RED CARPET RUNDOWN
November 22, 2021
BEAUTY BY MRS. BIEBER IS ON THE WAY
November 23, 2021

COVER STORY

SEASONAL CONSTELLATION

The Stars Come Out

 

COVER STORY

SEASONAL CONSTELLATION

The Stars Come Out

Ah Christmas!

It’s that time of year when the pungent smell of fresh paint and spicy aroma of newly baked Christmas cake assail our senses. It is also the season in which Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey et al. are playing on a loop at every other corporate office or gaudily festooned shopping mall.

And it’s an opportunity to watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2 while rereading your tattered copy of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. But what’s most exciting of all is that we get to celebrate the season with our loved ones again.

Since the pandemic has led to uncertainty and even chaos, many people could well be feeling isolated and anxious as the prospect of ‘travel re-strictions’ cannot be ruled out over the holiday season. The authorities and health experts have urged us to celebrate this festive period with utmost care and due concern by diligently following the COVID-19 safety protocols.

With that in mind, we believe in the philosophy ‘better safe than sorry’ and feel it’s best to celebrate at home with family and friends – to ring in yet another year of surviving the pandemic in good health and high spirits!

It’s no different when it comes to Colombo’s models, entertainers and artistes. Even the celebrities have had a tumultuous year; and like us all, they too sense the need to share some ‘good ole Christmas cheer’ with our readers.

Ashwini Vethakan chats with a star-studded lineup of personalities about family and friends, movies and old-fashioned Christmas traditions in this month’s exclusive cover story. They share their views on 2021 while letting us in on what they’d like to find in their Christmas stockings this year!

This special edition of Living features former model and Director Promotions of JAT Holdings Joyce Gunawardene; TA Fitness founders (and real life husband and wife) Alberto Ruiz and Tarja De Silva; former radio personality and multimedia consultant Blessie Keegel; the prince of Colombo’s night life Dimitry Fernando; Creative Director of fashion brand ANUK Samaadhi Weerasinghe, TikTok’s rising star Amandha Amarasekara, fashion model Shacini Mustachi and much loved musician Ryan de Mel.

JOYCE-GUNAWARDENE-LIVING-DECEMBER

JOYCE GUNAWARDENE

Q: How has 2021 been for you?
A: With the pandemic being present through most of 2021, it’s not a year that I would look back on fondly. But it is most definitely one that has given me a new perspective on life.

Q: What’s the one lesson you can take into the New Year?
A: Life is too fragile and precious so never leave room for regret. Enjoy and appreciate the here and now, and live in the moment.

Q: Any quirky family rituals at Christmas and New Year’s?
A: My mum used to make noodles – for longevity – on New Year’s so I try to do the same.

Q: What is your favourite cause to work for at this time of the year?
A: I don’t choose only the festive season to support my favourite cause. Every day is one for giving and blessing others.


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Nice

What would you like Santa to bring you?
Santa already knows – it’s a secret


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
All I Want For Christmas Is You

FOOD
A good homemade Christmas cake

MOVIE
Christmas with a Prince

CHRISTMAS IS...
A celebration to remember the birth of Jesus Christ

LOVE IS...
An intense emotion shared by two people. It’s unconditional, self-sacrificing, respecting one another, and accepting differences and challenges – love is always generous and forgiving

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Practise patience
Consistently work out four times a week
Make time each day to meditate

WISH LIST
A massage chair

ALBERTO-RUIZ-LIVING-DECEMBER

ALBERTO RUIZ

Q: Are you a last-minute gift shopper or planner? And how does that work out for you?
A: I’m a gift planner but I always end up being a last-minute shopper.

Q: What is likely to be on Tarja’s Christmas wish list?
A: Most probably some dance stuff – or shoes, bags or dresses… Tarja usually points out what she likes so that I don’t mess up!

Q: Which gift did you want but never received?
A: I don’t really need or expect anything so I’m happy with everything; but when I was a kid, it was a different story.

Q: Do you prefer spending Christmas back at home or here in Sri Lanka?
A: I prefer to spend my holidays back at home in Spain. It’s a really nice time to see the family, and the vibe over there truly feels like Christmas.


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Always nice

What would you like Santa to bring you?
Since he’s going to be busy with Tarja’s shoes, I’ll be happy if he can bring everyone else a good year


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
I’m not fan of Christmas carols – but of the English versions, I’d pick All I Want For Christmas Is You (One time is okay... but after the 25th repeat, it’s simply too much!)

FOOD
We generally eat a lot of seafood in Spain

MOVIE
Scrooged (as a kid, I loved watching Bill Murray as The Ghost of Christmas Past)

TRADITION
When celebrating Christmas in Spain, we practise ‘Eating of the Twelve Grapes’ as the last bell chimes from the clock in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and we also share gifts under the Christmas tree on 6 January (night of the Magi or ‘Three Kings Day’) – which is lovely because Christmas feels extended!

CHRISTMAS IS...
A time to meet the extended family and it is one long celebration. In Spain, we have a really long Christmas because it ends only on 6 January. We have the ‘Three Kings Parade’ the night before and the kids go crazy in the morning – this is the day I really miss

2021 WAS…
Not the year I was expecting – but given the circumstances I tried to look on the bright side and focus on the positive things that have happened to us

LOVE IS…
I picture my family, wife and everyone I hold close to me when I think of the word ‘love’

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
Typical resolutions that I make every year and never follow up on – such as learning to play the guitar or learn another language

WISH LIST
To be allowed to travel – finally

TARJA-DE-SILVA-LIVING-DECEMBER

TARJA DE SILVA

Q: Are you a last-minute gift shopper or planner? And how does that work out for you?
A: I’m absolutely last-minute when it comes to gift shopping – because I usually prefer to ask the person exactly what they want and then get it for them

Q: What is likely to be on Alberto’s Christmas wish list?
A: Some electronic gadget, for sure!

Q: Which gift did you want but never received?
A: I’m usually very specific about gifts that I want so there is no room for disappointment


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Nice

What would you like Santa to bring you?
An endless supply of dance shoes


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
Jingle Bell Rock

FOOD
Christmas pudding and eggnog

MOVIE
I don’t have a favourite but I’ll watch any seasonal movie

TRADITION
Celebrating Christmas in Spain

CHRISTMAS IS...
Happiness and a time to celebrate with family – having been brought up in a Sri Lankan family of mixed religions, we never really celebrated Christmas (but thanks to Alberto, I’ve learnt to love the joy and magic of Christmas traditions)

2021 WAS…
A year that went by so fast but it taught me patience and resilience

LOVE IS...
Respect, patience and unconditional support shown to family and friends

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
Be less caught up on social media, focus on what I truly value and spend more time with the people whom I love

WISH LIST
Dance shoes
Wine
Travel

BLESSIE-KEEGEL-LIVING-DECEMBER

BLESSIE KEEGEL

Q: Can you remember your favourite Christmas? And what was it like?
A: Probably the most recent Christmas that my family and I spent together in Sri Lanka back in 2018 when we gathered for my youngest sister Rosie’s wedding. Watching our kids playing, going out to eat, shopping, opening presents, and simply being together and seeing how our family has grown… it was the best Christmas yet!

Q: A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or The Polar Express – which would be your favourite Christmas classic?
A: It would have to be A Christmas Carol.

Q: Which three adjectives would you use to describe the festive season?
A: Warm, gluttonous and loving.

Q: Your post-pandemic wish…
A: To be reunited with my family!


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Nice

What would you like Santa to bring you?
A Learjet


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
All I Want For Christmas Is You

FOOD
All the appetisers – especially the cheese and charcuterie boards!

MOVIE
Love Actually

TRADITION
It’s something we’ve been doing with my parents since we were kids – visiting different hotels in the city with the whole family to see the lights and decorations (and of course, eating something at each stop!)

CHRISTMAS IS...
A reminder of God’s unconditional love for humankind as seen in the birth of Jesus – it’s my favourite occasion to celebrate with family and friends

2021 WAS…
A blur of crazy emotions, intense family time and wonderful opportunities

LOVE IS...
Never giving up and not losing faith – it’s always hopeful and endures through every circumstance

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Travel
Learn more
Try new things

WISH LIST
Unlimited bonus flying miles
A lifetime’s supply of Peet’s Coffee
My family

DIMITRY-FERNANDO-LIVING-DECEMBER

DIMITRY FERNANDO

Q: Which gift did you want but never received?
A: A PS5 (this is a ‘hint, hint’ to my other half!)

Q: What are you most excited about next year?
A: I launched Christopher Fern recently. It is a men’s natural skincare line so I’m pretty excited to see how it succeeds in 2022. I’ve also been working on my music recently and hope to release a few of the original songs that I have written.

Q: Can you remember your favourite Christmas? And what was it like?
A: In Australia last year when I hosted my first Christmas brunch for friends and family.

Q: A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or The Polar Express – which would be your favourite Christmas classic?
A: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Q: If you were to write your own Christmas carol, what would you name it?
A: Santa sweetie, hurry down my chimney tonight!


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Nothing wrong with being on both lists

What would you like Santa to bring you?
A signed guitar owned by John Mayer


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (Michael Bublé’s version)

FOOD
Love cake all the way!

MOVIE
Holidate (I watched it recently and loved it)

TRADITION
The traditional dress up dinner on Christmas Day at home with family and friends has always been an epic night

CHRISTMAS IS...
About family

2021 WAS…
An absolute curve ball

LOVE IS...
The best feeling

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Wake up early
Reduce my consumption of meat and fish
Meditate and find more time to practise it
Learn to play golf

WISH LIST
A safe and healthy holiday season

SAMAADHI-WEERASINGHE-LIVING-DECEMBER

SAMAADHI WEERASINGHE

Q: How has 2021 been for you?
A: It’s been very challenging but I’m humbled by what this year has taught me.

Q: Your advice to seasonal shoppers is...
A: Try and shop local as much as possible because any support will help those who are involved in the supply chain.

Q: Which gift did you want but never received?
A: It’s too embarrassing to mention!

Q: What’s the one lesson you can take with you into the New Year?
A: I’ve learnt that I need to take care of myself and have a clear mind, to support and be a positive influence on those around me.


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
I think I’d be on both lists

What would you like Santa to bring you?
An all-expenses-paid trip to Italy (thanks in advance!)


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

CAROL
I’m not a big fan of Christmas carols and songs

FOOD
My mother’s Christmas cake

MOVIE
Love Actually

TRADITION
Our family Christmas lunch

CHRISTMAS IS...
About family

2021 WAS…
An absolute curve ball

LOVE IS...
The best feeling

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Wake up early
Reduce my consumption of meat and fish
Meditate and find more time to practise it
Learn to play golf

WISH LIST
A safe and healthy holiday season

AMANDHA-AMARASEKARA-LIVING-DECEMBER

AMANDHA AMARASEKARA

Q: If you could be Santa Claus for a day, what would you do?
A: First and foremost, experience what it’s like to travel the world visa free. And then – if I had a magic bag of unlimited toys, dreams and possibilities – I’d visit all the orphanages as well as every elders’ home, and give gifts to all the children and adults.
I would then visit every place of work and remind people that there’s someone looking out for them too – that their wants and wishes matter as much now, as they did when they were young and still believed in magic.

Q: What are the dates you’re most looking forward to next year – and why?
A: Either 15 March or October 2022. That’s when the promotions for the seasons (Aluth Avurudu and Christmas) start.
And the periods until mid-May or 5 January is when people usually walk around with a little more cheer, spirit and togetherness. There’s no little joy and glee in the air; and to me, that is beautiful.

Q: Describe your fantasy Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, or both…
A: Christmas would be intimate. Christmas Day would be more intimate with close friends coming over for a home cooked meal.
There would be Christmas decorations on a big tree with presents under it. Michael Bublé would be doing his musical number in a corner with the only thing louder than that being the cheer and laughter of everyone around.
There’d also be a mouth-watering aroma of food wafting through the air and a warm feeling of togetherness, all of which would make for the perfect Christmas night.
I generally spend New Year’s Eve at home with my parents and that’s a tradition I’m quite fond of. The festivities are similar to Christmas but even more exclusive.

Q: How did you learn the truth about Santa Claus?
A: I don’t remember this too well. I think it was on TV. However, the heartbreaking part was when I had asked for a bicycle or video game, and ‘Big Red’ gifted me a black and red Spider-Man cash till. The implied message was: ‘Why don’t you buy it yourself?’


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Naughty

What would you like Santa to bring you?
I’m really going to push this one and say I’d like to be able to talk to animals, please; but if that’s too much, the lightsabre or amp thing, thank you!


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

CAROLS
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (by Dave Koz) and Last Christmas (by Wham!)

FOOD
Christmas turkey with stuffing and gravy

MOVIE
I don’t really have a favourite movie for the season

TRADITION
Go over to my friend Matthew’s house where there is Christmas turkey with stuffing and gravy

CHRISTMAS IS...
About family

2021 WAS…
An absolute curve ball

LOVE IS...
The best feeling

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Wake up early
Reduce my consumption of meat and fish
Meditate and find more time to practise it
Learn to play golf

WISH LIST
A safe and healthy holiday season

SHACINI-MUSTACHI-LIVING-DECEMBER

SHACINI MUSTACHI

Q: How has 2021 been for you?
A: I would say frustrating but insightful. For obvious reasons, 2021 didn’t go as anyone would have hoped. While it made me feel like my life was flying hopelessly out of control, I did find a new or different appreciation for life – everyone and everything that I’m so lucky to have.

Q: What’s the one lesson you can take with you into the New Year?
A: Try to find happiness where your life is right now and don’t stop working on the person that you want to become.

Q: What is likely to be on Shamin’s Christmas wish list?
A: He has an endless list of audio equipment, T-shirts, a beach vacation and me!

Q: Are you a last-minute gift shopper or planner? And how does that work out for you?
A: I would say both. I’m not the most organised person around so I tend to wait till the last minute most of the time; but if I find something that I know someone likes, I’ll get it early... and then die from sheer excitement until I give it to them!


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
Nice

What would you like Santa to bring you?
A new spine – because I can’t remember what it’s like to not have back pain… it’s like I’m an 85-year-old in the body of someone who’s 30


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

SONG
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

FOOD
Cookies, cake and more cake!

MOVIES
The Nightmare Before Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

TRADITION
Every year, for as long as I can remember, we would have a huge Christmas dinner at home for all our family and friends – we’d spend all day preparing the ham, turkey, stuffing, roast chicken, mac and cheese and a million other things… and then eat until we literally passed out!

CHRISTMAS IS...
A great excuse to party all month

2021 WAS…
A dumpster fire

LOVE IS...
Anything that makes your heart happy

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Do the things I love more often
Work on personal goals
Stand straight – because I really need to work on my posture

WISH LIST
To be honest, I can’t think of anything I’d want. This is going to sound ‘super Miss Congeniality’ but I’d only want the world to stop burning – and for people to be more caring and responsible

We’ve a long way to go to defeat COVID-19 and that can only happen if we accept our social responsibilities and get vaccinated – and understand that our actions impact so much more than our lives

RYAN-DE-MEL-LIVING-DECEMBER

RYAN DE MEL

Q: If you could be Santa Claus for a day, what would you do?
A: Give everyone presents – and it wouldn’t matter if they had been naughty or nice!

Q: What would be the perfect Christmas cocktail?
A: It would contain arrack, ginger beer, freshly squeezed orange juice and a pinch of chilli for some character, and be garnished with pomegranate seeds and a sprig of fresh mint!

Q: If you were to write your own Christmas carol, what would you name it?
A: The King is Born

Q: How did you learn the truth about Santa Claus?
A: I can’t quite remember… but I think a couple of friends were talking about it in school and those of us who didn’t know the truth learnt something new that day.


Would you be on the ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list?
I think it depends on who makes the list!

What would you like Santa to bring you?
A Fender Squier Jaguar in Olympic White


SEASONAL FAVOURITES

CAROL
This Christmas by Chris Brown

FOOD
Roast duck and roast leg of pork

MOVIE
This Christmas

TRADITION
Family Christmas lunch and dinner

CHRISTMAS IS...
A time to celebrate the birth of Christ and gather together with family from around the world at least once a year

2021 WAS…
A year of self-development, growth and new beginnings

LOVE IS...
When you care so deeply for a person or people, an animal or a thing – to a point where you cannot express how you (or they) make you feel. That’s when you know you love them... because I don’t think any number of words can describe true love.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Be a better person
Balance life better
Probably take a certain big step and start a new chapter in life

WISH LIST
To be able to spend a traditional Christmas with family – given the present situation
Peace and harmony in our nation
For more people to value people over money

//usounoul.com/4/3574464