Tag Archives: sri lanka

Final day negombo

Today is scorching. The sand too hot to walk on at midday, my neck feeling burnt. I have a long day to fill till my 3am flight. So far it’s languid. An early morning stroll along the shore from my guesthouse past beached catamarans and men under thatched shelters mending fishing nets. Nice not needing to wear anything on my feet as I step out, but I’m wary of walking in the water as I seem to have got an infected cit on my ankle. My breakfast is my second visit to grace’s juice bar where I’m am introduced to more fruits ive ever come across before. She prides herself on providing fruits nowhere eels does. I have an ambrrella and soursop mix.

I spend the rest of the morning in a patch of shade next to some fancy resort where westerners lie on clean sun loungers batting away the hawkers or lording over them from their reclined position like Egyptian queens yeah ing or nayimg a succession of bright dresses and saris the local women produce from bags a nd spread out on the sand. It feels a bit alien to me, but there is no. Shade anywhere else. A helicopter comes in to land further along the beach, depositing guests at an even fancier place.
Last night I spend an hour or so after dark with Dave and Donna on the beach with beer, sitting on a parked boat. Behind us was a party at a hotel. A stage, a do, dancing, bright lights., Sri Lankan techno, sounding both Africana and West Indian, rockets fired into the air, flashes of smoke and light from fireworks illuminating the distant dancing figures and their cars. Ex decide to approach, aware already grooving, but the party is small and it’s all men, so Donna going gangnam style is likely to get a lot of unwanted attention. So, we keep our distance as the party unwinds
Today is a good indulgence day, and getting rid of my cash. Lunch again at Edwin’s, this time a green leaf curry, a bitter cucumber one. Now at ice bear cafe, a colonial mansion light and airy Strauss or Mozart plays. waiting for my ice cream: brandy, cinnamon, cashew, honey flavours. I’ve just been scooting around the harbour, two guys chopping up tuna on wood blocks amid a sea of drying silver fish and a wasteland of fish heads being picked over by crows and cormorants. I cycle around the fishermens house and suddenly hear a hello in my ear as a young boy has jumped on the back of my bike for a quick ride. The harbour is sleepy, the boats are in. Men doze in the boats or fix nets.
The beach is collier, windier, fine sand stings as it sidling on my back. A fisherman tries to sell me the jaw bone complete with razor sharp teeth of a 20 kg shark. So how would that fit in my luggage? A guy from kandy chats with me and has my pic taken with him. I have to sort out his phone for him to send me the photo. The sun slips down, never quite making the horizon once more. The end of my daylight in Sri Lanka. Back at graces juice bar I have bello and pineapple mix and spend some time talking with. Bulgarian couple about football. Just before I leave grave makes me a present of 3 wood apples.

Finding Dave and Donna is as easy as cycling done the street. I arrange to meet them in Edwin’s again, as I return the bike. The old woman at the guest hous asks me each time is see her where I’m from. After paying for the bike she even asks for money for herself. A guesthouse owner begging for goodness sake. I have a dosa which really isn’t too good, thick and gooey rather than paper thin and crisp.weshare some more beers,catch the end of some performance outside the church, then see Liverpool lose to Chelsea in a bar.
I’m now at the airport. 2.41 and pretty damn tired.
A splendid post script. After a tiring groggy 18 hours getting to gatwick I’m informed my bag wasn’t loaded. I’m without warm shows, socks, rain coat and worst of all, no door keys. My phone is out of juice and when I do get some small charge I can’t get hold of Fran who has my keys.useless. I phone my letting agency bit they are closing early so I can’t get keys from them. I’m cold, hungry, jetlagged, want to go to bed.but even getting to Brighton is a nightmare. No trains from gatwick, and I queue in the cold outside the airport with a growing mass of very disgruntled newly landed holiday makers.there is no system and a weedy Marshall thanking us for waiting. 30 mins there then another wait at 3 bridges for a slow train. I still have no idea how I will get into my flat. Oh and the conversations on the bus. A one legged squaddie prattling om to the driver about traffic and bills and getting pissed with his mates. I don’t care. Shut the hell up. Give me a crowded srilankan bus instead. How dare they make me pay the normal rail fare for this debacle. It is not good to be back.

Negombo 2

A good sleep followed bya. Cycle along the main road past Hindu temples, juice shops, cheap samosa stalls and churches to the fish market. Old women crouched by their plastic sheets with tiddlers, men at butcher blocks chopping the larger catch, a cluster of curious men and boys surveying a 70cm ray of some kind. Seems nobody knows what to do with it. Beyond on the beach are sheets of small silver fish laid out to dry under the right sun. By. The shore the small boatsarelandi g their catches and teas of me and old women are shank out the nets. Women and men are gutting and sorting larger fishes further along. Catches are ferried by pairs of men by baskets on poles to the sea edge to be washed. Everyone is working fast and the bosses are circulating and handing out pay.

The town is divided into tourist strip, commercial main road, a market full of fabric shops and residential streets stretching along the canal and shore of the lagoon, larger fishing boats moored here. I see home made nativities of straw, plastic figures and fairy lights at many street corners, some constructed on abandoned boats. I see small boys crossing themselves as they pass the crucifixes at junctions.
Back at Lewis place I have a juice in a place run by a half Filipino family which has a variety of fruits new to me. Must go back there. My dinner cum lunch at Edwin’s restaurant is a very. Good and interesting curry and rice which includes a pineapple and soya korma type affair. I catch up with Dave and Donna on a stretch of the beach near some fancy hotels. The sea is refreshing, the surfs.aps you hard and is bracing. A wedding banquet is being set up on the beach, photos of the bridal pair taken at sun down by some catamarans. Some ponies are ridden by, Russians on sand mobiles drive up and down. We play cricket with some locals in underpants by the waters edge as the sun descends turning into a glowing orange disc, disappearing into cloud just a before it hits the horizon. There are quite a few hawkers with Xl polo shirts,saris, shorts, necklaces. Closer to the road is a guy with a monkey on a chain and a cobra which he offers to tourists to hold. A couple of cocktails later, I’m back at the guesthouse which is deserted. The soundtrack is fire crackers and the roar of the increasing waves.

Negombo

Reached negombo by bus from Anuradhapura, a local bus described as semi luxury. I don’t really understand that definition. Maybe it was driven faster, maybe because I was able to take luggage with me. Regardless it was crowded with many people standing in the aisle, and hot and airless when crawling through the towns. I closed my eyes and absorbed the sounds and physical sensations. The whirl of the Diesel engine, the rush of the breeze through the open door at the front, the sway and swerve as it cut out then cut in around traffic invisible to me in the thick of the crowd. The bass heavy groove of singhalese dance music. When I shift to the windows seat I can lean out but the air is so hot and the sunlight scorching at midday. I see in the side mirror the face of a moustachioed brightly coloured shirted driver in whom I have trusted my safety.
Negombo is a busy road full of guesthouses and more upmarket hotels, occasional fake xmas trees festooned with lights, and flimsy nativity scenes. There are churches here too. My guest house has Xmas decorations, and a catholic shrine too. There are many options to stay. The first two I look at are dirty, smelly, unpleasant. The third is extravagant and costly. I settle for a family home stay guesthouse at the end of the row on the beach. A curious old woman with 4 teeth constantly milling around. I have at tv, not that I need it, but later watch highlights from yesterday’s premiership. The beach itself is grubby, firework debris and assorted packaging lie around, the tide leaving black rings on the sandy shore.almost immediately my attempt to chill out is disturbed by a hawker opening his bags of necklaces and carved elephants, spreading them out on the sand in front of me and refusing to understand the words ” I don’t want to buy anything”. He finally gets lost, disappointed. I do mangea. Read and a doze. A wind builds and I rouse myself just before sunset, the beach is busier and some groups of locals are playing cricket.
I managed to track down Dave and Donna finally. Having located their guesthouse and got through to the staff who barely spoke any English that I wanted to leave a message, we hol up in the evening to have dinner and beer, trade stories and compare tans.
Back at the guest house is talk to the boss, who calls himself Adrain and for the first time I meet a local who openly criticises the government. He complains about the scarcity and price of protein foods such as cheese and meat, laments the cost of attractions to and thus the negative imapct this has on tourism. He calls the president a war president and even compares his behaviour and publicity ( the images you see everywhere) to sadaam. His friends are in agreement.

Christmas in Anuradhapura

It’s Christmas Day and I have a hangover, as expected from the cheap local lemon flavoured gin I shared last night with Simone, a French guy from Strasbourg who is travelling around on a shoestring. He has stories of losing his passport in India, sleeping rough and being robbed in Greece. A sad story of his father disappearing at sea after an argument a few years ago. Boat found, but no body.
Last nights dinner at the lake view guesthouse was really delicious. The usual rice and curry. As usual a huge mountain of rice, far to big for 1 or even 2 people. In small bowls: Dahl, pumpkin and coconut, green bean, aubergine…actually I can remember all the curry dishes, or recognize the vegetables.
The journey here was quite swift and I settled on this guest house pretty fast. It’s family run, is low key, and should have been easy to find last night on my bicycle, but once more I became disorientated and the several people I asked for help were unable to read my map, or thinking they were being helpful gave me wrong information, or due to poor English were unable to explain adequately. It was dark,very dark and only 7pm, roads with few landmarks and far too many roundabouts with statues on for me to be confident that that was the one tha I needed. At the significant elephant roundabout ( it has a big elephant statue in the middle), a guy on a motorbike pulls up and right on the junction oblivious to the traffic engages me in a very broken conversation. He wants me to come and see his office, he is a doctor at the hospital, he wants my phone number, address, he wants to know about my family. He shakes my hand many times and restarts this one sided conversation several times before I am able to get away.
There is a mystery to solve after dinner. I parked my rented bicycle at the guest house in plain view of the terrace. As the owner is putting away the bikes she notices that one of her bikes has been replaced with an alien yellow one, which also has gears and different brakes. She reckons I must have mistakenly got on the wrong bike and ridden off with it on my way back. I’m adamant that this is impossible. Her husband even takes me out on my route back to see if I can spot their missing silver bike. Of course this is fruitless. It is 11 pm and anyway, I know I brought back the right bike. We don’t solve this problem. Someone else is responsible, not me..but who could have done this and why? The upshot is that the guest house now has a new and possibly better bike.
This mirrors an experience earlier when one of the Nepalese monks I meet finds that his flip flops have been taken and an identical but smaller size pair have been left in their place. I met these monks yesterday afternoon on my bike trip trying to find some free attractions. It was raining on and off, and my first encounter was with a plain clothes police officer who engaged mein conversation when I paused to watch a motorbike training course : guys weaving around 5 orange traffic cones on a patch of land next to a roundabout. The usual questions: country, family.married, if I like Sri Lanka, then more interestingly we talked about his job, which is to train and educate drivers. We compared notes on the horrendous driving habits of the bus drivers in Sri Lanka. The west side of the city has an open landscape of empty roads going to stupa sing rebuilt or already reconstructed, a cave temple in front of a lily pond, which I pay to enter, and it’s no great shakes. Like every monument in Sri Lanka there are bus loads of locals in their white clothes. At the lake further on, I see them disembarking to eat wadi and bathe in the waters en masse. The roads pass through paddies complete with egrets and storks, and past military compounds. Guarded roads blocked with yellow barriers, barbed wire empty machine gun posts. There isn’t all that much worth seeing around her, but the whole atmosphere is kind of bizarre. As I begin to head back I spy a cluster of 5 yellow and red cloaked monks shuffling along the road towards me under umbrellas. As we pass they call out hello and where are you going and I ask them the same back. We begin to chat and they persuade me to come with them to their nearby monastery, which takes a long time to get to, owing to their languid pace, our confused conversation and the avoidance of shortcuts across sodden paddy.

They are all 18, from Nepal and are studying here in Sri Lanka for 5 years, I think. They don’t have the dignified comportment you might expect from people devoted to a life of religion and austerity. They share savoury snacks with me, pouring them into my hands, and offer me bites of red lollies. They drop the wrappers, uncaring by the side of the road. The reason being that there is no rubbish bin. I’m sure also that they should be much stricter and not eat at this time. In one respect one is strict, as he declines my invitation for him to ride my bike. Lord Buddha forbids their driving of vehicles. I attempt to do a little interview with them. They struggle with English, though insist they want to improve. 2 of the boys want to talk the others too shy or unable. We exchange email addresses, and will become Facebook friends. Their monastery also has military guards.its quite a new building, 35 years old, with a massive white Buddha siting under a roof which lessens the impact. They invite me into the base of this statue to look at the illustrated through crude and childish wall paintings and painted models the story of the life of Buddha. I particularly remember the big eyed blue devils that looked like something from a children’s book, comic rather than scary. We are In a long white chamber which is sweatily hot, the statues and pictures are strangely behind metal grills like animals in a zoo.i teach the guys some words they should know, like temptation, resist, reincarnation. Then we walk around the stupa and they ask me what my biggest problem is… We talk about striving to improve oneself, about dissatisfaction. Then they take me into another room called heaven. More statues and paintings around a central white column. The piece de resistance comes when they ask me to stand in front of a black window in this column in a cubicle sectioned off by a gold curtain. One of the monks drops a coin into a box attached to the wall, and I see the craziest thing in the window. There are flashing fairy lights and wax work like statues of the Buddha reflected into infinity by mirrors on all sided in the chamber in the centre of the column. It is a cross between a gaudy Christmas light display and a scene from twin peaks. It’s so funny I can’t contain my laughter. The monks think it’s great too, but I’m sure they don’t share my reference points. It’s quite sad when we say goodbye. I don’t know how to say goodbye to a monk. Do we wai? I try this, but this seems to be a Thai habit. Shaking hands with a monk is not a done thing either, so we just wave. The dark skinned silent one gives me a handful of crunchy fruits. They look like marzipan pears.

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!

Haputale

After the bar we spent a chilled hour or so looking out over the black chasm of the valley from my balcony. Frogs croaking incessantly down below. The one disturbance was a loud bang, must have been some kind of electrical fault next door.
The next day I set out for the dambetenne tea factory to walk to liptons seat, he of liptons the grocer and liptons tea fame. My bus is a batters mini bus, functionality is the main priority jammed with hard women with saris jumping on and off, some with babies, some with 20 kilo sacks of rice. The road hugs the side of the hillside, very dramatic winding up through the tea bushes.
The walk is quite arduous and is a climbs maybe 300m. I follow the road, switchback after switchback, later coming back I use the shortcuts through the tea fields. It’s different from Ella. The tea pockets, barefoot dark women with sacks on their backs call hello, and are not asking for money. Small kids, however do. The walk is fantastic and very beautiful. Lazy or maybe more sensible others catch struggling tuk tuk rides to the top of the mountain. The cloud is low. Actually we are above the cloud. The fantastic view remains largely hidden. I feel quite ill, I’m cold and nauseous and vomit. Maybe it’s something I ate, maybe all the unwashed hands I’ve touched. The sun comes out briefly, it warms me and I see the beginning of the extend of the view. I have the most satisfying cup of tea and begin a descent which becomes increasingly wet. I chance upon Rolf, who I met in Ella, coming the other way. We sit and chat then part.
Signs painted on the walls of the tea fields bless echoing us to take care of nature, that animals fates are linked to ours. Messgas in 3 languages telling the planters not to pollute the water ” for the brothers and sisters in the valley”

The valley has the wonderful aroma of drying tea leaves. The bus back the intoxicating fig of Ayurvedic balm, the medicine of the masses.
Later that evening he comes by with some special medicinal soil to ease my stomach. We chat at length about politics, Germany, Britain then I go back to bet. Need to get better.
Waking today the cloud is swamping Haputale. Everything is wet. This doesn’t seem like the best weather to go for another walk.

Haputale evening

Fran has been here already 2 hours while I have been waiting upstairs.

We are in a quandary about how to do dinner. It’s after 7 and it’s raining and the cloud is low. The town is a misty blur with some stores still open, especially the wine shops. Little dives with fridges full of super strength beers and shelves of arrack. The one we went into has a small partitioned off area where men, it’s all men, can drink I observed. Our beers are wrapped in newspaper. We mange to eat at a Muslim curry stall, but all that is left is fried rice. Fran insists on going to the bar with the bright signage, the high cliffs resort. The entrance isn’t obvious and we have to be guided in. The atmosphere to begin with is a little word. Fran the only female. It feels brown, dated. Fran of course wants a bottle of wine. We discover gamini, the batman has never opened a bottle of wine before. It takes 15 minutes to pull the cork and everyone in the bar gives it a go. The locals are civil and friendly and gamini warms to us, taking his photo endears us to him and he gives us mangoes to take home.

Little Adam

Little Adams peak in low cloud
Cloud is Blowing through the tea plantations hundreds of metres below. Tamil women younger than they look, sat on the path under trees drinking tea from bottles labelled whiskey,, scooping handfuls of red rice from lunch boxes. This is the tea planters lunchtime. They ask if I want to take their photo, which I do then hand them a few rupees.A women with betel stained teeth mimes picking tea and asks me to take a photo in exchange for a few more rupees. I meet a lady on the way up called kanti. She tells me she runs a library for kids and teaches them handicrafts. I promise to visit her.
The views are amazing, the cloud drifts and conceals then reveals little Adams peak, ravana falls and the road snaking along and up Ella gap.

On my way back I buy some seed necklace from a girl and her mother. She shows me the plant that the seeds come from. They dry as red or grey or black seeds. I tell Her aim. From Brighton and she produces a faded card of Brighton pavilion given to her by another traveller.
Children chase me ask if I want to take a photo. They want sweets and school pens. Pass a small shack on the edge of a plants settlement. Young teen boy in pink shirt with gents fashion written on the back calls me over for a wood apple shake.clothes washed and spread out to dry on the thick bushes.
It’s not raining .
I chat with the boy. He is called Jackson. A very young looking 16. He is Tamil, parents are tea pickets. He is working in his school holiday. He likes volleyball and gardening. He dances and body pops for me. Sassi, his boss appears and breaks this spell.. He is also Jackson’s volleyball coach, a bit pushy but kind. He offers to show me the little muddy village where they both live. A shack with cows, where the cow hand shows me his pride. Women carrying jugs of water from the stream, I offer to help one. The houses are roofed with leaking metal sheeting. The walls stone. Dim, dingy. An outside communal toilet. Sassi’s house is full of posters of Indian actors and volleyball trophies. Jackson lives with 6 family members in one house. They cook over wood fires. We go to the playground next to the little Hindu temple. I make some videos of the local boys playing cricket with a bat hewn from a tree trunk. I also have a turn at batting.

I take lunch at the cafe. It is meagre poor and overpriced. Jackson is attentive and smiley. We arrange to meet in the evening. I’m going to treat them to beer. We write the appointed time on each other’s hand.
I have a headache. From the change in climate? Heat? Altitude? Maybe from being unaccustomed to tea.
On the road back I do visit the children’s library and am amazed by kanti’s resourcefulness. She is building a shack, at hatching it with palm leaves, as a place to sell her cushion covers. I decline a head massage from the guy with the shop next door. I think it might make a migraine even worse.
After a sleep I meet the tamil guys at dusk. We walk up and down looking for a place to eat. They choose an unwelcoming soulless place where the beer is costly. Sassi tells me Jackson is hungry. I don’t really want to buy them dinner…is this mean? By fluke Fran is the other side of the window that separates the restaurant from an Internet shop. I relent and buy the boys a roti kotthu. Their eyes light up at the sight of meat. They say this is the first time they have eaten out since April. This is a treat for them. They shake my hand. Thank you my friend. You are good heart. Fran joins us she and sassi sketch each other. Jackson looks cold and tired. 8.30 is his bed time. He is wearing a pink and black hoody emblazoned with the words punk coulture, which I try to explain, but this means nothing. Unsurprisingly. We talk more. Sassi claims to have a girlfriend. Jackson says he doesn’t like doesn’t like. He has 20 computers in his school. Sassi tells me he only owns 2 shirts. He asks me for at shirt. I tell him impossible. Tonight he and Jackson’s re wearing their best clothes.
Birthdays
Jackson 3 February
Sassi 2 November
They leave at 8.30, it’s time for their bedtime.
Fran and I go to another place. Where she ensues in a confused discussion. About wine. It’s a. Bit like being in Brighton. The curry and rice is feeble, but as luck would have it the waiters maths are not too good and we get undercharged. By 10pm the town is shutting down and there are hardly any tuk tuks. At the junction in that dark are cops. I spot a couple of tuk tuks that have stopped a little up the road. I go and chat to the drivers. They tell me they are drunk so they won’t proceed and get stopped by the police. Finally we find a sober one, with 3 guys in the back. Fran clambers in for a dicey ride home.

Haputale

To Haputale

Over breakfast I chat to Rolf, the German next doe, about that German identity thing and how even now he feels some kind of imposed shame and regret that he can’t say Germany is great or good, or even speak its virtues. A long important history, rich in culture, invention and innovation, all sullied by 12 years of hitler. Changing the subject. Siva, the manger tells us about giant vegetables. His best story is the massive freak papaya out of which flew 2 bats when hacked in half. I’m not sure whether to believe this.
At Ella station I’m met by Fran. The train to Haputale is quite full, and I stand by the open door for the sinuous slow climb through jungle and tea plantations up 400 meters to Haputale, which is perched atop a ridge with staggering views, down on the clouds and the undulating toylike landscape beneath. At the station we are touted by the owner of the abc guesthouse, named after his sons first initials. He has 3. The place is on the hillside with a n amazing view from my balcony. The price is good too. The road leading down from abc is being extended with occasional explosive blasts.
The town is certainly less touristy than Ella. In fact I hardly see a white face. There are numerous shacks selling freshly fried snacks, alcohol shops selling a rack by the quart. Many poor faces. A withered hind woman who tugs our sleeves and shoves out a hand. She bugs me so much later on that I have to gesticulate wildly and shout at her to stop following me. Alcohol and betel seem common here. A mango seller gives me his phone number, insists I visit him for dinner. I think it could be a mistake….I chat to a snack firer and take his picture along with two curious cops. I sit on the fence by the railway waiting for Fran and share my snacks with a bedraggled old guy selling destroyed looking found shoes.
We have decided to go to the Benedictine monastery which is housed in a mansion built high in the kills by an English tea planter. The book says its 3 km away. I want to walk, Fran takes a tuk tuk. The walk is much further, more like 3 miles. It winds up along the ridge through the tea plantations and through a nature reserve. I hear wild boar, I think, making a fearful sound of pain and aggression. The monastery is curious if nothing else. I cannot see the view for the clouds. The garden has many fruit trees and the monks, who is font see either. Make jams and chutneys. I buy a wood apple jam and then look at the three rooms we are allowed access to.
Like a junk shop
Battered reel to reel tape recorder, a pair of 1940s era radios! some cracked wash bowls! a large scale and some rusty weights a cluster of tarnished crucifixes. A screw down printing press, an old black hole punch. A martellii desk fan
The sign in the first room reads silence. So much for the sound of the video tape playing. The living room contains fake leather well sat in arm chairs. An aura of sombreness and dullness. Think wooden doors with rounded doorways. A clock stopped at 1.45 am or pm. A severe portrait of an austere ecclesiastical looking from above a wooden gireplace. Dreary sofa covered with a plastic dust sheet.
Fran has set off back ahead of me. I finally find her grimacing at a tea stall by the road. She has naively taken a betel parcel and is chewing it unaware of what it is. She makes a bit of a scene and asks for tea to relieve the bitterness and numbness. Somehow we lose each other on the walk down. I take a slight wrong turn back in Haputale and cheeky cricket playing kids ask me for money.
Sun has now set on my balcony. The road builders have built a fire and the mosque is calling to prayer.