Monday, December 31, 2007

our livelihood in waiting

it is not always what it appears to be if you dig a little deeper

the year that was (2007) a personal view

This was I am sure the toughest year I had to face and the blog I started about six months ago, when I had a few spare moments will attest to some of the trials I had to undergo. Looking on the bright side, I was not troubled at all by sickness, barely a headache in the year.The war wounds in the trenches, like having the deep scar when trying to cut paddy now appear mild (chronicled in my blogs)I am down to my ideal weight of 156 pounds I was last at over 20 years previously is an added plus.

I went on a short visit to Japan and a longer time of reflective thinking in Las Vegas, which inspired the blogs. I had some nice holidays in Sri Lanka, one in Nuwera Eliya, and another in Galle and a few others sprinkled here and there.I filled a whole year of journal ling and am amazed at the different things I did each day and some of the people I met.

I have had the worst luck with the weather as far as both my sales, and my growing activities are concerned and capped by the last few days of rain that ruined my papaya cultivation. I have had terrible labor problems in all three farming establishments I am involved in, and one where I was assaulted by the Manager, and hospitalized ( all blogged)

Financially, though all who know me value me on the worth of a particular property I live in, I have had the worst time, barely eking out an existence, but due to an inbuilt resilience I have been able to live personally on nothing, so that I could carry out my enterprise, albeit not as I would like, but at least not defaulted on the payroll of my 12 staff.

I have various loans to pay and capital expenditure plans for 2008, but I cannot think it can be as bad as 2007. I am looking forward to finishing my Ratmale cabin so that I can let it occasionally to paying guests for an alternative experience, and a much needed alternative source of funds to supplement my farming

I was once a news addict, and now I don't seem at all to be bothered at not knowing what goes on in the world, as it does not seem relevant to me and does little to enhance my quality of life. I was also a 24/7 Internet hound but now all I have is a moment to steal to load up my blog and disappear into the ether.

I liked socializing, but now prefer my own company most of the time, and tonight, at the stroke of midnight when the new year dawns I presume I would be sound asleep in bed, after a few late nights, protecting my fields, by stealthy transfer of water to feed my cultivation.

People take me for me now, and even at a last minute invitation to a grand Christmas eve party, I walked in my rubber slippers after a hard days work of selling, that was last Monday and not prepared to party.I did enjoy the party, the people and most of all the food!! and hey my attire offended no one.( I hope)

My uncle died a few days ago and I was not able to make it to his funeral, but I am sure he will understand, so I don't about the living, and I hope no one feels obligated to attend mine, that is if I ever have to die!!! no I am kidding.

Despite the apparent complicated personality that is sometimes portrayed here, I am a simple farmer, who works every day with the support of his staff to grow food, buy produce from other peasant farmers and bring it sometimes in the dead of night, through very rough weather and many police and army checkpoints and road blocks, and sells direct to homes of customers in Colombo and others in my little shop on the farm.

I also sell fresh milk from my cows to my customers minutes from the cow and hope one day I can make this loss making dairy at least break even.This has been my largest cash flow deficit, due to the high cost of feed and low quality of animal, both of which I have to do something about.

Most of all I am happiest in my little cabin overlooking the river which flooded a few days ago, and the property, where I enjoy working on the land. I like watching the eagles soar, and listening to peacocks making their awful mating call. The bathing place in front of the cabin brings different people, some who enjoy a little tease across the water.Watching the dogs, chase after the ground and water monitors and seeing mongoose dart accros the road and beautiful rock squirrals sniffing up the mango tree for the same mango that I need to get to before he does. Oh the beautiful birds that always most unexpectadly make their presence felt are an added bonus.

The open veranda is open to all so any of you who want a break from your hectic schedule come relax in my place to find an alternative ideal.

Monday, December 24, 2007

the village barber

At Kotelawala Handiya, a kilometer from my property, the local barber cuts the hair of the locals. The cut and the head massage for both the boys today, Rohitha and Ranga was 100 rupees less than a dollar

the beaches of Sri Lanka

I was priviledged on Friday, December 14th at short notice to be invited to Galle by some friends. On the following day we went to bathe in the Rumassala beach, a totally unspoilt beach in the Galle harbour which is slightly off the beaten track. One has to trek for ten to fifteen minutes down a fairly steep incline to get there over boulders and rocks, but the walk is worth every bit as this beautiful clean bay awaits you.

It is great that in Sri Lanka one is continously being introduced to these wonderful delights that makes one happy to live in this paradise isle. Oh if only politicians would leave and let ordinary people live, what a wonderful place it would be!!!

After the long dip in the water with appetites like lions,(sorry lionesses) we were treated to some super food at a restaurant in Unawatuna where my spheghetti in seafood sauce was one of the best I had tasted anywhere.

Friday, December 14, 2007

No day is without incident

Galdola Farm House, Godagama, Kirimetta, Meegoda

I sometimes wonder if I am living in a real life soap opera where all these different parties have their own agendas, which impinge into my life in one way or another.
Monday was my usual busy sales day in Colombo getting home exhausted. Tuesday morning saw Menika my home helper's clothes strewn on the fence in front of my shop.Her estranged husband had done the deed at night and when she came to work she was so embarrassed she said she was leaving and persuaded her not to as that would just give into this alcoholic's whims. He had then come again to the shop later and purchased some items, and when he was confronted by the lady who is the overseer of the farm, had scolded her in foul language in front of some of the staff, and she came crying saying she is leaving, as she was upset. I had business to do in an office and so went to Colombo after that incident thinking nothing of it, and was informed by phone that some of the staff had stopped work as a result and the animals needed to be fed and they did not have enough grass. I was told later that they had changed their minds and come back.
The next day Wednesday, no one came to work except for an old timer Siripala, who said he would go to cut grass for the animals.Leslie the man who climbs the trees came to cut the King Coconuts. As there was no sign of life from the workers, I went with Amila to the environs round the farm and cut 555 King coconuts in bunches of 15 to 25 and hauled them from the tree to the cab to transport them back to the farm as my farm does not have any at the moment. My trees are in the dormant period for the year and have to get my supplies elsewhere.
Remember no staff no breakfast or lunch, and in the after noon session I spent the next 5 hours cleaning the chicken sheds and hauling 50 bags of chicken manure all the way to the front of the shop to sell them. I realized then that what I did in that short time my workers each takes about 8 times longer to do especially those who struck work. I needed to hand the sheds the next day to the man who I rent the cages to.I had agreed to clean the cages, for the manure. I now realize my staff cost to clean the shed costs me many times the worth of the manure, and realized those who struck work were more trouble, so I was hoping they would never come back.
The next morning I sold all 50 bags to one person who hauled it away in a truck and all the workers turned up like mice with not a sound realising they were jeopardising a good thing for them.
All this time I had not confronted them as to whys and wherefores of their behaviour and acted as if I had no care in the world. When they turned up I only pointed out their laziness and showed them what I was capable of doing with no help, and told them to be ashamed of themselves, and left for Kitulgala to my other assignment trying to put some order in another comedic situation. That story is for another occasion.
Just to finish this one, the poor girl whose husband did the scolding was asked to leave by the old lady, and she rightly said there is no reason for her to leave. This was because the old lady's kids said either she or her mother! leave. These kids, supposedly pillars of the local community, in their attempt to defend their mother from verbal abuse from a drunkard, got some thugs to beat him up and turn his house, actually owned by my maid, upside down, and told the maid not to come to work. What right have they to ask an honest employee of mine to leave to satisfy their personal grievance against this estranged alcoholic wife beating husband.
Such are the petty games and I am glad I kept out of the fray not interfering in this at all and lets, time take its course. The old lady had commented on my lack of interest in the matter by not going to her house to ask her to return! I was not party to the incident so why should I interfere, and she is welcome to withhold her employment, and I will be the beneficiary not having to deal with personal vendettas.I only want performance for just pay, and I will not interfere in their lives.I am sure I have not seen the end of this as I am sure this lady who has been at the farm for over 25 years will try her best to get this girl off the place, and will try to influence my father, in the matter.It will be interesting to see the next move, and what sordid story will be cooked up to achieve this end. In the meantime I am trying to write a skit for a comedy, based completely on this story as I only see the comedy unfolding in this otherwise tragic case. Their is a lot more to this story with this girls two kids being hounded, a boy of 19 and a girl of 10 so villagers can be nasty. I think this is a case of one family who rose from the gutter to a status of wealth and power, not letting another rise from the gutter,for fear of being surpassed in the gutter stakes race!
It was pouring with rain today, Friday, and so the King coconuts cut have no market as Sri Lankans dont by the stuff on rainy days. I have a big loss on my hands.Thats the unpredictability of life. Each day had a share of unpredictability. I had to at 7 this morning go in search of Coconuts for my shop not knowing how many I will return with. I foung 200 at 30/- unhusked to sell on Saturday market day in the shop as my trees are dormant. I will only sell at a 1 rupee profit, but that is the price to keep the customers happy and ensure their return in the future.

Friday, December 7, 2007

foot and mouth disease

My usual route into Colombo for my weekly sales and deliveries results in my passing the parliament road that circumvents the National Assembly that is housed in a man made island in the middle of Diyawanna Oya. Owing to the budget debates now going on, the road is closed to my vehicle which comes under the category of a heavy goods vehicle. This means that I have to double back and get into more traffic, which delays my journey more than I would like.

I was commenting today, that parliamentarians on both sides, if one reads what is being said in the press, are in a jostling match amongst each other with very little regard to the needs, concerns and aspirations of the electors who put them there. It is either a slanging match on who can shout the loudest. Those who are actually doing much of the talking are full of themselves and not much else. It is like 'Nero is talking to the gods about all the good he is doing while Rome burns' kind of situation.

The comedy is further exacerbated because the police who are busy on all the approach roads, act as if each convoy that comes brings the president, as they are not told who the vip is on their way in. As there are over 100 ministers, the police give the same servile treatment to all and the Johnny come lately who is on his way to parliament is chaffed at the royal treatment meted out at the expense of the exasperated and long suffering motorist.

What is said and expounded on the floor of the house matters to no one, as what is said is meaningless, listened to by hardly anyone and reported only if the level of comedy rises to new highs. The results of the votes bear no relation to what is said in there.

I liken it to a foot and mouth disease that our lawmakers have, who are oblivious to the plight of the people they represent. Parliament consists just of yes men obeying their leaders with few who have the guts to come clean and talk sense. There is hardly anyone without dirt sticking to them. Even the muddied paddy farmer being visually cleaner than them.

The public are apathetic to protest or are in fear of protesting at these antics, for being incorrectly branded by the most corrupt as being unpatriotic. This is something to be concerned about.

Does no one see this drama for what it is and do something about it? or are we forever to be consigned to the scrap heap of history? We will be branded as a spineless populace with no backbone that allowed our lawmakers to ride roughshod over this land, and permanently disfigure its core.Lets not at all worry what others think of us, and only care about what they have done to the people living here, and the pathetic example they have shown.

This sums up parliamentary democracy Sri Lanka style. Keep the foot in the mouth and we will really be OK.

i created a paddy field from a patch of grass!!

Two days ago when I was coming through a clearing past the large Siyambala Tree (Tamarind) I saw this expanse of grass that had the tall scratchy mana grass mounds. It was the old 'kamatha' where the paddy is driven over by buffalo or tractor to seperate the stalk from the grain and then the grain is swept into the paddy sacks or put into the 'wee bissa' for storage and use.Due to new technology of using threshing machines, this practice has gone the way of the landline phone.

I was on the hunt for more space to plant my paddy seedlings and the thought occurred to me to try to see if I can convert this patch that had not seen any planting, but pressed down with years of straw, into a working field. We cleared the tall grass, diverted the water into it, dammed it from one side to prevent it flowing out at the lower end, and hey presto a lake was created. The tractor was then used to turn up the soil that looked packed with nutrients and the edges were cut into the center creating a fairly large field.

I have decided not to put any fertilizer and as I am sure that the soil here is better than any other place on my land, I am curious to see if the grain I get from here is drooping as compared with other areas. Even my staff are now amazed at the size of the field previously covered by weeds.

the sky at dusk

Do you look at the sky at dusk and at night. You will be surprised if you make a habit of it wherever you are as to what you will see. It is a free service given by the maker to keep us enthralled and hopefully inspired to expect the unexpected. I have been soo lucky to see extraordinary sites at dusk, especially a fusion of colors, but vey unlucky in not being able to capture them as well as I see with the naked eye in the eye of the camera.

Take a moment from your busy schedule to enjoy this and you will be surprised at what you see.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

fields of lime green in paradise is an illusion

Much of the country today is awash with fields of lime green, the color of young rice plants. The price of paddy having risen by 80% in two months, has resulted in most marginal paddy lands coming under cultivation. I would be surprised, unless bad weather intervenes, if we do not get an all time high (record breaking) bumper paddy harvest.

With the clearance of the Eastern Province of the security threat, many abandoned paddy lands have also now come under cultivation. Farmers all across the country are hopeful of reaping rich rewards. Much of the profit from the price increase has hitherto not gone to the farmer but to the mill owner and trader as the farmer sold his paddy at harvest time at prices that were almost at government guaranteed Rs 18.50 a kg instead of the Rs 33 a kg that the same paddy now commands.

The farmer wants to cash in on the high price and therefore have put in everything they have with hopes of getting out of debt this time. The reality will inevitably be heartache and mass suicides, as we do not have a proactive government that can forecast and make contingency arrangements now. The expected bumper harvest will leave farmers with massive amounts of paddy they cannot sell. The mill owners and traders know this before the sleepy government. They will buy the paddy at prices that are less than the cost of production. Thus the rice farmer gets nothing for all his efforts.

The government must plan now to have financial reserves to buy the surplus paddy at a reasonable price of say Rs21 a kg giving the farmer a possible small surplus to cover his labor. The farmer must be informed now of what the price the government is prepared to buy. So this is the floor price. If the market price happens to be higher, obviously the farmer would sell at the market price to the wholesale trader who comes with the cash to the field to buy upon harvest. Remember that most farmers cannot afford to hold stock, both for lack of space, and also for the need to pay off debts incurred on account of planting.

It is unconscionable that the price of rice has risen to such heights in a country where most people eat rice as their staple for three meals of the day. If it is purely a market driven mechanism, then there has been some serious lack of planning for this eventuality. I suspect more it has been as a result of the two or three largest millers, cornering the market creating an artificial shortage that has raised the price from which they themselves have only benefited. There is total lack of transparency in Government as two of them are Government ministers whose portfolio is Agrarian Services, and responsible for the purchase of the paddy. There is hardly a murmur from the press about this due to fear of these two powerful ministers.

three calves on a roll of a lifetime

I have mentioned earlier about the troubles I have had with trying to maintain a herd of milking cows. The main problem being the lack of food, namely grass in the environs of the farm and the unproductive labor being used to gather the grass from nearby fields, and transport them to the cattle shed.

Once we made the decision to drastically reduce the herd so we can at least find enough food for the remainder, I decided to move the three calves born in a short period since I returned, to my place in Plonnaruwa.

Permits are required to transport cattle in Sri Lanka. I first had to get a letter from the vet authenticating that they are my animals and then took it to the Gramasevaka who is the village authority responsible for any official duties pertaining to authenticating property and people so that passports, licenses and permits can be issued.

His letter is then given to the Divisional Secretariat, which in this case is Homagama to issue the formal transport permit. The permit mentions the age and significant markings of the animals. It further indicates the locations from where they are to be taken and to which location. The license plate of the vehicle is also indicated along with the permitted time of travel which in our case was between 6am and 6pm on Tuesday.

Once we returned from our weekly home delivery on Monday, the staff on the farm, prepared a makeshift pen on the flat bed of my pick up truck. Early in the morning they were able to coax these leery animals for their first and possibly only journey in a vehicle. Due to the nature of the cargo we had to go very slowly and made it in about 7 hours.

Not surprisingly, at almost every checkpoint, the police stopped us to check the papers. It is so funny that when it is obvious what cargo we are taking they check us, when we would be foolish to openly take cattle without a permit, and when vehicles go closed they don’t check when the likelihood of contraband is greater. My theory again about law enforcement. They enforced what is easy for them to do and they can justify to all what they did whether it is giving a speeding ticket for going one above the limit or checking a truck that openly is carrying nothing!! The police officers despite all the info being very clear in the permit nevertheless wanted to know from where and to where and whys and wherefores and that we should give more feed in the truck etc. These are people who know nothing about cattle transport and probably never had a cow telling us how we should treat the animals. It is also referred to as the typical mentality of the people who always offer advice on matters they know nothing about.

One observation I was quite incredulous of was that all through the journey, babies to old men turned round at our passing and in many cases got others to look at this sight of three animals on a pick up!!! It was quite an object of curiosity. I guess one does not see cattle transported like this as those are normally transported in closed vehicles where no one sees what is inside.
Needless to say many people were wondering if they were on their way to the abattoir. In this country where killing people is like a pastime, the thought that these animals may well be on death row provokes feelings of horror. Many people incorrectly must assume this automatically when they see animals in a vehicle as they do not rationalize that they maybe transported to a better place as in this case so their emaciated bellies can fill up with unlimited grass!!

The animals survived the journey without a hitch and were so delighted with their new surroundings. They jumped from the back of the truck, so we did not have to worry about how to get them down. They are now eating heartily like they have never eaten before and lazing in the shade of mango trees.

I will have to make an enclosure for them, and the staff have undertaken to take them down to the river daily so they will be in clover. Of course the intention is economic to be able to get as much or more milk from them here as I currently receive from a dozen head of cattle in Godagama.

The very happy trio, I should name them!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Margosa or Kohomba also known as Neem

I have mentioned earlier about the wonders of the Kohomba plant/tree. It has both medicinal properties as well as a wood that is just out of this world in its beauty. In my cabin in Raja Ela, the doors and windows are solid kohomba and so are the beds as well as my planters chair. My latest acquisition is the kohomba desk that one of my neighbouring carpenters made for me. It is exquisite and I was involved in the design process so that I wanted a very simple style to show the beauty of the wood. In order to preserve the desk I had sealer put on at every stage of the manufacture and not just after it was finished. The drawers make maximum use of the width of the table and are practical in that it is as deep as the width. I am also having a chair made to match this desk so the set will be complete and I will have a study and work surface to comfortably enjoy the scenery, see the photo so that I have the full view of the river and the life on it which will inspire me to be creative in thought and word.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

the karuna dilemma for the British

The beautiful Sri Lankan chameleons are no match for the political chameleons running the country. See below what they are up to.

I was thinking of putting my two cents into the current Karuna debate going on and people have different views on this subject.

Karuna, the one time leader of his faction which broke away from the LTTE, assisted the Sri Lankan forces overtly and covertly to evict the LTTE from the East.Please don't forget that he was one of the most ruthless commanders of the LTTE and personally oversaw the slaughter in COLD BLOOD of over 600 Sinhala policemen a fact that is not disputed by even the LTTE(they were actually persuaded to surrender on some reasonable grounds and then herded and shot like animals) in the Eastern Province as just one of the major acts of gruesome violence inflicted on defenceless people.

His family had fled to the UK and I am assuming have been granted some kind of asylum.He lately fell out with his people in the East allegedly for embezzling funds that had been entrusted to him. Anyway his friends in the JHU (the party of the Buddhist monks who have formed strange bedfellows) helped him to obtain a Diplomatic passport under the name of Dushmantha Gunewardene. The real person of this name is someone in the Environment ministry now under the JHU, who was supposed to go to the UK on an environmental conference.

Anyway even his picture on the passport did not have his moustache but was a photo of him. However as the JHU are in Government is it therefore not unreasonable to assume that the foreign ministry in Colombo collaborated in this deception and got the necessary visa for him to travel to the UK. He was granted entry into the UK. In typical Sri Lankan fashion they did not think beyond their noses and failed to get him to return his passport upon him landing in the UK, so no one could point the finger at the government for issuing him with this false document.I am sure Karuna would have had no objection in returning the passport as his primary aim had now been fulfilled. He was liviing with his family in Kensington when he was arrested and the diplomatic passport discovered in his possession.

Again there is no apology from the Sri Lankan government which has not uttered a word on how Karuna obtained this document.I don't know what is going on through the diplomatic channels and if the British government has issued a complaint and said that now even diplomatic passports will not have the same priviledges granted before as SL governement have clearly violated all diplomatic etiquette and protocol in this fashion acting in a cavalier manner to get rid of a problem.

The foreign secretary of Sri Lanka, Kohona, who must have been instrumental in giving him this passport, has said publicly that the true application of the law should be applied in this case, thereby passing the buck to the British government to deal with this problem.

The international community have been at the SL government to take Karuna to task on Child soldiers and a myrriad of other crimes, and SL conveniently let him go to the UK who now have him to prosecute legally as the SL government failed to do.

SL have sent the problem to the UK and they now have two choices, one to send him back to SL and the other to hold him in the UK and prosecute him from there. Whatever they do they will have a problem. If they send him back Karuna would claim they are abusing his human rights, by seperating him from his family and sending him to a certain death or injustice. If he is prosecuted in the UK, the jurisdiction under which he is prosecuted could be questioned, and his status and mode of arrival could let him free pending a resolution. Whatever course of action is taken the British have the problem while the SL government is loving the fact that those who most loudly shouted that they wanted Karuna prosecuted have him in British custody for them to do as they please.

So now once SL captures Prabhakaran and dont want to be implicated in what happens to him, they will send him with a diplomatic passport with the name of Percy Rajapakse going for a conference on leadership in the international arena for those look international exposure from developing nations.

What will the British do with him when they catch him with the passport which says his occupation is the President of the nation!!

That is the Sri Lankan conundrum today.Jokers in every sense of the word, and they like the slippery characters they are slide their way out of the problem and hand it to someone else to wallow in the mud.

Friday, November 23, 2007

remittances from the middle east

This a photo of a bat who was on one of my banana trees recently.

I would like to take a moment to relate some of the stories, good and bad from the immediate circle of my staff who have had direct experience of the middle east. I know one cannot generalize from personal stories but one can form opinions from them with possible ways to reduce the problems associated with this.

The government of Sri Lanka spends like there is no tomorrow on the backs of this worker remittances as they are quite prepared to mortgage future remittances in their current quest to spend in a way that even the middle east oil potentates cannot. The rate of remittances from the 2 million workers affects the lives of at least 10 million who live here or at least half the population. The rate of increase of remittances is greater than the rate of increase in the oil price and therefore we are quite able to weather the oil shock in a seemingly cavalier fashion. After all the price of a liter of petrol in Sri Lanka is half that of oil rich UK.

I have changed the real names of the staff to prevent embarrassment in case someone confronts them. Kasun's wife went to Dubai, she got used to the life there, and left Kasun and the children after providing for the children and nothing for Kasun who turned to drink and now needs his kasippu daily and has found a common law woman to live with.

Rahul's mother worked in the Middle East, for 4 years, she saved half her salary and remitted the other half.Her husband an alcoholic from the beginning fritted it away and barely did anything to take care of Rahul and his baby sister.The were looked after by Rahul's maternal grandmother. Shortly after Rahul's mother arrived his father died in his thirties of alcoholism, and the mother spent all her savings, paying off the money lender in the village to whom all the land inherited had been mortgaged so she could get her husbands land back to be able to feed her kids.She is now thankfully able to hold her head up debt free.

Sriyani's brother went to work in Iraq as a security officer for an American company for two years, as he was ex army. He earned about US500 a month which is appallingly low for such a high risk job where the white counterpart earns over ten times that much.Anyway he has sent it to his wife who has helped her family but on his return his family and mother did not get a cent and not even a small gift as his wife controls him by the short and curlies!! His sisters help keep family fires burning working in garment factories in Homagama.

Sapun's mother went to the middle east and did not return. He was only 4 and his elder sister 9. The father brought them up by himself and did not receive any money from her, they have a very hard life in the village but live in a house that is quite nice. They suspect she has returned and is living with someone else. Sapun always believes his mother will come to see him soon.His sister married last year and had a baby.Fortunately his mother's sister who is single and has been in Dubai for over 15 years helps him out by sending money occasionally.

Deerga's wife is in Jordan and was persuaded to send her by a job agent saying she can earn a lot of money. His child is being looked after by his mother while he works for me. He is bitter as he has not heard from her and suspects she is really suffering under harsh working conditions and her employers taken her passport etc. So he is mad with the job agent who made the promises and wants to get even with him!!

Jayakody's wife went to Saudi and left the son and daughter with her mother. Jayakody was not sent any money, any money that was sent was to her mother who helped her family at the expense of Jayakody's kids and Jayakody savs his money I pay him for whatever the kids need. His wife has just returned and she does not want to be with him anymore and wants to return to the middle east at the earliest opportunity and he is heartbroken as he thought they could be a family again! At the moment he is trying to see if the law can help, but I doubt he will get redress and may not even get the custody of the kids which is the least he wants.

Kumara's mother left when he was small and has now lived in the middle east for over 12 years. His kiri amma , I don't know if she is an aunt or grandmother, has brought it up, and she does not have a good relationship with him. His father lives in another village doing a job and he hardly sees him. His mother sent him the money for a three wheeler and sends money frequently so he is not in want except emotionally. He has just joined the army to get away from the home front as he does not like to live with his kiriamma.His trishaw just lies idle for his use when he comes on leave. He has made friends in the army and visits their homes when he is on leave and only comes to his village for a day to see his friends. He has been affected emotionally though he has been well looked after financially.

Sama who worked for me lived in Kuwait for 5 years and her mother took care of both her son and daughter.Her husband also worked in the same household in Kuwait. Due to some incident her husband was fired and they returned and the husband who always had a alcohol problem eventually died before his 45th of cirrohsis of the liver.They had run through whatever savings she had. So after she worked for me she got a job in Cyprus where she now is and saved and married her daughter off in June. She now hopes to save the balance and return next year and have the money as her retirement nest egg little realising how expensive things have got and that she may not have enough to buy a place of her own now.She is also trying to get her son to Cyprus to work as a orange picker or in the agricultural area where they are severly short staffed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what is this ? I found on my land

This very nice looking bunch looks edible and will have to do some research to find out what it is as it looks edible and I am sure the locals will be able to tell me what it is especially if it is edible. It looks really nice though

Friday, November 9, 2007

organic coconut oil

In our own way I have produced what I would consider some of the best coconut oil one can buy in the market that is made in a home as opposed to a big factory. I obtained 300 organic coconuts from Paradise Farm in Kitulgala and took them to Hingurakgoda where they were dried, husked and split open and dried further and then using a fire drying method see photos for further drying due to the wet weather. They were then cut into pieces by hand see other photo and then taken to the mill and pressed into coconut oil with the by product being poonac. I retail this oil at Rs 200 a bottle.The common misconception amongst the upper middle class in Colombo is that vegetable oil which is marketed better and is more expensive is in fact better, where as the coconut oil that is pure and produced this way is far better and I sell it at a lower price than the vegetable oils available at supermarkets which are imported!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

i have never read a news story about this

If one lives in Sri Lanka one will become painfully aware that 90% of the population cannot read or understand English let alone speak it. The most they know are very few words and the English alphabet. There is however a 40 minute English class in every school every day at every level and despite that the knowledge is lacking.What makes this all the more glaring is that at least half the shop signs are in English even in Villages and even the names of the shops are Sinhala writing of the English like for example Digital Printing is written as that but in Sinhala writing.

All medicines are in English only. All the doctor prescriptions are written in English where people are clueless as to what medicines they are taking and in what dose they are to take it unless the pharmacist specifically writes the dosage on the medicines dispensed.

I know some of the weedicides and pesticides do have some Sinhala and Tamil writing. However what brought this outburst on my part was I sent Amila to change the coolant on my cab.I asked him to read the instructions in the coolant bottle and mix water according to the instructions. No one in the garage who sells the coolant can read English. The instructions in the coolant bottle are from a Caltex bottle only in English. Caltex is part of Chevron USA. Amila lied to me saying there were no instructions and he put 100% concentrate into my engine where the coolant bottle,(I asked him to bring an empty bottle for me to see) specifically says mix with a max of 50% water. He lied for fear of being exposed at not knowing English or thought the instructions were nothing to do with the mixing level of the concentrate. This therefore cost me double as I needed only half the coolant I eventually put.

I impressed on him, about how he can do his job properly as all the car parts are only written in English along with all the instructions including the handbooks. The people just think they know how to do it without having to read, and that goes for the garages too that do repairs and change fluids. I find it mind boggling to say the least and that the media have not exposed this as it can result in deadly consequences when instructions are not followed.

Shame on you Sri Lanka media, this results in more deaths than Prabhakaran!! The simple lack of ability in being able to read and understand instructions. Then insist all instructions are written in Sinhala and Tamil. In almost all of the products I sell in my shop, every thing is in English with occasionally one or two lines in Sinhala addressing one or two small bits of info.

You go to France and you will find that there is hardly a word of English in anything that is sold, be it coolant or toothpaste. It is all in French!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

land of the thousand lakes

I have noted earlier that I chose to live in the land of the thousand lakes, namely the Polonnaruwa District and here are a few of the lakes I saw on my early morning drive on October 26th.It is just breathtakingly beautiful and I recommend that time when kids go to school and dawn breaks and morning hues abound

school run

I took the pic above after I had transported a pick up full of school children from various places on the road to their school near the Dimbulagala Temple at 6.30 am on Friday October 26th a lovely time for a drive.I left home when all my staff were still asleep.

Some kids have to walk a long way to the bus halt to take the school bus, through footpaths across rice paddies.There are many farming communities in this newly opened zone where landless peasants were given farmland as part of the Mahaweli scheme.

Actually the facts are not what they seem.Many people got state land from political patronage and hence do not work the land or do they in some cases know exactly where there land is as they live as far away as Kandy.They have given the land to landless farmers who have built shacks in the fields and work the land for a rent paid in the form of paddy to the owner. The owner therefore gets a free rent for doing nothing out of land he got free from the government while the landless peasant farms this for his income. That is the reality. Some of these kids are here. Some leave home without breakfast and are provided some hot meal at school.

Hundreds of thousands of acres have been opened up but there are vast swathes of uncultivated land that just had its timber plundered and land left fallow.All part of the bureaucracy that is the Mahaweli scheme. Of course there are many positive examples too mainly those of very hard working farmers who have diligently and intelligently cultivated and profited while there are as many whose dreams have been shattered by a combination of bad luck bad weather or alcohol dependency.

Monday, October 29, 2007

peace bridge

The Japanese funded peace bridge was formally opened on Poya day thursday the 25th of October in Manampitiya crossing the Mahaweli. Previously the road and rail bridge was shared for the past 80 plus years. I was most disappointed in the bridge which I drove over on friday 26th and 6 am. It is only two lanes both ways and the road that is being constructed is a 4 lane highway all the way to Batticaloa.I am appalled that 1,500 Million rupees was spent on this.Even if the span was 300 feet the coverage over the river is 200 and I am sure a four lane bridge would not have cost more. I am sure someone or many ones had a hand in their pockets on this one. It is a crying shame.

The other scene I was privy to was the whole sale slaughter of the Mahaweli for its sand just a few hundred yards away from the bridge. Truck loads of sand being carried away to the building sites in Colombo and a cut or the contract being in the palm of an influential politician in the land. The environmentalists probably have no access to see the extent of the damage and so there is no comment on that.

The third observation is that there are 100 lorry loads or more of sand being trucked at great expense to Colombo when the railway line is almost at the same point the lorries are being loaded. It is easier to load the rail cars and take the sand that way with much less energy cost and more money to the government and not the hands of the businessmen who use millions of litres of fuel in hauling at greater environmental cost. Why is something so basic not even being talked of in this country with supposedly intelligent people!!!! Does it fall to a farmer to see through this?

Monday, October 22, 2007

going forwards in reverse

I was just the other day presented with a book of writings by a man who is advocating going back into organic cultivation and undoing what we have done in terms of not using chemical anything be it fertilizer, pesticides or weedicides. I was contacted today by a nutritionist who has a phd and who did her thesis on Milk production and consumption and she said how harmful the milk powder touted by all is. Now that we have a milk powder shortage, we need to extol the virtues of drinking whole milk and more to the point give positive encouragement to milk production. I am a milk producer who only drinks milk from my cows and not condensed or milk powder. However I am losing money in this venture due to a whole host of reasons not least being the Rs 20 a liter I get from the Milco company. I am now trying my best to get my neighbours to buy my milk at Rs a bottle which will help me a long way in reducing the loss. I also have to get some good milking cows and do away with the pin gonas that people dump on me which I have to feed at vast expense for no reward.

In this same vein I saw an interesting sight in Kithulgala yesterday, where buffaloes were ploughing the fields. I have to share those photos here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

living at the edge of reason

The photo is a view from my new kitchen into the river in front where the fair damsels bathe in the 'diyaredda' at all meal times!!!

Yesterday was an interesting day in that when I left Hingurakgoda, I gave Sudath the last of the money I had, Rs 2800/- for his expenses on various things he was asked to do till my next visit on Wednesday night.That was the balance of all the money I had in the world!!! I had no money in the bank other than a minimum of 1000/ for bank charges and no money on me when I drove at night alone from Polonnaruwa to Godagama.I estimated that I would have just enough diesel to get me home and believe it or not the red low fuel light started flashing about two kilometers from destination!

About an hour from destination when my sister called me and asked if I would be able to make it to a stag night of a family member in Colombo, she was totally unable to accept when I said I did not have the money for the diesel to come to Colombo.

So today I put diesel on a 24 hour credit I was given in Godagama, and came into Colombo to sell my King Coconuts. Amila my driver who was ill all week, came this morning, maybe it was pay day for him so he decided to come in the morning and take the King Coconuts with me to Colombo.Once I sold my produce, set aside the money for the diesel and paid Amila the balance of his month's salary due to him, I did not have enough to buy a Barbara Sansoni sarong I was hoping to wear for a wedding reception tomorrow. The price of the sarongs today were 900 more than they were last I went to there and so I was that much short!! So I guess just pants(another word for trousers) would do!! I have to be thankful that it did not rain today(it has rained all week and I was left with 170 unsold King Coconuts on Monday), as otherwise I may not have been able to sell as many King Coconuts for the immediate debts.

I am due some money from a person I have helped through a crisis but does he realize that by helping him I have actually put myself through a lot of stress in the meantime!! The short answer is no as most people think I am still funded from up above and they mean invisible sources of gold and I mean just the goodwill of the Almighty. This has been the story of the past three years and somehow I have been able to pull this life off in many ways better than those with the largest bank accounts imaginable. So why be sorry!!!

Somehow I have been able to sell today to pay tomorrows debts. I still have not paid my last two months mobile bills, and when my phone is cut off at any moment now the truth will bite! After all I call friends more than they call me and they are all who can afford more than me to call!!! So what does that tell you about my friends! Hey any of my friends reading this don't take it personally, just you are all lumped in!!

I noted earlier that I have to work 7 days a week, and unlike most people I have to earn as well so I have to work in the shop tomorrow morning to sell my produce before going to a family wedding in Colombo in the afternoon. After all most will recall, I had to first sell my produce in the morning in Colombo,before going to my mother's funeral later in the day.That's how serious life is.My staff on the other hand will go to a funeral of an unknown relative rather than work and I still have to pay them.

interesting observation

My business is not merely that of growing, and selling, but also in some cases of buying from other farmers and selling to my customers. I find it more meaningful and rewarding to buy direct from home gardens; namely fruit from the village and selling in my kade or on my home delivery. I do have some more well healed customers who live in Colombo and who have property and sell some of their produce. However the price they are asking for their produce hardly allows me to make a profit and is priced higher than either what my customers in the kade or even my well healed Colombo customers are prepared to pay.

I sometimes pay these prices and offer my customers at prices where I do not make a profit, just so that I have a choice of product and like to have something different occasionally. I make more money selling forest bees honey a product very hard to find than any of these products, because I can buy in bulk when the annual harvest is done and sell throughout the year, with only a holding cost of funds tied up.

For example I purchased nice good large and sweet pineapple from the farm gate at Rs 100/- but I can hardly sell this to make a profit taking into account the 10% wastage. Even the fruit stall I sell my King Coconuts was selling retail in Colombo for 110/- and they don't pay any more than 80/- to purchase this at the shop from the delivery van. Similarly I was offered 1000 Oranges at 15/- when I sell my jungle oranges at 8/- To make any profit I need to sell at between 20 and 25 and this is not easy to achieve unless I was selling at the Kollupitiya market!!

This is therefore a point worth considering when doing transactions with those whole income does not comprise just farm produce. They value their produce at more than is realistic. I guess I do too and that is why I sell direct to customer instead of to the wholesale trade!!! It is just that I am more realistic in what I can get from wholesale than these gentlemen. I am sure they can find a niche market to sell at those prices, but I am afraid I am not the niche!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

life is no party

Photo taken on the way to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura before it started pouring buckets

My friends are often under the assumption that I am living a retired life of a country squire. While I say I am living the life of a village peasant. The reality is different to both those perceptions.
Today is Saturday, I will briefly show what I have been up to in the past week.Last Saturday after leaving Galdola Farm with 650 king coconuts, at 7.30 am for Colombo, after selling the lot, I spent a few hours at my sister's blogging, then went back to the farm, closed the farm shop for the day, and went with my father to Paradise Farm in Kitulgala in time for dinner, and meeting after dinner on the plan to manufacture the required 25,000 kg organic fertilizer per month at the farm which is a totally organic farm of 75 acres.
Sunday was spent first visiting a section of the farm I had not visited before, and then discussing the monthly budget of the farm and how to turn the farm into a break even position as quickly as possible after the mismanagement by the last manager who has now been dispensed with. After returning to my farm I had to go to the Meegoda Economic zone at 8 pm to get supplies for my farm shop for the week.
Monday morning was a matter of loading up with produce to deliver to homes and businesses in Colombo. The Tata cab had a flat tire fully loaded and we spent an hour changing the tyre as we do not have a pneumatic jack.The delivery process was delayed accordingly, getting back home at 8pm.
Tuesday I had to be at a meeting in Thalawatugoda at 9am and went to see a canning factory in Gampaha with a view to processing papaya pulp for export. Then back to meetings at Thalawatugoda, on how to improve the running of the farm and dealing with the soon to be fired manager.
Wednesday was a 5am start to Anuradhapura to inspect properties with a view to buy or rent for the factory to process papaya pulp a project I have been engaged to look into as a prospective venture as the export market is available.I saw about 12 properties and then at 5 went to a tank for to bathe before leaving in the lashing rain to my agricultural project in Hingurakgoda in Polonnaruwa.
Thursday was spent collecting produce both from my property and also from my neighbors. I packed two varieties of rice, coconuts from my trees, karavila (bitter gourd) and cucumber and corn on the cob from my field.Kekiri, Murunga(drumsticks),Woodapple,and Pumpkin from neighbors. By the time I left for the Godagama farm it was 4pm arriving at 10 pm.
Friday another day of selling 700 king coconuts, I still have 25 unsold and now I am blogging before going back to Shop duty and taking care of the shop all day tomorrow
That's my week.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

corn on the cob

Last evening I plucked 300 corn from my field and brought back to Godagama, for sale. I brought the rest of the plant also, for my cows and food before it dries up. So now I am struggling to sell this corn as there are so many reasons for people to complain why they cannot boil it because the gas cost has gone up. On the way side and in villages the corn is boiled using locally gathered firewood, but in Colombo and suburbia that is not possible, so the gas cooker is the only option, and cost of boiling the corn exceeds the cost of the corn. So bear this reality in Sri Lanka, the high cost of energy, be it electricity or gas for cooking.

So I will now have to boil the corn in my shop on the farm and sell to those who want to instantly eat them. I will have a supply of corn for the next month as I have planted them in stages. I also have a cost of energy in using pumped water to irrigate the corn fields. My breakfast plate above is fresh corn plucked and boiled in the open firewood fire in Hingurakgoda on this trip.

realities of life and expectations

I have been at every stage had trouble blogging. I only get a chance to do so when I go to my sister's house in Colombo once a week and invariably there is come reason I cannot get on line. The most recent being that the keyboard was broken. Incredibly the reason is always different!!!!

I have finally after more than two weeks been able to get on line.I spend a lot of time trying to get an agricultural operation viable in the Polonnaruwa district. I have two lads, who live there, who I provide all their living comforts and pay a daily wage which they can bank(they never can due to all manner of reasons)

The elder Sudath and his nephew Gamini live there. Sudath is 34, with a wife in Saudi and a daughter and son with his mother in law. On September 28th his only brother a few years older and not yet forty, and unmarried, committed suicide using a common pesticide called curator that farmers use for all manner of bug infestations.

The following day was the funeral in the village where his mother lives and as funerals are expensive events, they look to me to help with funds, even though there is a promise to repay from future earnings. Not only that, one is also expected to come for the funeral, as non arrival is also a slight on the person.As the deceased is a close relation of both my staff, I had to leave Amila in charge of the property with specific instructions to chase the parrots away from eating the corn, which I was expecting to harvest the following day to take to market in Godagama and Colombo. In true village style there were 10 who wanted to go to the funeral, 185 KM away from Hingurakgoda, Polonnaruwa property.They are all friends of Sudath. So we all piled in, with me having to drive as Amila had to take care of the place, and I don't know how they managed the hot sun on their backs for the 5 hour journey as I only have a open back, pick up truck into which I put some mats and a mattress. The two oldest gentlemen sat in front with me and all the others piled in the back.

We only arrived just as the coffin was being closed in the house, and taken outside for the Buddhist priest to invoke his blessings etc. Each village has different customs on procedure.The coffin was carried by the males all the way to the cemetery 2km away by the males, with female members staying home.

Once buried as is custom, ( we all piled into the grave diggers van to come back to the house as another 2km walk was out of the question!!!) the 4 grave diggers have placed in their path at the home entrance, food (mala bath) which they are meant reject and throw way, and then break the pot in which it is cooked shown in one of the photos. The top most photo shows all but two of the crowd who went from here, at the grave site.

Needless to say I had to accommodate the insatiable appetite of these people for alcohol, about 4 bars on the way back. They were blind drunk when they got home at 11pm and I was exhausted having to be aware of the risk of these guys at the back in the pick up in various states of inebriation.

To put it in the best light I just have to shrug and say "it is all down to experience of life amongst the majority in the land."

Friday, October 5, 2007

keeping mossies and bugs away in the village

I live most of the time in a small agricultural plot in Hingurakigoda, where I do not have electricity or running water. We live out in the open with only a roof for cover and the breeze through in the verandah does the work better than an electric fan. However there are mosquitos that have to be dealt with and we sleep under mosquito nets, if we are to get a good night's sleep. Before bed however, one method of keeping them away is to light one or two mosquito coils, and or rub oneself with citronella oil and make sure one either has a sarong and have hands covered to reduce bites.

Instead of all of the above, what we now do is to use the plentiful supply of Margosa (Kohomba) leaves to burn in a pot, and the resulting smoke keeps the mosquito and other night flying insects away.

The photos show Amila in the process of lighting it and the other the lit pot in the verandah where we live. It has now become a daily routine at dusk.The awful smell of mosquito coils is no longer an issue using this natural remedy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

my first hospital stay

I have travelled the world and have been to numerous hospitals all over the world to see patients and accompany others etc. The incident noted below resulted in my first Hospital stay overnight, though one can hardly call it overnight been warded at 2.30 am and discharging myself around 2pm.

I have the utmost regard and admiration, first for the nurses, who were impeccably dressed, very pleasant, professional and curteous and firm. The doctors who were thorough in examination. Remember I was seen by 3 different doctors in the space of 8 hours.The cleanliness of the rather dated building. While I was there the ward was swept three times.I was a little disturbed at the level of tolerance of the dogs, but I understand that all hospitals have an infestation of dogs wondering around the place where the wards are open. The new tower blocks will not have that.

I was not told what medicine was administered, and in my case I had to swallow the pills, which I later understood to be pain killers, without water.

The male orderlies were a slovenly lot.Lazy to boot always picking on the nurses!! Talking more than working.The patients were very docile and accepting of all orders without a murmer.

Most of all this is free health care, with no request for any money or bribe at any level. Full marks Sri Lanka National Healthcare system. I am proud to be Sri Lankan.

a salutary lesson on life

I was assaulted on Saturday, hospitalized on Sunday, went to the hearing for resolution on Monday, and the subject handed over responsibility on Tuesday and vacated the premises on Wednesday.

In my capacity as an unpaid director of an organic plantation, Paradise Farm,Kitulgala,I was told the superintendent had refused to accept his letter of interdiction on Saturday morning September 15th, signed by the chairman and delivered by the person assigned to take over temporarily. I called a lawyer friend of mine and picked him up in my bone shaker Tata cab from Colombo, but by the time we reached the Kitulgala Rest House it was 9pm. I met with 4 people who had been sent by the chairman and decided to go to the Farm to stay the night at the Tourist Bungalow at the farm. On arrival seeing the gates locked I walked up to the manager's bungalow and met him and requested that I stay at the rooms above the bungalow, but the manager and about 6 goons, who I suspect were all under the influence of alcohol, assaulted me and chased me down to the gate hurling all kinds of abuse. I had never expected the man who I had known as a civilized person of behaving like this.

I reported the incident to the Yatiyantota police, where only one person was on duty as the rest had to go for presidential security, as there was a rally in Kegalle the next day. I obtained a Medico legal form for my injuries and went to the Karawenalla Hospital by 2am where I was promptly seen by a doctor and admitted to ward 6.I gave Amila by wallet and got a sarong and a polo shirt to wear and only had my mobile phone with me. The ward sister on duty at that time told me to find somewhere to lie down. It was only the floor available to me as all other, beds and benches were occupied. I took off my 20yr old Italian Bally shoes, and folded my 10yr old English Aquascutum polo shirt ten times so I could make an improvised pillow and and fell asleep around three on the floor with lights full above me as it was a verandah.

I had to be up by 6 as the floor was being swept and a doctor saw me at 8 and another at 10 who said the JMO(judicial medical officer) only could give me the discharge, as he had to complete the medico legal. With no JMO expected on Sunday. I did not fancy another day on the floor, and my left leg was in pain (twisted muscle) and the floor would only have made it worse. So I discharged myself and returned with the lawyer.

We went the next day for a meeting at the police station, where we decided not to mention the assault, but stood by the original request which the officer presiding said was perfectly reasonable, and under threat of arrest over the other incident,the manager who at first resisted, agreed to hand over power on the morrow.

I expect to go to the farm today to stay in the bungalow tonight. My pain in my leg has not gone away. Have not been able to find a walking stick to use so the estate labor all 90 who signed a petition in favor of the suspended manager, can be aware of who they were supporting.

I realize now going at night unannounced, was a case of bad judgement.In Sri Lanka, 25% of the male population is under the influence after 8 and one cannot see reason with such a person, and those have told me a knife or other object could easily have been used in the assault, resulting in deadly consequences, even though I came in peace.

a cruel world

Thats Menika and daughter on the left, the clothes Menika is wearing is all she has other than one set of work clothes.
The person who cooks for me and cleans and does laundry as well as take care of the home garden is known as Menika, though her real name, which she prefers to be known is Geetha Sriyani. She also takes care of the Gotukola beds for my weekly sales. She also doubles up as the shop assistant.She has a 18yr son Kasun Mangala Kumara who lives and works close by and a 11 year daughter Danushika Maduwanthi who goes to the local school Subharathi.Her husband Victor drives a lorry for a living and is also an alcoholic and prone to violence, who has recently had his license suspended owing to an injury accident, and is absconding from the enquiries.

On Monday night (today is Friday) while the mother and daughter were away at the grandmother's he had burnt all their clothes including the little girl's school uniforms. He had also burnt a lot of the furniture which they had and most of it purchased with the mother's hard earned money. The house is in the mother's name. None of the son's personal possessions were harmed. I am told the father is scared of the son!

Menika had to report this to the local police, on Tuesday, who promised to take action, which hitherto has not been done.She has not been to her house since for fear of being attacked and worried I would be attacked if he comes looking for her in the farm. He was seen on the farm on Tuesday with a knife, at about the same time the woman was reporting the incident to the police.

When she came to work on Wednesday with the daughter who only had one dress, a yellow party dress and Menika also only has once change of clothes. She washes this in the farm to wear on the way to her mother's in Padukka after work.

While I do not like to get personally involved in other people's domestic disputes, I had to make sure that the child was given money to buy enough cloth to tailor three school uniforms. They will hopefully be ready today so she can resume going to school on Monday. Her house is two minute walk from the school, but she has to now come from her Grandmothers, which is now 10km from the school.

As I have noted earlier, alcohol abuse is a serious problem in Sri Lanka, and no one appears to do anything about and and just washes their hands hoping it will go away.

its hard to communicate

Today September 21st, morning. I was up at 5, I completely scrubbed and washed the shop verandah as well as the kitchen section sink and counters as they looked very dirty and had completed the task by 7.15am when the shop was opened for business in Godagama.I showered and took the bus from Godagama, 21 KM from there to my sister's in Pamankade. The bus fare 26 rupees or less than 25 US cents. It took me one and quarter hours to get here, by 9am.

This is my third attempt in the past two weeks to blog. First the computer or ADSL line was down, second time, while I was on line, the power failed and everything crashed. I appear each time to be prevented from this communication.

Just another noteworthy point. On the walk from the bus stop to the house, there was a water puddle on the side of the road and a bus went screeching past into the pussle and the ladies in front of me in theie sarees going to work I presume, were drenched in the pot hole water. What can I say? who can they turn to. Will they not look slovenly when they arrive at work? They probably have already spent the better part of two hours to get to work. The people in power as I always say have no idea of the people without power and what realities they face.

There are so many simple things in life we should try and resolve before trying to sort out the bigger picture. In my opinion the simple things when resolved will make the bigger problem go away too.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

disappointed in man friday

Amila who I have referred below as a trusted friend, still puts his personal stuff before mine. Though he is valet, salesman and general everyman, when he needs to go and take care of his personal stuff puts that in front; his girl friend makes the demands I guess.He left on Thursday morning by bus taking him all day to get to his home leaving me with all his and my work for the next three days. Pics above show him scraping coconut for the sambol for dinner and sawing the coconut rafters for the kitchen construction.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

bare chests- men only

I had this comment about why are the boys in polonnaruwa not wearing a shirt. Don'r they uffer from sun burn and at worse skin cancer. Well it seems that even when I am working during the day I take my shirt off to prevent the sweat wetting the shirt and in the evening is refreshing to get the wind on to your chest as shown in the photos below. I am sure Sudath, Gamini and Amila won't mind me using them as examples!!

Mark you when cutting paddy one wears a long sleeved shirt to prevent the hay from scraching and making the skin red with a rash.