Category Archives: Sri Lanka

The Lankan Beach Cure-Part III

This little series explores Sri Lanka through its beaches. A day out at the beach along the Dehivala-Galle line shows up some beautiful sights. Join in me in my experiences in Sri Lanka

The day so far in Colombo, had been very relaxed on Poya day by the beach. I wandered by the railway tracks to find some place to eat. I realised I was in the lovers zone, and was invading the privacy of hormones on display, every step I took. If you landed here directly, do check out Part-1 and Part 2 of this series, and then read on.

Love is in the air!

The beach had lovers, The area by the boats had lovers, the trees near the railway tracks had lovers, and the railway tracks also had couples. Talk about dinning it in on a solo trip, that you don’t have a partner around! I waded through all the romance, and found a place to have some fried rice, and went back to the beach at Mount Lavinia, lying on the beach, and letting the waters wash me of my ego, pride and prejudice, and enjoyed the sunset before returning home, a wiser man, after a day of silence and spending time observing myself.

 

Couples in Colombo romance by the railway track
Couples in Colombo romance by the railway track

 

Couples romancing in Colombo by the Sea
Couples romancing in Colombo by the Sea

The next Sanath? Sanga? Tharanga? Ranatunga?

I always remember Sri Lanka, as the land of left handers. From the times of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sanath Jayasuriya (or his clone Kusal Perera), Sanga or Tharanga, Sri Lanka has always managed to produce a line of south paws who make cricket very interesting with their batting.

Cricket in Colombo by the beach
Cricket by the beach! Southpaws on Fire!

 

Evening sunset at Mount Lavinia in Colombo
Evening sunset at Mount Lavinia in Colombo

 

Evening Sunset by Mount Lavinia-Colombo
Evening Sunset by Mount Lavinia-Colombo

The Lankan Beach Cure-Part 2

This little series explores Sri Lanka through its beaches. A day out at the beach along the Dehivala-Galle line shows up some beautiful sights. Join in me in my experiences in Sri Lanka

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I observed the boys playing cricket and it was beautiful observing the kids playing by the sea.  Every now and them, their shots had an audience in a moving train full of passengers. This was the rail from Galle to Colombo, steaming in to the city, at the outskirts of Colombo (Dehiwala)

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I found some grass to rest myself and spare myself from the searing sun. Beyond the grasslands, I found a structure that was closed and had no one, so I went ahead and rested by the pillars watching the Lankan shirtless kids sweat it out by the sea.

 

 

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Behind me, there were a few boats on which the couples started to converge. Some on the boat, some behind it and they seemed to enjoy the anonymity of the Poya day. The whole city had shut down, and they were left to themselves to spend some intimate moments under the umbrella, while the cricket continued with little audience interest. Pretty much like how ‘Test Cricket’ at grounds, run in most parts of the world on week days!

Post  mid-day, I had grown bored of watching the kids play and miss at the cricket, watching couples explore each other and watching the sea that was threatening to come inland and disturb the 2 games going on at the beach. The cricket and the love continued unabated.

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I said good bye to the boys, the grasslands and from a distance, saw the another set of couples spending time with each other, before I retired to the main road of Mount Laviniya. I had travelled about 3 kilometres on beach since morning and had documented almost every thing that happened on the beach the whole day, after I had started out from my hostel(Adikaram Sea View Hostel)

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But the stray coconuts probably watch things unfolding on the beach better than me. The coconut probably knows all of the gossips happening between people and objects by the sea. There’s infact an interesting blog in French Polynesia by that name, called Coconut Radio which says that “In French Polynesia when gossip is passed along from person to person we call it the coconut radio”. I had just played the Coconut Radio for Sri Lanka on Poya Day. I enjoyed it in silence, when I reminisced the day that just happened.

The Lankan Beach Cure-Part 1

This little series explores Sri Lanka through its beaches. A day out at the beach along the Dehivala-Galle line shows up some beautiful sights. Join in me in my experiences in Sri Lanka

Seize The Day

I woke up very pleasantly, with the chill morning breeze which waded through my windows. It was a happy kind of a feeling, considering the fact that I was forced to remove my shirt a few hours back, on account of sweating in the night in my hostel room. The fact that sweating of the night had given way to a breezy day, felt nice. There were subliminal signals given to the brain to go and wake up and seize the day. ‘SEIZE THE DAY’- or so I thought, until my host at the Adikaram Sea View hostel told me that it was Poya day and I should not expect to find any shops open in Colombo. I quicky had the last pieces of milk bread in the fridge, by firing them up in the toaster. Some Bread, Butter and Jam later, I found myself running across the little lane from the hostel to the beach. It felt like a bolt of freedom crashing against the waves of the Indian Ocean, a welcome respite from the fan cooled 300 INR a night hostel room.

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The morning walk by the sea, showed me the beautiful Colombo skyline , which was near empty, as whole of the city was observing Poya day. One day of the month (Full Moon day). The locals visit temples, avoid meat and alcohol and businesses and banks are closed. So I decided to walk to the other side of the beach.

 

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I saw a bottle kept upside down right into the beach. I marked my spot and kept my spectacles near it, to go into the sea and feel the waves. After lounging for a while in the waters in my near myopic blinded state, I came out and saw a bunch of kids, using the bottle as a stump at the bowlers end. My spectacles lay buried in the footmarks that the bowlers had created.

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They had quite a bit of southpaws trying to clobber balls into the ocean. Deep Midwicket usually between 2 waves and more often than not could not quite go after balls that came his way. The stumps on both the ends were just objects put into the mud. The Lankans were playing Cricket the Carribean way. Shirtless and full tosses by the sea.

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Then I saw order restored. I finally saw a right hander coming into bat. Kalu and Sanath maybe! Or maybe I was old, trying to come with Kalu and Sanath, in the times of Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan. After a while, staying at the beach, between the oscillating rain and bright sun, made me search for a place I could sit and watch the beach cricket from.

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Given its a beach, the most natural protection from the weather was behind the bushes. I found one amidst the greens and settled there. The bushes were at the far end of the beach and were closer to the village that was separated by the railway track that led to Dehiwala station and Mount Lavinia. This is the same railway line that connects Colombo to Galle, with amazing vistas of the sea right by the railway track.

 

Dancing In The Isles

 

 

This article talks about Sri Lanka and cricketing memories. I capture elements of Sri Lanka, Travel and cricket in the island from the view of the 1990’s.

As I boarded the train from Dehivala to Bambilipitiya, a little station in Colombo, along the Colombo-Galle railway line by the sea, my mind went back to the summer of 96. The summer of annihilation, The summer that Prime Sports [Now Star Sports] advertised as Cricket’s greatest year with Brian Langley in the advert.

Summer of 96

The summer of 96, was strange because the Lankans were on fire. Tony Greig was all over them, calling them fondly as ‘These little Sri Lankans’ with a specific reference to “Little Kalu” who along with Sanath Jayasuriya, was causing grief to a lot of bowlers. The grief became internalised in Manoj Prabhakar’s last ODI, when Kalu and Sanath launched a blistering attach on a bowler forced to bow in front of his home ground, by bowling off spinner for half his quota of overs bowled in the match. The scar ran deep that day from what happened at the Kotla. A little under 2 weeks later, the scar had bigger ramifications when the Lankans spun India out at the Eden Gardens on a relaid track, but it somehow got assuaged when the Lankans beat Australia in the finals. That small little nation had grown bigger in my eyes, in a period of little over a couple of weeks. From Delhi to Lahore via Calcutta and Rawalpindi. I probably never knew what it meant to the island nation back then. I was to soon find out as I made my way to the Cricket Club Cafe, on a balmy sunday afternoon in September.

In search of the Cricket Club Cafe

 

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The station was similar to the suburban rail stations, I would use back home in Chennai. A little platform that had a track on either sides, without any hustle and bustle, all for about 10 Lankan Rupees. These are usually 3rd class unreserved tickets, but have the best views of the sea, as the train ambles into Bambilipitiya. The railway stations from outside resemble a colonial bungalow in a hill station, but the reality is this little homely building is a railway station.

 

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A zig zag walk of a kilometre later, I find myself still confused if I am at the right place. The place that i encounter is fresh with sunshine coming over, after 2 days of rains and inclement September weather. The white walls are shining well through the contrasts of the tropical combination of the azure skies and green trees

 

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At the crossroads where there’s an interesting signboard that talks about the distances and directions of cricket grounds from that spot. I look west to Newlands, east to the Basin Reserve, North West to the Queens Park Oval, and angularly across to Lords and the MCG in opposite directions. Cricket’s little relic, at Colombo has just sent the cricketing hormones racing. I walk in feeling charged.

At the Cricket Club Cafe

The cafe has a very homely and warm vibe, with travellers who come here across the world. The cafe’s main hall has memorabilia hanging all over the walls. Shane Warne’s bowling in 4 different frames on the left and Allan Border is hooking and flicking in the other frames on the right, which is interspersed with panoramic view of cricket grounds.

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A ‘Vivian Richards’ vegetarian menu item makes its way to the table, smelling of cheesy lasagne, while the travellers inside discuss Lara and his comeback in the summer of 1999 against the Aussies. The TV in the room, quietly shifts to the live cricket being played a few blocks away at the Premadasa.

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As I move into the other room, I see an Image of Don Anurasiri bending his back, and a T shirt that has autographs of the Sri Lankan team. The ‘Don’ played in an era when Sri Lanka was hardly at its best.

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Sri Lanka’s renaissance in my opinion started on that 1995 tour of Sharjah, where Kalu and Hashan Tilakratne almost chased down West Indies’s mammoth 333 (fuelled by 169 by Lara). WI were given their first shock then, which trickled to a little more as part of an Australian summer where SrI Lanka, made it to the tri-series final in 1996 with some inspired cricket. That set the tone for the summer in the sub continent, as Sri Lanka ambushed all other teams, on their way to the world cup victory

 

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As the below newspaper cutting shows, a little dwarfed nation, troubled by the incessant strife in the north, and the threat of an attack, had a reason to smile and celebrate. Cricket had its ‘David beats Goliath’ moment yet again with a Sub continental team emerging champions. Cricket’s mount everest had been conquered, and the government chose to award the winning side a holiday package to Maldives. Maybe that was the height of luxury back then, when cricket was not yet a full time sport, that had as much money flowing in. Picking leather balls and pieces of woods, were an option, instead of picking guns and bombs for children and maybe this set off more people to bring their blaring horns and music equipment at the grounds in Colombo, though its always been part of the cricket scene in Sri Lanka.

The Cricket Club Cafe, made me revisit the 90’s through the eyes of a Lankan supporter, and I paid my bill visualizing Tony Greig’s voice shrieking “They are dancing in the Isles’, while the clarinet’s go off. [Though that comment was meant for Sharjah, I could very well use it in this context since Tony Greig was one of Sri Lanka’s very own]

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