Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Olu (ඕලු), Nelum (නෙලුම්), and Manel (මානෙල්)

There is some confusion regarding Olu (ඕලු), Nelum (නෙලුම්), and Manel (මානෙල්) flowers and its English names.  To be honest I am not  sure I have got it 100% right, so open to correction.

The confusion is because Sinhala and English do not match one to one. 
A very good example is Honey and Pani (පැණි) is considered equivalent.
Pani පැණි is Syrup in Sinhala.  Honey is  Mi Pani මි පැණි (i.e. Bee Syrup),  Coconut Syrup is Pol Pani පොල් පැණි (i.e. coconut syrup) and medicine syrups beheth pani බෙහෙත් පැණි i.e. medicine syrup

Nil Manel (නිල් මානෙල්) (Nymphaea nouchali)

It is a Lily and the National Flower of Sri Lanka.   Though a Lily it is also called blue lotus*, star lotus
The Lilly Of Life.JPG
In Sri Lanka, this plant usually grows in buffalo ponds and natural wetlands. Its beautiful aquatic flower has been mentioned in Sanskrit, Pali, and Sinhala literary works since ancient times under the names kuvalaya, indhīwara, niluppala, nilothpala, and nilupul as a symbol of virtue, discipline, and purity. Buddhist lore in Sri Lanka claims that this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha's footprint. It is said that when Buddha died, lotus flowers blossomed everywhere he had walked in his lifetime.

Claire Waight Keller included the plant to represent Sri Lanka in Meghan Markle's wedding veil, which included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country

For you eternal children, a reminder, Tintin and the Blue Lotus.

Nelum (නෙලුම්) (Nelumbo nucifera)

Known as just Lotus or Indian lotus or sacred lotus.  Just to confuse the naming, it is also called water Lily and confused with water lilies of genus Nymphae.
Sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera.jpg
"Nelumbo" is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum.

The roots of lotus are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on the water's surface or are held well above it. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the leaves.

An individual lotus can live for over a thousand years and has the rare ability to revive into activity after stasis. In 1994, a seed from a sacred lotus, dated at roughly 1,300 years old ± 270 years, was successfully germinated.

In Sri Lanka (and other countries) the yams are eaten as curries.




Olu (ඕලු) Nymphaea Lotus

This is a Lily, i.e in the family Nymphae.  Obviously to confuse everyone, it is called White Lotus or Egyptian Lotus.


Lily pads which float on the water, and blossoms which rise above the water. 

In Sri Lanka (and other countries) the yams are eaten as curries. The young fruits are sometimes consumed as a salad (not SL as far as I know). The fresh seeds, white color taste like almonds.  The dried seeds are cooked like a rice.  To cook the seeds, one must either soak it for a day before boiling or cook it in a pressure cooker. Olu haal kandha (Olu rice porridge) is a healthy and wholesome preparation from ground olu seeds and is generally consumed for breakfast.

 


A short and sweet description of differences

The leaves of lotus are emergent, meaning that they rise above the water level whereas the leaves of water-lily are found floating on the water surface. Same is true for their respective flowers; lotus flowers are emergent and water-lily flowers are floating."
https://laidbackgardener.blog/tag/difference-between-a-lotus-and-a-water-lily/water-lily/

Flame lily, Sinhala Niyangala, (නියඟලා)


Flame Lily.jpg

 

Flame lily, Sinhala Niyangala, (නියඟලා) Extremely poisonous and beautiful.
Had a term like, Wifes Friend in Sinhala. Cook the yam with potatoes and give the husband to get rid of him. Luckily hard to find, so would have be really long premeditated murder.

From Wiki

It is also the national flower of Tamil Eelam, and as such was displayed during Maaveerar Day and the state flower of Indian state of Tamil Nadu (Tamil: senganthal (செங்காந்தள்) or kanvali kizhangu (கண்வலிக்கிழங்கு)).

This plant is poisonous, toxic enough to cause human and animal fatalities if ingested. It has been used to commit murder, to achieve suicide, and to kill animals. Every part of the plant is poisonous, especially the tuberous rhizomes (yams).

Research* shows that poisoning mimics infection, so poisoning is not suspected.
Research paper cause was found because the patient finally said he had consumed with the intention of committing suicide.

It also takes 10-12 hours for effects to be seem. The longer a poison takes, the better for the poisoner. i.e. A wider range of potential poisoner suspects.



References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587877/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriosa_superba

*
Thanks Suchetha Wijeynayake for the tip on the paper.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Crusades, Wootz/Damascus Steel, Pandanus and Dumbara Mats,

A post connecting  three kinds of Pandanus, a beautiful blue flower,  color of Buddhist priest Robes, Dumbara Mats, Wootz/Damascus Steel and Tenuous thoughts to the Crusades

Sri Lanka has three kinds of Pandanus commonly known and used and a beautiful third plant, with beautiful blue flowers. 
  • Rampe| රම්පෙ| Pandanus amaryllifolius
    Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
  • Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා| Pandanus kaida,
  • Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii
  • Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
Rampe| රම්පෙ| Pandanus amaryllifolius
The most common and in home gardens.  Used extensively in cooking in Sri Lanka and SE Asia.  Most of the Sri Lankan dishes use these leaves for aroma along with curry leaves. In India it is called annapurna leaves; in Bangladesh, it is called pulao pata (পোলাও পাতা )
Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා| Pandanus kaida
Grows by seaside. Long thin leaves compared to Dunukeiya (දුනුකෙයියා|).  Used for mats mainly by sea side communities.  During the 2004 Tsunami areas that had Wetakeyiya along the shore front were protected from the full impact.  Post Tsunami many programes to plant and re plant Wetakeyiya along Sri Lankas sea side.  (an Evaluation in 2010)
Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii
Grows by rivers, paddy fields, muddy areas. Leaves broad, used for mats called Dumbara mats.  Wgasahantharindu has a nice description of the process to make the mats.
Paduru: Sri Lanka's Magic Carpet

Kora-Kaha |කොර-කාහ| Memecylon umbellatum   (Hindi : अंजन (Anjan)  Tamil காயா (Kaya))
A tree with beautiful blue flowers. The Sinhalese name for the plant does not reflect the beautiful blue flower.  More its practical side, the use of as a yellow dye.  i.e. kaha කාහ means yellow

a) The leaves contain a yellow dye, a glucoside, which is used for dyeing the robes of Buddhist monks.
b) Also used for yellow colouring of reed (Dumbara)  Mats 
c)  Historically, this plant was burnt as fuel in the production of Wootz steel also see Eleventh-Century Pittsburgh in Sri Lanka

Note: Wiki says this tree is called Ironwood.  It is NOT the Mesua ferrea, the Ceylon ironwood national tree of Sri Lanka

So to put it all together

  • A common home garden plant used for cooking (Rampe| රම්පෙ|Pandanus amaryllifolius)
  • Related to a plant that was/is Tsunami protection (Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා|Pandanus kaida)
  • Related to both above used for Mats (Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii)

  • The  First Tenuous* to an unrelated plant, that connects to the above. Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
  • Yellow colouring from leaves used for mats made from  Dunukeiya| 
  • Buddhist priests robes are dyed by flower of Kora-Kaha
  •  Mats used by Buddhist priests and lay people  are dyed from the flower of Kora-Kaha
  • The Second Tenuous*,  Use of Kora-Kaha for Wootz Steel/Damascus Steel. 
    • Was there not enough Kora-Kaha  trees to make Steel to fight the 12th Century South Invaders.
    • Or were the Sinhalese Kings busy exporting the Wootz steel/Damascus Steel to the Mid East and not enough steel to fight invaders (I dont think so, just a thought process)   The Mid East Saladin was busy fighting the Crusaders eg Richard the Lion Heart.

      For the Sri Lankan readers, the 12th century was the decline of the Sinhalese polity in North  and establishment of the Kalinga/Tamil polity in the North

*Tenuous as  in without researched back evidence. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Genghis Khan cooled the planet

https://imgs.mongabay.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2011/01/06121126/ghengis-khan.jpgGenghis Khan and his empire, which lasted nearly two centuries, actually cooled the Earth.

told in one word: reforestation. When the Mongol hordes invaded Asia, the Middle East, and Europe they left behind a massive body count, depopulating many regions. With less people, large swathes of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

the conquest of the Americas (killing of 95% of First Nations) there was enough time for the forests to re-grow and absorb significant amounts of carbon.
Recovery of forests following the collapse of human populations in the Americas after the arrival of Europeans may have driven the period of global cooling from 1500-1750 known as the Little Ice Age,

humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth‘s landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture.



From
https://news.mongabay.com/2011/01/how-genghis-khan-cooled-the-planet/

Also see
http://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/american-prairie-and-amazon-forest-man.html

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Lanka Land Reform and Productivity

This blog post is long reply to a good friends questions (in bold italics).

First: Productivity, Growth.  That is a concept that is used by the rentier classes to maximize profits.  Pay the least and and get the most.  How, does that benefit the avg Joe.  Standard answer is cheaper goods, and you know that does not happen.  (See Box Below)

"in 1973 number of vehicles in Yala were less than 100,trackers were more respected, poaching was minimal, buffer zones had no settlements"

Sri Lanka population was 13.5 million. The country was poor and could not pay its debts. 
Because the price of rubber had collapsed (synthetic rubber production). Almost the whole country (including our family, I was 14) had to stay in long lines to get bread, rice.  Long means long. 4am to 6am to get 2 loaves moldy bread.  Sisters and I took turn to stay on the lines.

Who could afford to go to Yala in the 70's, the 1%.  Even in S Thomas, one of the schools of the 1%. Very few classmates went to Yala in the 70's.  Not my family for sure.  They did pre 1960.

After 2010, population is 21 million. There is peace and many people (including rural/small town) have disposable income and can do affordable trips, specially in large groups.  Yes, they will throw garbage out of the jeep, drinking and Yala and in in other vacation areas.  Sounds familiar, right, you get the same complaints about behavior of low income people in the US national parks, Beaches etc.


Yala 1950: Rippon Gall Teachers trip.
My mother Peace BeeBee, white dress on left

"land in areas not the best for successful cultivation and their usage was no better than slash & burn"
I have no idea where they do slash and burn these days.  This area where I live was one of the poorest because it was border country during the war.  People here had no option but to hunt in Wilpattu to have food on the table.  The Army and LTTE to hunted to have food.   However, when I came in 2012 there was no slash and burn.

"When Mrs, B broke up the estates down to 50 acres,how come these newly acquired land not used for land reform, productive agricultural areas?"

There was no way the hill country estates were going to be given en masse to the Estate Tamils. Racism and Political suicide. So the hill country Tea estates became  Govt/State owned, and run by either the Govt entity, Janawasama or leased to Private companies like Mackwoods.  The land is still owned by the state.

There were exceptions.  An estate in Katul Oya/Gomara, near Knuckles Range .  1/2 acre was given to the workers in lieu of pay.  Beautiful area, a small plain adjoing the Knuckles Reserve. I tried to buy 4 adjoining plots, too expensive for me. 

In the south (Deniyaya, Hiniduma etc)  many of the Tea Estates were broken up and 2 acres was given to villagers.  I personally know two families.  They make about 1-2 lakhs/month.  However, they have to do all the work themselves.  No hired labor on avg or the gains are gone.

70% of our tea comes from small holdings.

To quote from   https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-colombo/documents/publication/wcms_654641.pdf
"Of this, smallholders, often following a multi-crop model on landholdings of less than ten acres, cultivate about 60 per cent of the total tea land and account for more than 70 per cent of  the  total  production. "
"The smallholder subsector is better off than the corporate plantation sector in terms of productivity. "



"All that happen was a land grab by the competing elites, old money to new money."

Thats the the old money elite version.

Old money:  Most made their money because they had patronage of the Brits. I hope you have read "Nobodies to Somebodies",  Big money from selling alchol, legal monopoly of a drug, including the Senanayakes . Thats a story in itself.  Old money is also Land given by the Brits for brown nosing. 

Some of the old money has changed with the times and jumped on the band wagon. One thing for sure, the new money has to spread the money more to all.

"State run enterprises by politicians who lacked business acumen had no business taking over profitable enterprises!

Ha, this comes to productivity.  State run businesses are not profitable because they are over staffed.  But the pay goes to Sri Lankans, may be backside warmers. welfare in another way.  Can privatize and sell and the profits go overseas. Offshoring of US manufactiring ring a bell. (see box again)

Land Ownership and Land Reform
In the US, there are almost no small family farms left. All taken over by big agri business.  The people have moved to large cities to work in Factories.  Now that manufacturing has been offshored, the mid west rust belt has become one large meth and fentanyl fest.

In the UK, there were the Inclosure/Enclosure acts that drove the rural working class out of the countryside.  It was cheap labor for the factories of the biggest richest empire at that time.  However. Life for those in the factory cities was horrible. Read Dickens etc.
See http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/articles/short-history-enclosure-britain

Even today half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population.  Average Joe in the UK less than 10%. (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/17/who-owns-england-thousand-secret-landowners-author)

Thank goodness in Sri Lanka we had land reform and ceilings on land ownership.  So no large migrations to cities and slums.


Arrack/Tavern renting
Legalized drug dealing monopoly enforced by the Jack boot.  Prior to the English the Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhalese tapped their toddy drank it, shared it or sold some. Never was big or even small scale business.  Too much work for lotus eaters.

The English, passed laws that a family could keep only two bottles of tapped toddy.  The rest had to be given to the Toddy Tavern (and later distilleries) at a fixed price set by the English.  They had special police, called Excise police to enforce the laws.  The taverns were rented off to Sinhalese families, prominent among them the Senanayskes, de Soysas for example.
http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181111/plus/don-spater-senanayake-and-the-temperance-movement-319728.html


Productivity and Growth
How per Capita Income, Productivity and Growth hides rise in Inequalityand Poverty
Consider country which has only one Farm and Village of 10 people.

In the first year all 10 people work on the farm
Out per year is 10kg.  So productivity is 1kg/person.
Wages are $10/year per person. 
So per capita income is 10/year.

Next year they push people to work harder, less vacation and lay off 3 people.
Output increases to 11kg/year.  Now productivity is 1.57kg/person. (11kg/7)
Eureka, 57% Growth in Productivity

For the 7 remaining Wages are also increased to $14.5
Total wage are now $101.5 (14.5x7). 
Per capita Income is now $10.15
Eureka Per Capita Income Has gone up by 1.5%

Productivity and Growth has gone up 57%. , Wages have gone up and Per Capita income has gone up by 1.5%.
How do these upbeat stats help the three people laid off


Now lets have look at how Govt or Land owner gains
Let the price/kg be $10 and no change between years

Then in the first year
Gross income = $100 (10kg x 10)
Wages=$100 ($10x10)
Net Income=Gross Income-Wages
0= $100-$100
So, first year it is a break even

The second year
Gross Income = $110 (11kg x $11)
Wages=$101.5 (14.5x7).
Net Income=$8.5 ($110-$101.5)

Eureka the Govt/Land owner is making a Profit


As you can see Productivity, Growth, Increase in per Capita Income hide the fact the poor become poorer and the rich become richer.  This is the rise in inequality and wealth transfer from poor to the rich.




Friday, August 30, 2019

Elephant Destruction because of Aruwakkalu / Wilpattu Garbage Landfill

A Garbage Landfill has been started at Aruwakkalu / Wilpattu adjoining the Puttalam Lagoon .  The site is at an old Limestone quarry pit, which had been allowed to become a forest.  A herd of Elephants used to live in this forest and make occasional walks to the flood plains near Gangewadiya.

The Garbage Landfill has destroyed the forest at the old  Limestone quarry pit.  It also prevents the elephants going to the forest between the garbage landfill and the Puttalam Lagoon (see image below).  As a result the herd of elephants are now living in the outskirts of the Eluvamkulama Village and Gangewadiya Village.

The elephant herd now has a limited area to live (habitat) and food sources.  The herd and lone males are coming into the village, destroying crops and trees.  It is just a matter of time for loss of human life.

So,

a) Should the elephants be relocated.  There is not enough area/habitat for elephants to live now that the garbage Landfill and limestone quarry does not allow them to use the forest nearby.

b) Should Landfill operation pay compensation to villagers for crop and tree damage.

Two examples / photos of crop damage below.
a) Raja a 62 year old villager.  He had planted two acres of coconut and bananas.  The coconut trees were just about to start bearing (5 years).  Not a single tree left by the elephant incursion.  His retirement plan has gone to the dogs (elephants).

b) Coconut trees destroyed in my property

Also read
http://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/update-colombo-garabge-to-wilpattu.html
https://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/colombo-garbage-to-wilpattu.html



Area Map. Click on Image for Google Maps
https://www.google.com/maps/@8.254454,79.8500153,4609m/data=!3m1!1e3

Destruction at Rajas
Raja's words on his age (64) and expectation of income
Elephant Damage at Raja's property

Elephant Damage at Raja's property

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lessons from Costa Rica

A must read article for Sri Lankans (and others).

Some Excerpts
If growth is a substitute for redistribution, then redistribution can be a substitute for growth.

If we want to have any hope of averting catastrophe, we’re going to have to do something about our addiction to growth. This is tricky, because GDP growth is the main policy objective of virtually every government on the planet.

In fact, the part of Costa Rica where people live the longest, happiest lives – the Nicoya Peninsula – is also the poorest, in terms of GDP per capita. Researchers have concluded that Nicoyans do so well not in spite of their “poverty”, but because of it – because their communities, environment and relationships haven’t been ploughed over by industrial expansion.

With a life expectancy of 79.1 years and levels of wellbeing in the top 7% of the world, Costa Rica matches many Scandinavian nations in these areas and neatly outperforms the United States. And it manages all of this with a GDP per capita of only $10,000 (£7,640), less than one fifth that of the US.

argue that it’s all down to Costa Rica’s commitment to universalism: the principle that everyone – regardless of income – should have equal access to generous, high-quality social services as a basic right. A series of progressive governments started rolling out healthcare, education and social security in the 1940s and expanded these to the whole population from the 50s onward, after abolishing the military and freeing up more resources for social spending.
https://www.theguardian.com/working-in-development/2017/oct/07/how-to-avert-the-apocalypse-take-lessons-from-costa-rica