Monday, September 03, 2007

The Emerald Isle Diaries - 4

In their day to day living, Sri Lankans follow the principles of Zen Buddhism. No matter what religion they have in their surnames and faith, they follow the art of Zen. Zen teaches you to be mindful and aware of your surroundings and that’s how the people of the Isle are.

They will always keep the door open for the next person, they will always ask you if you slept well, they will try to sense every expression on your face to assess what you want; they will listen to whatever you are saying and then they also listen to the unsaid. That is Zen!

The Sri Lankan hospitality is astounding, almost magical and motherly. Back home in the city of Mumbai this kind of experience is unheard of. The last time I felt like this was with my parents as a child and with certain good friends.

With frequent halts for conversations along with some extremely sweet Ceylon tea, we reached the UNESCO heritage city of Anuraadhapura by the evening. It’s a town full of Buddhist history and ruins from the 4th century BC. Legend has it that it was the fabled capital of the Asura King Ravana in the Ramayana.

Smirnoff, bought at the local Cargill superstore gave us company for the night at a local resort called Nuwarawera Rest House. Sitting next to a lit pool and a 'witchy looking' tree, we did full justice to the famous brand of Vodka and the evening. A black cat kept walking around our feet. We talked about various superstitions, clients, marriages, love and personal philosophies.

The next morning saw us turning into tourists. Sri Lanka's largest Stupa called the Jetavanaramaya belittled me with its size and grandeur. At a height of over 400 feet (120m), it is the tallest stupa in the world, largest brick building ever built, and 3rd largest structure in the ancient world, after the two largest of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Next stop was at the Mahabodhi tree, which is said to be the sapling from the original Bodhi tree from Bodh Gaya, a town in Bihar. Interestingly, Bodh Gaya happens to be the city of my origins too. Sadly, this important temple is very ill-maintained. Some more ruins from the BC era, around the city and we were on our way back to Colombo. A little halt at a charming, seaside village of fishermen was beautiful. Because of the paucity of time, we excluded the famous Sigiriya Fort and Elephant Sanctuary for another day.

By the time, I reached the hotel, I was extremely exhausted. A couple of drinks from the Red Label gifted by my friend Mr Shaffie proved to be of great help. It put me to a sweet and dreamless sleep.

Today was pretty critical and successful in the context of work.

And thats how the world's tallest Stupa, completely made of bricks, looks like. Notice that its top is broken. It was discovered in that state in early 1900s.

13 comments:

ghaza said...

way to go dude ........... you make this place sound aawwweeeesssssoooooommmmmmmeeeeeeee ...........

do you need visa ????? next get-together should be there only

meraj said...

the place is quiet nice. if one is coming for less than 15 days, the Visa can be acquired at the Colombo airport. so, one can just book the tickets and fly down to the isle.

lynn said...

your film and music blog has quietly turned into a travel journal and it's fantastic. you are writing really well. please please don't come back without visiting the elephant sanctuary and posting some good pix from there. as to my tennis, alas no i don't play - a thyroid tumor in 2001 put paid to that part of my life. yes, i like sibling dolphin.:-) btw, one of the million kittens i rescued from way back when, called tequila, now lives happily ever after in colombo - and may have been the black cat you met....

meraj said...

yeah, i was myself thinking about the transition. thanks for the appreciation! (it always feels good)

why the name Tequila...whats the story?

alien said...

waiting for the photograph or details of the " Ram Setu" the bridge?? whats the story ?
cheers!!!!

POOJA NAIR said...

An evening near a witchy tree and a black cat admidst your feet and all those conversations with some really beautiful people...slowly getting high on Vodka.

It sounds like such a great time to have! Beautifull!

Tequila sounds like a nice name for a cat. i love cats... I like you smiling dolphin for rescuing them...

Smiling Dolphin said...

Wish there was a story there, Pooja and Meraj, but I have absolutely no idea why he was named Tequila, just that he was. Maybe he acquired a special taste for the brew:-).

POOJA NAIR said...

ha ha ha! going by that, even i should be called Tequila! :)

Two With Nature said...

i'm shamelessly promoting this...but since you're really enjoying your stay at sri lanka - i thought i'd give this for you to read

http://www.chowk.com/articles/6306

cheers

meraj said...

pooja, since when did you start liking Tequila? (i didnt know about this)

sibling dolphin, maybe those who named him were high on the partcular spirit :)

2 with nature, enjoyed the piece on your trip to the isle.

POOJA NAIR said...

Well, who doesn't enjoy Tequila? It's like chocolate. Who doesn't like chocolate?

anisha said...

Meraj, it's beautifully written and you seem to have had a great time. I hope to read more. Love, Anisha

meraj said...

thanks for the appreciation, Anisha. shall keep you posted.