Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrating Pola and Sri Lankan Marketplaces

Pola is a big part of the way of life in Sri Lanka. These usually happen on the weekends, but there also  established markets in daily operation throughout the island of varying sizes. Going to your local Sunday pola (or marketplace) is a must-do experience. It's a way of learning about local fruit and vegetables, locally made products, getting to know your community and trying new things. I've mentioned Sunday pola in passing a few times in previous blogs such as Island fruit and vegetables.. take a walk on the exotic! and An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 2.

I've always been particularly fond of markets, whether it's fresh produce, gourmet food, wet markets, antiques, knick knacks and odds and ends. I used to meet up with friends in London on the weekends around various markets, from Borough to Camden to Notting Hill and more for breakfast, shopping and strolling. And, I've fallen into a similar pattern or habit in Sri Lanka. Sometimes I'm all down to business at my local pola buying what I need on my grocery list, while other times I meet my friends at one of the weekend markets and stroll leisurely through, enjoying a few snacks and drinks while taking in the vibe and atmosphere.

Over the past few years a few regular specialty markets have arisen, which has added some variety into the mix and brought more awareness to organically farmed produce and healthier (sometimes even gourmet) local foods. In addition, the facilities or venues for some of these markets have been greatly improved ensuring a better overall experience. I have truly fallen in love with the "let it all" hang out, higgledy-piggledy local polas, which sprawl out across the road in a seemingly haphazard manner and where you find all sorts of amusing characters to interact with.