 3 days.
Interested candidates should register before 31st January.Registration fee(advance): Rs 4000/

Who can benefit?
Breathworks can greatly benefit people suffering from: anxiety and depression, trauma, posttraumatic stress, and anger issues, grief and loss and the emotional effects of physical illness.
Holotropic BreathworksTM can be a universal healer. Breathworks is not particular to any religion but it can very well become a religious experience.
If there is one thing adventurous you want to do in 2020, I suggest you try this experience and I know you will not regret it. 
Much love and stay blessed! 

For more information about the workshop please contact:
Ms Sandy de Alwis | Email: | Tel: 0777683170
Sr.Janet Nethisinghe | Email: | Tel: 0714228358 /0772545870

Tikiri Finds the Sun - Chandrika Gadiewasam 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Degrees to Success

I dont have a degree in Communications. Neither does my daughter Nadeesha. But we have been published for a number of years in leading newspapers, written two columns and been co- authors of a book, not to mention co founders of popular online forums with thousands of members. My writing has shamed a big company into doing the right thing. It has organised charity work, saved a number of animal lives big and small, alternatively boiled and soothed my readers and also brought many a smile to their faces. Ive also had the honour of working with the company doing promotions for a famous drama series in 2010. Nadeesha worked part-time with a British content provision company. She influences many friends to eat better, live better and be happier. We are good communicators. We earn comfortably from doing what we love which is writing and I daresay our dubious names are known better than many journalism graduates, mostly because we do communicate well. Its nothing to do with any fancy foreign degree.
Its also why I want to talk about foreign degrees, suitable marriages and highly paid careers, which are popular goals towards which many parents blindly and determinedly push their unhappy offspring..
I once overheard a strong and brave mother from the village who decided to home school her children plus send them for private tuition, rejecting government institutions of schooling in Sri Lanka. This made absolute sense because anyway in Sri Lanka hardly anyone gets educated at schools because of the apathy of underpaid teachers. Everyone sends their kids for private tuition. Which is expensive. This is where this insane rush for formal education begins. It ends with people selling valuable houses just so that the precious son can get a US degree. They don't not stop to think of alternatives.
Consider the cost of snooty foreign paper qualification. My daughter did spend on a local bachelors degree of 650,000 (mostly because the relatives advised her to do this) and lets say theoretically she earns monthly at the rate of 65,000. Her cousin, educated with the posh US degree which cost 4,500,000 certainly does not earn 450,000 a month part-time. His parents had to sell one beautiful house and take out a five-year educational loan to help him get this. He earns nowhere close, coming probably to a maximum of about 200,000 if he's very lucky, and if it is Sri Lanka that work will involve all the misery of office politics, jealousy, backstabbing and aggravation not to mention a daily grind of commuting to work through third world megacity traffic, ...something that neither me nor my daughter has done for a long time now.. at the same time have you given a thought to the opportunity cost of putting 4,500,000 in a bank  or just renting out the house you sold to get a monthly income of at least 150,000/= without any work at all? It boggles me as to why any human running logically on Maslow's theory, any one who has remotely studied economics and opportunity costs, would justify such suffering just to be able to tell a few relatives or snooty potential employers that they have an American degree…
If its fulfilment you need in life there are wonderful ways to work for the community, to help people and animals, join politics, take up the violiin, whatever it takes to keep you occupied rather than actually do a job merely to keep you out of mischief. Finally if its fame you are looking for, if you google his name it wont turn up anywhere. Whereas my daughter and I are communicators, influencers and changemakers actually making a difference in the life of people we encounter. And you are now reading my article, not his. Hopefully this article may save one person from making the mistake of selling parental houses and getting in debt for years only to drain rupees to the UK or USA and become stuck in a twenty five year rat race from which you emerge at 55, gouty, diabetic, out of shape, unhappily married and generally unfulfilled and maybe barely able to complete the mortgage on a nice house which reminds of the nice house your parents sold 20 years ago, to get you the degree….

Dont get me wrong and think I look down on education or qualifications. I certainly would hope that the anesthesiologist who knocks me out for brain surgery has been through formal and structured training…. In the same way as I wish that parents who undertake one of the most challenging tasks known to mankind (bringing up offspring) were in someway educated in that subject or took the effort to educate themselves and think carefully before they followed the crowds like leaping wildebeest...learning is always a good thing but it doesn't really have to be through American (or British or Australian) universities...think of the most famous, awe-inspiring, revolutionary people the planet knows, Mother Theresa, Michael Jackson, Meryl Streep, Mohamed Yunus...and diverse modern icons like Lily Singh, Trevor Noah, Jane Goodall, Sathguru, Malala Yusefsai... was it foreign degrees that made them who they are?
When you think of the talents that are needed in real life, qualities such as empathy, emotional quotient, sensitivity, adaptability, creativity, humility the capacity to think out of the box, the ability to respect other humans, and a host of other important characteristics are not taught in Universities although they are very important. Then why is it that such a disproportionate amount of time, effort and money is put into obtaining degrees from foreign universities?

This brings me to the next item on my list, career success. Everyone seems to want it, to be able to climb right to the top and boss people around. To get to the top of your profession, to earn accolades, win recognition, have paper articles written about you, be there do that. That's a worthy goal, I concede, and it's quite grand for the people who do achieve it. But for every top chairman or woman, how many hundreds meander through a tedious daily grind which lasts through 30 years spending more than three-quarters of your waking life in a cubicle, and in traffic, with only miserable thoughts spinning through your head about office politics, glaring injustices and simply torturous interpersonal conflict at the work place, waiting for something good to happen, or simply waiting to be able to leave this drudgery...which is not a way to spend this precious commodity called life. Do you sometimes feel like the consultant in the story of the fisherman and the management consultant, waiting for some perfect moment in the future, when things will be just right- the story is about a happy island fisherman who was doing nothing lolling in a hammock under a coconut tree on a balmy tropical beach, having finished his days work early noon with the rest of the day off. Along comes a consultant and tells him about how the due to the wind speeds and directions he could easily triple his productivity, invest in two fibreglass fishing boats and some manual labour, open a marine company so that he can catch many more fish and make much more profits. He can invest this money in the bank no doubt the consultant will tell him how to work the stock exchange and invest in bitcoins etc, and apparently that way he can retire early. To which the fisherman in puzzlement asks, “what would I do if I retire?” And the consultant says “why you can  visit wonderful beaches, play with your kids, simply relax by the beach doing nothing, go for a beer and a baila in the evening every day...” and of course the fisherman gives him a look, and says “Isn't that what I'm already doing anyway?”
"Water world" by Chandrika De Silva. Acrylic 40x60

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Snake Rescuer of Habarana

By Chandrika Gadiewasam

  • In Sri Lanka which boasts some of the highest snakebite deaths in the world, where snakes are hated and feared, one man daily puts his life on the line to save any snake he can.

He has given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a deadly Indian cobra and he  keeps a saline solution and aloe vera tub to help heal snakes who have been attacked using kerosene: a man of humble means, who makes a livelihood from maintenance work, Jeganadan the snake rescuer of Habarana has never in his life accepted payment for the thousands of serpents he has rescued and released, because, he says, 'then people may hesitate to contact me."

"I started my rescue work in 2004, with the realisation that snakes are the animals probably treated with the most callous injustice in the world. You will see people and organisations rescuing dogs, birds, elephants, leopards -but there is no one who will stop and help a suffering snake." he points out.

Jeganadan has made it his life's passion to do so, at no small risk to himself.

He has no access even to antivenom, which is not available in rural hospitals, and points out that a trip from Habarana to the nearest government hospital with snake venom, which is in Polonnaruwa would take 1.5 hours, which would be more time than it takes to kill a person if bitten by a viper.

"The media is not very interested in saving snakes, there is nothing newsworthy in it for them,' he says adding that all the emergency calls he gets are through word of mouth and more recently social media which helps spread the word about his cause. " If an article or a post can save at least ONE snake from being killed then that is all that matters to me,"


"My first advice to anyone if there is a snake discovered is not to poke or disturb it at all and never to throw kerosene etc, but to quietly watch it to make sure you know where it goes"  After a call, acting as soon as he possibly can, Jeganadan bikes over to the house and begins the long and arduous task of hunting the snake out, ensuring not to harm it in the process. This often means reaching into dangerous corners, climbing into roofs, operating in confined spaces and a great deal of patient searching until he locates and catches the slippery subjects.

On an average, he rescues around a dozen snakes a month, a few venomous but mostly non-venomous. Usually, the innocent non-venomous ones would also have been killed cruelly and needlessly if not for his quick intervention. Not only does he adamantly refuse any payment for this service, but all expenses are borne by him, on the principle that if he accepted payment some people may think twice about calling him. Often days of patient caring are needed to rehabilitate a snake which has been attacked with kerosene, by calming it, bathing it in saline, and then placing it in a tub of aloe vera gel; death from kerosene sprayed on any snake is long drawn out torment where the animals skin blisters and peels away leaving wounds which even show its skeleton, after which it gets infected and slowly rots to death over a number of days. More often than not it is entirely harmless non-venomous snakes that meet this fate, not to mention valuable endangered species. Even if a snake is venomous, as they never intend to harm people but only stray among us because their habitat is destroyed or they are hunting rats, or desperate for water, they can easily be kept at bay with proper precautions for example like keeping some water at a distance from the house, and keeping your environment cleared according to Jeganadan, who advises that all snakes have an important part to play in the ecosystems by controlling rodent populations which would otherwise devastate an agricultural economy such as Sri Lanka, and they are also the source for medical preparations etc. Only a handful of the snake species in Sri Lanka are venomous but due to lack of awareness of people, snakes are brutally attacked on sight.

On the subject of snake bite deaths and the lack of locally made antivenin, Jeganadan reserved comment except to say that after 30 plus years of trying to manufacture it, there has not been any real success from the authorities in charge. Many deaths would be preventable if the anti-venom were available, but it seems to be low in national priority as it is mostly poor villagers that would be affected.

Jeganadan goes out of his way to host regular awareness workshops for interested people, showing them the difference in non- venomous snakes so that at least knowledge will prevent the destruction of these innocent animals- but he has to carefully circumvent current laws which make it an offence to have such wildlife in one's possession. He laments over peoples attitudes, official lethargy and the ironic legal situation he personally faces when he tries to deliver this much-needed service to people; he needs to have live specimens to demonstrate to people that they are perfectly harmless, but at the same time it is an offence to have such fauna in his possession, so he has to release them very soon.

The attitudes of some people too have been most demoralising. Many ridicule him openly, some have even gone to the extent of trying to accuse him of profiting from the services he selflessly undertakes, which he points out is inaccurate because he insists that he will never accept payment for his time or expenses, as saving snakes is his life's passion. In spite of insult and criticism by such people for saving the snakes they believe should be exterminated, Jeganadan carries on undaunted, sure in the knowledge that he is doing the right thing, in saving people, snakes and Sri Lanka's environment alike.

Snake-handler Jeganadan can be contacted through FB@ ttps:// and on 0779 865 543

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

Chandrika Gadiewasam

Some of the deprived sad food my whole family has been forced to eat due to my diabetes. Ok you know Im being snarky (Photos courtesy Nadeesha Paulis)

Some years ago,  when I was hovering on the magical brink of becoming a symbolic 39, I went in for my annual overall check up and the reports came in with a positive diagnosis of diabetes.

Well, yours truly, Chands, was in shock for a while and thought it was some kind of mistake! This was an OLD PEOPLES disease! It was one of those incurable inconvenient things that happened after you are sixty or something! This went along with Alzheimer's, dentures and incontinence, in my list of geriatric issues.   This wasn't for me; I didn't deserve it,  I didn't really do any of the things I imagined would make me into a diabetic. Ok I was rather lazy about the exercise thing although on and off I would try to keep in shape, not for health reasons at all but because I wanted to wear some dress…and I liked having a coke once in a way but actually, I couldn't even afford junk food, so why had this happened to me? I was by no means overweight, my BMI was acceptable, I didn't eat half the oil or ice cream that I saw my relations down day after day, (even the diabetic ones, once they had taken their daily insulin)- I was the careful one, probably because I was an older sister and a mother, and we actually get used to giving up the food to other family members, particularly the sweet treats. Have you noticed? Most of the moms I know take home any chocolates they get at work to give the kids, and I was no exception. 

So why me? First there was the hazy denial stage… Maybe this was a mistake and it could be reversed…maybe it would go away and just be a bad dream and not end up in me having to lose my left foot (something I have been paranoid about since signing up for a Life insurance package which gave you double bonus if you lost limbs on OPPOSITE SIDES …think about that carefully – to claim you need to lose a right hand AND a left foot… tricky, but I'm sure it can be organised if you remember to stick them both out at the last moment before the train hits! Looks like the insurance people think of everything !…pardon the deviation here) …maybe a completely starch free diet and running five miles a day would work – I didn't know Fanny Adams about diabetics and it looked like I would have to learn fast…here, I figured out,  were some of the practical downsides: 

anything you previously spent on chocolates and sweets to pamper yourself, you now have to spend on medications and strips for the tester machine;  those are quite expensive

insurance companies automatically double the premium if they learn you are diabetic, and if they know you are OLD and diabetic they can even treble it 

you can't skip meals anymore since you go into a state of dizziness and nausea caused by having low blood sugar. So forget high-pressure jobs, unplanned journeys or in fact any real adventure

Diabetes also can make people feel sad, angry, or lonely because most of your friends are not watching their blood sugar levels! in Sri Lanka you get a lot of unfeeling comments too, like " oh, you must have eaten lots of sugary stuff!" (as if you are the only one, and the person saying it completely abstains from any!) and " oh my, at this age! How terrible !" (as if your entire future just went)

This is apart from the disease itself which involves gradual nerve degeneration and higher risks of cholesterol, heart disease and another boatload of more nasty sounding stuff, and of course, eventual amputation of feet.

Yes, it can be at first glance quite a damper on life…until-  in the spirit of Chands, you look for the possible positive bits! And here they are:

You automatically get the exercise you need, because if you don't you get in actual trouble. So exercise is compulsory. And then little irritations in life, like 'having" to walk a further 200 yards because you miss a halt, become positive opportunities. Compulsory walking, you find is exhilarating, interesting, time for creative thinking and saves on fuel and transport costs! And you retain a moderately youthful figure for free!!! 

Watching your diet becomes compulsory so now there is no fighting with your self-control. You settle on a diet and you get used to it and its actually good for you! No nonsense with new year resolutions which you mess up in February! 

You begin to realise how good something gooey and sweet tastes because you can't have it often. So you have a new perspective about the good things in life! 

You won't ever have to worry about growing obscenely, decrepitly, disgustingly old and being a gibbering, geriatric burden on your children. Statistically, most diabetics are usually quite dead by 73 or something.

Ok, I have to end by saying none of this is expert medical advice of any kind, and Chands is just an average person with a common problem, now, more common than it ever was, sadly due to modern lifestyles. Why it happened and what will happen next I do not know,  but I can leave you with some useful and honestly playful tips by the real experts which I found here: