Thursday, September 2, 2010

Band of

There is one thing that I miss about the US and only one thing. And that is the friends and family here. Last night was a good night, succulent all you can eat meats at the Sampa Grill, stuffed to the gills to such an extent that I thought I felt my heart try and exit my chest. The poor thing was probably tired of the cholesterol overload and wanting to get to a new recipient at the hospital across the road. The talk was of the past two years, climbing walls to avoid cuddling, incomprehensible rowing talks, infected air beds and moisturized feet. The last year also cropped up with a recap of my exploits, laughing at politicians, dodging bears and the other inanities of living in my favourite LSD trip.

All in all one of the best nights I’ve had. I shall miss them when I leave, the two brothers, P and S, all clowns but then that’s why I think we get along so well. The absence of N and D was felt keenly and when everyone from the US crew will be together who knows. But still dinner was great. Just check out the menu below.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Life and Love

The Valley is quiet as I sit here tapping at my computer. Traffic’s humming in the background as the afternoon heat permeates through the house. One year on from my life changing jump into the great unknown, it feels strangely ironic to be back where I started from.

The endless grid streets, busy freeways and burning sun.

And really the only good thing about being back is the warmth of the friends I haven’t seen in so long.

The last 12 months have been ups, precipitous downs and dark moments of self doubt. Had I done the right thing? Had I thrown everything I had, which was so much away for a foolish dream?

To be honest I know not where I’m going in life, the stability of a corporate way of life is combating a crazy desire to become a divemaster and spend my time in boats and dragging tanks.

But the reality is that I’m trying not to care. I’ve landed on my feet many times all over the world. I have some of the most important elements in life right now. The dry-zone trips that I love.

The dives into the ethereal blue that has captured my heart and mind.

And most importantly, perfection in a pair of brown eyes and ethereal beauty.

I’m only here for three weeks but I already ache to go home, to life and love on that crazy, hazy island.

12 months on and life is as good as it gets.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rainy Night...

The rains coming down hard outside. A thin line of concrete and curtain are all that separate me from the wind and water. Such night showers tend to raise me to despondency or contentment depending on my emotional state, fragile as it is most of the time. But tonight its comfort, something akin to what I feel when I remember a carefree, sun-kissed, mountain-blessed childhood. One that sometimes seems but a dream in the harsh glare of adulthood.

But random nostalgia aside, this weekend I felt comfort in the warmth and soft impress. I’ve had enough of the highs and lows of the last four years. I know its useless asking for a steady course from herein out but I am grateful for the past few months and would hug a whole lot of wood to keep it going. The tune seems a bit redundant given the current state of affairs...but it's still a nice one.

P.S. Thanks to Seesaw for the heads up on the KOL cover.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life according to Snow Patrol

I’m a sucker for a meme, even when I’m not tagged, so word out to T for spreading the idea of the post on her life according to those rockers from Calabasas.

Of course since I do have ‘multiple Snow Patrol themed blogs’ it’s only natural for me to pick…well…Snow Patrol.

Using only song names from one artist, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. Repost as “My Life According to (band name)”

Pick Your Artist: Snow Patrol

Are you a female or male? Last Ever Lone Gunman

Describe yourself: Ways & Means

How do you feel: Somewhere a Clock is Ticking

Describe where you currently live: Days Without Paracetamol

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? An Olive Grove Facing the Sea

Your favourite form of transportation: Lifeboats

Your best friend is: The Lightning Strike

Your favourite colour is: Chocolate

What’s the weather like: How to Be Dead

Favourite time of day: Crack the Shutters

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up

What is life to you: Wow

Your current relationship: Firelight

Breaking up: Whatever's Left

Looking for: Signal Fire

Wouldn’t mind: Grazed Knees

Your fear: Same

What is the best advice you have to give: You Could Be Happy

If you could change your name, you would change it to: Starfighter Pilot

Thought for the Day: Make This Go on Forever

How I would like to die: Downhill From Here

My motto: Open your eyes

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lightning crashes

I woke with the rain, my demon sitting on my chest, cold and inconsolable. I guess I should reconcile myself to it turning up every now and then, paranoia calling it back light a lighthouse beckoning ships. This is certainly better now though, the constant suffocation is but a dim memory. But some days, some gloomy stormy days it returns, whispering words of deceit and lies into my ear. I’ve come to learn that the best thing to do is listen, then open up and trust…in people and the old adage.

It will work out in the end

Monday, May 3, 2010

Out of the Blue

The first days glimpse had been brief and obscure, a ghostly shape drifting into the brightly lit water as the crowds churned. The second day we swam out and had better luck, as one larger than me, swam slowly past me through the coral channel. Confident and completely at ease in its environment, the grey skin dappled as the sunlight played on it, the incongruous Golden Trevalley pattering desperately to keep up.

Fired up, we decided to go even earlier, waking as the sun gleamed freshly minted across the East Coast. Excited we donned our masks, snorkels and fins and swam over the shallow coral, where the scattered branches dropped off into the range of two to three meters of water. Nothing moved on the seascape apart from the circle of snorkelers, breathing in and out, the gobys flitting discreetly amongst the branching coral and the steady rhythm of the ocean surge.

Then, out of the blue they were there. One minute the waters were empty, the next minute, they were right next to us. Eight shapes, sinuously weaving through the water with effortless grace, the black tips on their dorsal fins contrasting with the gunmetal grey of their bodies. We had obviously come early enough to catch them still on hunting mode and the Black Tip Shark pack moved purposefully over the reef, skimming the coral. They moved with such speed that you never really saw them coming until they were within a few meters. Social conditioning caused a small twinge of fear, especially when one individual circled for a closer look at me, one eye resolutely on me.

Ancient, the world’s oldest and most perfect predator yet only curious about these ungainly forms in its territory. They said I should be mortally scared of them, but all I felt as I swam with the sharks was….Awe.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

It’s hard not to feel a twinge of regret, every now and then when someone or something stirs a memory, deep buried by decades. A way of life lost brought bubbling to the surface by a random conversation with Ajja, hearing a speech from Nava. Tradition, ties lost in a moment of madness. But such is life and no one said it’s fair. I really don’t have much to complain about. It may be humid but the sun is shining brightly, when it doesn’t the monsoon rains are warm and friendly. Living in this island maybe one long acid trip, but the highs are pretty good, mountains, leopards and the Big Blue.

(No) regrets.

Monday, March 8, 2010


It’s been four days without the water, the waves preventing us from launching has left me hot and bothered. I need to feel that blue rush, the anticipation as the boat surges through the waves, the spray sharding past the bow with a life of its own.

The reef rustling below as the sun’s rays kaleidoscope down into the deep blue. I need that symphony crescendo as the wreck rises out of the shimmering cloud of fusiliers.

I need Le Grande Bleu.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Transition

I know I’m overdoing these posts, but I can’t help it.

There’s nothing more insecure than falling backwards. Weighted down with equipment and awkwardly duck legged. Perch on the edge of the boat, fingers up against the reg and mask and roll over the side, backwards.

There’s a brief fear as the world turns upside down but then the deep blue of the water takes you as it rushes up and the reassuring hiss of the regulator delivers air to your hurried breath. And you know the next 30 minutes to an hour, 13 meters down or 30 are going to bring you sights you have never seen and never will again.

I used to be scared of the backroll, an irrational fear that weighted down I would sink straight to the bottom of the ocean.

But now it’s mostly what I look forward to.

That grand bleu rush...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Neutral Buoyancy Nirvana

After the personal buoyancy seesaw of the previous dive I did something I had been having an inkling for a while that might work. I took one of the grey leaden weights off the belt.

The result was a breathtaking nirvana. Initially I thought I had fucked up because as J moved down the nylon line disappearing into the big blue, I had issues getting myself to sink. Remembering S’s words, I arched, hugged the BC and pressed the release valve to get all the last vestiges of air out of it. The descent was one of the most controlled that I’ve ever had.

A quick burst into the BC at 23 meters (which incidentally according to Pissu is about 7 stories under water…who knew?....gulp) and I was beautifully buoyant. The feeling was exhilarating and it was all I could do not to whoot! into my regulator as I finally found freedom below the ocean.

Swooping and swirling over the reef, breathing out deep to sink down and check out a moray in a cave apparently being given a shave by a couple of shrimps, smaller breaths out to cautiously lower myself next to a blackspot electric ray under an overhang and controlled breaths in to rise over a dip in the reef.

Pure bliss, this neutral buoyancy nirvana.

The safety stop was beautiful, instead of my usual yo-yoing in the water as I pump air in and out of my BC, which drives my dive computer up the wall. I hovered with minimal adjustments to the BC and my breathing and surfaced oh ever so smoothly after one of the best I’ve ever had.

Today was a significant step forward and I have an uncontrollable itch to keep going down into that deep blue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning to Fly

R yelled over, ‘it’s a water snake’ as we clambered over to the rocks where he was pocking around with his reptile catching stick (please do check that link for a shot of a ‘pretty girl catching a snake.’ I shit you not).

As a word of explanation, S and I were in Sinharaja along with a bunch of peeps and R was one of the newly met said peeps, who was very into his wildlife. Hence why he toted the reptile catching stick everywhere.

Now I have seen water snakes before, a generally shy, slim brown creature with languid eyes that looked like it couldn’t hurt a fly. Finally getting to where R was near a rock pool into which a waterfall rolled into, R informed us that the snake had retreated into a hole amongst some rocks and he was going to get the guide to roll a rock down so we could get a good look at the critter. S and I eagerly agreed and made sure our cameras were on.

The guide rolled the rock…and then things moved on quite rapidly.

The snake came gliding out.

And it wasn’t brown or slim or exceptionally languid.

Instead it was black and white striped with a virulently red tail. It all but roared as it came out mouth agape straight towards me. I noted all this with some interest of course and came to the rapid conclusion that:
a) R got the ID wrong, I have no idea what this snake is…but it looks poisonous.
b) It’s coming straight for me.
c) Fuck, I was dead.

I could hear R yelling in the background, ‘Don’t panic’

To which I said (mentally), ‘Fuck you. There’s a great big snake snapping at my ankles, seemingly intent on making sure I never reproduce. And fuck you again. I’m not panicking. I’m just looking to get far, far away. Quickly’

It is surprising how many things go through your mind during these life or death moments.

Suffice to say I flew and/or levitated, loaded with kilos of photo equipment, up a sheer rock that was at least five feet high. Unfortunately in my excitement both during the event and post event, I couldn’t get a photograph of the snake. R was also so engrossed in taking a picture he accidentally released his grip on the snake which smoothly slipped into the water never to be seen again. Presumably he’s requesting Canadian refugee status right about now.
I later learned that the snake was in fact the Checkered Keelback, not the regular keelback and quite non-venomous. Of course better to be safer than sorry is what I say when there’s a snake trying to go at you like a demented Pekinese.

Better safer than sorry.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I still know what you did last night

He tried revenge last night. I stepped on him. Goo on the mat, will wash out with the dawn. He was conniving but still lower down on the food chain (not that I ate him or anything).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I know what you did last night

It was murder most foul, but I had no choice. As I switched on the lights his feelers twitched in surprise and I noted with distaste that he was precariously close to my toothbrush. Using the only deadly weapon at hand, my Bata health slipper (the bumps give an extra zip to its zap) I cautiously moved the cockroach over to a more accessible location, playing him quite adroitly if I do say so myself. Once he was on the door I leaned over, pulled back and slapped him with the Bata health slipper, the one with the bumps.

As he lay twitching I gave him one more tap on the head…then for good measure folded the mat over him and stepped down. Still he twitched…but thinking it was his death throes I congratulated myself and went in for my shower. Drying myself off I stepped into the bathroom area.

For a moment I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the familiar scene. The blue-green mat looked oddly bereft. Then it struck me.

He was gone…feelers and all.

Now all I can think of is that he’s out there, plotting sweet revenge, all 5 centimeters of him. And everytime I switch on the bathroom light I do it with caution. After all..he lives where I live.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Of course and last week so did I. admittedly it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had to do that, camping in the US generally involving quite posh toilets even in the backwoods. I was extra careful due to lack of practice, digging a hole deep enough that I swore I heard Chinamen echoing up through there requesting for more tenders. A bottle of water, a quiet secluded spot for said hole and an adroit sense of balance were all that were required in the end.

It was only after the deed was done that I realized my secluded spot was indeed secluded, the camp was completely hidden from view.

And I had forgotten to come up with a contingency plan in case a bear actually did decide to shit in the woods.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hey Jealousy

No this is not a personal post, it's juts that this popped up on my Genius playlist and it took me down memory lane. Whatever happened to the Gin Blossoms?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Six months on

Things have been a hard ride, the lows have been dangerously low. But I’ve kicked some habits and fought back. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing or where I’m going but I know over the last six months I’ve experienced things I’ve dreamt of my whole life, not just the portion in exile. Five Yala trips, leopards and more leopards, Wasgamuwa where I stared yet another leopard eye to eye and swam in the Mahaweli, Kalpitiya to see dolphins, six dives with barracuda and scorpion fish and this weekend what was an epic, epic camping trip to Gal Oya. Rain, raging rivers, mud and some of the most jaw droppingly beautiful jungles I have ever seen in my life. Dramatic rock drops and savannah jungles, four wheel drive kicking in and ant bites, one of the best times of my life.

Things won’t be a smooth sail from here, life is hard wherever you are but my heart is in the dry zone and at home. Batticoloa, Sinharaja, Mirissa, Yala and hopefully more Wasgamuwa and Gal Oya here I come. Fingers crossed maybe even Horton Plains.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Suba Anagathayak Akon

Sitting at dive center waiting to head off in the boat. One of the students rolls up ready for his class. As usual these days the conversation drifts off to politics.

Ah Mahinda’s won, I’m so happy.

Oh (me being non-committal)

Now Akon’s going to be here!

…eh? (somewhat confused by the rapid change in subject)

Well since Mahinda won

…EH? (much, much more confused)

Well he’s going to have a concert in Hambantota, if Sarath won he said he was not going to come but will now since Mahinda won!

……(that’s me being speechless)

And I thought I had heard everything this election

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote for January

"It looks pretty deep there and there's a lot more water than I thought would be there"
Pissu Perera's sage observation on being confronted with the Indian Ocean off Patanangala.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It was unnerving, the dark blue underneath and the bright blue up above as I bobbed in the waves alone. The last I had seen of my dive buddies were bubbles receding in the depths as I swore at myself through the regulator. I’m pretty competent most of the time, so pressing the inflator button instead of the deflator button was a ridiculously stupid thing to do and I shot up at a much faster rate than the prescribed 18m/minute. I’m fucking lucky I didn’t get the bends, or blow a lung out, though for the latter I’m still keeping a wary eye out.

For isolation though, there are fewer more unnerving moments I’ve had than then, alone in the vast Indian Ocean, with no boat in sight apart from the big liners on the horizon. Waves slapping up against me as I looked around for the boat and waved at anything that seemed promising. Looking down into the 21 meters below me, I couldn't even see the bubbles from my hidden dive buddies, though with the strong current I had no idea how far away I had drifted in those few moments. Thankfully the boatman managed to see my waving arms and I clambered on, shame faced and feeling extremely stupid. The only solution is to dive more, at least 20 more dives before the season fizzles out in March.

More blue yonder here I come.

Monday, January 11, 2010

(Not) Leaving on a Jet Plane

My first season as a ‘patriate’ with the ‘ex’ most definitely left behind. It was busy as well, the family emergency necessitating pretty much the whole of the foreign side of the family being down, cousin K and aunt C being two of my favourite people in the family. N was down as the token member of the boys, with the associated nights drinking and Yala trips ensuing.

And now they’ve all left. It’s a strange feeling I tell you. I woke up on Saturday, the day N was leaving and I felt the keening loss of another friend leaving. D, S, N…everybody leaves and that’s the truth. I wonder how the family, the friends had felt every time I left, the UK, Sri Lanka, San Francisco, Los Angeles, over and over again.

I think it’s easier to leave than be left behind. The former act has an active component, a control component that simply doesn’t exist for the latter. You sort of feel like that dog running along the car as your family leaves you behind, not knowing when you will see them again. I’ve had friends who’ve left and never come back, I’ve left family to lose them. It’s a strange feeling not to be leaving, a good, sad feeling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

End of the decade

I remember ’99 December vividly. The heat after the cold of London, the green after the grey. The new friends, CP and S who are more than family now, and R being there with his terrible hairstyle, akkis were thin and sexy, J was down and DJ’ing at the Blue where a bottle cost a measly four grand. Life was fresh and young then and I was all about the partying. Hand brake turns on Havelock Road and B looking ridiculously cute. I look like I was 12 in those pictures a life time ago as do most of the crew. Most of the crew who now, for better or worse have fallen apart. Some like C and CP having kids, the others like M just disappeared into the wind, unheard from for half a decade. The stories will live on though and we trot them out everytime when the remnants meet up, the clutch slipping at Galle Face roundabout at 2am, the unfortunate toilet incident, etc, etc.

Ten years on and I’ve come to the end of an era. New Years Eve this time was spent with N, a 12 year old bottle of Mendis and some random but interesting acquaintances in the middle of the jungle. Cicidas whirred, while we played chicken with elephants on the way to the room at Yala Village. Rapidly warming ginger beers and arracks in hand, we recounted the incredible leopard sightings of the day, the almost sightings of our childhoods. I was thinking a year has wrought incredible change, but the decade much more so. I never thought I would celebrate 31st night watching elephants wrestle in the moonlight, away from the City, the music, the girls but I did and I have never felt so complete.

As the drunken texts poured in and the clock struck midnight, there were no fireworks. Just the sound of the ocean on the dunes and the rustle of the nighttime jungle.

It was perhaps the best way to end the year. To remind myself why I moved back, what part of my soul was missing all these years. The jungles, the heat, the sandy tracks and the fresh pug prints. For awhile I thought I was trying to capture something I lost over 20 years ago and who knows maybe I am. But I think I’m just writing a new chapter in my life. It’s not the finality I was searching for but I’ve come to realize that doesn’t exist. It’s been an interesting journey across a couple of continents over the last decade and an especially difficult one over the last year but I am looking forward to the present as it slowly transforms into the future.

I hope everyone had a great end to the year and a content year to come.