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SUNDAY LEADER

The work at Sunday Leader allowed me to listen to once in a lifetime stories of people and places. The more I recorded the success stories, my attention strayed to the unseen struggles, and the lessons they've overcome to be where they are. This was a fixating point in where I learnt to dig deeper beyond the words, and listen to their body language.

ARTICLES

Clicking on the headline of each article will take you to the external website where the full article is published.

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Aritha Wickramasinghe is a man of many things. He’s an international banking lawyer and the founding trustee of Think Equal, a UN Human Rights Office endorsed education initiative. He was recognised for his initiatives promoting equality and human rights by the Financial Times in 2015 ranking him No. 1 Future Global Business Leader in an outstanding list which included Mark Zuckerberg.  He has advised the British Government on using British business to promote human rights abroad, and has contested British Government to recognise non-gendered persons.  In 2017, Attitude Magazine ranked Aritha as the 15th most eligible bachelor in the world, ahead of well-known celebrities Sam Smith, Adam Lambert, Wentworth Miller and Sir Ian McKellen. In a world where history books are filled with changing the world, Aritha is adding on with history that matter.

From the author who brought you the hilarious (and quite true) The Amazing Racist, and the dark and satisfying Panther, comes another masterpiece. This time, Chhimi Tenduf-La brings us a collection of short stories, collectively named Loyal Stalkers.

Kalpanee Gunawardana, born in Galle and growing up in Colombo, comes from a family of four. Her younger brother is a fashion designer who is making waves with his brand, KASUN. Kalpanee studied at Musaeus College, and then at Stafford International, following which she read law, and as she says, ‘something of a far cry from a fashion model’. As a child, Kalpanee was more into her studies than thinking of ever being in front of the camera, and even grew up in an environment where people picked on her for her physique. However, with an interest that piqued at university and nursed in Sri Lanka, Kalpanee is now one of the most beautiful and intelligent models Sri Lanka has to offer.

The hairstyling skills of Aravinda cannot be simply explained with words; it has to be experienced. That is when you will understand the amount of dedication he pours into your hair, when you fully realise how seriously he takes how you look, and how much passion he has for what he does.

Stefhan Sebastian’s initiative ‘lime plain tea’ is a collection of poetry that could change the world. The idea of people sitting around having their tea, making a difference in the world. A platform such as this which allows your thoughts to be unedited, unguarded, and shared with more than just your tea circle, could be the butterfly effect that we need to see in society today.

Ashwin ‘Phantom’Umasudhan got into gaming at a young age, but he didn’t see the competitive side of it until 2013 when he discovered Mortal Kombat 9 at a gaming café. As a child, he played casually in the arcades and on his old Pentium 4 PC. ‘Back then it was just mashing buttons in Virtua Fighter 2 and zooming across tracks in Need for Speed 2. “Since then, I have dedicated a lot of time towards fighting games whilst trying my best to balance work, studies, and a social life.”

When Joe Santini arrived in Sri Lanka from Colorado to work at a surf and yoga retreat in the South, he thought it was just a temporary gig of three months. However, he never expected to fall in love with the people, the culture, and the landscapes of Sri Lanka. After leaving his work place, he joined the agency srilanka, and was part of the Colombo Fashion Week, which he says is the complete opposite of his life down in Weligama. Since then he has been working as a freelance marketer as well as being a part of continuous fashion shoots. Joe is still based in Galle, and is absolutely in love with Sri Lanka.

Daniel Fernando has always been interested in the marine environment, but his whole life changed when he began scuba diving in the Maldives. At that moment, he made up his mind that the one thing he wanted to do with his life was something marine related, and seeing all the sharks and manta rays during his first few dives, changed his future; ‘… probably helped lead me down the path to focus on these particularity vulnerable species.’

Aishwarya Tennakoon creates beautiful sculptures and make models of pop culture figures that are not seeing in Sri Lanka’s market. Living in Battaramulla, Aishwarya completed his Advanced Levels (Maths) at Ananda College, and has been selected for Architecture at the University of Moratuwa. Considering sculpting and model making to be a hobby, he also enjoys reading books, watching movies, travelling, and archery and swimming.

Dharshan Munidasa, the name that’s responsible for Nihonbashi, Ministry of Crab, The Tuna and The Crab, Alaxandra and Ward Fashion Café, and Kaema Sutra, is a self-taught chef with a significant vision for Sri Lanka in the culinary industry.

Nuwan Gunawardhana, a resident in Internal Medicine in the USA, is currently contemplating his next move. Whether to specialise or stay as an ‘internist’ working in hospital or goin to Primary Care. For now, he’s not too sure which direction he’ll take, but Preventative Medicine (diet, exercise, screenings, vaccinations, etc.) is something he is passionate about, and is hoping he could highlight its importance in Sri Lanka someday.

MICHAEL LEARNS TO ROCK RETURNS TO SRI LANKA

For every 90s kid growing up in Sri Lanka, Michael Learns to Rock was a permanent fixture in our playlist from the first album, Michael Learns to Rock, to the 90s albums such as Colours, Played on Pepper, and Nothing to Lose lulling us late into the night.  There was something about their lyrics in songs such as The Actor, 25 Minutes, Someday, That’s Why (You Go Away), You Took My Heart Away, Breaking My Heart, and Complicated Heart that suited all the young hearts in love those days.

If you look through Tharindu Jayawardena’s Instagram page, you’d see these amazing dishes he garnishes so elegantly. The fusion of colours, and his choice of presentations got our interest to delve a little deeper into his culinary skills.  Tharindu comes with a background in globetrotting, from growing up in the Middle East, studying culinary arts in Switzerland, further studying in Australia in culinary arts and hospitality management to working in Norway at a Norwegian seafood and sushi bar, and cooking his way through Spain, France, and Sweden.

Sonali Rodrigo, tall and beautiful, is a model with the agency sri lanka. She’s also a wedding planner (Wow Beginnings), personal fitness trainer at Fit.lk, and an athlete. Combined with all these, she’s your classic ‘girlboss’ who get things organised, and get going. She is committed to living a life, without limits, and hopes to inspire, touch and change many others, whilst she does so, along the way.

Yathra Jayawardene is taking the fashion industry in Sri Lanka by the storm with her batik designs of unique colour palates and designs. Grand-daughter of Swanee Jayawardene, pioneer of tie-dye in Sri Lanka who invented ‘Explosion Batiks’ and introduced it to the world, she inherited her gift for fashion by her family roots – especially her father. “I grew up around art and design, and that formulated to a deep love for fashion during my teen years. Mainly in creating pieces that I could wear, which in my small way would just be unique to me. My grandmother was a painter and also founded Swanee’s Boutique that specialises in batiks which my dad took over so I was blessed enough to see and hear about things related to art and fashion on a daily basis, which in turn is a huge part of who I am as a person today.”

Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, a science fiction writer, who’s also a junior Big Data Researcher at LIRNEasia, just published his debut novel the Slow Sad Suicide of Rohan Wijeratne, after years of triggering social media users with his blog, Icaruswept as well just judging behaviours of everyone around him. The book, based on one man’s journey to put an end to all things, is available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Nobel, Google Play, and iBooks.

Jaish Parathalingam Jayesingha has always been surrounded by fashion, it’s a part of who she is and is reflected in her daily activities. She knew she loved the beautiful and colourful world of fashion from the get-go. She realised that when her friends or anyone would asked for her input into their fashion choices, she always had a favourable view, and it always worked out well. With all these positive comments and her self-confidence, Jai by Aashkii was born.

In world where makeup is categorised ‘fake’ or ‘plastered’, Viran José Peter is the Universe’s gift to women. With a meticulous talent for reading a face, and creating the perfect look with the correct make up, Viran have transformed the standards of a makeup artist into whole other level. His unique gift of highlighting existing features for an effortless look compared to makeup that makes you look like a different person is why he’s the best makeup artist in Sri Lanka today.

Angelina Hardy, the smart and beautiful model, photographer, and blogger from Ukraine is currently in Sri Lanka immersing in the culture, people, and the island lifestyle. After completing a Diploma in Applied Maths from a leading university in Ukraine, Angelina realised that her dreams lay elsewhere; in arts, photography, and fashion. She moved to Paris in 2014 to work as a photographer, and started on her blogging career quite seriously.

Ashi Wickrama started singing at a very young age. Just under 5 years, she remembers singing with her grandfather. ‘We used to sing nursery rhymes. He used to record me sing in those cassette players which we used to have back in the day.’ Even from her mother’s and father’s side of the family, singing came naturally. ‘We never go by a family gathering without having a good sing along session, so I was guess I grew up with it.’

While many of the younger generation concentrated on how they could excel at existing talents, Anjuli Flamer-Caldera concentrated on creating unique platforms to increase the opportunities available for these creative people of Sri Lanka. With many projects under her wing such as ArtWalk, Colombo Fashion Week, and the agency sri lanka among many others, Anjuli is one of the most respected and powerful young professionals in Sri Lanka. Intelligent, beautiful, and passionate about what she does, Anjuli believes in the talent and skill of the Sri Lankan creative industry, and is working relentlessly to put Sri Lanka on the global map on par with international standards.

Ghefari Dulapandan, one of the greatest swimmers Sri Lanka ever produced, completed his Bachelors in Science and MBA in Colombo, Master of Arts in the UK, and successfully read for his Doctorate in Business Psychology. He’s currently living in England, and working as the Chief Executive Officer at Goldenex Group creating new opportunities, partnerships, and adding value to the company as a strong leader.

Tai Hsin Sheik is seeing around the block with his camera running around promoting events and sharing his knowledge. A few years ago, Tai was a software engineer, working for companies such as MSN Email, Intel, HSBC, Exetel, Eurocenter, and a few others. He worked in the capacity of Business Analyst, Quality Assurance, Technical Writing, and Call Centre Representative. “At the end of the day, none of this made me happy and I was not enjoying what I did. The only thing that made me happy was photography. Then I put two and two together, quite my job, and started photography.”

Michael Ketigian and Ohan Hominis have introduced the concept of Open Brain to Sri Lanka, which simply creates a space for people to express themselves. “We see art as the product of any passion-driven process, and we believe that literally everyone has some process or set of processes that excites their passions” states Michael, speaking of art as the connecting factor among people.

Funky Dirt, a name that has caught the hearts of many around Sri Lanka with their goofy yet lovable hit singles like ‘Ada Apey Thththa’, ‘Bus Eke’, ‘Eka Thamai Meka’, and their new hit, ‘Doppi Nakin’. Each of their songs have a brilliant video that comes with choreographed dance moves that you would definitely try out at home or even in public! The group exploded on to Social Media in 2010 and their music has gone viral since.

Gamer, entrepreneur, husband, friend. Raveen Wijayatilake is the  face known by all the eSports gamers of Sri Lanka. As the founder of Gamer.lk, Raveen works tirelessly to build and unite the Sri Lankan gaming community through awards, competitions throughout the year, and ending the year with Sri Lanka Cyber Games – the one where you get your name into the history books. Not only Raveen, but his wife, Laroshi would be seen at these events, especially during SLCG working alongside her husband. Speaking about Raveen, she describes him as ‘(he) has always tried to do what is right and what is fair by everyone. He’s passionate about the things he does.’, and ‘He’s super funny, always supportive of me. He’s my rock and pillar. He drives me insane at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He completes me.’

Danu Innasithamby, originally from Jaffna, moved to Colombo at quite a young age to escape the chaos of the Sri Lankan Civil War. He moved to Colombo with his mother and sister, and started his career in radio at the age of 16 with Sun FM, Gold FM, and then E FM. He also hosted Planet Pulse on MTV.  There’s not really much of an introduction that can be given to Danu. If you’d looked at any public platform, whether it’s TV, radio, print, or online, Danu is there somewhere… lurking around the corner with his bold statements and fashion sense.  In the recent news,  in addition to all the shows he hosts, radio shows, and newspaper columns, Danu has gathered a following for his Where to Find (WTF) show as well for his online series, Jaffna Boy. He is also the Director Programming at Lite87.

The twenty year old Sahan Perera is not only a talented cosplayer, but he’s a gifted costume maker too. He was introduced the world of cosplaying in 2015 when SLCG went all out on cosplay along with the gaming festival. Since then he was placed first in Games Catergory at Lanka Comicon 2016, and win and was awarded ‘Best Craftmanship’ at Colombo Comicon 2016.

ApiHappi’ is a rising star among Sri Lankan brands, and the crowd is flocking from all over the world to spread its unique designs and vibrant colours. A venture by Aparna and Etosha, ‘ApiHappi’ offers hand loomed string bags, beanbags, and backpacks. You can check out their website on www.apihappi.com, and they’re open to custom orders too!

Vicky Shahjahan is a colourful, vibrant personality who’s full of love, laughter, and smiles. Vicky is a half Indian, half Sri Lankan child of light who lets his light shine onto everything he touches.  Even as a child, Vicky has always been fanatical about art – he remembers as a child, that every time his father took him to a shopping complex, he would run to the stationary section to grab all the coloured pencils and drawing books.

Dilsiri Welikala is one of Sri Lanka’s unique adventure sports persons in Sri Lanka with great love for water sports. Kitesurfing, diving, surfing, kayaking, snorkelling… anything adventurous you could do in water, he’d be the first to try. However, his main love is for one special sport; kitesurfing and Dilsiri are almost synonymous in Sri Lanka. Dilsiri is also Sri Lanka’s first IKO qualified instructor, and also co-owner of Kitesurfing Sri Lanka.

Alain Parizeau, eccentric in nature, interesting in conversation, and wild in personality traits is the Head of the Visual Communications Department at the Academy of Design. Under him, the lives of all the Graphic Design students and Motion Graphic students are formed, moulded, and guided.

The beautiful Kinita Shenoy has taken over social media with her quirky videos of YAMU productions.  As the Editor of YAMU, she is involved with some of the controversial videos they have published. From giving her opinion about the Sri Lankan main airport to reviewing restaurants and food, she is quite direct in her opinions. We caught up with Kinita to find out how she’s coping with all the intricacies of her job description.

The Sri Lanka Cyber Games took place from the 9th to the 11th of December, and for the ninth successive year, Gamer.lk brought out the big guns! Sri Lanka’s biggest gaming festival saw qualifiers pre-SLCG from around Sri Lanka with qualifying rounds taking place in Galle, Kandy, and for the first time in Jaffna!

Vietnam, also known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a communist state that has undergone much devastation. Since 1858, the French have occupied Vietnam, and Vietnamese people have been in war with them. In 1954, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, they got a brief moment of freedom. However, they left creating a power vacuum, and the Americans stepped into ‘save’ them from the ‘evils’ of communism.

Arran Sivarajah is not your typical professional; he lives in the wild. Before you get the wrong idea, he’s not the Sri Lankan Mowgli. Arran was simply interested in the wild since he was a kid, and ended up working with the animals. Talk about dreams coming true. He studied wildlife scientifically from the age of 9, and underwent a life changing course to become a qualified game ranger in South Africa. He worked at a pioneering safari lodge on a private game reserve called Vuyani. He returned to Sri Lanka, his homeland, and did a leopard abundance project in the Horton Plains, and is currently working as managing ranger at Leopard Trails which he has been doing for the last four years. While there is a desire for us to work with wild animals, wake up to the sounds of nature, and to be one with the trees and rivers, we are still swept by the cooperate calling of a city, but here’s Arran, living the life he has always dreamt of in the wilds of Yala.

ASH Smyth, currently residing in England, was a former teacher at the British School in Colombo and the Colombo International School. A writer by trade, he studied Egyptology, followed by Intelligence & International Security.  When he’s not questioning the intricacies of the world, he reads, sings, and has a drink with his friends. When  asked what gets him worked up, he answered ‘Bureaucracy. The pettier the better’, – perhaps his brief time stationed in Afghanistan while serving the British Army has prepared him to take life with a pinch of salt.

Gaming is not limited to the ‘silver spoon’ players.  Whether you were raised with SEGA or whether you still don’t own a PlayStation does not determine the seriousness of your love for gaming.  The rising of Sachitha Harshana, better known as LioN KoLLA is the true definition of a success story. Growing up without any gaming gear, but still working uncompromisingly in the direction of his passion through hardships and obstacles is the inspiration we all need to hear today.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control their muscle movement, which leads to total paralysis and death, usually within two to five years of diagnosis. While 10 percent of ALS is familial, meaning it’s genetic, the other 90 percent of ALS cases are considered sporadic, or without a family history. However, it’s very likely that genetics contribute, directly or indirectly, to a much larger percentage of ALS cases.

Sixteen hard-core fitness enthusiasts going head to head at the foothills of Mt. Rainier in Eatonville, Washington under the guidance of the legend itself, John Cena, and four experienced military personals; it is the one TV series everyone who needs motivation should watch – American Grit.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first two to reach the top of the highest mountain in the world ( in 1953), Mount Everest. Since then, more than 4,000 men and women from 63 nations have reached the summit. Hillary has proved, during a lifetime of generosity and achievement, that he is more than just a hero – he was one of a kind. What does it take to stand on top of the world? Size doesn’t matter when it comes to conquering your dreams and making it a reality. Dreams just don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and determination to make them come true.

There’s been a lot of controversy around the big matches that are been happening between the major schools of Colombo. Weighing the pros and cons, and making some harsh judgement calls on those who participate in these.

This is a small encounter I had with the Deep Web. If you are thinking I got tangled in some spy business and had to sell my organs in the black market, sorry to disappoint you. I didn’t really do much in there. Half of me was curious as finding if the cat is dead or not, and the other half is freaking out that I’ll get a pop up message asking me to kindly stop searching for cat pictures on the dark web… because that’s what I ended up doing.

As Sri Lankans, we have grown accustomed to seeing palm readers, snake charmers and monkey tricksters all around island. While most of us deemed them as doing just a job, in reality these trades derive from a certain nomadic culture. The Ahikuntaka community is very much alive and active, and according to the Dilmah Conservation project, this community has a rich history as well as their own strict customs. As true to their nature, these communities also used to move from village to village. While some of them still do, some of the clans have found settlement on donated land, and by converting to Christianity.

The tenth anniversary of the Stigmata album, ‘Silent Chaos Serpentine’, took place on the 27th of February 2016 at the Colombo City Hotel. In 2006, Suresh De Silve, Tennyson Napoleon, Andrew Obeyesekere, Vije Dhas and Ranil Senarath delivered an album that changed the game for Sri Lankan metal musicians. Ten years later, three of the original members, adding Lakmal Wijayagunarathna and Roshan Taraka Senewiratne, delivered the album in its entirety to a new generation.

After years of wanting to climb the Alagalla mountain and a few months of planning, last weekend I managed to complete the task. Now I have always been quite adventurous. I can climb rocks, jump from waterfalls, swim, dive, hike… you name it, and I’m good at it. This trip though… this insane trip definitely upped my storytelling game for the next 20 years.

The decision to go to Adam’s Peak was popped up a day before it was actually done. A friend who was already going with a bunch of office friends, put the idea across to us to if we would be interested. Having this task on our bucket list, my friend and I were very keen. We set off in the night around 8.30, with some late entrances (yours truly) and ‘pit stops’ at Pizza Hut.

The name Sumithra Rahubadda is synonymous with great Sri Lankan story telling. Her contributions into Sinhala literature, film industry and education have been and still are invaluable.  While the majority of Sinhala novels revolve around the notion of romance, young humour and death, Sumithra Rahubadda delves deeper into society and writes about underlining issues that go unnoticed or are considered taboo.

The 15th installation of TNL Onstage featuring Puddle of Mudd took place on September 26 at Waters Edge and ended with a bit of a controversy surrounding the events and its participants.  The night’s obvious stars were Cosmogyral – Winner (Band), Kamishka – Winner (Solo), Chain – Runner Up (Band) and Tharani – Runner Up (Solo). They have taken Sri Lankan musical talent to new heights and have made certain Sri Lankan voices rang the highest on that night.  Therefore, congratulations, the night was truly yours.

The 24-year-old Aaron Gomes wakes up each day and goes to work… in another country. Not just one other country, but different countries on different days. With the thrill of adventures waiting for him just across the ocean, Aaron works as a flight attendant at a major airline. While we, civilians, deal with trivial things such as oh, let’s say finances, passports and VISA, the 6’1” Peterite not only gets to travel the world all year around, but gets paid to do it as well.

Asitha Jayawardana, at the age of 25, is a Senior Executive at Walkers Tours and handles Inbound Tours & Travels in Tourism, Leisure, and Travel market. Educated at St. Peter’s College, Asitha has already competed PQHRM Professional Qualification in Human Resource Management at Institute of Personal Management. In addition, he has also found time to complete a Diploma in IT from SLITI, a Specialisation in Catering & Hotel Management from SLITHM. Since achieving these qualifications, he has been at Walkers Tours and have grown from Junior Executive to Senior Executive in 5 years.

The young, well-built Hansan Zain started working at the age of 18 at Softlogic, after his studies at CSI College. Currently Hansan, at the age of 25, is the Assistant Manage at a well-known travel agency in Sri Lanka. His work in the sector of outbound travel, which caters to anyone in Sri Lanka to travel to international destinations, keeps him in his toes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A lasting impact of a band depends of many factors; the band members, the performance, the lyrics, the tunes, what they brought to the table or just how they made you feel.  Mass Damnation of Sri Lanka has mixed all these traits into one peculiar metal ball. Consisting of five larger than life musicians and a few songs that have stood the test of time, the band has been gathering a fandom even when they were on hiatus. In 2010, after disbanding Sword of the Spirit, a few of its old members came together to build a band that played their own version of Groove Metal.   Newly founded Mass Damnation took Colombo by the horns and laid out a strong foundation for them to return as a stronger and wilder metal band.

The mark of a true reader is the excitement in the voice and the twinkle of the eyes when speaking of books, and that is just one way you could describe Shani Perera’s love for books. It is an amazing feat when and where she would find the time to even pick up a book to read. Most of her time is spent burning the midnight oil making sure all the ‘bugs’ are exterminated. Contrary to where this thought might lead, she’s not overlooking pest control. With a bachelor’s in Software Engineering, she is currently a Project Coordinator – Client Servicing at Rez Gateway, and is studying for her Master’s in Project Management (Keele University).

The extraordinary Laila Gunesekere-Martenstyn, the Vice President of Grants Group, is recognised for her prestige standing in the world of adverting. With countless successful brands and awards to validate, it is no secret that Laila’s experience and knowledge is a rare gift to the industry.

DELRAY PROJECT - CONTENT WRITER

This is a concise description of your previous work experience and the responsibilities you had. The most effective portfolios give a clear snapshot of where you’re coming from and where you’re going in a way that’s easy for readers to scan and absorb quickly.

Mahela Jayawardene is one of Sri Lanka’s finest and classiest players in present day cricket. Every youngster starting out in the game of cricket wants to be like him or his partner in crime, Kumar Sangakkara. The soft spoken and quite funny former captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team has set a standard when it comes to being one of the best batsmen today in this ‘Gentlemen’s Game’. His thirst for chasing runs and wining matches has always been outstanding and his name is a household name for all cricket fans around the world. Jayawardene made his debut in the record breaking test match in 1997 against India at R.P.S., Colombo and has added 66 to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 952/6, the highest test score ever.

Otara Gunewardene, the founder of ODEL, is an iconic figure in Sri Lanka’s business industry, an inspiration to all women and those who want to make a difference in the world. With a history going back 25 years, ODEL has been catering to the needs of the customer with agility and versatility. As many as 20 stores spread around Sri Lanka, ODEL raising the bar on quality clothing as well as amazing customer service. With the celebrations of the 25th anniversary underway, the shocking news arose that Otara has sold the company and will be leaving ODEL in the capable hands of Softlogic Holdings PLC. After years of associating the brand of ODEL with the inspiring face of Otara, it will be a big change for all in Sri Lanka.

Mahil Goonaratna is one of the few that got away in the world of tourism. In his years at the Ceylon Tourist Board from 1984 to 2006, he worked as the Assistant Director and then as the International Director – Europe overlooking the Sri Lankan tourism section in 11 countries such as Germany, Austria, Poland and many others.

Suresh De Silva, the lead vocalist of Sri Lanka’s heavy metal band Stigmata, is well versed in all kinds of things. Attending any Stigmata gig means hearing him roar his songs as well as sing them as softly as possible. He’ll express the depth of his lyrics with strong gestures of menace, pain and serenity, and then do (unintentional) standup comedy routines between songs – especially if one of the guitarists breaks a string. What you won’t discover on stage his attention to everything that goes around him and the knowledge he absorbs. Until you speak to him personally, you won’t know the extent of his talents of singing, performing on stage, performing in plays and writing. So next time you meet him, have a conversation.
Ask about ‘Game of Thrones’ and especially, ask about his dogs.

Stefan Andre Joachim is one of the kindest and most interesting people you could hope to meet in your life. Wanting to make a difference in Sri Lanka from a very young age, he studied political science and investigative journalism in hopes of creating a pool of ideas to make the country more prominent on the world map. After being exposed to the world of creativity, he has been working under the same idea, but with design. He is one of the co-founders of Design Café, where all kinds of designs meet under one roof and also the co-owner of the elite hair salon, Chagall.

Jeff Fuchs is a name associated with two things that we, as civilians, would find very diverse, but in reality they are in on the same ‘level’.  An obsession with tea and mountaineering is of two different emotional levels for us – soothing and exciting. However, for Jeff, it’s the same rush hunting after the best tea in the planet, climbing mountains, hunting down ancient routes, and of course, writing about it. He was the first westerner to take on the entire 5000kms of the ancient Tea Horse Road from Yunnan, over the Tibetan Plateau and down into India. The exhilarating eight month journey is forever immortalised in his book; ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road: Travels with the Last of the Himalayan Muleteers’.

Puja Srivastava is a whirlwind in Sri Lankan creative industry being involved in the Galle Literary Festival as manager since its inception in 2007 until 2011. She is currently the Project Manager of the Colombo Art Biennale and Manager of Hempel Galleries which has been already established in Dhaka and Hong Kong, and will soon to be in London as well. While working for the Galle Literary Festival, she has not only read the books, but also hung out with great authors, Ashok Ferry, Claire Tomalin , Ian Rankin, Sir Arthur C Clarke, Louis de Bernieres and even with Candance Bushnell (author of Sex and the City). She also has a degree in Law. She loves travelling, cats and her nephew more than anything else in the world.

Born in the wild 70s in Birmingham, Mike Gayle started his conversations with the heart dialogues with his novel, ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’. 
His bestselling books such as Turning Thirty, His n’ Hers, Mr Commitment, Brand New Friend and many others have warmed the hearts of many around the world. He has an amazing gift for digging deep into the hearts of men and women, and bringing out emotions in its raw form.

Randhir Witana is known for his baby faced good looks and a voice that touches hearts all over the world. Running two companies, attending concerts and making music, Randhir is always busy.  Yet his work table always has a book or two lying around that he will read whenever he gets the time. Randhir talks about books, mostly about non-fictions, that made him who he is today.

Chrissy Manby is the author of some of our favourite Chick Lit books such as Girl Meets Ape, Seven Sunny Days, Getting Personal, Lizzie Jordan’s Secret Life and Getting Over Mr Right, among many others.
Even though she has been publishing in magazines since the age of 14, most of them were short stories in the Just Seventeen magazine. After countless contributions and studying Experimental Psychology at Oxford, she moved to London, and with the encouragement and help of David Garnett, she got her first book Inspiration out to the world. Up until then, all her stories were published under pseudo names, and in 1997, she finally published her first book Flatmates under her name.  In 2010, she started publishing under the name ‘Chrissy Manby’ with the novel Getting Over Mr Right and her latest novel, A Proper Family Holiday was out in June.

How did a man with hip hop roots end up performing Sinhala songs to a mass audience? The story begins with a 13 year old catching MC Hammer on TV when there was no MTV, VH1 or the Internet. Baffled by this ‘new’ type of singing and discovering hip hop, he rushed out to a cassette shop and bought a few albums on tape.  At a time when Sri Lankans were not much aware of rap, Randhir Witana spent his childhood listening, memorising and imitating this amazing technique.

TNL Onstage winners (2007), Hollow have gone on to become one of the most recognised and powerful heavy metal acts in this country with a very loyal fan base which continuous to grow. For the past two years, Steven Shera, Khazim Miskin, Aki Pieris, Kasun Nawarathne and Dr Gayan Danthanarayana have made for a solid line-up. Sadly, Steven, front man of the band, had to go overseas to pursue his working career. Stepping up and filling that position is Sohan Ratnaike from Fallen Grace. Lead guitarist Khazim is set to leave the country, forcing the band to go on hiatus. Aki, Khazim and Sohan met up with The Sunday Leader to talk about their journey so far.

 ‘Freedom in the broader sense creates a search of its own. When you start rebelling against some form of a barrier, that barrier becomes the outside the world and you recognise it in a social level.  Then you start thinking about how you want to live. Once you get that going, then you discover you have conditioning inside yourself that are keeping you down. Then you start working on a more interior level looking for freedom and it reflects on how you live. You are looking for freedom from any kind of identification.’