ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 292
TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 7 February 2016.
Welcome to readers to this penultimate newsletter of this series that began in 2010, with a look at Little England in the hills of Sri Lanka.
Last week when I heard a mewing from the bushes by the railway line, I discovered a well-fed, shy female kitten crying at the sudden change in its fortunes. Someone had obviously tired of the pet and chucked it into our garden. I lured the kitten out of the bush with cat food, and discovered she was lame, unable to walk on her left front foot.
May I stay? jpg
After a night in the garden, she bounced over the lawn, leaping along like a monkey. She found her way inside the cottage, had a good look around, and purred her approval. Lena and her fat cat daughter Ollie, the resident moggies, were miffed at this intruder and would have nothing to do with her. I felt the same when the kitten decided to snuggle up to me in bed that night; she was consigned back to the garden.
She is an endearing creature and I’d like to have kept her but the cats (and the boys) said: No! Instead, Kumara took her to the nearby temple where she is happily cared for by some compassionate monks. In the meantime, Lena and Ollie have settled down again and enjoy spending each day snoozing on the cat bed in my attic office.
Lena (left) and daughter Ollie
Hot cool spot
Nuwara Eliya, at 1,868m above sea level, is Sri Lanka’s hot cool spot where you really chill out as the temperature drops below 10 degrees at night. That’s why I went there last week, to have a break from the humid heat of the west coast. Funnily enough it was so sunny during the day that tourists were lounging on the lawn of the beautifully restored Victoria Park in the town’s centre.
Relaxing in Victoria Park, at 1,868m above sealevel
In Victoria Park, Sri Lankan English?
A museum has been opened in the Park which, although rather dull with reproduction photographs in display cases, has a signboard retrieved from the railway station served by narrow gauge line from Nanu Oya, which closed in 1948.
From the railway station closed in 1948
I stayed at Glendower, a bungalow hotel restored in colonial style (there are some magnificent leather chesterfields in the bar lounge).
In the garden at Glendower
The hotel’s owner has an incredible real estate development only 10 minutes by car from the hotel, where he has created a gated community of English style houses. These five-bedroom properties (only eight left) can be bought fully furnished (and with under floor heating) ready to move in, for around £400,000. (http://littleenglandcottages.com)
Little England underway
From the town it’s possible to drive to the top of Pidurutalagala; at 2,524m above sea level. It’s Sri Lanka’s highest mountain with a magnificent panorama of the race course, Lake Gregory and of a distant, conical Adam’s Peak.
View from the highest peak at 2,524m
Out of bounds to the public for years, entrance (free) to the mountain is still controlled by the military. A guard warns vehicle drivers not to stop on the drive to the summit as leopards lurk in the forest.
More dangerous than it looks
Sri Lanka English
It does exist. There is a wonderful 294-page dictionary of Sri Lankan English (SLE) from which you learn, for instance, that a “hotel” in SLE means “a small restaurant serving cheap meals.” A “boutique” is the local corner shop selling everyday provisions.”
One word the dictionary doesn’t include is “reputed” – used in SLE to mean “reputable” instead of its English meaning “generally believed to exist although not necessarily so” which gives the phrase “a reputed banker” shifty implications.
I have noticed in advertisements recently a new abomination. Property development companies are advertising the sale of “Residencies.”
This does not mean “residence permits” or “residential posts” but is simply the incorrect plural used to mean “residential apartments” or “residences.”
Residences not Residencies
This misuse of English gets more elaborate online. I had a text message from my bank telling me an “Inward Clearing was performed on my account.” Inward clearing? The bank means a debit not – alas — a credit as I expected
High & low
From the Canadian photographer, Dayv Matt, comes news of his new collection of photographs taken a couple of years ago when he lived in Colombo. I have previously commented on his work:
“Perhaps because he was seeing Colombo as an observant foreigner and not on some high-paid photo shoot promoting the city for tourists, Dayv saw scenes down backstreets and every day situations that locals don’t think curious, and brochure photographers would spurn. Yet visitors would find them intriguing, as well as – in many cases – sheer fun.“
Dayv’s eye for the ordinary
He has found a novel way to promote his book, which you can see by clicking on:
The planned display of British classic cars at the Galle Face Hotel last Sunday had to be postponed because of rehearsals for the celebration of Independence Day (4 February). So I cancelled my visit to Colombo, hence no report on the street art fair in this issue as promised.
Although I don’t have a Facebook account, there is a lot to be read and seen about me by searching for my name on Facebook and going to the public posts. That’s where I found this photograph taken in May 2015 by Nigel Bewley at the interview session I gave in London. It shows what the camera saw as an old beat poet (I’ll be 75 next Wednesday, 10 February, 2016; no party).
Old beat poet by Nigel Bewley
In next week’s newsletter, the last, I’ll be looking back over the years and my books, as well as revealing plans for my exile from cyberspace…