-or part 2 of the Looney Planet Guide thereto.
You have probably heard about all kinds of vice emanating from Wellampitiya – murders, shoot outs, bus arson(oh joy) and occasional hauls of moonshine: well, speaking from the inside I must tell you these people are not really evil ,mostly they have merely given up with pretenses and dislike beating about the bush and hypocrisy. I personally approve, I mean - instead of the malicious gossip ,backstabbing and subtle under cutting you encounter in so called “civilized” joints, I suggest it would be much more straight-forward to challenge someone you have a grudge against to an open shoot out and have done with them- it’s crisp and uncomplicated.Also being shot cleanly in broad daylight would really be a blessedly quick end to all those vague anxieties about the cost of living, the ozone layer and whether mobile phones damage the few surviving brain cells you do have...
Anyway- to continue from last week-
Endangered Fauna- High on the endangered list is Picky, a local canine citizen I met about a decade back. Among other unspeakable eccentricities, he has a compulsion to mark territory, i.e. pee, on piles of coconuts laid for sale at the local Pola. This would make even the gentlest of meditation-practicing buddhist grandmothers understandably miffed but we are talking about hairy, tattooed underworld beefcakes, so I really don’t know how he has survived this long. True to local tradition, he sports deep manne scars of different levels of freshness on his skull and neck and is blind in one eye; I swear I have seen him chase smaller rivals into the paths of oncoming buses; at the same time, he is very gentle with children and kittens and just yesterday I found him walking around inside a neighborhood pediatric clinic , looking silly and unfocused.
Apart from bats ,kabarayas, visiting troops of grey langaurs, wading birds, water fowl, hoethamboowahs, bandicoots and mongooses, I am rumored to personally harbor a white cobra at the bottom of my backyard, but I have never heard of it harming anyone. If it does exist, it is welcome to stay there. If not, it would mean that the natives have smoked it out, doused it in kerosene and given it a fiery send off, something they do to hapless reptiles, centipedes, scorpions and anyone they suspect of having an alternate sexuality, on the days they don’t attend temple.
Youth activities Little Wellampitians (or Wellampettes as I like to call the precious darlings) are short, shiny and very cute but have sturdy constitutions since their mums went through pregnancy dodging batons, brickbats and bullets and fortifying themselves on exhumed moonshine, instead of regular stuff like Anmum or Preglac: they have fine tuned survival to a happy art, spend the afternoons playing Catapult-The-Town-Idiot, setting fire to the tail tufts of wondering cows and cheerfully riding their tricycles around dodging (and occasionally under) the 40 foot Maersk container-trailers that head in from Orugodawaltta to Peliyagoda.
Garbage Disposal Is an issue here, which the local cattle sadly cannot handle all by themselves though they do try. Some of my neighbors have crossly demanded to know why I carry my garbage long distances and dump it in the local Urban Council collection bins (which are overflowing and stinky) instead of, like them, putting it in my own land since I live on a comparatively large extent of land. I have had to point out that really, I don’t like them putting their garbage in my backyard, either, so will they please stop.
The road watching Wellampitian males are patient and take the security watch matter quite seriously staying up sometimes till about 1 am , doing pretty much nothing except discussing politics ,cracking lewd jokes, chewing things and occasionally hoisting their sarongs into strange arrangements the better to properly air themselves by. There is always a vague air of expectancy but what exactly they are waiting for I’m never really sure.
In conclusion-Wellampitians don’t pretend:if they think someone did something wrong, they tell him so, while ramming his skull rhythmically into a blokgal wall and making him chew on knuckle sandwich.
If they like a woman they appreciate her loudly and enthusiastically.
If they like you as a person you get to attend every festival they can afford to invite you to viz age comings, home comings (after honeymoons or after a stint in jail), funerals and the-after-funeral-but-before-the-anniversary party, you name it, you are welcome. They take Sri Lankan hospitality to new levels. And trust me, as with usual Sri Lankans, there is some darn good cooking at each of these (particularly the funerals ) .
For those of my friends who think this is an article aimed at policy makers,and the local Urban Council I honestly don’t mean it that way and personally wouldn’t suggest changing a thing, except perhaps the mosquito situation. The uncaged writer in me thrives on such excitement as neighborhood flood-outs, vigilante revenges and extreme exorcisms : this beats watching WWF on cable any day. I’m just sorry my article cant be larger, with a colour supplement. :-)
The author does not intend to offend anyone local by this lighthearted and affectionate account of her beloved hometown. (Well…Understandably, in the circumstances…)