Friday, January 18, 2008
evenings in the village at kumbuk thuduwa
A frequently asked question is what I do in the evenings when I am in Hingurakgoda. Usually these questions are asked by friends in Colombo, who have a full social calendar and try to juggle more than one event in the evenings.
Having lived overseas most of my life, and to a large extent alone, I have learnt to occupy myself, either by reading, writing, watching TV or pottering about the house having to complete a chore like washing and ironing clothes.I often cooked, when I was lazy to get out to bring a takeout. Yes, I always thought going out for a takeaway was an effort and calling in a pizza always, meant I got something to fill my belly and not something tasty. All tasty foods for me, were cooked by myself.
Interestingly, as I type this on my laptop in the dark but for a small kerosene open lamp by my side, I have ordered flat spaghetti(the pack says tagliatelle) for my dinner, cooked by my staff in the new kitchen, firewood of course and under cadjan. This is my treat today, as I can eat a 500g Italian green or white flat spaghetti my favorite, in three sittings. The packet costs 180/- at food city. For 60/- I can have a meal, and the homemade tomato ketchup is all I eat it with. No parmesan or pesto, but I have some basil seeds so I may grow and make my own pesto!
Getting back to the point of what I do in the evenings in my desolate 5 acre plot, firstly a bit of background by way of explanation: I do not have electricity, which is a major limiting factor and reduces one’s options. I don’t have a petromax lamp at the moment(those high powered kerosene lamps), so in a practical sense I cannot curl down with a book, to while away the time( I have unread books here). It is not easy to sit all evening in my veranda at my desk, or in my planter's chair overlooking the river listening to the sounds of the night, which are varied and many, and the occasional moonlight, to type into the computer. I guess in one sense, it is inspiring to type in the dark, when there is nothing to distract except the occasional sound of Chuti Nangi’s voice carrying from across the river about 100 meters away, my nearest neighbor. I have been meaning to get a radio for the staff to at least listen to some music, which they like and at that point they will no doubt have the channel of their choice. My neighbours have electricity so sometimes they go there to watch TV leaving me alone, to cover the bed with a mosquito net and go to sleep.
The Dum Muttuya is burning at the moment, and that literally translated means, smoke pot, Margosa( also known as Neem or Kohomba) leaves are burning in the pot giving out a smell that repels the mosquitoes, is my way of keeping the mossies at bay.(there is a photo of this smoking pot elsewhere in this blog)
This January 15, 2008 day was very hot and sunny, but now at 8 pm after dinner, it is cold enough to sleep under a sheet and to be covered up. Another misnomer and myth that is prevalent is that it is hot in the dry zone. I have not felt the need for an electric fan all the time I have lived here and the only instant it comes in handy is when one uses it instead of a mosquito net to drive out the mosquitoes, so I shall shortly retire to bed, most likely be fast asleep by nine pm ready for an early start before 5 tomorrow.
I admit to one thing though, and that is irrespective of where one lives, to have someone with you to share your thoughts and ideas, a companion. The path I have taken makes it very difficult to imagine that there would be someone willing to undergo some of the inconveniences of life in this alternative lifestyle.
I have also investigated the possibility of getting on line on a wireless remote link, and I think it would be just a matter of time before I can be wired up to the world of Internet despite my lack of power and also wireless telephony, except for my mobile phone, which works well here. That however adds another dimension to life where time is taken away from one due to the endless possibilities that keeps one occupied well into the night, keeping in touch with news and friends including using skype and facebook.
This last option is one to tread carefully, as I would give up some of what is peaceful to get back to the world of news and views and people.