Thursday, March 20, 2014

In the Beginning

Sri Lanka, the teardrop of India

I found my way to this quaint island quite by accident. For several years I’d been writing What’s a Girl to Do?, an adventure columns for national and regional American publications, showing women (and men) that they didn’t have to sit around and complain about having nothing to do.

That may sound odd to people living in countries where just the act of surviving takes up a full day. Day after day. But I was writing for Americans who have time to ponder what to do next. On a monthly basis I led a charmed life: I jumped out of an airplane, was head-butted by a shark, learned to fly on a trapeze, tried hang-gliding, drove a race car, slammed a golf ball the length of a fairway, and learned how to stir macrobiotic food in a North-South direction. Amazingly I lived to write about it.

In December of 2002 I left California, bound for the Maldives on what was to have been a simple nine-day location story for Sport Diver Magazine. On the last day there, I decided to hop over to Sri Lanka for Ayurveda treatment and shopping. Once on the island I fell madly for everything Sri Lankan, and stayed.

‘Are you in love?’ my friends emailed me.

‘Yes,’ I wrote back. I had fallen in love with the people, the culture and the island itself. I stayed because I could not stop taking photographs of the children with giant, black-as-night eyes, of the Buddhist monks with their dark skin contrasting against their brilliant orange robes, the muscled arms of low-country drummers as they held a beat all night long, the ancient ruins of long ago kings, baby elephants hiding from the scorching sun in shadows cast by their mothers, and the pristine beaches where one should fall in love.

Sri Lanka is a complex land full of many cultures that I still have yet to explore, villages I want to visit and old people, children, tattala, ammala (fathers, mothers) whose faces will undoubtedly capture my heart.

Monks on a 'pindapata' - a walk for food
provided by the community.

A 2,000-year-old Buddhist temple ceiling.

One of Sri Lanka's fabulous beaches.

A man washing in the river.
Somewhere in the mountains.

Women washing at the well.

Laki Senanayake, one of Sri Lanka's famous artists.

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