Tourist Friendly Tuk-Tuks in Lanka!!

Planing to come down to Sri Lanka soon? Boy do I have some good news for you!!

Now thanks to a new government initiated project, you can say “bye bye” (at least partly) to the fear and anxiety you have developed about coming here from hearing the many  horror stories about “Tuk Tuk adventures” in Sri Lanka.

while majority of Sri Lankan tuk tuk drivers are friendly and helpful towards tourists, there have been a few account of bad treatment and fraud which has given a bad reputation to the whole industry and to the islands reputation of being a safe destination.

In order to make your tuk tuk experience more positive, the government has launched a tourist friendly tuk tuk service training program. Currently the project mainly focuses on the main touristy areas of the island such as Ella, Colombo and Galle and plans to eventually spread to more areas.

The aim of this program is to provide a more safe, organized and low cost rides totourist both local and international, by introducing metered taxis with accepted touristy standards and proper training of the drivers. As a part of this training the drivers  will be given training in language skills(no more hand language required), road discipline(No more “Fast and the Furious” sequels) and customer care. The certified drivers will be required to display a badge for easy recognition by tourists along with an identity card baring basic details of the driver.

From personal experience I know that while traveling the most amount of stress comes from having to deal with not-so friendly drivers, over priced rides and just the fear of being conned. So in my opinion this news  is a heavy weight off any travelers shoulder! Isn’t it relaxing  to know that your in trained hands and you wont be coned anytime soon?

So if you ever do visit the island make sure to sought out the trained tuk tuks for a better and positive experience.

until next time,

Safe travels

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The Beauty in Chaos

It’s late at night! It’s later than I would like it to be, I’m sitting on my bed not knowing what to do, should I try to study for the exam tomorrow or should I try to sleep?

The noise is too loud!! I can’t even hear myself thinking! Finally it stops, or does it? It feels like the calm after a storm, but how long will it last? A minute or two?

The source of this chaotic noise is the Ganesh Madal in the ghalee next to my PG ka ghalee! Loud speakers blasting songs at the highest possible tone, people shouting, dancing and chanting, fire crackers going off every five seconds, all this and more, overcrowds my senses like nothing I have ever experienced.

The chaos is not just in my neighborhood, by now it has spread all over Pune, filling every corner of this usually calm city!

It starts again even louder this time! They start to play the latest Hindi songs on repeat again, so much loud that my windows rattle every time the beat hits base! It feels like the vibration is seeping in to my bones and deep in to my core! I can feel the drums beating within me. I wonder how long it will go on for this time! How long I’ll have to listen to Sonu Nigam or Shreya Ghoshal sing at the highest possible volume. Along with some well-known songs they play the unknown or the songs which are known as “chapree” songs by my Marati friends, the songs that you’re advised not to listen to unless you’re forced to, like tonight.

I look out the widow I see people dancing like there is no tomorrow, many can’t keep to the beat and many dance under the influence, chaos even on the “Dance floor”, the roadside. I see color lights being shot in to the night sky and fireworks lightening the sky. I see parades marching along the road shouting Ganpathi bappa morya.. Mangal Murthi moray.. Chaos.

A neighborhood that’s usually very silent, apart from the occasional cry of a child, bark of a dog, or PG ka aunty’s angry outbursts, is alive tonight. People gathered on the street, laughter floating around, houses decorated and alive with Ganpathi idols proudly displayed decorated and surrounded by color,  a new face to the all too familiar ghalee.

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With nothing that could happen under the circumstances, I finally give in and decided to give chaos a chance. That’s when it hit me! Amidst all this, the at times unbearable chatter, how beautiful India is! In India even chaos has its own beauty.

Today, a few years later I’m sitting here going through the pictures my friends sent me of the Ganesh mandels at their homes, pictures of the food and of visarjan. The memories starts to creep back in to my head! The sounds, the smells and the feeling. It feels like a dam just gave in inside my head, an overwhelming feeling courses through me taking me by surprise.

I never in a million years thought I would miss Ganesh Chaturti in Pune!! But it seems that I’ve been proven wrong, and now there is nothing I wouldn’t do to go back in time, in to my shabby shoe closet of a room and look out in to the night to see the chaos unfold in front of me! There is nothing I wouldn’t do to listen to the chapriest of music and feel my bones vibrate to the beat, to see the people dance to their own beat, or to feel the divine taste of modak again.

How lucky and blessed I am to have seen, experienced and felt the beauty of the chaos that is Ganesh Chaturti.

 

Until next time,

Safe travels

 

 

Fabrics Made with Love

The tale of prince Vijay’s arrival in Sri Lanka then known as “Rathnadeepa”, not only marks the beginning of the written history of Sri Lanka and the birth of the “Sinhala” race, but also gives the very first account of the fabric industry that had already been established among the inhabitants of Rathnadeepa.

As mentioned in the “Mahavansa” When Prince Vijaya landed on the shores of Thambapanni he was greeted by the sight of Kuweni, The Yaksha princess of Lanka, working on her weaving wheel. – “Kapu Katimin siti Kuweniya

With a history of more than 2500 years, the hand weaving industry of Sri Lanka has come a long way from generation to generation, to where it is today. Due to modernization and the increase in demand, by today hand weaving has been mostly replaced by more modern mechanical methods and only a handful of places still use the age old technique.

A while ago while travelling to Anuradhapura we stopped at a roadside tea house and to my sheer luck, next door to this The kade was an artisan’s studio where a cheerful Nanda was hard at work on her weaving wheel. She was a kind soul who was more than exited to explain to me the process of hand weaving and everything involved. Her words told me how much she loved this process and how proud she was of her creations, rightfully so.

 

She also shared with us that by today she was the only one who knew how to weave by hand from the area she came from, where a while ago there were so many artisans that hand loom become the main source of income of that community. She told us how many had given up on this trade in order to find more stable jobs where-else. This was even more apparent from all the abandoned looms hovering in the background collecting dust forgotten, without anyone to use them.

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The revival of hand loom fabrics have started to make a mark in the fashion scene of Sri Lanka lately, with many high end fashion brands taking an interest in incorporating these fabrics and techniques in to their collections. But will that be enough to save this age old art form from being engulfed by the modern methods and disappearing?