Over the past few months I have spent quite a bit of time travelling. Tokyo, Paris, and Shanghai are all great cities, but my most memorable travel experience was the Festival of the Buddha’s Tooth at Kandy Sri Lanka. I had traveled to Sri Lanka for work, to visit a fashion design programme London College of Fashion is helping to establish. The factories I visited with high level health and safety standards and the integration of the latest technology into garment production really impressed me. I saw a real commitment to developing the fashion industry and supporting emerging Sri Lankan talent with the garment industry trying to distance itself from questionable practices in other countries.
But this sense of optimism was set against the visceral effects of the 2004 Tsuamani and a country still in the midst of a civil war. The strong sense of Sri Lanka’s history with its the mixture of influences, Hinduism, links to India, its colonial past, gave this beautiful country a mysterious, melancholic and disturbing atmosphere. This cocktail of feelings was epitomized with the visit to Kandy. The civil war meant army check points where every where, documents were scrutinized, persons were searched. But it was worth it. The whip cracking of the road, the fire, varied vibrant and elaborate costumes, the physicality of the dancing, the drumming, music and unfamiliar sounds, the elephants, the noise, the smells and overall assault of your senses, made it a worldly experience not to be missed.