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World Elephant Day

From Christina: I’m guessing that most readers aren’t aware that today is World Elephant Day.  For author Devika Fernando from Sri Lanka, the majestic pachyderms are part of the culture. I was delighted when she offered to share a few thoughts about these magnificent animals. 

World Elephant Day

by Devika Fernando

The role of the elephant in Sri Lanka

Elephants were presumably brought to Sri Lanka by the first Indian settlers and left to their own devices. Some 5,000 years ago, the Sinhalese kings discovered their enormous potential and had them captured. The elephants were used as an advantage in wars and fights, had a ceremonial value during religious rites, and played an important role in construction work. During these times, if you killed an elephant you had to face death penalty. Sri Lankan elephants were considered so valuable that they were bought by rulers from the Indian mainland. The Sinhalese kings sold their best stock even to countries as far as Egypt or Myanmar. With the arrival of the European (especially English) colonial masters, the protection status on elephants was lifted and most animals were set free.

 

Elephant 1
(Wikipedia)

Over the centuries, some of the magnificent beasts were hunted and killed for sport, others taken advantage of as mere sources for ivory. But to date, thousands of elephants roam the island. On top of that, you have those kept for official matters, with approval from the government. They are often bought and trained when they are still small calves, with ideally one mahout (caretaker) for a lifetime. The majority of the captive elephants do temple duty. During celebrations like the Buddhist New Year in April or the Esala Perahera in Kandy in August, richly caparisoned tuskers (male elephants that have tusks) are part of processions. With their colourful silk clothes and glittering sequins, they are a sight you will never forget.

Elephant 2

(Caparisoned elephant at the Kandy Esala Perahera)

As the Sri Lankan population grows and encroaches on the natural habitats of the elephants, conflicts abound. Often, you have lone bulls full of anger charge hapless humans, even injure and kill them. At other times, whole herds will destroy the vegetable and grain crops over night or wreak havoc in a village, trying to get to the stored food and grains and destroying houses as if they were cardboard boxes. Some people scare them off with loud noises and crackers, others resort to shooting, traps or poisoning. There is no feasible solution in sight.

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

In all this, there is a light of hope shining brightly: Sri Lanka’s Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala. Allow me to let the heroine from my WIP “Saved in Sri Lanka” take the stage and introduce this marvel to you:

“Founded in 1975 by Sri Lanka Wildlife Department, the orphanage off Rambukkana has been a home to nearly 150 elephants up to now, some of them born here. The National Zoological Gardens reserves this sanctuary on 24 acres of land for wounded elephants, unprotected females with their offspring, orphans and the occasional troublemaker who has been caught and transferred to be part of this ever-growing family. Pinnawala also serves as a breeding place, and it holds more captive elephants in one place than anywhere else in the world. More than 60 elephants have been born here over the course of time, and the orphanage currently shelters between 70 and 80 elephants. Simulating conditions in the wild, the animals can roam more than 10 acres of grassland freely most of the time, adhere to a herd structure and are well-fed. Every day at 8 o’clock in the morning, the baby elephants are bottle-fed with special milk formula. There are two bathing breaks at 10 o’clock and at 2 pm, where the herd is led to the nearby river and washed for two hours.
The elephants eat unimaginably huge amounts of grass and leaves. They really love coconuts and bananas, too. Rice bran, corn, jackfruit, as well as the logs and branches of the kitul palm tree are also added. Altogether, they need to feed on about 75 kg of green matter daily, plus the rest of the food I have mentioned, sometimes with seeds and minerals added in for good health. As you will see in a short while, they are almost always eating—or sleeping. Sounds like the perfect life, doesn’t it?”

Elephant 3

(Bottle-feeding of a baby elephant at Pinnawala)


Thank you, Devika for sharing!

About Devika

devikaAlmost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing. Her debut romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon, as is her newly-released paranormal romance, Playing with Fire.

 

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Journeys – Part 2 by Devika Fernando

From Christina: Recently Sri Lankan writer Devika Fernando shared with us a few thoughts — and photographs — from her trip from the town of Kandy to the capital city of Colombo. Today, she continues her story, taking us on a different sort of journey.  Enjoy!

 

Collage for DF

 

 

 

 

Journeys – Part 2

by Devika Fernando

 

A while ago, I wrote a guest post about the arduous, exotic, nerve-wracking but also inspiring journey from Kandy to Colombo. This time, the journeys I discuss are not real-life ones in Sri Lanka, but just as chaotic and meaningful and filled with a tempting mix of positive and negative aspects.

Travelling has made me realize that each of my books deals with an inner journey and also involves a ‘real’ trip.

When I See Your Face

 External Journey:

The story starts with the heroine Cathy embarking on the most important journey of her life: She leaves behind her abusive husband to start from scratch in a small village. The change of places brings her closer to herself, gives her a breather from pressure, and makes her realize that life can be beautiful. She finds love – or does she? Destiny strikes again all too soon, which leads to another journey. This time, she settles down in a town that is a healthy middle-way between the city and the village from before.

 Internal Journey:

The switches of location aside, Cathy also undergoes major changes throughout the book. She transforms from beaten and battered and meek to being aware of herself, and wanting to tap into her potential. Slowly learning to trust again and to give herself as well as others a new chance, she grows up. Cathy finally takes matters into her own hands and fulfils her dream to start her cake business.

 

Playing with Fire

 External Journey:

Joshua is in town on a business trip when he rescues Felicia from a fire. What happens next is a clash of temperaments, elements and wills, and also more than a spark of attraction. Travelling has played an important role in Joshua’s life in the past. To find out more about that – and to get a hint at the final, decisive journey that both of them will make – you’ll have to read the book.

 Internal Journey:

Felicia starts out as a frustrated young woman, hiding a dark secret and burdened by a dull life of routine. When Joshua crosses her path, everything gets turned upside down. She realizes she needs to actively search for happiness and come to terms with her fire magic. The process of discovering and training her gift is filled with hurdles and challenges, much like a hike through the unknown wilderness. Ultimately, she will find herself and make a life-changing decision. Joshua also transforms, his journey leading him from loneliness and cold detachment to fascination, magic and even love and care.

 

Kaleidoscope of Hopes

(Coming in September)

External Journey:

The opening chapters introduce Nadia as a woman on the brink of losing her job, burdened by debts and a tragic past she’s hiding. When Lucas moves in next door, their fates are thrown together and they realize that they – and love – deserve a second chance. Trouble isn’t far away, however, and it makes Nadia flee the city. You’ll have to read the book to find out whether that is her last journey, and where and how they will find a happy end.

Internal Journey:

At first, Nadia is timid, quick to take the blame, tied to her past and as unhappy as can be. Lucas is lonely, too strict on himself and others, and also hiding a dark secret while trying to come to terms with being a father and falling hard for his new neighbour. Both embark on an internal journey that will leave them altered, opening up old wounds, facing their ghosts and working on self-improvement.

 Saved in Sri Lanka

(Work in Progress)

 External Journey:

This love story set in Sri Lanka circles around Sepalika, who works as a tour guide and falls in love with Irish Tourist Daniel. They spend seven days together on a round trip that changes everything. The exotic setting and travelling play an important role in enhancing the plot.

 Internal Journey:

Both protagonists learn a lot about themselves, about each other and about the respective country they’re from. Apart from that, they give real love a chance, and they realize that they are the main reason holding them back. Of course, there’s a dark secret causing trouble in the form of many rocks thrown into the way.



 

 

 

More from Devika Fernando

Journeys – Part 1
Nature Photography

About Devika

devikaAlmost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing. Her debut romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon, as is her newly-released paranormal romance, Playing with Fire.

 

Summertime by Vicki Batman

From Christina: I’m pleased to have Vicki Batman here today to share a few thoughts about summertime.  It’s always a pleasure to visit with her.

 

Summertime

by Vicki Batman

Summertime–fun days!

When my kids began school, I would count the days like this:

  • Labor Day
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Holiday break
  • Presidents Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Spring Break
  • School is out.

Then…

Summer Pic

 

As a little girl, my family went on some great vacations–Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Island, Florida, California. And I wanted those experiences for my children, too. Trips to visit family members, Washington D.C., New York City, and Colorado.

Sometimes, we moms don’t know what things we’ve taught our kids will stick. I took mine to the art museums. I loved going and only had a one opportunity when I was a child. I determined that wouldn’t happen to mine.

Statue of LibertySo we were on vacation in New York City. We’d planned age appropriate Broadway shows, a trip to the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, the exhibition Art of the Motorcycle at the Guggenheim.

But I had to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and if I really wanted to go, I had to take the boys. I’d mapped out that visit so they wouldn’t be bored. First, the arms and Armaments; then, the Egyptian stuff; finally, we passed though to another area and skimmed by the Impressionist exhibit.

Money PicThat’s when I heard, “Look, Mom, a…”

 

 

 

I had to stop and take that in. Wow, they remembered.

Time marches on. The kids are grown, and we don’t have the same kind of vacations. Whenever I’m vacationing in NYC, I go to the Met by myself, pass through the Impressionists and think, “Look, Mom, a Monet.”

Maybe I’ve done my mom job well.

 

About Vicki:

Vicki BatmanLike some of her characters, award-winning author, Vicki Batman has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general “do anything gal” at a financial services firm–the list is endless.

 Writing for several years, she has completed three manuscripts, written essays, and sold many short stories to TRUE LOVE, TRUE ROMANCE, TRUE CONFESSIONS, NOBLE ROMANCE PUBLISHING, LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS, MUSEITUP PUBLISHING, and THE WILD ROSE PRESS.

She is a member of RWA and several writing groups and chapters. In 2004, she joined DARA and has served in many capacities, including 2009 President. DARA awarded her the Robin Teer Memorial Service Award in 2010.

 Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if??”

 

Going to Glacier National Park by E. M. Bannock

From Christina: When E. M. Bannock posted a few of her vacation pictures on Facebook, I quickly messaged her to ask if she would share her trip — and her gorgeous photographs — with readers at Time for Love. I’m so glad she did! Enjoy her scenic look at Glacier National Park.

 

Going to Glacier National Park

by E. M. Bannock

 

We made the five hour drive from Clark, WY to Malta, MT without event. Malta is a small, rural town named in the late 1800’s when a railroad official spun a globe and put his finger down landing on the tiny island country of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. I had always wanted to go there since my father was born in the ‘real’ Malta and my mother was the first generation out. I’m proud to say that I am a purebred, 100% Maltese.

The fascination for the little town faded when as we realized the train was going to be late, eight hours late to be exact. Our daytime train ride ended up being a very uncomfortable, long, nighttime trip. We had planned on enjoying the view from the upper deck of the Amtrak train as it skirted along the south end of Glacier to our final destination of Whitefish, Montana. As it turned out, it was a nighttime trip and we saw nothing.

Glacier 1This was not a good way to start our mini-vacation. The next day we spent getting caught up on our sleep. Thankfully we had a hotel suite so the kids camped out in the living room while Papa and I made ourselves comfortable in the bedroom. My grandson and his school pal, who came along, took it all in stride and by early afternoon the kids were ready to hit the pool. The next day was GlacierNational Park day. I was really excited. This was to be my highlight of the trip.

Glacier 2After we got a good night sleep and had breakfast we hit the road in our rented car. As we approached the Park we marveled at the wonders of the surrounding area. Kalispell, Whitefish, and the cities around the Park are not exactly what you would call ‘big city’ but it seemed like they had every convenience as well as natural beauty. It was definitely geared for the outdoorsman; white water rafting, fishing, hiking, and other activities.

As we came close to the Park it got noticeably more forested and less populated. My anticipation grew. To my delight I was old enough to qualify for a senior pass. I hate the idea of being old but I am finding that it has its perks; discounted train tickets, discounted meals, and discounted park entrance fees.

Bible RockThis was going to be a quick trip through Glacier National Park. It was only June and the Driving to the Sun road was only opened part way. It had been a very snowy winter and a cool spring. There was still too much snow on the road for the plows to get through. The road was closed 14 miles in but in those few miles I saw many wondrous things. We started with a quick stop at the Park store where our nine year old grandson and his school buddy, who accompanied us on the trip, quickly picked out a stuffed animal to be their trip souvenir. I picked out several postcards and a refrigerator magnet to add to my collection of places I’ve been. Then we were off.

Glacier 5Although I was clearly enjoying the magnificent views of snow covered mountains, lush forested land and raging glacial steams, Papa and the boys were not impressed. The complaining started almost immediately. Papa could not see the attraction. We live close to Yellowstone and I think they were expecting some of the same attractions. There were no geysers at every turn, no hot springs, no buffalo or elk crossing the road and holding up traffic. But there was a whole lot of unspoiled, natural beauty; Flowing, brilliant blue glacier steams that had carved out a path through the mountains making its way to crystal clear glacier lakes.

We stopped briefly at Lake McDonald. Its picturesque beauty was breathtaking. Its stillness reflected the mountains on the other side like a mirror. I found it spiritual and inspiring. It’s tranquility soothing my tensions and stress as I pondered the view from its bank. Although the boys found it boring and mundane I shamed them into stopping anywhere a road pull-out appeared. They sat quietly, but uncomfortably, as I jumped out to enjoy and snap pictures. At one stop, I followed a narrow trail that wound down to a viewing point of rushing waters and mountainous canyons. There were two men on the landing taking pictures of each other obviously enjoying the view as much as I was. “What a perfect place for a picture,” I thought wishing one of my guys were there to take a picture of me.

“Would you like us to take a picture of you?” one of the men asked me.

“Oh, yes!” I answered enthusiastically.

Glacier 3

Although I have many beautiful pictures of the Park, there is only one picture with me in it. It is a lovely reminder of my Glacier National Park trip.



 

E. M. Bannock is the author of Totally Devoted, a spicy romance.

She was born in 1950 and grew up in the Detroit suburbs. She is the second child of seven and eldest daughter of a working class family. Her mother was always at home to care for her children, which instilled Marie with deep rooted family ties. Her parents had traditional, old style, European ideals which clashed with her modern, adventurous personality. The daughters were not encouraged to attend college. Instead they were expected to get married, have children, and be homemakers.Her love for writing began during high school where she excelled in writing short stories and poetry. During her junior and senior year, she wrote and sold short stories that other students turned in for homework assignments.Born with the wanderlust, she found herself in Los Angeles. LA was an exciting place to be in the early 70’s and E.M. experienced all that it had to offer. It was here she met her husband. The two have a son.

E.M. and her family have lived in California, Oregon, Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming, where she now lives with her husband, son, grandson and a menagerie of cats, dogs, chickens, and horses.

She has made her living as an office manager, computer programmer/analysts, and project manager. Throughout it all, she never lost her love for writing. Although never published, she has a small collection of the short stories and poems that have been written throughout the years.

Until 1999, she had never attempted to write a novel. Then, while descending into Detroit on a business trip, she had the inspiration for her first novel, Totally Devoted.

After completing the book she submitted it to several literary houses only to be rejected. Life became complicated and her book sat in the memory of her computer for 15 years. At her husband’s urging, she “brushed” it off, added more dimension to the characters, and more spice to the romance. The result is a gripping, erotic tale of modern romance and rugged western adventure that exposes the struggles of life with raw human emotion, lust, love, devotion, and danger.

She believes that writers should write what they know about and draws inspiration for her characters and locations from her varied and unique life. She writes about the places she has lived or visited because she feels correct geographical details are an important ingredient in a story to give the reader the full experience.



More from E. M. Bannock

Winter Morning in Clark

Journeys – Part 1 by Devika Fernando

 

 

 

 

Sri Lanka

 

Journeys – Part 1

by Devika Fernando

I live near Kandy, a historically important city with a population of about 125,000 that lies smack in the middle of the island. It’s the capital of the Central Province and part of the Sri Lankan up-country filled with hills and mountains and picturesque villages. Colombo couldn’t be more different. I should know, I lived in one of its suburbs for 3 years, and I don’t ever want to go back. As the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo boasts around 4.5 million inhabitants and is a metropolis right at the coast, part of the Western Province. If you’re looking for anything official and important, for entertainment and for modern high-rise buildings with luxury apartments, you’ll find it there. If you’re looking for teeming slums, smog, dirty politics and overcrowded roads, you’ll find those there, too.

Express Train

The unimaginably slow, so-called intercity express train

To travel from where we live to the capital city, it takes us 5 hours by car each way, which means a whole day needs to be sacrificed. The physical distance is about 130 km, but it feels like a trip to the other end of the world. Most of the journey takes you through villages and towns, up and down mountains, around hairpin-bends and through stretches of beautiful emptiness. You can’t drive faster than 40 km/h for the better part of the trip, and you need to constantly be on your toes unless you want some frustrated, maniacal driver to hit your vehicle. Taking the train isn’t much better. The vista is stunning, but the train crawls at (less than) walking speed, the noise is unbearable and the roughly 20 tunnels make reading a difficult task. I shouldn’t complain, though, because until the British colonized the island and drilled through the rock, a trip from Kandy to Colombo took several arduous days involving bullock carts, jungles and accidents galore.

Bible Rock

View of Bible Rock from Kadugannawa

All the stress aside, travelling from Kandy to Colombo has an exotic flair to it that gets my writer brain whirring. What fascinates me most – apart from the idyllic views of towering peaks, misty mountains ranges, oddly shaped rocky outcrops, impossibly green paddy fields and weed-choked lakes – is the hustle and bustle of life we pass by. You see a zillion shops, houses, schools, banks, restaurants and religious buildings, encroaching on the main road, much too numerous and close for comfort. There are constant traffic blocks, police check-points and crowds monopolizing the road. What adds to the fascinating flair is the fact that specific things are sold at intervals along the way:

Rambutan

Rambutan, mangosteen and durian

• When you wind your way down towards Colombo, you find inflatable toys and balls and boats and what-not lining both sides of the road in splashes of colour (don’t forget, going to Colombo means getting close to the beach).
• There is an aptly named town called Pilimathalawa where people specialize in arts and craft, or rather, in stone or plaster statues (pilima) of all kinds. Some of them are breathtakingly beautiful, others make me cringe with their kitsch and exaggeration.
• The crafty goodness goes on because not much later there’s a town dedicated to furniture and accessories woven from wood. The offers range from simple baskets over cupboards or tables and chairs to lampshades and statues made out of intricate wood weave.
• Up next are places where an array of vases, pots and decoration items made out of clay is on display. Pottery has always been important in this country.
• Following that comes a long stretch around the town of Kadugannawa where vendors sell steamed, salted corn on the cob and spicy snacks to brace yourself for the strenuous journey yet to come.
• Next you are met with girls and women clad in red-coloured traditional clothes who sell cashew nuts, roasted and unroasted. Cashews are available in supermarkets for an ungodly prize, but a little cheaper along the Colombo-Kandy road.
• Hold on tight, exotic fruits are last! It starts with durian, jackfruit, rambutan and mangosteens. Closer to the low-country regions, you can grab pineapples at bargain price.

With such highlights that never fail to interest me and will probably find their way into my book “Saved in Sri Lanka” (it’s in its draft stages at the moment), the negativity fades away a little.

If you have enjoyed reading about one of my journeys, stay tuned for Part 2, where I talk about the real and internal journeys the protagonists of my books face.

 



 

More from Devika Fernando

Nature Photography

About Devika

devikaAlmost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing. Her debut romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon.