There’s plenty I keep to myself
Many things I don’t tell you or share
They are my thoughts
And my worries
There’s plenty I keep to myself
Many things I don’t tell you or share
They are my thoughts
And my worries
Am I happy to be back home?
Clearly, there’s some flaw to that question.
I don’t have quite the right answer, I’m afraid.
I don’t know.
It doesn’t feel like happiness.
It rather feels like a calm sense of comfort in knowing I am surrounded by familiarity.
In any way, what do I have to come back to?
I’ve left half my family at the other end of the world.
I’ve only a handful of close friends, who have lives and ordeals of their own.
I’ve nothing fixed or permanent in terms of a job.
So, what do I have to come back to?
Does that answer your question, of my happiness in returning home?
‘Getting by’ can be a daily struggle. Most of us on this island struggle to get by on an everyday basis. What’s the struggle really? What’s causing it? Is there anything that can be done to avoid or ease it?
The struggle, no matter what the situation, no matter who the individual, is real. The struggle to live; a content and a comfortable life. Take a look around you – from the man who comes to the door every Monday to pick up the garbage to the employee sitting at her office desk waiting for the next paycheck, are dealing with difficulties every single day of their lives. Money; as we know is hard to come by and yet, spent easily.
It isn’t really about bad management. Us Sri Lankans don’t just waste away our money. Okay, maybe a few of us do. Rather on the wider scale of things, it’s the cost of necessities and the laws of this country that are taking it away as it comes. Atop every necessity required, there’s a tax imposed. Atop savings, there’s yet another tax.
Chairman and Founder of Ceylon Solutions, Marion Mariathasan immigrated to Kansas at the age of 9. He may not have spent most of his years in Sri Lanka, but maintains a close connection as the company’s development team overlooked and managed by CEO Sanjeeva Wijaya, is based here. “I’m very much a Sri Lankan at heart, and I understand there are struggles faced by the middle-class in my motherland. There are core fundamentals, ethics and values in order to develop a successful company. At the root of such a company, lies the hardworking employees. If we don’t give in to the notion of keeping them happy, supporting their ideas and investing in their well-being, then what’s the point?”
“I’ve come to understand that my most valuable experiences over the years have come from traveling, and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with. I’ve learned that humility and kindness are virtues I admire the most, and that no matter the level of education, wealth, power and status, everyone is equal. The depreciating rupee value has made me understand that this creates tough living conditions for our local team based in Sri Lanka. Which is why, as a company, we agreed to increase everyone’s salary from the month of November, 2018,” said Marion.
As the cost of living rises, the daily struggles continue. How much is a 1,000 rupee note worth today? If you step outside your home, is it enough to get by? If you aren’t someone who takes public transport, getting from one place to another will cost you more than a couple of rupees. Your three meals will cost you a few more. There are bills to pay. Rent to settle. Taxes that eat away at your bank balance. Children’s education. Personal expenses. The list goes on.
We fail to understand the notion and similarities of every living human. We fail to understand that along with the rise of the cost of living, a stagnant salary isn’t going to suffice. “As a company, we want our employees to have a work environment that is healthy and uplifting; a life that is just so too. An unchanged salary hereon, isn’t going to make the cut when people struggle to make ends meet. We want our employees to live a happy and content life and in order to do that they must also be happy in their workplace. The most important thing is to help one another, give back to the community and this is certainly one way of doing it,” he added.
Marion and I further discussed how passionate and career-driven Sri Lankans can be, and yet why they continue to struggle and get by in life. “People don’t have an incentive to work harder, to be better and to come up with better or new ideas. There’s a hierarchy when it comes to a working environment – something that does not exist within our company. Creating different levels of standards means a junior employee is afraid to voice his or her opinion and is most often simply told what to do, instead of being allowed to grow and express him or herself. We mustn’t restrict our employees this way; we should be encouraging them to speak out, to voice their thoughts and opinions. Myself along with Sanjeeva and the rest of the team believe we should be making them feel valued and important instead of the other way round.”
Most often, businesses and companies tend to fail, have employee containment and job satisfaction issues due to these very reasons. Ceylon Solutions on the other hand believe in putting their employees first – allowing them to feel valued and thereby creating a healthy work environment. Billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson once said “look after your staff first, the rest will follow” and by all means, this rings true.
It’s about time there was a change in attitudes. A change to support one another, not just as employees of a company but as individuals. A change that allows growth, encourages stability, and also brings about a deeper sense of understanding one another. I find that what is most lacking throughout the struggles that we face every single day is empathy. If we have empathy towards one another, then we’d understand one another, and we’d support one another and grow together. Marion and his team at Ceylon Solutions provide a fine example of what empathy can embody and how it can change the lives of the people of our island. Perhaps their actions would someday drive others to do the same.
Ceylon Solutions was founded in 2005 and is based in Denver, with offices in New York City, Dallas as well as Sri Lanka. It is a software development company committed to delivering high-quality development services. Based on each client’s specific needs, the company handpicks a personalized development team of experienced coders and engineers in Sri Lanka, while still operating under US law.
I met up with a colleague from an ex-work place about four months ago. We talked about how different our lives are from what it used to be just five years ago and where our careers have led us today. After an hour or so, she looked at me intently and asked me “so what’s your plan?” to which I simply stared back. I had a million thoughts running through my head though – what plan, should I have a plan, is it bad that I don’t, what does it mean if I don’t have a plan, should I make up one right now just for the heck of it. I couldn’t think of any one thing that would suffice and instead, I replied with a big fat “no”.
I didn’t think about it much for the next couple of days until two weeks later, yet another person asked me the same question. Once again, I responded with a “no” but this time, I felt a tad concerned about what I had just said. Why didn’t I have a plan? If people are going to ask me about it, perhaps I should? And what does it say about me if I don’t?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the question actually posed was “what can I do with my time that’s important and make it fulfilling?”
Finding an answer to this question is a far better one to tackle than the previous one which honestly made me feel like an idiot. I don’t have to sit on my bed contemplating the significance and importance of my life; instead all I have to do is find out what feels important to me, and what makes me happy. And this is exactly what you should find out for yourself too.
You see, because life isn’t about what everyone is posting on social media or what I had for my last meal, or the last time I watched a dumb television series or went to work and felt a bit undervalued. A purposeful life is about the moments that make you forget about the bad things, and instead make you feel like you’ve not lost much time. It fills your hours and days with gratitude for the life you breathe.
I understand that sometimes differentiating work and life isn’t possible. Your passion and drive towards the career you’ve built and are building make it hard to separate and that’s okay. Rather, come to an understanding that they both go hand in hand. This way, every working moment is also fulfilling and will bring you joy. I look at millennials who are a couple of years younger to me and have realized that they tend to blur the line between work and life and strike a balance. Instead of compromising on one, they make sure both complement one another and view it quite holistically.
It is imperative that you spend your time wisely; however, sitting at home, doing nothing every now and then is not such a bad thing either. For many of us, old fashioned complacency can be disastrous; we fall into a routine that serves no purpose, we distract ourselves and end up doing absolutely nothing. I’ve told myself that I want my life input to reflect on my life’s output. As much as I like working hard to receive that paycheck at the end of the month, I also will ensure I put it to good use (add a quarter every month to my savings and spend some of it on traveling and seeing my country). These ideals can change from one person to another, and that’s perfectly alright as long as you find opportunities to be engaged by the challenges that come your way, and you continue to be engaged and energized.
I think I initially panicked because I had forgotten how much of an impact the choices I make in life can have on not just myself, but also the people around me. Know what you value because this will help you understand what’s important to you and how it makes you feel.
Conjuring moments of you and I;
A favourite pastime of mine
Yet, what I long to be true
I’ll never have what’s ideal
Or know what could have been.
Yet, what I long to be true
When I am with you
It’s like nothing else in the world matters.
It’s just us, you and I.
When I am not with you
The world envelopes me
Keeps me away from reaching out to you
There are walls between us I cannot climb
And it’s not just us anymore.
It’s the universe and you.
And it’s just me.
What comes to mind when you read the words ‘healthy habits’? Healthier food habits? Exercising? Getting rid off excess junk from your home? Lifestyle changes? Whatever it may be, you’re on the right track; healthy habits could be anything related to your life, no matter how old you may be.
You obviously want to begin your day on a good note and I find that getting a good night’s rest really helps. It doesn’t necessarily mean eight or over eight hours of solid sleep. Sleep patterns and hours can vary depending on your age and lifestyle but if you can try to count in at least five hours of good sleep, you’re good to go. Also, it helps to keep thinking out loud of how good a rest you had to make your body and mind believe that you actually did. Create a night and morning routine that works for you and will help you achieve this. Having a relaxed hour or so before bed, and waking up to a routine the next day are great habits to adopt as you go.
I don’t do this enough but remind yourself to continuously hydrate your body. 70% of our bodies hold water and are in need of liquids; if we don’t feed it what it needs, your body is going to feel dehydrated, lack energy and eventually not function as it should. You may have read multiple articles on how you should drink eight to ten glasses of water a day, but then again this varies too. Simply, drink as much as you can; I find that a large mug every morning, before a meal, after a meal, in between snacks, and a final one before bed is the best way I can adopt this healthy habit.
It’s important that you feed your body good food and by that I mean, the right amount of nutrients and vitamins it requires. Adopting a strict clean diet without giving yourself the opportunity to indulge on a treat every now and then isn’t the way to live life. You’re going to go through your daily routine unhappily depriving yourself, when you simply plan your meals around giving in to a treat or two. Exercise is another way you can take care of your body; whether it’s a sport you enjoy, walking, running or yoga, choose one that you enjoy and can see yourself adopting into your lifestyle. You don’t have to stick to doing it every single day of the week. Instead, twice or thrice a week is good enough.
As much as it is important to feed and nourish your body, you should be doing the same for your mind. We can tend to get caught up in the fast-paced world that we live in, with technology taking over every step of our lives. What I’d recommend is to escape from all that rush every now and then, and clear and refresh your mind. Whether it’s keeping aside your phone and other gadgets for a couple of hours a day, taking a vacation, meditating or even speaking with a therapist, choose what works and helps you.
Surrounding yourself with the people and things that you love and enjoy is another great habit you should adopt. Ever have toxic people that suck the life and energy out of you? I’ve had a few negative souls that I had to cut ties with and in all honesty, having a small circle of very close, and truly understanding compassionate friends is way better than having a hundred that make me feel all things negative and add weight to my shoulders. I also love books, so I make it a point to read one at least once a month (I aim for two).
Life is only as complicated as you make it seem. Have positive thoughts and a positive mind, let it out into the universe, and it will come back to you in great ways. If you believe in karma, then you’d understand exactly what I’m saying. Do good things, be a good person, have good thoughts and it’ll come back to you in exactly those forms. Put a smile on that face and face the day in a positive and healthier manner. It’s not rocket science; good luck!
Breakfast is all important fare if you’re Sri Lankan. We take our first meal of the day very seriously and if it isn’t fulfilling, the meals of the rest of the day are going to amount to nothing. In terms of the number of restaurants and cafes swarming the city, Colombo has plenty of options to offer but when it comes to a hearty morning meal that tastes as good as it looks and is priced just right, places are hard to find.
Rare at Residence may have reputation for fine-dining fare with equally fine prices, they’re very quickly becoming the rave for their newest breakfast menu. Keeping in mind the importance of quality over quantity and price, none of the listings are priced over Rs. 900 and include some breakfast choices you definitely won’t find elsewhere.
Creating the menu definitely took its course of time as the team behind the restaurant and management wanted to ensure they got each item of the menu just right. Whether it’s the eggs Benedict or the house-made granola, they’ve harnessed the dishes down to the tee with exceptional flavour, precise technique and great quality.
A morning cuppa joe is important and the menu consists of both hot and cold drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, teas, smoothies and milkshakes. Their Baker’s Corner includes house-made baked goodies; croissants, muffins and doughnuts. To kick off the tasting experience, we placed an order of the hot latte with baileys and hot chocolate, and a plate of the muffins and croissants.
As someone who loves the typical chocolate muffin, I thought it was only fair that I’d try the pineapple and cinnamon one as well as the wild berries muffin. The fruitiness of the pineapple thankfully wasn’t too overpowering and it was well balanced with the touch of spice from the cinnamon in it. The wild berry muffin on the other hand was quite delicious, although I wouldn’t have minded more fruit chunks in it. The croissants blew my mind away. They were light and airy, crispy on the top and soft on the insides. Almonds croissants are a tough feat to get by; but the creamy compote that oozed out with each bite was truly a delight.
The main menu includes a bowl of porridge; a blend of oats, barley, almonds, organic quinoa, flax seeds, cashew, walnuts, cinnamon, served with honey and poached pear. If you happen to be a someone who is conscious about eating clean and healthy, this is certainly a good option. I’d also recommend the breakfast sundae that is made of house-made granola, mixed berries, honey, curd and mint. Every crunchy bite topped off with the curd and honey was quite expectedly delicious. I wasn’t too keen on the cinnamon and oatmeal pancakes because I happen to prefer plain ones with chocolate chips, but a bite of this certainly changed my mind. The pancakes has the right amount of fluff and flavour, and the topping which was a ‘pani’ apple compote really pulled it together; another great healthy breakfast option.
Any French toast fans out there? Rare’s version of this favourite includes cinnamon, passion fruit, caramelized banana, pure honey, ‘lovi’ and ‘pani’ apple compote; a burst of fruity goodness with each mouthful. There’s also the usual additions – a plate of seasonal fresh fruits, eggs any style you’d prefer from gruffly scrambled ones with topped off with feta and even a typical spicy omelette. Sausages, bacon, chicken, extra cheese and so on can be added upon request.
The rare version of an eggs Benedict was of an toasted English muffin, capers, pickled shallots, hollandaise sauce, to which you can add smoked salmon as well. Unlike most Sri Lankans, I do love my runny eggs and breaking into the meal was pure satisfaction. The hollandaise sauce was perfection. The Manner crab received a similar reaction, as it included poached eggs, avocado, tomatoes, micro greens, served on a sourdough toast. If you’d prefer something slightly different, try the crispy eggs which includes soft boiled eggs coated in local spices, asparagus cream, toasted English muffin. The asparagus sauce adds a unique touch of flavour to the entire dish. The bagel with bacon, scrambled eggs, micro greens, cream cheese, caramelized onions, and the cured wild salmon, avocado picked onions, dill, crème fresh, potatoes were two of my favourites as well; both dishes had a fresh flavourful bite.
If you’re someone who can’t seem to get away from the local palette of breakfast options, you won’t be disappointed; there’s kiribath and pol roti, with fish curry, chicken ambulthiyal, dhal, lunu miris, and assorted sambols.