“I Do” and Everything That It Entails

Getting married seems a simple thing. Two people who are in love with each other decide to spend the rest of their lives together till death do them apart.

Queue the evil laughter from somewhere above (or below) as the reality of a wedding sets in. Finding the right people to work with, finding a reasonable price, finding what you imagined within a reasonable price, having a million other ideas from every person you speak to added to yours and you look up one day and what you imagined is lost. Relatives to please, friends to not insult, frenemies to insult or not as you choose, (hey we all have them – don’t judge me), traditions to abide to, and the list goes on.

With all these things and more to consider the key to a successful wedding is finding people and individuals who are easy and cool to collaborate with. Who are interested in making your special day exactly that – special.

I have searched, got recommendations, talked to and found exactly those individuals in my wedding planning endeavors. They have been supportive, understanding, excited and accommodating to all our requests and ideas. It was not easy to find them (though some are very popular) and for that reason I want to tell everyone else about each individual & group I am collaborating with for my big day.

Also I wanted to help out my ladies with an honest and realistic look at wedding planning.

The list of individuals/groups I am collaborating with is on my Instagram. But here it is given below as well with links to their pages:

Wedding Dress – @melacheprgirl
Wedding Jewellery – @ruwinijayarathnejewelry
Groom + Groomsmen Suits – Phelimm
Shoes (Mine + Bridesmaids) –@shoesunlimited.lk
Flowers – @shirohanaflowers
Drapery – @drapiez_colombo_weddings
Furniture – @mangalasootra
Cake – @caked_by_amna
Hair and Makeup – @nmstylefolder
Location – La Belle Epoque (Mount Lavinia)
Photography – @cloudattic
Videography – @nativetribefilms
DJ – @dj_shirandias

Hope you stay tuned as the time passes and the wedding draws closer and the realities start really hitting.

Advertisements

Book Review : Naked and Exposed by Nathali Devinka

I attended the A&K Literary Festival recently. The festival opened my eyes to the talent and passion so many people within Sri Lanka have for the written word. Suffice to say I felt right at home.

The day was filled with programs and I made the choice to attend a panel discussion of first time published authors. Best decision I ever made because I learnt a lot, but I also got to discover the book that I am reviewing today : Naked and Exposed.

41556944_317947769012820_7508553146461847552_n

The book is Nathali Devinka’s memoir. A writer and aspiring filmmaker, it is an honest telling of her struggle with her mental illnesses.

“In 2014 I was diagnosed with Schizoprenia, Borderline Personality Disorder and Manic Depression. I don’t want to label it, but it is what it is.”

Thus begins a very open and difficult story telling by an author who is baring her soul to the world. Or shall I say her inner demons.

The book is not a literary masterpiece and she acknowledges this on the first page itself. What it is though, is a courageous telling of the struggles a person with any form of mental illness faces on a daily basis. The writing is not polished, it does not use flowery language and cannot be said to be beautiful in the sense the written word might be in certain circles. However it has a rawness, a realness and a dark beauty that gets her message across and makes one understand her pain and her madness (for a lack of a better word) succinctly.

The book is short, one can read it in one sitting, but it’s message is powerful and relevant! In between the words there are pages with artwork and visuals that add to the telling of the story through its seemingly disjointed and dark messages. However, for me personally, it added to the dark beauty I spoke of before, and got across the message of her chaotic mind more strongly. Thus further helping the reader understand her struggles. The struggles of “Millions and millions suffering silently.”

Her main aim in writing this book is to break the stigma around mental illness and to get people to start talking about it. I think to that end she has achieved her goal as anyone who reads her book, would want to talk about it. Through her honesty, at times brutal honesty of herself and her struggles, she captures the reader and takes them along down the rabbit hole. By diving in, the reader gets a better understanding and sympathises not only with her daily struggles, but also come to admire her strength and courage as well as those of her family and friends. For they are a most important part of the narrative.

Altogether, the greatest strength of this book is that it is NOT perfectly written or DOES NOT stick to age old writing styles etc. Through that it’s honesty, it’s relevance and need are more pronounced and therefore allows its overall goal to be achieved – to break the silence and to start the conversation on this most important topic!

I would recommend this book to anyone who would want to gain an understanding into mental illness. I would also recommend the book to anyone who is struggling with mental illness silently. Take it from me, it makes you feel a lot less alone.

The book is currently not available for sale anywhere. It was launched at the Colombo Book Fair and was available at the A&K Literary Festival (where I got my signed copy). If you want to know more you can get in touch with Nathali on nathalidevinka@gmail.com or you can check her Instagram or Facebook page. She replies to your emails and is a lovely person to talk to.

Get in touch. Find out about this important subject. According to World Health Organisation: “The suicide rate for males is 44.6 per 100,000 population and for females is 16.8 per 100,000 population. Neuropsychiatric disorders are estimated to contribute to 11.5% of the global burden of disease,” 

This is no joke, this is no longer something we can ignore. We need to start talking. We need to start accepting!

 

Review : Culture Colombo

The newest thing is town, this cozy and traditional place is a must try! It opened on the 17th of October and is well placed in Kensington Gardens, Colombo 4. My fiance and I went on the 23rd of October and we loved the place to bits!

Let’s start with the building – exterior and interior of said building. It is based on the old Walawwa style of hill country and manages to capture that beautifully with the styling. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pics of the exterior. The interior is splashes of elegance, colour and coziness that makes you feel right at home. It takes old school class and marries it to modern elegance and the combo is amazing. You can sit inside with the air conditioner or outside in the front (on the Veranda) or the back which gives you a view of the kitchen. We initially say on the Veranda but moved to the back near the kitchen as the lighting here was a lot more personal. More suitable for a nice romantic evening.

Let’s talk about the service next. This is the key thing that makes a success story of any such venture! And Culture Colombo gets it right! From the moment you step inside you are given individual, patient attention that really makes you feel absolutely welcomed. This continued throughout the evening with us being asked if everything is to our liking and whether we want anything else and honestly we felt like royalty. We were there quite early, but even as the night progressed and tables filled up, the level of quality on the service did not drop! There was not a moment where we had to wait to get someone’s attention and that was so refreshing!

Onto the food! The menu has a lovely intro, which for me was a nice addition as it gives you a history so to speak. Plus I love reading and I love to know the story behind things so loved this!

IMG-20181026-WA0021

There are so many traditional Sri Lankan dishes and I am definitely going back to try them all!

We went with the Tasting Basket for the first visit. This is a combo of different types of Sri Lankan foods and includes, hoppers (plain and egg), string hoppers (red and white), pittu (also red and white), kotthu, egg rotti, and accompaniments of chicken curry, katta sambol, pol sambol and seeni sambol. We requested for an extra dish of fish curry and we got that added on too. And this comes with a homemade Ginger beer shooter which is heavenly!

To say we loved it would be an understatement! We were in food heaven! You know the food is really good when I can finish the meal without asking for assistance from my other half! And I finished my portion of this feast quite happily! Of course I was in a food coma after. But we still went ahead and ordered dessert too. What can we say? Dessert is King.

The dessert was just as good! Especially the wattalapam which was perfect! Just simply perfect!

Overall I would give this place 5 Stars! Highly recommended and I hope they keep up the quality of service, place and food! I will definitely be going several times over! Next thing to try will be the Bamboo Biriyani, which is another fast moving favourite of the crowd.

Mostly though I will be going when I want a traditional Sri Lankan meal in all it’s splendor! Let me tell you our food is amazing and Culture Colombo really highlights and promotes that. I am quite proud to be Sri Lankan and I love that they are too!

Facebook

Instagram

Weddings – The Beauty & Sacredness

I am getting married next year. Wedding planning is fully underway, but before I had even begun I heard about the Bridezillas, the expenses, the struggles and the arguments that were part and parcel of a wedding. That fairy tale dream you have as a kid it seems, is not a fairy tale at all.

To some degree all of the above has been true. I have been having Bridezilla moments. The expense is mind-blowing. The struggles and arguments are very real.

Last night though after another brain melting episode of getting frustrated, I sat down to plan out the Blessing ceremony. I think a little background is needed at this juncture. I am a multi-cultural Christian, while my husband to be is a Sri Lankan, Hindu Tamil. The majority of you probably have no idea what I am talking about. In short it’s different cultures, different religions and we are two opposites anyway (think Ying and Yang here). There are two ceremonies, one, a traditional Hindu Tamil and the other a Blessing ceremony as mentioned before.

Back to the story at hand; as I sat down to plan out the Blessing ceremony, a calmness settled over me. I chose the hymns to be used, I chose the readings, I typed out the vows and blessings and it hit me. I am getting married. I am going to bind myself to one person for the rest of my life and promise to love and cherish him for as long as I live and I am doing it with complete trust and belief that he will do the same.

We live in a world where complete trust and surrender are not a normal thing anymore. We are suspicious of our neighbours, our co-workers, even our friends. We think no one is for us, that we can only depend on ourselves and that people will always let us down. It’s a mindset that has grown and that spreads everyday with the intolerance, the hate, the shading, the taking sides.

Still there are marriages. People choose to get married and make vows before God, before friends and family and they get the government involved too.  That gives me hope. That shows that deep down we still believe in the better things, the positive things, we still have hope. We are capable of going against the flow and trusting and believing!

Weddings, marriage, it is a reminder of the best in life, a reminder to us of tolerance, of love and care, of community, of hope, of complete surrender and complete trust. It is a sacred thing that still remains, in spite of how dark the world seems to be turning. So when you take away the planning hassle and the expenses what you are left with is an age old ceremony of beauty.

I personally cannot wait for the day.

 

Heartbreak is not the end…

Heartbreak isn’t anything new for anyone who has lived long enough. I started off a lot younger than most and life has been filled with it ever since.

My whole life what I wanted was normality, acceptance and to be loved unconditionally. I always felt I was lacking in almost every way. Having to struggle with poverty, to not have security in life or hope for a future makes you feel small and insignificant. The world doesn’t look kindly on those of us who have been at these places. I got through all that. I overcame all of it and I am at a place I never dared to hope to be when I was younger. I proved to myself that I could be so much more than my circumstances dictate and I can achieve so much. I got through everything because of my mum. Who never gave up, who always fought no matter how difficult things were and I learned to be tough and I learned to never give up, to always be heard and to always be my best version. Her sacrifices to get me to where I am isn’t something I take lightly, not something I can forget. What she wants for me is the best and all her sacrifices gives me the strength to walk away from what is less than the best.

A mother’s love won’t lead you astray. It is the only love that will never hurt you or turn on you. It is the love that gives you the strength to find yourself in the dark and to fight for yourself. It reminds you of your worth when you have forgotten. It is the closest earthly representation of God’s love.

When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
And it all began with You
When love broke thru
And it all began with You
When love broke thru
I did all that I could to undo me
But You loved me enough to pursue me
Yeah, You drew me out of the shadows
Made me believe that I mattered, to You

Heartbreak

If you knew anything about me, we wouldn’t be here now. If you understood me at all we wouldn’t be here now. If you listened to my heartbeat, we wouldn’t be here now. If you heard the unspoken pain, we wouldn’t be here now.

But here we are. Torn apart. Me feeling alone once again. Once again made to feel like I am less because the person I gave my all to never saw me for who I am. Never understood that the walls I built were for him to break down. The pain I dressed myself in was for him to ease me out of. The fears that haunted me were his to drive away. The shattered pieces of the little girl was for him to put together.

I wanted a Knight and I got a heartbreak in the guise of one. I wanted a hero and all I got was a villain who has now shattered me to even more pieces. Who has brought the ghosts of regret to haunt me as well. Who has clothed me in humiliation too. Who has turned my heart to stone cause I let him in without a thought.

Love will destroy you as much as build you. Be careful who you love, and who you let love you.

Review : Cheers Pub – Cinnamon Grand

So my fiancé has been on my case about writing a review on The Cheers Pub at Cinnamon Grand. Finally decided to do it as I find myself with some time in my hands.

I have been to The Cheers Pub on several occasions and never once did I not like it!

Let’s start with the atmosphere. Cheers capture the pub atmosphere amazingly well while maintaining a sense of class and style. If you want to lose yourself in the haze of smoke, drinks and sports you can sit in the bar area, in the high comfortable stools or lounge on the seats looking out or sit around a table, while sipping your drinks and enjoy your surroundings and have a friendly and carefree chat with your mates. If on the other hand you want to spend some relaxing time with family and have young ones around then the outer area with the comfy seating and calmer surroundings are the place for you. It helps that the children’s play area is nearby too. The service is good, with friendly and helpful servers. On busy days though it is a bit slow and you might have to wait a bit. The atmosphere though makes up for that, unless and of course you really don’t like waiting.

Moving onto the food and drinks – Pub food for me has to be the kind of food that complements well with whatever you choose to drink, be it beer, wine, cocktails or even mocktails. May I say Cheers gets it right! Their food complements the drinks and maintains the pub feel while being amazingly tasty.

The mouth-watering pic of the mixed grill, as a picture is worth a thousand words.

It tastes as great as it looks! I am usually not a big eater but I finished this off in no time and enjoyed every bite. The chips were on point. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. The egg, sausages, bacon and pork were cooked well and the flavouring was good as well. The beef was a bit dry and could have been juicier but other than that, this was a tasty meal and would go really well with a few beers.

Another time I was there I tried the fish and chips (below). May I say the portions are pretty big. I am a small person and as mentioned before, am not prone to eat a lot, but something about Cheers food really makes me whack the meals in no time. Again the chips were on point. The fish was alright. I personally felt the batter was a bit on the oily side and maybe it’s meant to be that way, but I am not a big fan of it. The green pea salad on the side wasn’t my favourite thing in the world.

My favourite thing at Cheers which nowhere else that I have gone gets right is the Mock Margarita. This is the best in Sri Lanka I am convinced! On days where you don’t want alcohol, yes those days exist this is the best alternative. I love this so much that I am prone to want to go to Cheers just to get one of these. The lime, lemon and salt mix is just right and gives you such a nice feeling of freshness and taste that you are in mocktail heaven! I would recommend this to anyone! The cocktails are also good and I have had quite a few of them and being quite satisfied.

Overall I love going to Cheers. The prices are a bit on the high side but this is one place to unwind with a drink and good food and relax your tired self after a tough day or week. The atmosphere, the food, the drinks, the service, everything complements each other well and you won’t leave disappointed! Overall I would rate the place 4/5.

Knowing All The Answers…Necessary?

I like to know all the answers. From when I can remember, I have always wondered how things work, why they are the way they are and I always wanted to find the answers for myself! Asking anyone was not an option in my young mind. I vividly remember, I scolded myself for even entertaining the thought to ask someone. Of course, once I found the answer I never really did anything with it. I was a thinker, not a doer. That job fell to my younger sisters.

As I grew older, my interest on how things worked got replaced by my interest on how people work – why they behave the way they do, what makes them do the things they do, what thoughts run through their minds, what secret joys or pains affected their very existence. I know, I sound like a really old something, professor, philosopher…Maybe someone from ancient Greece wearing a chiton, sitting at a street corner, stroking their beard and contemplating the mysteries that are human beings! I was a teenager, mostly in jeans, with fanciful ideas of life and love and plenty of free, alone time in hand! And, as for those of you wondering, I do not have a beard!

I needed to know the answers, sometimes this was to my detriment as I tended to ask questions that would be considered invasive, thoughtless or even plain rude. I wanted to understand. Actually I needed to understand. Why I “needed” to understand is a mystery I am yet to unravel. Honestly speaking I think I had too much free time, read too much Sherlock Holmes and liked losing myself in my head. If I had to defend the losing myself in my head part, I’d say it was a lot safer and organized compared to the “outside”!

The question stated above is what my brain is currently analyzing. Don’t I make myself sound like a computer? Does knowing all the answers really make life better or does it make it worse? Is ignorance bliss?

I have through my need to know discovered truths I sometimes think I would have been happier not knowing. My fiance recently asked me what good the truth is and knowing it if at the end of the day it causes more harm than good. My response was, ‘Truth surpasses lies and better to know than be ignorant.’ The funny thing is I know how harmful and damaging the truth can be. I have experienced it and have scars to show for it. However, I still believe knowing and understanding is a much better prospect than being ignorant and believing lies. Maybe I am foolish, maybe I am brave. What I do know is that I value knowledge enough to withstand the pain it brings.

An Out of City Experience

This was written a long time ago, a few years ago actually and I never published it. Decided to now as it is a walk down memory lane as well as a much-needed reminder. It was about a trip  I went on with my office colleagues. 

Image result for lakshapana waterfall

The trip was a two day getaway from the city of Colombo. Don’t get me wrong, I like the city. I like the buzz and hub of it all, but at heart, I am a nature girl. I love trees, I love being able to see the stars in an expansive sky with no skyscrapers to block my view. I love fresh air and the feeling of feeling small in the world. There is a big difference I think between feeling small in a crowded city and feeling small in the face of the natural world. One makes you feel unimportant, the other gives you perspective.

Our first stop was the Lakshapana waterfall. I had no idea where we were going, to be honest. I just knew we were going to visit a waterfall.

The road trip there was on a bus. For a girl who loves travelling this was an adventure at it’s best because well I have never been on a long trip on a bus like this. Funny thing, I didn’t feel an ounce of nervousness. I was all excited and couldn’t wait to get on the road. On the way, of course, there was singing, jokes, shouting, silly arguing, and me, being me, I just sat on the sidelines and watched. I really wish I could be more participating at times like that but I just can’t it seems.

On arriving in the vicinity of the waterfall we had to walk a little to actually get to Lakshapana. The walk on the mountain road was refreshing and made me feel alive after so long. After the road, it was a downward trip on uneven steps that really was tiring but I wanted to get to the waterfall first and so I made it down them pretty quickly and got there with another friend before anyone else. Then to actually get even closer to the waterfall cause hey, I am a daredevil at heart (a risk-assessing one), I climbed, jumped, scrambled up a whole bunch of rocks by myself and, okay, I was given a hand once, I made it to as close as you can get without actually swimming to the waterfall. That was a life inspiring moment. To stand there with the sound of crashing water, to feel the wind rip through your hair and the spray of water on your skin, I totally understood why people scream in those moments. There is no other way to express your awe and wonderment. Keeping silent doesn’t do it justice! So I screamed! I put my hands out to the side, closed my eyes and screamed with awe, wonder and joy!

Everyone else made it to that point eventually, some of the guys had already gotten there, and we all either sat or lay on the rocks and for the first time since coming here I felt like myself again. With my feet serving as a headrest, surrounded by friends, these awesome individuals so different from each other but united in that moment by the single experience of seeing a waterfall up close, I, felt whole again. The last two years had been such a train wreck that I really was shattered like a mirror, but that one moment, somehow, managed to start to pull all the pieces of me back together.

The trip was fun, it was an experience, but it was a much-needed turning point in my life. It reminded me of who I was. It reminded me that my best qualities were still in there somewhere, lost deep in the junk that is the disappointment and hurt and hopelessness and fear. I got reminded that I was a survivor, but more importantly a fighter. Someone who has had to face tough situations her entire life but who never gave up hope that things would get better; that everything happens for a reason. It also taught me that my life was completely in my hands. I decide where it is heading, who stays in it, who goes out. I do not have to be led; I can lead my own life!