Category: Tales from Sri Lanka

More Photos From Sri Lanka

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AmanwellaResortThis is the beautiful Amanwella Resort in Tangalle. We visited in April as we explored the South East of the island.

Click on the photo to enlarge it and then just stare at it to relax. Ahhhhh.


A bright full moon is still visible behind the clouds, and can still create silhouettes of palm trees.



The rocky coast at Dikwella.


Bouganvilla resting on the windshield – taken from inside the car.


By some odd coincidence, all the guests at this boutique hotel had Nissan X-Trails (ours is the silver one) except one…”One of these things is not like the other.”


A small bay near Unawatuna…we thought about renting a boat, but it looked a little stormy.


One of these things is not like the other!

I don’t think they know the one at the right is a man, man.

He’s got pretty hair though!

Plus they spelled “Bridals” as if they cater to horses…


This is where people in the know go! 😉  C’mon! It’s a palace!


Look at us go!  Capt. KP is in the red, I’m in brown.

On Bolgoda Lake in Moratuwa.


Another shot of us sailing…(takes me awayyyyy….and gets a Christopher Cross song stuck in my head….)


I liked the different shades of blue on this building under construction. The guy imitating the Beatles is behaving unusually. Most people just wander into traffic wherever they want to.


Hey that’s me!  I got my hair done and had to capture it before the humidity got to it, or I put it up in a ponytail or bun, ruining it.


Our houseman/gardener brings me flowers. God bless him!

 June2008 013

This is the King Coconut tree in our garden. If we don’t cut them down, they will bomb us!


This struck me as such a very Sri Lankan scene — the orange King Coconuts in front of the antique chest. 


Puppy!  Aney….


Visiting a cousin, I heard his dogs barking. This was why — just a really long snake. Apparently the dogs had wrestled with it before.


Clever, huh? He found a way to take the stairs without arms and legs!

I was safely on the balcony above, by the way. And am quite glad that this is not my neighborhood! But it is in the middle of the city.

How’s that for a big ending?

The Freedom to Travel the World

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Photo from:


One of the freedoms we Americans forget about is our freedom to travel just about anywhere in the world. All we need is our American passport and a ticket, and we’re off. 


In contrast, much of the world has to get permission every time they want to enter another country. Here’s what my husband, a Sri Lankan passport holder, has to do just to TRANSIT for ONE NIGHT in Japan, though he’s gotten the same visa twice a year for the past 3 years (by the way– pretty much every embassy has the same procedure). And remember, this is the “easy” process, since he’s already been given the visa before.


  • Get a letter from his company stating that he is indeed employed and does have vacation time coming to him, along with his company ID. (So they know he’ll come back from their country and won’t migrate illegally.)


  • In addition to the form, he needs to attach a letter asking for one day processing, because as an airline pilot, he kinda needs his passport every day and can’t let them have it for a week.


  • He has to bring his tickets and confirmation from a hotel to prove to them exactly what he’ll be doing and when. The magic of this is that if they refuse the visa, the tickets have to be cancelled and may not be refundable.


  • His current and previous passports.


  • Stand in line in front of the Japanese embassy from 7am, because they only let a certain number of people in each day at 9am, and they don’t care if you only have one day off to take care of this (or if you’ve traveled from out of town, as many do). If you don’t get in, you’ll have to come another day.


  • When his number is called, he presents all of his documents to a Sri Lankan who has been employed to keep out the riff-raff and is on a major power trip. (Because these people are so evil, they are hidden behind reflective glass so no one recognizes them and takes out their aggressions on them after they get off work).


  • This person ignores all the evidence and demands paperwork that he doesn’t have with him and that are not asked for in any documentation from their embassy—a faxed confirmation from the hotel, a copy of his work schedule, his bank details, his birth certificate.


  • Then he has to argue with them, reason with them, and demand that they look at the stuff he’s brought that proves he’s done this many times before and they have always given it to him.


  • Then they usually say okay, come back in one week and he has to argue with them to pick it up later in the day or the next day.


For many people who are not airline captains and have not done this before, they need to show proof of all of their assets to prove they’ll come back. A divorced friend was a concern to the US embassy because they feared he had no reason to return and would lose himself in the underground. (Read “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai to get a sense of what the underground life is like. It’s not very appealing.)

And all I have to do is arrive in Japan and show my U.S. passport. That’s freedom!

God bless America!

Why I’m better suited for writing and radio…

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It really took way too much work to get these videos from the video camera to the You Tube. It required days of input from the finest minds in my household and even then, it came out a rather poor quality BUT it's something

Let me know what you think – really. Go to for the entire trilogy thus far. I can pretty much guarantee you'll all enjoy a laugh at my expense!


Multicultural Wedding Ceremony

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I caught a re-run of Northern Exposure as I ate my Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch the other day, and fell in love once again with whoever it was who wrote the lines for Chris.

Played by John Corbett, Chris was the local philosopher, DJ and mail-order minister and I wanted to be like him. Well, I can maybe claim 2 of the 3, since I like to philosophize on comparitive beliefs and I've married a handful of couples.

This wedding ceremony was so cool, I had to track it down online to share. I'd be happy to perform this ceremony for anybody, if you're interested. Here it is:

Marriage, it's a hard term to define. Especially for me–I've ducked it like root canal. Still there's no denying the fact that marriage ranks right up there with birth and death as one of the three biggies  in the human safari. It's the only one though that we'll celebrate with a conscious awareness. Very few of your remember your arrivaland even fewer will attend your own funeral.

You pick a society, any society, Zuni, Nudembo, Pennsylvania Dutch. What's the one thing they all have in common? Marriage. It's like a cultural hand-rail. It links folks to the past and guides them to the future. That's not all though. Marriage is the union of disparate elements. Male and female. Yin and Yang. Proton and Electron. What are we talking about here? Nothing less than the very tension that binds the universe. You see, when we look at marriage, people, we're looking at creation itself.

"I am the sky," says the Hindu bridegroom to the bride. "You are the earth. We are sky and earth united. You are my husband. You are my wife. My feet shall run because of you. My feet shall dance because of you. My heart shall beat because of you. My eyes shall see because of you. My mind shall think because of you and I shall love because of you. Now are you guys cool with that? Then kiss.

Credit and thanks go to the following:

The "Our Wedding" episode of Northern Exposure - Episode 3.22, Original Air Date(1): May 11, 1992 • Production Number: 77524
Written by(
1): Diane Frolov and Andrew SchneiderDirected by(1): Nick Marck

Diane and Andrew, you are my new best friends. Though many of my closest friends are fictional, it's good to remember and acknowledge the real people behind them.

Part of that is known as the Eskimo Love Song, should you care to reference it.

My guess is that my new best friends are fans of Joseph Campbell, as I am. Oh how I love the Joseph Campbell!

Has living in Sri Lanka changed my voice?

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This video is from a Bollywood film and is a fairly good indication of the nasal trend in women's voices here in South Asia. Aishwariya Rai stars in this film with her (now) husband Abishek Bachchan and his father, the Sean Connery of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, and boy does she shake her Aish! (Usually pronounced "ash".) Am I impressing you with my knowledge of Bollywood stars?

Two good friends in L.A. have told me twice over the last two visits that I sound nasal, and I'm beginning to think it is the Asian influence. I know I certainly adjust my accent, enunciating things I normally wouldn't, just to be understood, but I didn't think I was going nasal…or native. Who knows? It's a working theory.

In the meantime, enjoy a little Bollywood, if your ears can stand it. It took me a while to get used to the difference in vocal styling, but my Scottish friend Cecilia and my Korean friend Eunice were so into Bollywood, I could no longer resist. They both prefer Shahrukh Khan, but his voice is much lower and wouldn't prove my point! Maybe next time.

A random selection of *fascinating* photos from Sri Lanka

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I'm pretty sure you can click any of these photos to see the photo enlarged. If not, you'll live!

ElushkaPier2 From Feb-ish of '08 – a photo of Elushka at the Yacht Club at sunset. Elushka is a Sri Lankan married to a German guy who lives in Dubai. We're an international group, I tell ya.

  OurHouse4-mycarThis is our house…in the middle of our street. And me and my little car!

This is Picture 002a "blowhole" in the Tangalle area in the South of the island. It splashes up through a channel in the rocks and actually goes really high in the air, but I only caught the tail end.

Evil flying cockroaches vs. Me & my temp cook

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This morning as I stood by the kitchen window, a flying cockroach flew in. Seriously, the existence of cockroaches that fly is SO not fair. I was on the phone with my father, who may be deaf now from my squeals of squeamishness.

Between myself, my cook (okay, she's a temp–the niece of our real cook, who has gone for an operation) and my flip-flop, we bested the beast, who now lies, legs up, in my trash can in the garden.

Again, that almost never happens in L.A. But then, in L.A. cockroaches don't fly (do they?) and I don't have a cook to help me with such things. So that's one point for Sri Lanka.

Categories: Tales from Sri Lanka

What I learn from my domestic help…a new book in the making?

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So the weirdest thing about living in Sri Lanka, for me, is having live-in Sri Lankan house help. I have so many stories that I thought I'd use them and try to make something good and useful from them. If you remember any tale I've told you, let me know!

I've been pondering it for a while, but then a recent Reader's Digest article called "The Slave in the Garage" made me say to myself, "Hey!  I've got one of those!" Of course I was joking–I have a paid employee who stays in a room off of the garage, but the girl in the article was truly ill-treated. Luckily, she has since been rescued and justice has been served. It's a good story, go ahead and check it out.

As much as I detested the treatment of the young girl whose sole purpose in that family's home was to do their domestic duties, after living in Sri Lanka for almost eight years, I can kinda understand the situation. 

It's a touchy subject for a politically correct girl who was raised to believe everyone is equal. But once I stepped beyond the boundaries of the world I thought I knew, I began to learn about the real world where prejudice and war weren't things of the past.

Now in the old world of modern Sri Lanka, I can suddenly relate to pre-Victorian novels like Jane Austen's. I see something like the caste system at work, and watch religions being followed in ways that don't seem like the modern world at all.

The worst part is to see the result of treating house help with respect–they can't handle it. It's a foreign concept. so I can only treat them well within the realm of what they understand to be possible for them. To actually SEE the limitations put on people's minds from centuries of oppression and a lack of education is mind-blowing. Sometimes it strikes me funny–but when my inquisitive mind tries to figure out how a man could get trapped in an unlocked bathroom (he had to pull rather than push, but he just kept trying to push, and he was battling against a sloping cement staircase overhead!) I realize that he doesn't have the tools to work it. And seeing people with empty toolboxes is a sad thing.

So ultimately, through the oddities and the drama of a culture clash under my own roof, I hope to find lessons that we can all benefit from that will add to our toolboxes leaving us better equipped to deal with people who come from different worlds than we do.

Categories: Tales from Sri Lanka