Not Just Pot Brownies: The Story Of Drug Use In Sri Lankan Schools

Supun’s* (name changed) tryst with drugs began with a brownie. “We were having an event at school, and a senior was selling pot brownies [laced with cannabis],” recalls the 20-year- old, who attended a leading international school in Colombo. “My friend convinced me to try it. That was the first time I used drugs — I think I was in grade eight.” According to Supun, he hated the experience at the beginning.  Getting ‘high’ would leave him feeling light-headed and sluggish — but his friends convinced him to keep trying it until it began to feel good. “Apple [the street name for the opioid painkiller Tramadol] was also pretty common in school, though weed was the most frequently used. I thought it felt good — you just get really energetic and happy for a few hours, you know? But when the effects wore off, it left me really depressed and tired. I couldn’t study at all. In hindsight, I suppose it did affect my A-Level results.”

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Cloaked In Silence: The Story Of Sri Lanka’s Hearing Impaired Children

Ushan Dilsara dreams of working in a hotel when he finishes school. “My grandmother’s food is not tasty,” the 18-year-old says, pulling a face. “But I can cook well. My mother used to teach me from the time I was little, and I look at my phone and follow the recipes online.” He tells us a funny story about how his grandmother’s bad cooking drove him to learn to cook an egg. His words are mispronounced and slightly garbled, but just comprehensible once your ears are attuned to them. Unlike most of us who are fortunate enough to solely depend on words to convey our thoughts, Ushan’s vocabulary is visual: a synchrony of hand signs, expressions and body language.

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Temple Of Dance: Inside the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya

The hall seems to throb with the beat of drums and feet. There is neither music nor are there delicate pirouettes or clicking heels.  This is traditional Kandyan dancing, with the thunder of stamping feet and the strength of sweeping arms. Yet, there is a grace and fluidity to the movements as well, underlined by deep spirituality. In one corner of the hall, a group of students and their guru sit with their eyes closed in meditation, and at the beginning of each class, dancers plie deeply and touch the ground, as a means of invoking blessings.

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