Sacred tooth etc

Back into town late afternoon. Kingfishers And storks by the lake. I bump into ralf who has no memory of his performance last night. He goes shopping and I look for a wood apple juice, meanwhile scoring a samosa and visiting a medicinal herb shop. Would love to buy something but I have no idea what they are or how to use them. Parked outsi are some gaudily decorated chromed wood panelled trucks. I can see, and discover that eating after 4 here is tricky. The restaurants have extensive, but not vege menus. Rice and curry is only for lunch. The other choice is masala dosa. Later I do and sit in a restaurant but leave after an unsuccessful 15 minute wait to order.
I thought visiting the sacred tooth temple in the veining would less busy. Not really. The place is not especially overwhelming, crowded, a bit hectic, not really anywhere to pause and soak up any magic. There is a museum of the holy tooth on site too. Another poor attempt at exhibiting history. Not much signage, cases full of jewellery, bowls, ceremonial faded stuff. When I returned to the tooth chamber for the second time a ceremony was going on, drumming and some monks disappearing into the tooth room to do something holy. I reckon this is for tourists as the locals don’t linger and visiting monks don’t even pause. Outside is more interesting. The rows of candles and buring oil at dusk. Drumming, a call for the podia at the naga temple. This has started at the other one. Priest collecting notes on a tray, intoning some prayers then dotting the praying groups foreheads with red paint. Further on is the boddi tree high on a crenalated platform. There are two levels. One lower one where visitors buy bowls of holy water, incense and flowers, and are blessed by a chanting woman. The devotees then circulate the first level bowing at the alter then climb to the second level where they make 3 revolutions with their water and incense. The tree trunk is be robed in an orange cloth. It’s lower branches bedecked with lines of prayer flags, fluttering in the dolling night breeze. I sit in peace for 40 minutes.

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Kandy

I deliberate at length about whether I should go to Adams peak or not. For a number of reasons I decide against it. Weather, knees, energy level and time to go anywhere else afterwards. Sp I’m on the kandy train and spend the first hour next to a railway security officer. Actually we would call him a guard. He is wearing a khaki uniform that doesn’t fit his skinny body too well. And is very tatty. His cap is oversize and black with a red badge. Yellow stained teeth. It seems a moustache is a prerequisite for the job.

Kandy seems like a metropolis compared with the hill country. Traffic, traffic jams, people, modern shops, a mall, a KFC. The centre is a lake, reminding me of Hanoi with the sacred holy tooth temple across the water, the chants of the monks atmospherically amplified bouncing around the hills. My guesthouse has a view of the place from the balcony which i nearly fell off so rickety is it.

Everyone is slowly re emerging from last nights drinking party. Which involved guesthouse staff, tik tuk drivers and travellers from disparate parts. Ralf tells a joke about Latin grammar then gets stuck into his first arrack experience. This takes him through many mood changes culminating in a mock hitler speech including gestures from the balcony. Unfortunately he cannot rise to the challenge of doing a papal address in Latin the the style of hitler. Maybe I set the bar too high.

Sleep is peppered with dreams of re visited pasts, alternative realities, seemingly centred around bath, captain bobs. Lee, again. 3 times I. Have dreamt about him since his death. I think there is some guilt or regret that I didn’t see him again, nor go to his funeral. Sleep is also punctured by a variety of crazy soundscapes: a dog fight and a drunken drumming an d singing party.

The morning has blue sky and intense sun. Fran and I go to the Muslim hotel restauarnt for breakfast. Fran complains about salty food and sweet drinks. Men pouring tea from cup to saucera nd sipping from the latter. I guess it cools it.

The town is busy, probably because it’s Sunday.small people pushing past with umbrellas against the sun. At the entrance to the temple of the tooth there are security checks and hoarders of locals.the queues are long and I don’t fancy the crowd, so I explore the surrounding buildings. A reclining Buddha temple, a boddi tree, a chelli, intermingled with some older crumbling Hindu temples. Most people are dressed in white. Grannies in saris, young boys in white polo shirts leading them into the temple. There is an elderly elephant draped in chains posing for photos. The usual burning of incense, lighting of candles. Monks a refew and far between.

Man circles the Hindu shrine 5 times clockwise with a coconut, at each complete revolution he kneels holds it to his heada nd bows. On completion he smashes it on second attempt in a cage in front of the shrine.

It’s actually too hot for me. I do a quick once around the town then a loop of the lake where I buy a holographic poster of the holy tooth shrine.at least I guess that’s it!