Monday, June 2, 2008

Wesak Poya -- Two Weeks Late

The plan was that for Wesak weekend we’d go to Arugambay. We had a free ride, cheap accommodation, everything was set.

Except that we had to work.

And we didn’t actually figure this out until Thursday because our need to work was really based on the Italians inability to accomplish anything without us.

So no A’bay for us.

Up by eight, done with work around midnight. That is how we spent the most significant Buddhist holiday in Sri Lanka. [Side note: although we were told the local staff would help, no one did. Frankly we felt bad asking them. Two staff did help us Saturday morning, but that was technically a work day for them anyway.]

Luckily the first draft needed to be sent to Italy (though we wrote the entire proposal, the Italians are the actual applicants) on Monday afternoon, so we were able to take a little break.

Monday was the actual poya day. We were told to go to BMICH because that is where all the festivities would be, but apparently we missed them. BMICH was a ghost-land by the time we got there in the afternoon. So we decided we’d just walk around and find some festivities.

Several hours later we had made our way to Beira Lake. Actually we had given up and were just going to have dinner at Mango Tree, which is next to Beira Lake. Stuff was actually happening there so we took a look.

Wesak is when the Buddhist’s celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It is sort of the Buddhist equivalent of Christmas, complete with lights. They hang lanterns all over the place and, we were told, give out free food. During our walk we were in search of this free food, but only found one cookie and some super sweet juice.

Still, Colombo looked very pretty with all the lights. We went to the Geoffrey Bawa temple on Beira Lake. I’ve never been before and it is very nice. There were tons of people jostling to get in and pushing you out of the way. I will never understand this – it is so very important to get in front of everyone else, but then they walk at a snail’s pace.

Tuesday we went to Blue Water to go swimming. We told the Italians we needed at least one day off from our four-day weekend. It was lovely. The sun was shining; the pool was not too busy. There was a random Sri Lankan family who decided to move their lounge chairs up next to ours and then subsequently sat there watching us as you would watch a movie. We eventually moved because it was creeping us out.

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