One of the great tragedies of nutrition in Sri Lanka is the lack of appreciation for both the King Coconut (Thambili – some friends call me thambili!) and Coconut (Kurumba) water as a liquid refreshment. If one google’s this you can find numerous references as to its incredible powers over ailments and wellness.(e.g reference - http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coconut-water.html)
I have a few hundred king coconut trees on my property, but am finding it increasingly hard to sell it. When I returned to Sri Lanka in 2004, I was able to sell about 8000 nuts a month, both from my property and those of my neighbors. I worked hard going around plucking the nuts and taking them to market in Colombo myself with a man Friday. I personally carried bunches to the kades on the road, chatted with the kade mudalali and generally had a one to one with my customers. They usually buy a bunch at the rate of Rs15 each and sell them for between Rs25 and Rs30 a king coconut.
Since of late, I have lost all the business due to my accident, and lack of transport, however till then I was steadily losing my customer base, because all the one man sales outlets were removed courtesy of the UDA or Defense Secretary which both amount to the same person. He removed them as they had no permission to sell this on the public highway. He is technically correct, but did not afford them an opportunity to get the license or permission. Instead he gave permission for people who obtained a DIMO Batta from leases at People’s Bank at Rs30K a month(they are struggling to make the payment) to sell their wares like the Coca Colas in those places. They are either people more favorable to the UPFA and were some of the people helped by the Divi Neguma. Does he spare a thought for those whose livelihoods were lost, who amount to the same number of people?
More importantly, while other countries scramble to get hold of this refreshment due to its nutritional benefits, we in Sri Lanka are moving in reverse, removing the chances available for the smalltime entrepreneurs like myself and my customers to exist selling the most wholesome beverage on the face of the earth. This is what is called economic growth by the Sri Lankan Government. In this pursuit of America Centric policies of cleaning up the roads and permitting orderly establishments, by preventing University Students from partaking in a healthy drink between classes is tantamount to even obstructing the freedom to learn. I know when I have a cool ‘thambili’ that refreshes me, I feel more energized in the pursuit of whatever activity I may indulge in at the time. I am sure this holds true for students or any passers-by who trust a King Coconut over any bottled beverage.