Archive for August, 2010


Friday, August 27th, 2010

Sunday 29 August 2010.

Greetings from Sri Lanka to readers around the world.

A slogan being bandied about by the Tourism Authority here  describes Sri Lanka as “The Wonder of Asia.” It’s certainly a wonder…


Here, word for word, is part of a news item in The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka, 23 August 2010, about a village girl who got married last year.

“Surprisingly for about ten months, the girl had not realised that she had got married to a woman. The suspect woman had avoided her cleverly and posed as a man, police said.

“Recently when the suspect woman had come home drunk and while talking to the wife, the sarong of the husband had come down, police said, citing the girl’s statement.

“It was then that the girl had realised that she had missed something very important.

“The victim woman had informed her parents of what had happened and informed the Gandara police. After the incident the thirty-year old suspect had gone missing, police state.”

Semi Perfect

A roadside restaurant has opened near where I live. Its advertising promises “semi fine dining.”

Further along the road is a beach hotel that bills itself as a “luxury semi boutique resort.”  

I have no idea of knowing if this usage of the word “semi” is international or just a Sri Lankan colloquialism. It seems rather half-hearted, and likely to lead to tears. Only half a fine dining experience? Not quite a boutique resort?

Dining out

My quoting the price of dinner at a beachside five-star hotel in Sri Lanka last week attracted some interest.

While the cost of living in Sri Lanka, if one lives off the good, ample local products, is reasonable, dining out in the tourist areas does seem to be expensive.

Yesterday at the cheapie Tamarin Beach Hotel opposite my cottage, where a non a/c room for two is Rs2,000 (£11.61 or US$17.89) per night, two beers and one portion of fried beef with chillies cost Rs1,095 (£6.36 or US$9.79), including 10 percent service charge.

Yet the day before in Colombo, at the five-star Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where an a/c double room (no breakfast) costs

US$80 a night plus taxes, Andrew (my webmonster) and I had a meal at much better value.

In its traditionally furnished Cheers Pub, our lunch of two soft drinks, Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, a delicious steak & mushroom pie AND two Negroni cocktails (that’s made with one third each of Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari and red vermouth), the cost was Rs2,946 (£17.11 or US$26.35). That included the service charge and government taxes.

Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to start saving up for a visit to Sri Lanka if you stay and snack in a cheap beach resort but, for better value, dine in Colombo five-star hotels.

Dining In

We had dinner last night in the garden, under the moonlight. Neel, my business partner here for nearly 30 years and his

cousin, who is staying with him for a few days, baked a pair of reef fish at Neel’s home.  

They brought the fish to my cottage and I provided the cocktails and wine. As a starter we had a fresh leaf salad with coriander and garlic bread, and mayonnaised potato and pumpkin chunks with the fish. All local, all wonderful.

Ferry Good?

On Friday, while I was researching for a magazine article, I discovered this ferry, just 15 minutes drive inland at the end of country lane. It is

powered not by an engine but by alternative technology: men (and ferry passengers) pulling on a rope to haul the pontoon across the water.

A semi-wonder perhaps in this modern age?

Beat regards


My book written 50 years ago, The Big Beat Scene, is available from:

My book written this year, Sri Lanka: Step By Step is published on 1 September 2010, and available (at a discount!) from: