Aluwihare, Anne Ranasinghe, Arjuna Parakrama, Batik, Belihuloya, Bill McAlpine, brass foundry, carpentry, Dileeni Raheem, Diyaluma, Embroidery, Ena de Silva, Fr Stephen Abraham, Gale Bangalawa, Harin Abeysekera, Horton Plains, Ian Goonetilleke, Ismeth Raheem, Jean Arasanayagam, JVP, K1, K2, Kadurupitiya, Knuckles range, Maduru Oya, Mahaweli, Michael Ondaatje, Nihal Fernando, Nirmali Hettiarachchi, Nuwara Eliya, Peradeniya University, Peter Burleigh, Priyani Abeysekera, Punyakanthe Wijenaike, Shanthi Wilson, Shirley Perera, Suja, Uda Walawe, Wasgomuwa, Yala, Yolande Abeywira
In those years of constant change in the mid-nineties, continuity in terms of family life was provided most solidly by my aunt Ena. We had become great friends way back in 1983, when my adventures at S. Thomas’ had prompted her to seek to get to know me better. We got on superbly from the start, and as she said on her 90th birthday, when it was clear that she was dying, there was no reason to be sad for we had had such good times together.
These were first and foremost at Aluwihare, her wonderful home in the hills, which she had transformed into a magic retreat, full of colour and exotic artefacts. In addition to the batik and the embroidery done by her girls, as she still called them a quarter of a century after they had begun working with her, she had created employment for the boys of the village too, a carpentry shed and then a brass foundry. And then she had also started a restaurant, not one but two for she had no sense of restraint, K1 as she called it down the hill from her home where meals could be booked by tour groups, K2 on the roadside, which was not only a Kitchen but also provided rooms to stay.
The first was catered to by her own cook, Suja who she claimed could not boil water when she had first come to work, but who now produced the most marvelous concoctions. The other provided work for the middle aged ladies of the village, some of them relations. Though they exuded confusion as they bustled about, they were quite charming, and those who stayed and those who ate were entranced. The American ambassador, Peter Burleigh, used it seems to stay there often, which may well have been for nefarious purposes, but he was dearly loved by the ladies.
We had gone down often to Yala in the eighties, with memorable holidays during the times of turmoil, when we had the Park practically to ourselves. But when the JVP insurrection was over, more and more people began to visit, so we found other places too, Uda Walawe and Horton Plains and more frequently Wasgomuwa, which was a relatively short journey from Alu, over the Knuckles range to the Eastern plain. Continue reading