At peace in Kandy


After a long time, I was back in my favourite city, Kandy, where river, lake and mountain meet. It wasn't very late when I arrived at Dunuwille’s residence at Lake Round. They hadn't changed. They continued to be wonderful hosts. Aunty Damayanthi was gracious and caring as ever. It was always an open house and they always made me feel homely. I can’t even remember what I had for dinner that night with the family, but, whatever was real home cooked food and delicious. I slept well in the beautiful room I always liked, though they had made a few changes. Walking around I saw more photographs added to Aunty’s collection from her children to grandchildren and even great grandchildren. The German Shepard Phoebe was friendly and loving. She had become lazy. I wouldn’t blame her because those were rainy days. I slept till late unlike before, had a string hopper breakfast in the outside area looking at the parrots, listening to them sing, though I couldn't understand a word. But, I pretended to enjoy parrot songs. It was a Friday and I decided to get lazy in Kandy, though it isn't easy for me to get lazy in the Hill Capital. Temptations are always high to go out and meet my old schoolmates or just walk around and bump on to people both known and even unknown. I wanted to visit side Queen’s, Vijaya Café, to have some dosa and idly. I am not sure if it is even there today. That was the place for those who couldn't afford to wine and dine at the Queen’s Hotel. Vijaya Cafe was the Commoners Hotel cum cafe. Yes. The side Queen’s.

In the afternoon/evening, I walked along the lake towards the city. My favourite city, Kandy, is polluted. Looks like it would continue to be polluted and no one would do anything to make it a better place. However, most people still remain humble whilst most politicians rob them. I was at peace walking by the Kandy Lake, passing the Joy Boat house which remains to this day. I remembered how excited we were as schoolboys to take a joy boat ride. I wore a smile looking at the people taking a joy boat ride. I was wondering where the last Governor of Kandy is, though I failed to call him. Yes. I am referring to Tikiri Kobbekaduwa who I refer to as the last Governor of Kandy. Maybe he is the last Governor. I say so because the present governor doesn't look like one and she does not govern Kandy. I have only heard expletives coming out of her mouth on Television. Seated by the lake , I did shed a tear for Kandy.

I walked towards the Kandy City Centre to meet Amali. We had to take a look at the place where we were going to record our programme for News 1st Gammedda and Good Market. Surprisingly, it was my first visit to the Kandy City Centre, though the owner Thusitha Wijesena had invited me several times. Maybe, because I enjoyed walking along the streets of Kandy and going to the Kandy Market, Bake House, Devon Cafe , Lyons Cafe , Empire Hotel and even Swans cafe and not meeting them. Amali was surprised that I hadn't been to the City Centre. To me the City Centre is where the Kandy market and Bogambara are situated. Not a mere shopping centre.

However, having heard so much about the Kandy City Centre and how Thusitha had planned and built it , I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the place. It was very orderly and very clean. He sure had a plan and a vision and knew what he wanted to offer the people of Kandy. Amali took me to the food court. Let me tell the reader, that the food courts at Majestic City, Crescat and Liberty Plaza are no match for the food court at the Kandy City Centre. The place was squeaky clean and orderly. We decided to have Thai, and the food was excellent. We ate at leisure looking at the Kandy Lake and people passing by. Everyone eating at the food court were pleasant too. I asked Amali " Why can’t Colombo be like this?" She smiled as usual. Oh, I forgot, Colombo is busy doing this Megapolis thing while everything else is screwed up in the city.

I am no religious person, however, on that day, I wanted to go to the Temple of the Tooth /Maligawa. As we walked toward the Temple, a popcorn seller seated by the lake, shouted at us "Ah Sir, Api hema dama Pathikada balanawa" (We watch your programme everyday) He even shouted out to his colleagues who also watch the daily programme. We cannot express how happy we were. There we were in Kandy to record two programmes and met our viewers. Thank you News 1st . Masses do appreciate when we try to empower them. We met several others from tour guides to policemen to devotees and even people serving at the Temple, who recognized and acknowledged us in a very humble way. We worshiped at the Maligawa and offered lotus flowers at the feet of the Buddha. Amali wanted to sit and pray to Buddha, and for the first time I too sat on the ground at the Maligawa and worshipped and recited gathas, that I remembered. Amali took a long time to worship. I wondered what she told the Buddha, taking such a long time. We were at peace, away from it all , seated inside the temple for a long time. Though I have sat on several other temple grounds, this was the first time I sat like that at the Maligawa. May be I will do it again and soon. All we need is peace and not Kiriellas

We both then walked along the Kandy Lake, passing barricades which I hate and which isn't good. Buddha didn't want it and let’s not forget that he left an Empire to achieve Buddhahood. We passed both sleepy and alert looking policemen, some sections polluted by so many vehicles, unruly people, vendors, couples enjoying the peace in Kandy, school children, tourists, teachers, even known people, my favourite Children’s Park which brought back memories of Trinity, Tennis club, my favourite Girls School in Kandy - Mahamaya , Swiss Hotel, Malwatte Temple.

Come what may, the feeling one gets in Kandy is wonderful. But, who is trying to take it away from us?

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