Happy Independence Day to all my Sri Lankan friends.
It’s been 73 years since you took back your ancient island from British control.
And although today’s National Day won’t have the colour and spectacle that any of the 47 before I’m sure that you’ll make the most of it all the same.
A more solemn affair this year it was marked with a tree-planting ceremony as part of the theme this year which is ‘Prosperous Tomorrow – Prosperous Mabimik.’
It was under Palm Trees that I became an honorary Sri Lankan. No, not in the Resplendent Island, but others south of the Sub-Continent, in the Maldives.
The Sri Lankans populate the teardrop Atoll islands in the Indian Ocean where they work in the resorts.
In the Palm of my hands
And it was to the Sri Lankans that I graduated in my time off from my party in Kuramathi in the Maldives.
The staff would spend their spare time in their favourite pastime of cricket.
And following my mantra of seeking out those who play and pray whenever I’m away I asked for a game.
They welcomed me with open arms which is what I did too letting the ball come between bat and pad and landing me LBW.
But not before I had broken my previous best score of 0 from my schooldays.
Did I say though that I had scored two in my previous innings before running myself out and grazing my knees and hands on the synthetic pitch?
Of course us of the Scottish variety are more adept at kicking a round leather ball around the pitch so I was confident that I would be able to hold my own in their football game.
Wrong again as I hadn’t factored in my age compared to these athletic Asians, and the fact that they were more used to the 30C heat than this native of a frozen Northern European land.
And so when my opponent whose multi-syllable first name I hadn’t a chance of pronouncing took up the ball on the wing he just glided past me and left me doubled over and gasping for air.
All of which they took in the most magnaminous manner and with the kind of manners that we could all do with emulating.
And so when I hooked up with my party again the word came back of the Sri Lankans who wanted to know when ‘Mr Jim’ was returning to the island to play cricket and footall with them.
Of course the best place to see Sri Lankans is in their own backyard.
Our Little Corner of the Earth
And anybody in Ireland who may have considered visiting Sri Lanka will immediately have been advised to go to the most famous Sri Lankan/Irish citizen Tess de Kretser.
Tess is the owner of Olcote in Ceylon, which stands for Our Little Corner of the Earth, and is a fusion of Sri Lanka and her adopted home of Ireland.
Tess has regaled me about her hotel both at her Sri Lankan nights in Dublin and also when we lunched together.
We could all do with a little corner of the Earth right now, and I’m sure I could find myself a cricket pitch nearby. I would even make up the numbers for the local team, as long as it’s a children’s team.