Monday, 7 March 2011

Sri Lanka - The first dal curry

March 2

Hello everyone!

So, after a little over two months of itchy feet and annoying parents and friends alike, I’m back on the sweet road of adventure. This latest one promises to be as exciting as the ones in the past and hopefully in the future. I will spend my next three months here…

I’d like to introduce you to the Indian subcontinent. The home of over a billion people. The home of so many delicacies and nuances which I hope to discover over the coming months. And the home of washing machines in duty free. Yes, quite a sight at a little after 2.30am in the morning, when we landed in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

We intend to return here at a later date. At this point I need to introduce the other person accompanying me on this initial part of the trip. Meet Chris, my housemate from university. Other people will come and go on this trip, but we are travelling around for the first two weeks, until he is required back home to work on the rigs.

Many people who read this know of the difficulty of leaving a country that you like to think of as home. The pivotal reason for me leaving Korea was our decision to make this trip happen. The reason we are here at this moment in time is for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Sri Lanka is obsessed with the sport, a fact visible from the desire of the locals to chat to you at length about that England game with India, and about the pure invention of the Dilshan scoop. And again from the airport.

After a four-hour hiatus from transport to sit outside the railway station chatting to fellow travellers, we were soon on board a train headed for Galle, on the south coast. The train itself was fascinating. We opted for 2nd class, which set us back Rs180 – one British pound. 3rd class, which will happen at some point, was Rs100. Wherever you opted to sit on the train, you had some magical views of the shoreline as we wobbled and squeaked down the west coast. It wobbled a lot, and seemed to occasionally jump off the track.

Three hours and a few beggars later left us in Galle, Sri Lanka’s fourth-biggest city, but the hub of the south coast. This is our destination for the next few days. We are staying in luxury, and I have to thank my dad for managing to sort this out. Call me a daddy’s boy if you like, but it was him who sent the cheekiest of emails to a friend he last saw six months previously, and it was this woman who let us stay in their holiday home free of charge. And if you don’t buy that, then look at the place, and tell yourself that you would do exactly the same. This will be the best accommodation I stay in for the next 3 months, and I am eternally grateful to Michael and Veronica to be kind enough to let us use their glorious abode.

Staying here also introduced us to some locals who worked in the grounds. The indigenous population seem extremely passionate and friendly – I seem to be waving to everybody, and all faces are blessed with smiles. Even the man who told me he would kill me. Well, he was a jerk – he pinched my nose! The main man, Sidi, immediately poured us some native tea, which aroused every possible sense in the best possible way. The driver, Nuwah, stopped as various stalls to allow us to sample the delights of fresh avocado, coconut milk, and the irrepressible red banana. If you’ve never had one, then think of a normal banana but bursting with sweetness and flavour. Lots of bananas on sale, as you can see.

These were merely the hors d’oveurs before our main food. Sri Lankans pride themselves on their national dish – rice and curry. Apparently different to (and, if you believe locals, better than) Indian curries, they are certainly poles apart from the British take on this dish. You don’t have just one curry – you mix and match numerous main ingredients, each in a bowl with their own sauce. Dal (chickpea-based), potato, fish – all very diverse in flavour, yet all very nice. One other point – you eat with your hand. Not hands. Just your right hand. A very authentic experience, a tasty meal and, with a view of the sea, a feeling that we had arrived in paradise.

Love you all


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