Thursday, May 6, 2010

Winds of Change

April 2010 – Colombo, Sri Lanka. Colombo Hilton next to the World Trade Center.

30 April 2010 - Colombo, Sri Lanka.

I tried to buy a Lonely Planet at the Hilton bookshop but “it finish.”

Later I got a massage at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel spa. The massage girl said [bxA] she is from Phuket, Thailand and really misses home because she’s been here a very long time: six months.

Just before dusk, dark storm clouds rolled in and the waves picked up. The weather is hot and muggy so the winds are warm. It feels like the winds of change I keep feeling in my own life, only here there are military soldiers holding rifles standing all around.

A man walked me across the street and joined me on the sea wall for a pleasant conversation. He said I’m lucky to be here now because the war is over. I asked when the war ended. He said about six months ago and now there is peace for the first time in 30 years. I asked how certain he is it will remain peaceful. He said very certain because the terrorists in the north – something about Jaffna – are under control now.

He changed the subject and encouraged me to go to a gem sale that ends today. I said I’m not in the market for jewelry. He then tried to persuade me with a parable I learned in Hindu yoga school about tasting a mango: you can say you don’t want a mango based on what people tell you a mango tastes like, but you will never know a mango until you bite into one and taste it. Mathaji told it with strawberries. I didn’t realize it could be applied to jewelry, but maybe I just haven’t found the right pair of earrings.

Nov ’09 – Uttarkashi, India. Sign at a Vivekananda primary school near Sivananda Ashram.

I walked away through a dozen soldiers milling about a military truck. One young soldier smiled this enormous smile at me with his discolored buck teeth bursting out of his mouth, which he immediately and awkwardly tried to contain with his lips as I tried a careful, friendly smile. He wanted desperately to be handsome and with all my heart I wanted that for him.

As the winds blew harder and the waves rose higher, I headed back toward my hotel before the rains came down. A group of teenage schoolboys in white shirts approached and were all smiles until one bravely asked me where I come from. I told them “USA” and then with a huge grin one of them announced, “We’re from Sri Lanka.” I grinned back and said cheekily, “Ahhh…I was just going to ask.”

We passed the regal old colonial looking building with the gate around it and statues of Sri Lankan men. The boys told me it is the old parliament house and the statues are of their heroes.

Derrick arrives tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Ah, thank you for continuing on continuing to blog Ali; I also wish for that soldier to find handsome one day. The beauty of reading your prose is that it is all written in such a 'picturesque' manner. You are such a gifted painter of words, a master with the stroke of a brush using the most brilliantly mixed colours.

Anonymous said...

How I miss Sri Lanka. How I wished 'Derek were still coming tomorrow'? 'Doing is Learning'. Agree in absolutment. What a country! What a people!