Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Cultural Exchange

I am determined to mount a post in this first week of our Sri Lankan visit simply to prove that I have not succumbed entirely to the mental dislocations that left me seriously discombobulated for the first forty-eight hours of my stay in Colombo.  I now realize that whatever I may have thought in the past, this was my first experience of seriously long-distance air travel.  Never again will I use the phrase “jet lag” in glib or casual fashion.

            Nonetheless I have managed to accomplish a few of the essential things, beginning of course with an elephant ride.  I did it.  Photographic evidence does exist, though for technical reasons it cannot be produced at this time.  But I can promise you that a man with a brutalized coccyx needs no external documentary evidence.  We also toured the national museum in Colombo, where we saw many beautiful examples of early Buddhist sculpture.  Sunday was Father’s Day, and it was a particular pleasure for this old father to be able to celebrate it in the company of his youngest child, a rather new father, particularly as the celebration included a superb lunch in one of the capital’s premier hotels.  Should my son Richard read this post, let him eat his heart out at the news that at least five members of his immediate family have viewed the Sri Lankan gray hornbill—up close!           

            The next day we set off, the five of us distributed among three generations and three benches of a chauffeured van, on a tour of a few of the more notable sites of the land, one goal of which will be the reliquary shrine of the Tooth of the Buddha in Kandy, the old capital in the center of the island. We are just now at a fancy resort, the Chaaya Village at Habarana, a spacious sprawl of beautifully landscaped mini-chalets with tiled roofs and elegant, spare interior decoration.  Agile lemurs wander about the grounds.  There seems to be a new exotic bird in every tree.  At least this characterization applies to our section of the village.  We discovered on our lakeside walk some additional acres allotted to mini-mansions denominated the “Superior Suites” and the “De Luxe Suites”, leaving us to infer that we must actually be in the “Inferior Suites,” though the management has diplomatically refrained from proclaiming that on a sign post.