These small images link to photographs found in my currently-active Flickr album.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A Walk Near the House

Day 18 - The new Sri Lankan president was sworn in today and that involved being blessed by Buddhist monks. We heard firecrackers exploding while the ceremonies were taking place. Sri Lankans use fireworks to celebrate everything!

The Election's Over

Clearly, all the election posters have not yet been removed. We decided to walk along the road to the south of the house in Minuwangoda. Jayantha has seldom visited that way as it's in the opposite direction to town. In fact, he recounted that it may have last been when his grandmother was still alive in the 1980s. In 2004, I walked around just to see the surroundings. The road was dirt at the time but even today there was not nearly as much new housing as I might have thought.

Niyagala Flower

On a Neighbourhood Walk Today

Kingfisher on a Wire

A Neighbour to our West

Empty Lots Don't Stay That Way

We were only gone for about fifty minutes. However, we came back pretty sweaty as it was close to the middle of the day. The temperature at that time of day is around 32°C (around 89°F). This is the season when evening thunderstorms often roll across the land. The combination of sun and showers surely makes for a verdant landscape!


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Quiet after the Elections

Light Traffic on Election Day

Day 17 - The votes were bring counted during the night but the results from many areas were not completed when we got up. In the afternoon, the boom of firecrackers started but the morning was strangely, almost eerily, quiet. Jay and I decided to take a tuk-tuk to the Keells supermarket in town. We didn't know that the usual Sunday market was closed. That meant there was little traffic on the roads and few people on the sidewalks.

Sunny Morning

We used the PickMe app for the 2.2-kilometer return trip to the house as well. Up to today, we'd only used it for ride-hail in cars and vans. Tuk-tuks are easy for a short trip and more convenient than walking. Finally, we have ice cream in the new refrigerator's freezer!

Pick Up at Keels

I was quite interested in the 2019 Sri Lankan presidential elections. At the risk of talking politics, let's just say I'm pleased everything went peacefully and the transfer of power will take place uneventfully. As a personal note, I'm not completely pleased with today's results.

In fact, I can admit that until I turned fifty years old, most elections I followed resulted in the selection of candidates I admired. This is true for all places where I have been emotionally connected. However, during the last half-decade or so, I have welcomed none. Did I change or did the world get a lot more stupid?


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Back to Minuwangoda

Our Ride Back to Minuwangoda

Day 16 - Today is presidential elections in Sri Lanka. Jay's elder sister rode with some neighbhours to their polling place this morning before even having breakfast.

We returned to Minuwangoda from Mirigama, Nugegoda in one hour and five minutes. It seemed as though we had many more bags when returning and I used the PickMe app to order a 5-passenger van. All of our bags fit nicely in the back.

We took the toll road to the airport and although it cost an extra SR300 (CA $2.20) it was worth it to see the new highway firsthand. Much was built on the inner side of the lagoon. It was practically empty and I'm not sure what the old road would've been like. Because it's election day, many businesses are closed and many folks who work in different places have returned to their home polling venues.

As we closed up the Nugegoda house, we had to leave food so the neighbours will take care of the fat-faced cat. Most of the food in the house came with us. Extra curry leaves were cut from a tree out front. We have to pay over CA $2.00 for a little packet in Canada. This pile would have easily fetched a few hundred dollars at those prices.

This Many Curry Leaves Would Be Worth Hundreds of Dollars in Canada

Jay's younger sister voted at a nearby school. It will be cooler here as the Nugegoda house was hot. The trees and foliage and land around the Minuwangoda house make for a naturally cooler environment. Although it's further to shopping, I like staying here!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Koha Pair at the Birdfeeder

Day 15 - We will be heading back to Minuwangoda tomorrow after Jay's elder sister votes. She must vote in the presidential elections at a specific location near the house here in Nugegoda. We have quite a bit of stuff to take back with us. Although Jay's sisters went out today to do some banking, Jay and I stayed at home. It was a quiet day.

Jay took more pictures at the birdfeeder in the yard. Included is the Asian koel (called Koha in Sri Lanka.) They have a common, well-known, loud call. Unlike some species, the females are artfully marked; whereas, the males are completely black.

She's Prettier Than Her Mate

Males are Boring Black

Sri Lankans associate the call of this bird with Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, in April. The koha might be noisier during the spring but, of course, these birds make noise year-round.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Bit More of Colombo

Day 14 - It's hard to believe it's already been two weeks since we left New Westminster. Life really does seem to go by more quickly as one gets older.

Galle Rd (PickMe Ride)

I've become a huge fan of the local drive share company, PickMe. Again, today we took three separate drivers for a morning trip. We left the house pretty early and headed to Colombo to pick up my camera. The repair is obvious because zooming the lens out to 2000 mm is completely silent. I guess there'll be no more scaring what I'm about to shoot.

Downtown Ocean View

The Former Tallest Buildings

We took our second driver when we took a small trip to the Galle Face Green. The feeling has already changed a lot because of the enormous reclaimed land next to the port. A new mega-city will be built there. An unfortunate effect is that Colombo's waterfront used to seem as though it fronted the ocean. Now, there is a lot of land off to the right and it is changing the feeling of the Galle Face Green.

Siblings

We walked across the road to an enormous shopping mall which has been open for less than a week. It was very posh and a bit out of place. The stores were all designer brands and not our type of shopping at all. A person who has to feel good by wearing a designer label is shallow and probably compensating for some emotional defect. However, it is nice to see Colombo will be able to offer high-end shoppers a venue. I can't imagine returning unless it is to see a movie in the cinema complex, or perhaps escape the heat when downtown.

Open Less Than a Week

Nothing for Us to Buy

We had a really interesting and humourous driver on our trip back home. We hit the beginning of the after-school rush and lunch traffic. It took a long time. Our original plans were to eat at a well-known bakery/restaurant called Devon as there's one in Nugegoda. As the traffic was slow, we just stopped to pick up take-away rice and curry boxes there. Even their boxed lunches were delicious.

It was an interesting day.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Errands and a Glimpse of Colombo

Getting Air Tickets

Day 13 - Jay, his sisters, and I were out after breakfast today. First, we stopped at a travel agent. Following our purchase, we took another PickMe car to an optometrist. Both sisters needed some glasses adjusted and I assumed that glasses would be cheaper in Sri Lanka. Of course, designer frames are frivolously expensive considering there's about $2 of plastic and metal in a pair. I steered the sales lady towards the cabinet with the off-brand sets. Unfortunately, they were still not cheap enough for my taste! I could spend nearly as much on progressive lenses with the extra darkening here as I would in Canada. My current pair of glasses were bought in Malaysia at about half as much. I'll wait until we go there in February.

His sisters returned home, but Jay and I got another ride to the Sri Lankan authorized Nikon repair location. Well, not directly for we got off at the lab on Galle Road. That meant taking a small tuk-tuk to get over to the sales and repair office on Flowers Rd. My P900s zoom lens started making a hell of a racket. In fact, I'm sure it'd scare not only animals but any people of which I was trying to get a closeup. A technician verified it was a wheel assembly in the lens. The cost for the necessary part and a total maintenance cleaning was nearly US $100. Hey, I've got it and money is meant to be spread around, I guess. I'll pick up the repaired camera tomorrow.

We found ourselves fairly near Beira Lake, which is central Columbo. So, we walked to the new Colombo City Center Mall and the associated new building in the area.

Beira Lake

Temple

Stopping for a Look

Destined for a Blog Post

Today was pretty normal traffic, so returning the 10 kilometers to our part of Nugegoda took around a half-hour. His sisters had done a little grocery shopping and got back first. They made us lunch. I'm trying so hard to eat carefully here but food is such a part of this culture ....


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Birds, Squirrels, a Cat, and Some Rice

Day 12 - We woke up a little late; it was perhaps 6:30. As we nap during the heat of the afternoon, this does not seem early. It was already light as sunrise was exactly six o'clock today.

During breakfast time, Jay's elder sister puts out the food for the birds and animals. I was able to snap a few pictures. Many people consider my Nikon P900 as excellent for birding. However, I've never been one to try capturing any sort of wildlife. I've never thought that closeups were that special. I can see now that getting a great shot is satisfying. Here are some things which arrived at the bird feeder this morning.

Mango Woodpecker

Hey, Nice Attire!

Soft Bread

Female Markings

Stretching

And directly below all this activity was this fellow. He was too tired from last night's revelry to be too interested.

Sigh.  Cat Pictures!

At around 10 o'clock we started using the PickMe app for a bit of nearby shopping. Jay's sisters wanted to go to Kandy Fashion in Nugegoda. It is a rather posh, 5-storey store with mostly clothing. They had a few bags when leaving. Then, we took another car to a close ARPICO Supercenter. They are an old name which started as primarily hardware but now sell just about everything except clothing. This time there were even more bags. So, I selected a slightly larger car when returning to the house.

That meant we were home at lunch time but decided to order in. It was a Full Moon Poya Day in the Buddhist calendar and a holiday for many businesses. I was able to fire up the PickMe app for the final time of the day to order rice and curry packages. We didn't know the restaurant which came up in the app but the two fish and two chicken and rice containers were pretty good. A motorcycle guy came with our food in about twenty minutes. I have my credit card in the app and it was seemlessly charged a mere CA $7.70 in total for all four lunches. Delivery was included but we gave the guy CA $0.37 as a tip.

Lunch Delivered to the Door for Under US $1.50.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Getting to Mirihana Nugegoda

PickMe to Nugegoda

Day 11 - We came to Nugegoda today. It was only a 45-kilometer trip but took us one hour and a half. This was in the relative comfort of a local ride-hail thanks to an app called PickMe. I entered the address and the car arrived in about 12 minutes. Then, we battled our way towards Colombo on the old road. The driver was courteous and appeared to be cautious behind the wheel. I'm not sure I'd drive here anymore because of the sheer number of things on the road.

We are in the house of Jay's elder sister. Her husband, Lal, passed away since the last time we were here. He was a big, friendly, type of guy. He always made sure there was a bottle of arrack waiting. It is a distilled spirit made from collected coconut-flower sap. I miss his boisterous welcome.

A Lapfull

A Little Yard in the City

Eat Up, Jay!

Of course, we were given in traditional Sri Lankan lunch as it was after midday by the time we made ourselves at home. It is a nice change to be in the big city. We will probably stay here for around five days as it gives quicker access to shopping and venues around Colombo.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Walk to the Sunday Market

Day 10 - You might have run into an oldster recounting how, as a youth, they used to walk five miles in four-foot snowdrifts to get to school. Well, the Sri Lankan version replaces the snow with wild jungle and a few paddy fields.

Jay was telling how he used to walk multiple times per day past downtown Minuwangoda as a youth. I realized that we no longer walk to even the junction to catch a bus as the widespread use of motorized tuk-tuks brings people door-to-door. So today, I suggested we walk to the Sunday Market in Minuwangoda town.

Dog by the Road

Rice Paddy Fields on the Walk to Town

New Minuwangoda Green Space

The purpose-built market buildings are busiest on Sundays. Vendors from all over set up to sell household products. However, it is mostly known for the extensive fruit and vegetable section. I remember visiting the new market when it opened in the early 2000s.

Now, there's little need for us to shop there as we can pick up a variety of the same items at one of the small supermarket chains. So, we walked around for nostalgia's sake and then popped into a Keels Supermarket to buy a few groceries.

Busy Sunday Market

Bunches to Sell

Meeting an Old Friend

We made it. It took us only around a half-hour to walk downtown and it appeared as 2.1 kilometers on my Mi Band. Still, the Airport Road is now non-stop traffic and there's very little space along the edge of the highway to walk. Jayantha noted lots of differences, such as, how all the houses are now surrounded by walls. There were lots of new businesses along the route. We probably will not walk it again during this stay.

We hired a tuk-tuk to come back to the house. The driver asked for 200 rupees (CA $1.47). Jay and his sister are still talking about how this is about 50 rupees (CA $0.36) too much! I am sure this was just a little tourist surcharge.


Saturday, November 09, 2019

A Simple Saturday

Day 9 - How'd it become Saturday so soon? We left New Westminster a week ago Thursday and got to Katunayake on Monday.

If we were still those folks with two-week vacations, it would already be half over. Thankfully, we've still got MONTHS and MONTHS remaining here, in Sri Lanka, and later when we're based in Malaysia.

Jay's elder sister was here to meet us but needed to get home a bit early to prepare for our visit. On a Saturday, it takes quite a while to journey to Nugegoda due to the busy weekend traffic. I think we're heading to stay a while after the weekend.

The ceiling fan in our room was a bit noisy and wobbly. We run it at night as much to avoid mosquitos as to keep cool. However, yesterday when we turned the wall switch nothing happened. Most of these fans are pretty old. Luckily our friend Nazir visits and ends up doing all sorts of handy-work as he's a jack-of-all-trades. First, he thought it might be the condenser and ran into town to pick up a replacement. When it proved a more-serious motor problem, we dug up a spare unit which was in the house. When a new ceiling was put in the kitchen, its fan was replaced with a wall-mounted one. Tonight we will be all set again!

Nazir

Otherwise, it was a restful day doing all the little routines. For example, shaving outside by the well in the back is a pleasure. I must remember to carry out the mirror, basin, towel, razor, and shaving cream. There is a water faucet near a concrete tub but I bring out hot water from inside. So it takes a good leisurely half an hour to shave. Life is slower and I often feel a simple peace and satisfaction that's hard to come by when in Canada.

Red


Friday, November 08, 2019

Your Remaining Days Are Not Infinite

Exuberant Growth

Day 8 - Do whatever makes you happy but don't assume you have an unlimited number of days left to do it. I retired five years ago and I've no qualms about the decision to own my time at the age of 55. In fact, I count it as one of the best decisions I've ever made.

These chairs don't rock. However, I spent a large part of the day on my tablet while listening to a multitude of tropical birds. I enjoyed my day immensely. Did you?

The Chairs

Surrounded


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Buying a Big Ticket Item

Time for a New Fridge?Day 7 - A refrigerator works hard in the tropics. The LG model in this house is no exception. Whenever the door is open, it must cool the muggy hot air introduced from the room. The power supply, although pretty dependable, cuts out for a few minutes or even a few hours on occasion. Sri Lankan cuisine requires a lot of fresh ingredients and the fridge is often stuffed with little packets and containers of all sorts.

Jay bought the old refrigerator when visiting in 2001, so it'd done an admirable job for nineteen years. His younger sister chose another LG product as a replacement. This morning Jay, his elder sister, and I went to one of the Albans in downtown Minuwangoda. This model happened to have a promotion so he saved money by turning in an old non-steam iron which must've been from the 1960s. It didn't work but it counted towards the discount.

This town has surely grown over the years it's an important transportation hub nowadays and the population of this area has grown because of its proximity to Columbo and also the international airport. We didn't buy lottery tickets.

Lottery Tickets

After that, we walked to a new Cargills Supermarket on the far end of town. I needed to buy a big bottle of shampoo and there are always a few grocery items to pick up. We took a tuk-tuk back to the house and within an hour the new refrigerator was delivered in the back on another one. The driver helped us unpack the new appliance before leaving.

Newer Cargills

No Bakery Here


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