Day -14 - 31-Dec-2015 (I continue From Here )
I witness my first fight here in Sri Lanka. Sunny is really angry with this greedy tuk-tuk driver who also owns a guest house in Ohiya. He, Sunny says, misguides tourists who have booked rooms in Hill Safari when they arrive late in the night by telling them that the approach road is horrible and thus they could stay at his place instead. Additionally, he has tried to fool some guests by subletting the room. Since Khairul and I rode with him the previous day to the Hortons, I know his nature too. He had smilingly requested us to walk the last one kilometre as he thought it was a bumpy ride. We smilingly refused and asked him to drop us at the doorstep. So there, it is the first fight I witnessed here in 13 days. Not bad. The sunrise shows some spectacular display of lights in the east.
I take a while to thank everyone. Sunny, Gamini, Arathy and Kavan. They all come see Khairul and me leave. It’s like we have come to a house and the hosts are sending us off. Truly, this experience has been so homely. We take a tuk-tuk to the Ohiya bus stand. Since my stay here, I have been observing one of the most discriminated class of Sri Lanka - The Plantation Tamils. These are low caste Tamils who where brought to the country by the British to work in tea plantations. They do not speak to you until you speak to them. They smile and walk away. They live in poor conditions in small villages near the tea plantations and they walk miles to reach the town. I could see their settlement from Hill Safari but could not visit them though I wished to. I observe more of them waiting for the bus. They always seem to be amongst themselves and do not take any interest in the tourists. I later learn the history of these people and how they lived in difficult situations and how they were discriminated particularly during the 60’s when they were denied citizenship. Many migrated back to India but several stayed back.
Khairul decides to travel with me per my plan to go to Galle. We take a bus from Ohiya to Walamadi and there we take another one to Galle. The later is a long journey of 6 hours. I pass through Ella and Wellwaya again on the route. Slowly the geography changes from mountains and hills to plains and then there they are, the beaches again. The driver is really annoying me with the frequent honking. Apparently, he seems to be the only one doing that in the entire country.
On my way, I witness a funeral. Several friends and relatives are walking behind the coffin being carried by a few men. Sarees are used as carpets as they walk. Once they pass over one saree it is rolled and thrown to the people in the front and the same is laid. Near Matara, locals are selling the Meekiri (Curd with treackle). Once the bus reaches the coast, it takes the road by the beach. I pass through all the famous beaches in Sri Lanka and they are all filled with foreign tourists.
At Galle, I witness the first traffic jam in this country. It’s new year's eve after all! The place is crowded. There is a lot of lighting and an exhibition is happening on a ground. We walk to the fort entrance in search of accommodation and surprise! Tadashi spots us from the terrace of the guest house he is staying in just at the fort entrance. We are happy to see each other again. The owner of his guest house has a daughter who lives in Japan and is married to a Japanese and thus Tadashi is receiving amazing treatment here. The owner of the guest house tells us that probably all the places inside the fort is booked. He asks a tuk-tuk driver to take us to a lodge in the town. I tell Tadashi before i leave that I shall be back for a drink.
Our lodge is within a kilometre from the fort. A very kind Sinhalese man lets us in. We freshen up and leave. At the entrance another surprise- Tadashi has coincidently met Roc and Lidia at the entrance. Wow this is incredible! We all are so happy to see each other that we decide to celebrate this reunion. Thanks to the kind owner of Tadashi’s, he knows a very ecnonimcal place inside this expensive fort where we could dine. Apparently its also at a roof top with some great ambience. We all chat a lot and celebrate the year end together with some Sri Lankan beer. Roc, Lidia and I discuss a lot on cultures, the challenges of teaching the current generation at school and we also share some of the common childhood games that we used to play. They share with us their wedding pictures. This seems like a perfect way to say good bye to the friends I have made in this country.
Roc and Lidia leave after dinner as they have an hours ride to reach the place where they are living. Tadashi, Khairul and I walk around Galle fort which is so alive with tourists and locals on the new year's eve. There is a food fest with cuisine from every part of the country. We walk to the light house and I lie down watching the night sky. It seems like a beautiful conclusion to this travel. We expect a lot of fireworks at midnight but it is rather dull with just a few here and there.
We head back to the hotel and retire for the day. What an incredible day it has been. Happy new year!