Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the limited friendships in our society

When I returned to SL after a three decade absence, save for fleeting visits for a week or two, I realized that my complete circle in Sri Lanka was limited to my immediate relatives with whom I was close, and did not feel the need to extend my friendships any further. On reflection of that feeling I realized that it was quite insular and it was hard to extend this range unless one actively went out socializing, by joining a club or organization such as lions or rotary.

I also noticed that most people I knew only socialized with a very limited range of friends, either from school days or from their workplace. How was I going to increase the scope of potential friends? My solution was to start a weekly open house at my place and starting with people I knew, I asked them to bring drop in if they were free with a friend for a drink and a chat.

Within three months of this, I was able to suddenly broaden my base of friends to about 100 with whom I had regular contacts with and my acquaintance base by a similar figure with whom I was on nodding terms and be able to call on and chat with if I was at a social occasion.

This was a couple of years ago, when I came for a short stint in Sri Lanka. So when I returned to Sri Lanka and moved out of the regular social scene, I had no occasion to
renew my friendships after a long absence. It was easy to live out in the boonies and not be in touch with those who I knew as I was busy making new contacts as if I were in a new country far away from friends and family.

I was however for financial necessity forced into coming back into the commercial world in order to supplement my income as I was having a hard time making ends meet living a hand to mouth existence. At this instant I had to find digs in Colombo in order to fulfill my task for a few days of the week, and I decided to renew my friendships and so re-commenced my open house system. I was told that it is similar tot he at home that people used to have in days gone by where people would let it be known that they were available to meet friends at home on certain days of the week or month. This meant that in the days when few had phones or means of transport, they could arrange to make the trek to meet a friend or relative on a particular day knowing they would be home.

This then was the seed of the idea of people in SL dropping in at homes unannounced, a familiar aspect of society until recently where it has changed as people are now living busier lives and are able to use mobile phones to communicate and call before dropping in so that no time would be wasted, making unnecessary trips.

I have now set up a regular open house arrangement on Tuesdays, the day I am usually in Colombo for work in an office a 32nd floor of the World Trade Center, with a stunning view of Galle Face. Quite an array have dropped in mostly unannounced and these sessions have ranged from 2 to 42 people. The latter could still be accommodated, due to the unique layout of my bachelor pad which while built on a mere 2 perches is nevertheless in a tower with 4 levels, including a roof terrace to accommodate the young and restless in overflow mode.

I recommend opening your doors as you don't know who you will meet, you may be surprised.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tithe first instant upload from the phone

Megha who slept at the bottom of my bed last night gets the pic upload taken a few minutes ago in his kennel.
Hello readers I was a lucky recipient of an apple I phone to blog from the field direct to cyberspace.

So here is my first attempt and excuse any first time blues

It truly is godayata magic!!!!!

Thank you my special blog fan who firmly believes that my blogs are original and rank at the level of the top non commercial world blogs for being such a fan for so long and who wants to see it reach another level.

I hope I don't disappoint you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

New photos of Megha and Bahu

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A memorable long weekend

I apologize for the lapse in giving an update because I have been out of my dream! and in a sense in matters more real or surreal.

I had an important family wedding to attend, where a cousin married another close relative, so the church and the reception were full of relatives. The wedding stretched over three days as the church service was on a Friday morning and then we all took the train from Fort Railway station, where a brass band the perfect back drop, played until we got onto the train, to the resort where the reception was to be held on the following evening.

It was unusual in that both the bride and groom's parties all stayed at the resort for the two nights as well as the newlyweds, so there was time to relax chat over the breakfast table and discuss the events of the day before etc.

The rains came a few hours before the open air event, and mercifully ceased a full half hour before the event commenced giving everyone time to get prepared and cooled things down for the night of dancing and fireworks that added to the luster of the event.

An unexpected number of invitees turned up at the reception in Bentota, a pleasant surprise as it was not expected that so many people would take the trouble to come from Colombo for the occasion, some who drove back home after the event.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Independence Day on the Farm

All my staff who live outside the Farm took the day off, so we guys 5 single guys including me were left to do the work. Fortunately, the Kade Mudalali, Menika opened the Kade, and she was kind enough to cook for us. So, I bought 500g of Salaya fish for Rs100 and she fried it battered in bread crumbs and was quite delicious. I ate it with the Red Basmati that I grew last season, and it is so delicious it can be eaten on its own, but the other guys don’t like red rice so were given their preferred choice which is Nadu (parboiled white rice)
She cooked the meal once for the day in the outside kitchen which uses firewood, and this food which is also used for dinner is cooked on clay pots and left covered. Other than the above, she cooked pathola or snake gourd and malu miris(capsicum) thel dala with potato and a mallung. The dogs have a separate lunch prepared of red rice, a little dhal, a salaya each for taste and gotukola for their coats, all cooked in one pot with no condiments or salt added.
I took charge of the shop while Menika cooked. We cut the grass for the cattle, watered the plants as the dry season has set in this area, and prepared a few new beds of vegetables. I had the added task of finalizing the previous month’s accounts to quantify my month’s loss! So all in all it was just another day for us.
We did not watch the proceedings on TV and no doubt most of those at home would have, as all the channels beamed this event from Kandy. Invariably the 4th of February is a bright sunny day with not a cloud in sight, and I presume it was much the same in Kandy. It is an ideal day for parades across the land, but I know of no parades except for the official ones planned and funded by the state at considerable cost, as they like a performance spectacle for the couch potatoes the country is turning into these days, waiting for things to fall into their hands.
Give some thought to those working today as there are essential services that cannot take a holiday and someone has to do it. Cows have to be milked, crops require water, etc. It is worth reflecting what most people will be doing on this day. I found most of the shops shut, much like a Poya. Remember shops are open on Saturday and Sunday. The office workers and government servants will enjoy the day off from the commute, as they get paid anyway, and are probably catching up on their chores at home. There was little traffic on the roads so most people probably stayed at home, with school kids home too, I trust there was some family time together for a change, but for singles whose cook takes the day off, they have to find a willing stand-in as even food outlets seemed to be shut.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

another week that was in the heartland

I took my 5 month old ridgeback Sinha Bahu to Minneriya on the 26th morning. I stood in line before 7am when the polling opened to cast my vote in Godagama at the local school close to the farm. I had everything packed and ready to leave so I was in Minneriya by noon, about 220km away, and as I drove into my property one of my neighbors stopped me to give the latest news, saying that SF, the common opposition candidate, was not on the electoral list and that he was only eligible to vote in the US!!! Such is the reach of the state news services.

My first problem in Minneriya was to deal with the fact with that the water due me for my paddy fields was being siphoned off by the those farmers ahead of me, leaving me no water, while I ironically passed an overflowing Minneriya tank which has enough stock to give me all the water I want. Such is the reality of farming in these parts.

I spent the next morning, a public holiday, digesting the presidential election results while busy working milling the various types of paddy from my harvested stock which I store on the property (see the related Perceptions blog). Remember that Minneriya gave the President the highest percentage of the vote in the whole Island. As far as my neighbors were concerned they were not surprised as it was still a thank you for winning the war (see the Serendipity blog for comment on one aspect of why the President got such a high percentage). While the day after the election was a public holiday, my neighbors were doing what they do every day. Most days in the lives of farmers here are holidays, only working when they feel it is absolutely necessary.

Sinha Bahu had his first dip in water at the river in front of my cabin. Within minutes he had learned to swim as he could not resist the water. He had the best time of his life so far as he was not on a leash and allowed to roam around the property. I then took him to the adjoining property to review the progress of the paddy, and see if a further spread of state-subsidized fertilizer was necessary [the fertilizer either comes from the United Arab Emirates or the CIS]. I took some great photos of Sinha Bahu on the sand by the river in that property and one moment it was there and the next it was gone. Well that was what happened to my digital camera. I don't know if Sinha Bahu took it and hid it or if it just got misplaced, but I have absolutely no idea what happened. So there goes the photos of a dog in the paddy fields, a puppy really having a fun running between the rice paddies like they were places to play hide and seek.

So it is now a quest for a new camera to update the reader with photos to accompany the story and all future stories.