When Life Professed Kindly On Us and Traveling and Not Tourism was the preferred Way

Today I went for a walk . It is still lockdown time in Sri Lanka . And quite stupidly mask wearing is still mandatory for those of us humans who breathe in air and breath out air just in case we breathe out a virus! Even though it’s worthy remembering that these ordinary surgical masks that we wear leak air to prevent us from being asphyxiated! As for large droplets almost all patients with covid 19 have fever and no runny nose or productive cough!

Modern medicine is for me close to becoming quite bewildering! It lacks common sense big time, never mind the so called doctored science!

But back to the story just before my morning excursions began about four days ago I chanced upon a conversation where two colleagues were talking quite loudly . A very Sri Lankan trait (?), When they need to announce to the world their superiority in the subject they are speaking of or the subject is one meant for your ears only! Either way it’s beneficial but quite vulgar as the language is loud , crude and bawdy!

The thing I learnt was, that, to make the body parts of a car over 40,000 gallons of water were required as water powered cutting tools were used to shape and cut steel. The environmentally costly activity was apparently relocated to developing countries so that those countries could use their water and developed countries protected their water resources . The process leads to depletion of ground water and desertification !

I immediately decided then and their that my recreational and exercise would hence forth only use another machine – my body. I am trying very hard to tread lightly on this earth from this year. That meant – using my body, ( dust and clay ), more!

And so I began my walk and realised to my pleasant surprise that my immediate neighbourhood boasts of steep inclines , and a myriad walking tracks located by marshy waters. The inclines and gradients were perfect for a good workout and the marshes were teeming with bird life . The spaces were just what was needed to clear out my internet fogged brain, that had doubling signs of being locked up!

One had to however be wary of the errant motorist who used the roads during lockdown for formula one and Grand Prix practice!

This is the monsoon season in Sri Lanka and the weather is unpredictable one moment a heavy shower and the next sunlight beaming through . On my way back a thundercloud burst into fat monsoon raindrops whilst morning sun blazed through, just when the droplets became a deluge, I found my self at a little wayside shop we call a kade. It is the sort that used to sell hot tea with frothy milk in glasses, have a bench outside, some even had a board game by the bench. They sold plantains, (bananas), straight off a bunch suspended from a wooden rafter on the ceiling, had betel leaf and all the condiments, for a chew, and if you were lucky there would be some tasty home made snack and the newspaper too. These are rare nowadays. The one I was forced to seek shelter was a similar one, a narrow lifted floor from street level to prevent flooding, a shaded verandah to shelter from sun and rain . This was a modified, a modern version and had a closed metal door. The bench was replaced by two plastic chairs . It was a perfect shelter and I blessed the owner for the foresight. The design of tropical design that protects, shelters, and welcomes, the weary … the taste of Sri Lanka, that was.

A long living tradition and legacy we have inherited from our ancient past almost 2000 years ago, when hospitality was our culture. And, hospitality was not for sale. A cheap commodity that is polluting .

You travelled not toured .

You were a traveller not a tourist. There is a big difference! Tourism is a cheap money making polluting version of the real thing .

Travelling enhances . Tourism degrades and pollutes culture.

The picture below is a wayside rest. An Ambalama. for travellers.

A shelter built for the weary traveller usually by water in a clearing . A design to protect give privacy shelter and rest . It provided shade with natural lighting , ventilation , comfort for sitting dining and sleeping and storage of luggage

It was divinely inspired architecture, meant to inspire and last lending itself to generations.

There was beauty to gaze at carved in the walls the pillars and the ceiling to be enjoyed by all free of charge.

Sometimes the nearby villagers would drop by to chat and exchange news. Almost always there would be a pot of water a scoop and a vessel to drink from all Eco friendly. The structure we see still speaks … of an era of timeless grace.

hospitality is real when it meets your need unexpectedly.

When you are blessed by provision supplied with no rewards or gratitude expected back, in return.

Maybe we can re-create the traces of this lost heritage .. our true legacy.

By C

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