M1W4A1: About Me

Prompt: If you have a website, blog or online document – create an “About Me” page or introduction. It should start off by telling people why you’re doing what you’re doing. It should then explain clearly what it is you are doing, and how you will do it.

Response: See this page. I’ve broken it down into my why (my backstory), my how (the creative arts), and my what (my academic and artistic ventures). I’m finding it hard to keep it short, though, so suggestions for edits are much appreciated!

2015 in review

scouts_landing
Scout’s Landing, Angel’s Landing Trail. Zion National Park.

I haven’t had a proper personal blog in a few years, and I’ve felt its absence terribly. In 2012-13, I blogged a great deal for Building Bridges, which often functioned partially as a space to reflect on my own life, not just the project itself, and as a place to unload some of the terrible puns and extraneous detail I’m so fond of. These past couple of years, I’ve jotted down notes on my phone, in Word documents, on scraps of paper, and unpublished blog posts (some of which have been migrated over here). It frustrated me that I didn’t have one place that I could go to capture everything, and I realise in retrospect that I need this kind of space, despite my equal frustration that “everything” is fairly eclectic. So! I’m carving it out for myself now in readiness for 2016. Continue reading

Peace and Conflict Resolution Panel, OYW 2014

Peace and Conflict Resolution Panel, One Young World, Dublin

I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the OPEC Fund for International Development to attend the One Young World Summit in Dublin, and hear how two inspiring gentlemen loyalist Jackie McDonald and republican Sean Murray, who fought on opposite sides during “the Troubles”, are now working towards reconciliation and sustained dialogue in Ireland. This could not be more up my alley. Turns out, there are a lot of us young people working towards the same goal in our respective countries, and we all got the chance to say a few words about what we’d learned during our special breakout session with Jackie, Sean, and others involved in the talks. Below is a clip describing what I found most inspiring.

Building Bridges in ‘The Architect’

Building Bridges is featured in the April issue of The Architect; the theme for the month is walls. It is guest-edited by Anoma Pieris, also a product of MIT’s SMArchS programme. I’m thrilled that she reached out to me, partly because BB is a project that is very dear to me, and partly because I am a fan of her work. Over the past year, she has been incredibly generous with her advice on navigating academia.

You can pick up a copy of The Architect from the SLIA headquarters on Vidya Mawatha, Colombo 7.

More notes on the Southern Expressway

Today Shilpa and I embarked on an 8-hour journey along the Galle Road to get a sense of how businesses are affected by the loss of car traffic to the highway. We drank milk at Monis, ate rolls at Sinharaja bakery, drank thambili on the side of the road. We had a lot of chats with the managers of business large and small, from ones established in 1896 to one that opened two years ago, who generously made time for us and our questions. In short, yes, of course their businesses have lost a lot of customers because of the new highway, but their stories are much more nuanced and rich than that one-liner. Here are real people struggling to make ends meet, and each story is worth telling. They’re funny and sad and generous and hopeful and frustrated and hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I’m writing an article on some of these hidden costs of the highway for MIT’s CoLab, and just this one day’s worth of interviews made me realise that there’s a wealth of information that could potentially be very useful data for when the network of highways expands, especially to Kandy. I’m thinking maybe a summer project?

Notes on the Southern Expressway

I love good public transport, for a number of reasons that are more poetic than practical. It’s not an environmental thing or and economical thing, even though I feel good about myself when I pay only 15 rupees to get from Lunawa to Kollupitiya. Apart from the fact that I would hate to drive myself around (having to concentrate on the road would mean I wouldn’t be able to retreat into my dreamworld, or settle down with a book) I also really enjoy people-watching. I like that funny feeling of having my life momentarily collide with those of my fellow commuters. Sometimes they do interesting things, sometimes they’re extraordinarily nice, and sometimes they are unbelievably crabby, and always there is potential for a Story. This is why even being driven around isn’t quite as fun as taking the train or bus. I’m particularly fond of the train at home, partly because it is so convenient (6 minute walk from my house to the station!), partly because it runs parallel to the sea, and partly because there is no traffic. I also love living in Cambridge, with my $35 monthly pass getting me anywhere by train or bus. The bottom line is that I love public transport, even though my reasons are not based in logic. Continue reading