Monday, September 3, 2012

More activity in the lodge these days – but the slash and burn mob have upset the Equilibrium.

Over 24th August to 26th August, I hosted a bunch of guys from the National Youth Front who came to campaign on behalf of the candidates in the forthcoming elections. They had somewhere to rest their weary heads after a hard days campaigning. They came from all over the country and at different times, and I had to arrange a three wheeler to pick them up or for them to come by 3wheeler from Minneriya when they arrived at the dead of night as only Minneriya town has these for hire late at night or early morning.

There was house to house campaigning in Maha Ratmale, Ratmale and Rotawewa and we also attended the late night rally of the candidates after 11pm which also included Sajith Premadasa who after his speech consented to sing with the music on tap before leaving for the final meeting in Moragahahena.

The lake is completely dry with not enough water to finish the paddy cultivation that left half the fields with less harvest. The ponds have also dried up and the fish have died or were caught.

There is enough water in the well for drinking and watering my orange trees and banana and mango trees after being pumped up using the water pump via the petrol generator.

The weekend just passed was a long weekend as Friday was Poya. My two cousins Sharmini and Enoka with their families stayed over at the lodge and used it as a base to explore, Medirigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dimbulagala, Somawathiya etc.

What they found exciting was that there was bird life to view from the verandah, not having to go anywhere. That is a unique feature of the place. Sirisena the resident caretaker cooked for them, but he is not used to that kind of stuff, however managed to swing it with a few grumbles.

I was sad to hear that the people around have set fire to the land around to clear it of vegetation for crops in the next season when the rains come in. I hope it does not take the ambience and isolation of the place away!

There is still a way to go, the place is still rather basic. I hope when finances permit to improve on it. The NYF guys have recommended that I turn it into an Outward Bound Leadership Training Center for them. The thought had crossed my mind.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The lodge – June 2012 – still sparsely furnished, but perfectly adequate

I spent a few days from the 1st to 4th June at Ratmale, where I only used public transport to get there and back. I had Sagara come with me on the bus from Pettah at dawn on the 1st as I promised to attend Hasantha’s wedding at home on the 1st. After having bought the supplies for the few days, and got settled at the house, I showered and changed and Disa, a neigbour took me in his tri-shaw.

I had to first meet up with Mahesh and give him his wages, and nothing more as I could barely scrape up that and then went on to the wedding house at about 12.30. There was a huge crowd of about 200 at his home.

There was a place for men who were imbibing in alcohol and for the rest, there were plenty of bites as well. The trousseau was on show outside, on a clear dry day and was not that hot as the garden had plenty of shade and there were also the small umbrellas to shield people from the sun.

The lunch was plentiful, and I as usual now do not have a huge appetite unlike most of the people there, struggled even to eat the little I took for myself. He had the whole affair catered. Then there was a band that played throughout and a video cameraman too recording all the incidents.

I had a chance to walk to the back of the property where the father had built a little room more like a mud hut which had some charm on the other side of the paddy fields. I stayed on till most of the guests left as the invitation was from 10.30 to 2.30 and so left around 4pm on a tri shaw that one of the guests charged by Rs700 to get home.

Apart from a Sunday quick run to Hingurakgoda, to give Sagara money from the ATM to go home, and then a short trip to the pola to meet all the familiar faces there, I spent the rest of the time at my place and to Rajah’s when I went to charge the lap top. Now Rajah has both his kids and his grandson at home, so he is not lonely, unlike the time he was on his own.

There were no highlights of the few days except the time when Upali had confronted Sagara, and at the instigation of his wife hit him in the head and thereabouts leaving him with a gash on his head, that led to some profuse bleeding. That was because he had fooled around with his daughter Dilkie who is 17 and still a minor and besotted with him!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Vesak Break of Rest and Relaxation – Where else but at Kumbuk Pokuna!!

I am really enjoying a few precious days of rest at my little lodge in Ratmale. My sister brought me over here on Friday May 4th when we left Colombo at 4.30 and were here at around 8 after having breakfast at Perera and Sons in Dambulla.

I purchased the needed items for a pleasant stay at the two kades that I used to frequent in Hingurakgoda, and brought the coconuts from my other property to just chill out. My sister, came to oversee the work at her property and left with produce such as polos, coconuts, limes, and from my place about 150 oranges and some dried chillies and green chillies.

I am living on Orange juice from the local oranges. It will give me all the anti-oxidant properties of Vitamin C I could possibly want. We have not engaged in catching fish from my ponds for food, as Sagara is too lazy for any work, just lounging around doing nothing.

I have my daily dip in the wewa but as the water level is too high and I am not too sure footed, I just stay close to the steps and have one of the boys here to watch over in case I get a muscle spasm by exerting the limbs too much in the water.

The fact that I do not have any transport, is something that completely restricts my mobility. However looking on the bright side, I am for the first time enjoying every moment of being in this my future retirement home. Being forced to stay put just exercises the mind of philosophical thoughts whilst rocking in the chair watching the veritable list of birds performing for me right in front. About 50 different species in a day, much more than any spot whilst being stationary. It might even be a unique spot with the two ponds in front and the ponds all around them at the moment due to the wetness. They dry up later in the year after a four five months absence of rain, and the drop in the water level of the tank.

The generator is working so I can pump water into the tank and use it during the day, for the bathroom, which is now functional and the small creature comforts. The windy season has just started, and I sleep on the verandah, where the wind blows through keeping the place much cooler than any house in the village.

For the first time I say the lines of people at my well to take drinking water for their home use. People tell me it is better than the bottled water they pay for. So I have people come in their small tractor trailers to fill water tanks of water and take, from this and the adjoining village of Rotawewa. The photos here are testament to that, and I am told they give Pin to me each time they draw water from the well!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The ponds of the lodge in April 2012

Preparations to feed 300+ guests for dinner on 30th March 2012

All hands on Deck! 20 helpers to cook for the night's guests

Oh What a sight?

The cooks surround the pot

What scrummy dish is that I see?

Akila and Issanka

Mahesh after a long drive the previous day coming to Ratmale only at 9.30pm in the cab.

As usual only imbibing and not working!

Pol Kiri for the curries

Cooking in progress

The pose

Fried fresh lake fish

Leela at work

Akila and Sagara pretending to work

Who is pouring the oil?

Women at work and the men at play

Pouring the coconut oil into the huge wok!

Tell me who bends down more than a cook in rural Sri Lanka

Cooks X 20!!

End of the cooking

Unloading stuff from the cab

At the well towards the evening

Clearing and cleaning at the well

Final supervision by Leela (Shashika's Mom)

Final Preparations for serving the dinner

Food Served on a Nelum Kolaya (Leaf of the water plant Nelum)

At nightfall with the reflections over the ponds

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Bon Fire from the beginning

Setting up the action stations

The Early part

The bulk of the work almost complete

Across the pond with the reflection

Another angle

Near the end but not quite, it went on till the early hours of dawn!