Posted in Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Graceful as Hippo in a Tutu

hippo-in-tutu

Not that I am clumsy, but certain outfits make me feel like I am walking on stilts.  It’s not the shoes,  but it is the clothing that makes me and my family nervous.

Although now living in Australia, I originally hail from the little island of Sri Lanka.  Our traditional garb is a saree.  We don’t wear it everyday, but required to wear it for most traditional events, such as weddings and engagement parties etc.

The first time a girl wears a saree is on her coming of age ceremony. However, she then goes on to wear other half hearted versions of the saree.  I guess, I should explain what a saree is first.

saree

This amazing outfit, has no zips or buttons, just held together with a few pins and a lot of hope.  Have you seen the advertisements for couch covers?  On the ad you see a well made couch, with pleats and bows.  And you think amazing, this will give my dead couch the face lift.  And you order the couch cover in.  And voila you open the online order delivery package, and what do you find, well in fact, just a really great long piece of material. The pleats and bows are up to you or you could just throw it over the couch or throw the couch itself. Some are talented and after the initial disappointment of seeing a long piece of material they can make something of it. However not everyone is that talented or successful.  Well it is the same with a saree.  It is just a piece of material that is 6 yards long.

You wear a blouse that is really tight.  Really tight, sleeves the body, and all over.  It’s like wearing a swim suit made out of cotton.  By the time you get in to the blouse you are out of breath.  This is the Indian version of the Victorian era Bodice.

Then comes the underskirt. This skirt does not have an elastic, noo… it has a rope/cord. Which once again is used to tie it really tight. Now that your boobs are squished and a cord that has stopped circulation around your waist line, you now start draping the six yard material by tucking one end of it into the skirt.  The more advanced you are, you use less pins to form the shape above.  It is harder than you think or it looks.  Although for most of my country folk it comes rather naturally.  Then again for most, gardening comes very naturally while I manage to kill even a cactus.

I have to admit the saree does make most look very graceful and elegant.

Front on, in this picture you can’t see any body.  But, don’t be fooled.  There is a massive gap between the blouse and where the skirt starts.  So from side on there is a great view of the woman’s midriff.  So to assume that this is a graceful and conservative garb is not entirely correct.  However, the elders of the society will not accept you rocking up in a pair of pants and a top that covers the midriff.

Coming back to when do we start to wear the saree.  Traditionally the first day would be on your coming of age ceremony.  But then after that you are not required to wear it until you are in your late teens.  As I said there are half hearted saree like garb that are acceptable by the society.

half-saree

Which is pretty much an elaborate skirt and a shawl that pretends to be half a saree.  But at this age you are not rebelling.  Because this is a new experience.  And this is just dressing up to be half an adult.  Remember helping dad to wash the car.  Yep, the novelty wears off.  But to begin with you are very excited, then by the time you are old enough to actually help, you are no where to be seen.  Well not for everyone.  Many love wearing the saree.  I am still waiting for that day.

Sarees are one size fits all.  And I think that is one of the problems for me.  I am even short for an average Sri Lankan or Indian.  And so a lot has to be tucked into my skirt.  And you have to also walk very lady like.  When growing up, when my mum couldn’t find me, all she had to do was look up a tree.  And she would find me quite comfortably perched on a branch, reading a book and munching on the fruits.

I wouldn’t call myself a complete tomboy.  I like getting a pedicure, buy shoes and handbags.  But, find pants in winter and shorts in summer as a very practical garb. High heels is not that practical but they do make me look a bit taller.  So when I wear a high heel with a saree the outcome can be very interesting.  My mum is the only one who can successfully drape me.  When I say successfully, I mean with minimum scene.  I walk in like a wound up robotic doll and take a seat and hope to never get up again.  Unless I am walking, I look very graceful.  What annoys me most now is some our international relatives have taken to wearing the saree for our functions.  And seem to be walking around, as if they have been wearing it all their life.

Mum and I went to Japan last year.  “When in Rome”….  Decided we should try wearing the Kimono.

kimono-uma

I was really excited.  There are places where you can hire these outfits and they drape it for you and you can hang on to them for the rest of the day.  You can walk around that little city area.  So you get the whole experience.  Same deal.  Traditional outfits for women were designed to restrict their breathing.  Or, it was like breast check, this was more like rib check.  By the time I came down those steep stairs and out the door, I had realised that these type of garbs looks nice on other women or on a manikin rather than on me.  Once again my mum walked around as if she has been wearing this all her life.

I think this hippo has learnt it’s lesson and quite happy with her pants.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/graceful/

Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

First day back after a month’s silence

 

gsck

It’s nearly a month since I wrote anything.  Many reasons but mainly because of the reunion.  I missed writing.  With work and reunion planning and then a full house did not give me much opportunity to write.  I sat down for a bit yesterday to write.  After staring at the keyboard I retreated back to just liking things on facebook.  Looked at the Daily Post word prompt to get a start.  The word is Breakthrough.  All I could think of was the scene on “Good will hunting”, Robin Williams telling Matt Damon “It’s not your fault”, It was fresh in my mind, as I had just watched it for the millionth time today.  I am no movie critic, if I was, it would be a pretty short one, “I liked that movie or I didn’t really like that”.  So I started to read a few of the other contributions under the topic “breakthrough”. There was one from hotwhitesnow on writers block.  Exactly what I needed to breakthrough the fog.

https://hotwhitesnow.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/writing-through-writers-block/comment-page-1/#comment-989

Months of planning,  too and fro about the date, the venue, the numbers, catering, table decor, the list goes on.  Finally the girls were at our doorsteps and the day was here.

Some of us were meeting after nearly thirty years.  We attended a school called Good Shepherd Convent, (in Kandy, Sri Lanka).  Most westerners when they hear the end of the name “Convent”, they wonder if I was going to be a nun. The schools were originally established by the English missionaries.  We didn’t have many co-ed Schools.  So the girls schools were always attached to a nunnery and hence the name Convent.  The nuns ran the school and the boarding.

Kandy is the capital of the Hill country.  Most of the hills region are Tea Plantations.  So, other than a handful of so called staff the rest would be Indian labour force brought in by the English to work on the tea fields.  Woes of this labour force is a story for another day. Education was not the major priority for these folks.  Needless to say the local schools were really not geared for higher education.  So most of the parents sent their kids to boarding schools in Kandy or Colombo.  Parents of girls mainly preferred to send their daughters to Catholic schools, even those who were not Catholics. They liked the discipline and conservative up bringing.  I am rolling my eyes at this last sentence.  Still let me continue.

Our school stands tall and proud on that hill and gives me goosebumps every time I see a picture of it or hear the school anthem ” Triumphantly we raise it the standard of our school, oh may we ever be faithful to our Alma mater’s rule…”

I am not totally sure if we became well disciplined or more rebellious, I am not sure if we adhered to the conservative up bringing or became more free thinkers, but I am certain that in spite of the rubbish we had to put up we became quite bonded.  We became a family.  I think we were united against that common enemy, the nuns of course.

With the civil war, marriage and migration most of us dispersed to different parts of the world.  I lost contact with all of them.  It was as if I had no childhood friends.  My husband, his work and his circle of friends became my life.  Then after the kids, it was the kids, hospitals trips, coughs and colds, Nebuliser and Ventolin became my life. No complains, it was my choice, well not much of a choice, that was what unfolded, life was dumped on me and I had to run with it.

Then probably about 7 years ago, I gave into joining Facebook.  I had just come out of surgery.  I had just been given the news that I have survived cancer.  I had a major phiffany, “life’s too short to be doing just mundane things”.  I had this major urge to connect with people that I had lost contact, from my old work places, from my old school etc.

Stumbled across Amalie on facebook.  I only knew Amalie vaguely.   She was younger than me and she was a day scholar.  I only knew her because she used to hang out with Didi (a fellow boarder).  I sent her friend request anyway.  Seeing I was from the same Alma Mater, she accepted.  That was the beginning.  She was friends with a truck load of my friends from the boarding.

Some of us had changed in shapes and sizes.  Many a OMG’s followed by “how many kids? Messages going back and forth, especially between me and Suzy girl.  Then I found Binah. We were the best of buddies in the boarding.  She left for Canada before finishing school.  I was distraught when she left. Binah couldn’t wait any longer.  She rang me earlier than the time we decided to call each other.  We were just so happy.  Then came a few other moments like that when I chatted with Praba and Malini.  Found out that Vasugi lives in Brisbane and Tessa in Victoria.  Shazee had not changed much at all.  Just had longer hair.

Learnt that we’ve all gone through various pain and happiness.  Some had lost their husbands, while some regretted their marriage.  Some had lost a child and fighting with every might to continue.   Some had done well in their careers and some not so.  Some of us survived the dreaded C but sadly some didn’t.

But when we chatter, for that moment, we are back in school.  We are connected by the memories of that school.  We are once again united by that school. I am still trying to recover from that one week of partying.  We laughed more than we drank.  We danced more than we slept.  That was a reunion to remember.

2016-09-24-19-49-34

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/

 

Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Shiver me timbers, “it’s cold in Sri Lanka?”

 

PIC_0024

It was nearly sixteen years since we migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka.  A lot had changed since then, we’ve aged, we were now parents, I think that was the biggest change. We were not the same carefree young one’s roaming around, on a bike.  Mortgage, kids, kids getting sick, nearly losing a kid, other one losing his hearing, trials and tribulations, life was passing us with a fierce force.

So going back to the mother land was pushed back and back, until we could see a reprieve. Then, finally we make that trip back home.  After months of shopping (gifts) and packing we arrive in Colombo around midday, June 2006.  The strong waft of humidity and hot air came piercing through the corridors, with a rush and urgency.   Leaving a country in the middle of winter to arrive for this was pretty hard.

It was pretty brutal weather for the next couple of weeks. Boys were really struggling with the weather and food (too spicy for their tender tongues). The mosquitoes were ruthless, it didn’t matter if we were sitting or walking they still got us, who knew that they can get you in transit. But the boys were still enjoying different aspects of the trip.  This was the first time they were meeting their paternal grandfather. This was the first time they were eating pawkies (bite size Sri Lankan sausages), this was first time they saw a squirrel running up the mango tree.  Well, this was first time they saw a mango tree.   And that I think is the best thing about travel.  Something so mundane for the local is an attraction to the visitor.

The next week or so was going to be in the hill country.  Which is where I grew up.  The fauna, flora and the weather in the hill country, is absolute contrast to that of Colombo or other parts of the coast.  As you go further up from the coast, sea and coconut trees changes to paddy fields and slightly cooler weather.  And as you go even further up, Pine trees, water falls, light drizzle and sometimes a cold fog becomes the norm.

I was packing a smaller bag for this trip.  My husband had a glance at what I was packing. There were a couple of jumpers, a jacket each, some jeans and long pants, a beenie …  “Are you kidding me?” he holds up the beenie, “are you mad? when has it ever been that cold?” After the treatment of Colombo, the boys of course were on dad’s side. “yeh mum”

I started to doubt myself too. It was a long time ago since I lived in Talawakelle.  I still packed a few things.  But for the journey itself, there was no way the boys were going to rug up.  So the two of them were in a singlet, a pair of shorts, and a pair of thongs (okay for non aussies, they were not wearing what you are thinking of and going oh my, it is just a pair of flip flops, slippers, a footwear with just strap or what ever else you want to call them).  Okay you can have another laugh, we call them thongs.

They were enjoying the scenery.  After our lunch stop we didn’t need the A/C.  It was starting to drizzle.  It was starting to get cold as well.  We stopped for tea and cake.  And there was a giant tea pot right outside the cafe.  A great tourist attraction.  Hubby the photographer wanted a photo of this with the boys.  The boys were now shivering.  You could hear their teeth rattle and hands shivering. They were finding it hard to keep their eyes opened, with the falling rain. Dad still wanted the photo for his Pulitzer collection. Grr… It was obvious that their miniature mother’s anger and annoyance was now growing to a level of that’s enough now.

The boys were so relieved to find that one pair of pants and jumper that their mother had packed for them.  Both of them uttered “who would have thought we could have a place like this in Sri Lanka”.  Well, the moral of the story is listen to your mother, listen to the woman (okay that’s a bit sexist, well… too bad), listen to the expert.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fierce/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/shiver/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/obvious/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/miniature/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/expert/