Sherpas, Snakes & Ladders and a sheaf of Oleander!


World Outside Your Window: An entry in the diary of an iSrilankan.

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It’s Sunday and my German husband needs one or two hours on his mountain bike before the day fully begins. I need one hour with my New Yorker and cuppa tea, which routine break of day activity has kept me sane and energised to face the world, for months or years now.

 The world of mountain climbing the tale of the Krieg am Everest with Ueli Steck, Moro & Griffiths caught me up in a whirl of falling ice, Sherpa hostility and else. I, who suffered from vertigo loved to read these crazy accounts where 3 men were nearly killed by a horde of enraged Sherpas who lost face on Lhotse Face due to the (Italian of course) Moro calling one a m*****f***** in Nepali. The Lhotse Face is the main ramp leading up to the SouthEast Ridge Route on Mount Everest, the one that Edmund H and Tenzing N ascended sixty years ago. You can’t step into a man’s house and disrespect him argues Ueli with Swiss awareness of how this apparent provocation on the white man’s part, the arrogance of climbing without Sherpa assistance undermining the economic need of Sherpa’s to appear indispensable was a controversy back home that upset him no end. This was their house after all.

“He bit me mama” shrieked Anjou and pierced the world of ice shelves and corpses of climbers and pulmonary oedema and fixed ropes; a game of Snakes & Ladders had ended in primitive attempted biting by Dani 3 years old. I sigh, lay my teeth on Dani’s arm gently and tell him ( howling his head off now) that biting is not nice and not allowed and maybe it’s time for Peppa Pig. The howls subside and remotes are flicking. Peace reigns as I set them to arrange the living room which has tents and bits of puzzles and Uno coards all scattered like debris around the room.

snakes-and-ladders2In a few hours we will have to entertain an Estonian girl who was an ex-intern at my husband’s office with a picnic park lunch and I had invited my fave American friend Molly as company.

Examining the bougainvillea on the balcony I saw a bare-footed flower plucker at work standing on the parapet. It was the Sri Lankan guy who caretook for the old gent downstairs at night while doing his regular day job. He used to be in the Army a long time ago but wounded at the Battle of Elephant Pass was allowed to leave.

“Mal kadanawa wage”  I called ( Looks like you are picking flowers – a Sinhalese phrase which also means you are twiddling your thumbs – I think). He cracked up.

“The Avurudu Uthsavaya is taking place today at Piazzale Michelangelo” he said. “Are you coming?”

I murmur an apology with appropriate facial contortions that signal my regret . “  Ape rate ova wewenawa” I say as he adds a sheaf of oleander to his bouquet. “Mal tikak onedha?” he asks and I say no, no, wave and retreat into the kitchen. Regretfully I close my half-read account of Manic Mountain and the Sherpas  now injected with Sri Lankan voices and oleander, Uno cards and Peppa Pig and turn to the task of packing for our Norway summer vacation.

oleander-1xI think of my closest two school friends I called on Friday morning my time. One was already on her way to Galle speeding along the express highway on Friday afternoon with her family en route to a relaxed weekend in Koggala.

The other who lived a mile or so from my home and sat next to me at Methodist College for many years was just setting off on a 5 hour drive to Coffs Harbour in NSW, Australia that Friday evening and in the morning would continue for another 5 hours to Queensland for a family break. They are both great drivers. Their husbands are in safe hands.

Am so proud of em and the fact that entering each others’ worlds from different points as mums, wives, old-girls, crazy women who love a good laugh we are still as loving and supportive as we should be of each other. Somewhere in our youth or childhood, there must have been something good.

Have a good summer iSrilankans. We live in times like no other !!

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