Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Long and the Short of It - Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship

I was at a social gathering recently and one of the main topics of discussion was the state of play with regards to dual citizenship applications in Sri Lanka. The interested parties were mainly expat Sri Lankans (who had either relinquished their Sri Lankan passports in order to obtain a foreign passport or who were born abroad and have never held Sri Lankan citizenship) and other foreign nationals (looking at their options given the new legislation on sale of land to foreigners).

By way of background, the granting of dual citizenship commenced in 1988 following amendments to the Citizenship Act and Immigrants and Emigrants Act in 1987. The Sri Lankan Government suspended the granting of dual citizenship in January 2011 stating it sought to review and make amendments to relevant laws. Since then, there has been much public and private debate about the politics, economics and everything but the "kitchen sink" regarding the reintroduction of dual citizenship by the Sri Lankan Government.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 12

Eva Stone photo, generous man, generosity, feeding stray cats, Colombo
Hurrooo! I'm back after a little hiatus - busy with work and travel so I've been a little absent from blogging. Hope life is tripping along nicely wherever you are! I thought I'd kick off with another installment of "An expat in Sri Lanka" as life is never dull on this teardrop isle and there are always stories to share lol

There's a saying that goes "a picture is worth a thousand words"... A good friend of mine sent me this picture (to the left) about a month ago. He was walking around his local neighborhood and this unusual scene caught his eye. When I rang to ask about it, I was fascinated with the differences between my perception of the scene, his initial perception of it and the reality of the situation. It'll be interesting to see what you think about the scene with the old man and the five cats when you look at the picture...  By the way, I think it's a really phenomenal picture.

Initially, I thought I was looking at a poor blind man who was being scavenged by local stray cats as he was taking his meal by the road. This was not the case at all. In fact, he wasn't blind. He wasn't poor. And, he was deliberately and generously feeding the stray cats. All-in-all, it kind of blew my mind... eek

Sunday, September 7, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 11

Eva Stone photo, peenas oil, herbal remedy, ayurveda, catarrh
There's no better way to start off this installment of "An expat in Sri Lanka" than to tell you about my new found alternative remedy PEENAS OIL. Now, now readers and friends... before you freak out on me, it's not what you think. Get your mind out of the gutter people! Though, got to say, funny name! If you take a closer look at the label, there's no end to the laughs... what were they thinking?!

Since living part of the time in a slightly cooler climate up in the hill country, my sinuses have unfortunately gone completely haywire. Usually, in Colombo, I've had difficulty (in a different way) with allergies, due to the dust and traffic related air pollution. Fantastic eh?

Rather than load myself up with pills I decided to try ayurvedic treatment. I was recommended Peenas oil, which is used to treat any kind of catarrh. All you need to do is pour a tablespoon into the palm of your hand then rub it into the crown of your head and leave it for an hour or so. So far its worked a treat. The only down side has been having oil in my hair, which has been a pain to have to wash out, especially long hair like mine.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Travel Monday: Bodhi Puja at the ancient rock cave temple of Bambaragala Rajamaha Vihara

Eva Stone photo, View, upper level, rock cave temple, Bambaragala Rajamaha ViharaOne of the things I quite enjoy about traveling (somewhat randomly at times) around this teardrop island is discovering new and amazing places rich in history and sometimes off the beaten track. A word of warning, "off the beaten track" usually entails trekking through the forest, potentially getting a little lost, working up a sweat, and inevitably (after all that hard work), discovering a sweet spot!

This time around, I found myself tagging along with friends who were going to offer bodhi puja at Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara. It's located off Teldeniya (around 20 miles from Kandy) and can be reached via the main road leading to the Victoria Dam and Victoria Golf Club. It's probably easy to access by car, though some of the roads leading to the vihara are pot-holed and uneven.

Prior to this visit, I knew next to nothing about Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara. It can be quite a good thing seeing things with fresh eyes without prejudice or preconceived ideas. I say this, because since returning from this visit I've done some research and found out some intriguing theories about the place wink. However, we'll come back to that later!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eva's Mailbox: Miscellaneous Correspondence from Near and Far #2

It's been a busy year thus far and I've found less time to blog than last year, but my mailbox via email, blog comments and facebook continues to receive a steady influx of correspondence. If you're wondering, I do appreciate the contact, questions, comments and feedback. And, I try my best to get back as quickly as possible with some helpful advice. Of course, I'm not the fount of knowledge on all things Sri Lankan by any stretch of the imagination but, where I have knowledge or experience, I'm more than willing to share what I know free of charge.

I thought it useful to further share some of these questions (in a broad sense) and my responses so the wider audience may benefit from them. I've edited my responses so they focus on the topic without the social aspects of my responses.  I've also excluded personal details or attributes that I feel some people may not wish to share in an open forum.


If you haven't seen my earlier blog post regarding correspondence, then you can read it here: Eva's Mailbox: Miscellaneous Correspondence from Near and Far #1

Please note - in reading my responses bear in mind these are my thoughts and suggestions. Take from it what is of benefit and where it may not align with your needs, set it aside.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel Monday: The Three-Temples Loop south-west of Kandy

Eva Stone photo, flower offering
On a wet and gloomy day in Kandy, I did one of the Three-Temples Loop as an outing with friends. These temples are some of the legacies of the Kandyan kingdom. There are actually at least two Three-Temples Loops around Kandy, including Embekke Devale-Lankathilake-Gadaladeniya and Gangarama Viharaya-Degaldoruwa-Galmaduwa Gedige. We visited the former trio of temples, which are situated about 12kms south west of Kandy. These were all constructed during the 14th century and have both Buddhist and Hindu influences.

On the weekends it can be really fun to take in some sights while catching up with friends, and this little circuit was a lovely way to spend the time. Apart from touring the trio of temples it was also interesting to see and explore the metal craft and wood carving common to these villages.

Although it was wet and gloomy, it did add an extra dimension to the experience - umbrellas, wet feet, foggy camera lenses, dodging rain drops, slipping on rocks, spending far more time gazing at murals rather than being tossed about in the rain, cooler weather lol etc... On the downside, none of my photos had any blue skies nor expressive cloud formations sad

If the weather was better, it's apparently quite nice to start at either Embekke Devale or Gadaladeniya (ending at the other) and complete the loop by a combination of vehicle and walking. Given it was wet on the day we visited, we drove from one temple to the next, starting at Gadaladeniya and finishing at Embekke Devale. Please note, there are nominal ticket charges for foreign tourists at each of the temples (Rs.200-300).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Randoli Perahera on Esala Poya in Kandy

Eva Stone photo, Esala Perahera, Kandy, Sri Dalada Maligawa, Temple of the ToothI was fortunate to be invited to attend the Randoli Perahera on Esala Poya last Sunday. It has to be said, there is something quite special about poya days in Sri Lanka. This one felt auspicious seeing as I was right amongst the thousands of pilgrims, guests (including the President who viewed it from a special stand at his Kandy residence), and travelers from far and wide to be part of the full moon offerings and celebrations.

If you've been following this blog, then you know I attended last year with friends. I wrote two long blog posts, which you can read in Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 1 (gives an overview of my travel experience including the journey (to-and-from Kandy), logistics and what I did to prepare) and Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 2 (my thoughts, information gathering and experience of the actual Kandy Perahera). I don't wish to rehash what I blogged last year, but if you're interested in the "ins-n-outs" of the Kandy Esala Perahera, I suggest having a read of these two blog posts.

I didn't bring my DSLR to take photos and videos. Last year I made a concerted effort to take photos and videos. So, this year I decided to travel light without toting my big camera and only arrived at Sri Dalada Maligawa around 5.30pm. I know many people had arrived much earlier in the day to find places, seats and spots with a good vantage of the Randoli Perahera. I was again lucky to be able to tag along with friends who had VIP tickets with seats within the Sri Dalada Maligawa perimeter with light refreshments served.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 10

I've been traveling out of the country this month, so I've been more reflective than usual on my expat life in Sri Lanka. My recent post on "Turning Lankan", probably gives you a fairly good idea about some funny things that have been happening. Luckily, I haven't felt any pangs of "expat fatigue" this year, of which I blogged about in part 5 of an Expat in Sri Lanka. It's good to feel blessed about the little things when there is so much upheaval and violence happening all around the world.

In this blog post I have a few tidbits to share with you...

Visa renewal process


Eva Stone photo, Crowds,Visa Section, Dept of Immigration and Emigration
I was pleasantly surprised on a recent visit to the Department of Immigration and Emigration ("DIE") to renew my residence visa.  In past years I've always had a sinking feeling of dread at the necessity to visit DIE. Yes, the acronym I've given the Department might have something to do with it lol

The other reasons have been mainly due to my past experiences of bureaucracy and time wasting. But, there have been some significant changes since my last visit. These include: improvements to the physical layout of the Visa Section; better staffing (e.g. an increase in the number of Assistant Controllers to check and sign off documents); optimization of processes and procedures; and the use of technology to manage applications and shorten waiting times.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Turning Lankan" - a checklist to help you figure out if you're going native!

A rather startling, but somewhat happy, thought came to me as I was travelling outside of Sri Lanka recently. And this particular thought was about turning into a local Sri Lankan i.e. going native! I know I know… you're thinking, "What the heck is she talking about?" Well, although it sounds a little strange, I think I'm going native and turning more Sri Lankan as my expat life in Sri Lanka heads towards its seventh year.

I'm sure there are expats around the world who have succumbed to what I'm describing in their respective countries of choice. If I were to guess, it primarily happens to those who enjoy where they're living and what they're doing; wish to continue their expat life there; and can't help but adopt the place and culture as their own. More often than not, I suspect it's an unconscious thing that creeps in.

Having experienced this startling but happy thought, I decided to put together a little checklist of things, which we could also call symptoms (if we were diagnosing an affliction), that might indicate you were becoming more like a local Sri Lankan.

Initially, I pondered whether to call it "Lanka-fluenza" or "Turning Lankan". The former sounds too much like an illness or affliction and a little negative, so that doesn't work for me. The latter is probably closer to going native in Sri Lanka, so I've stuck with that.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Glimpsing Nature

Eva Stone photo, Knuckles, Mountain Range, Sri Lanka
June is proving to be a month of dramatic changes in the weather. Was it only a couple of months ago where I was reading and voicing concerns about the drought conditions across the island? I guess I should have fallen back on the local belief of heavy rains (or floods in some cases) expected 45 days after the Sri Lankan New Year. And, the rains have certainly come! 

I've been enjoying more of nature this month. The rain has brought much needed nourishment and the flora and fauna in my area have seemed to bloom. My schedule has continued to be quite hectic, so I haven't been able to visit any of my favorite national parks. Instead, I've been making the most of what's been nearby. 

I usually post some of my favorite snaps to the blog's facebook page. For this post, I thought I'd share a selection of my nature shots (i.e. flora, fauna and landscape) taken over the last month. Vibrant hues seem to capture my attention. And I'm still learning about the different kinds of flowers, birds etc. that are native to this region. All of the snaps below have all been taken around the hill country.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 9

Eva Stone photo, beach, Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka
My mailbox has been inundated this year with emails from across the globe, largely from women who are either interested in or are about to embark on a longer stint in Sri Lanka. So, this post is largely going to focus on what it is like to be living as an "expat woman" in Sri Lanka and my thoughts on any perils or perks. It also comes in response to a number of recent requests for greater insight into my experience and lessons learnt over the past six years. 

I would caveat at the outset that my experience as a British expat woman living in Sri Lanka is only one perspective seen from my lenses, and there will be other expat women with similar and/or different thoughts, experiences, background and perspective from me. Please keep that in mind as you read this post.

Overall, I'd have to say my life in Sri Lanka continues to go well and I have no thoughts of moving away from Sri Lanka at this stage. Naturally, this is always subject to change, but right now I'm happy with my current set of circumstances. If you've been following my blog you'll already know I've embarked on a tentative move to Kandy, though I'm still trialing the move (i.e. I'm living between both Colombo and Kandy at present wink). It has actually opened things up for me in a positive way.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vesak: Around Kandy Lake and Sri Dalada Maligawa

Last year I wrote quite an extensive post on "Reflections on Vesak in Colombo" so I feel like I don't need to rehash that blog post. If you haven't read it before and you're interested, then please feel free to read the post.

In the weeks leading up to Vesak, I've spent more time in and around Kandy. The Kandy Lake and Sri Dalada Maligawa provide a real focal point and, for me, there is a real sense of good vibrations. Rather than write a whole spiel, I'd like to share a samll number of photos in the lead up to Vesak.

This photo of Sri Dalada Maligawa was taken at around 5.35am this morning from across the Kandy Lake...

Eva Stone photo, pre-dawn, Wesak, Kandy Lake, Sri Dalada Maligawa, Temple of the Tooth

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A love-hate affair: How to live with mosquitoes

This post is dedicated to a special friend of mine who has a very unique relationship with mosquitoes. It's not love, nor is it aversion. It's more like an acknowledgement and agreement to live in relative harmony with these blood-sucking critters. Rather than obliterate these insects he finds weird and crazy ways of catching them live and evicting them from his home! It's genuinely funny to watch. 

For my part, I have a healthy dislike towards those dastardly mozzies! However, the mosquitoes seem to love me, or rather, love my juicy blood mad

When I first moved to Sri Lanka I knew I'd have a hard time adjusting to the mosquito situation. I just wasn't used to sharing my space with them, let alone thinking about them. When you live in the tropics you quickly learn that air circulation is a major requirement, so all homes are custom-built with open air vents above the windows to allow air to freely move in-and-out of the home. If everything is closed off then things tend to go downhill fast - mustiness, dirt and mold start to fester. But, if there are open vents these are the ways mosquitoes enter your space. And it only takes one mosquito to hurt you!

However, if you're not keen on being "eaten alive" then you have to get with the program pretty darn quick. I've had some nasty experiences rocking up to friends' houses in skirts rather than pants (or should I say trousers!) and then being bitten so bad my legs have resembled pink poker dot patterns and I had itching down to an art form!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka - the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 8

It seems to have been well over a month since I last posted on my blog, and I'm probably overdue for another installment of my Expat in Sri Lanka blog post. I've been a tad busy over this past little while logging a lot of miles between Colombo and Kandy. It would appear I'm getting more used to it, and it adds another dimension to living in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, I'm still able to pick up little tidbits to file away for writing up these posts.


Eva Stone photo, oil lamp, ceremony, avurudu, sweets, new year Sri lankaBelated Avurudu salutations and good wishes biggrin 


If you celebrated the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, I hope you were blessed with a safe and generous festive season surrounded by all your loved ones

In the lead up to Avurudu it felt like utter chaos around all the major retail hubs, with many scrambling with their Avurudu preparations and plans. I got myself well away from the hustle-and-bustle prior to Avurudu, and even started my celebrations early!

In case you were wondering, I had a wonderful Avurudu - kind of a mixture of all the Avurudu ingredients plus a little time-out for myself as well. It was also my first Avurudu where I wasn't in Colombo, so that was also a pleasant change.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are you being served? - A debate about customer service in Sri Lanka

Eva Stone photo, Haputale, kade, shop, grocery, Sri Lanka
Customer service is commonly defined as the "service provided to customers before, during and after purchasing and using goods and services". It is often said, good customer service provides an experience that meets customer expectations resulting in return business. On the other hand, bad customer service is where the experience does not meet customer expectations potentially generating complaints. Bad customer service may result in lost sales if customers decide to take their business to a competitor.

I was having a debate with a few friends (both expats and locals) about customer service in Sri Lanka. It was a veritable feast of views, opinions, rants and raves lol. I'm sure none of us came out unscathed from this lively debate! There were some insightful, and sometimes over-the-top discussion points coming out of the afternoon. So much so, I thought it'd make for a good blog post.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Roast Chicken Tales of Collisions with Sri Lanka Customs

You cannot say you've received the "full Lankan" experience as an expat unless you've had a run-in with Sri Lanka customs officials and a juicy story to share. Well, I have more than a couple of those, so it's a good time to start sharing. And while I'm doing that, I have some funny stories from friends to add to the mix too lol

When I first moved to Sri Lanka I shipped quite a few boxes containing my belongings from the UK. At that stage I wasn't sure how long I really wanted to stay, but in my mind I thought I'd give it a year to see how living and working in Sri Lanka would pan out. With this in mind I decided to ship over more of my personal belongings to give myself the best opportunity to settle in and make it feel like home. I had previously done expat stints in other countries, so shipping boxes filled with my belongings was not a new thing for me. I'd had very little difficulty (other than maybe a broken item in one shipment when I moved to Australia from the UK) and had little to no dealings with customs officials in these countries (other than filling out customs forms). Mostly, my belongings arrived safely to my doorstep. So, it came as a huge shock to navigate my way around clearing my boxes through customs in Sri Lanka the very first time!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Melancholy

It's been three weeks since I last posted on my blog. If I had been on adventures feeling the wind in my hair and joy soaring within my heart, it would be a wonderful excuse for having not pounded fingers to keyboard for this length of time. However, I'm going to be real with you and share some truths that have hit right to the very heart.

If you're not up for being real ... consider yourself warned.

..............

Melancholy, is how I've been feeling of late. It's become my best friend, whispering stories to me of sadness and sometimes despair. Unfortunately, it's also an old friend, so all this is not new. What is new, is feeling melancholy in Sri Lanka and needing to bear with it in a foreign land with different cultural nuances and ways of dealing with difficult subject matters.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Eva's Mailbox: Miscellaneous Correspondence from Near and Far #1

Over the past year or so, I have been receiving a steady stream of inquiries and messages to my Adventures in a Tuk-Tuk Blog email address. Mostly, readers, travelers, acquaintances and interested parties have questions about moving, living, working, retiring and traveling to Sri Lanka. Sometimes I've received emails from different people in different parts of the world who ask me very similar questions or seek similar advice.

I thought it useful to share some of these questions (in a broad sense) and my responses so the wider audience may benefit from them. I've edited my responses so they focus on the topic without the social aspects of my responses.  I've also excluded personal details or attributes that I feel some people may not wish to share in an open forum.

Please note - in reading my responses bear in mind these are my thoughts and suggestions. Take from it what is of benefit and where it may not align with your needs, set it aside.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How safe (or toxic) is the food we grow and eat in Sri Lanka?

Eva Stone, road-side, vegetable stall, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
I've been concerned for awhile about reports of toxic food production and what is being distributed and sold to consumers in Sri Lanka. My concerns have heightened in recent months as more discussion has emerged around me over the question of "is there something wrong with the foods we're buying?" - at local markets, at the supermarket, among friends and colleagues, and ayurvedic healers. Even over the weekend I happened to catch one of the chefs in Colombo discussing organic food production and "safe" foods on one of the local television channels. 

I've always been a selective shopper when it comes to buying fresh fruit and vegetables at the supermarket and/or at Sunday pola. I've noticed things about local fruits and vegetables that makes me both curious and concerned about what's happening at the agricultural and farming level of the food production process. For example, why do papayas seem to have less seeds? Or, why are papayas starting to taste less like papayas? Why are some fruits starting to get larger in size than we've ever seen them in the past (like they've been injected with growth serum)? Why are there funny growths on avocados? There's plenty more questions where these came from confused

For a number of years now, I've been reading reports in the local newspapers about the use of pesticides, increased use of fertilizers, concerns over genetic modification in rice, discovery of an epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Sri Lankan farmers and other disturbing facts and figures surrounding agricultural regulation and enforcement (or lack of) and farming practices on the island. I've also had a bit of a dig around the internet to see what else is being reported in various Asian countries. It's more alarming than soothing when you delve deeper into this area, and part of me wonders how serious this issue really is. As I write up my thoughts, I don't yet have the answer to these musings... but, it is certainly a big issue from my perspective. I wonder if it'll be an issue that will ultimately break the camel's back when it comes down to staying or going...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 7

Eva Stone photo, FireworksWell it would seem 2014 has kicked off with a loud bang eek... in more ways than one. A small part of me wished for a bit of peace and quiet, but this was never going to be. And you guessed it, there were a few things that got on my goat. So, it's been loud, rambunctious and definitely a memorable start to the year! And so, here I am knocking out my first installment of "An expat in Sri Lanka" for 2014...

There were many options for New Year celebrations in Colombo this year ranging from dinner, dancing, live music, parties on the beach, festive gatherings at home and more. I did a bit of "all of the above" over the New Year's holidays and hit the beach on New Year's Day with the masses. I don't know about you, but it's always good to take a moment to reminisce and reflect on the year just passed and also to contemplate a few New Year's resolutions.

Eva Stone, New Year's Day, Mount Lavinia Beach, Sri LankaI did my reflecting and contemplating on Mount Lavinia beach. I thought it was going to be relaxed and somewhat quiet, but it turned out to be buzzing with locals and some tourists. There was a real festive feel and some beach establishments played music, while families and groups of people either frolicked in the water, played beach cricket or rugby, or played in the sand. I was surprised to see a couple of horses on the beach for children to pay to ride.

This time of year it's pretty calm in the water so it's a good time for a swim. I also like that Mount Lavinia beach now has lifeguards monitoring a stretch of the beach. Lately, I've been frequenting this beach a lot more than I used to - probably because I have a ton of friends who live down this way and I've been hanging out with them over the festive season.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Wishing all my blog friends and readers...

Scenes from Mount Lavinia Beach, New Years Day 2014

**~ HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014 ~**