Here and there some boutique renovations of Bawa/Barefoot charm. At the other extreme dilapidated overgrown lots. Elsewhere stained walls of natives living unselfconsciously in ancient houses. Life as usual in the third world. All this framed by potholed narrow roads that thankfully tame speed demons.
The war is far away. There are no checkpoints. A few chaste couples on the ramparts as we stroll towards the lighthouse bastion. We are the only couple that dares to hold paws. To our left a wall of old houses stained by the rub of tropics on unprotected plaster. The only interruption in this row is a renovated house, now the obligatory antique shop with regulation Thirikalle.
The gleaming white mosque punctuates the row by the light house. It is hot due to the lethargic breeze. Take a few pictures and amble back. Pausing the photograph an invader.
The excellent lime juice at the Pedlar’s Inn cafe gets to the table at an unhurried pace. They seemed shocked that I didn’t want sugar in it (I have to confirm it several times). Then quick browse at Barefoot before meandering back to the chariot down yet another narrow street. Across from a museum that claims to be OPEN in big letters and “closed for prayers” in tiny ones, is the clack clack of typewriters from a law office in a un-renovated building. Technology moving at a Sri Lankan pace. At least its not the screech of a dial up modem which would be less romantic.
The museum which we visited after parking the chariot is small and still. Has that late 20th century non digital government look similar to the Natural history museum. There are two types of entry fees. The local rates have the amounts written out in Sinhala letters (not numbers) to avoid pissing off the tourists who would have to pay more than a few rupees. Don’t think hard currency types should be pissed. It would amount to maybe 3 US$ at the most.
High ceilings keep the place cool.The English on the exhibit labels are a bit quint. The number of the artefacts are small. However they do convey a vibe about the life in the colonial days. The small tattered jacket of a colonial era village official (has to be British from the period photograph) seems to be straining to tell its stories. I have to wonder though if people at the time were so small made. Perhaps its due to shrinkage. The choice of some of the exhibits are a bit odd. What do reproductions of Polonaruwa frescos or fragments of paintings from Amara (from the same period) have to do with the Dutch period Galle fort?
Later sitting by the orchestra of the waves writing this, I marvel that we take all this for granted. Mainly because most of us didn’t know of life in the grey cold cities of the “first” world. The need to put on clothes and boots and hats and scarves just to go out for a packet of milk. Not being able to open the window and have your morning brew in the sun year around. Having faced all that it is easy not to realise how precious this island is. Even if the politicians raping this don’t really care (surely you don’t expect a rapist to be empathic do you?).
When the typing turns to bitter words its good practice to start a new paragraph and mention something soothing about the sound of waves. If you look in the hefty chest marked “metaphors” (while you are at it could you oil the hinges?) you’ll find plenty of pretty stuff. I’d recommend avoiding the Shakespeare folder – too flowery and olde for the 21 century 3rd world. I’m not very good at word drooling over nature so you’ll have to do it yourself.
Time for another paragraph. Seems I’ve rambled on and am at a loss as to how to neatly tie this all in. Most of the text seems not to be about the Galle fort anymore. What a mess. Well so it life (and the country 😉 The only recourse to this is the old practice of stop typing.