I wonder what 1940s Kandy was like. The 2012 version was not at all what I had in mind – bustling, full of loud, exhaust belching tuk tuks, open fronted shops selling everything from Buddhas to spanners; lawyers typing on ancient manual machines outside their ‘offices’ (ramshackle shacks open to the street), with signs in gorgeous, unintelligible Sinhala like something out of a V.S. Naipaul novel; there is even a one-way system that stymies every attempt to get anywhere. lawyerAll around the sacred temple we are accosted by people desperate to sell us things, or mind our bikes, remove our shoes, guide us around (for a fee of course). To enter the sacred complex, we must pass through a military checkpoint, a reminder of the Tamil Tiger bomb in 1998. Inside all is quiet and serene. Here no one bothers us. The locals are too engrossed in doing puja, lighting lamps and watering the bodhi tree. There are few tourists. We favour the small devales rather than the main Temple. Here the locals have a baby blessed by the temple elephant; they give flowers and fruits to the myriad gods of old – Hinduism and Buddhism mix freely, they chant to the tree and stroke its limbs. It is an alien world that feels somehow comfortable. The air is heavy with jasmine, incense and smoke. It feels wrong to take photos but we can’t resist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s