Friday, June 20, 2008

some peace and quiet for a change

I am at present alone in my Ratmale home, which the villagers call the hotel. It was a relief to be by myself, In Sri Lanka with people around there is no reeal quiet. I brought Gamini and Sagara from Godagama, invited Rohitha, my neighbor in the Hingurakgoda property. It was more of a vacation instead of work for them. They went into the jungle to look for ‘wellang’ trees from which to cut the handles for the mamoty that all farmers in Sri Lanka use. This is supposed to be a good wood for this purpose being light, strong, straight and hardy and usually grows in just the size for this purpose.

If one knows Sri Lanka, food is a major preoccupation of the people. They like to eat three square meals and preferably rice. In these days of high costs the fact that they demand this is an exacting toll for me to fund. When I had to pay Rs120/-each, a bath packet at Minneriya only for the staff, I decided enough was enough and sent them all away to the Hingurakgoda property.

It seemed these days that all they spent time was fish to eat wth their meals and cook the dry rations that we brought with us or just spend their time chatting. There are four workmen on the land constructing the kitchen. Performance from my staff was zero as this state is not their normal work, so they don’t see the urgency. They therefore just make tea for the workers and eat bulath with them and cause a general nuisance.

In the 24 hours so far since they were sent off, I have been able to help the workmen by shifting the soil to fill the inside of the kitchen with earth and generally get up to date with my things and plan for the next few days ahead.

It was so peaceful last night. The winds were blowing swaying the kumbuk trees in front with a soothing sound. This an added bonus aiding me in my sleep. I sleep under a mosquito net, just so that I am not buzzed in my ear from a mosquito. The villagers all leave my area after their tank bath and told me to sleep indoors because the elephants might come and attack me! That’s how much they are frightened of the wild elephants. Off course I did not heed their words and slept in the verandah.

The people in this village all sleep indoors with all their doors and windows shut tight. It is hot and many find it hard to fall asleep and they complain incessantly. No wonder, they don’t benefit from the wind, which is prevalent in the dry season, and the sound now should be heard to understand.

As a result they think I am totally mad sleeping alone in the middle of the jungle, an elephant’s trunk distance from the edge where an elephant can touch with the trunk, the verandah being open on three sides. I was told last night when I was bathing in the tank after dark under moonlit skies, that the elephants are bathing on the other side right at that time.

Two boys are climbing the jam tree in front of my verandah now as I write. The tree is small and the branches light, and if one falls they could seriously hurt themselves, but no amount of warning will get these kids off the tree. That’s today’s village kids for you. Even they are not disciplined enough to listen to what I have to say least of all their mothers who keep calling for them to come to bathe in the tank. I have noticed it has become a practice of the kids to climb the tree every day in search of the red jam fruit, which are actually sweet. The monkeys on the tree in front of me are eyeing their performance and no doubt if I was not sitting here, would have had first crack at the red berries.

Food is my last concern at the moment so I can easily stay here with the water bottles I have. The four workmen from time to time ask my advice on how I want certain aspect of the kitchen done. I had been persuaded to get 5 tractor loads of black rock for the foundation, which was way too much, so I have asked the baas to raise part of the wall with rock and also complete the front of the kitchen area with rock, so it will look quite a quaint building mainly built from rock, and more Nuwera Eliya like to one in these parts. I worked out it is cheaper to build out of the rock than brick, but as I already have the brick, I will finish the walls to the roof line with the brick, so it all coordinates with the rest of the set of buildings.

I am very happy with the photos I took in the morning of the various flowers in the pond so much so that the one in the blog is what I am currently using as my wallpaper. It turned out to be really nice.

The sun has not been oppressive so I have been able to do some serious back breaking labor work to assist the workmen and now I have calluses on my left hand from the mamoty work. I cant wait to see the end of the kitchen building, but I am doing the work in stages due to financial constraints, and will only recommence when I next come to this property on July 1st when I hope I can go right up to roof level. Cement is Rs 780/- a 50kg bag now and I have used 10 bags these days to do the stonework including the foundation.


Anonymous said...

Good to see you are having some rest (if you call that a rest). Also congrats on year of blogging!

Anonymous said...

why don't you show some pics of the construction?

Rajaratarala said...

the pics of the construction to date are in which is a site devoted to the establishment and later the popularisation of a truly community friendly place of refuge for people both of Sri Lankan or other origins to relax in a sparse but unusual environment in the Dry Zone forests of the North Central Province

this is where I now spend a lot of my time while the construction of the kitchen takes place.