A bit of sweet memories from good old holidays in Sri Lanka
Posted on August 19th, 2016

Dr Hector Perera     London

Many years ago majority of Sri Lanka people had no facilities such as gas and electric cookers, microwaves and ovens for cooking and baking. Now all these are there even in any average house so cooking cannot be that difficult at all. Those days they employed some poor people to do their cooking. I can remember we also had those so called servants for cooking even my mum as well cooked with them in the firewood kitchens. My mum was a school head teacher and dad was a medical doctor. They had to work all over Sri Lanka and we were everywhere. Sometimes I was with the mum and sometimes with the dad. To have one or two servants at home was a normal thing and we didn’t see any different.

In some school holidays such as April and August, I was at uncle’s place in Horagolla, Nittambuwa. The aunty and uncle had 5 or six children, both girls and boys. They were around my age so I had plenty of sisters and brothers to play with at uncle’s place. There as well I have seen these servants working in firewood kitchens with the aunty and with the grandma. Only very rarely those elder sisters also helped in the kitchen. It was very clever to have their kitchen a few yards away from the main building so that no smoke seeped to the main house. Some weekends the aunt’s sister who was a school teacher took us to their village to meet other relatives. It was really interesting to travel by a bullock cart. Once we passed Nittambuwa town then goes to a gravel road leading to their village called Humbitiyawa. The winding road through endless green paddy fields and coconut fields was very interesting. The place was not too far away, may be about three miles away but when we travelled like that way it appears to be about fifty miles away. Our Seeya” was the one who controlled the innocent bull to pull all along those uneven gravel road with a load of us in the cart. We moved back and forward from the seat as we travelled on those roads. Even in those village relative’s place they cooked in firewood kitchens. To have a break one day at the village house was a like a seven nights stay in a luxury hotel by the sea side, it’s a real holiday experience. We had a bath at a well in the back garden of the house. They say the water in that well was so cool because it was under a goraka” plant, nice cool water was very sensational, too difficult to put into words.

Hide and seek

Sometimes I played hide and seek with those brothers and sisters, I must say that is real fun. It was much better than lying down on sandy beaches and soaked with sunshine. Sometimes we picked up wild fruits such as dan” in the bushes and plucked some lovi” from a nearby tree. Those fruits tasted like apples, pears and grapes picked up in supermarkets. They cooked very tasty rice and many curries for lunch and supper and we had to eat the supper with the help of kerosene chimney lamps or sometimes with a lamp called patromax”. They also made so many local delicacies such as pittu, roti, helapa, kawum, kokis” and many more. All that were done in that smoky firewood kitchens, how wonderful? I have a feeling those firewood kitchens must have disappeared and replaced them with modern facilities. When school holidays such as April and August come, it is quite natural the mind to go back to such wonderful good old times. When I was studying in Kandy Dharmaraja College, I used to go with some friends and watch the famous Esala Perahera” by the Kandy Lake, now it is August holidays again. Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

5 Responses to “A bit of sweet memories from good old holidays in Sri Lanka”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Which year were you studying in Kandy, Dr Hector. I have been in Kandy for about 25 years.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ALSO, the Firewood cooked meals are tastier. My Holidays were mostly in Badulla, at the Post Office upstairs, with uncle and aunt and their three children, and almost every August, at N’Eliya Pedro Scout Camp, on Pedro Estate. What fun, swimming in the icy cool waters in the trout stream. Ten days of REAL fun. One thing to emphasize, the camp fee for ten days is Rs40.00, with best of food, with Prunes and Cream for dessert etc. Rs 40.00 includes train fare to Nanu Oya, and bus fare to N’Eliya and to Boralanda, and back. I used my First Class Train Warrants. I had three sets for a year.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Susantha,

    Bathing in the stream must have been heavenly!

    Having a dip in the Manik Ganga was the highpoint of my visits to Kataragama with my big family of 4 brothers and 4 sisters. Those days, we parked the vehicles under the trees and cooked outside with firewood as in camping! The shiny silver and gold fish in the river were so unafraid they would bump into your legs. We would catch them with our hands and throw them back!

    There were immense tamarind and yellow flowering palu trees by the roadside which even we could pick from. There were mee-kiri and vegetable stalls along the way that we bought from when returning. Large pumpkins and murunga were favorite buys.

    Peacocks with huge plumes were invariably on display. Once they even had a very long Python, perhaps over 20 feet, caught and tied with a rope at a stall!

    That area was very rural and economicslly depressed those days, and the people lived by hena slash and burn agriculture. But, they were very kind and hospitable and the flora snd fauna was all there to see and experience. What fun it was!

  4. Nanda Says:

    I had my extreme Buddhist uncle who took us everywhere including Kataragama, Vedihitikanada, Kudumbigala, Sri Pada in all directions (i.e. Ratnapura, Kuruwita and Hatton), Anuradhapura you name the place. His son , my brother and my self was the usual group. Those days there were not many steps to climb most mountains. It was so much fun. We took train mostly ( even steam engine small train to Kuruwita). Kuruwita road was the best to Sir Pada. We slept in Ambalam, bathe in little water falls with pure clean water. Sometimes we get free meals from fellow Nadayas. people were so friendly , innocent and honest in villages.
    We have to go to different countries to experience such serene lifestyles. Our deshpremiyos destroyed the honesty and innocence of people as well as environment.

  5. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ANANDA !! THE WATER IS ACTUALLY ICE WATER. WHEN WE COME OUT, WE GO STRAIGHT FOR OUR TOWEL.

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