Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Kumari, iconic Managerress and Chef of Wilpattu House passes away.

 RIP: SriKumari Chitranganie JayakodyArachige  (1972 Oct 23 to 2023 Aug 24th) 
Would have been 51 on Oct 23rd.

May be an image of 1 person, child and smiling

Kumari passed away at General Hospital Colombo, around 7:00pm August 24th (Thursday). She would have been 51 on Oct 24th
About 10 days ago her right leg was amputated above her knee due to diabetic complications.
The hospital then discharged her a couple of days later.
At home with her daughter, she complained of difficulty in breathing on Thursday 24th.
She was taken back to Colombo and put on oxygen etc.
A few hours later she passed away..
Her daughter Madumali asked me to let everyone she knew and specially those who helped over the last few years be informed and gratitude for the help given.

Kumari was a force to be reckoned, a livewire. and a character not easily forgotten. She lasted this long because of her mental and physical strength despite her severe diabetic complications.

Another facet of Kumari was that she was not a racist.
At around the age of 14 or so Her parents were killed by the LTTE at Vellamundalama.
Vellamunadalama was a migrant fishing hamlet (Wadiya) a few km north of Gangewadiaya and about 10km North East of Eluwankulama.

When Kumari came to Eluwankulama she did not know she was going to place near her childhood times.
There was this lady, Theresa whose husband and son had been part of those who killed her parents.
For a few years Theresa lived about 50m from Kumaris place.
Theresa used to come and "borrow" money, sugar rice the works. Even better used to wash clothes and bathe in Kumari's premises.
I was the one who was annoyed and angry. and asked Kumari to ignore them. Kumari would say "Aney pauw" they have nothing.

50+ migrant fisher folk (including children) were killed in Vellamundalama in 1990.  The decomposed mutilated bodies were brought back to their respective villages south of Negombo and buried in the local cemetery.  Seen the headstone with 20 odd names in Dungalpitiya


May be an image of 2 people and bicycle
May be an image of 2 people
May be an image of 1 person and tree
 May be an image of 1 person and smiling

May be an image of 4 people

May be an image of 1 person, motorcycle and text

May be an image of 3 people and text

May be an image of 4 people and tree

May be an image of 2 people, people smiling and tree

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Galle Fort: Corals and Fish in Waist Deep Water

The title says it all. The location is to the right of the cliff diving rock (while looking out to the ocean. See photo below). There are steps in front of Rampart Hotel to a small beach. Use a mask and snorkel or even swimming goggles to see the fish. Its too bad the underwater camera I brought to specifically to capture this area is at the bottom of the Dodanduwa Lagoon.

The corals and fish are one tenth of what we saw as children about 40 years ago (we were sent here to our grandmothers for the school holidays). That said its still a wonderful experience.

Many thanks to my cousin Ranjan Perumal and his friends Praki (Parakramabahu) Thomas, Errol Thomas, Intaco De Silva and many others who took the time to show us how to look around in the sea.

Galle Fort Cliff Diver

A Galle Fort Cliff Diver.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Types of Basil. One grows wild in Sri Lanka

The genus name Ocimum is derived from the Greek word meaning "to smell.  Ocimum is appropriate for most members of the plant family Lamiaceae, also known as the mint family. With over 40 cultivars of basil, this abundance of flavors, aromas, and colors leads to confusion when identifying specific cultivars.   In Indian languages many of the cultivars are called something tulasi

  •  Ocimum gratissimum The most common in Sri Lanka. Maduruthala  (මදුරුතලා). Also called clove basil
  • Ocimum horapha Thai Basil is widely used throughout Southeast Asia a It is the cultivar most often used for Asian cooking in Western kitchens.
  • Ocimum . tenuiflorum Holy basil, hs a spicy, peppery, clove-like taste. The basil Thai people love most.It is also known as Thai holy basil or by its Indian name, tulasi or tulsi; it is widely used in India for culinary, medicinal, and religious purposes.
Sweet basil is light green with wide leaves.Thai basil has purple stems and flowers and spear-like leaves

Ocimum gratissimum - Maduru Tala

Tulasi  Maduruthala  (මදුරුතලා) Mosquito Repellent and other benefit (Sinhala)

Thai Basil vs. Basil: How to Use

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

By Bus: Mannar, Pooneryn to Jaffna: Part 1 Mannar

The last time I visited Jaffna was in late 2004. Thats not the absolute truth, because I did go to Jaffna in December 2010. That was with two classmates and their families and I was in a perpetual haze and trying to be (I dont think I needed to try hard) to be a nuisance. Into the bargain the camera had stopped working. It started working again when my brain was a little more coherent and I hit it, as in the camera against the wall. This works for my brain as well at times.

The 2004 trip was quite a journey. Many a story and one of these days I will get around to writing about it. The LTTE customs checkpoint, the LTTE exhibition at Kilinochi. Photos from that trip and blog post on that trip here.

Anyway as usual before going to any place where I dont know the language, brushed up with some useful phrases which work wonders like;
Amma/Aiya Onglaku Mitchum Nanri: Madame/Sir thank you very much.
Theivadu, Thanni konjam Tharungo: Please can I get a little water (replace Thanni=water with whatever)
Ungalaku Nalla Naal: You have a good day. I would replace Naal=day with Rathri=Night, in the evening. My vocabulary did not extend to the word for evening
Back to the bus trip. Left Colombo 6:45 am semi luxury (no different from normal buses, just higher price). Cost LKR 400 per person. I dont like air con buses for long distances. It seems they either turn off the air con off or if it is cold enough to my liking, the other passengers want the cold turned down. Normal buses, you get a corner seat making sure the window is under your control, i.e. it closes/opens at your seat. If your neighbor complains its too cold, the drizzle is coming in, explain that you vomit all over the place if you dont have a window open. One time while traveling up country early with a frigid air blowing on my face, explained that I do my morning meditation and the cold air helps me focus my mind on the Dhamma. Nothing like religion to exploit your needs or foibles. On the other hand you could have the odd swig or too from a bottle of booze. You will not be asked any questions, in fact many will keep a healthy distance from you. More likely you will be the loquacious question asker.

A few other things like if it is a North South oriented journey, sit on the west side before noon and on east after noon to avoid direct sun. Too bad if what you want see is on side of the sun, like a west coast ride in the afternoon and you want to see the ocean.

Arrived in Mannar at around 3:30 p.m. Stayed at the Manjula Inn (2nd Cross St, Mannar; Tel 023 2222037, Mobile  077-6038525), walking distance from the bus stand. Its a house from the 50's a section of which has been converted to an Inn. I stayed in one of the upstairs rooms, attached toilet. Place is clean, toilet tiled and clean but the drain was of cement and didnt look too attractive. That said this place is not let out on a short term basis, i.e. you dont have to be wondering who was doing what in the bed a few hours before you checked into the room. The owner Sam Ratnaraj, a retired gent was displaced from Negombo during the 83 riots and moved to Mannar his wifes hometown. Strong and vocal opinions of what has happened and should happen but no wish to settle elsewhere. Sam is also otherwise busy at the moment funding his two grand kids thru University in the UK.

The evening I arrived did the standard Baobab Tree and the Mannar Fort and the Donkeys. Late evening did a pleasant 3 km walk to the Mannar Station (destroyed by the LTTE). This was kind of a forced walk. The three wheel guy asked for LKR 300 and probably should have been around LKR 100 (approx 30 to 35/km), so walked, a good decision in retrospect as it was a nice pleasant area. Hopped a three wheel back for LKR 150.

The Little Donkey in the Mannar Fort

The Donkey Family framed from a window. Inside the Fort: I think this was the Chapel
The Mannar Bridge. The metal bridge was constructed by Kobbekaduwa (I think) after the old Mannar bridge was blasted by the LTTE. The more permanent concrete bridge is of recent vintage.

The Baobab Tree
The Mannar Railway bridge, blasted by the LTTE

The remnants Mannar Railway Station
More photos and other locations in the vicinity by another author http://trips.lakdasun.org/trip-to-mannar-and-talei-mannar.htm

Next: Part 2: Talaimannar and Madhu

2004 Trip to Jaffna thru then LTTE territory: Part 2

See here for 2004 Trip to Jaffna thru then LTTE territory: Part 1
Day 3: Invitation to LTTE exhibition. Locate place to stay in Jaffna
Hotel Jaffna Town
Day 4:  Kayts to Pungutivu:  Nagadipa (Nainathivu), Kobbekaduwa Memorial. Beer Dinner, 
Day 5:  Dry Fish at Check Point:  LTTE exhibition. A9 Restaurant.

Day 3:
We get the invitation to the LTTE exhibition   Say we will have a look on the way back,
Leave early morning as in 6:00 pm.  There is no real food around.  I was hoping to get thosai.

Get to Pallai (I think)  check point.  Long lines, its around 7:00 am in the morning. The bus crowd was the reason for the lines.  Got thru the lines in about 45 minutes.  Then drove to Jaffna town.  Drove around checking out various places for quite a while.  There was this place on the KKS road, old house, attached outdoor bathroom all what I would like but for whatever reason decided against. Finally checked into place. I cant remember the name. It was just north of the Bus stand, on one of the cross streets off Kasturiya or KKS Road.  If anyone recognizes the place from the photo please comment.
Hotel Jaffna Town

Cant recall much of the rest of the day, and no photos to jog the memory either.

Day 4:
After breakfast left to go to Nagadipa (Nainathivu). Basically drove thru Kayts, and in Pungutivu (Punkudutivu) stuck to the southern coast roads and on the return journey the northern coast roads. Went thru very small villages and ended up at Kurikadduwan.  I am surprised I dont have photos, probably a combination of having to drive, and the gallery comments from companion, who knows.

Pungutivi and Nainativu (Nagadipa)
Anyway end up at the jetty to Nagadipa.  Just beautiful , reminds me of Greece/Mediterranean photos I have seen.  Why go to Greece when you can go to Jaffna/Pungutivu. Windsurfing, Kite surfing, flat water I would have put down money to buy beach front property in Pungutivu if was not scared about land mines (remember this was 2004)

Inside Ferry to Nagadipa

The ferry ride was fantastic, just wondered when it would sink.  There was a something that looked like a cannon on the top of the of boat. Walked to the Nagadipa Buddhist Temple, 0.5 km or so.  The Head of the temple was not there, so no real historical viewpoint. The Buddhist temple appeared to be very modern (rebuilt).  Reminded me of Catalina Island (off LA).  (Note to self: Do Delft by Bus some day)

Approach to Nagadipa
Spent a hour or two. Then headed back to the ferry.  We had to wait a hour or so for the ferry to arrive.  Back at Kurikadduwan/Pungutivu.  Just off the ferry landing, there were a couple of stalls selling dried fish.  Got to chatting, and one stall owner said he was from Matara originally, married locally and was considered a Tamil.  Apparently the pilgrimage ("Vandana") buses would also arrive on the way to Nagadipa and on return and buy dried fish.  I think it was around LKR 100/kg r and we bought about 10-20 kg.   Spent a pleasant half hour  or more chatting.

Drove back on the northern side of Pungutivu and stopped at Denzil Kokkekaduwa memorial.  Arrived back at the place we were staying. Had a shower and inquired about a place to have a beer or two.

Located this place about a kilometer from where we were staying.  Dont know the name of the hotel (again if someone recognizes from photo please comment). Had dinner, a couple of beers and apparently the locals had never seen a woman before, at least the way they behaved (That outlook seems to have changed when I went around in 2011).  Normally dont drink and drive but somehow managed to find my way back.
Nagadipa Temple

Day 5:
Left after breakfast. I think we got to the Pallai (?)  LTTE checkpoint/immigration.  Had to deal with why we had 5-10 kg of Dry Fish, were we doing business.  Convinced immig that this was to be distributed to friends and family. Was given the ok and headed  toward Kilinochi.
Went and had a look at the LTTE exhibition.  Various arms, simplistic figures showing tactics as to how positions had been won.  I think Elephant Pass was a big one. Most were happy/proud to see we were even interested in looking at the exhibits.  I asked if we could take photos and they were happy, no different from any other Sri Lankan.  Then a supervisor (or something like that) said they needed to check and it turned out I we were not allowed to take photos within the exhibition.   Walked back to the gate and asked again if I take photos.  I was told that I could take photos out of the grounds. I hope those whom I spoke to have survived. They were normal average people living in a time and space that was beyond their control.

Headed to the A9 restaurant. The front was parked with UN etc SUV's.  Many tables full of people, including some female Tiger cadre in uniform.  Now that I think about it, there were no male Tiger cadre in uniform to be seen during the whole trip.  Managed to take a photo while pretending it was a photo of someone I was talking to.  The food was good, cant recall if it was vegetarian. What I recall was no tip was accepted. Headed back to Apura around 2 pm.
Nagadipa Temple
Causeway Nagadipa to Pungutivu
Approach to Ferry, Nagadipa
Approach to Ferry, Pungutivu
Denzil Kobbekaduwa Memorial, Pungutivu
Denzil Kobbekaduwa Memorial, Pungutivu
Restaurant in Jaffna Town
LTTE Exhibition
LTTE Exhibition
A9 Restaurant Kilinochi. Note Tiger cadre
A9 Restaurant, Kilinochi

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Hoopoe bird. Sinhala; පොරුව කුරුල්ලා Poruwa kurulla

 Hoopoe bird. Sinhala;  පොරුව කුරුල්ලා Poruwa kurulla Tamil: Chaval kuruvi

I got to see a Hoopoe Bird in the garden. I have never seen one despite umpteen safari trips to the nearby Wilpattu National Park.   Normally, I make my coffee and sit in front of computer reading news and other bullshit  This was in June 2022 with many power cuts. So no computer  and so sat outside drinking my coffee

Fe Fi Fo Fum, what did I see but a Hoopoe Bird. It was about 20 feet away pecking on grass seed (note need to get camera with decent zoom) . Guess  what a hour later walking to the gate I see two pairs of Hoopoe  birds.

At  this rate I going to see some of the animals of Sri Lanka I have not seen, dancing a jig in the garden.  Pangolin (the old world version of Armadillo), Jungle Cat and Rusty Spotted Cat (the smallest cat) and a Sloth Bear.  I would not mind a Fishing Cat thrown in, though I seen a pair near my sisters house which is  on the edge of the Negombo Lagoon.

via  https://www.flickr.com/photos/anujnair/8540839823