Arulanantham Emmanuel

The Emmanuel family, Sri Lanka, 1938

Table of Contents

Growing up

"My father was a farmer, I have got seven brothers, that is, there are eight in the family, and I am the second. Not all my brothers were educated, because we had a really tough time being children of farmers.

Farming in a village is not like farming in the U.K. It is not a big farm, although we had labourers during harvest times, or planting times, about ten, twelve labourers my father used to hire to help. Otherwise the rest of the time the farming was done by my father and ourselves, by hand. No mechanical means of ploughing or anything, bullock carts and so on, not even proper system of irrigation. The water pumps came a lot later, so irrigation was by bucket system, you had to draw the water by bucket.

It was a very difficult life, and the eight of us when we were children, we found it quite difficult because it was a meagre income coming from the farm, and my mother found it quite difficult to manage the family.

So when my grand uncle offered to educate me in Jaffna, my parents were quite happy. I was then ten years old."

Free time


Arulanantham Emmanuel and friends celebrating Christmas, Nigeria, 1961

You know until I left Sri Lanka, I didn't know there was something called a holiday! I think it is mostly a European concept, the idea of a holiday.

And I think an idea of a holiday in Europe is mainly beaches, where you do nothing, but go and lie on the beach. I have travelled extensively since 1963, all over the world, but I have never gone on a beach holiday. That's not my idea of a holiday, even if I go to Madras where there is a lovely beach, I might have gone there for just half an hour or so.

My idea of a holiday, before I go to a place, I read about it, I go to the library and bring books. I read about the history, the flora and fauna of the place, the culture and so on, and then I find out places or historical places, and prepare a full programme, and visit such places. I am more interested in the culture, the language of the people, their way of life, their past history and so on. That is why I travel."

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