This good friend of mine calls me up, out of the blue!, and asks me if I would like to be a part of a relief team that helped people in the east, people who were affected by the war. The obvious answer, anyone who loves to travel would give when they hear the word “EAST”, “Yes”, came outta my mouth without any hesitation what so ever.
So, this trip was organized to go visit the pals in the Far East. I was very excited regardless of m exam in August. My mom started nagging as usual, although this time she had a valid reason. I’m a pro at convincing, so "අම්මට ගුලිය බැස්සුවා"(begged my mom).
Early march, the lads and the ladies meet up, around 12 of us, at some 2 in the morning and leave to Baticaloa. I couldn’t get proper sleep due to the excitement the trip brought along with it. We left as early as possible, since we had a good load of work to do.
6 to 7 hours down the line, weather had changed, van was moving at an extremely slow speed down a terribly broken road, which seemed to lead to the cesstpit of hell. The ride was so bumpy, many of the girls in the van puked.
Before I knew it I was there, I was in Baticaloa. A very depressing place, signs of war all over, lean and ugly looking trees. Not what I expected. Anyway I made up mind, to have a good time there, regardless of what it had to offer.
The guys had planned to visit a few villages in Batticaloa and Thiru-kovil, Ampara. Everyone hoped for the best, since the war and all, was not over then.
We head down to a village between “Mahaoya” and Batticaloa name “Kithula”, at around 12 in the afternoon. I assume you would understand how hot the sun was. It can be called one of mother earth's best ovens. Many villages there are formed around Army or STF camps. This was one of them too. The STF that day had organized an “Avurudu Uthsavaya” for the kids in the village. We joined them, broke past the language barrier and all other differences there is, and and had tons of fun. Later that day, we met up with a few villagers, had some good chit chats. "Interesting personalities", I would say, and they had very wired sense of humor. They were super excited with what we had brought for them from Colombo.
(Young Kilojan has to walk about 3 miles to get a decent re-fill of water)
(This is their backyard, miles and miles of vast open fields)
I took these photos on our way back to the place we spent the night. It's from a place called "Rugam" between Kithula and Mahaoya.
(Thoppigala along with a mountain range can been seen from here during the early hours of the day. "Kalu kella" refused to get a picture of it, since it's a considerable distance away.)
Early, the following morning, we arrived at a village in a remote part of Batticaloa. A village called “Karadiyanaru-kulam”.You can find it down the road to “Thoppi-gala” (which the SL army rescued not long ago).
The guys from the STF mentioned that the folk from “Karadiyanru-kulam” were considered the lowest cast among the tamils in that area, which is really sad. I thought all that jazz was forgotten long time ago.
(The junction from which the road to "Thoppigala" starts.)
Poverty ruled this village, so much so that some children in the village hadn't been to the Batticaloa town. Funny story comes in to my mind. When this team had once visited Karadiyanaarukulam before, they had seen some villagers trying to wash their wretched clothes, which they usually don't wash. They had been murmuring to them selves, as though they were scolding some one. Our lads got a little inquisitive and couldn't wait to check out what was going on. They had approached them and had seen that that they were using some wired kind of soap, stuff the guys from Colombo had never seen. Wanting to know more they asked the villagers what soap it was. They had mention some NGOs had given the soap to them, and then said that it was terrible. One of the lads had taken the soap in to his hand to check it out. He then, couldn't stop laughing. When everyone asked as to why he was laughing, he had given them the soap. It was god darn KRAFT CHEESE!!!! I guess now you would understand what kind of people we were dealing with. People who didn't know what was cos-tic soda and milk.
I met a girl. Her name, Lakshmi. She was only 20, she had five children. The eldest not more than six years. Her husband died whilst serving for the LTTE. Poor soul. Many villagers there do not have any document of Identification, not even a birth certificate. The village has it's own traditions. Everyone sleeps with every one, much like the Bold ant the Beautiful. And my oh my, don't they love to reproduce. They pop out kids in style, like god damn tennis ball shooters.
Most of the villagers live under trees during the day. The heat is unbearable, especially in the little huts they have constructed with much effort using aluminum sheets NGOs have given them.
We gave them pictures the team took the previous time they visited them. They were stunned. Never had they seen a photograph of themselves. They were very thrilled with those little bubble blowers we gave them. It was very nice to be treated like celebrities for once, damn!
(The girl in blue, far behind, who is standing with a baby in her hand is Lakshmi)
(Madi-malar loved her picture)
We now have a pre-school up and running for the little ones in Karadiyanrukulam.
The Batticaloa town is too beautiful. It's surrounded with the sea and the lagoon from either side. Awesome. It will make your heart skip a beat, when you see the sun rise from there.
(This is how the lagoon looks from inside the town)
We left for Thrikovil, Ampara, after we toured the deserted streets of the Batticaloa town.
We arrive at Thrukovil, Ampara late that night. The folk were very exhausted. After having dinner we had a small sing song, which I enjoyed very much. Just before we went to bed a cry echoed through the village. Someone had come across a “maa-pila”, a very venomous snake. Bastard!, destroyed our sleep, which we were dreaming about for hours. We had to deal with that before we could do anything. Once we got rid of the small fella, we decided to hit the sack. And sweet Lord, didn't we know to sleep!
(This was the maa-pila)
Next morning, we visited some lads in a village name"Kudi-Nilam". We met up with a lot of kids, had a good load of fun. We brought them popsicles, which they craved for, from this old fart who was very fussy. I don't know why i feel like I have hated him for years. Anyway the little rascals enjoyed it all the way.
(I love this picture)
It was now time to go home. We left thirukovil in the afternoon, right after having lunch which the villagers prepared for us in much gratitude. They say when you cook out if love, even the most abysmal food is extremely delicious. Who ever told that, I understood what she/he was trying to say, just after I had that meal. It still makes my mouth watery, every single time I think about it. Crabs and prawns and what not?
As usual, every one was with a face like Galle face, when they realized it was time to leave. The east didn't have much to offer. What ever it offered, it offered with all it's heart. I think thats what made the difference.
We took a road that ran through the lands of“Pottuvil”, to get back to Colombo.
I know the post is very long. I have minimized it as much as possible. I hope you enjoyed it. I have shrunk the quality of the images because I had quite a few images to upload. I have so many more amazing pictures from this trip. I'll post them on flicker or something some time later.