On August 11, 2016, Meer Ali and I woke up early and headed to Yala National Park. We hired a safari jeep and traversed the park. Didn’t see as many wild animals as I used to see in Wilpattu National Park which is close to my village, Mahawilachchiya. A couple of wild elephants, wild boar, wild buffaloes, deer, crocodiles, big and small types of lizards, birds, etc. were seen but, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with what Yala had to offer me. Maybe because of my first love is with Wilpattu.
Kirinda beach was beautiful and so were the makeshift huts that sold seashells, etc. We spent quite a time on the beach taking pictures. We left Kirinda around 11.30 am and again it was riding on dead straight newly repaired roads and a rider is naturally tempted to break the speed barrier despite the highway patrol present or rather hiding in ambush in hidden spots every 10 km or so.
There was this place which a lady sold kirala juice (kirala – Sonneratia caseolaris) and I stopped the bike just out of curiosity. It was found to be a very tasty drink and I had two glassfuls while Meer was contented with one. It was cheap and organic too. I do not know why we don’t promote coconuts, wood apple, kirala, orange, etc. juices instead of carbonated drinks. I can understand people drinking the carbonated drinks in the countries where there are less local fruits but in Sri Lanka, you get seasonal fruits from different terrains of the island no matter what season. Unfortunately, soda makers have been able to advertise in a way that the youth indulge in these unhealthy carbonated drinks.
On the way through the Galle Road we spent some time at a naval monument at Tangalle. I first thought this was a monument to remember the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami but it was not to be.
Meer Ali was excited when I took him to Matara beach as he was a fan of the legendary cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya who was christened as “Matara Mauler” by the sportswriters and cricket commentators due to his hard-hitting batting style which made Sri Lankan team a formidable unit that could beat any cricketing nation during his time. Once, former Pakistani cricketer and the present cricket commentator, Rameez Raja used the word “carnage” to describe Jayasuriya’s batting. Whenever he went for a big score, it was just a ritual for the rest of the match to end up Sri Lanka winning. Jayasuriya was a product of Matara. Meer paused for a few shots on my motorbike on Matara beach.
When I passed Weligama, it was impossible not to remember Rekha, a pretty Nightingale whom I worked with at Asiri Hospital, Colombo 05. Hers was the sweetest smile I had ever seen. I could remember that she was from Weligama, this small coastal town but didn’t know any contact details of her. Besides, I had last seen her some 20 years ago.
It was around six in the evening when we passed Weligama and riding at night through Gall Road was not fun as most Sri Lankan motorists don’t use the dipped beam or the traffic beam of their head lamps and in an inconsiderate manner, almost always use their country beams to dazzle any oncoming fellow motorist. They simply drive with headlights on and you get mad when you get those high flash lights directly on your face. This is not considered as a serious traffic offence by the police, too. I get very irritated when the people do so but it will take eons for the Lankan motorists to learn this and become cultured motorists.
We stopped several times on the way to have tea, but my favorite was coffee. Coffee is my cup of tea 😊.
Riding some monotonous 150 km bracing myriads of non-dipping main beams of oncoming traffic, along the island’s south western coast we reached the metropolitan Mount Lavinia and were put up in a small hotel for the night. Usually riding such a long distance on a motorbike could be strenuous to a rider but when you have a companion like Meer who was a rare sort of guys when compared with most Indians, you don’t feel the discomfort of the journey. We both sang Hindi songs on the way and he was surprised that I knew more Hindi songs than he did. He said he never felt that he is away from India with Hindi songs being played in almost all small towns we passed. I find both Hindi and Spanish languages are very lyrical and this is why I love them. I had a chance of securing a lucrative job opportunity in Japan if I were ready to learn Japanese but if I will have to learn a second language other than English, it would be Hindi or Spanish. Not Japanese and not French at all even if I am to contest for the post of General Secretary of the United Nations!