Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blogging the Past: Sri Lanka Oct 2004

In October of 2004 I made a business trip to the Innodata facilities in Sri Lanka and India. [For all the pictures, see the Sri Lanka Trip Flickr set that this picture is a member of. I have also geotagged the pictures so you can see where on the map they were taken (more or less).]

I fell in love with Sri Lanka.

The country is beautiful, being a tropical island in the Indian ocean. The people are beautiful, and the majority Buddhist religion gives the entire country a laid-back "moderation in all things (including moderation)" vibe. The food was really good too, spicy and flavorful and varied.

While a very poor country, it doesn't seem to be the same sort of grimly grinding poverty that I observed in northern India. While most people are very poor, they seem to have a cheerfulness about them and I didn't see evidence of the really marginalized poor that you see in India, like people living the medians of highways. That might result simply from the fact that it's a tropical country where fruit grows everywhere all the time or a lower population density or it might be cultural, I really don't know. Sri Lanka has a remarkably high literacy rate which has given it an edge in taking advantage of information technology globalization.

I also fell in love with the three-wheeled taxis (called "tuk tuk's elsewhere, such as in Thailand, but generally referred to as "three wheels" here). They are zippy and fun and ubiquitous. I learned how to bargain for a good fare (80 rupees to go from my hotel to the Innodata building a half mile away). The manufacturer is Baja and they are imported into North America. I was on the verge of buying one when we decided to put all our resources into our house and child. Still the dream burns in my heart to drive a Baja three wheel around Austin (I saw one on Burnet road one day, the delivery van model, so I know it's a dream I can achieve).

I was there for two weeks and over the weekend the Innodata guys arranged for three of us (Narinder and Madu from Innodata's Gurgaon office were there too) to go to the Elephant Sanctuary near Kandy and then visit Kandy itself, as well as several other sites in the area. That was a wonderful trip, although the return as a somewhat harrowing, as our driver decided he wanted to get home and drove like a maniac back down the mountain from Kandy to Colombo, dodging bikes, busses, three-wheels, and, at one point, a frickin' elephant in the road carrying a log. Madu slept the whole way but Narinder and I were pretty much white knuckled the whole way, although toward the end I just let go and put myself in the nads of a higher power.

Anyway, we made it back to the hotel in one piece.

The picture here was on my last day in Colombo, where I was guided through Colombo's main market district. This guy was selling coconuts. You pay him 10 rupees (10 cents) for a coconut, he lops off the top and pops in a straw and you drink the milk and then discard the coconut itself. It was quite tasty.

I really want to go back to Sri Lanka, although the current flare up of the civil war would probably make that a hard sell for the family. It's a remarkably inexpensive place to visit and has wonderful beaches and lots of wildlife, including elephants.


Post a Comment

<< Home