When entering his home at Rosmead Place, it’s almost as if you stepped into a page from Narnia, a fantasy novel. But you really wonder if you stepped back in time when entering veteran hotelier and ‘dreamer’ Prasanna Jayawardene’s (PJ as he’s fondly called) office on the second floor.
The exquisite and enchanting antiques are truly treasures and add that nostalgic old age charm. What catches the eye mostly are the little antique ornaments and items, English porcelain and pottery, small furniture and the collectables which you will fall in love with. It’s also easy to see that each piece is lovingly chosen and beautifully presented taking you a step back in time, but with all the fun and sparkle of the present day.
Tea is served in silverware of a bygone era. Settling down to a long chat with the Business Times, he admits to having expensive hobbies. Antique collections and collecting ‘a few trophy cars’ are the most outstanding of them all. “I own a stretch Daimler, a limousine originally used by the queen when she was here,” he says. A stretch Austin Princess, also a limo which was imported for the then Premier Dudley Senanayake and a Jaguar owned by a Malaysian Sultan, which is over 50 year old completes the current collection. “Now I am restoring these cars again,” he says.
He also collects antique furniture. “This I love and they are mostly Sri Lankan, Dutch or from the English period. The other house which I built in Anuradhapura has more,” he says, which brings us to the next question why a house in Anuradhapura. He is quick to add that it was built as a base for his agricultural projects that he is currently involved with in the North and the East.
He is in the process of developing an “owner’s camp’ where there’re three rooms and the rest of the expanse is just a sprawling area. “This will be set up at Vakarai and will be right on the beach on a coconut land,” he says gleaming. He’s planning a simlar project near Mahiyangana in a 180- acre land. “The emphasis is on the agriculture,” he says, adding that it’s all organic farming.
It’s a realization that his talents are diverse and also vast when browsing through the three novels he has written.� “I’m not a great author or a writer,” PJ is quick to explain, adding that he only writes for himself. His last book was published last year, but some of its contents were actually written sometime ago – nearly 10 years, he says.