Friday, December 17, 2010

15th SAARC Conference held in Colombo in August 2008

After I had severed connections with the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) in December 2006, I was looking forward to a peaceful life of retirement as a house-wife, which I found was far more challenging than any of my professional functions before. I promised myself that I will never get myself involved an any government service ever again, despite being an ardent patriot of mother Sri Lanka.

However my challenging but peaceful house-wife role was short lived, when the senior management of the state television station Rupavahini invited me somewhere in June 2008, to return to Rupavahini in order to produce programmes in English. I broke the promise I had made to myself, and this "for the sake of the country" mania I suffer from, sent me back to the state run TV in an honorary capacity, which meant I was working free of charge but in return, I requested for transport for official duties.

My first function upon my return to Rupavahini in July 2008 was to take on the role of the English commentator for the 15th SAARC Conference held in Colombo in August 2008. I felt quite honoured to take on this role, as I had performed the same function twice before under different political regimes, when Sri Lanka hosted the SAARC Conferences.

But the third time round, I had the privilege of interviewing the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Hamid Karzai, The Chief Adviser to the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, His Excellency Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed and the President of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

With 15 years experience of interviewing personalities at all levels, I found having a private chit-chat with my interviewees, while my camera, lighting and audio crew got their act together, helped me and my interviewees to ‘connect’ and loosen up. Our chit-chats had nothing to do with the topic of the interview.

For instance, before my interview with the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Hamid Karzai. I told him that he looks like a brother of Sean Connery, to which he said in perfect upper class English, “many people have told me that, but do you think I look like his older brother or younger brother”? To which I replied “definitely younger brother,” and I meant it.

Some of my friends who had watched my interview with President Karzai said, “You were not interviewing him, but flirting with him”. That is not entirely true!
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