Lanka is a huge part of life that I love"
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Yke Berkouwer had very different expectations when he arrived in Sri
Lanka, accompanying his diplomat wife, Susan Blankhart some
three years ago. But today, he feels ......
star treatment for Trinco's poor orphans
upheavals in Peraliya
culture sprang from Dhamma fountainhead
as the Romans do - around the world
Lanka is a huge part of life that I love"
80 years ago"
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Yke Berkouwer had very different expectations when he arrived in Sri
Lanka, accompanying his diplomat wife, Susan Blankhart some three
years ago. But today, he feels "so settled and happy" that
it makes him sad to know that in two more months
it would be time for good-byes.
If you expect the non-committal
diplomacy generally associated with the diplomatic circle, Berkouwer
certainly comes as a surprise. A management consultant by
profession, happily holding a regular job at the Oasis Hospital
Colombo, he is happiest when interacting with people.
" I am a very people's person.
And there is so much beyond the confines of the diplomatic
community, and I always try to interact with all layers of people.
It is a rewarding thing," he says, full of praise for the Sri
Lankans who made him feel welcome.
Nation of inspiration
Sri Lanka remains a huge inspiration
for this unassuming and infectiously friendly man, who is full of
praise for the hospitable nation. The Sri Lankan people have
inspired him so much that during his short stay here, he has
Sinhala and has just finished writing a book on a local beggar
" I always want to interact with
people and that's why I studied the language," says Berkouwer,
who found that his communication was somewhat constrained at the
Oasis Hospital where the top rung spoke the Queen's language whereas
50 % did not. "I
wanted to be able to interact with them," he says with a smile,
full of regret that he did not start on day one.
And now, it is almost time for
good-byes. But for the husband of the Netherlands' diplomatic
representative here, Sri Lanka has been an overwhelmingly happy
experience and one that he would not easily forget.
Today, he is so integrated to the
island's community that he refuses to consider it a temporary home.
"It's a huge part of life that I love," he smiles.
His wife, Susan Blankhart worked at the
Foreign Affairs Ministry in the Netherlands before moving to Zambia
where Berkouwer worked as a director in computer studies.
were some 15 years between the Zambian assignment and her posting to
Sri Lanka during which period Susan worked at the Foreign Ministry
in the Netherlands.
The Sri Lankan assignment is very
special to the Berkouwers. They arrived here on a significant day -
February 11, 2002 when the Sri Lankan government signed a ceasefire
agreement with the Liberation Tigers.
Red letter day
" It was a momentous occasion. I
hope they build on it,"says Berkouwer.
Since their arrival, they have tried to
learn more about the country's identity, its cultural ethos as well
as the ethnic conflict. "I believe that one cannot learn about
a country unless one is somewhat familiar with the language. And I
love the many exotic places in this island like Kandy, Bentota,
Beruwala, Uda Walawe, Yala and Anuradhapura.
I love them for their diversity and beauty. And the Buddhist
temples fascinate me," he claims, adding that he could never
of these places.
"Any pet peeves here?", I
queried and he quickly nods " It's the weather." But there
is so much that he has come to love, that he does not even grumble
about the traffic jams, the noise pollution and the ill-maintained
roads. Berkouwer likes to walk on the busy roads in Pettah, observe
the market din that prevails and to self drive - drawbacks
"As for the weather, we learned to
beat it fast. We created a lovely tree house in the garden. That's
where we have our tea amidst bird chirping," he explains,
ushering me into the main house.
At first glance, it is a minimalist and
elegant house. But
he accepts that people would naturally be curious about a diplomat's
abode and agrees that a certain 'essence' is expected to be there.
Symbol of heritage
"My wife is the Queen's
representative. So our house has to reflect the essence of Dutch
heritage," he tells me, showing paintings of
Amsterdam 80 years ago that adorn the main wall." The
clothes have changed, but not the buildings or the bridges. They
remain the same in lovely old Amsterdam," he wistfully
In the dining area, there is a lovely
wall hanging with a windmill design.
"Lots of people think windmills are so displayed for
aesthetic purposes. They perform an essential function of pumping
water," he adds.
Having lived in Sri Lanka for almost
three years, he finds life more settled here, than elsewhere. Their
sons remain overseas while their youngest, a daughter is attending
Overseas School, Colombo.
And one of the pleasant surprises for
the Berkouwers was in finding the country to be greener than
expected, and streamlined. " We were somewhat influenced by our
experiences in India. This island is stunning. Its palms, colourful
people and paddy fields create a unique identity," Berkouwer
The country's history of war did not
deter them from coming to Colombo. They kept open minds and were
feeling adventurous about living in a tiny Asian island. "I
don't mind staying here for another decade," he says.
Learning on the job
Upon arrival, he lacked the nerve to
learn Sinhala. So, he studied vocabulary and grammar books on his
own and later with some help from a hospital staffer
practised pronunciation. It has helped tremendously in his job as a
" Take hospitals here and there.
The hospital organisation is different.
The Dutch hospitals have more facilities, but the problems
are the same like how some people work and others shirk. Only the
conditions are different.
The same quarrels and troubles persist in the entire world.
Knowing Sinhala has made life easy,"
was delighted to discover that the locals did not have any
resentment for the Berkouwers
on account of their Dutch identity.
"I expected some hostility, a
streak of resentment for a historical wrong.
I never expected to have this easy level of acceptance. I am
touched," he says, adding that it is to the credit of a nation
that does not bear ancient grudges; but accepts the Dutch rule as a
part of history alone.
Berkouwer has made some interesting
studies of the Dutch heritage here.
A surprise find was a little Dutch hospital near the Kelani
River, says he, adding that he loves the visible signs of Dutch
heritage here. And he divides this into five categories.
Explaining further, he speaks of the
'Dutch influence' resulting from Dutch rule in Sri Lanka. "The
First is the religious influence with the island having several
Dutch Reformed churches.
Second, the number of Dutch names that
are used here.
Third is the recognition given to the
Dutch ancestry with the Dutch Burgher community having its own
distinct identity with their special organizations and ceremonies.
The fourth is the linguistic
influence" he says. Berkouwer finds it fascinating that some
typical Dutch words like 'arthapal' - which means
earth-apple in Dutch pronounced as aartapple - have been
absorbed into the Sinhala language.
"I love studying the people, their
culture and language. Temples inspire me so much," he notes.
And out of the people who influenced him is a beggar couple.
"They left such strong
started off when I started donating a coin or two, but after two
dropping coins into a till was insufficient. I wanted to do
They made him a writer. The book
written in Dutch is now ready for release. Its proceeds would go to
"That's the kind of inspirational
effect this country has
on me. It is an amazing multi-faceted country," he says.
Berkouwer is full of praise for the
resilient Lankans and believes that people here have more acceptance
and are more adept at dealing with disappointments. "They are
not rooted in their grief. They move on. Even after serious mishaps,
they bounce back," he notes.
Yet, reflectively he adds that it is
this very strength that works against them, as problems are fixed on
a day to day basis, as they are encountered without seeking
Looking back, he feels that Sri Lankan
resilience is something to appreciate and is happy that the recovery
process has been fast with regard to the tsunami devastation.
"We were holidaying in Australia
and we could not believe that a wave could cause such havoc. The
south I loved, was gone. We were there, glued to television sets,
stunned that our little island home has been shattered."
Berkouwer believes that Sri, in order
to experience a development leap, only needs to fix one thing.
"Pursue your chances for peace earnestly. You have it
all here on this paradise isle. But the opportunities for
growth are going a waste due to the prevailing atmosphere.
The need is for permanent peace. The truce was a good beginning, but
it needs several follow-ups, which is the need of the hour."
All is not lost for Sri Lanka, he
believes. He personally feels that peace could benefit the north
enormously, an area that has not progressed owing to the war,
compared to the rest of the country.
"Time is on Sri Lanka's side.
People have waited long enough for this hatred to cease and
for development to take place.
This nation must seize the moment and turn it into a hugh
opportunity for growth," he says.
It is something he would very much like to see taking place
in a land, he claims, where soon he will leave a part of his heart
walked into the Colombo Plaza Hotel with their Sili Sili bags
star treatment for Trinco's poor orphans
together in one room of the five star hotel
By Ranee Mohamed
Eighteen poor orphans
who lived on the
vegetables in their backyard came to Colombo. They left
Trincomalee on Monday,
June 13 at 6
a.m. They had no food, no proper
place to stay and also had no money. But they had something
that few of us have - happiness in their
hearts. Happiness at the very idea of coming to Colombo,
happiness at being away from their poor, humble and difficult
The glitz of Colombo welcomed them -
there were lights everywhere, they saw the
abundance and rich city life that is only witnessed by the
However, it did not take long for life
to change for them. Carrying
their sili sili bags, the orphans, all girls aged between 6 to 16
a place that few of us can walk into - it was the Colombo Plaza
Hotel, for this is where they were going to live for the coming two
days. It was a management decision - that the Colombo Plaza gives
these orphans the time of their lives. And they walked in here, with
their sili sili bags, too frightened to look around. It was their
first time in Colombo.
A new world
For the children, everything about the
hotel was amazing. They remained with their heads bent.
The interior was so plush - they were over-awed. "What
is this place, is it heaven?" asked the littlest of them all.
Then they all huddled into the lifts. "It is cool in
here," they murmured happily. They did not even know when they
reached the fourth floor.The lift took them without any trembles and
tumbles - so unlike the life which they are normally used to
Then they were escorted to the white
sheets, golden hues and the luxury that is five star comfort - and
they were just over the moon.
"How are we going to open these
taps?" they asked crowding around the fittings. Some of them
were too frightened to touch the little bottles of shampoos and
shower gel. The hot water from
the taps caused their eyes to widen. There were several warm
towels in every room. "All this in one room and a TV too for
each of our rooms?" they chorused.
So they switched on the TV and huddled
together on the huge warm beds and spent a cool night together in
one room. Thereafter, in the dead of the night, they crept through
the corridors into their own rooms. For a moment they were away from
the troubles of Trincomalee, they had closed their eyes to the
hardship faced by
The Colombo Plaza was giving the
orphans a true taste of love and warmth.
Then a wonder-world
Then it was time to give a huge round
of applause for the man behind the merry-go-round, the giant wheel
and the trains and all other wonder
toys. "We always think of the orphans," said
Chairman and Managing Director, Wonder World Entertainments,
"Is this really true," asked the orphans as they
scrambled from one painted animal to another. From the warmth of the
tea cup they boarded the coloured train that took them to a world of
happiness - a world they have never reached in all their years of
"We love to eat hot hoppers,"
they whispered. That is because at the orphanage it is not practical
to make hoppers for 18 children. But this was soon remedied by
Krishan and Indrika Senaratne who arranged a hopper dinner
for them and a dessert to follow. Orphans never get desserts in
love gifts, but when one is an orphan in Trincomalee, gifts seldom
come their way. But in Colombo, these little girls, from nowhere,
without anybody, touched hearts and opened purses -
Ranjit and Lucille Dahanayake, Hilda Nicholas, Anusha
Coomaraswamy and Mazahira Jabeer showered them with bags of gifts
and linen. And off they went to Galle Face, "What is this
place?" they queried. And they soon found out - they were
running around the open space on that cool night, stopping only for
the ice cream. "Can't we
stay just one more day," they begged. "We want to
come to Galle Face again tomorrow," they begged. For these
girls, who spent their nights crying, it was days and nights of
It was the time of their lives for
these little orphans of Trincomalee.
A time that will never come back.
June 15 was the saddest day of their
lives. "We cannot go. We want to stay - just one more
day please," they pleaded.
Back to reality
But it was time to get back to reality
Manager, Colombo Plaza, Rohan Karr softened and cushioned the stark
reality with gifts
of books, bags and pencils and more glistening bags and boxes
pies, chicken pastries, prawn rolls and tinned fish sandwiches,
apples, grapes, fruit juice and milk - all made into lovely packages
together with other
wonder-ideas that this
General Manager from England can whiz out in a couple of
minutes. Every day, during their stay at the Colombo Plaza the
orphans were given foods parcels, fruits and all the good things
that life does not give them.
The day dawned - it was time for them
to go. And at the Colombo Plaza, the exclusive, carpeted Cheers Pub
had a breakfast buffet laid out for these children of
Trincomalee. The soft lights made the croissants glisten even more -
there were sausages, bacon and
eggs, jam, butter, stringhoppers, hoppers, waffles, fruits
and fruit juices - and the orphans were frightened to eat.
Resident Manager Yasmin Cader had made
the behind the scene arrangements, PR Manager Tharika Goonetilleke
was serving them hoppers, and the Rooms Division Manager Fouzie
Mohideen was there to see that things go well with the children.
"Thank you uncle," they
chorused aloud to General Manager Karr.
"Thank you," we certainly
must say to the revolutionary hotelier
And to the safe and comfortable journey
that the orphans had to and from Colombo and for
their movements in the city of Colombo, they remember with
gratitude the Chief
of Defence Staff and Commander in Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral
Daya Sandagiri who reminds us that it is great to be great, but even
greater to be human
"Life is hard for them. They have
no mother or father to talk about their worst fears.
They have no one in this world to care for. This is why we
are trying to do our best for these orphans," said the sister
in charge of these girls.
And for all those people who have
changed the lives of these poor children even for a day, life will
certainly bring forth its manifold blessings with time. For these
girls, who spent their nights crying, it was two days and nights of
laughter and fun.
What goes around will certainly come around.
upheavals in Peraliya
By Jamila Najmuddin in peraliya
Ghosts, what are they and where do they come from? Why is it that they
proceed to live in another world so close to our world? There are so
many questions revolving around ghosts and spirits, that it makes us
wonder who they really are and what they want from us. Unfortunately
the world does not have enough knowledge about ghosts and their ilk.
There is so much to learn, but so
little is known about the paranormal events surrounding ghosts.
I never believed in ghosts, because I
had never seen one or experienced their presence. For years, ghost
stories have been told to little children in order to frighten them
and get them to behave.
For centuries there have been stories about the existence of
spirits on earth, but a large section of the community dismisses the
subject as 'rumour'. There are some, who claim they have seen and
heard these paranormal beings.
My visit to Peraliya last week, made me
change my views on ghosts and their existence. The scene of
the train wreck due to the tsunami which claimed many lives, was a
sight to see. The memories of women, children and men trapped in the
compartments as the waves gushed in, made one wonder of the terrible
people must have suffered in the last few minutes of their lives.
The four compartments of the train now
on display, have turned the area into a tourist attraction during
daytime. Residents around however, claim that all is not right in
the evenings. "All sorts of eerie noisies are heard in the
nights" they chorus.
"Many people were trapped in these
compartments when the tsunami hit the area. A lot of people lost
their lives. The memories of that disastrous day are etched vividly
in our minds when in the evenings, we hear voices
of little children screaming from the train. At first we
thought it was our imagination.
But many people have heard it," M. Gunapala, a resident
living close to the wreckage claimed.
continues to live in the area as he has nowhere else to go
He says that while at first, the experience was funny, he has
now come to accept the presence of spirits in the area. "I have
small children who fear to step out of the house alone in the
nights. There are nights when we hear little children and women
screaming 'save us'. The voices are heard coming from atop the
coconut trees. It is scary, but we have learnt to live with
it," Gunapala says.
S. Sumanasiri, a resident also living
close to the place of the tragedy, told us about the day the tsunami
struck. "People in the area climbed into the train to save
themselves from the gushing waters. Although at first there were not
many people in the train, the crowd doubled when people on the road
too climbed into the compartments. They also got on to the roof of
the compartments in order to save themselves. I ran further away
from the sea with my child and when I finally looked back, the train
had been washed away," he said.
He added that although he does not hear
noises or screams every night there have been instances when he has
seen "transparent figures" in the area. "A lot of
people, including children, faced a horrible death on the day of the
tsunami. However, we chose to ignore these events and continue to
live here without making an issue of it," he says.
is joined by others in the area who also confirm the presence
of spirits in Peraliya. "Many of us have heard the noises.
There is a school close by and the man who sleeps there in the night
has also spoken of hearing noises. We mostly hear woman and children
screaming 'save us' and 'help us'. It is very pathetic," B.
Krishanthi, also a resident said.
Krishanthi says that while she too was
saved from the waves by her husband and a neighbour, the memories of
the tsunami will never be forgotten, as the screams of the women and
children only bring back memories of the day which has gone down in
Sri Lankan history as the worst day of disaster.
While Krishanthi and the rest continue
to live in the area with the spooks and the voices of spirits
screaming "save us", they are probabaly right when they
say, the memories of the tsunami would never fade - after all it
indeed was the worst day of our lives.
focus on Mihintale
culture sprang from Dhamma fountainhead
The spotlight falls on Mihintale once again with the advent of Poson
full moon on Tuesday, when pilgrims from all parts of Sri Lanka
converge on the mountain top at Mihintale to pay homage to Arahat
Mahinda for bringing the message of the Buddha to our island over
2,300 years ago.
The story of the introduction of
Buddhism to our land by this emissary of the Mauryan monarch Asoka
is too well known to bear repetition here, but the impact of his
missionary endeavours in this blessed land, hallowed by the presence
of the Buddha Himself has been so significant and far-reaching that
its essence permeated the very fabric of the day-to-day life of the
people of that time.
Devanampiyatissa, the king of
Anuradhapura who was the first to be converted to the new faith,
became a patron saint of Buddhism. And so with royal patronage the
spread of the Dhamma over the island was swift. But as it expanded
its sway, Buddhism came to terms as it were with its Sri Lankan
environment by assimilating pre-Buddhist cults, rituals and
The spread of the new religion was not
without its political implications. It stabilised the bonds of
friendship between Sri Lanka and the Mauryan empire.
Following on Mahinda's success came the
Arahat Thera Sangamittha bringing with her a sapling of the sacred
Bodhi tree at Gaya under which Siddhartha Gautama had attained
Enlightenment. This sapling was received with due ceremony by the
king and planted in the sacred city. Sangamittha later estabilished
the order of Bhikkunis or Buddhist nuns in Sri lanka. The order is
With the close links forged between the
state and Buddhism, royalty paid the greatest respect to the sangha.
The royal pleasure garden, Mahameuvana in Anuradhapura was gifted by
the king to Mahinda for use as a monastery. This formed the nucleus
of the Maha Vihare which was later to become a historic seat of
Buddhist learning in Sri Lanka.
As the Buddhist influence spread, the
people eventually began to use a common language and common script.
The multi-ethnic society of the time was basically Aryan or North
Indian, while a recognisable dravidian component was there. This
society in accordance with the new teaching, emphasised harmony and
a spirit of live and let live. Gradually the religion became
formalised and institutionalised with Buddhism and royal authority
supporting each other and drawing strength from its association.
The Buddha Sasana now firmly
estabilished in Sri lankan soil, was enjoying royal patronage. The
treasury, provided for the maintenance of the bhikkhus who had
joined the order in large numbers, as they could not always rely on
the charity of generous folk for their sustenance. A part of the
country's agricultural surplus was also used to construct religious
edifices called stupas or chetiyas and cultural embellishments
associated with them.
Soon the orthodox Theravada teaching
which mahinda introduced and which was noted for its charity,
simplicity and compassion, and emphasised the Arahat ideal leading
to Nibbana, had to contend with Mahayanists who had seceded from the
Maha Vihare and became a rival and independent sect. The Mahayana
doctrine was received with great sympathy at Abhayagiri which had
been built in the reign of King Vattagamini Abhaya around 103 BC.
Apparently Mahayana ritual and ceremonies attracted lay Buddhists
and soon the vesak festival marking the Buddha's birth,
Enlightenment and passing away came to be celebrated in Sri lanka.
The Sacred Tooth Relic Dalada of the
Buddha brought in the reign of King Sri Meghavanna (BC 301-28) under
Mahayana auspices was housed in the Abhayagiri and soon Buddhists
following the Mahayana tradition, began to worship image houses.
Rituals like pirith also came to be chanted in times of national
calamity, drought, sickness or to drive away evil spirits.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts, painting and
sculpture, and, language and literature received a fresh impetus as
the doctrine took root in the country. Early Buddhist shrines in Sri
lanka were based on the Indian models and in the wake of the Mauryan
Buddhist mission, came the arts and crafts of India as well.
But after an initial period of
Indianisation which tended to initiate the prevalent culture, a
distinct Sri Lankan style in art and culture emerged, bearing
however, the stamp of its Indian origin. The design for the imposing
stupas which eventually dotted the lands of Rajarata came from North
India. They enshrined Buddha relics and therefore, were objects of
The stupas gave subdued but effective
expression to the quintessence of Buddhism - simplicity and
serenity. There are five,
built by Sri Lankan monarchs - Thuparama, Mirisavetiya,
Ruvanveliseya, Abahayagiri, and Jetavana the largest of them all,
and smaller stupas at Minhintale (Indiketiseya) and at Vijayarama in
Anuradhapura. Some of these huge edifices have exuberant
architecture and ornate frontispieces Vahalkadas.
Another monumental ruin is the Lova
Maha Paya or Brazen palace of unique construction at Anuradhapura.
It was begun by King Dutta Gamini and is believed to have had nine
storeys supported by 1000 granite pillars.
Stone, apparently, had played a limited
role in sri lankan architecture. But in terms of variety and
artistic achievements, the sculptures of Anuradhapura are rich and
impressive as their architecture. An outstanding feature of these
sculptures is the moonstone Sandakada Pahana considered by scholars
as the finest product of Sinhala art and central to the theme of
Indian influence is prominent in other
features of sculpture in Anuradhapura, for example, in the
guardstones at Buddhist shrines. The Isurumuniya rock temple is
renowned for its ornate rock carvings. Sirigirya is the outstanding
monument of them all
- a complex of buildings consisting of a royal palace and
fortress which together constitute a magnificent and unique tour de
force. It is renowned for its exquisite frescos on a
cleft on the pathway of the rock.
The inscriptions and literature of the
early Anuradhapura period show the paintings as an art form, had a
long history and that sculpture and architecture were extensively
practised. Buddhism also gave the greatest stimulus to literary
activity. The Theravada brought to the island by Mahinda had been
handed down orally. The scriptures were in Pali and it was this
language that they were committed to writing for the first time at
Aluvihare near Matale in the first century BC, and around the
scriptures grew a considerable body of writing in Pali and old
Sinhala consisting of exegetical works, religious texts and
historical accounts. The earliest historical work in Pali is the
Dipawansa. the Mahavamsa is also in Pali verse. The Culavamsa
surveyed the island's history up to the reign of Parakrama Bahu I.
Art of writing
Sinhala as a distinct language and
script rapidly developed under the joint stimuli of Pali and
Buddhism. Indeed it would be true to say that the art of writing
came to Sri Lanka with Buddhism. By the second century Ad, Sinhala
was being used for literary purposes. Sinhala was enriched by
translation from Pali and Sanskirit, the language of the
Mahayanists, and Hindu scriptures left a strong impression on
Sinhala, in later years.
Over 23 centuries have passed since
Mahinda echoed the Master's word but His message is as fresh and
evergreen today as it was when he first preached on the historic
Missaka mountain and the cultural efflorescence that followed in its
wake sprang from the fountainhead for the Buddha Dhamma and
eventually moulded the destiny of the nation. Let us, therefore,
when thinking of Poson, pay homage to the great saint for the rich
legacy he has left us.
as the Romans do
- around the world
I just love to travel. Now the girls are grown up, it is
very expensive, as their main interest is shopping ! No
interest in culture at all ! I remember, my first visit overseas was
to Bangkok, when we were just married. I was so naive that I thought
all these young girls in the hotel were daughters of the owner! Only
when I saw them going off with different men in tow, did it click !
Then we went on to Singapore, where my husband had to meet some
businessmen. One night we were invited to dinner and I noticed their
wives were much younger than them. One of them insisted on dropping
us back at the hotel, and he stopped on the way and his `wife' got
off with a hearty "byeee !" Once again I was enlightened!
Germany is a favourite destination of
the whole family, as I have a super sister-in-law there, who really
pampers us. The kids love it as she gives them ice cream and yoghurt
for lunch ! Getting back to rice and curry is a task when we return
! My brother-in-law is very popular too, as his hobby is music, and
he has a fully sound-proof and equipped studio. So, the kids have a
ball pretending they are rock musicians ! The ancient German cities
are so quaint and their churches, breathtaking. It's lovely to hear
the church bells chiming too, they have all different chimes, and
figurines come out and pirouette in time to the music.
Paris is one place I simply have to
visit again, since we rushed through on our way to Euro Disney.
Once, some pavement artists asked us whether they could do portraits
of our kids. We chose a bunch of Chinese ones, since we wanted to
help Asians. Apparently, they were working illegally. Suddenly there
were shouts and the artists took their equipment and ran off in
seconds, whilst a police car screeched to a stop and ran towards
them menacingly. To our horror, we realised the kids had run off
with them too! We had to shout at them to get them back. The police
were eyeing us suspiciously and we gazed at the Eiffel Tower to show
we were tourists ! When the coast was clear, the artists re-appeared
like magic and told us they would finish the sketches on the banks
of the Seine. One of them kept watch at the top of the stairs, and
the masterpieces were completed after all !
I love England too, because of the
culture and the theatre. I try to see at least one play when I am
there. We took the kids to see Lord Of The Rings there, and my
friends and I were exhausted after a tiring day, so the adults
snored very loudly through most of it. (According to the kids we
were a great embarrassment to them !) I kept jerking awake at the
battle scenes, and dozing off again ! What a waste ! Another time,
we took the kids to see Harry Potter and my husband thought he knew
the way to the same theatre.
We got there safely, but after the
movie, he must have taken a wrong turn and we were quite lost.
Nobody was out as they all go to bed early, not like over
here. Finally, we saw two ladies get out of a car and my husband
went running up the garden path towards them. I thought they would
scream and chase him off, but they were quite nice, one of them had
a map in the car and showed us where we were, and showed us the way
back. Our hosts were worried and had not gone to bed wondering where
we were !
Australia is lovely too, I loved the
fairy penguins on Phillip Island, even though we had chosen the
coldest night of the season ! They were so cute it was worth all the
shivering ! The mining town of Ballarat was so well preserved, you
could imagine you were living in that era ! You could actually go
into pubs and sweet shops and buy goodies from that age. Quite yummy
! Everyone was dressed up in the street with crinoline dresses and
frilly parasols. Glad I was not around then ! Ah well, nowadays of
course I wish I could just push a button and be teleported without
all the bother of travelling !
- Honky Tonk Woman