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2004 55 -
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K.S.Sivakumaran's columns!
Pioneer progressive 
writer in Thamil! 

By K.S. Sivakumaran 

K.GaneshOne of the pioneer progressive writers in Thamil was the Lankan  writer, K. Ganesh who passed away on June 5 this year. Born in  1920, he lived in India in the 1930s and developed friendship and  contact with Indian left wing writers like Mulk Raj Anand,  Premchand, K.A. Abbas and the like. He was the first to translate into Thamil the stories of Abbas and  got them published in a popular Thamil weekly 'Kalki'. He also  translated into Thamil Mulk Raja Anand's notable novel 'The  Untouchable'. As his own contributions, he wrote short stories, poems and critical  pieces. He edited 'Bharathi', an influential Thamil magazine in Thamil  in Sri Lanka with the late K. Ramanathan as co-editor. His  spadework towards a leftist slant to writing, with his love for the  humankind and his translations of poems by Luzin, Ho Chi Minh, Barbara, Bulgarian poetry and Russian poetry is noteworthy. 

At a time when people did not think that they were from ethnic groups, Ganesh with Ediriweera Sarahchandra formed the All Ceylon Writers Society in the late 1930s. Do we know that the world renowned Thamil scholar born in the east of Sri Lanka, the late Swami Vipulananda, the first professor in Thamil in the then
University of Ceylon was the President of this Society and the doyen of Sinhala literature, the late Martin Wickramasinghe was its vice president. 

Although, the late K. Ganesh was identified as a Sri Lankan Hill country writer in Thamil in the same way as the late C.V. Veluppillai  was, the former was a pioneer thinker in the whole area of  contemporary Thamil literature, whether it was produced in our country or in Thamil Nadu. 

Only belatedly K. Ganesh's contribution was recognized by local  Thamil progressive writers and he was awarded here in Canada. 

Hill country writers Theliwatte Joseph and Anthony Jeeva were two  people who strove hard to spotlight K. Ganesh's importance. 

The important writer was modest, kind and a patient listener. He  continued to learn from anybody he thought worthy of listening to.  He used to encourage me to write on subjects outside the Thamil circle. When I suggested that he should read Colin Wilson's 'The  Occult', he made a bee-line to the Lake House bookshop and bought  a copy of it almost instantaneously. 

The late K. Ganesh was a relative of another Thamil intellectual from  the Hill Country, the politician, P.P. Devaraj. 

Flying SriLankan! 

Among the four or five airlines I travelled, easily the KLM are  concerned and SriLankan are perhaps the best as far as service,  comfort and courtesy concerned. On the 16th last I flew from  Frankfort to Colombo by SriLankan. 

It was a great relief flying in the country's airline. The kind  hostesses and in fact the whole crew saw to the comfort of each  and everyone without any racial prejudices. I say this because the  plane was full of passengers speaking Thamil. 

They were all returning with their small children to their native land  from Canada to spend their vacation. Being a Wednesday, I was  desperate in reading the Artscope supplement of the Daily News. I  requested the young lady who was attending to passengers to get  me a copy of the paper. 

Amidst all her chores, she repeatedly searched for the supplement,  but of no avail. The circulation department has supplied the  newspaper without the supplement, perhaps thinking that the  Artscope pages would not interest passengers. What a sad idea!. In  fact, this supplement should have been distributed to passengers
coming into our country from all parts of the world to know about its culture and the arts. It was sad that indigenous culture is not respected by our own people who perhaps think only in terms of  foreign culture. 

A SriLankan cuisine in Frankfurt! 

I arrived at the Frankfurt International Airport in the early hours of  June 16 having flown from Cincinnati in Ohio, USA in the evening of  the previous day. The time difference between Sri Lanka and North  America, the Eastern Standard Time is that we are 10 hours ahead. 

In the huge and sprawling German airport, I was amazed to find  'Miris Hothi' with tamarind flavour of spiced chicken and 'rotti' in a   cafeteria, patronized by people from all parts of the world. There were two scholars - women- from Macedonia and Baghdad   enjoying the same dish I enjoyed thoroughly. After having tasted   mild western food for more than two years the hot spicy curry   soaked in fine bread eaten with your bare hands was truly Sri  Lankan style. 

And I washed it with 'plain tea'. The owner of the cafe, incidentally  is a former Sri Lankan from the hill country. He spoke to me in faulty  Thamil and Sinhala, when I asked him whether he was from India. 

A lot of people in the west mistake Sri Lankans as Indians, although  we may belong to the same ethnic groups of India. This man, who  lives in Germany for the past 30 years has Lankan Sinhala and Thamil waitresses and also white and black attendants who speak in  German and English The cafe has a German name. 

The purpose of this column! 

K.S.SThe purpose of this column is two-fold. One is to inform, report and  comment on my own experiences in my life, which form a part of the   Lankan literary and cultural history. Therefore it has a personal   note. It is even a sort of auto-biographical writing. The second is to  inform the uninitiated of what's happening in the local indigenous  languages and in English all over the world. So, it has some useful   purpose, I believe. 

The editor of the Artscope, R.S. Karunaratne, is doing a wonderful  job in presenting varied viewpoints and worthwhile subjects for the   indiscriminate reader in English. 

I had worked with RSK at 'The Island' and I know of his untiring  efforts to keep updated on many matters. 

Because, I write about past memories, some readers might think  that I am in the 80s, but may I say that my biological age is only 67  and I strive hard to be young at heart. 

I am unconventional and do not want to write in academic and  formal style. This was a deliberate decision. The style of many  columnists have undergone several changes in the recent past. So,  please bare with me, dear readers, while I write from Colombo  beginning this week. 

This week's column is relatively short as I am yet to buy a computer   to write my column. Presently I am using the services provided by a  Cyber cafe in Pamankada. 

Readers' opinions are welcome. 

Contact : kssivan316@hotmail.com 

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