Archive for May, 2013

Royston’s Report No. 162

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

ROYSTON’S REPORT, Number 162

Sri Lanka, Sunday, 26 May 2013.

 

Greetings to fans of Sri Lanka around the world.

Made In Sri Lanka

Landmaster adapted to pull a trailer

Landmaster adapted to pull a trailer

Inspired by the inventions of the late Ray Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s foremost inventor who created the Landmaster two-wheeler tractor (“a mechanical buffalo”), six inventors explaining their inventions have been filmed in Sri Lanka by talented young filmmaker Rehan Alexander Muddanayake.

These made-in-Sri Lanka ideas not only include inventions for local use, such as in the rubber and coir industries, but also medical innovations. The inventors were all shortlisted for The Ray (Sri Lanka’s equivalent for inventors of Hollywood’s Oscar). It was won by I S Waidiyarathna Karunathilaka for his Waveless Boat. The film can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/65430714

 

Vesak

Vesak was celebrated in Sri Lanka on Friday 24 May, the night of the full moon, and the Saturday following, which was also a public holiday. Traditionally the night is observed with tiny paper lanterns containing candles hanging from trees and larger ones dancing in the wind under the eaves.

Vesak, according to my Bradt Guide to Sri Lanka, is a thrice-blessed day for Buddhists as it commemorates the birth of Prince Siddhartha, his attainment of enlightenment and his passing into Nirvana as Gauthama Buddha.

The day is devoted to religious observances and charity, as well as being celebrated with illuminations, pageants and the street side erection of pandals (decorated electrified hoardings). Celebrants set up wayside stalls to distribute food to pilgrims and passers-by.

 

Madu & Kumara making a vesak lantern

Madu & Kumara making a vesak lantern

At home, Kumara and Madu spent Thursday afternoon making a gorgeous lantern with yellow and orange tissue paper stretched over a frame, which Kumara made out of strips of bamboo. The joints were daintily decorated with paper ruffles, the panels with intricately designed cutouts, each one a different significant symbol, and it had a comet’s tail of plaited strips. I wish I had the patience they had to create such a fragile and ephemeral object. Let’s hope it doesn’t fly away in the monsoon wind.

Flying Vesak lantern

Flying Vesak lantern

 

Hikkaduwa “tranzformed”

Hikkaduwa at last seems to have shaken off the reputation as a happy haven for hippies it gained when, as a sleepy beachside fishing village, it was colonised in the 1970s by young and impecunious backpackers in search of surf, scuba diving, sun, sand and intoxicating après-plage nightlife. The reformation was completed with the opening there last year of Chaaya Tranz.

Bedroom view, Chaaya Tranz

Bedroom view, Chaaya Tranz

With its gimmicky name, this re-branded and renovated beachside hotel has tranzformed accommodation in Hikkaduwa, offering luxury in colourfully decorated rooms and a zany bar (shades of deep pink and orange prevail).

Fanciful wall decor in signature dark pink

Fanciful wall decor in signature dark pink

I spent a night there last week and was enchanted with my bright and spacious room, with its broad sea view balcony, glazed terracotta floor tiles, plenty of power points (Wi-Fi is free), & rain and handheld showers in the neatly equipped bathroom. And the convenience of an iron and ironing board.

So practical, Chaaya Tranz in-room facility

So practical, Chaaya Tranz in-room facility

With a signature restaurant, The Crab, often packed with non-residents who pop in for dinner using the Southern Expressway for quick access from Colombo, daily rice & curry buffets and dining in the glass walled wine cellar, Chaaya Tranz provides a satisfying, seamless and sophisticated holiday for locals & foreigners alike.

Baked crab in a tea cup with garlic rice

Baked crab in a tea cup with garlic rice

I was puzzled when my baked crab turned up in a teacup until the steward explained it is no longer served it in a crab shell, “for sanitary reasons.”

To smoke or not to smoke?

To smoke or not to smoke?

When by mistake I took the staff staircase to the lobby I discovered a quiet corner for smokers, while guests are spoilt with an air-conditioned cigar lounge with deep pink upholstered armchairs, and fine Cuban cigars.

(http://www.chaayahotels.com/chaayatranz.htm)

 

Maldives

By the time you read this, I shall be in the Maldives again for a few days. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t resist buying this pretty map, when it came up for sale last week. It is a French chart printed in 1740. The seller said “we found this attractive map covering much of the coast facing the Indian Ocean, loose & unmounted, when searching through the stock of an antiquarian print shop closed for 40 years ago.”  Quite a find!

Maldives map 273 years old

Maldives map 273 years old

 

Tattoos

I’m not too sure about tattoos, never having wanted one myself and finding the scars left by the removal process as off-putting as some of the designs. But I was impressed by a tattoo I spotted on the beach at Unawatuna the other day, on the midriff of a chap who’d had too much sun.

Poetical tattoo

Poetical tattoo

It’s begins (if you don’t have a magnifying glass handy)

To everything there is a season 

and ends

a time of war, and a time of peace

I don’t know if the gent so literally adorned knew the origin of the poem as

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ascribed to King Solomon, King James version of the Bible, 1611)or thought of the words as the lyric of the 1965 hit by The Byrds.
Perhaps I should have Paperback Writer tattooed on my chest?

 

Paperback

My latest paperback is the new edition of my 1961 hit The Big Beat Scene available easily through http://musicmentor0.tripod.com/book_big_beat_scene.html

Sunny regards

Royston Ellis