Archive for September, 2012

ROYSTON’S REPORT, Number 129

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 30 September, 2012.

 

Made in Sri Lanka

This week, we’re talking Sri Lankan spices.

 

Pre-ground spices on sale in the village market

Pre-ground spices on sale in the village market


 

For centuries, Sri Lanka has been known for its spices, which is what stirred the imperial powers to invade, hunting Cinnamon, Pepper, Betel, Clove, Cocoa, Ginger, Lemongrass, Nutmeg and Mace, Vanilla and Cardamom. There is even a Spice Council with a stimulating website (www.srilankanspices.com), pungent with information about the vegetable substances used for flavouring.

 

In Sri Lanka’s village markets, ground spices are available in bulk but keen cooks will grind their own with a mortar and pestle. Tourists often make the mistake (thanks to guides who get a commission) of buying “fresh” spices in roadside spice gardens at huge expense, instead of (as local cooks do) looking in corner shops and supermarkets for the unground, properly packed local brand-name spice products.

 

an ancient mortar and pestle in Colombo’s National Museum

an ancient mortar and pestle in Colombo’s National Museum

 

In celebration of spices, the grandly named 7th World Spice Food Festival starts here next Thursday, 4 October. International chefs will be participating by offering spicy cuisines from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Hawker Street style food stalls run by the city’s five-star hotels will be held on the Board Walk at Battaramulla from 5 to 7 October. Hot stuff!

 

First Day Cover

In newsletter 127, I lamented being unable to obtain a First Day Cover (FDC)

of the issue of stamps showing four of Colombo’s colonial buildings, due to popular demand for the FDCs at the joyous launching function held at the venerable Galle Face Hotel.

 

Colonial Buildings First Day Cover, 11 September 2012

Colonial Buildings First Day Cover, 11 September 2012


 

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Hemasiri Fernando, who is Secretary to the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications, I have now received, through the post, the superb presentation folder prepared for the occasion. As well as the FDC, the folder contains two souvenir sheets, each with two stamps of Rs15 (£ .07p; US$ .12c) in value.

 

Two souvenir sheets of Colombo’s Colonial Buildings stamp issue.

Two souvenir sheets of Colombo’s Colonial Buildings stamp issue.


 

Inside the FDC (envelope) I found a leaflet giving details of the stamps  (designer: Vasantha Perera; size: 60mm x 30mm; horizontal; offset lithography, 4 process colours, 102gsm security printing paper; printed 50 stamps per sheet; perforations: 14×13 ½; stamps printed: 1,000,000 x 4). The design is very attractive and adds to the value of the FDCs as a collectible item.

 

The leaflet also gives details of the buildings, from which I learned that the Galle Face Hotel, built in 1864 “conceived and incorporated by three British businessmen” was “designed and built to British colonial architecture.” The other buildings in the series are not as old.

 

National Museum, Colombo, at dusk. Photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe.

National Museum, Colombo, at dusk. Photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe.


 The Colombo National Museum was purpose built by government in 1877 at a cost of Rs119,993.93 (240% over budget; sounds familiar?). The splendid Town Hall with its Capitol-style dome was completed in 1928, while the Old Parliament (now the Presidential Secretariat), built in Iconic style, was declared open in 1930.

 

 Vintage Car Owners’ Club

In newsletter 110, 27 May 2012, I mentioned a rally being held by the Vintage Car Owners’ Club (www.vintagecarownersclub.lk), and now comes news of another one. It’s being held next Sunday, 7 October, starting from Colombo’s Independence Square at 14.00hrs and proceeding to the Galle Face Centre Road.

It’s billed as a “Drive for Elders & Children” and the parade will do two rounds on Galle Face Centre Road and then enter the Taj Samudra Hotel where elders and children will be treated to a tea party, entertainment and gifts. In Sri Lanka a vintage car is one with a registration number preceded with a letter of the alphabet from A to Z.

Vintage Standard 9 once owned by Prince Phillip.

Vintage Standard 9 once owned by Prince Phillip.


This 1935 Standard 9 (Number X8468) only just qualifies as vintage as the registration system was changed in the 1930s for a system that used a pair of letters from the country’s then name of Ceylon, in the order CE CL CN EY EL and finally EN. This Standard was bought from its original owner in 1940 by a young Prince Phillip, then a midshipman stationed in Colombo, at a cost of £12 (seven times his weekly pay). The late Chairman of the Galle Face Hotel, Cyril Gardiner, acquired it in 1956 and it is now garaged on a marble floor in the hotel’s museum.

 

Kurumba Maldives Ruby Anniversary

Wednesday 3 October marks the Ruby Anniversary of Kurumba, the first (in every sense) resort in the Maldives. It opened with 30 rustic-built cabanas on 3 October 1972, thereby bringing organised tourism – and prodigious wealth and development – to islands that UN experts had declared would never be able to sustain a tourism industry. It was a significant moment in transforming a country, achieved because of the vision and enterprise of a handful of determined young men concentrating on business, not politics.

 

Kurumba beach room

Kurumba beach room


 

I was honoured to be asked to write The Kurumba Story and this coffee table book is to be launched at the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner to which I have been invited. The invitation states “Dress Code: Resort Formal” which is a code I haven’t seen before. I resorted to Google and discovered that in the USA it seems to be equivalent to what invitations here describe as “Elegant Casual.”

 

However, I was thinking white tuxedo and black (or even ruby) bowtie and I shall take heart from this advice found on the Internet: Remember that it is better to be over dressed than under dressed at an affair where a dress code is even suggested.”

 

The Kurumba Story dust jacket

The Kurumba Story dust jacket


More on events at Kurumba next week

 

Sunny regards

Royston