For a whole host of reasons, including the fact that my driver was sent back to the office, leaving the car here, I was stranded at home in Ratmale for a whole week. It turned out to be Serendipitous no less!
I had purchased all the supplies needed for food, and kerosene for the lamps at night, and so was not at all worried. I had a list of things to get done, and so was not short of a to do list nor short of reading matter if I had time for that. I was also armed with my Butterfly Bible, another for the birds, and a further one for the reptiles and such like. I already have my heavy book on Mammals of Sri Lanka that is kept here, so apart from my book in amphibians and one of dragon flies I had not acquired I had what I needed in case unusual creatures decided to visit me.
There was the added bonus of fishing in the pond at my home in case I was short of my supper, but I did not need that, and instead the fish was salted and dried to be taken back to eat!
The first week of October is one of the driest periods in the area, the elephants come in the evening to bathe and drink water in the lake next to the property, and it is quite hot. Mercifully the wind was still fair for it not to feel stifling, and cool enough in the evenings and nights to require to be covered by a sheet when in bed under a mosquito net.
With no electricity, and hence no fridge or fans that people in these areas take for granted, anyone not used to this climate may think I am a sucker for hardship, when in fact it was anything but. Ironically, me who is unable to live without a fan in the western province for even a moment, quite happily and without complaint, manages to survive in this extreme heat without it, as it is dry heat and with the shade and wind blowing constantly, gives me a breeze that is pleasant.
SO when various visitors dropped in unannounced they were quite pleasantly surprised how I managed to live with all my windows and door open, with no cupboard even shut, as due to various wood expansions, I am even unable to do the basic shutting of some of them, and so without any concerns.
We in Sri Lanka even in the villages are afraid of our neighbors let alone strangers. So everyone sleeps in their homes at night, locking all their doors and windows, in suffocating conditions, under asbestos sheeting in mini ovens, envying my open lifestyle as I hardly go into any of the two rooms I have in the house, but spend my time in the verandah of my home, with anyone passing by able to see me asleep or awake or eating or any of the activities I engage in the course of the day.
Today, I had Mr Galappaththi, who dropped in his bike, on his way back after inspecting the site, he hopes to rent out to MAGA to take soil for their construction on which he hopes to profit by the difference between what he charges MAGA and what he has agreed with the property owner he would pay for a cube of soil extracted. His task in all this is to arrange the necessary permits from the relevant Government departments to have the soil extracted and to get the customers contract signed off to extract soil, and ensure that they keep their side of the bargain.
Then I had another visitor, Ushan Herath the son of one of my neighbors, who after graduating from the University of Visual & Performing Arts, many years ago, has finally landed a job with the Western Provincial Education Department, in a school in Wattala to teach ART from Grades 6 through to 13.
We spoke about the waste of years for the job, where the Government was NOT able to all this time fit into a school, while the requirements were there and shortages were apparent, purely because of bureaucracy and inertia of state employees in NOT ensuring their jobs are done in a manner that assists the community.
This brings to the fore the critical weakness in the state sector who don’t know what their responsibilities really are, and that as a result, they don’t go about fulfilling their responsibilities and so the public to whom they are responsible pay the price for their incompetence and no one pulls them up, nor have for so long, so it is a case of doing as least as possible for them to survive, not understanding that it is simply treason, for which they must be held accountable. As most state employees engage in this wholesale deception, no one is pulled up, and about 1M people will have to fired for incompetence if the Public Sector is run efficiently.
We discussed a new strategy for him to teach his students, that will make ART interesting to the student in a way that will make him or her excel in his chosen field by doing what they like and at the same time showing them what is possible with their skills in the world out there, in order for them to earn a living, in creative arts, rather than merely being enslaved by a syllabus that is no longer relevant to them despite the veneer created by the state that they have now begun to change the curriculum to one that is towards employment and vocations rather than theoretical applications that have no meaning in reality. It is quite obvious how the people are still being misled by rhetoric, when reality is STILL far removed from what is being pontificated upon in platforms and reported verbatim by a slavish media who are unable to accurately evaluate the truth from fiction.
The realization that in every corner of our land BIODIVERSITY is unmatched in scale and variety. This was the lesson to me in this week’s sojourn.
My FB page is testament to the surprises of the week, and shared with all
I suppose when one is forced to spend some time fixed in one place, one gets into a routine and is able too appreciate one’s surroundings like no other. Further as I effectively live in a verandah open to the elements and to the world of forest, and animals therein in front of my eyes. I more clearly than at any other time am aware of all that happens around me. Fortunately the noise pollution form the local temple with of key loudspeaker that comes out at 4.50am every day, was not functioning this time and so the birds and animals as well as yours truly were blessed without that noise pollution that such peaceful surroundings should not have to contend with.
I hope the local priest has finally seen the light and error of his ways, that he cannot subjugate all living things to his will, unwillingly.
The butterfly species this week were unmatched, I had not noticed so many varieties before. I don’t know if it time of year or the fact that certain flowers are in bloom, that attract them. Then for the first time I saw the swamp hen chicks, that I had not known existed before. I have not seen any photos of them before, and those little black fellows that emerged in a row was a once off luxury that did not return. Perhaps it is a rare sight, and I don’t know where the parents are hiding them as I cant even find the adults who were around a few days ago.
The monkeys, giant squirrels and water and land monitors were active as they usually are always, with no surprise.
Of course this time for the first time I saw a green common katussa that turned color three times in a space of about ten minutes which I managed to photograph, and upload on FB to show my friends what it is like, and how extreme they are change their colors to suit their surroundings.
With the reference books to hand with me it made it more easy, and the boys who were staying here were finally reminded of what they had taken for granted, that when you least expect it, there are surprises and they have names and value and interest in the FB world from people from all walks of life.
They were more interested in catching fish for their supper, a not unusual pursuit of teens and twenty somethings!
The real piece de resistance was the arrival of a lovely Green Emperor Pigeon who came close to be photographed in all its mottled green glory of various shades that did justice to the whole trip.
In fact it confirmed that even the published works don’t have as much detail as I was able capture and share with the outside world. I know professional photographers, would stamp their photos with their names and take ownership of their brands. I am pleased if someone uses them, except for Getty Images who steal and sell them, and illegally charge others for my photos.!!!