So We Took the Local Bird to Sri Lanka

Oh! how good it was to be back home…..yes, back in Sri Lanka. Although we had only been away for 6 months it seems like so long ago. D & I were so excited and stressed out (as usual) when we finally knew that we were travelling back home. We have this thing that we always make a rule not to over purchase gifts for family, friends, relations, neighbors, cab drivers, pets and who ever we could think we will bump into during our short, exhausting and expensive stay (Hmmmm…… actually, what is the right term one should use (my gosh! I sound like Ranjith Fernando) when you travel to Sri Lanka or where ever one comes from (oh, I must be catching something from too much cricket commentary) to stay in your own home for a short period before you travel back to your place of employment in a foreign country. Is it called a vacation or Holiday ? Isn’t vacation something you take and go away from home? Holiday…..that seems like poya day, or curfew day (not had any lately), polling (or if you prefer poliem as in paan poliem) day, etc.etc…..I am now more confused @#%^$^%  pls. Throw a rope I am in the ditch of confusion). But like all beautiful Lankan’s we LOVE RULES and break them at the first sight of a shop, sale or just for the love of everybody, this is not because we cannot keep rules, but its because we feel what’s the use of going from here to there empty handed, we must have something to show that we came from over there or else the custom officers at the only landing strip for foreign birds will be frowning that we have nothing to show for being over the seas and might strip us bare to check ……and they may not find anything! Now that, we cannot allow at any cost, it would be too shameful to them and we might finally even appear on the not so live at 8. So we go to town as soon as we know that we are going to be in the belly of a big bird that will carry us home. D & I are happy to shop till we drop, ya, that’s right we stop just before we are to drop, in the final few days before we head to the pearl, tear, mango, pear, Rambutan  (yes, very soon it will be like one or the other from the way things are going on, due to sea erosion, tsunami, global warming, economic warming etc.etc ) or what ever comes to mind of an Island. We pack for days and still at the moment we should be at the airport, we still keep packing, because I forgot to put my sock’s in the pile that went in to the 1st bag that was packed 2 days ago (how could I put my socks in to a bag when I had them on till last night), and yes my laptop is in my briefcase but the charger (yes, the laptop needs new batteries) is still somewhere and I cannot find it……or no, actually it has already been packed by my beloved D (I would have been lost to the wind if I did not find her many moons ago….do not ask me how many moons, that would be insulting). The denim has to be taken (D is getting really mad by now), I live in them when on the island, so please put them in the bag even if it is overweight. Finally, we are ready to go 1 hour late and old faithful Maburuk who will take us to the airport is ready to move.  

We arrive at the airport and all is great the overweight is not too bad and the counter guy only passes a remark “Really are you taking all of this back? No idea to return?” I smile and he is humbled by my little boy face, thank God for the lovely features that I have been gifted with…… (Wow, I hear people getting choked, was that somebody falling off a chair….come on give me some credit?) we get through and are seating in the lounge waiting for that Sri Lankan Bird to take us home. I never knew the real meaning of  “UL”, and we learned the HARD WAY…..yes, it was late as usual, by 2 hours. The funny thing was that nobody at the airport was either bothered to inform the passengers that “UL” is late, most probably as it is usually late. After an extended delay by a further hour we finally move off  mother earth and venture into the unknown, wow, like some adventure……advanture my big toe, although we have being travelling for a while its been along time since we last travelled with the local bird. The last time we travelled she was a red & white peacock and now she is a …..???? in tri colour.

We were so surprised to see what she had to offer under her skin, actually nothing special…. She smelt like “pee” and looked like a child that had not taken a bath for a couple of years. The onboard kitchen was reminding me of the old “Kalu Kussiya” (soot kitchen)  that we had in one of the old type houses we used to live a long while back. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this was our national carrier. The legs that served us was not as curvy as they were when the bird was under the red & white logo but the services was not bad, standard, nothing special either. The food, now that’s another story. Can somebody, please let me know why this lankan bird serves Indian food with no Sri Lankan option? It was like visiting your Mum expecting a total Sri Lankan meal and being served something strange that came from the next door neighbor. (sorry, to anyone who is offended, but this is the actual fact of the birds that are sent to the desert to transport our beloved foreign exchange earners, who the government loves to highlight when ever they think or remember the poor souls who are working in extreme conditions to send back US$ for our fatso’s who make a noise for nothing in the big house on the oya to live comfortably ). Its really a shame that at least the onboard meal is not Sri Lankan. Somebody needs to realize that this is the Sri Lankan national carrier and not the South Asian or SAARC national carrier. We felt it has lost its identity somewhere in-between the national factor and the foreign management factor who might only be viewing the profit factor (may be too many factors to consider).  

The flight was uneventful until the final approach to land which we always enjoy. There is nothing to compare seeing Sri Lanka from above, its really breath taking, the low hanging clouds, the early morning mist playing between the green carpet of paddy fields and coconut estates, the refreshing landscape makes you just wanting to touch down as soon as possible. 

After touch down its another story……….

Rain or Shine, Sri Lanka will always be our Home!

It’s been a loooooooong time since I sat to write, and a lot has happened since my last post. Way too much has happened that made me more lazy to write or was there too much to write about that it made me lazy and may be scared to write. It all started on a crazy day in October when my better-half and me had to pack our bags and get on jet plane to head to our wonderful North looking Southward island that we call home. On the way we had to do the stop over thing in that desert wonderland called Dubai where we usually stop for a bite (hot chips, the potato kind, never tasted better than when you have just got off a plane), a stretch of the legs and to checkout what others are buying at the duty-free shops that are never boring or lack of new trends that could make you or even break you (financially) 

It was great and we were happy to be home once again. Rain always has that magical touch, it bring things to life ( yes, I do agree that too much of it is a pain and a mess), but still when you are seeing it after a while it has a magical feeling and gives you goose bumps in the wrong places (like under your fingernails)! I opened my mouth a little too soon and spilled my thoughts out and “Su” our man Friday, almost had a heart attack trying think why on earth I was so happy that it was raining when all of Sri Lanka was almost under water as it had been raining for almost the whole of 2006. He was good enough to keep his thoughts on the subject to himself and only say that “you would not be so happy with this weather after a few days in Colombo”, how right he was, but still I must admit I enjoyed the cool weather although it was a bit of a hassle when I had to drag myself out of the house to go some place or when there was too much thunder & lightening and the electricity would fuse and we had to sit in the dark without the electric gab (TV) working. But Home is Home and rain or sun it’s good to be back in our little corner on this planet .  

But the main reason of our trip was still to be attended too. In the last couple of years I have been coming home more often since I need to visit my doctor more regularly. This time the visit was over due and  I  was  late by a couple of months for my usual biannual medical check-up. We were a bit worried about the out come of my preliminary test as all was not too well the last time I was here. {have you ever noticed that when you feel like something might go wrong it just does happen! Ya, ya, I know about Murphy’s law, but who expects that to happen? believe me, it just does happen and I am feeling guilty that we always expect the bad in every situ. Now (even at this greying age)  I am trying to instil the opposite, thinking only of the positive and making it happen}. I feel like I should congratulate myself and then hoot at some “Gamme Chandiya (village tug)” and get myself thrashed to bits as my preliminary test turned out all screwed up and as bad as could be. My Oncologist (May God Bless him and his team a Zillion times each day!) was very, very concerned and as usual (Point to remember : never expect to hear the worse in medical conditions) requested that I do a bone marrow test.{ Now, for those of you who do not know what a bone marrow test is, I would say that it’s a very, very, VERY PAINFUL procedure where a sample of  marrow is taken from within the bone. As far as I know it is done from the back of your hip and the chest.} I have done two previously at a gov. hospital and it was hell, I just screamed from start to finish as the procedure is done (behind a steel cabinet) with little (felt like it had even been diluted with tap water) local anaesthesia and was like being stabbed with a hand drill from the back. 

Thank GOD! I was relieved to hear that it could be done at a private hospital where they give you a strong anaesthetic that reduces the pain. However, once bitten twice scared, so I was ready to get it done but terrified to bits (this point will be certified by my better-half, God Bless her for all she goes through with me. My mother even would not tolerate this much). I am NOW (as it is over), happy to proclaim that the procedure at the private hospital was very, very, very less painful and more reassuring to me as a patient . The technician who carried out the test was a jewel of a man, he was so reassuring, calm and confident that it made me less tense although past experiences were still hitting me hard at the back of my mind. The procedure was long and lasted for about 45 minutes where he extracted 03 samples to be sure that we could get a good look at what exactly my marrow was doing to me (believe me, I like most people did not give a thought about any marrow in my bones until I was diagnosed with cancer. It’s like you do not think about the hose in your car engine until in breaks down or starts to leak, you just keep going on day after day, mile after mile). 

However, thank GOD the bone marrow samples show minimum disease activity, but as my blood reports do show some activity my Oncologist suggest that  we wait another six months and repeat the same test to see if there are any changes. But until then I am off the HOOK (or needle which is more like it) and have time to live life to the fullest as always.  

Regarding the Rain, oh, it was a pain finally, so many people were effected by it that the saying “too much of anything is good for nothing” came true. Su, won the day as he was so right to tell me that I would not like it after a few days experiencing this wet & messy weather. Now he reminds me that the mosquitoes are attacking and that I should came for a short stay to experience the soothing pain, the piercing hum and the involuntary blood donation while keeping a look out for the chicken called guniya and the rouge called dengue!   

This Amazing Island!

There is a saying “when you live on an island you have no escape , it’s the sky, the sand and the land”, ya, that’s so right, but actually you do not want an escape as the beauty and natural wonder that surrounds you makes every moment a joy (do not scream, I know that there are a lot of other things and creatures, some who even fall out of that category on this Island and I have not lost my sight, my senses or bumped my head and neither has my beloved punched me in the wrong places).

Being born and breed in Sri Lanka, I can only be thankful to ALMIGHTY for rewarding me with THIS AMAZING LIFE and as a bonus for placing me as close as possible to a resemblance of paradise.

Yes I hear that noise, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not pull your teeth out or make a vow to trace me down and bundle me to an asylum for loonies ( oh, sorry I just remembered we live in an open asylum), but I was only speaking about the natural surroundings of this glorious island which seems to have fallen off the tip of India sometime during the formation of our universe (most probably because it turned out to be so beautiful it had to be placed on it’s own). I was born just before that Alla, Bathala and paan pollem { yam, sweet potato and bread queue} period, and have lived through this horrible, saddening, painful and unwanted war and late 80’s social unrest, so I very, very well know how crazy things can get on an Island like ours.

Anyway, I have always felt that if we just take a moment and forget all the ugliness, nastiness, foolishness, pollution, traffic, noise, crimes, bribery, politics, jealousy, hatered, war, inflation, poverty, etc.etc., all that’s made, introduced or caused by human’s, you will be able to connect and enjoy the real Sri Lanka or even more the actual island that was and is still here under our own feet.

Isn’t it Amazing, the freshness you feel during a stroll on the beach (East, west, North or South, where ever you go), the green patchwork fields that’s so fresh and full, the enchanting waterfalls that make up the mighty rivers which unceasingly provide life to most of the country, the lush plantations that hide the mountains and give you the best cuppa in the whole world, the gentle mist that touches your skin during a lazy morning in the hills, the rain that lashes on the roof during a monsoon night sprinkling a cool breeze giving you goose bumps that make you tuck up tight in bed, the smell of those first few drops of rain on a sun baked road, sunsets so romantic that you just want it to last for ever, and when you look around you even see the pineapple seller stopping in his steps to watch it’s glory, coconut trees that sway to the gentle rhythm of the wind, fruits that turn out in any colour you could dream of, while still showing up in different varieties through out the year, vegetables that would grow in your back yard if you took the trouble of throwing some seeds, jungles with such a variety of life that we call wild even though it’s as natural as it comes, birds (the winged kind) so many that you could not stop watching, and finally and most amazing, cultures so colourful, so close but so different, so mixed but so original (in a Sri Lankan way) that only GOD could produce and we should be proud of.

People of this island have amazed me and moulded me the most . They have touched my life in such strange & surprising ways that I will write about each one of them separately as each and everyone of them needs to be provided a special place so that they receive the recognition they need receive.

These are just a very, very few of my thoughts on what’s so worthy to be a Sri Lankan. My personal view is that If only we could stand tall enough to see above all the daily toil and hassle even for just a few moments each day, we would appreciate and thank nature for all the wonder that surrounds us. We should actually do very much more to look after and protect what we have right here on our Amazing island.

I am proud to be a Sri Lanka for what’s under our feet and I pray and hope that every soul born in this Island will be able to glimpse at this wonder of creation from that point of view and not from just what’s in our face point of view. Personally, I feel that every Sri Lankan should be exported to the Middle East for at least 6 months during the height of summer to be able to actually appreciate what a wonderful place we call home. We were born on this island for a purpose and not by a fluke chance, so let's make the most of our stay.