Monday, April 29, 2013

The drain on Sri Lanka's intellectual capital... will it ever come home?

Fact: Sri Lanka produces some first-class intellectuals and skilled professionals across a broad range of specialisms both on the island and abroad

Similar to other developing countries, some Sri Lankans have the opportunity for higher study and/or professional work abroad in order to grow and enhance their knowledge and experience. However, increasingly fewer and fewer return to the island, choosing to seek permanent residency and later, citizenship of a foreign country. Usually, the USA, UK and Australia. Furthermore, there are Sri Lankans who are educated within the free education system who gain their qualifications and then choose to move abroad. This undoubtedly has lead to what can be termed as a "brain-drain" (or human capital flight) in Sri Lanka that continues to grow. What began in small numbers since Sri Lankan Independence has gained further momentum in recent times, increasing at a higher proportionate rate than before.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

To be arranged, or not to be arranged in...MARRIAGE!

As human beings there are only a few things in this world we naturally or are conditioned to seek out. Some things are for our survival - food, water, shelter. Other things are for convention, fun or pleasure - partner, friends, family, material possessions, job etc.

The concept of arranged marriages has always fascinated me.

MAYBE, it's because one of my best friend's (Indian background) went through the "process" while we attended university and I watched from the sidelines. Her mother was quite forceful about it. From the sidelines, I noted her mother didn't feel she would have "done her duty as a mother" if she didn't marry off her daughter to a good Indian man that was suitably compatible. Note - although my bestie participated in her mother's requests down the arranged marriage path, she eventually met her future husband through work friends and is still happily married.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Valuing traditions... 2013 Sri Lankan New Year

I wonder how many families around the island still celebrate the Sri Lankan New Year in the traditional way.

It's ironic that the Sri Lankan President's 2013 New Year Message to the country encouraged "all (to) follow age old new year customs and traditions and bestow out treasured heritage to the future generation". He emphasized that through valuing the traditions, the nation will stabilize and safeguard the island as a free and independent country.

In my case, I've been fortunate to have wonderful "family" friends (or friends who are like family) who invite me over to their homes every year (without fail) to join in their traditional celebrations.

This year I did some "spring cleaning" around the house. I also bought new clothes to wear on New Year's Day, which probably comes as no surprise to the hordes of locals doing much the same. I guess there is something nice about wearing clothes you've never worn before on the first day of the new year. I have to admit though, it was damn difficult finding clothes in the lucky colour of copper (red and yellow), which I wore to take the meal!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jeep safari of Wilpattu National Park

I've wanted to visit Wilpattu National Park for a number of years now as it's one of the most famous on the island. It's famous for its population of leopards, elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer and many other species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

This trip was an impromptu one... a day trip to Kalpitiya turned into a drive up to Puttalam and then an overnight stay near Wilpattu and early jeep safari of the national park.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In search of ancient alternative healing therapies on the island

With a written history dating back 2,500 years, Sri Lanka has a rich history and vast wealth of knowledge accumulated over this time.

The area of ancient alternative healing and Ayurveda on the island has interested me over a number of years. Initially I wasn't sure what was available, other than the mainstream version of Ayurveda  Namely, herbal baths, head oil and body massages and various tonics. Not that there is anything wrong with mainstream Ayurveda  It can be quite soothing and relaxing, but I haven't necessarily heard or evidenced any amazing recoveries from illness from these treatments.

My first foray of this sort of thing came about a few years ago when I visited India. I was travelling through northern India and found my way to Dharamsala. I visited a herbal doctor who had previously treated the Dalai Lama. I had to piss in a cup and then take it with me to see the doctor. He analysed my urine, as well as examining my tongue, eyes and palm. He identified some ailments (which I was vaguely aware of, which weren't too serious given my age etc.) and prescribed some medicine in the form of herbal pills. These pills were to be taken three times a day and looked like tiny brown pebbles. I did actually take them for about two months and it seemed to do the trick.

Being a resident in Sri Lanka for a few years now, it's been fascinating to continue the journey to seek out what is not mainstream.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Island fruit and vegetables.. take a walk on the exotic!

It has been fascinating discovering the marvelous world of fruit and vegetables that can be found in Sri Lanka. After living in a world of "basic" fruits like apples and oranges; and vegetables like potatoes, carrots and peas, it's pure adventure opening my eyes to what's available on this teardrop island.

I've spent wonderful mornings wandering through the pola, markets and supermarkets with an inquisitiveness to discover new and exotic fruit and vegetables. It is a literal treasure trove with around 80 different varieties of fruit and vegetables.