Category: Tales from Sri Lanka

Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly in Colombo – CFW 2012

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CFW2012
By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

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Shop, Sup, and Spa Stylishly in Colombo

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CFW2012

By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

Stylish Shopping Musts:

THE DUTCH HOSPITALFacing the World Trade Center just next to the Hilton, is the newly renovated former Dutch Hospital. The beautiful old buildings are alive again with shopping, food and nightlife! You'll find that many of our CFW sponsors and partners are represented here, too.

ODEL – Near Town Hall, it’s a lovely and lively place for fashion, fun gifts and food. Their departments include a bookshop (my novel is available there!), home décor, jewelry, and makeup and perfume, and now you can even get a massage at Footrub before heading to their outdoor food court. They also feature a section with locally-made items to take the feel of Sri Lanka with you wherever you go.

PARADISE ROAD has locations all around Colombo (and the island), each with it’s own distinct feel.

  • PARADISE ROAD PROMENADE, near Town Hall is in a large, lovely, converted colonial house and offers a great selection of stylish souvenirs and gifts, as well as home décor. You’ll want to linger and explore every corner.
  • PARADISE ROAD STUDIO on Alfred House Gardens, off of Duplication Road – is a place where I’ve often thought of hiding until all the employees to go home, so I could live there for the night. Beautiful music and luxury surround you as you search for just the right addition to your home.
  • PARADISE ROAD GALLERIES – Just around the corner from Studio, you’ll find the Gallery and Gallery Café. This complex was once the office of internationally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, and is therefore a work of art in itself, with a variety of artists whose work adorns the space. Combined with beautifully delicious food, drinks and decadent desserts, you will want to keep coming back for more sensory delights.
  • BAREFOOTwhere colorful handloom cloth is the main attraction. The fact that their products promote the work of local craftspeople makes them even more fabulous as souvenirs and fashion statements. Spend some time perusing books, works of art, and then sit a while at their outdoor café.
  • CRESCAT BOULEVARD is a shopping mall located next to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on the Galle Road where three levels of shops, services and restaurants are all in one upscale location. Books, videos, music, perfume, jewelry, accessories, shoes, clothing, massages, and food. What more could you want?

Stylish Supping:

Dutch HospitalHarpo's, The Ministry of Crab and the Brewery by O can be found here, as well as a restaurant from Sri Lankan Airlines catering! 

Paradise Road – To leave Colombo without eating at either of Paradise Road’s restaurant locations would be a crime. Their delectable fare features fusion food and a twist on Sri Lankan favorites. The atmosphere adds to the feast of the senses, topped of by the best desserts on the island, bar none. Both offer a bit of Sri Lankan history too, so be sure to ask, and indulge your mind as well as your senses.

  • The Gallery CaféWith its eclectic musical selections and artwork you might forget you’ve just entered a café, restaurant and bar. In fact, it was rated one of Asia’s Top 10 Lounge Bars in 2007. So it shouldn’t be surprising that you are joining the ranks of Sting, Kenzo, and Donna Karan, among many others, as you walk through the gates to be immersed in tantalizing beauty for all of your senses.
  • Tintagel is a unique private hotel, and like King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall for which it is named, it instantly offers a royal welcome. It even offers a connection to some of Sri Lanka’s most illustrious names– the Bandaranaike family—who made it their home, are best known for having produced three of the country's leaders. Now this home-turned-private-hotel can be yours for the span of a meal…or for several days. No matter how much time you spend there, you can be certain you’ll leave feeling thoroughly enchanted.

The Mango Tree – Where Flower Road and Dharmapala Mawatha meet is a hidden oasis of delectable Indian cuisine. Be adventurous and try everything. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll leave feeling full…and satisfied!

Raja Bojun – For authentic Sri Lankan food with an unobstructed view of the sea while in air-conditioned comfort, Raja Bojun on the Galle Road is the place. Decorated in local style with coconut monkeys peering at you from palm trees and thatched roofs covering the buffet, you can enjoy the best of the traditional and the modern. Don’t forget to pat the pachyderm on the way out!

Cricket Club Café – When you’re in the mood for something more Westernized, or a beer and some tasty pub food, Cricket Club Café is the place. Decorated with cricket memorabilia from around the world with matches playing perpetually on the TV screens, its menu also pays homage to the sport’s best known and loved players. But even if you know nothing about Cricket, (like me) the colonial atmosphere and food are worth the visit.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – Yes, the international chain is here in Sri Lanka! This is one of the nicest I've seen–lion head fountains and coi ponds direct you to the entrance, where you order your beverage of choice. Snacks and meals are also available to be enjoyed out on the patio, in the main room, or in a big comfy leather chair or couch upstairs.

A Stylish Spa Treamtent …or quick massage:

Angsana Spa – Next to Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Crescat Shopping Center you’ll find a day spa to wash away the stresses of sightseeing, shopping and the demands of fashion.

Waters Edge Spa – to enjoy a sense of space, take a drive out to where the new Parliament Building sits in the middle of a lake and then to The Waters Edge resort. Their spa overlooks the golf-course-turned-garden and offers a lovely atmosphere and wonderful treatments.

Footrub – With locations all around Colombo, where some of the most tired of feet are to be found, (Crescat, Odel, the Airport) take a few minutes to re-fluff those flattened soles and perhaps also rejuvenate your soul. Despite the name, they also offer head, neck, shoulder and back massages, and Scholl products to make your next steps more comfortable.

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An Ecological, Spiritual, Fabulous Book – A Year in Green Tea & Tuk Tuks

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Tuk-tuk-bookThis book was given to me as a gift by a friend who knows me very well.  (Thanks, Meghana!) It’s the personal and true story of a British guy who decides that Sri Lanka is the place to build his ecological dream. 

I related to this book on so many levels—from the part of me who is an expat and understands the culture clashes to the part of me who sees Sri Lanka as a paradise that must be preserved, to the part of me that loves the connection between spirituality and ecology.  It’s all here!

With chapters like “Lanka or La-La-Land?” about his decision about whether to live in Sri Lanka or Los Angeles (to which I would answer “both!”) and passages like, “I found myself on a spiritual quest. I began to believe that the world was engaged in a transition, shifting our values from competition and greed to cooperation and synthesis, giving birth to a new vision, the ‘divine marriage’ of inner and outer, male and female, reason and intuition, Matter and Spirit,” Rory Spowers continued to strike very personal chords.

The beauty is, he’s done it. He has taken 60 acres in the South of Sri Lanka and dedicated it to organic produce, green tea, natural ecosystems, sustainable living, and marrying the best of nature and innovation.  I can’t wait to visit!  And I love the book, so I’ll be sharing more soon.

Written by Malayna Dawn for Symbolic Themes.com

Synchronicity, Symbolism & Giant Stone People

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I recently experienced one of those moments when it seems that a glimpse of the grand design is revealed, even if only for a second, in seemingly insignificant ways. It happens to me every now and then, and yet it still surprises and excites me, and inspires me to believe that there is a purpose and a synchronicity in operation beyond what I am able to see and understand.

I was at the doctor’s office, and since I expected to wait for over an hour if not two, I brought some books to read that can be expected to have a fair amount of overlap.  “Man and His Symbols”—an exploration of Carl Jung’s work with the subconscious, and “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers”—which is based on Joseph Campbell’s study of the Hero's Journey in “Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

Jung’s colleague, ML von Franz, explained that the Self is often symbolized by stone—perhaps because they are complete, unchanging and lasting. “Many people cannot refrain from picking up stones of a slightly unusual color or shape and keeping them, without knowing why they do this. It is as if the stones held a living mystery that fascinates them. Men have collected stones since the beginning of time….”

Buddha-galVihara She says that this is why practically all civilizations have the urge to erect stone monuments to local saints or heroes, on the site of important or religious events, or to express an otherwise inexpressible experience. From the alchemist’s Philosopher’s Stone to the Ka’aba in Mecca, from huge stone Buddhas to Mount Rushmore, people are moved to create and identify with stone monuments.

Then I read in The Writer’s Journey: “the Statue of Liberty is a recurring symbol of the immigrant dream, a lighthouse beckoning the newcomer… The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of America , is a colossal example of the ancient practice of sending statues of gods and goddesses from a founding city to its colonies to connect them by a psychic thread, a religious tie. …”

More giant stone people!

This particular passage I was reading was a mythical analysis of the film “Titanic” and the ideas of the time in which it was set. Moments later, as I pondered the synchronicity of the ideas, I could hear Celine Dion singing the theme from Titanic over the waiting room TV. Weird!

Or is it just that I was in that moment, at the right place, at the right time, and I was open to all that it could bring? I think perhaps I was.

Written exclusively for symbolicthemes.com

Colombo Fashion Week, Triumphant!

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After the Tamil Tigers tried to crash our party with their very rude air raid, it wasn’t just the Sri Lankans who were resilient—Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis all bonded with Sri Lankans and representatives from a variety of nations in the hope for PEACE.

Just like the irritation of an oyster becomes a pearl, the interruption of Colombo Fashion Week ’09 only made everyone feel more strongly and celebrate more emphatically.

Bibi Russell, whose show was meant to be the finale on the previous night, started the show with her collection called “Design for Life”. What a celebration!  With bright colors and dancing models all exuding life and the pure joy of being—including a few in red with hand woven red AIDS awareness ribbons. 

BibiRussellsAidsRibbons

Of course, all of her designs are handwoven and handmade, using natural materials sourced in her home country of Bangladesh, where her goal of Fashion for Development continues to inspire me, years after I learned about her while working for Young Asia Television.  P2220015And this year, I got to work closely with her and see how much she truly embodies her ideals. When she had a chance to speak after her show, she spoke only of positive concepts and working together for the good of all.

The next collection to continue the previous night’s interrupted show was “Spiritual” by Shobhaa De.  Beautiful music shifted the mood to a magically meditative one, with a voice over which I suspect was Shobhaa De herself, reading from one of her novels. Lotus flowers, candles, all complementing the simple and elegant clothing also made from natural materials. She took the stage afterwards and also spoke of resilience and strength, peace and hope.

The rest of the night continued the celebration at such a pitch, a second intermission had to be added. The music was rockin’ and kept the tempo moving, (well done Aviva Bidapa!), the designs impressed and the crowd, at full capacity from two nights worth of audiences coming together, reveled in it all.    

If terror was what the air raid was meant to evoke, they failed miserably. They seem to have ended up inspiring and bringing people together instead. Which is why Colombo Fashion Week 2009 ended TRIUMPHANTLY!

Colombo Fashion Week, Interrupted

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Feb 21st, 2009

Last night, I was the compere/announcer for Colombo Fashion Week and thankfully, my hubby, was there too. There was a blackout, so I made a mic-free announcement for everyone to stay calm and stay in their seats. I had no idea it was a response to an air raid.

As you may know, the LTTE, also known as Tamil Tigers, smuggled in pieces of small, light aircraft and then built a small air force of a handful of 2-seater planes.

The lights came back on and I continued, as directed, to get on with the show, blissfully unaware of any threat. I even kept on reading my script when I heard what sounded like people banging on the wall behind me, sticking tight to my "show must go on" sensibilities. At the sight of tracer bullets, I knew that sound was something far more serious.
 
Then the director told me to announce the show would continue tomorrow and tell everyone to calmly move away from the huge plate glass windows that formed the entire West wall of the penthouse ballroom. No one even knew where the emergency exits were, so they all rushed to the elevators, which of course weren't working.

My husband, who knew ahead of time what was happening and had been hovering nearby, very calmly told me it was time to go, and when I said "I have to get my stuff" he explained to me, still calmly, "you need to get away from the windows, because they could fire through them. Get only what you need and come this way." I did and he grabbed my hand and held it tightly as we moved through the crowd to find our friends. He never let go of me until we were safe.

I realized I had left my cell phone, so when it was quiet, we went back to the sound stage-booth-thing and he helped me gather everything else. The emergency exits were dangerously close to the plate glass windows that formed the entire South wall of the ballroom, and also overlooked the Army Base, so he wanted to wait until things quieted down before we took the stairs. We sat waiting in a secure corner.

I had brought a flashlight because they hadn't provided me with any light the night before, and it was odd to read a script by the light of the DJ's laptop. And thank God! I grabbed it and we made our way down the unlit 8 – 10 flights of stairs that may have never been swept, amidst kicked off ladies footwear, with my friend's Dad in tow. He was on his cell phone trying to get through to the rest of his family, but was only receiving calls from his driver who was on vacation in another part of the island, asking if they were all okay.

We found our friends in a covered parking area, and then we began to relax and make jokes. Once we were down among our friends, the info started coming on cell phones. I don't know if you've seen it in the news by now, but the crash I heard was a small plane crashing into our IRS building, which is next to an Air Force Base, less than half a mile away. The anti-aircraft fire was happening all around us, and it seems it actually hit the aircraft, forcing it to crash before reaching its target. You can imagine the gleeful jokes about the destroyed IRS files.

The hotel made an announcement that were given the all clear to turn on the lights and air conditioning, but that we couldn't leave the grounds yet. They played music, served food and drinks, and we all relaxed into the return to normalcy. Our international designer guests from Dubai, Bangladesh, and Pakistan were all unshaken. When they announced that it was safe to leave, a group of white boys– a sports team from England or Australia–were all packed and waiting for a taxi in the lobby. They seemed amazed that the rest of us were all back to business as usual. It's just what I heard the head of British Council saying on the phone to someone "Sri Lankans are incredibly resilient".

I was thinking about the little decisions I made when getting ready that afternoon. I was already constantly invoking Divine Order, because I was nervous, so the fact that I made these decisions shows me I was aligned well. Things like: to remember to take a flashlight, to wear a comfortable pair of shoes and pants instead of a dress or skirt, to not take my laptop, to bring a granola bar or two because the intermission snack trays never made it our way the night before.

I was very grateful for all of those things in the midst of it all. And I was so happy with my choice of hubby. He took care of me, and then helped our friend’s dad make sure his family weren't still up there before we had him come down with us. Once we were downstairs safely, he located all of our friends and kept them in sight.
 
As far as I know, only one person died in the attacks, and the 2 planes were shot down. They missed their targets and caused only a bit of ruckus. Inside the hotel, I didn't see any pushing or hysterics, and the hotel staff were on top of it. The war seems to be almost over, and this was a desperate, last ditch effort to terrorize. I don't feel particularly terrorized actually. I just remembered that while I still had the mic, and it was on, I told everyone to stay calm and hold thoughts of peace in their minds. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for that, now that I remember it!

So there you have it.
🙂

Even Fashion Needs Words!

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CMBpageThis year I'm even more involved with the Colombo Fashion Week.

Last year I was a script consultant and compère (a fancy word for MC–mistress of ceremonies!) and this year I'm involved in the website as well.

Check out this page, which promotes Colombo for those visiting just for fashion week. There are actually three (3) pages with my personal choices to "Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly" while in Colombo.

I originally had called myself the "Consulting Wordsmith", because it seems more appropriate, but "Communications Consultant" sounds more like a real job. Check out the full Colombo Fashion Week website too, for info on the designers from Sri Lanka and abroad who will be participating, as well as images from last year's amazing shows. It's gonna be so cool!

“Commander In Chief” = Prophetic TV?

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So here I was, sitting in my living room in Sri Lanka, watching some TV when the show "Commander in Chief" comes on.CommanderinChief1  If you don't know, the premise of the show is that the president dies, leaving his female VP in the place of taking over the presidency.

Has John McCain ever seen this show?

I don't know if this has already occurred to everyone else, cuz I'm kinda removed from the American media, BUT…

If the Republican party & McCain keep harping about Obama's supposed inexperience, and then McCain decides to run with someone who has even less experience, and let's face it, he's 72… Don't you think this may be our future pictured above?

I'm all for a female president, and Geena Davis did a great job on the show, but she's not running and I'd prefer one with a bit more experience. Having said that, I chose Obama over Clinton because she seemed almost too good at the game of politics.

I'm happy that Obama has chosen to run with someone well-versed in foreign policy, because as an expat, I really see the need for America to work WITH the rest of the world, and not act like a nation above all the others.

There's my 2 rupees!

Buddhist Priests vs. Judas Priest

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One of the recipients of my messages of madness during the siege, birthday boy Mike Schaefer, reminded me that I had said something about the above comparison. 

Probably something like:

"I guess Buddhist Priests blaring chants through my house at 3 am are still better than Judas Priest at this volume…"

See? As the prophet Eric Idle of Monty Python once said,

"Always look on the bright side of life" (insert whistling here)

Monks Amok: Malayna Under Siege…by Buddhist Monks?

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Until very recently, the site of Buddhist monks and the occasional sound of chanting in the distance was only a reminder of the magic of Sri Lanka.  Here’s proof – a photo I took in May of ’06 with a caption that tells the tale (you can click on it to enlarge it):

 

Monks1

One day we came upon an unexpected and unexplained parade of monks of all sizes, ages, sexes and backgrounds.  It's one of the magical, odd things that occur here.

For more photos of this strange occurence: http://www.malaynadawn.com/May06/page2.html

 

See?  I’m a fan of the monks and Buddhism in general.  But it seems that too much of even a good thing can turn ugly.

How ugly?

I was reminded of the FBI’s strategy at Waco–trying to get people under siege to come running out by blaring loud, annoying music at them for long periods of time.  Yes, it was almost that ugly.

The loud, invasive sound assault began at about 5:30pm and lasted TWELVE HOURS, not stopping until 5:30AM.  There are a few things in common, see?

 

“The FBI brought in loudspeakers, and through the speakers came the high decibel sounds of laughter, birds squawking, sirens, rabbits being slaughtered, rock music, Tibetan chants, and recordings of "negotiation" sessions held between the Branch Davidians and the FBI (Justice Report, pgs.. 69, 73, 79).” http://www.public-action.com/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/war/page/w_p.html

 

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourselves, “but it’s drums and flutes and Buddhist chants, wasn’t it all just blissful Zen? A chance for deep meditation?”

 

Nuh-uh.

 

For one thing, I must admit I’ve never really enjoyed the traditional music of my people. The drums’ rhythms feel random to me. And I’ve been known to be a musical girl. I was even a music major in college for a year or so after being awarded a music scholarship, but my not-so-highly trained ear can’t identify any pattern.

 

And the flutes are closer to a cross between a recorder and a bagpipe. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I heard a lot of that irritating squeak that makes one cringe when listening to a beginner on a reed instrument. So basically, it sounds like a bunch of impish street urchins have stolen some drums and flutes and are gleefully making a racket to torture all the straights.

 

The innocent beginnings of the siege

I knew something was up when I noticed first thing in the morning that a Buddhist Flag had been strung to hang across the road just in front of our house. It wasn’t tied to anything on our property, so I had no complaint there, and there is a Buddhist temple nearby that often has events in the ‘hood, so I didn’t think much more of it. 

 

Monks2

I know that it is customary here for people to celebrate the death anniversary of a loved one with something called a Dana (proper info can be found here) .  From what I’ve seen at other neighbor’s houses, it involves the arrival of Buddhist priests announced by drumming and flute playing, and then a series of chants followed by a meal offered for the monks, family and neighbors called an almsgiving.

 

In my experience, it’s never lasted more than a few hours, when it ends as the monks leave with the same pomp and ceremony.  Or maybe they’re priests. I don’t know how to tell the difference.

 

I still don’t believe that’s what last night was about, because I noticed around 5:30 or so that the house was covered with for want of a more descriptive term–Christmas lights. White ones that blinked in varying patterns and colorful ones that remained lit continuously.

 

And then the dance music started. True, it was kind of old-fashioned Sri Lankan and Indian music that I imagine was seen in films in the 60’s and 70’s, but it was festive and upbeat. So I began to think that my cook was wrong when she said it was a death anniversary. Aren’t those more somber? Or were they just really pleased that the person was gone?

 

Timeline of Insanity

 

5:30pm – Retro South-Asian Dance Hits played over a sound system.

 

7-ish – Somewhere between 7 and 8 the drums and flutes began.  My cook’s 10-year-old daughter ran to the window to see what was happening (she’s visiting from their village during a school break).  I asked if there were any elephants, cuz if there weren’t, I wasn’t going to bother looking.  No elephants. Poo.  (Speaking of poo, it’s probably a good thing there were no elephants, since the event was basically in front of our house…coulda been messy, not to mention highly odiferous.)

 

At 10:30, while hiding out in the computer room on the opposite side of my house, I told my friend, who lives about 5 miles away, that I thought she could hear the chanting if she stepped outside. It was that loud. When I told her I was hoping they’d quit by 11pm, I was merely being tolerant.

 

11pm– When I left voicemail messages for several people in the U.S. over the next hour, I was laughing in disbelief. But I couldn’t get anyone on the line to share the madness with me, so I called my husband in London. He was shocked about the noise level, but was also under the impression that they’d stop soon. He thought it might have been a house blessing ceremony for the guy who has returned from overseas to finish the eyesore of brick and cement that for the last few years has been attracting stray dogs, mosquitoes and people who have no place to put their trash. That guy is troublesome anyway. One more thing to add to the list when I tell my hubby to go beat him up.

My growing madness

 

At 2AM, I considered my options. I couldn’t call the police because they don’t know of such a thing as noise pollution. Besides, if I complained, I would be setting us up for future complaints every time we watch loud movies with explosions and gunfights until 2AM on a weeknight because of my pilot hubby’s weird flight schedule. Plus it’s a religious thing, and they’re monks. We’ve had louder non-religious parties that lasted that long, and no one has said a word to us. And maybe it would be worse if it were rude partiers and rock music. Maybe just the human voice alone isn’t so bad….

  

At 3AM, when I was sure they were finished, I shut down the computer, turned out the lights, and went downstairs to get a drink of water. That’s when the drums started up again.

 

I had thoughts of setting off the bottle rockets stored in the spare room.

 

I went to the bedroom, which seemed to be directly in front of one of the two speakers, and I called my friend Rhonda in Maryland. She, finally, could confirm how loud it was. She wanted to know who those two men were in the bedroom with me and why they were so loud.  One sounded like a cross between Barry White and Abe Vigoda—low but throaty. The other was more of a tenor and sounded more nasal. They tossed it back and forth with occasional explosions of drums and flute. A very strange version of the dueling banjos.

3:35AM – All I could think was regardless of what they were blessing, couldn’t all of their good intentions be undone from the amount of hatred that I and surely everyone within a 5 mile radius were beaming at them? Why couldn’t they chant WITHOUT the sound system? Seriously.

 

At 4AM – I set aside the book I was reading (but having trouble concentrating upon) and turned off my bedside lamp. I was sure they were finally done. As I slipped into the blissful silence of sleep, they started again.

 

Too tired to turn on the light again, I just lay there drifting from disturbed waking dreams to conscious and back again. This went on until…

 

5:30AM –  I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed into sleep.

 

The Day After

 

11am I woke up feeling guilty about sleeping so late on a weekday, even though it was with good reason. I went downstairs to see how the rest of the household was doing.

 

Selliah, our houseman whose room is even closer to the event, was suffering from red eyes and a headache. Our cook, Parmeswary, and her daughter, Sagilah, had the benefit of being at the back of the house with a loud fan, so they seemed to have fared better.

 

We all laughed, AND THEN THE DRUMS STARTED AGAIN!!!!! ARE THEY SERIOUS?!?!?!? And then I went insane.

 

Luckily, it was short, and the rest of the day was silent, as the entire neighborhood caught up on sleep. I can’t tell if I’m recovered yet, because I don’t think the insane know that they are insane. That’s why they’re insane, right?

 

Yet still, insane or not, I remain a fan of the Buddhist monks and Buddhism in general. I'm just sayin' let's look into the need for all-night chants over massive sound systems, shall we?