Posted in Goa, Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Politics, travel, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (Part 8)

writers-block-image-472jpg

As they say it’s been a long time between drinks.  But in my case there has been many drinks but not much writing.  What are the excuses that I can pin it on … broken finger, work and possibly a lack of interest or if I am to be totally honest and say addiction to Asian Teledramas. I know how stupid it sounds but I think it was an escapism. Started with watching Japanese dramas with subtitles with the excuse of learning the language, then I ran out of Jap dramas so I merged to Taiwanese so I started to learn a bit Mandarin.  I have now progressed to Korean.  Finding Korean hard to learn.  Its a bit like French and German, similar grammar patterns but German has a stronger accent making it hard to pronounce than Japanese.  The two subjects I started to write about has brought about the writers block.  What I am finding out is that travelling is great but writing about it is not so much.

The other piece that I am currently writing is about my friend whom I lost in the civil war in Sri Lanka.  In all my other writings/stories I hardly had to think about the audience.  But, somehow in this one I am aware of the audience.  Not necessarily because I am scared to upset the Sri Lankan readers, I think the issues that I am touching upon are necessary for reconciliation, it’s an actual snapshot of real life in a war torn country, along with other social issues, in my opinion an unbiased recount of evils of both sides.  I am not by any means condoning Terrorism but, I do visit the possible reasons for the birth of one.  In this regard feel it’s an important topic for the current climate in the world.  Prevention is always better than a cure.  My reason for writing this story is probably as most times to heal my heart of losing my dear friend Lalith.  I have probably a lot of anger inside me regarding this.  But the irony is I come from the clan that killed him.  I haven’t settled on a title either.  I have changed it so many times “Friendship and war”, “Friend from the other side”, “Friendship across enemy lines” the last one I have come up with is “Ammba Yalluwa” which translates to something like childhood friend/soul mate.  I think I might settle with that.

I am usually not worried about offending someone when I write, but in this story I am and that is really having an effect on my writing.  Discussing this with my son, he started to say, you can’t really worry about offending people, it’s your thoughts, it’s your reasoning, it’s your point of view.  I get that but this subject is a hard one.  This is not a subject where I tell a Christian what I think of his Anti Gay sentiments.  The wounds go deeper than that in this.  As a Tamil who lived amongst the Sinhalese and understood them way better than my own kith and kin from Jaffna (north of Sri Lanka) my so called unbiased views may not sit well with those who were tortured by the Sri Lankan Army. My views on why Terrorism grew in Sri Lanka will not be accepted by the Sinhalese either.  My sister-in-laws friend and mum who had to witness her two brothers and her dad being burnt alive will never accept my theories and explanations about the Sinhalese.  Lalith’s family never thought that all tamils were terrorists and they all had to die.  However, wrong that theory is, I will have to accept that anger.  Arj (my son) said something that really hit the nail.  “Emotions aren’t rational, there is no way you could explain to kid in Syria that the Americans are nice people”  All that kid has, heard, seen and experienced is the opposite.  It is such a charged subject, I want to do justice to this story, but I am so torn as well.

I started to write about Goa and I have written two paragraphs of my other project.  So, lets start about Goa.  Today’s topic is Goan food, music and culture.

Maybe the reason I fell in love with Goa is due to the similarities of Goa and Sri Lanka. They were both Portuguese Colonies and hence the similarities I guess.  But it’s just uncanny how similar Goa is to Sri Lanka and how different it is to the rest of India.

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The above is stuffed okra.  That was one of my favourite dishes (that I took a photo of before digging into it first).  I don’t think Sri Lanka has a stuffed okra dish, but similar to stuffed banana chillies.   Similar dishes are pan rolls (in sri lanka we call them Chinese rolls not sure why because I don’t think the Chinese are aware of that roll), muscat (Goan’s call it Bibinka) and Thothal

muscat muscat thothal thothal

The best thing about it is that they view these as possible breakfast items and it is on the hotel breakfast buffet.  Yes, of course I thought I was in heaven.

The curries are so different to the normal Indian Cuisine.  A curry with the Rechad spice mix a must try.  Fish is big in Goa.  Not sure, if the laws have changed in the recent months but at the time we were there, Goa is one of the places in India where you can buy beef and alcohol in Restaurants rather freely.  Most places in India have a ban on beef due to the cow being a revered animal as most of them claim to be Hindu’s.  Not sure which part of Hinduism says its okay to eat all other meats but not beef, per my understanding of the religion all meats were out as it was considered to be killing another animal.  I guess that’s another argument/beef (sorry for the dad pun, couldn’t help myself) for another day.

Clothing/culture:  Goa is still kind of part of South India.  The South India that I know is very conservative.  Goa not so much or not at all.  It’s a party town.  Again very similar to Sri Lanka, Negambo in particular.  Night life is very alive, and not just filled with tourists, this is mainly by the locals.  Ladies in pretty sexy clothes, having a drink or two or more. Nothing atrocious, but no conservative woman in a saree with flowers in her hair sitting quietly in a corner.

Music: At these live music places its all English music, the one place we were at was all 80’s gems.  But their local music is very similar to the Sri Lankan Baila.  Again I think we can thank the Portuguese for that.

Ok the above is just a clip from the youtube to give you an idea of the Goan music, next I will post one from the Sri Lankan Baila to show you the similarities

 

Memories are a bit vague now, but I think the two places that we tried out was Tito’s and Kohi bar.  Personal preference is Tito’s but I guess for the young ones Kohi Bar may be more attractive.

Just like in Sri Lanka Goa produces a lot of Spices as well Cashews.  Cashew snacks are very similar to Sri Lanka as well.  They go one better and have produced an alcohol drink with it as well called “Feni”, Looks clear like Vodka, as a shot it feels pretty potent, but great in a cocktail.

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I like to end it here for today.  Adeus (good bye in Konkani – Goan language)

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Australian Politics, Daily post, Sri Lankan Politics, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

My Uncle, My Surrogate Dad

frail skantha

It’s now four years since we said goodbye to my uncle.  Just recently we had a prayer, remembrance and a family dinner filled with many chuckles on his behalf.

I like to share something I wrote for this day.

I wanted to utter these words at his funeral, but I didn’t.  Is it because I was overcome by sorrow?  Is it because I felt that I was saying goodbye to my father all over again?  Is it simply because, I didn’t think my words would be good enough? Or is it because I knew I should have told him these words when he was alive?  I guess it was all of the above. 

For whatever its worth, I need to say them now.  Today is a good day as any other. 

I will start with the funeral.  I was filled with much sorrow as well as guilt.  Periyya (uncle in Tamil) passed away the day I returned from Singapore.  When Ganesh picked me up from the airport, he said, “your Periyya is not well, we will go and see him once you have a bit of a rest”.  I didn’t think it was that serious.  I thought here we go again; the Old man is pulling another one.  He waited till I got back from Singapore, but it wasn’t that important for him to say goodbye to me in person.  He passed away that afternoon. 

I felt guilty that I didn’t go straight from the airport to see him, I felt guilty that I took that nap.  I felt guilty that I didn’t go to see him more often.  More than anything I felt guilty that, I never told him that he meant so much to me than he will ever know. 

As each eulogy was being read, I was reciting my own in my head. Deja vo, why am I saying goodbye to my dad again?

It’s taken me nearly four years to make peace with myself and get the courage to speak up.  Knowing my Periyayya, he would have been utterly chuffed with any word that I had grouped together.  The card that he sent me for the first Depavali after my dad’s passing, just signed “Periya (appa)” two words, that’s all.  He didn’t need to quote me Shakespeare or Nietzsche, it told me in abundance that, he loved me, he missed my dad, he wishes my dad didn’t die, and more than anything he has got my back. 

I am not sure if I totally believe in the possibility of spirits, souls and after life.  But, I take comfort in the possibility of Rasam and Skantha having a chuckle, and keeping watch from up there.  Or it could be down there.  There are more magnets down there than up there. Who knows.  

I am not sure if it was fate or a just a mere coincidence that the two families in tandem decided to move to Adelaide.  But it feels as if, it was the grand plan of the man up there.  Whoever, or whatever the reason for the reunion, I am truly grateful. 

I got a chance to spend quality years with this larger than life personality.  More than anything, my kids got to enjoy a surrogate grandfather. 

I like to wrap up now but with a special request for a visual.  Can you just imagine if he had the farm in Australia and the two monkeys?  We would have ended up with monkeys named Barnaby and Joyce. 

Here’s to my Periyayya.  To a man who was the biggest pain in the Ass and but had the biggest heart as well. 

I will give you a little bit of a background into who this man was so you understand some of the references.

I was very fond of this man, who was a larger than life personality. He was dad’s older brother.  In a family of extreme academics, he was not one of them.  He was probably dyslexic or suffered from a learning difficulty.  But nothing was diagnosed in those days. Just considered as a problem child by the teachers and maybe even by the parents at times. Still he achieved a lot more than any academics in the family.

He joined the Agriculture Department and was rising through the ranks as he was coming up with novel ideas to solve the problems of the region.  Also he was a stubborn pain in the ass to all who didn’t have a vision.  He didn’t mince words when he had to say something. Once after a heated discussion with the then Minister for Agriculture he came home and named two of his monkey after the Minister.  At a later date when the said minister and his yes men visited his Farm, he introduced the monkeys to the group, without skipping a beat.

He was also big on yoga and magnet therapy.  He used to carry a big block of magnet in a back pack.  Once leaving a restaurant, he walked away with a good number of cutlery.

My dad was the youngest of eight kids.  But unfortunately he was the first to depart at the young age of Fifty Three.  The day after the funeral my uncle sat me down and explained a tamil word. “Periya appa” means Big uncle.  “Periya” means Big “appa” means Dad .  He said just remember that and he left back to his farm.  For the outside world he comes across as this rough and tough guy.  But in reality, he was the biggest mush.

In his latter days it was really hard to see him so frail and reduced to a small child.  Even then you would witness his personality pop up time to time.

Rest in Peace big man.

 

Daily Post Word prompt

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

Posted in Australian Politics, Daily post, Sri Lankan Politics, True Story, Inspirational

My Island Paradise

Sri-Lanka (3)

The pearl of the Indian Ocean, once the envy of the east, now torn and battered, gasping, clutching at the last straws to survive another day.  Is it the end of the civil war or just cease fire for another eruption, for another day for another cause?

A lot has happened since the start of the civil war, loss of my friend and then my departure to Australia.  Before I go any further I like to dedicate this story/writing/rant to my late friend Lalith Gunesinghe.  This is not all about Lalith.  But Lalith’s passing was the main reason for me to analyse what happened, what went wrong in my place of paradise.

I have no illusions of changing the mindset of the Sri Lankan’s, but I do hope that I make at least an iota of difference in someone’s thinking, especially of those from Australia, or at least amongst the young generation to make them think, make them aware of what actually happens in a war.  More importantly when you hear it on the news, it is just data and that of distorted data, words such as “casualties” are thrown around, just a mere number, their names are not important, I understand that there are too many of them, but there lies a real person, he is a dad, a son, a brother or even a friend. This person is going to be missed by all, and not just for that moment, but for years and years to come.

My name is Uma Sivapalan. To a Sri Lankan this name would explain that I am a female of Tamil origin and most likely a Hindu. My friend Lalith Gunesinghe was a Sinhalese male.It is, if the name was Mc Donald it is very likely the person is of Scottish decent, likes the bottle with the walking man and has a good command of the“f” word. Lalith’s name doesn’t really stipulate that he was Buddhist, but most likely.  Some of those who converted to Christianity during the English  colonisation  did not change their surnames.  But Lalith was a Budhist from the Kandy region.  Upper Class.  My forefathers came from the North of the country Jaffna.  Again from the right class and stock.

History is usually written by the victor.  But what saddens me most is not that History could be biased.  But, we use history for the wrong reasons.  We should learn from our mistakes, but preserve the good.  We constantly do it in reverse.

Sri Lanka is a very small Island with a big population. Most of us are not even Christians, but we believed in “go forth and multiply”.  It is made up of Sinhalese (majority), Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. Languages spoken are Sinhala, Tamil and English.  Not sure why we did not adapt Portuguese and Dutch. We took their surnames and cooking but not their languages. Thank god we didn’t look to the English for cooking tips.  We stopped at sipping the tea.  We copied a bit of the singing and dancing from the Portuguese as well.   Budhism and Hinduism came from India.  With the invasions of the west, some of us converted to Christianity.  Islam came from the Arab traders.

I think what baffles most of the westerners who have visited the island is that, if you take the individual Sri Lankan, he is a very peaceful and lovable person. They are renowned for their generosity and friendship, how can such a lot then be involved in a terrible war, where they killed their own. Yes, we killed our own. Yes, you can separate them as per their language/dialect they speak.  But, we are really the same.  Some Tamils, who are now residing in different countries, have taken a stance to say that theyare not Sri Lankan’s.  I understand their reasons, but finding it hard to condone it fully.

We look the same, brown skin, black hair, dark eyes etc. Act the same way when someone asks you “are you from India?”. I am still to witness a Sri Lankan, who takes more than two seconds to say, “NO I AM FROM SRI LANKA ”.  We respond as if we’ve been called  a pariah. In this we become SriLankans.  It may be a tiny isle, but it has its own identity, New Zealand is not Australia.

As a Tamil, I understand why some of the Tamils have disowned their birth place.  I sometimes wonder if I am a Sri Lankan or an Australian.  Am I being unfaithful to Australia, when I secretly wish Sri lanka doesn’t lose badly in the cricket?  Am I being unfaithful to Sri Lanka when I support Australia over my birth place? For some Aussies they can’t understand why I don’t support Sri Lanka, for some others it definitely has to be Australia, I have adopted this country that means I should support everything Australia.  If not I am being unfaithful.  It’s not that easy or simple.  It’s like when you get married, now you have another set of family and an extended family.  Just because you love your husband doesn’t mean you hate your parents or siblings.  The love and affection you have for you’re in laws will depend on each ones experience.  And hence the reason why migration either works or doesn’t work.  The answer is not one size fits all.  It depends on both parties as well.  And if you love or hate your birth place will depend on your individual circumstance.  I will revisit this area again later, why for me I cannot join the collective hate nor love for Sri Lanka.

It is now over 25 years in Australia, most of it spent in Sydney and the last ten years or so in Adelaide.  Altogether I have lived more of my living years in Australia than in Sri Lanka.  Does it make me an Australian or Sri Lankan? Legally yes I am Australian, but within me who do I want to be? More importantly what does the rest of Australia accept me as?

I feel like an adopted child who is extremely happy with her adopted parents.  Have the same anguish and disappointment of my birth parent Sri Lanka.  I did nothing wrong, but she still let me down.  I don’t really care, I am in a good place, in fact I am in a better place, the best place, but it still hurts.

Cont…

The above is a story I am currently in the process of writing.  I was not going to publish this until I completely finish it and analyse it, as I have a feeling I am going to annoy a lot Tamils as well as Sinhalese with I say and reveal.

The reason for me to publish some of it today is because My New Island Paradise Australia is showing signs of falling pray to racism.  I am really upset and annoyed.  Every time a foreign celebrity, accuses Australia of being racist, I keep defending and say “Nah” they are just open about what they say, absolutely amazing people.  Just a small minority is spoiling it for everyone.

I am posting my story because I want you numb nuts to know that there is nothing amazing about going to war.  Not within your own country.  You may not know it, but this is just a paradise.  Please don’t spoil it because your kids wants Kung Pao Chicken for dinner and not your pot roast.

A vote for Pauline Hanson is a vote for racism.  Come on guys we can do better than that.  I am not saying we don’t have issues with refugees and migration. But we need to address them in a democratic way.

Imagine if your child is born being hated.  Where do you think he will end up.  That’s exactly where you are sending the Muslim kids to.  Straight to ISIL.  In my view anyone who engages in hate speech/rally is also a Terrorist.  Well, if you see a bunch of Muslims gathered and say bad things about Christians what would you call them?

I am skeptical about churches and priests after, what I’ve heard of the horrors that happened behind certain doors.  Yes, I am angry with all the churches and priests.  As in my mind even if you didn’t commit the crime, you allowed it to go on, so you are guilty too.  You don’t want to know what I think of Cardinal Pell.  But do I then go on to hate my neighbor who is a Catholic too?

The question of whether Islam is a religion of Peace or not is another ludicrous argument.  All religions are meant to be peaceful, But every religion or it’s followers manage to make it as vile as possible.  Every religion, at one time or another has been the cause of some misery.  Because religion is in the hands of the man, he will twist it and turn it to suit him. Let’s stop blaming religions and blame the actual culprits.  Let’s stop generalizing  a whole group of people and address the individuals who commit the crime.

I think I have vented enough.  World Peace seems far away.  But, ever the optimist, will sign of demanding for one.

Daily post word prompt: Island

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