How did a London born and bred Sri Lankan find herself owning some land on the South Coast – bought just 24 hours before flying back home after a 2 week family holiday? This post is about the owner and how Kalukanda House came to be.
Post written January 2017 :
It is literally something that was never on the radar despite having a deep rooted affinity for Sri Lanka. I was born and bred in the UK (apart from a 3 year stint living out there with grandparents when I was a toddler). I have been incredibly lucky to avoid the hideous conflicts that took place and to re-discover this beautiful country when peace has resumed. A place of my earliest, happiest memories living with my grandparents and being constantly fed chocolate and treats and jumping around on orange boxes with dancing bells on my feet. I am a Londoner through and through but that inner connection has never left me, strangely Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka recognise me as one of their own yet are constantly surprised when I tell them I am actually a Sri Lankan.
So being in the property and design business, it did not take long for the magic to take hold and to impulsively decide to take on a personal project back in the motherland. The “big one” in 2017 is the full gutting and renovation of a colonial house in Sri Lanka – and running it from London. Unfortunately, I don’t speak the language, hate spiders and become sloth like in hot weather. On top of that, native Sri Lankans love building new, shiny, modern structures. I am going to be taking on the renovation of a Dutch colonial property – it’s going to be a tough job – and I will admit to being excited and nervous in equal parts. It’s not easy doing it when you live around the corner from a job, let alone over 5,000 miles away.
Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was a British colony for almost 200 years, before that the Dutch for a similar time and the Portuguese before them. Independent since the late 1960’s, Sri Lanka proudly holds onto huge influences from all these nations – yet she is very much her own country. My Sri Lankan builder just asked me how things are in the UK. I don’t know how things are being reported over there, but they are worried. What touched me most was that he said it isn’t about economic fluctuation because that ebbs and flows, but it’s the connection the Sri Lankans have to the United Kingdom – news of the Scots holding another referendum is really worrying everybody – they think that centuries old link will just wither and die, (I have tried to comfort him on this, I may need to work harder on that).
So whilst we all sit here biting our nails and wondering how our lives will be affected post Brexit, across the world there are others who have never even been to the UK, sitting and doing the same.
With that in mind, I have decided to laugh (nervously) in the face of fear and just jump straight in. This is what life is about – if given an opportunity – don’t hesitate, take it. It may or may not work out, but if it’s something that is really close to your heart then just do it. Well it’s too late for me, I am already in, but I am glad. The Sri Lankans I speak to when I am back there also seem glad – even if I have to practically show them my documents to convince them that I am YES, infact, A Sri Lankan.
Cricket – played on every corner, in every field, everywhere….Sri Lankans are good at cricket for a reason..
Miles and miles and miles of talcum soft golden coastline
The simplest of designs – perhaps all I need is an airbed and some palm trees?
I have decided to share the journey through this blog. From behind a lens, and with less rhetoric than here, I will be looking at being native in two different lands in 2017. I will share the highs, lows, trials and tribulations of going abroad to work in a land that we are historically and emotionally bound to – but that does things very differently. I will also be actively taking my camera out to explore London ….to shake up different perspectives on places and people from all walks of life…because really everybody wants the same things. It takes a little more open minded thinking for us to see that in each other. We should look around more. Connect more. Be present more.
If you see me coming – smile sweetly – I will continue to be a Sri Lankan in London and now also a Londoner in Sri Lanka – depending on which way you look at it….