Learning the art of working

It’s normal to go through burnouts. It happens to writers too; ever heard the phrase ‘writer’s block’? That’s when no inspiration hits, and it involves procrastinating. You’re not alone when you feel like all you do is work hard but the payoff doesn’t seem or feel so good either. For the most part, a lot of people feel the same way. However, it’s important to realize that what’s lacking is your approach to your work – you need to work smarter, not harder.

Here are a few tips on how:

– Walk away
Whenever you feel like your workload is too much to bear or too overwhelming to deal with, take a quick break. Don’t just sit there, crowded behind a computer screen and let the feeling of a headache attacking your head get to you. A pile of tasks to complete on a Monday morning isn’t the way anyone wants their day to begin, but it can be done, if you tackle it the right way. Start slowly and by tackling one task at a time. If this continues to overwhelm you, take another break. Its okay to take breaks to refresh and relax your mind in-between getting your work done. Go outside and grab a couple of breaths of fresh air.

– Eliminate distractions
In today’s day and age, it’s easy to fall prey to simple distractions like your phone buzzing with a hundred notifications from the multiple social media apps you’ve downloaded, or the noise around you or even with having a disorganized workspace. If you’ve got some interesting projects and tasks lined up, that need your fullest attention, then it’s about time you eliminate your distractions. Switch your phone to silent mode for a few hours, ask your colleagues to keep it down in a polite manner and get your workspace cleaned up. There’s no harm in having a phone on silent; you can always respond to the notifications when you take a break. Your colleagues need to be supportive of you. And it’s always a good idea to have a clean desk and space so as to not clutter your mind and concentration.

– Create habits
Make habits out of routine things that need to get done and also boost your ability to work smarter. This can differ from industry to industry but the basics are similar. The moment you come in to work in the morning, make sure to check your email and respond to everyone. Task complete! Next, separate what needs to get done right away and what can be done a little later. Thereafter, tackle the immediate tasks. Take your breaks and then come back to finish what’s left to do. Be in the habit of keeping a clean workspace too. Always return missed phone calls. Small habits like these can change the way you work.

– Let someone else do it
Not every one of us would be brave enough to admit it, but sometimes, it’s okay to let someone else do the job if you are unable to. It doesn’t mean you’re any less better than the other person, but its okay to admit defeat when you know you’ve tried. This saves you a lot of time to work on the tasks that you can handle on the other hand.

– Work when you feel motivated
Nobody is going to get any work done by not feeling motivated. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re currently doing, then you need to re-evaluate a few things in your career journey and make a few changes. If you aren’t going into work feeling challenged and motivated, do something about it instead of moping and wading it out for the wrong reasons. You will produce the best of work and your abilities only when you are motivated; don’t ever forget that.

– Spend time outdoors
A change of scenario is always good for the mind and soul. If you’re constantly stuck in an office and around computer screens and people and walls, the occasional break from work and breath of fresh air won’t hurt. How about you take your work outside for an hour or two? It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if it allows you to work better and smarter. You’ll find that your mind is refreshed and re-energized after 15 minutes of being outdoors. Imagine what it can do, if you spent an hour or two.

– Communicate regularly
Always let your colleagues and even boss know what you’re doing. Keep them up to date on the progress of your day to day tasks, just so that they know the effort you put in is an actuality. It’s easy to be overseen in a sea of people, but be informative and keep your boss in the loop. That way, even if something goes wrong, they’d already know you’ve made your best attempt at making things right.
**As published in the Ceylon Today Newspaper**

Advertisements

Maniumpathy

It’s a rather gloomy and rainy Wednesday. I’d thoughts about canceling my scheduled visit, but on a whim, decided against it and stepped out of the house anyways. I’ve a fascination with old houses – properties that have been home to generations of families, and that are over 100 years of age. There’s something about houses that have history attached to it; there’s an inclination of charm and character unlike any other and there’s plenty of stories behind every crevice and brick.  

I explored Maniumpathy that day. The name alone intrigued me. I’m told it is derived from the city that the current owners’ family of this house came from – Manipay (Manipai), Jaffna. It was known to have been the Colombo 7 of the North, although the area had plenty of greenery and fields of paddy. The people were known to have been a dedicated and hard-working lot, which says a lot to be honest as many of them were health practitioners and doctors who came to Colombo on work.  

  


Dr. Savaranamuttu Hallock was one of them. He passed out as a doctor from the University of Aberdeen, after which he joined the Ceylon Medical Service. Since he had to move to Colombo to practice medicine, the property was bought over from its original owner and renovated to suit his family. The house was said to have been built in the year 1868. Technically therefore, the house is over 150 years of age. The front edifice has the year 1906 stamped across it and I’m guessing that was year the Dr. Hallock took over and it became the beautiful homey abode to him and his wife Annapuranie, and their nine children.

It was a stately house, as were plenty of others along the same street, originally known as Harley Street (currently Kynsey Road) and home to many health practitioners much like Dr. Hallock. Colonial attributes were a common feature – the well balanced structure and design of the house, the lush garden around it along with a back terrace, the wide and open front porch leading to the central living space, dining area and of course the personal living areas. Open ventilation and space was a prominent feature, as were minimalistic decorative motifs around the home; pillars that supported the back veranda area, antique furniture with fleur de lis motifs, and the beautifully carved eaves on the edges of the roof.

The house has turned over five generations and has been passed over to the next generation through the hands of the females. I’m quite surprised that this is so but in the most pleasant way possible. Currently, Adrian and Chrysanthie Basnayake are the home owners and eventually it will be passed over to their daughter, Annapuranie Anithra Basnayake.

Today, the home and has once again been painstakingly renovated to its original form with the aid of Architect Chamika de Alwis. It took over five years to complete, as attention to detail was key and it was important to retain much of its original charm and features. It has humbly since been open to visitors and guests alike as a boutique hotel in the heart of the city; Maniumpathy – the name paying homage to Manipay and the word ‘pathy’ means ‘home’ in Tamil.

The rooms at Maniumpathy pays homage to the strong and beautiful women of the family. The grand Master Suite has been named after Annapuranie, the first lady of the house. The other seven rooms are named after Soundhari, Poornam, Cynthia, Ranee, Vasanthi, Chrysanthie and Anithra. The room named after Chrysanthie was in fact originally Dr. Hallock’s clinic at one time.

Apart from the name concocting a connection to the family’s northern origins, there are strong resemblances and other characteristic features throughout Maniumpathy. Open space and ventilation is still a common feature and adds to the cosy and homey aspect of this colonial home. The garden has obviously been narrowed down as the left section gave rise to a new wing with an upper level to house more rooms.

The terrace opens out to a smaller garden space, flanked by the right and left wings, furnished with chairs and table suitable for enjoying a warm cup of coffee and perhaps even breakfast or an evening snack. Dusk, I’m told, brings about a soft and relaxed ambience. Lamps are lit in keeping with the calm and peaceful atmosphere. This area also overlooks a pool and a statue of the deity Nandi. The name stems from the Tamil word that means ‘ to grow’ or ‘to flourish’ and in Sanskrit means joy or happiness. His statue, I believe, therefore has been strategically placed, overlooking the entire edifice in the hopes of bringing about growth and happiness in the best way.

Decorative motifs are very much a prominent and common feature; apart from the additional northern trinkets that have been placed around the house – there’s also the grand ebony dining table that sits magnificently on the right wing, vintage lamps and Bakelite telephones, the bookshelves are well stocked with an array of best reads, and the classic furnishing combined with the white and grey washed walls add much character to this stately home. The Chrysanthie room includes an old stairway which has been restored finely, the two deluxe rooms named after Soundhari and Poornam include Jaffna style open courtyard bathrooms, and there are plenty of old photographs of the entire family placed in antique frames and scattered about Maniumpathy that give it a very homey effect.

I find Maniumpathy to be an oasis in the heart of Colombo; as although it is located on one of the most congested streets of the city, it somehow manages to retain an air of softness and charm. There’s something about it, from the moment you walk in; there’s that telltale aura of simplicity although there’s plenty of history and heritage. There’s comfort in sinking into one of the large couches or even sitting outside overlooking the grass and the pool. Nandi silently watches over.

I’m told that many European painters have stayed at the boutique hotel and chosen to find inspiration in its peaceful atmosphere. Older guests have been known to relate tales of how they used to play in this very house as children.

And the charm of generations that have lived before and Manipay lives on.
–Pictures courtesy Manor House Concepts– 

 

Weekends

View of the private garden from the veranda
Spend the weekend away from the city and for once, I actually feel rejuvenated. My friend and I picked a secluded and private property that housed 12 personal villas. We had not just a room to ourselves, but also our own private garden, terrace and veranda as well. 

Our little veranda – my reading nook

Our stay at Calamansi Cove by Jetwing was of two nights, and on a full board basis. I’d recommend this to anyone who wishes to stay at their property simply because ofthe excellent  service and wonderful meals available via their set menus. Taking to account that everything was inclusive of service charges and taxes, it was well worth the money spent. 

Breakfast spread

The food was simply amazing. Breakfast choices included a continental spread inclusive of a separate plate of freshly baked breads, fruit, and pancakes apart from what you can see in the above image, and a fresh juice of our choice, plus coffee or tea. 

Poolside view

I made it a point to take a dip in the pool on both the days we stayed. The ocean was just a few metres away but the waves were pretty rough so a sea bath was certainly not an option. 

The beautiful Indian Ocean
Fried rice with devilled chicken for lunch
 

Lunch and dinner options on both days were quite extensive as well. My friend and I decided to pick different selections off the menu just so we could try everything. Again, the courses were so good – inclusive of a salad/appetizer, soup, main dish and dessert. 

I spent most of the two days just reading, mindful meditating and with my phone far away as possible. Sometimes, all we need is a getaway to be thankful for the life we have. 

xoxo

The New Sri Lankan House

The New Sri Lankan House

Of course Sri Lanka is a tropical island and hence, houses should be built accordingly, right? The New Sri Lankan House – a book – highlights these aspects and houses built for the tropics. It is written by Robert Powell, of which the essays are by David Robson and photos by Sebastian Posingis. It was launched recently at the Barefoot Gallery and will also be launched on 20 May in London, UK.

In conversation with Powell

“It was around 2013 when the idea of this project came into hold. I’d already written a few similar books on houses in other countries in South East Asia, and it was only a natural choice to also feature Sri Lankan houses in the same manner. The introductory essays were taken over by Robson and I took over writing the rest of the pieces for each house, whilst Posingis took the photographs.”

Robert_Powell
Powell

 

While conversing on the subject of seeing each of these houses to feature, Powell admitted that the trio literary travelled from house to house. “We were given a list at first; this included recommendations for our book by architect C. Anjalendran. We also received a couple of recommendations from the Bawa Trust, architect Channa Daswatte and a few other people I know. As is known, it really isn’t easy to identify houses and those that fit the criteria for this book, and so we looked at the choices laid in front of us and cut the list down further to a total of 25. Once this was sorted out, we simply head off on the road to visit each of them,” he said.

Kadju House
Kadju House

“It took us about a year in all to really put together everything we needed. Going from house to house isn’t as easy as it sounds. I actually put together a map and we worked our way through one by one. It also took us another year to work on the photographs and select what we wanted for the book. I have to admit that the houses featured include that of three completed by foreign architects and the rest by local architects. It also makes it right to feature the work of Geoffrey Bawa first and then move on towards the others. So for those who have a misconception that the book is entirely on the work of Bawa, they are wrong. The book also focuses on many fresh and young architects who are making a name for themselves. There is a link however because some of the featured architects did work with Bawa initially before moving out and practising architecture on their own.”

Thisara Thanapathy
Thisara Thanapathy

“To be quite frank, this is the first book of its kind that includes the names and work of these young architects. Now when I say young, I mean those aged between 30 and 55. They are immerging architects who have their own practices. This book hence creates a lot of awareness and makes these names well known on an international aspect,” he added.

Houses for the tropics

Basically, the criteria for the houses that the team was looking to feature in the book was simple. The houses had to be made for the tropics being on an island. Tropical houses built ideally are surrounded by lushness and have a open sort of aspect to them. They had to be well oriented, must not have chopped down trees in order to create the space, rather it should be that the house were built around the trees. Also there should be little or less use of glass. Now, of course not all the houses fit into all the criteria but meet the idea of being tropical in some way or the other. The book includes house that have been categorized into four – country houses, coastal houses, houses on the edge and city houses.

Amila deMel
Amila deMel

“The New Sri Lankan House is a very special book. I must also mention that the people living in these houses were also very amicable and accommodating. When visiting each of these houses, it was also important for us to be able to see the entire space in all lighting and in all its glory, so it was kind of vital for us to also spend a night; to be able to see the space at dusk and also at morning break. The owners were very hospitable and offered to allow us a night’s stay and it was truly a pleasure. You see, because architecture is not for discussing or talking; one must be able to see it from their own eyes and be able to touch and feel too. We were also very fortunate that the weather was good throughout our journey,” said Powell.

Palinda Kannangara
Palinda Kannangara

What I find most remarkable and a pleasant addition is that Sri Lankan architecture has a connection to the earth. One is always close to the earth. The way that houses are built, you are able to hear the sound of birds chirping in the morning, the lush sway of leaves on trees when a wind blows by and if you’re close to water, the sound of lapping. “So, the connection with ecology is something I find that other houses in other parts of South East Asia does not have. This sensitivity is what makes these houses unique and certainly one of a kind. The people of Sri Lanka are always grounded in this manner, and I also feel that they are all experiencing a new beginning – not with just a new political era but also with this book in terms of it being the first of its kind.”

Channa Daswatte
Channa Daswatte

The New Sri Lankan House is available for sale at the Barefoot Gallery

**As published in the Ceylon Today newspapers**

***Images courtesy Barefoot Gallery and Posingis***

Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest?

I certainly am and I totally love it! I think it’s like the coolest (what’s the word – app?) thing ever to be on and you find the most amazing images and ideas for your day to day life.

IMG_20141124_123835

This what my personal (homepage?) wall looks like and these are some of the boards I pin on. I first got on to finding images on Pinterest because of work. We tend to look for images that would be suitable for work related articles and at the time I was writing a ton of fashion related articles and so this one time I wrote on jewellery. I initially searched on Google for images but somehow came across some that were on Pinterest and was totally blown away by the originality and uniqueness. In a matter of days I had pinned over 500 pins I believe in my ‘It’s All About The B.L.I.N.G.’ board and then got hooked on multiple other images that I pinned onto ‘My Favourite Things’.

I love nail polish and so board – ‘All About Nails’ – followed a week or two later and well, every other board followed suit too from shoes to inspirational quotes, food, drinks, bridal related images, couture, lingerie, bath and body products as well as fashion.

IMG_20141124_123854

I started out sometime early last year and to-date I have over 300 followers, which I think is quite cool considering I pin only specific whatnots and not just about everything I come. I happen to be very picky and choosy. If it’s for the ‘Bath and Body’ board, I look for images that really look good, that are angled well and shot with great lighting and so on, so you can really tell I am picky as to what I choose to pin. It has to be that way in my mind. If it doesn’t look good or appealing to me, then I just would not pin it lol!

My ‘Outfit Inspiration’ board is one of my absolute favourites. These are not necessarily outfits that I myself can wear but outfits that are well put-together and chic at all times. I’ve also got a ‘Desi Inspiration’ board which is for all things desi-fied 😀 I believe that is the board that has the most number of pins.

On my board ‘Destination Wherever’ I’ve also tried to highlight some images I’ve captured myself of my country and of the places I go to. I do not pin on that board as frequently as I think I should however. ‘Bag It’ is another favourite board which includes images of all sorts of bags – clutches, hobos, cross body, satchels and so on.

I don’t follow too many others who pin because it feels like it crowds my homepage a lot, but some of the knows IDs include forever21, Micheal Kors, Victoria’s Secret, NYX Cosmetics, Jimmy Choo and Elie Saab.

IMG_20141124_123919

 

Images on bridals, wedding decor and wedding themes really helped with the planning of my wedding so you can take a look at what inspires me on the board ‘Here Comes The Bride. I do not limit it in any way, so you’ll find everything wedding related in there. Same goes for the ‘Dream House’ board. It’s basically got everything from living room ideas to garden ideas, vanity ideas to bathroom ideas and everything in-between.

What do you like most about Pinterest? Comment below and let me know 🙂

Xoxo

Weekly Snap!

image
Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey Iced Tea

As you all know, I’m a huge tea fan. So here’s presenting my weekly snap – an Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey iced tea. This fabulous beverage is available at the tlounge by Dilmah on Chatham Street as well as Arcade Independence Square.

Xoxo