Introduce yourself and what you do

Hello! I’m Neesha Fernando - a freelance Graphic Designer & Illustrator, currently living and working in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

How did you get started?

As a student at the University of Tampa, studying Advertising and Public Relations, I found myself more interested in the design side of the industry. Curiosity drove me to sign up for more and more design classes, which eventually is what led me to my current career path.

After graduation, I worked for the Tampa Bay Rowdies professional soccer team as their Graphic Designer & Social Media Representative. Following a two-year stint, I found myself craving a change of scenery, at which point I moved back to Sri Lanka. Upon arrival, I was drawn to Ruby Studio, particularly for their work on Tripin magazine - given my love of travel and affinity for editorial design. After gaining valuable experience under Subha Grassi there for three years, I decided to venture off on my own.

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Who and what inspires you right now?

With my expansion into the world of freelancing, I've been trying to diversify my scope of work, particularly with experimentation in illustration and typography. Given this, I regularly frequent online resources such as Doodlers Anonymous and Creative Bloq for both inspiration and tips & tricks. Sophie Roach, Barry Lee, Mulga and Steven Harrington are a few of the illustrators I currently follow closely on social media.

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What was a challenging aspect to getting started?

While drawing cartoons was always a fond pastime for me as a child, I never really thought of design as a profession. I was never the master of figure sketching or a genius with a paintbrush in art class. I thought that my lack of formal art education meant I could not venture down this path. As a result, getting past that initial fear and doubt in my skill was probably the most challenging for me.

Art is not just what most people typically think of as “art.” It’s not just sketching, paintings, sculptures and music. I think it’s very important to remember: everyone has creativity within them – even those of us that think they can’t draw a straight line without a ruler.

Where can others find your work?

You can find me online at: and on Instagram @justferyou




Introduce yourself and what you do?

I am Dilushi Prasanna, a Graphic designer and Illustrator. I was born and raised in Kuwait, but decided to venture design as well as devour my motherland, Sri Lanka.

How did you get started?

My father who is a Graphic Designer himself encouraged me to follow his footsteps. Initially as a child I was keen on becoming a Fashion Designer. Later during my 1st year in university I was still skeptical about my Graphic Design major. It didn’t take me long enough to develop an interest in the subject and knew that it was my expertise.


Who and what inspires you right now?

I come from a legacy of artists, all the way from grand parents to my father, mother and brother. At home I was always encouraged to be creative whether it was school homework or getting dressed, so my biggest inspirations naturally came from home itself. Other than family I absolutely love VICE and their entire sub network such as Viceland, Broadly, Munchies etc. Since fashion has also played a major role in my life I try to fuse my interest in it as well my skills in graphics when creating designs. Currently I eyeball on Hypebeast and i-D for fashion related inspirations. I also follow some needle and poke tattoo artists on Instagram that have incredible artwork and have a culture of their own.


What was a challenging aspect to getting started?

The most challenging aspect was being able to visualize an idea and not being able to execute it. It was like I knew everything I needed to know but wasn’t able to prove it. It took me a good while to know Adobe Illustrator for my digital artwork and now it has become my backbone. I still have a long way to go but to evolve from all the terrible fonts and designs I’ve made, I’m grateful!

Where can others find your work?

You can see some projects I’ve done on Behance:

You can also see my daily posts and styling I do as a hobby on Instagram:




I never truly knew how much I had learnt in my undergraduate degree course until I started Café Kumbuk. I studied Advertising and it was never really on my agenda to work in an advertising agency – I mostly did it as it was a solid degree to have under my belt. It was in my final year of university that we were asked to create a brand for our final project, for me that brand was Café Kumbuk. I never thought for a second that it would become a reality and I thank my lucky stars everyday that my degree taught me all the skills necessary to build, brand and market my very own café.


Where and how things are made. It’s super important to me for my customers to know where we source our ingredients, the faces and hands behind it and document each and every process for them to see. I am proud to work with each of my suppliers and will continue to shed light on the amazing things they do.


Keep your team inspired and motivated. My team is the foundation of Café Kumbuk and they work tirelessly everyday to meet our customer’s expectations and make them happy. Paying my team well allows them to look after themselves and their families and keeps them striving for more. If my team isn’t happy, motivated and inspired then the whole chain falls to pieces.


‘Good ideas and businesses are made through debate – of the face-to-face variety. And people are much more motivated when they work among like-minded types.’ It’s a good thing to share ideas, talk about the things that work and be honest about the things that don’t. Celebrate other people’s successes and don’t be afraid to ask how they did it! Some will share, some won’t – those who do you will most certainly learn something valuable from. Stick together.


In the same way as its important to pay your team well, its also important to look after them in other ways. Every few months we find a way to bring our team together outside of the work place and allow them to let loose and bond with us and with each other. ‘Give people a good desk, a comfortable chair and a welcoming light. And then let them do their work.’


‘Be open to change’



‘Working for yourself should be fun, rewarding and allow you to shape a company that matches your beliefs and life. Be cautious of falling in with how your rivals do things.’ Competition is inevitable and instead of focusing too much on what others are doing, get inspired and go a mile further! Find ways to reinvent your offering and get creative.


‘Just as vital: you need to see who else is benchmarking quality in your field. Go see your competition in action.’ Okay so this point and my last may be slightly contradictory but not if you omit the word competition. Its important to know what others are offering and how they are offering it so you can better your own business. Don’t look at it as competition, look at it as a chance to get inspired. I often travel to get inspired, to see how service is elsewhere and to try and implement specific learnings in my own café.


‘Choose an HQ capital that also delivers the quality of life you want; balance urban efficiency with pleasure. But remember: a company should be part of a community it sits in. Come out from behind those walls.’ I am happy to be here, living in this tropical paradise and it suits me just fine. I have lived in the UK for most of my life and London for the latter part before moving here and although I loved it I also didn’t feel as happy as I do here. Find your happy place.


‘Make spaces that people like to visit, linger in and be creative in.’ Its important to me that my team enjoy the space as well as café customers. I felt inspired to create the space and I hope people feel inspired within it.



‘When things go wrong you need to be there but otherwise let people grow rapidly in their roles and even keep you a little tested.’ The first six months of Café Kumbuk was especially a learning curve for me. I felt like without me there my team wouldn’t be able to manage and what I eventually realized was the opposite. Without me there pushing everyone and micro managing they were able to feel more relaxed, happy and in turn do their job better – much better than I could have imagined. Often I feel compelled to get behind the front desk, talk to customers, clear tables and that’s OKAY but make sure you aren’t hindering the processes put in place by you and your team. Find balance, find space.


Respect the culture of those that you work with. Everyone comes with their own ideologies and beliefs, work with it and although you may not agree with certain things try and broaden your horizons and learn from it.


‘Too many businesses are created by people looking for the exit strategy before the paint has even dried on their shop sign. We need to honour people who are in it for the long haul.’


More often than not you will face situations that are difficult and totally uncomfortable. Every week or so I face a customer complaint or perhaps a harsh online review. Remember you cannot please everyone and when dealing with difficult people always keep your cool. Kindness costs nothing and is always much better received.


Anyone can do business, but doing good business is tricky and can take a long time to get the formula right. Remember through it all to keep learning, keep asking questions and keep enjoying the process. Remember passion fuels purpose.

Post Workout Food in Colombo

We thought we’d compile this list because we are ever so familiar with the hunger pangs that supersede a good core-crunching workout. Especially when you just want to eat up a mountain but don’t want to lose those workout gains! These are the places we like to hit when we want to dig in without feeling too guilty (note: they are in no particular order).


Nestled on the lakefront in Col. 3, Life Food is a cozy little café serving up super good, healthy meals for the food fanatic. If you’re hardcore, you could even try running over there, build up your appetite and then dig in! Our favourite is the ‘Honey Honey,’ a salad bowl with avo, honey-mustard chicken, feta, cherry tomatoes, salad trimmings and a killer dressing! It really is a treat, honey! There are loads of other great dishes on the menu too, including some kurakkan roast paan sandwiches; try the ‘Smooth Operator,’ a sandwich of basil, chicken and avo mayo. As you may have picked up, these guys are one of the few places that go crazy with the avocadoes and we just love it.

Life Food is open from 7:30am to 9:30pm (8am to 9:30pm on weekends and on most public holidays), so that’s definitely a plus! They’re also the only place we’ve seen in Colombo that serves up Kangen water with the meals. If you know the science behind these ionized waters produced through electrolysis, then you know what the craze is all about.


With a couple of branches around town and in the South, Calorie Counter is a health food giant. One peek at the menu and you’ll realize they do live up to the name! The number of calories in each dish is highlighted next to the dish so you can actually count the calories you ingest just as the name suggests! They have a wide range of options to choose from, including fresh salads, open-faced sandwiches and some nice steak options! Go for the salmon steak, one of the best fish dishes in town. Some might say the sandwiches are a tad dry, but then again they are counting calories, so we’re not complaining!

Calorie Counter too, is open from 7am – 10pm which is great for us busy bodies that tend to hit the gym at all odd hours of the day. With a branch in Galle, it’s also easily accessible on vacation, lol.


Our cozy 2nd outlet on Reid Avenue serves up some of our signature dishes all day round. In front of the racecourse, inside the Lakpahana compound, right next to the Good Market Shop is where you’ll find Kumbuk Kitchen; it’s really not as complicated as it sounds though! The best part is, it’s easily accessible from most places that we usually go to workout, be it running around the track surrounding the Independence Square and Racecourse or TRX next door. They too go crazy with the avocadoes, pairing it with hummus, prawn salads, tex mex dishes and classic avo on toast (a brekkie dish at Café Kumbuk). Or you could head over for a high protein bowl of Peanut Butter Granola or Beet Hummus; great to replenish the energy used up at your workout.

Kumbuk Kitchen stays open till 7:30pm on Wed/Thurs/Fri but is generally open from 8am – 5pm 7-days a week, including most holidays!


Having recently launched a new and improved menu, which we are absolutely raving about, their foods are mainly plant based and they have a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan options all of which are super affordable. They use healthy, high quality ingredients and make everything in house or through artisanal local suppliers. They also have a lovely kid’s menu which helps tremendously when traveling with the babies. We love their new fishcakes and poached egg breakfast dish – its filling, ever so tasty and totally guilt free! If you’re looking for a super healthy lunch then definitely try one of their salad bowls, our favorite is the one with spinach and sweet potato fritters – SO GOOD. Their juices and smoothies are perfectly blended and always taste fresh. Milk and Honey café is a great place to help you keep up a healthy diet throughout the week.

Heads up tho, their kitchen is only open from 9:30am – 6:30pm (all week round), so you gotta make it in time for that post workout meal if you’re an evening person.


There’s nothing we crave more after a workout than a good juice and Good Life Café does that oh so well! You can expect to find plenty of pre-made cold-pressed juices in their chiller for a quick grab and go. The apple-pie juice really does taste like apple-pie without all the extra calories of course and the lemongrass and pineapple is energizing and zesty fresh. Their mango tango smoothie bowl is the perfect wholesome healthy breakfast – you can call and pre-order! One of our go to smoothies of theirs is the choco-loco which is great when you’re craving something sweet but still good for you. If you’re looking for almond milk and Greek yoghurt then you can find it at Good Life Café but best to call up and pre-order just to make sure.

They’re generally open Tue – Sun from 8am to 8pm. It’s a Good Life with Good Life, really!

How Two Girls from Sri Lanka’s Plantation Slums Went From Dropping Out of School to Passing on Their Love of Learning


As you drive past the lush green plantations of Hatton, known for its Ceylon tea, you can’t help but roll down your windows to smell the tea leaves wavering in the fresh air and gaze at the rolling landscape around you. You might see the smiling faces of the tea pluckers, many of whom live in crowded conditions on the estates. In spite of the beauty surrounding them and tea being one of the Sri Lanka’s most profitable cash crops, families who work on the estates are among the nation’s poorest, with one in three children classified as underweight and 40 percent of babies born with extremely low weight.

“These disadvantaged children often grow up to be disadvantaged fathers and mothers,” said Ranjani, a social mobilizer, or mentor, in Room to Read Sri Lanka’s Girls’ Education Program. “In most cases, the girls drop out of school and marry young because their families can no longer provide for them.”

Four years ago, best friends Prashanthi and Mogandashi, both raised in the “line-room” slums of Hatton’s tea estates, faced a similar fate. At 14 years old they had to drop out of school to help their families survive and didn’t have much more to look forward to than an early marriage. But what happens when girls like Prashanthi and Mogandashi are given a chance at education and the support they need to finish school?

Girls’ Education Program alumnae and best friends Prashanthi and Mogandashi walk home together. Inspired to pass on what they learned, the 18-year-olds began tutoring children living in the line-room slums.

Prashanthi’s father, a tea plucker who earned less than two dollars a day, died when she was four years old and her mother lost her ability to walk soon after. “I was a school dropout. I did not understand why we should study and I did not have the money to go to school anyway,” said Prashanthi, who is now 18. “It was important I stay at home and take care of my mother while my brother worked on the plantation.”

When Ranjani heard Prashanthi had stopped going to school she began visiting her at home. “Ranjani wouldn’t let me drop out,” said Prashanthi. “She would come to my home several days a week and just talk with me. She was persistent in the most sisterly way and her encouragement was inspiring.” In 2009 Prashanthi returned to school and joined Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program.

The program, which helps ensure girls can stay in school and complete their secondary education, provided Prashanthi with funding for transportation, pens, books, and even meals, as well as life skills education and continued support from Ranjani. Five years later Prashanthi graduated from school and is hoping to start at the university next year. “Throughout the program, Room to Read helped me realize the value of education, how it could help me help my family. It was a difficult time for me,” Prashanthi said through her tears, “but I did it!”

Prashanthi’s best friend Mogandashi also had to drop out of school when her family could no longer afford it. Mogandashi’s mother is a tea plucker and her father works as a laborer in Colombo where he struggles to earn a living for the family. “My father works very hard and we rarely get to see him,” Mogandashi said as she wiped her tears. “We barely have enough money to eat and the little money he earns he sends to us.

Just as with Prashanthi, Ranjani began visiting Mogandashi at home to convince her to return to school as a Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program participant.

Room to Read came into my life and provided the support I needed,” said Mogandashi. “My life changed.” Mogandashi is now a proud graduate of secondary school and is determined to go to university next year to become a bank manager.

In only four years, Prashanthi and Mogandashi went from being 14-year-old drop outs to the first in their families to graduate secondary school. Today they are creating a better life for their families and a better way for their communities by passing on their love of learning.

The good news is that Prashanthi and Mogandashi are far from being outliers. Educating girls has an empowering effect on their communities because girls reinvest their knowledge and income back into their families and communities, helping to bring an end to poverty for themselves and for the world.

This is why we are thankful for partners such as Café Kumbuk who are #ActiveforEducation with us! Join us. Educate girls. Make a difference.



Bee Pollen is made by honeybees, and is the food of the young bee. It is considered one of natures most nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. Bee-gathered pollen are rich in proteins (approximately 40% protein), free amino acids, vitamins - including B-complex, and folic acid. Bee Pollen is one ingredient we have found hard to source here in Sri Lanka; but when we travel we bring back little batches, which we use to top off our Peanut Butter Granola bowl at both Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen.

Chia Seeds are plant proteins that contain all the essential amino acids, as well as essential fatty acids and minerals such as magnesium. For a very long time Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds to increase energy levels during hunting. We also use ‘kasa kasa’ or basil seeds, which are considered a superfood similar to chia with even more health benefits and fewer calories. We use both chia seeds and basil seeds in our Kumbuk Homemade Superseed Jars and our Kopi Fix smoothie – both available at Café Kumbuk.

Raw Cacao has more than 300 nutritional compounds and is one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food on the planet. We use raw cacao in most of our pastry items, in our chocolate sauce that will soon be available for purchase by the jar and also in our Pick Me Up smoothie.

Coconut Water having super hydrating qualities is often loved by athletes. It’s loaded with calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, ascorbic acid and B group vitamins – making it a fantastic electrolyte drink. Coconut water, known as ‘thambili’ in Sri Lanka, forms the base for most of our smoothies at both Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen.

Turmeric otherwise known as ‘kaha’ here is a blood purifier and is beneficial for many different health conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to hepatitis and more. It also equalizes blood sugar levels and heals stomach cramps and indigestion. Health studies have also shown that turmeric can be three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin. We use turmeric bread in our Avo Toast breakfast dish, in our Vietnamese Fried Rice on our Saturday dinner menu and in the sauce that goes on our Pan Fried Salmon on the Café Kumbuk lunch menu.

Raw Honey is considered a holy food. In general, honey is good for the health of the throat, lungs, liver, chest and especially the blood. Honey, when used topically, is a powerful wound healer. Honey de-natures at high heat, which makes it toxic to the body. Its best to always purchase raw honey for this reason and never heat it in cooking.

Coconut Oil Vs. Palm Oil

First we must understand both products: the coconut is an important member of the family Arecacaeae (palm family); Palm oil is from the African oil palm. Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconut, harvested from the coconut palm. Not to be confused with coconut oil, Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit.

Renewable Source – when coconuts are used, it is considerably easy to replace them. Coconut trees can grow in almost any kind of soil, even in sandy soils on the seashore. More so, they live and bear fruit for up to more than 60 years. It is considered a “three-generational tree” which can support a farmer, his children and his grandchildren. Coconut oil is regarded as a renewable resource, which can be grown again unlike fossil and mineral raw materials such as crude oil, coals etc. whose occurrence is limited and finite.

Healthiest oil on the planet – Many people find it hard to believe that a fatty food could be so good for you, but coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils on the planet. It consists of 90+% raw saturated fats: a rare and important building block of every cell in our human body.

AMMA Sri Lanka – mother made, naturally dyed textiles. Handcrafted in the Sri Lankan highlands.

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Here we talk to the couple behind AMMA Sri Lanka - about their project here in Sri Lanka and their plans for the future.

1) Hey guys, tell me a little about yourselves!

I grew up between London and Wales, thinking about it now it was the perfect balance between city and coast. Once I had the chance, I was back to London for university where I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins. I specialized in weaving, and spent a lot of time in the dye room experimenting with colors - dyeing yarn to use in my work. Understanding the time and dedication that goes into producing a piece of fabric has given me a new respect for how our clothes are made and the people who make them. I have always been interested in the social aspect of textiles, and how ancient skills like weaving or natural dyeing can be revived and harnessed to create sustainable employment. 

2) How did AMMA Sri Lanka come about? What made you guys move to Sri Lanka?

I first came to Sri Lanka in 2010, which massively influenced my decision to study textiles. I was really inspired by the colors, texture and vibrancy, it was the first time I thought about textiles' place in the world and how fundamental it is to both Sri Lankan heritage and also its economy. 

I have a friend who helps direct a charity called Child Action Lanka, which is based in Kandy. Once i finished university she mentioned that CAL were looking to start various social enterprises to help generate income and rely less on outside funding... and if there was anyway I could start something amongst the mothers focused on textiles that would be great! So myself and my husband visited in 2016 to see if the Sri Lankan lifestyle would work for us... and it (mostly) did!

3) Your website says 'Mother Made' so who are these mothers? Where do they live and how did you get involved with them?

Yes, the best bit! We welcomed two mothers into the workshop last week 'Priyadarshani' who's 23 and 'Chandraleka, 29. Both drop their daughters off at the CAL pre-school, then come downstairs to work with us 9.30am - 12.30am, before collecting them once school is finished. They live on the local tea estates. Its Priyadarshani's first job, but she's picking everything up really quickly and Chandraleka used to be a nurse before having her daughter. The way we work celebrates motherhood, and makes space for them to earn a fair wage and learn new skills whilst also getting quality time with their little ones. 

4) You guys got in touch with Cafe Kumbuk and asked for us to keep aside any avocado stones that we have - what do you do with the stones?

Avocado stones are a great source of natural dye, I started to experiment with them in the UK but was limited as their expensive to buy - so working with you guys is a total dream. Avocado stones are high in tannins which means they produce dyes with good color fastness, you can also use the skins but these are harder to transport and store. 

Once I've collected the stones from you, I soak them until the brown outer layer comes away - this reveals a beautiful orange/peachy color on the inside. I have found the best way to store the stones is to dry them out, this also deepens the color and richness of the dye. Once black marks start to appear i place them in a saucepan, cover with water and gently boil to release the color. Out of all the dyes we use avocado takes the most time to develop. I've also found it one of the trickiest to get consistent (I'm still working on it) as water quality and acidity plays a big role. It takes around 2 hours simmering and another hour the next day to extract the full color once this is done you can add the yarn or cloth - we tend to do this in a bucket off the heat as it saves energy but you can do either. 

If you interested in learning more about avocado dyes take a look at I’ve learnt pretty much everything about avocados from her! 

5) What other foods do you use to extract colour? How did you learn how to extract colour?

We use carrot tops, onion skins, tea waste and pomegranate skins plus some plants like eucalyptus, madder and chamomile, I'm always on the look out for local dye plants next on my list is marigold flowers, bracken fern and indigo. 

I learnt how to extract color at university, its very similar to making tea - the tricky bit is adapting to the changes in each plant. I regret not concentrating in chemistry because its all to do with the water PH. Lots of trial and error, even more so now we are trying to do it on a larger scale. Sometimes something just doesn’t work how you expect - but its nature, its unpredictable. 

6) What are the next steps for AMMA?

A few different things, we are working with some local brands who are interested in using naturally dyed materials in their designs this is a really exciting challenge for us and good opportunity to train our mothers up on the job. 

We also want to start developing our own range, we don't know exactly what this will look like - but we have been so encouraged by people’s reactions to the little steps we have taken so far, its great to see people valuing a more sustainable eco friendly way of dyeing.




I was finding it quite tricky to find a class that works for me! I wanted trainers that would keep me inspired and motivated. I also wanted a workout that would leave me feeling exhausted but also incredibly good. I found all the above in Tanuja and Hasithas Kinetic Fitness classes. I was curious to find out what her fitness motivations are and how she stays on track – which I personally find quite tough to do!

Tanuja started her career as a trainer in 2010 when she got her personal training license from Premiere Fitness in London, UK. She then went on to work with an exclusive gym called Gymbox before moving on to train artists from the TV show The X Factor (UK). She grew up in London, spent a few years in New York and is now living in Sri Lanka. We are certainly lucky to have her! Apart from fitness, if you haven’t heard her already – Tanuja is an incredible singer.

1) Tanuja were you always interested in working in the fitness industry? What inspired you to get into personal training?

I was always an athletic person and enjoyed competitive sports and sprinting. However what lead me to becoming a trainer was losing my father and brother at a young age. I hit an all time low and used physical training to help me out of what then seemed like a black hole of depression. The training literally changed my life and I decided at that point I wanted to help other people to live to their full potential. I went back to school, re educated myself and have never looked back.

2) What is the mission of Kinetic Fitness?

Our mission at Kinetic fitness is not simply helping people to get muscles and get fit.  We are trying to help people to achieve a feeling of overall wellness. We use a number of resistance training systems as well as yoga, meditation and pranayama and dietary consultation to help you to understand how these things are all connected and when used in coincidence will help you to achieve an all around feeling of wellbeing. Most importantly no matter at what point you are in life it is never too late to start and become the best version of yourself. 

3) I saw you in the studio boxing the hell out of your partner the other day haha! What is your personal favourite workout? What is effective for your body?

I personally have a number of different ways that I workout and I feel this keeps me most balanced. I try to do a little yoga and meditation everyday as this really helps me to stay focused and connected and helps to release a lot of the tightness I have, which helps me with my other training.  On certain days I lift weights, on others I do TRX training and then sometimes I love to box. 

4) They say getting fit is 80% diet and 20% exercise - do you agree? Is there anything specific one should cut out to achieve their body goals?

I agree that diet plays a huge roll but I do also feel that working out is essential not only for physical but for mental wellbeing. I personally think sugar in all its forms carbs, sweets, booze should be reduced in order to keep bodyfat low. I also don't think it is good to eat red meat in huge quantities. A lot of people are getting on this paleo diet thinking they need to eat their body weight in red meat and this makes them healthy. But I think there are a lot of health risks involved in eating in this way especially cholesterol and heat disease. I think loading up on the veggies and lean organic chicken and fish as well as beans and pulses as forms of protein are far more sustainable over your life. 

5) How do you stay motivated? On hangover days its the toughest thing in the world for me to pull myself out of bed and get to the gym - do you find yourself having days like this and how do you combat it?

I stay motivated because working out not only makes me look good but also feel good. Hangover days are tough but getting a good sweat on post drinking binge works wonders. But if you don't make it out to the gym on some days don't beat your self up. We are all human. 

6) If you're working hard to achieve your fitness goals - do you think cheat days set you back?

Cheat days don't set you back. They are essential for your physiological wellbeing. If you were constantly not allowing yourself to eat the things you love you will end up falling off the wagon and gorging yourself. If you eat healthily the majority of the time and allow yourself a day where you eat what you want you are more likely to stay on track and sustain it over your life. But don't cheat a little every day. Pick a day and stick to it.

7) Whats one piece of advice you could give to women who are not happy with their body shape and size?

The one thing I would say to anyone who is unhappy with their body is change it. Your muscles and body are dumb. You are in control and as soon as you make the decision to start working out and eating properly your body composition will change. If you want some advice on how to do that then come to Kinetic fitness. 

8) Recently you did your Quantum Yoga training - what exactly is it and how does it differ to other forms?

I recently did the quantum yoga teacher training course. Quantum yoga is different because it uses Ayurvedic assessment to help you through your practice. I first help you determine your dominant dosha (body/mind composition). In quantum yoga there are certain sequences that help bring the doshas into balance. 

There are a number of classes daily at The Kinetic Studio inside the Prana Lounge. You can get updates about the classes by checking their website at or @kineticfitmove on Instagram as well as They’ve got plenty of new fun classes starting in May like THUMP (boxing class) and Quantum Yoga! See you guys there.




Kavan and I got to know each other when we were schooling here in Colombo prior to those ever so important angst teen years. Since I’ve known him he’s always been drawn towards making art. He studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London; after completing a Foundation course in Art & Design he moved onto the Fine Art Bachelor’s degree at CSM’s then new campus in Granary Square, Kings Cross. Here he shares his thoughts with me on his move back to Sri Lanka, his collection of silkscreen prints (one of which is hanging at Café Kumbuk) and the growing arts scene in Sri Lanka.

1) As long as I’ve known you I don’t think I have ever really asked you you’re your artistic journey really began? When did you actively start putting pen/pencil/paint to paper?

I've been scrawling all over the walls of my house ever since I could. Being an artist is an answer I have always given as I've grown up. It is a bit weird, considering I didn't leave much room for anything else. 

2) Cheers for contributing one of your silkscreen prints to the café wall Kavan! It totally fits the space. What was your inspiration for this particular collection?

The collection of silkscreen prints contributed to the cafe is titled as Contact. It's about the physical process of creating colour combinations on the paper surface. Each resultant layer, although premeditated, has an element of unpredictability to it. I attribute feelings evoked in the Contact series as akin to the physiological experience of another person, be it simply to brush past the arm of another, or to wholly realise them. To interpret those moments and present them as a memory. The first print matched the colour palette of the cafe. 

3) When we were graduating from London and figuring out our next moves I remember you were debating whether to move to Berlin or not. What was it that made you move back to Colombo?

I felt the need to change my circumstance and live in the space and difference of opportunity that a place like Colombo - home - could provide. It's been quite fruitful being here and I am happy to have made that decision. But I think it's good to keep on the move. Considering it again. It's also been interesting to use this time as a chance to try different things by putting certain content out there that has been made in different places, to observe and consider reception and build upon that.

4) Yeah I think keeping things on the move allows you to become re-inspired – which is a beautiful thing. How do you observe the Sri Lankan fine art scene? Is there a lot of new talent coming through?

Contemporary art in Sri Lanka has been growing at a steady rate with many young practitioners speaking about a range of relevant topics through different styles and mediums. Most of the upcoming talent are young voices who have a lot of say, and it's good to note the players on the main stage are doing all they can to help bring about progressive change.

5) What are you currently working on?

I'm trying to diversify my practice, so I'm experimenting with graphic and fine arts. 

Can’t wait to see what you come out with next!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Kavan’s work then follow his Instagram handle @studio.bala


Chef John – On Cooking and Kumbuk


Six months ago I was approached by a young chap called John who was in Sri Lanka on holiday about to return to a job in Dubai. On our very first meeting at the café we discussed his previous work experience and decided that he could help us craft a menu or two whilst here.

Needless to say, what started as a quick project turned into a full time job, we simply couldn’t let him go! John has helped us to turn the Café Kumbuk menu around, plating up food we enjoy and love to share. He crafted and created the veggie vegan menu at Kumbuk Kitchen – supporting the opening team like the superhero he is.

You’ll often see him on his bike, cycling between both cafes with supplies under one arm. Here he chats to us on cooking and Kumbuk.

1. Give us a little rundown of your culinary work experience and why you chose to move back to Sri Lanka?

I am a Chef with 6 years of experience in the Hotel industry. Previously I had worked for the Hilton Hotel Chain both in Sri Lanka as well as in Dubai. During this time I had the opportunity to work for 10 plus restaurants spanning across 4 Hilton Hotel properties as well as being able to represent Sri Lanka for culinary competitions in France and China.

I had been on holiday in Sri Lanka after ending my time in the Hotel industry and I was originally planning to head back to Dubai to work for an independent restaurant as part of their opening team. During this time I had come to see Sri Lanka in a new light: one with an abundance of local produce to work with and a country slowly trying to re-invent its culinary scene. I wanted to be a part of it and took a leap of faith and moved back to Sri Lanka

2) What first sparked your interest to be a chef?

Even after completing my basic culinary training at 17 and being able to train further as an apprentice Chef. I still was not convinced I wanted to be a Chef. It was only when my apprenticeship had led me to work in a fine dining restaurant that I was convinced. The amount of respect shown to ingredients ,the dedication given to each dish and the adrenaline filled atmosphere during dinner service was all part of why I wanted to continue being a Chef

3) What’s your favourite local ingredient to work with and why?

Honestly everything! There are so many amazing ingredients to work with in Sri Lanka. It really is hard to pick just one but a current favourite of mine is Polos (Baby Jackfruit). Shana and myself had experimented on making a mock "pulled pork" and it turned out better than we had expected!

4) How does the restaurant/café scene in Dubai compare to Sri Lanka?

Dubai is Dubai. Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes have carte blanche on the food trends. Picnic style brunches on rooftop gardens to the simple hole-in-the-wall burger joints.Dubai has it all and are ready to cater to all.

In Sri Lanka, restaurants and cafes have one problem in common. Simple ingredients become expensive and difficult to get a hold of and so we are not ready as a tourism promoting country to cater to everyones needs. I hope this changes in the near future.

Apart from this I think many establishments have worked their way around such issues by providing local alternatives to international products thereby creating a somewhat unique tropical inspired food culture. 

5)  What is it about Café Kumbuk that initially drew you to it?

I had approached a few cafes and restaurants for work and Cafe Kumbuk (Shana) was the first to reply. I liked the ambiance of the cafe: simple and rustic. Shana knows her food and this makes it easier as a Chef when creating new menus. I thought this was the perfect setting for me to start from.

6) What is it about the Café Kumbuk menu that’s different to what other cafes are offering up in Colombo?

We try to make at least 90 percent of whats on the plate to be locally sourced. The food is healthy but also tasty and sourcing ingredients locally when and where we can allows us to serve food that is reasonably priced and very filling. We take food inspirations from around the world and we want to translate these dishes using local produce and make our menu as unique as possible. 

7) What’s the next step for Café Kumbuk?

Currently we are working on opening for dinner and we are looking forward to the coming months when we get to re-invent our menu.


Ten Tracks we're feeling this April



Masego is a saxophonist that’s able to play pretty much any other instrument put in front of him. If that wasn’t enough – he also sings, raps and produces. The music he makes teeters in a world of sounds that aren’t restricted to any one genre. His track ‘Send Yo’ Rita’ strikes the perfect balance between overbearing and faint trap influences. It’s bound to bring back those 02’ feels due to the JT Senorita sample. The sax solo on the track is sex, my only complaint is I wish there was more of it.

Jazz fusion maestro Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat (underrated and under-listened to) brings the fire on his album ‘Drunk’. He contributed extensively to Kendrick’s 2015 ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and last years ‘Untitled Unmastered’. Now Kendrick lends his talents to Thundercats ‘Walk On By’. On the track Cat pleads for his partner to stay and work through their relationship woes. In true Kendrick fashion, later he surfaces with a mellowed out flow about sins, condolences and death. It ain’t as morbid as it sounds, trust.


Undoubtedly one of my all time favourite tracks by Tom Misch - dubbed one of the UK’s most exciting producers. He initially gained attention for his ‘Beat Tape 1’, a collection of J Dilla inspired tracks he put online which gained A LOT of attention. In 2015 he dropped his ‘Beat Tape 2’ – heavy on the collaborations offering up a concoction of neo-soul and hip hop influenced tracks. This track ‘In The Midst Of It All’ although incredibly mellow is super capable of seducing bodies onto the dance-floor. It’s the perfect blend of pop and jazz and along with Sam Wills silky sweet vocals its a track you can’t shake off in a hurry.


Love the original Redbone by Childish Gambino, here I’ve shared the Redbone slowed to crawl - which I think I love even more. It’s a full blown funk slow jam of love, lust, reconciliation and wokeness. Donald Glover continues to reign supreme.


Put any instrument in front of FKJ and he’ll work his magic. In ‘Why Are There Boundaries’ FKJ keeps it uber mellow with his smooth like peanut butter vocals layered over what sounds like an old school RnB instrumental, infused with jazz guitar and other rhythmic elements. You can’t help but close your eyes and bop to a track like this – it’s got a hell of a lot of heart! What I love most about this track – its honesty.


An oldie but a goodie! A song written by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Marve Tarplin in 1965. Another super honest track – talking of love, loss and longing. We’ve all been there – it’s a track easy to relate to. ‘Take a good look at my face, you’ll see my smile looks out of place, if you look a little bit closer, it’s easy to trace the tracks of my tears.’


“What ‘Cranes’ reveals is that time doesn’t heal all wounds, but instead you learn to live with the gashes. Solange’s voice is soothing, a balmy dressing for the lacerations. But she’s letting you know there will still be scars. It’s a song that reminds you that there is an ‘it’ you carry around, that you don’t always get the answers and that you don’t always get closure” – What Solange does so well on this track is to strike a balance between joyous and melancholy. There’s loss and there’s victory. - OKAYPLAYER


This song and video gives me an overwhelming sense of nostalgia – Headphones on, on the DLR heading out from Limehouse. Every single time. Bonzai’s lovely lyrics and soothing vocals blend perfectly with MM’s unique sound of organic and synthetic instruments. Throw in steel drums and squelching synths, you’ve got yourself a delicious cocktail of a track to sip on. Super in love with their tracks ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Firefly’ do give em a listen.


“The music on “History Lesson” is almost laughably gentle at first, and Jaar employs a trick favored by both John Lennon (“Run for Your Life”) and Paul McCartney (“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”), juxtaposing inviting music with disturbing lyrics. Here’s how his history lesson starts: “Chapter one: We fucked up/Chapter two: We did it again, and again, and again, and again/Chapter three: We didn’t say sorry.” And so on. The words are a harsh rebuke of any political system. But the music is tender. And the track is bleak and funny, and naïve and wise, and political and personal. It feels like everything all at once. It feels like Sirens.” – PITCHFORK


Goldlink and Masego make fire together on the track ‘Late Night’. This track in particular I feel gives off a Frank Ocean-esque vibe. My only complaint – Goldlink tracks are too short, need more more more!


I know it says top ten but here’s one for the road. A track that I will never ever tire of. It’s some real funky shit not to be taken lightly. Andre 3000 and Big Bois story telling skills are outta this world this track in particular deserves a gold medal. Thank you Outkast.


You’ll hear these beauties on the Café Kumbuk playlists from time to time. We’ve got plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned.