MIDWEEK qxd by jennyyingdi


									Wednesday 30th November, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                                    III

         BY USVATTE-ARATCHI                    in the basement of the Hindu Kovil in                    again. Anklets bells had           musician to whom she had been married            [Kusjatakaya] A terrible demon grabbed
                                               Queens, New York City, at close                          also caught my imagina-            [by proxy to a vina] for so long was most        me by my hand’.
                                               range. When I saw him he was per-                       tion in Grade V at school when I    effective. At times the sitar was chirpy,            In fact two books of poetry had been

      his evening [22 November 2011] I
      saw the most enjoyable stage pres-       haps a bit old and somewhat heavy and                read about the anklets of the heav-    the sarod at times stern, the esraj and the      written in Sinhala using this theme. One
      entation for the year in Colombo,        did not have that legendary quality           enly dancers when they danced before          flute mostly playful, often. The total effect    was written in the14th century: ‘kav silu-
anywhere this year for that matter as I        which made him so famous a dancer.            the king and a huge audience when             made the dancing brilliant. The singing,         mini kusadava’ the greatest poem in
had missed the theatre season elsewhere.       Bhattacarya is a much taller, bigger man      Guttila and Moosila played the vina in        especially by the lead male, was some of         Sinhala and minor work in the 17th cen-
A troupe of dancers from Eastern India         and a younger man. Yet he moved on            competition.                                  the best singing of rabindra sangeet that        tury: Kusajatakaya, the latter more popu-
led by Bimbavati Devi [Manipuri] and           stage with a fluidity and a grace which           ‘pa piyum binguron sala van dili          I have heard. He probably excelled               lar than the former. The older book is less
Ashimbandhu Bhattacharjee (Kathak)             was spell binding. He more or less ‘float-    ruvan nupura gose’ [the sound of the shin-    Debabrata Biswas, whom I have heard              accessible because of the antiquity of the
danced for us at Bishop’s College              ed’ on to the stage from my right with        ing gem encrusted anklets…..]                 only on CD.                                      language but its poetry is unexcelled in
Auditorium ‘prabhu amar priyo amar             such lightness of foot, which raised peals        But at that stage I could only imagine        The costumes were a great treat. I           Sinhala. In shaap mochan a musician in
[my lord, my love]’, an adaptation of          of pleasure in me.                            what they were as the local salamba on        don’t know how better to say it! The             the heavens is cursed by Urvasi, because
Tagore’s ‘shaap mochan [release from a             One of the great charms of kathak is      dancers at healing rituals did not raise      makeup reminded me of sculptures and             he sang off key and the musician is put
curse]’. This was a part of the celebra-       the music of the belts of bells tied to       the music as I imagined from the verses.      paintings of gods and goddesses in               down in among humans with a deformed
tions of the 150th birth anniversary of        make anklets. There are perhaps a score       I hope ICC will oblige to let us hear those   Indian temples. They were painted proba-         face. [Our handsome singers beware!]
Rabindranath Tagore. There was danc-           on each ankle and good dancers make           magical bells all over again.                 bly after seeing similar dancers of old!         His heavenly love is also down here. They
ing, music, both vocal and instrumental,       great music of them. A long time ago, I           Obviously, it would have been far too         The story of ‘shaap mochan’ is a sim-        fall in love with each other. [How, I did
costumes and make up to please the audi-       was invited to see an Indian dancer           costly to bring down all the musicians        ple one that we come across in many cul-         not understand]. The musician dare not
ence to the most. I have neither the           [Hemamali?] present kathak in the                                         .
                                                                                             but I missed them sorely The recording        tures. All of us remember the English            show his face to the betrothed. He sends a
vocabulary nor the idiom to review the         National Theatre of Thailand. She had         they played was very good and the music       story about the frog who becomes a               vina to the wedding and the woman goes
performance but I feel compelled to leave      such perfect control of her leg muscles                                      .
                                                                                             carried the dance admirably They              prince when kissed by a princess. One is         through the rites of marriage imagining
some note of appreciation to the dancers       that she could begin with one bell and go     opened with an esraj which one hears so       also reminded of the Beauty and the              the vina to be the groom. She never sees
themselves and the Indian Cultural             on to ring them all at the same time and      rarely here, although I did hear some stu-    Beast. Kusajataka tells us the same tale         him when they meet. He tells her that he
Centre. I want especially to request the       go the reverse way [anuloma, pratiloma].      dents play at the Saundarya University a      of a disfigured prince who falls in love         will appear in a particular play and the
ICC to invite Bhattarcarya to dance here       It was enthralling and I have gone to see     few years ago. The sitar, sarod and the       with a most beautiful princess and lives         woman recognises the man and the curse
next year, as few probably better him in       kathak ever since to hear that magic.         flute [bansuri] were all played masterful-    in disguise working in her stables just to       is removed. So ends ‘shaap mochan’,
kathak. I had seen the great master Brigu      Bhattacarya excels them all in my memo-             ly to give colour to the dancing. The   be near her. She had run away from him,                         ,
                                                                                                                                                                                            ‘prabhu amar priyo amar [my lord my
Maharaj, [whose pupil, they said               ry and I wish I could see him                       jala on the sitar in the confusion in   although married to him, because his             love]’. Let us see it again, in any case
Bhattacarya was,] several times and once       again and                                            when the woman sees for the first      face so frightened her:                          Bhattacarya.
                                                                                                    time the disfigured face of the            ‘Nabala yakek ma ata gati tadeya’

                                                                                                   Christopher Hitchens.                   ately referred to in the book with their        guilty as all others associated in dispens-
  Lore of the Law                                                                                       A venerated Buddhist monk          salty nicknames,incapable for a contem-         ing justice distorting the system of
  Author: S.L. Gunesekera                                                                          whom SL respected, told me of           porary from another school, whommy              administering justice’[Quote is mine
  Reviewed by GOMIN DAYASRI                                                                         the ‘medicinal oil’SL imbibed in       closest friend in Hultsdorf -SL- imperi-        alone]. Incurable until possibly an iron
                                                                                                    the evenings on his many jour-         ously calls the “Mariyakade College in          clad mythical Chief Justice steps into
                                                                                                     neys to the Wanni, to safeguard       Maradana” to identifythose worthy               the breach- most unlikely in an era
                                                                                                     displaced villagers, wouldalways      chumps.The book should be placed on a           where the executive is in search of the

         ame it, it’s there in plentiful:
         ingredients required to attract                                                             be a distance away from the tem-      pedestal in the college library-it is the       weak and the wavering for their comfort
         contempt of court, breach of                                                                 ple gate where he resided for        buccaneering history of the beach boys          corner.
 parliamentary privileges, libel and                                                                  the night sleeping on a mat:         of the sixties.                                      SL is against granting dates “on per-
 every conceivable wrong known to                                                                      though the right of partaking           His share of heroes and villains are        sonal ground”- forget it chum, some
 mankind. The reputations of the                                                                       was sanctioned (without any         notnecessarilymine.On his victory dais-         lawyers are permanently in a state of
 “repute” and the practices of the “dis-                                                                request) in a secluded corner,     stand Lawyers Aelian Kannangara and             delicate health; susceptible to weird
 repute” are bashed at a level above the                                                                knowing the thirst of a weary      Dr Colvin R de Silva and in the dog-            infections that Rasputin cannot diag-
 navel, graciously, never below the belt.                                                                traveller.                        house lie Sarath Nanda Silva.                   nose, mostly on days when not ready
     None touchedwill dare to become a                                                                        Alwaystolerant of anoth-         Colvin and Sarath were outstanding          with their cases.Poor judges are help-
 daredevil and challenge the contents.                                                                    er’s belief: he valued our       men at law with strengths and weakness-         less; some are helpful.
 Highlighted are features that will com-                                                                  indigenousrichcivilization       es of mortals; Colvin shamelesslyflat-               The criteria for nominating
 prehensively negative any such bizarre                                                                    that made Men- from whom        tered (‘bumming’ in SL’s slang) the             Presidents Counsels which SL states is
 thought- Public Interest, Absence of any                                                                  diverse Gods can learn          Bench to an embarrassing degree unbe-           an unsatisfactory practice: whose frater-
 Ill Will, Justifiably well meaning Jest,                                                                   many lessons. He handles       coming for a man of his stature;                nityexceeds in numbers “too large to fill
 Truth and still more, thesterile name of                                                                   the chapter reverently with-   Sarath,smarter than Colvin, had a ready         a moderately sized passenger train”.
 a sterling Author, tomake such an exer-                                                                    out placing a holder of a      itch for his own upward mobility   .Both        Chuck it mate; let’s not derail the
 cise, totally anti- septic.                                                                                 saintly title of a‘God’ on    craved for public acclaim.                      Hultsdorf Underground with its long
      Care to think otherwise and stepinto                                                                   the reverse side to read.         AelianKannangara was greater than           queue shoving each other wending its
 the ring,sure, “S.L” will make ameal                                                                             His parents together     either,cared and stooped to none,with his       way to the political ticket office. May
 with a grin and grimace.                                                                                     with St.Thomas and           nonchalant cavalier outlook and was             their tribe increase hundredfold and
     Narrative shows a hero-worshiped                                                                         itsmerited pedagogues        naturally a Boys Own magazine hero to           let’swatch in silence the packed classless
 father, former Supreme Court judge -                                                                          made him the fearless       SL’s macho creed.He was not an office           compartments pass with human cargo.
 many lawyers who knew the old man                                                                             “Gunesekera” with true      hunter.                                         The deserving sit upright in a first class
 intimately are of like mind- of a judge                                                                       Thomian blood and grit          In my black book they are dwarfs            carriage.
 who lived with judicial aplomb; which                                                                          unlike those ‘Thoras’      compared to SL. He would not have                    Non-payment of fees, which SL com-

                                                   Lore of the Law
 SL boldly queries of, in his time.                                                                                                                                                        plains of, is never a problem. Answer-
     No longer shocking are thebenefits                                                                                                                                                    decline to go to court on the next day in
 accepted from the State brazenly - shy                                                                                                                                                    the absence of the fees fully settled of
 making on hearing. Does respect offered                                                                                                                                                   previous dues of counsel and more
 begetdisrespect in return?                                                                                                                                                                importantly of your juniors. I decided to
     Santa/Satan visit judicialoffice but                                                                                                                                                  hang my boots after working close to 40
 who else will make acid comments on                                                                                                                                                       years on that simple formula. Clients
 spurious conduct without a trace of fear                                                                                                                                                  from individuals to the largest of corpo-
 but as a detergent to cleanse the temple                                                                                                                                                  rates to foreign bodies have discharged
 of so-called even scales.                                                                                                                                                                                               .
                                                                                                                                                                                           their obligations honorably Just keep to
     In his world, judges are not molly-        tuition’…then drafted this ghastly cari-                                                                                                   your word and the word gets around.
 coddled on cotton wool. He respects            cature of an Act”]                           whose social obligation rested with a few     scripted this book, if personal advance-             He does not forget the members of
 those deserving unlike some prominent              His mother made crosses before           back slaps of mates on an annual pil-         ment were his motive.                           the outstation bars, many better round-
 lawyers who hardly have a good word for        Christian/Catholic/Evangelical pulpits       grimage to a cricket match. St Thomas             Narration of his days as an appoint-        ed in the graces of men and matters and
 retired judges after enriching them with       and then the good lady abandoned them        in its greatness/hollowness, on which         ed MP from the SLFP of Mrs                      in the spread of culture, literature and
 layers of thick butter while in office.        and became a free Christian thinker and      the author elaborates, molds several          Bandaranaike, signing the impeachment           knowledge than those whose names are
 Respect earned bya teacher or judge or         guided with her blessings the progeny        characters of his time true to their prop-    motion, helps to place the record               better known merely because they hail
 policeman-canbe truly gauged on the            on a nationalistic trail. Did she appreci-   er upbringing.                                straight on aspects unknown. The banter         from the metropolis.
 treatment received on retirement. SL           ate the son true to his convictions               Salutations for sturdy Kaloo             in parliament is low key though friendly             The spiciest chapter is in the height
 deservingly dedicates his book to a            becoming an agnostic? A woman with a         Wije(wild escapades including a light-        arrows are thrown with gay abandon to
                                                                                                                                                                                           of his vagabond days, as editor of the
 teacher in his old school.                     vision knows an agnostic is not an apos-     ning charge at Plantain Point): Titillated    make it hilarious more than historic.
                                                                                                                                                                                           outspoken Sinhala daily newspaper,
     Arbitrators are placed on a throne of      tate.                                        by the pranks ofTuttu Abeysekera                  The chapters on colorful personali-
                                                                                                                                                                                           Davasa. Brave and honest media men
 thorns- few errant members are given a             SL is a man without decorations          (screamed “Ado Chief Justice Hooo” at         ties in court are down memory lane
                                                                                                                                                                                           are the boldest among the professionals
 public whipping for the dubious meth-          before or after his name. As revealed in     eyeball level to be outsmarted for his        when sturdy men in black were on
                                                                                                                                                                                           and SL’s presence would have given
 ods employed in the fine art of multiply-      the book, he is no respecter of persons      pluck in the exercise of free expression      parade with distinction.
                                                                                                                                                                                           them added impetus. Would he care to
 ing fees. Vouch for its validity since a       but of principles. Nation owes a grati-      by the quick wit of an acting chief jus-          SL is tookind to his own tribe by not
                                                                                                                                                                                           revert on retiring from the legal profes-
 few of the arbitrators pick fees on dates      tude to parents that produced such a         tice): Genuine warmth to his dear friend      taking the cane in hand with which he
                                                                                                                                                                                           sion to contribute more to the press and
 they never sit to hear the case, being pre-    son. Take a peep into a folk museum to       planter Herman Malinga Guneratne              raps others hard in the mal-practices
                                                                                                                                                                                           give zest tomedia freedom and send a
 viously postponed as agreed.Some               examine the background…. a simple life       (thorn of St Thomas in the eyes of a          associated in the administration of jus-
                                                                                                                                                                                           few shivers down the spines of politi-
 straight and honest in the company of          led by a respected judge and his god fear-   Warden): Embarrassed by Minister G.L.         tice. S.L, a gentle soul (unless ruffled
                                                                                             Peiris (providing nanny service to boy                                                        cians? That chapter should be madecom-
 the ghouls unwittingly disgrace them-          ing/daring wife- conditions under which                                                    and wronged which might make him a
                                                                                             Namal of parental fame): Disgust at           bull terrier) notwithstanding an appear-        pulsory reading for cub journalists.
 selves overcome by temptation.                 landmark judgments were written with                                                                                                            In an age where lawyers print
     Arbitrations in Sri Lanka are the          the aid of an Aladin lampand without a       Ronnie de Mel (other boatman making           ance of a hard exterior, lives a life on a
                                                                                             frequent voyages crisscrossing the floor      ‘machang’ wavelength with his friends           statutes with a few interpolations of
 cesspit of legal forums and an exchequer       telephone.                                                                                                                                 their own and pass them off as ‘books of
 for financial fortunes. SL’s scorns at the         Well versed in the Bible(prize winner    ofParliament?) : those starved gangs of       and family, which he describes vividly A .
                                                                                             food raiders from the college boarding,       simple man if you knew him well.                learned men’, it is rare to read a manu-
 Arbitration Act [“the product … of a           at scripture) his views on God and reli-                                                                                                   script that is truly original and authen-
 group of lawyers who with the blessings        gion under the influence of Bertrand         brings out the best of the authors unex-          In his innocence, wistful of a just
                                                                                             purgated anecdotes.                           society, he suggests many reforms to the        tic. Never before or ever after will you
 of then Minister of Justice G.L… trav-         Russell is in the domain of sardonic wit                                                                                                   pick a book on Hultsdorf, so
 elled to Sweden for ‘private                   but makes no attempt to belittle like a          Many other unforgettable honorable        administration of justice. An idealist at
                                                                                             schoolboys of his vintage are affection-      work forgetting“many lawyers stand as           explosive,electrifying and entertaining.

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