So our first day in Sri Lanka was pretty good. Two days later on my birthday, as we fell further down the rabbit hole, I bathed an elephant in a river. (See "Bathing an Elephant in Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka was first known as Serendib and this might have been where the word serendipity was derived. They should never have changed the name. It fits the Sri Lankan experience and her people so well. To be there is to experience serendipity in action.
Sri Lankans make major decisions in life based on astrology and their horoscope. Weddings are held at odd days and times, because an astrologer has deemed it auspicious. Parents advertise in newspapers for brides or grooms on behalf of their sons or daughters asking that horoscopes be sent along with applications. There is a full page in the newspaper of parents advertising for sons or daughters in-law. Some even advertise for their children living overseas. Here’s one we read in the Colombo daily newspaper: “Parents of 40 year old PHD scientist working in California seek bride 30-35 for their son. Prefer if she live in California or a state close by. Caste and religion not important. Send horoscope.” Because the country was at war during our visit sometimes things were tense. But the thing that most frightened me in Sri Lanka was my daily horoscope. It constantly said things like “Piles or minor injuries likely today. Beware of contagious disease.”
This last one really worried me since a story on the front page that day was “Mysterious disease kills four, so far.” No wonder Sri Lanka is shaped like a teardrop.
Most of Sri Lanka is Buddhist but the Tamils are primarily Hindu. Periodically during our 45-day visit we were advised to avoid large public gatherings which, during the war, could become violent. During the week long Hindu New Year celebrations we stayed inside the former Dutch walled city of Galle Fort, which is mostly Muslim.
“But doesn’t it waste a lot of time?” asked the man.