Tamal Thai Pongal Day

January 15, 2008

Tom – It is a Hindu harvest festival honoring the Sun God.  It’s a holiday and many people have taken a four day weekend.  Helen and I walked for about an hour this morning and then she went to the market with Ruki and I moved all our things to a downstairs bedroom where we will stay whenever we are in Colombo.  It is more basic, more bugs but cheaper. 



For me most of the day was spent on the computer.  Helen read and worked some on the computer as well.  She is complaining a lot and says she can’t wait till we get to Matara and are settled.  I think the truth of the matter is we will never be settled here.  We have good accommodations in Colombo.  If we have something half as good in Matara, I will be happy.

Helen – It was a holiday so traffic was minimal and so nice for a change.  I have finally returned to walking in the morning and exploring the area around our guesthouse.  The first day I walked alone but the next two days Tom joined me.  The first day I walked to the cultural center where we saw the opera and wanted to walk around.  So, I asked the guard at the gate if I could and I thought he waved me in.  After going around several times and starting to leave, I was stopped by a big car and the gentleman called me over…said no walking here.  I explained that I had asked permission and he said he was the director and I had to leave.  Oh well, I had done it and won’t return.


Ranjan picked us up at 7:45 for dinner at an Indian restaurant called the Mango Tree.  It is reported to be the best in town.  He ordered for us, some appetizers first which were a flakey little round bread which we broke and dipped into a mint or tumeric sauce, sort of like salsa and chips at home.  Then the main course was grilled chicken, spinach and cottage cheese, and a shrimp curry sauce.  They were served with bread very similar to a tortilla.  The waiter served each onto our plates then we broke off the bread with our hands and dipped into the sauces and ate.  No utensils, it was fun.  Afterwards they brought warm water with lime to wash our hands.  Most people eat with their hands; they just mix the food and rice together and use their fingers to scoop and push it in their mouth with their thumb.  It gets messy at times, especially when they talk with their mouths full.


After dinner Ranjan took us to the Cinnamon Hotel which was totally unbelievable.  I have never seen anything so opulent.  It was elegant beyond belief.  Your car was parked by valet under a very large canopy and the hotel was ablaze with lights.  The lobby was huge with many small groupings of tables and chairs.  In the center was a raised platform with a band that was quite good playing our music from Abba to Tom Jones.  We did a little tour walking outside to a beautiful lower level with a pond that was aglow in lights.  Tables with candles and a bar surrounded parts of the pond that had big coy fish swimming and many turtles.  We returned to the lobby to listen to the band and sip hot cocoa while sampling some very tasty desserts.  A room at the hotel was $85, at home it would have been more like $300.


That was the high for the day, now the low.  Yesterday we moved to the lower level of the same house because now our rent went from $35 to $20 per day (we are on a fixed income!).  The bedroom is comfortable though the mattress not as good.  The bathroom is large with an older tub and shower.  In the afternoon we thought it was adequate but that night when we were getting ready for bed…Ugh!!  Huge, I mean huge, cockroaches at least three inches long were on the wall and sink.  I called Tom to come and get them.  I am not a good aim with a shoe and broke a window in Iran that way trying to get those buggers.  It was a little unsettling but we went to sleep making sure the bathroom door was closed tight.

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