Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nothing goes according to plan, especially if you have too many!

One has a structure to one’s life, and hopes, as time progresses. It is according to some plan. However, many unforeseen events take over and ruin some of the best laid plans. Often a serious accident calls for a rethink of a strategy and that was one I encountered, that completely changed my course of action.

I was happy growing, going to homes in villages buying what I considered unusual items such as wild oranges from trees and transporting them and finally selling them to my customers. It was fulfilling, rewarding but very tiring and extremely strenuous as much of the work was done by me personally.

The unexpected accident on January 30th 2011 completely put paid to all that. My whole way of life completely changed. Not even having the only vehicle I possessed as it was condemned, and the insurance proceeds were not sufficient to even remotely consider a replacement, meant I had to quickly figure something else to do, to keep bread on the table. Independence disappeared!

I was fortunate in being asked to take on a new career in enabling a young politician with his work, and have now put all my energies in fulfilling his political ambitions, whilst at the same time taking some of the flack directed at him, and trying my best to perform under often trying circumstances.

This job is the art of the unexpected. Whilst agriculture was also the art of the unexpected weather, growing conditions, diseases, unpredictable harvest and price, this was of unexpected requests for assistance in unexpected quarters.

The job has turned into a social service project, aimed at not disappointing people who come for assistance, but who often ask for the impossible. It is all about juggling people’s expectations and when it is practically impossible to fulfill, ensuring that it is not your boss who the blame is directed at, as it is not his fault.

Just to quote one example, people believe it is only politicians who can fulfill the desires of those who wish to enter their kids into certain schools. There is very little one can do, as even when the relevant politician is approached, he signs a letter asking the local education officer to take note of the request. The education officer who handles it is the one making the decision, not the politician or minister of education, as the parents believe. So, all the best laid plans come asunder with this sort of expectation going unfulfilled.
It is therefore how one leads one’s life that is important, and in doing so reduce the obstacles in one’s way and grab hold of the crutches that help in achieving one’s objectives. It is always humans who are the biggest obstacles, and also humans who can theoretically contribute to one’s fulfillment.

Many would argue with that last statement, saying one must learn NOT to depend on anyone, and remove all desires from one’s mind. Well chum that is not me and that is not my philosophy. I know what I want, and I will try to get it without grabbing or forcing by making someone else uncomfortable.

In short I am still in search mode, I am still finding myself, and I am not still in that theoretical utopia of life. For those who don’t know me, I do not have kids, and neither am I married, so I am not carrying any weight with me and onerous conditions that I have to fulfill. This permits me to go for work, at 5am and get back home by 10pm and not feel I have deprived someone else of love and affection or duty. I can therefore comfortably commit the time, to the best extent of my physical constraints.

The lack of a companion to share one’s thoughts and the pluses and minuses of one’s day is a source of angst. I have yet come across any who would suit the bill even in a compromising way where one has to meet one’s desires halfway.
I put it down to the strange multi country outlook that is open, and critical, not hidden, and accepting anything goes. We can ask for what we want and we can give what we can, and we need to balance both of these with a suitable person who feels the same way. It is a need of equals. When one gives more than he receives not of the same, but on balance, the imbalance will not provide a long term solution, and instead lead to grief before long.

It is the latter attitude that deters the numerous possibilities put forward as a solution. Of course it goes without saying that the instant mutual attraction, a hoped for ideal has not happened and may never happen, so the compromise referred to above is the alternative and so a compromise balance that is needed.

A huge hike in the cost of living in an apartment in Colombo meant the biggest adjustment made in the year was to reduce one’s abodes by one, moving back to the relative calm of the farm, with the resulting cost and time of commuting daily from there, and contending with the traffic, meaning an early start is all one can do to avoid the stop start traffic nightmare; something I thought I was free of, and not to be repeated! On balance it was the right decision in the long term and adjustments will be made to make this the most practical solution.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Eight Years and Counting – a good chunk of life!

It is now eight years since I returned to Sri Lanka, after 33 years living overseas, 18 in the United Kingdom, and 15 in the United States.

There are so many who consider a return to their roots at some point in their lives, but cannot summon the courage to do so. It is the security of finances, an opening to return in case things don’t work out, and a better quality of life that they look for as compared with what they currently have.

Very few return to Sri Lanka on account of their children, because they wish to educate them on a value system that is different to that in the host country they currently live in. What does that say about their confidence in the system they left behind? Simply that they are concerned that the standards, morals, and way of life is deteriorating, and not better than their host country.

If one lives in Sri Lanka one is exposed to a high degree of finger pointing to the big bad West intent on exploiting our people. However the reality is that people line up to get away from Sri Lanka for innumerable reasons, and are willing to pay exorbitant sums, selling everything they got, as well as borrow as much as they can to do so to any one of those big bad Western Countries.

When I look back on my decision to return, my main desire was for a new life, which I could start afresh, not an extension of a previous life, not a better life or any form of retirement. That I have experienced all this in huge amounts is an understatement. I believe I have documented numerous instances in this blog, and the related blogs about my new experiences and frustrations, but they are all new to me. That is the distinct difference in my outlook, experience and looking back on the very serious and risky decision I took.

The first shock was the Tsunami which struck within 4 weeks of returning and the attendant horrors, post tsunami clean up and scramble to share the spoils, a very unseemly process that both Western and Local people engaged in.

I did not come back with money, I had even closed all my bank accounts. I did not plan for a quick exit if things did not turn my way, I came back and that’s final. There was no looking back just forward, and I really did not know what to expect. As I just noted, I was not returning to familiar territory, it was to completely strange surroundings that I turned to, to new acquaintances, and to call them friends I would have to be sure I could rely on them in times of need.
That latter was shattered when I had my accident and people I thought I could trust, took what was left after the floods in Hingurakgoda, had washed away part of my belongings two weeks previously. So much for good neighborliness!

A lesson one learns is in a society where people expect something free, they all think that they are the most deserving, and taking something from someone they think has more, is not considered bad! You pick your friends from those who never expect, and are grateful for what they have or are given.

I am asked what I consider myself to be. After all when I returned, I had lived more in England than I had in Sri Lanka. I lived independently and so I was not exposed to a Sri Lankan home or culture there. So I lived as one of the Host Country and appreciated everything that country had to offer, and did not harbor a prejudice against the people living in either the UK or USA.

Therefore I am a product of these three countries, not particularly purely of one. It is an advantage to be this way, as one can appreciate the best of three cultures as each has good and bad traits that one can measure using one’s own experience of immersion. In that I feel fortunate, as it is a privilege not open to all.

I don’t have a great desire to return to either of the countries I left, mainly because of my economic circumstances, and would not be able to make the most of a trip to do what I like. After all there are a few things I would do and buy if I was there, and if one is unable so to do, there is no point in making the journey just for old time’s sake. That said all my ambitions, goals and desires have turned inward to Sri Lanka, and in that respect it is a manageable route to keep focus of.

The new life post accident has been traumatic, with the loss of much of the independence I took for granted, and I have still to recover completely from its effects, and disabilities, not an easy process, but one I try to forget with the work I am currently engaged in.

I have not intentionally forgotten many of the friendships I made in those years, but have realized that keeping them going with just email exchange does nothing for mutual fulfillment. I always tell people check on my blogs, but lately I have not been good at keeping up with my activities here, and only adding to my thoughts in my related blog
Hopefully in 2013 I will try to document interesting events during the year.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time is something we must have control of – that is if I can have 48 hours for a day!

Hours, days and months keep passing. There was a time I had time for blogging, to take photos, and include them in the blog from time to time in a relevant piece. It seems a very sought after item these days.

As time gets tough, the tough get going and I have had to cut down on some as the need arises. So I reduced my abode’s by one moving out of the apartment on Gregory’s Road, at the end of August and moved back onto the farm, to commute.

Not having had a vehicle at my disposal since the fateful day in January 2011, when my only mode of transport was mowed down by the Justice Minister’s convoy, it has been difficult to get about and see whoever I wish to see. I am dependent on lifts and the whims of drivers. I hope to have the use of a set of wheels shortly, but am not sure when that will be. Perhaps before the end of the month, I hope.

On a day such as this marooned in the office at 7 pm, after a days work, waiting for the rains to cease, before I attempt the public transport commute back to Godagama, I decided I would spend the moments fruitfully blogging a few notes.

Thanks to the walking stick the trek by bus is bearable, as I have got a seat each time but once. On the journey from Polonnaruwa, I had to stand all the way overnight by train once as the young karate forces team needed to rest on seats! Sights and sounds of public transport, the tight squeeze, the almost dangerous exercise of getting down, hoping the bus will not take off until I have both feet on terra firma are parts of the daily grind. Even worse the three wheelers that decide the journey to the farm is one, they will not undertake as the road is broken up is probably the worst prospect each evening.

My leg is still not OK and needs more time to get back to normal, despite my attempts at believing relief is round the corner. It has its off days, but I have to work almost every day due to various commitments and the days do get long as a result. The variety and the different circumstances is what makes it interesting. Much of it is meetings in different parts of the country and sometimes a day has six or seven different types of events, from laying a foundation stone, to attending various ceremonies, danas, lunches and rallies, to meetings and even musical evenings as part of the required diet, making for a return from duty after midnight.

The date with the blog is what suffers in the above routine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Siyane Golden Star

The Golden Star in the Center with the joint second place on the right and the third on the left

The Amateur Singing Competition held at the Delgoda Public Grounds on Friday 28th September 2012

Joint Second placed stars receiving their award

The Dancing Group with one of their performances

One of the bevy of helpers and runners! Hemamali from the office

The other helpers organized by Maduri

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A weekend of campaigning in Polonnaruwa

I am now unabashedly political, defending the direction and objectives of the party and believe the most important part is to impart one’s opinion to those who really matter in the context of attempting to change the system for the better. It is the traditional UPFA voter who needs to be talked to and convinced that they are being taken for a ride.

What better place to do this than in the electorate I happen to live in which is Minneriya? It was the electorate that gave the President the highest percentage vote of 78% (of all electorates in the country) and which has suffered the most in the recent catastrophe to hit the peasant farmers, namely the bad water management. I have my little cabin there and my agricultural property that I struggle to keep against numerous odds.

So it was an interesting exercise when a bunch of people from all parts of the country, all of whom other than two colleagues in the office, who I did not know, and were willing to give of their time and commit two or three days to a cause they happen to believe in and who were willing to come of their own free will, cost to an unknown destination to meet another set of unknown people and go canvassing on behalf of candidates who none of them knew. To me that is what I call really committed, and I hope they will one day be rewarded for their efforts.
The results from the limited number of homes we visited were very encouraging. We went too far to reach homes that had never been canvassed by any party or anyone. So they were actually pleased to see people from other parts of the country canvassing for their votes. It was surreal to hear the explanations of many of the people of the conditions they live in and the trials they have had to undergo recently. Not one person was willing to defend the record of the government. I am sure there are those who will vote for the administration, but fear to say so, but that in itself is encouraging, as previously they would have batted for MR with more vigor.

It was an interesting time, and Saturday, the road show of the UNP came to the village at 11pm though the appointed time was 6pm and at that late hour Sajith Premadasa took to the mike and sang for a crowd of 100 people who had stayed up that late, when bed time is 8pm usually.

If I was in a three wheeler I would have been dead meat!

In Yesterday’s Island paper (August 31st 2012) there was the caption of an MP’s security vehicle (why does an ordinary run of the mill first time MP need a back up security jeep?) having collided with a three wheeler and a young lady lost her life with a host of others injured.
Whilst facebook said that the MP was in the vehicle that was involved and was quickly spirited out of the vehicle. He is a wealthy man, and a first time Polonnaruwa District MP for the UPFA, and it would be a shame if he is trying to get out of being implicated, and worse not taking any responsibility for the incident.

It is for the reader to determine which is the more believable, and I hasten to add that the Island has turned into a Govt. mouthpiece with occasional balance, rather than a balanced paper with the occasional Govt. slant.

The reason I point this out is that I was also the victim of a similar incident not too far away from the place of this particular one on the same road a few kilometers apart. I would have been minced meat if I was in a three wheeler and am thankful at least I was in a Tata Cab. To date there is no assistance from the culprit Cabinet Minister to come up with anything considering the huge cost that accident has claimed on me, which only I know and it is now over 20 months on, still hobbling!

The lack of justice in these circumstances where the driver of the Land Rover Defender will have to face legal proceedings, and a small fine placed on him with the MP footing it would be all the victims family can hope for. The real culprit is the system that permits the speeding vehicles to act as if they own the roads, and the system must compensate the family of the victim for at least the value of the human life lost.

If this is not done, there will be NO care taken in the convoys speeding across the country and people continue to die on the roads uncompensated and just become another statistic in their lengthy list of horrors on the road. Until there are just laws to deal with such gross acts of savagery on the roads without impunity by the VIPS of the administration we will never be classified as anything but a Banana Republic with a Happy Banana to rule over us and not serve us!

Friday, June 8, 2012

An evening courtesy of the Norwegians

I wondered what I would do this evening after a day’s work. I opened my email at 5pm and had an invitation for a Norwegian musical evening at the British School by a Norwegian friend from the 60’s, Arne Fjortoft. I called him immediately at 5 and said I will come. I got the best seats!!!

I did not have a vehicle to take me home to change and shower, so I walked over to the venue from my office about a hundred meters away and met a mutual friend and sat with him. I Chatted with Mano Chanmugam, who I had not met in decades, and exchanged pleasantries before settling in to an enchanting evening of music.

I was hoping for some Norwegian folk songs from the three musicians but instead was treated more to their version of English language American country music, and then the soul sounds of Soundarie David Rodrigo really got it going with a selection of old well known soul music and sprinkling of pop music from her female choir of 20. It was the first time I had heard them and was pleasantly surprised at their talent and they also sang together with the Norwegian trio for a while.

Soon after, I went to the Norwegian Ambassador’s residence which is right opposite where I live. I was the only guest who lived so close to the cocktail party venue. I chatted with many I knew like Bhavani from CPA and Ismeth’s wife and many I introduced myself to who knew of me, like Sanjiv Gardiner and Jehan Mendis, a relative, Orania and Mohan’s son who I was introduced to by Bhavani and only then realized who he was as I had met his mom earlier when I was walked up the stairs to the show.

Talked to artists, diplomats, and avoided the political types like KJ and Dayasiri, Sumathiran, Nimal Siripala and the NGO types like Jehan Perera, Pakiasothy and the Pafferel guy and a host of likeminded. Chatted with the host’s husband who was returning to Oslo in a week and the Ambsassador herself was leaving in a few weeks, after a record 6 years as deputy and then head. Her position will be filled by another lady.

The food and wine was great, and I only sampled the cheeses at the end, before walking across the road, home about 10pm. The music was a three piece jazz type band to keep things humming along. These places sure do pack out with a motley collection, all talking nonsense. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A break in the dry zone – a worthy place to spend some time


Getting the most of a 4 day break, even while taking public transport is an opportunity to savor some quiet tranquil moments, even though it was interspersed with the occasional socializing and chats with friends and neighbors which forms part of one’s circle in these desolate parts.

Ratmale, while in the wilderness is not too far away from the center of town in Colombo. I left Gregory’s Road at 4 am on the 1st, calling a cab, and which came to the gate in 10 minutes. It was a Rs300 cab ride to the Private bus stand at Pettah and then onto an intercity bus to Minneriya costing just Rs230 for a one way ticket. It is a very pleasant time to travel with little traffic on the roads, and cool to beat.

I could have got off at the Minneriya (Railway) Station Handiya to take a Rs150 three wheeler ride to my property, but I went on and got off at the town, as I needed to get supplies for the few days stay. So technically using public transport I could be at my place at 10am the latest having left Colombo house at 4am and if I had caught the earlier bus that had just left, I would have been here an hour earlier.

It is the windy season, and there is a cool breeze that blows due to the tank by the property as well as the two ponds in front of the verandah, where I am typing this. There is no requirement for a mosquito net, and at nights a covering sheet is in order to keep out the excessive blowing. I sleep in the verandah which is open on 3 sides so I maximize on the wind blowing from all sides. The windy season in these parts are generally from May to October, and I recommend this time as the best time to be here to relax and unwind from the daily pressures of city or working life.

The abundance of bird life makes it all the more eventful, especially if you are an avid birder. Today comes to an end, a visit to the temple next door decorated today as it is Poson Poya, and then onto Gal Oya Railway Station riding pillion on the back of a bike sans helmet, to take the express train at 11pm to be in Colombo fresh for work in the morning!
The lack of transport ensured a more relaxing time. I was also able to spend time at the property and discover all the little things that need to be attended to. There is still a lot of work to furnish, but just for my relaxation, the place is adequately equipped and that can happen in stages.

The photo above is of the lush paddy fields of the village which are fed from the stored waters of the local village tank adjoining my property, the Ratmale Tank.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The love-nest for a newly married couple – or is it just a mud hut?

I was invited to a wedding of a close associate of mine, in Hingurakgoda, whose runs a small rice mill close to my agricultural property there. The wedding photos are in the previous blog entry.

It is considered normal for a man in this area to get married before they reach 25 and the girls before they are 20. I do not know the reason, but I fear parents do not want their children to go astray and often it is they who encourage early marriage. Often the age difference between the young couple is barely a year, and some associations are made in the school itself. Here very few make it to University, a normal method, where marriages are delayed due to higher studies.

It is also worthy of note that many who get married at a young age, are not sufficiently mature, and many of the men are still in their flirtatious stage. It must be noted that as I write this, my boy who is 19 has just been thrashed (while I was writing this entry) by the father of the girl he had an affair with in the village here in Ratmale, where I am at the moment.

She is 17. It was not my place to intervene, and he took the blows, without beating up the older man in turn. It is the way parents get it off when such an incident happens, without blaming their daughter also for the association. By the way she is gated, not allowed to go to school anymore, which is a worse sin for this association from which she has no chance of bettering herself. Now tell me when the girl discovers the Dad has just beaten up her boyfriend, she will be more determined to pursue a dead beat relationship, than if the parents allowed them to associate in their presence when both would finally give it up. So who is the fool?

Anyway to get back to what I was writing, the newly married couple will be living in the main house with his parents. So in the end of the property on the other side of the paddy fields that surround it, the father has built a cosy hut, I went there yesterday to relax in an easy chair in the shade. It is quiet and with the windy season in full swing in the area, a clear breeze blows with the sound of rustling leaves a perfect spot for privacy.

It is a charming property well tended, a right little ranchette with about 3 acres of paddy to make it whole. No wonder those in Rajarata live like kings sometimes, even though in terms of assets they posses very little.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Garden party Nuptials 'at home'

I attended the Garden Party 'at home' at the home of the groom today. He is the owner of the Rice Mill where I have for many years milled my paddy, before I bring it to my customers fresh the following day. Most of that activity has had to be in abeyance since my accident and this boy Hasantha insisted I come to his wedding.

The main celebrations were at the Giritale Hotel the previous day, and there were about 250 guests at his home today for a lunch time buffet lunch at his parents home which will also be his home as a couple.

He is 22 and his bride 20, and if one looks at the photos one would realize that the Polonnaruwa District lasses unlike the puny Colombo ones, are quite nourished, living on three square meals a day throughout with the bulk of it being white rice!

The photos are of the couple during the day. They had the obligatory videographer and the live band as well for the event. Despite a power outage in the area, they were even able to get an emergency generator to ensure the proceedings went off smoothly.

Like in all weddings, there was a corner reserved for the gentlemen to indulge in their tipple, to which I was directed for much of the morning, where as the time went on, the talk grew more and more incoherrent not on my part I might add.

It was very creditable, for this boy, when I see so many young people his age or older, without any direction, to have decided to take on the rice mill at the Kotelawala junction and make a go of it. He even uses by products as fuel to par boil the paddy when he make the par boiled rice for sale in his mill.

It shows what one can do if one really puts one's mind to it. I believe the wedding was completely financed by his earnings as his bride is not of any financial means to assist in this regard.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Sunday in the life of a working MP!

Sundays are usually the busiest days of a working MP who has both to husband an electorate and as is the case now due to the preference voting system, has to travel throughout the District to ensure that people know him in the whole area, where he can expect to garner votes at an election.

For the Gamapaha District MP, today we had allocated to the Ja Ela constituency, to go around with two local, one Pradeshiya Sabha and another a Provincial Councillor to go about distributing items.

The first stop was at a fairly large Sunday School, of over 900 students namely at the Deepaduththamarama Purana Vihare in Nivandama, where 5 steel desks for the school were given as one is shown in the first picture. 

The second was giving a water tank to a very small, you can see all the students above, of a Sunday School that is held in the open for lack of any buildings. It was one of the smallest temples around with a great need for improvements, and this was one that requested a tank for storing water both for the school and the priest.

 Then it was off to a small Catholic Church to give them some chairs for the school, and also to be shown where they were hoping to build a few rooms as the Sunday School is currently held under the trees in the garden surrounding the church.

We then proceeded to a Baptist Church which was over 170 years old, to which we also gave chairs as shown in the photo above.

After we were hosted to a scrumptious lunch by Mr Ranjit Govinna, a teacher at St Benedicts College, Colombo, we spent the afternoon giving sports equipment to sports clubs in the area.

The photo above shows some boys holding onto the equipment they had just been given and photo below shows, a carrom board at another place where the local kids can play.

Then there was the obligatory funeral house of a long standing party supporter, who had died at a ripe old age, and it was good to show solidarity with a faithful supporter even after his passing.

After a further gift of a volley ball, and cricket bats and balls at two other places, see photos below we were able to get out of the area by 5.30pm. It was there fore a long day since 9am.
 The day was not over yet as we had to get back to the constituency for a series of wedding invitations, and funerals.
The day ended when I got back today Sunday the 13th of May after 10.30pm

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Vesak that I missed, is that really Vesak or a show of entertainment?

 When I snuck off to Minneriya over the Vesak holidays, people asked me why, as I would miss all the light shows in Colombo. Living on Gregory’s Road which completely lit up with lanterns as there is a Temple just up from where I am and then right along Wijerama is also lit, to say nothing about Bauddhaloka Mawatha, which is just a flash of light along and across like you have seen nothing yet!

Then to the Town Hall, and Nelum Pokuna decorated for the first time, and then walk along to the Gangarama, and Sirasa and Beira area and it is just a carnival of lights with thousands of people from all over converging to see the lights and the Vesak lantern competitions, where the first prize is an expensive motor vehicle.

Each year these Vesak Lanterns get even more sophisticated, and the show gets more widespread with the lights around the Beira incredible with its gaudy cacophony of colors, and quantity to dazzle anyone.

If it is all part of the massaging of the minds, to forget our daily hussle to feed our families, then I suppose it achieves the objective. If it is to remind the people of the true significance of Vesak, then where I went to was more real here was surreal! We had a sow dansal in the village and a few local small events, whilst the line of Minneriya Army camps provided us with the Vesak Lantern competition which drew crowds from around, all in tractor loads bursting at the bulges with humanity. 

 It reminded me of the irony, where now Trishaws can only carry 3 people at the back, and so soon the 20 people packed in a trailer of a hand tractor to see Vesak will also be a thing of the past. So let us enjoy it while it lasts!

There is no small amount of money spent to make this show, and it is pure entertainment for the masses and I cannot think it means anything more. The time and effort for the few days of show, is a huge commitment by all those engaged on the various projects of building the pandols and lanterns.

I wonder considering the hunger, more Dansalas and less light, would probably save a few hungry bellies this Vesak season.

Even tonight, that is the 10th of May I can still go and see some of the lights here and there, but I do not have the urge to see a display of extravagance when there are more issues to be concerned about. It is a kind of escapism of the mind to take our minds of daily events to indulge in this but when the state constantly tells us they do not have the funds and that we must tighten our belts through this period, it does not tally with the huge amounts of money being spent on this spectacle.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The overnight train from Gal Oya Junction to Fort

I stayed a few nights over Vesak (4th- 7th May) at Ratmale residence near Kaudulla National Park.( I was without transport. I was confined to my house. I am still unable to walk without feeling stiff with the elbow crutch!

On reflection the enforced stay was a great relief, as I could sit on the rocking chair on my verandah and watch a splendid show of bird life pass me by, all unexpected and a thrill. The pied hornbill was the best in show this time, as he came every day and sat on a tree eating fruit from place to place almost in front of me.

The regulars, like the Serpent Eagle, and the Fish Owl, along with the smallies, like the paradise flycatchers, four varieties of kingfisher along with barbets, woodpeckers, oriols, and numerous small finches to eat the jam fruit from the trees all added to the interest of sitting and taking all natures wonders in.

With my verandah open the birds fly right through it, and when we include the butterflies, dragon flies and other flying insects there was a constant display.

It was the first time I had stayed so long here and I must say I enjoyed every bit of it and was sorry to leave. I had to use public transport to get back the toss up was taking the faster bus, but catching it in Hingurakgoda to get a seat as the Minneriya Station junction, the closest point in the main road would mean a tight squeeze in. The second choice was taking the slow train catching it at Minneriya or the faster express catching it at the Gal Oya Junction and I opted for the latter.

After dinner at a very close farmer friend who is also a neighbor, I was taken in a trishaw by two friends who are both park rangers at the Minneriya National Park the whole distance of about 5 km to the Station about 15 minutes away.

The train was late the 11pm coming in at Midnight. They only sell the tickets once the train leaves Hingurakgoda station, I do not know why. Anyway each ticket was Rs400, though the ticket itself has Rs220 stamped on it. So I hope I was not overcharged for the second class ticket.

We got to Fort at 6am on the dot so the train made up all the lost time. I was fortunate to get a seat as the train was full, with people getting back to work after the long weekend. It was the Batticaloa Express to Fort. I nodded off to sleep from time to time so I do not know all the stations it stopped at but unlike the ‘thapal train’ which stops at over 20 stations I think this was about 7. Palugaswewa, Kekirawa, Maho, Kurunegala, Polgahawela, Gampaha, Maradana.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vesak - Bucket Lanterns

Today is Vesak Poya and as part of old traditions, we usually make a lantern to hang outside the home or we also make and set up some bucket lanterns with candles inside for effect. 

So we had to arrange the lanterns carefully as they are rather crudely made, so that we need to ensure the candle does not make the lantern burn.

It is for that reason mainly that the use of the traditional burning lantern is not used,

We purchased the lanterns and just put it together putting the wires to hang them and the candles inside and carefully lit them and then hung them on a jam tree outside the verandah over the pond.

I am in my property in Ratmale Minneriya, and so we had to improvise a lot as we do not have power here and it is all lamplight living.

The photos are those of getting the lanterns ready and then hung on the trees around the place. They obviously only light up as long as the candle lasts, which is about an hour and so we stuck to tradition, which does not result in a permanent light show that the electrical colored lights would give.

Nevertheless it was a way to spend the evening before popping over next door to the temple to see what was happening there.