Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Firstly, I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. I enjoy my occasional tipple, and in my interpretation, occasional is about once a month, and in December about 5 times that!!!
Sri Lanka, I believe is up there on the world list of alcohol intake per capita, and when one generally takes female drinkers as restricted to some of the numerically insignificant wealthy, and estate labor, the male intake is actually world beating.
I was seated at my desk on Poya Day, reading the various newspaper cuttings I set aside to read and assimilate, and despite the wet weather, there were these yobs from the adjoining village coming through my property to sit by the side of the tank and play the music on their three wheeler and drink themselves silly.
I was not ready for a fight, so I had to suffer in silence. However the cheek of them coming to my backyard to drink, without doing it in their own backyards, is just bad manners! Who cares about manners when you come to the perfect spot for a booze up?
Poya fell on a Wednesday, and being a holiday, they can’t find ANYTHING BETTER TO DO, than arrange to get sloshed, at my place, disturbing the peace at HOME!!! Would I go to their back yard to get drunk and be merry!
There are many occasions, where even my friends have asked me to arrange for the alcoholic craving that seems to overcome people when they come here. I have acceded, though not too willingly, as I come here for the peace and quiet more than the noise, and can live instead with the sounds of the forest, and the birds and frogs, who inhabit this area in numbers.
Closing all Alcoholic sales on Poya just seems to encourage the abuse even more! Begging the question if we must keep all bars open on Poya. I don’t have an answer there.
My firm belief is that as part of the complete overhaul of the mind of a person, it can only be done at the pre- school or Montessori stage, where education by highly qualified teachers will impress on these impressionable children the disastrous consequences of alcohol abuse, and as many of their fathers are addicts they must be encouraged to forsake it, rather than believe it is a natural part of a father to come home drunk and abuse mother! Only time will tell, if we seriously have the heart to change our attitudes for the sake of the Country!Ultimately a clear and satisfied mental state will only forsake the need for IT.
When the fishermen walk by my house each morning with the catch, I have first right of refusal! so I choose the best, and fleshiest. Eaten in a curry, devilled, fried, smoked or dried!
I have been trying to grow a reed called Gallaha with not much success so far. It was pletiful in the village in days gone by, where all the mats and baskets and other useful daily items were woven by the village women.
It is hard to find anyone who can do this anymore, and wanted to revive this craft, before it completely disappears. I do not have a problem in marketing their produce, but finding the raw material has been the problem ever since.
For once on this visit to Ratmale, I decided just to stay put. No running around, just spend quality time and appreciate the surroundings.
It rained every day this visit, but hell, we must value the rain in a place where 90% of the rain fall only comes in a spurt of about 2 months of the year. So I took it all in, and enjoyed taking some photos of the rain, rain drops on the pond and testing the prowess of the Camera to focus on the water for a change!
Staying in the room, seated at my desk, testing my theories of relative merits of the haves and have nots, reading a re-reading the budget to evaluate a genuine concept of what sea change we MUST have in Sri Lanka if we are to survive or exist as a country, was foremost in my mind, and no doubt will form a series of blog entries in time to come.
Then I was appalled at the selfishness of the interested parties, when the Car Permit scheme was knocked off! After all the concept of Permits is abhorrent at best, and it is time that in 2015 that it is completely abolished, and confined to the history books. Then at least one can decide if one wants to ever own a car, and only use public transport, and the choice is left to the Individual.
This concept of public transport, in our society seems to be an alien concept, when the most developed countries have a fantastic public transport system, that does away with the need for a vehicle, and only hire one as the need arises for travel outside one’s normal commute. If we are to become a developed country, we have to be more community minded too.
The need occurred to me of trying to obtain the services of a naturalist, or a birder even better, to document the names of the 50 or so varieties of birds that fly within 20 meters of the ROOM from 6 to 9 am on any given day. This occasion with all the ponds around me full of water, the birds were in heaven with their unique calls, all which must be documented for posterity, lest it disappears under the current concept of growth, power, and politics!
Talking to the fisherman, the farmers and those who grace my well for their drinking water has given me sufficient inspiration to make some proposals for improvement that if adopted, can improve the quality of life of our rural citizens, who are the mainstay of this Country, no matter that the measurable growth still comes from the Cities.
Living in a room, that doubles as Bed Room, Dining Room, Study, and Living Room has its advantages, as one seamlessly moves from one state to another!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
I spent much of the day reading the English translation of Martin Wickremasinghe’s Kaliyugaya! It is such a good short read even in 2015 and explains in great detail, psychology of people and some conflicts that even today are common in Sri Lanka, due to ignorance and lack of observation of how to deal with pressures of life, studies, affairs of the heart and a sense of duty, intermingled with a true sense of values, to overcome some false sense of values that modern society imposes on us.
That fact that these books were written over a half century ago, and reflect views that can be applied today, is a testament to the quality of the written word. I recommend young people read these Sinhala classics in preference to some of today’s novels to get a sense of understanding of the pressures all parents go through in raising children in the way they believe is right, and which sometimes comes into conflict with their own offspring’s perception of their parent’s rights and wrongs!
Tomorrow will be a reverse in reading Gamperaliya in Sinhala which was the first volume of the Trilogy where Kaliyugaya is the middle one.
I have promised Bharatha that I will be going there for lunch for new year, though I would rather have been here relaxing, reading the books I was able to wean off Issanka. In any case coming to Ratmale is relaxing, though today, I got the devil into me when the local priest instead of leaving me a missed call, called me 5 times, and in no way when I get so harassed do I wish to pick up. I should tell him that I am taking one day off people hassling me for some favor, surely cant that day be April 13th? Today was the death anniversary of Dudley Senanayake, 42 years ago. Unfortunately it falls in the middle of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year period every year.
The serenity of watching Birds of Prey this afternoon having a good time, from Hawk Eagles to Brahmini Kites and raising their chicklets peaking through the binos was a sight that few can sit on their “Kavichchi” and enjoy. So it is simple pleasures of the village that we must learn to appreciate and abhor drunken louts who disturb the peace here with their noise. I wish one day, I can buy up the land around this lake not owned by the state so I can enforce a no drinking and no sound pollution zone, where people can enjoy some kind of meditation from the worries of the world, as few people seem to appreciate only sounds of the forest. I am now hearing this awful sound of crackers that we MUST ban, as it is an ugly tradition to light crackers at each auspicious time of the New Year, a very uncouth and uncivilized tradition that ALL ANIMALS who we pretend to care for are completely blown out of their minds with concern!
The little rain we enjoyed today, that did away with any sun, was also quite pleasant, as it was weather for a t shirt and NOT just bare body, that adds to the pleasure of staying here over this period, where Colombo is a miserably humid place, that people tend to abandon with disdain for relief anywhere BUT.
Thank you Lord for ending this traditional year with the pleasure of your company as demonstrated by the book, the weather, the company and the minor annoyance!
Listening to the continuous symphony of unscripted birdsong from the first light of day around 5am makes me ask myself, why it is I should even have a desire to leave this place.
I know that I am merely the keeper of this place for a short time, and when I pass with today’s frame of mind, people will think of some grandiose way of turning this into cash, some really worthless project! IN an attempt to exploit the beauty herein, for pecuniary gain, this unique piece of beauty, serenity and tranquility would be transformed into a noisy polluted and worthless example of human greed.
I have to battle the desire of our starved for entertainment youth who come to this lake to get blind drunk, shout sing and disturb the peace with no sense of community or care for others who would find it offensive. Further I have to listen to the sound of crackers from as far as 10km as in this environment a sound that far carries. I remember during the time of the hostilities, bombing raids North of Trincomalee were heard here!! I firmly maintain that crackers is a violation of the New Year Spirit, and unlike 31st night where it is a mere moment of a passing of one year to another, people find it necessary to continue with crackers for days on end, and especially during the auspicious moments of which there are many over days, then the sound intensifies to the chagrin of all pets, and no doubt all the wild animals who inhabit these National Forests and Parks around me.
This continuous cacophony of sound continues even at this moment in time as I write and I even hear the sound of the radio from someone’s house, no doubt due to their lack of concern for their neighbors, like to show off that they have a better sound system.
Last night I had to shout at the backstairs when at 10pm they were still screaming in their conversation, and with Sajith especially the loudest, was disturbing my ability to meditate think or even sleep. So I gave a loud hollor that finally seemed to stop the ding and disperse the silly passing of the day!
True to form Sajith is still sleeping, even though the rising sun appears to have sent a streak of sunlight right on and aimed at his face, which is the only part of his body protruding from the sheet that is covering the rest of him, under the mosquito net!
It is today, that I was planning on going to Kaduruwela to the auspicious event graced by the President of the “hisa thel” ,which is anointing a specially prepared concoction of oil on one’s head. There is some significance in this ritual which I must confess, escapes my mind at this moment!
When I was at Bharatha’s for lunch yesterday, he got on the phone to Vasantha, with whom I exchanged New Year Greetings who was also to attend this, coming straight from Colombo. So we were going to meet at this event at 9 at the Jayanthi temple at Kaduruwela.
Rupe has invited us for lunch at his place, and I don’t eat much so that will be a point of contention, and then there is an Avurudhu Festival at Maha Ratmale this evening, after which we expect to leave at around 10pm for Godgama, via Giriulla.