Sri Lanka’s political circus from Google Earth


Lipton Circus in Colombo is a frequent staging area for the theatrics of political demonstrations. Perhaps one of the few things we Sri Lankans are consistently good at.

Colombo has very few public spaces such as Times or Tiananmen square. As you can see from the google earth screen shot in this post, the circus is a round about (traffic circle) at the convergence of a bunch of major roads. Any large public gathering here is a traffic disruption of some sort. But that’s democracy for you and we are proud of our democratic freedoms.

Lipton Circus Colombo  2009/08/08 - Google Earth screen shot Dated

There are quite a few well written and photographed posts in the Lankanospere about the Circus and its goings on. Here a few of the better ones:

Most of the political protests staged here have no effect. Their main purpose if cathartic. A place to for the serfs to work off frustration, a tool for political groups to make their respective herds feel relavent.

At a more personal level, the circus is where Mrs.C traditionally runs out of fuel during the evening commute. Typically its raining, and she doesn’t have any cash with her. I get a running commentary on the mobile in my role as hapless audience to a voice only drama. Thankfully her damsel in distress act ropes in enough people to push her to a petrol shed (which accepts her cheques).

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5 comments

    • It does have a working fuel gauge. She waits for the little yellow light to turn on before even considering going to refuel. Her faith in the fuel efficiency (how many KM can you go on fumes) of the combustion engine is amazing.

      In deference to feminist independence and in the interest of challenging patriarchal gender roles I used to keep my nose out of the issue for a while ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Lately I’ve taken over the whole refuelling thing and keep the charriot tanked up. So our little annual drama at the circus is now history ๐Ÿ˜€

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  1. You say we are proud of our democratic freedoms. Do you r really mean that or is it that it is a place we can protest, just to let off steam and hope the problem goes away!

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    • A bit of both ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I think Sri Lankans (a least some parts of Sri Lankan society) have a sense that they have a right to voice their outrage even in the face of politically thuggery. How effective the actually protest are is another matter. I think most smaller political groups need the institution of the protest demo to keep their core faithful together as well as show that they are somehow relavent. I get the feeling that the ruling politicians of any party permit a certain level of public dissent for allow people to vent frustrations publicly as a group.

      A lot of problems people seems to demonstrate against – such as the high education mess – have no easy fixes and involve major structural/mindset changes. That means a lot of good management, compromise, planning, trust, vision and an ability to communicate that vision to convince people who may oppose you. All that is in short supply (world wide – not just in Sri Lanka). it always has. The default is the usual mix of frustrated rage vs the tear gas.

      But at least its only tear gas that’s used and there’s still a sense of entitlement that venting is public is a right of some sort (however futile/fragile/annoying). I’d like to think that its a gut level understanding of democracy that no personality cult can take away. As to the level of pride people have about – well, that’s me trying to be cheeky ๐Ÿ™‚

      Note that most of this little ramble is my un researched point of view – this is a blog after all… ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for the comment btw, actually had me thinking ๐Ÿ˜€

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