January 17, 2012 Travel
Under the beautiful Skin of Sri Lanka
|Outside Hindu Tempel|
Pretending to know the first thing about Sri Lanka and it’s people after having spent just a few days in the country would be presumptuous, to say the least. Having been the object of my friends’ abounding hospitality for a couple of days, living, eating, talking, walking, exploring with them, has given me a few glimpses into their world, their society, their joys and their challenges. But as often is the case when you venture into new territory, and boy, am I on new grounds here; the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.
And this is possibly where I should be wise enough to adhere to the words of Lao Tze: “Those who speak, do not know, those who know do not speak”. But alas, I have not reached that level of wisdom yet.
|Pascal tending to his garden|
Of course a lot of things here are different, and to a traveler, different is inherently good, the ultimate motivation for leaving home sweet home.
For a newcomer, a visitor of short standing, the island seems like a paradise. “Beautiful” is a word that constantly comes to mind, both when nature and people are concerned. Another is “diversity”.
Everywhere you turn there are new wonders to be seen; all the exotic fruits, flowers, spices you’ve ever heard of, and many, many more, in gardens, in the wild or on display in the stalls lining the roads. People dressed in beautiful (there I go again) saris, Sri Lankan or Indian style, and more casual wear, loosely fitted pants or wraparound “skirts” for the men, mainly long skirts and light long sleeved blouses, for the women. Places of worship; Buddhist viharas, Hindu temples, Catholic churches, Muslim mosques and other wholly places or shrines, in designs from the very elaborate and sometimes in Nordic eyes glaring, to the more modest, all give an idea of the diversity of this religious and cultural melting pot.
According to “the books”, the official story and the first version given to you by the locals, all is well in the land. Tourism, which Sri Lanka is desperately dependent on, is back on track, and you can sense the almost tangible relief of now being rid of war and the constant and paralyzing effect terrorism had on people and society.
This may be the reasons why it takes some prodding to get a chance to peek under the wonderful skin of the country and its people…
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