Thursday, March 23, 2017

Return to Nirvana



I must say I have lost the ability to work well under pressure. Frankly I just crack up and start screaming and keening pathetically. Its a drag on my family the two or three individuals that I do have left. It makes me wonder what happened to the quiet laid back person I was. I was happy at one time. 
In a way maybe that is part of how the world runs, you cant always be in one state. No there are many states you are in and you will be in. You may seem like the same image on the surface of it but underneath you may seethe and writhe and struggle like a fish in a drying pond. Thats part of what this cosmos seems to be about, us feeling and us reacting. We have been given sensory organs to feel. Living would not be the same if we didnt have eyes, ears, skin, tastebuds, the sense of smell and a mind which grasps all the stimuli we throw at it. But then you wonder if living is all it has been made out to be. Maybe there is an existence which is more satisfactory than this living which is being battered and blown about by this organic organism we are tied to on this Earth. Not another planet but another plane, where things are always Om and that is never boring...

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Poor the Old and the Ugly

     
(these photos are merely representative, but closely representative actually)


So last MOnday I struggled to my halfway halt and had to embark a bus at about 7pm to get home. It was the wrong bus and would only get me half way there but it was late so I was desperate. I sat next to a dear elderly lady of, perhaps late sixties. In a while she told me worriedly that she was taking medications which made her sleepy and to please wake her if we came to the Galagedera bus halt. She pulled out a left leg, which looked like it was from a horror movie about leprosy and filaria combined and elaborated that she had these sores which had worsened over the years and there was a "germ in her body" for which she was taking medications for a long time. She described in some detail the appearance of the kind of pastules that she had had to suffer on her lower body, saying they looked like the "naval" in Kawum. I frankly did not want to know any of this and sat quite still. Then she started coughing, and with the bus starting up, I realised that each cough was coming my way with the wind from the window. She told me sadly that the medications she had been taking for months did not seem to be working. She had t o travel anyway, because she was a poor woman, and she sold fruits at some market place, so as to earn some money for the food. the bags of fruits left behind from Mondays sales, were collected around her oozing feet. 
Ok what would you have done?
personally I froze in a rictus of (hopefully irrational?) terror, tried not to breath much, but told her I would tell her the halt, and also continued to discuss her problem with her. Because you know, this could be you or me, too, except that we temporarily feel privileged and feel it wont happen to us. If you look at the statistics, it can happen to anyone.
Im a Buddhist. Buddhism works in the face of festering diseases, leprosy, filaria, AIDS, suffering starvation and old age. Because all that stuff about a powerful God who made a pretty world, tends to fall apart when you look at people like this. Is it because they prayed to the wrong God? Do you seriously mean to tell me there are no Christians or Muslims praying properly to the right God who do not have diseases and who do not face old age and feebleness?
Anyway here she was and there I was.
and the statistics are that one in every four people in Sri Lanka will be old, by 2040. 

Being old, if we go on neglecting our health, and not making plans for our future,
​our old age statistically speaking mostly ​
involves illness, feebleness, and often even NCDs such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and its complications, and worse, upto even paralysis.
​ ​ Poverty added to this, as well as an administrative structure which does not help the elderly at all is just about right to make such a future well nigh intolerable.
 
And Im ashamed to say that before she got down at Galagedera I got up and walked to the front of the bus, without helping her.

Because I didnt actually want her to brush too closely against me as she got down, and I didnt want to touch her bags, and I wanted nothing to do with her. 
Im sorry, but seriously I have enough problems of my own at the moment and I didnt need more, and I did not need to worry about having more.

Im average, that way. 
​Are you a better person?​




The Poor the Old and the Ugly

     
(these photos are merely representative, but closely representative actually)


So last MOnday I struggled to my halfway halt and had to embark a bus at about 7pm to get home. It was the wrong bus and would only get me half way there but it was late so I was desperate. I sat next to a dear elderly lady of, perhaps late sixties. In a while she told me worriedly that she was taking medications which made her sleepy and to please wake her if we came to the Galagedera bus halt. She pulled out a left leg, which looked like it was from a horror movie about leprosy and filaria combined and elaborated that she had these sores which had worsened over the years and there was a "germ in her body" for which she was taking medications for a long time. She described in some detail the appearance of the kind of pastules that she had had to suffer on her lower body, saying they looked like the "naval" in Kawum. I frankly did not want to know any of this and sat quite still. Then she started coughing, and with the bus starting up, I realised that each cough was coming my way with the wind from the window. She told me sadly that the medications she had been taking for months did not seem to be working. She had t o travel anyway, because she was a poor woman, and she sold fruits at some market place, so as to earn some money for the food. the bags of fruits left behind from Mondays sales, were collected around her oozing feet. 
Ok what would you have done?
personally I froze in a rictus of (hopefully irrational?) terror, tried not to breath much, but told her I would tell her the halt, and also continued to discuss her problem with her. Because you know, this could be you or me, too, except that we temporarily feel privileged and feel it wont happen to us. If you look at the statistics, it can happen to anyone.
Im a Buddhist. Buddhism works in the face of festering diseases, leprosy, filaria, AIDS, suffering starvation and old age. Because all that stuff about a powerful God who made a pretty world, tends to fall apart when you look at people like this. Is it because they prayed to the wrong God? Do you seriously mean to tell me there are no Christians or Muslims praying properly to the right God who do not have diseases and who do not face old age and feebleness?
Anyway here she was and there I was.
and the statistics are that one in every four people in Sri Lanka will be old, by 2040. 
Being old, if we go on neglecting our health, and not making plans for our future, involves illness, feebleness, and often even NCDs such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and its complications, and worse, upto even paralysis. 
And Im ashamed to say that before she got down at Galagedera I got up and walked to the front of the bus, without helping her.
Because I didnt actually want her to brush too closely against me as she got down, and I didnt want to touch her bags, and I wanted nothing to do with her. Im sorry, but seriously I have enough problems of my own at the moment and I didnt need more, and I did not need to worry about having more.
Im average, that way. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Handy Phrases

A few handy Arabic phrases translated to English -- in case you're ever kidnapped by terrorists. 
AKBAR KHALI-KILI HAFTIR LOFTAN.= Thank you for showing me your marvelous gun.
FEKR GABUL CARDAN DAVAT RAEH GUSH DIVAR.= I am delighted to accept your kind invitation to lie down on the floor with my arms above my head and my legs apart. SHOMAEH FIKR TAMOMEH GEH GOFTEK BANDE.= I agree with everything you have ever said or thought in your life. 
AUTO ARRAREGH DVATEMAN MAMO SEPAHEH-HAST.= It is exceptionally kind of you to allow me to travel in the trunk of your car. 
FASHAL-EH TUPEHMAN NA DEGAT MANO GOFTAM CHEESHAYEH MOHEMA RAJEBEH KESHAVAREHMAN.= If you will do me the kindness of not harming my genital appendages I will gladly reciprocate by betraying my country in public. 
KHREL JEPAHEH MANEH VA JAYEII AMRKAHEY.= I will tell you the names and addresses of many American spies travelling as reporters. BALLI, BALLI, BALLI!= Whatever you say! 
MATERNIER GHERMEZ AHLIEH, GORBAN.= The red blindfold would be lovely, excellency. 
TIKEH NUNEH BA OB KHRELEH BEZORG VA KHRUBE GOYAST INO BERGERAM.= The water-soaked bread crumbs are delicious, thank you. I must have the recipe. 
BA BODENEH SHEERELL TEEGZ.= Truly, I would rather be a hostage to your greatly esteemed self than to spend a fortnight upon the person of Cheryl Tiegs. 

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/religiousjokes/islamicjokes.html

I found them funnyyyyy so Im deviating from the usual policy of only having my writing here! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

And then came Hope...

Picking up the pieces,

And then came Hope...

 

    

Book Launch: "Picking up the Pieces" by Marilyn Wouters

Venue: Black Cat Cafe B&B 11, Wijerama Mawatha Colombo 7

Date and Time: 11 December Sunday 11am-5pm

To order the book locally: email Wouters.marilyn@gmail.com or call 0778 002136.

Internationally available from Amazon.com

Find Marilyn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mwouters

 

By Chandrika Gadiewasam

 

"Picking up the Pieces" is the inspiring, uplifting and adventure filled autobiography of Marilyn Wouters, a self proclaimed "crazy cat lady," who has showered her love and dedicated caring on countless abandoned, desperate and disabled stray cats and kittens in Sri Lanka for a number of years now.

 

Marilyn who was searching for a nice warm country to retire and relax in, picked Sri Lanka in preference to Thailand, Indonesia ,and other south Asian countries and came over in 2010 with a rescued husky and two hunting dogs, because she found a house by the beach with a wall around it. She  didn't know what life had in store for her when she adopted two abandoned kittens who had strayed into her backyard.

 

You'll read about various incredible trials, tribulations, and adventures spanning many countries in continents from Europe, UAE, Africa, UAE  and then Asia,and how a Dutch/Swiss Dental Assistant became a successful educationalist and then hardcore animal rescuer, for many years carrying her work through only on her pension funds.

 

PICKING UP THE PIECES shares those moments of hope and success that make worthwhile the life of any animal rescuer from foraging for halmasso at the local pola, to difficult budgeting and funds management and to fighting courageously to save the lives of numerous blind, day old  orphans dumped at the Ark. Marilyn is expert at how to save the almost-certainly-doomed. For the most part there is no one to really help Marilyn who has to feed, care for and clean up after the many furry patients, because her domestics turn their noses up at this "ikky" work.

Marilyns first rescue 2012 was a dumped kitten called Gypsie, many others followed then such as Milou in 2014 with paralysed back legs,  who was incapable of moving for about 14 months until it was decided to amputate her back legs. This was a courageous and difficult decision but now Milou is one of the extra feisty stars of the Marilyns Ark Facebook page,and climbs trees, chairs and obstacles and defends her turf from other cats with aplomb.

In 2016  "HOPE" became a Star Survivor, a gentle crippled black beauty who was discovered pregnant and paralysed, and in need of constant care, who however herself adopted and mothered a number of helpless newborn kittens. Hope's story is one of great courage and luck and she now has a fan following of thousands from around the world, including people who have been through comparable hardships.

There are a number of established organisations in Sri Lanka looking after dogs, but none for the cats so Marilyn's dream is to set up Le Kittenerium, a shelter for abandoned, disabled, and paralysed cats in Sri Lanka, including a free cat clinic. ALL PROCEEDS of the sales of the book will go towards this the support of her work helping desperate cats and kittens so if there is one book you buy for Christmas, please make it this one. You can also, on FaceBook, like Marilyn's Ark or LE KITTENARIUM to keep in touch with the wonderful antics of Hope, Milou and Marilyn's other special fur babies. Picking Up The Pieces is available on Amazon USA, UK and Germany.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Your Job or Your Man. Which would you chose?

-unsociabAl

Yesterday, friends, was one of those days. I was rained on, shat upon (by a crow) almost had about two and a half road accidents and had my lunch breach into my handbag, karola hodi and all. It was bad. You could say it held a series of irritating little incidents for a working woman and certainly they are nothing much to write home about since they were little but they were indeed irritating and as such built into one single day I was rather amazed. Was it me or the country or the planets? Does this sort of thing happen to you too?




The crux of my day was something like this – after a local TV station was set fire to and I was woken rudely at 5 45 with a text message on the subject,  I dozen off again into a rather sad nightmare that I was fighting with my dear brother, which is strange and quite disturbing. IN the first place, touch wood, I hardly have nightmares and in the second place he is not  a fighting man so we hardly ever squabble…then there was the confusing vision of a helicopter landing in my back yard which I shall skim…so: I woke late..dressed in a hurry, raced to work and found that the road was closed…took a detour and found myself dodging annoyed traffic in Bambalapitiya at nine forty five..

In the meantime my line manager and another fussy client I had promised to meet early in the day were calling me and demanding justifiably where I was. Stressful. Saying Bambalapitiya would not have worked since that is nowhere near my office..

By close to ten I was getting quite hysterical and speeding around the one way lanes in desperation, plunging along at about double the speed I usually do and narrowly missing not one but two tangles, and getting yelled at in dubious Sinhala (justifiably mind you) by fellow commuters. Office, when I reached it was a blur of high pressure assignments which I cant remember except that at one point a lady acquaintance  called me on the phone and said rather hysterically that I was a fool for having "let my husband go" which cause me to pause everything and smile. I had let him go about ten years ago and been happy ever since, and the problem was that she did not want to let hers go although she could not live with him either , so she was judging me seriously.

Im not often called a fool to my face and while I appreciate her point blank honesty I did a short and sharp analysis of what she was talking about and found it an interesting paradox. I have a total of  four close women friends at the moment who are going through the most amazing painful emotional tortures (amply complemented with generous dollops of physical domestic violence) simply to somehow "hold on to their man" meaning of course to prevent some other woman from taking him. They give complex supposedly sentimental reasons for this attachment but since these are interspersed with randomly voiced desires to have their prince stoned to death, voodoo-ed away  or at least mildly amputated* I assume it isn't actually old fashioned romantic LOVE that keeps them together. In fact I have a serious suspicion that the critical factors are more about inertia, social expectations and economic benefits. But the results of these conflicts are disturbing. I honestly think Sri Lankan ladies take this whole man-holding thing way too seriously, until it becomes an dark obsession.  In turns I get the most brilliant SMSs updating me on their valiant efforts to track the male icon of their lives, to infiltrate his communications (ie hack his mobile or analyze the bill, track his evening travel, frame his girlfriend, what have you) to monitor his movements, to beg, whine, threaten, scream  and occasionally cajole sometimes with promises of unusual sexual favours, the man of their lives into staying with them, and sometimes to kill themselves or their man or both and the Other woman too,  in various very creative ways.

It seems a never ending battle involving tears, violence and hysteria , observed continuously by the traumatised bug-eyed off spring who huddle crying and praying under beds…and culminating in partial insanity for both spouses not to mention the unfortunate children who will need impressive amounts of counseling later on. And as for the Other Woman, really is it so difficult to find a man of your own? **

Each time I listen to these stories I thank the stars for my job.

It's a tough job, it's a demanding job and sometimes its an annoying job which makes me put in lots of extra hours - but it means that I don't have to depend on a man. I have been blessed with understanding superiors and pleasant co workers so far so it's a fairly "do able" job with bearable income. So Im lucky. And Im actually occupied!  Perhaps if I was a rich heiress and didn't have to do a job I would have time to latch myself onto some unfortunate male, make his life claustrophobic, and sit around busily fending off Other women but, no I don't. There's paperwork to handle, the occasional article to write and I have too many interesting hobbies to list so the whole full time man-holding thing will have to be bypassed. I honestly can't be bothered. J

……………………………………………………………………………………………

* you know where I mean, ladies.

** Or to come up with some amicable time sharing agreement or something …

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saving Munchi PART TWO



Part 2

Part 1 at  this link


Munchi is a small stray cow who was running around Salawatte injured and frightened for a number of months, with no one able to catch her to medicate her. Citizens had called vets, govt departments, the police, no one had helped. With the help of village cow-handlers, two working housewives from Wellampitiya managed to organise the rescue but now the issue was how to save her from the other people like butchers and cow thiefs who could be watching the situation.


Wellampitiya  is known in Sri Lanka for it's drug addicts, criminals and underworld gangs. Shootouts, drug stashes and mysterious disappearances are rife. Men came and stood in rows staring at her and some fed her absurd amounts of bread which constipated her pitiably. I had to draft a notice against such.And Zeenath and I would surely lose our jobs and be bankrupted if we had to feed her so many kilos of fodder a day in the city.


So we needed to transport her out to safer pastures. I picked Hanwella because the original cowboys who rescued her were from that area and because it's a pastoral area ideal for a retired bovine. There were rolling stretches of greenery where she would be allowed to live in peace.

But there was massive red tape to go through.

The cow was presumed ownerless but I didn't want some butcher to pop up and get me arrested for cattle theft.

The last thing I needed was to have to beg people to get me out of jail. So I asked my neighbours to confirm they had no objection to me removing her to a safer location. Twenty signatures and a grama sevaka approval later we needed 1) veterinary certificates of health 2) traffic permits once the lorry was approved to transport her 3) Vetinary approval of the lorry we would use 4)approval from the divisional secretariat that she could be transported. Each of these documents needed a set of sub documents or things for approval, for example the cow and the transporter had to be inspected by the veterinarian etc etc

It's not as easy as it sounds on a tight budget ...the lorry from hanwella, one of the very few who agreed to transport a live animal especially a bulky and unpredictable cow...was charging 7500 and that was just to take the cow there. It was busy at that time (30th December 2016) on some other work and could not come to Colombo for the agriculture office to stamp their approval

We had just a few hours to get through all this red tape before govt offices closed for the year....the lorry was still in hanwella 2 hours away...roads were clogged with last minute shoppers...govt offices were closing and the vet was saying he would have to go in the field in the afternoon...which was of course a euphemism for I've-had -enough-of-this-I-want-to-go-home-early-it's friday-the-30th...

We begged and grovelled for him to stay.

My rescuer  partner Zeenath hit on the idea of getting the photos of the lorry watsapped to us. Certain relevant officials noted that I had a media identity card and subsequently decided to understand the difficulty we were in and that it was inadvisable to keep her in Salawatte on the night of the 31st. They agreed to bend rules and sign the approval on printed photos of the truck. The truck driver on the other hand was struggling bravely with technology and took about 45 minutes to wire the photos.This is not the first heroic thing he did

And by the time the transporters photos came in, the owner of the communication store in front of the agrarian office had gone out to lunch...

I nearly burst into tears because it was almost 3 pm ...time to close counters in govt offices… I grovelled at a large flaccid young man sitting in for the communications operator and he gave me a very cool rude look of "no-can-do-dumb-cow-now-get-your-knickers-untwisted-and-go-somewhere-else-with-your-stupid-sob-story."I am not imagining things, I know attitude when I see it. And here I was taking attitude from a man who claimed he did not know how to check email…

I gave up with it and took the phone along to the vet, who looked at the photos and signed the form,sternly telling us that we must use that particular truck and no other. We pelted, in a stand by tuk tuk, to the Divisional Secretariat office in Kolonnawa.

And then a certain guy at the divisional secretariat, whose task it is to officiate the matter of cattle transport,   rudely and condescendingly told us that the counters had closed at 3 pm and didn't we know it was 3 26.. Sarcasm rudeness patronising condescension everything out public sector employees are best known for all rolled together with derision for two stupid women who were trying to save a cow....no I don't have to look at your cow photos he sneered adding that the payments counter was closed so they could not process the matter. And the official payment was 50 rupees ...the price of one Cheap local cigarette.


He was ready to insist on this formal payment- and make my friend, a woman on a crutch, go back home.

We knew that if Munchi was kept in Salawatte over the 31st a lot of uncomfortable things could happen to her including cownapping and slaughter. Her purported owner the hindu Oracle had allowed her free, she was technically ownerless, butchers had been eyeing her..We had to keep her tied due to the medications we were spraying on her...but the very fact she was tied mean that here was about a hundred thousand rupees in unsupervised walking beef tied to a jak tree in the seediest, most criminal infested area in the marshes of Wellampitiya.


Also my friend Zeenath  and I had taken the last of our annual leave and vacation and were at the ends of our budgets…so Zeenath pitifully begged the chubby DS man to help and with much attitude and pomposity he went through the motions.


Then just at that moment a very distinguished looking slim young man with files in his  hand came over and greeted Zeenath and talked to her. Unlike the rude cleric he listened to our story and with serious concern looked at the photos of our silly cow.The snooty cleric in the background looked rather shaken when he saw this and shuffled his papers with more genuine effort. It turned out his enthusiasm was because the gentleman who was talking to us was a Western Province UNP provincial counsellor....


So at 4 pm on the 30th after about 6 hours of going round and round we got the cattle transport permit to hand went and gave Munchi some food and went home to frankly collapse with exhaustion in my case and Zeenath limped home to cook for her husband.Tomorrow was Saturday December the 31 and we had to get Munchi up into a small truck and onto the noisy streets of Colombo. She was young, traumatised, hated men, and weighed half a tonne…


I worried a lot because I had no idea how this could possibly be done. Munchi was terrified traumatised no nonsense determination....we only had a small Mahindra truck to put her in. That's a bit like putting a large and angry muzzled bulldog into a kitchen sink...there could be more trauma.Down came the Hanwella Cowboys Lal and another fellow led by the Honcho Prasad and things began to happen so quickly we were spellbound like watching a movie.One of the boys expertly lassoed our grumbling girl which happened in a blink of the eye too quick for us to record. The rest of the process is on record...how a resisting angry traumatised bovine anxiety was gently but firmly trapped and pulled towards the truck.Then miraculously she was in and on her way to greener pastures! Prasad was in the front of the truck with the files of official documentation and Munchis yellow ear tag and worm spray bottle.


And I followed in a bus biting my nails.


Munchi is now retired in a large beautiful land in Hanwella. She didn't like the look of her first adopter who was a dark very bulky man with a rather startling face. If you shut your eyes and thought African Butcher whatever picture you come up with is what Lal looks like. Practically a doppelganger of the late Ugandan Idi Amin. I don't think it's polite to judge people by their looks but clearly Munchi had not got that memo because each time he touched her rope she charged off like a runaway rhino until poor Lal got tired of the rope burns and being dragged for miles and returned her in disgust. So now she lives in quiet pastoral retirement with Prasads mother and niece who are allowed to stroke her head and hand feed her so long as they don't touch the rope which she is touchy about.



There are three important lessons I have learnt from Munchi's rescue

1 There is no official organisation in Sri Lanka mandated to help a distressed domestic animal.

2 Regular housewives can sometimes succeed at a task that has confounded strong men. you just need to be positive.

3 Even if you are born destined to be barbecued if you have the right attitude you can be brave take no bullshit and drag yourself to freedom, as this stubborn little brown cow had.


And of course- that there are a lot of loving positive people around to be found in the unlikeliest of places <3



healed.jpg

Wound healed fast due to very professional attention of SKYPET vets


healing with her friend.jpg


Here she is recovering with a small furry friend


kissfrom.jpg

She recognises me and comes close - sometimes . othertimes she runs a mile


free to roam the jungle.jpg

In her element the jungle



Sunday, December 25, 2016

Munchi, Salawatte’s multi religious Christmas miracle


This little brown cow was given in fulfillment of a vow to a local Hindu soothsayer, protected by Buddhists, rescued by Muslims and saved this Christmas.
On 20th December a social media SOS went out through the Animal SOS Facebook page about a little skinny brown cow running loose in Salawatte, a marshy area in Wellampitiya, who had a terrible wound in its face from a rope having been tied too tight . The SOS was shared by more than 200 concerned animal lovers and no one seemed to know what to do. I did not see this post till much later.


On 21st December as I was just leaving for work one of my neighbours squirmed apologetically up to me and said there was a cow in trouble down in the Wela ( marsh) at the bottom of my road.  And that he had once seen me rescuing a puppy with a broken leg.
Possibly since regular Salawatte people are beyond such eccentricities I'd been noted by my neighbours as one of those crazy animal supporting busybodies and possibly classed with NGO traitors (Jaathi Droheen), feminists and homosexuals... You got the impression that a few hundred years ago I would have been burnt at some stake along with my poor rescued cat, if Salawatte had been a British village…


ANYWAY, so, I went and inspected the Cow.  


My so-called smartphone stubbornly went blank and the Cow ran away. I was taken up a different route around the marsh and into someones garden.  he cow who according to my informant did not trust men, came much closer and I was able to take some better photos. The injury was simply horrifying especially after people shrugged and giggled and said she had been like this for months. They did not seem too concerned that she was suffering silently, banging her head into walls in an effort to get rid of the rope, and leaving the place bloody. They were uncomfortable that now she was actually bleeding and messing up the place. She was ownerless and there were two camps of people one which claimed that she was a released "charity-merit-cow" people had donated to the local oracle or Maani, and the other more sinisterly that she was a cow destined for Haji slaughter which had escaped.


Here are the photos. They are rather disturbing to most people. However one local woman even said to me "whats the matter? why are you trying to catch the cow?" "Does it have a wound?" by which Im convinced that some people in my neighborhood need to be more in the present.

munchi1.jpg  munchi2.jpg munchi3.jpg

I could feel all the rapid labeling going on behind me but I could not walk away. I was also determined to be a complete and utter nuisance to every sniggering person in this neighbourhood until this matter was solved. So I hatched Operation Munchi . Not to be confused with the biscuit company which are not involved. Plan A was to capture her, cut the damned rope and medicate her.

First we had to catch her.

Fifteen phone calls and another two Facebook posts afterwards I was to understand that 1. private vets and clinics are understaffed/have no handlers/do not care/are on vacation. 2. the local police do not know about it so it didn't happen/also do not care. 3. the wildlife authorities are not allowed to mess with cows since they are classified as domesticated. 4. scores of people wanted to help but didn't really know where Wellampitiya was (you can find it on Google maps, seriously folks). 5 a few armchair activists recommended Embark which made me want to swear, as seriously where do people get the idea that Embark catches cows? Is their mandate, and the word "bark" not clear enough?

Someone else kindly recommended a dog catcher with Ketamine injections on a long stick  but the truth is that this terrified cow wasn't actually going to hang around waiting to be poked with injections from a long stick and also one has to be very careful with sedating a cow/or giving them oral medicines due to their complicated digestive systems. Munchi for some reason also hated and was terrified of men particularly. I dont want to even begin to speculate why this is but truly when any man walked around she was very uneasy and she very well knew the difference between men and women. Moot point, no vet was going to run around in the marshes of Salawatte trying to catch a runaway cow.

Urgent SOS this cow is running around in the marsh in Salawatte and won't let anyone touch her. We need professional help to catch her and cut that noose which has eaten into her face and throat. SPREAD this post


BY 11.50 on Thursday I had sourced village experts who said they could noose her and tie her to a tree. I ran my own Facebook appeal and begged someone recommend a humane and clever vet who will visit Wellampitiya and perform a mini operation. Then I sent a notice to Daily Mirror which was to be printed the next day. 2.30pm update again I had called three known vets who all said we should contact the Kolönawa Govt Veterinary office at IDH junction. Locals said they had already contacted, and I too called them but the Govt vets demanded the Cow be caught first... and the Salawatte men had tried one whole morning to catch her but no luck as she runs away.  I was to hear this sorry story repeated by a number of burly men. This was Wellampitiya, a town well known for its thugs, criminals, shootouts and drug rings and all these large strong men were telling me that they could not catch a small malnourished cow. At the end of the day I believed them - I was pretty sure they would honestly have tried especially when they were short of pocket money or when they needed something to nibble with the daily evening drinks.

By  3.48pm Thursday I had called Kolonnawa Govt Vets, they said to call the Wildlife Department or to catch the cow, otherwise they are unable to handle. THREE leading local private Veterinary clinics said they cannot handle cows saying that handlers were not available but I got the distinct impression that they didnt have cattle handlers anyway (?!?)etc.  5.15 update I sourced a three member team from Hanwella, a tuk tuk thug and two proper buffalo farmers, and was worried that this might involve some temporary trauma as we had no sedatives and those men didn't look the type who would be sensitive to the needs of this traumatized little cow

7 pm update awaiting the cowboys from Hanwella....

My next update was at 10.22 on Thursday night and I wrote it on a laptop in the dark. The lights having gone in Wellampitiya due to a lamp post collapsing. We had had run about for THREE WHOLE hours trying to catch this cow. FIVE strong men and me in a skirt , trying to catch one cow. the skirt is because allegedly she trusts women,but it didn't quite work out that way and half way through the operation the heavens decided to open up with the storm of the century and TWO of the strong men stood with the REST of the Wellampitiya community HUDDLED UNDER TREES not getting wet. So much for their so called efforts over the previous months. I won't write here what I think of the men of Salawatte/Wellampitiya!
One of our local supporters took this opportunity to steal the handphone of one of the Hanwella cowboys, because, of course, no good deed goes unpunished, particularly in Wellampitiya. Since there was no local support for example such as some one to give directions in the roads, or lend us an umbrella; the cow went up and down and round and round and the people who were supposed to help us remained hiding FROM THE RAIN IN A GROUP, I was soaked to my skin which I dont really mind but my phone suffered some  water logging. My good friend Zeenath did everything she could to give directions and coordinate but the cow outwitted us thoroughly. Worst of all, a bunch of saboteurs came and told the cow handlers that this was A COW EARMARKED FOR HAJI SACRIFICE which had gotten away... Which I assume was  supposed to somehow make the situation acceptable?/??

UPDATE 11.22 on Thursday A local radio station had contacted Mr Alwis (our Salawatte contact who first alerted me to the issue), and hopefully something would finally be done - I waited.

Zeenath and me hatched plan B which was to use gentle feminine charm and befriend our feisty little herbivore and try to catch her. She was after all practically eating out of our hands, it's just that she would not let us touch her neck ropes. This idea had its flaws because whereas she is a gentle soul, when she starts to run it is like a small truck without brakes and anyone who gets tangled in that setup could very probably die. By this time I had alerted my animal activist friends, and we were constantly brainstorming as to what could be done.

Update 8 AM Friday morning. The Hanwella cowboys had been alerted to the routes taken by Munchi who is a creature of habit, and they had cleverly erected a small neck trap which would tangle her on the way to dinner. This had worked and there she was, annoyed but quiet enough. Things developed from here very quickly. - the Salawatte menfolk grabbed her and sawed off the terrible rope that was cutting her flesh (Thankfully I did not see this brutal operation and it was over very quickly) and she was secured for a vet to come and attend. Friday was frankly one of the best days of the year as far as we were concerned. (There was of course a complication of a local drunk who came and untied her and let her run away again, but since she had a long rope trailing after her she was relatively easy to recapture after a lot of cursing and swearing from me embarrassed the locals and she was PROPERLY secured)

Photos from after the rope was cut
muncvhi4.jpg  

On Saturday the day before Christmas a professional team of vets from SkyPet came over and in an two hour operation, calmed her, painlessly secured her tighter, sedated her, cleaned the wound thoroughly and gave her a set of strong antibiotic injections which would last a week they said. Her would had indeed been maggot infested which is unsurprising considering the time it had been neglected.
By Friday more than three hundred people had shared, commented advised and encouraged us on my FB posts, and Daily Mirror had kindly run my appeal which resulted in a large number of calls coming in offering to help (providing the cow was captured of course). Two anonymous donors, Muslim and Christian, sent funding to fully cover all medical and other expenses and all my friends pitched in, in so many ways.
Munchi is right now munching away at the bottom of my road, on the way to recovery and you can view videos on my FB page. My friends and I have learnt so much over the last week - what cows eat, what to do if you need to catch one, what the Govt and other authorities will and mostly will not do, and that there is a lot of love and kindness out there from places where you may not expect to find it. We are still learning and might need crowd support when it comes to the tricky issue of wading through local politics and paperwork and finding permanent safety for this poor gentle soul.
There is also the issue of unregulated releasing of so called "merit cows" in the city, which just adds to the population of starving animals walking around eating garbage and being a nuisance, which is presumably why someone had tied her face in the first place- this will need intelligent solutions.

The experience also it taught us that a few determined ordinary housewives can sometimes prevail where lots of strong men have failed.


For inquiries pls contact Chandrika 0772299979/hanwella7@gmail.com Zeenath 0757115387  or Mr Alwis 0771814144
We need this story to be as public as possible so as to ensure that Munchi is safe from harm, so that we can find a safe place for her to stay where she will be left in peace. Phase 2 of Operation Munchi is tackling the lethargic local bureaucracy and evading certain salivating Salawatte sections. Please stay with us and dont let Munchi be lost in the red tape.

Thank you EVERYONE especially: Zeenath Amanath, Christine Perera, Nadeesha Paulis, Dr Asanka, Dr Pasan, Dr Percy, Jennifer Rodrigo, Marilyn Wouters, Sakuntala Sachithanandan, Sriyanie Wijesundera, Nadeeka Dharmaratne ExPats Furniture Service and Daily Mirror IShani, Sahana,Keshan, and everyone commenting, sharing and cheering us on, and of course the Hanwella Cowboys without whom this could not have been achieved, not forgetting our very blessed anonymous donors… Three cheers for Munchi!