French House, Unawatuna

The peaceful hidden garden at the French House.

This little getaway was recommended by a friend and so we decided to stay there during the Galle Lit Fest. Driving down the Devalaya Road, you can almost miss the joint ‘cos the entrance is so tiny. It’s actually just a gated alley between a vegan restaurant and someone’s garden, and there’s no where to park at all.

Walk down the narrow passage, though, and it opens up to a walauwwa-style house with a stunning little garden, complete with pond and gazebo. The place is run by a pair of brothers named Guy and David (they’re French, so that’s Gee and Da-veed) with just one young local as a sort of waiter and handyman. Continue reading “French House, Unawatuna”

Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche

Jake Oorloff performs Voicing Silence

Day one of my Galle Literary Festival was long and hot and ended on the balcony of the Rampart Hotel in the Fort (or so I thought). One of the two sessions I’d been to had been excellent, so a 50% hit rate didn’t seem too bad. The gang was ready to head back to Unawatuna and something a bit more hard-hitting than the not-very-cold beer at the Rampart, but my girlfriend had convinced me to stay and watch the theatre performance that was about to start. So OK, I’d rather be at a boring play with her than off on my own, and what the hell, how bad can this performance be? Continue reading “Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche”

Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #1 Bloggers Take Themselves Way Too Seriously

The session Bloggers: Can They be Taken Seriously? was one of the few I attended at the Galle Literary Festival. And it was fucking boring.

I wasn’t involved at all in the festival this year, so I was determined to just relax and go only for events I really was interested in (didn’t happen quite like that, but that’s a different post). I discovered blogs and bloggers only a few years ago when I was interviewed for the now defunct site Moju, and it was a great discovery. I was living in Europe, and Sri Lankan blogs suddenly provided me with a view of Colombo that the newspapers just couldn’t provide. It has been a tempestuous relationship; I’ve had my first novel reviewed on a blog, I’ve been asked to contribute to a couple of blogs, I often get sucked into online brawls that seem to continuously rage across the comments forums in the Sri Lankan blogosphere. I also got asked out quite a bit, once I got back to Colombo, and even had a one night stand on the strength of a comment I made on a blog forum. Blogs have made me angry, they’ve made me think, they’ve made me laugh, and they’ve got me laid. Blogs are to me everything that the blog session at the Galle Lit wasn’t. Stilted, boring, one-sided, and in the end, a waste of time, is not how I would describe the Sri Lankan blogosphere. 

Personally, I feel that the person responsible for organising that session, didn’t really understand the atmosphere and personality of Sri Lankan blogging, best experienced at Kottu, which is a Sri Lankan blog aggregator. The session was held at the hot and stuffy Maritime Museum in the Galle Fort, which is a beautiful building, but not really suited for a vibrant discussion. Putting a bunch of people on a stage and having a moderator and audience might work well traditionally, but blogging isn’t traditional, nor so formal. I think it would have been far more conducive to exchange if the whole operation had been conducted just down the road in the bar of the Fort Hotel, where we could have all sat around drinking, smoking and heckling — as we do every day online. Continue reading “Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #1 Bloggers Take Themselves Way Too Seriously”