Raves on Ravi As He Says Goodbye
SILVER LAKE—For over 20 years, Ravi and Miriam Karunaratne have lived in the same home overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir. Ravi is well known to his neighbors, who frequently refer to him as the unofficial “Mayor” or “Ambassador” of Silver Lake.
“I love this house, but I love my neighbors. Silver Lake is a wonderful place full of wonderful people,” Ravi said.
Yet soon, the Karunaratnes will sell their home and move elsewhere—possibly to Oxnard, where they have family.
To remember his neighbors, Ravi has been passing around a journal and asking them to write him farewell letters. Photos of families and pets fill the pages alongside missives that paint a picture of a beloved family, known for their kindness.
One neighbor wrote she only recently realized that it was Ravi who had been leaving “beautiful poems” in her family’s mailbox for years.
Another recalled Ravi running outside to offer them popsicles on a hot day.
Others commented on the many plants he’s grown in his front yard and thanked him for his help in their own gardens. Ravi believes the secret to his green thumb is talking to and touching each plant daily, something he picked up from his father.
Several writers reminisced about going on regular walks through the neighborhood with Ravi, and at least three letters gushed about Miriam’s incredible Sri Lankan cooking.
Ledger cartoonist Howard Gindoff has lived in the area for over 15 years and met Ravi several years ago while walking his dog.
“Though we were born on different sides of the planet, we … have a lot in common,” Gindoff said. “He’s a great person to have around and he’s got a great sense of humor. I seriously refer to him as the Mayor of Silver Lake because he knows so many people. Everyone he meets, he says hello to and gets to know them. He’s that friendly.”
Ravi and Miriam met in Sri Lanka where they were neighbors. Ravi and his family worked in the music business, while Miriam worked as a teacher. They fell in love, got married, and had one son, Rajeewa, who now lives in Florida.
In 1984, they left Sri Lanka due to civil unrest. Miriam and the couple’s son went to England, while Ravi moved to the United States. First, he found a home in the Ardmore Apartments in Koreatown. In 1987, Miriam and young Rajeewa joined Ravi in Los Angeles.
According to Ravi, he and his wife visited their Silver Lake home long before they would buy it. It belonged to an elderly woman Miriam met as a parishioner of Wilshire Christian Church, who Ravi volunteered to drive back and forth to services.
When the woman later decided to sell the home, she told the Karunaratnes she wanted them to buy it. They accepted her offer and Ravi went about making it a home, fixing it up himself.
Ravi rapidly befriended his neighbors, but was also instrumental in introducing his more isolated neighbors to one another, forming a community wherever he went.
“My philosophy is, until I die, I have to help people. Today when I go to sleep, I am going to think about what I did,” he said.