All posts filed under: Books

The Qur’an

Most people think that Ramadan revolves around food, or the lack of. However the true significance of Ramadan is the Qur’an. While Muslims do fast from sunrise to sunset, everyday for a month, they are also expected to spend time reading the Qur’an and learning from it.  Interestingly, the first word ever revealed from the Qur’an ‘ikra’ means ‘read’ in Arabic Ramadan is linked to the Qur’an. It was in this month that revelation first started to be sent down to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel and continued for 23 years. The Prophet is the last of a line of messengers extending to the beginning of mankind. The Qur’an is a book of guidance and it’s miracle is in that as a religious text, it has been preserved intact in the form it was first revealed over 1400 years ago. Despite Muslims being of many sects, schools of thought, nationalities and ethnicities, the Qur’an is the one binding factor that unites everyone. In my travels and work I have come across the Qur’an …

Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton lives on a houseboat, wrote about cars for a decade, and also has a pilot license. A natural affinity for all vehicles, the tuk tuk or trishaw, was next on her list. During Lelsey’s stay in Colombo, I was given the opportunity of taking her around the city. We went to the Kirulapone canal for her lesson, where a friend of mine owns a tuk tuk.  What with her packed speaking engagements, she didn’t have enough time to master it in a few hours.  So she knows it’s a sign for her to return to Sri Lanka some day (well I think it is). Lesley was here in January on an invitation by the Galle Literary Festival.  She also spoke at many other free events in Colombo. In the week she was in Sri Lanka, she inspired people to take up this same spirit of inquiry and challenge their perceptions of religious iconic figures.  In The First Muslim, she writes about  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the book is considered an acclaimed …

Galle Literary Festival 2016

Last month saw the return of the Galle Literary Festival after an absence of four years. The GLF has always faced a mixed reception from most Sri Lankans. There are number of criticisms levelled at the festival, based on certain misconceptions or assumptions.  I’ve decided to address some of them in this post and discuss what the Lit Fest is really all about. The last GLF was held in 2012, and due to various reasons, from founder Geoffrey Dobb’s ill health, to politics in the country, the event failed to materialize the next few years. This year however, there was a lot of anticipation and GLF 2016 emerged, with new sponsor, the property developer, Fairway Holdings.  It was now officially called ‘Fairway Galle Literary Festival’ and spanned four days with an extensive programme which included writers Amitav Ghosh, Sebastian Faulks, Fiona Shaw, Shehan Karunatilaka, and Mark Tully among other award winning literary personalities. There were also sessions in Kandy and Jaffna, creating access for audiences in those regions. I only attended the festival on two days and saw a mix …

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

In 2003, when the BBC had a poll to decide Britain’s favourite book, His Dark Materials came third after Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice.  I was 14 when I first read the series, and when I re-read  it twelve years later, I found that the book still had the same hold over me. I remember finishing the last page of the trilogy, closing the book and feeling sad and fulfilled at the same time. Sad for the sacrifice the characters make, fulfilled because I had never read an ending that was so complete and so beautiful. His Dark Materials  trilogy is made up the books Northern Lights, Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass. The heart of the series is the story of a boy and girl and how they are destined to save the fate of mankind, in a universe where heaven is in chaos, and the worlds are controlled by sinister dogmatic institutions. The series explores the concepts of parallel worlds, the after-life, science, love and faith. In the books, we meet talking …

You start dying slowly

If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain, If you do not go after a dream, If you do not allow yourself, At least once in your lifetime, To run away from sensible advice… You start dying slowly – Pablo Neruda Saw that poem on a friend’s Facebook wall recently.  Not being sensible seems to be a smart thing to do at this point in my life.