Monday, August 26, 2013

My Neighbourhood

The Bad fringe to beat all bad fringes...

I came home one day recently after being out and about on my bike with this rather warm feeling in my belly, something rather feel-good zooming around in there that i could not really articulate or attribute...
Then it hit me - so obvious. I feel part of a COMMUNITY, and part of the fabric of "this place". I loved that I felt this way but it was also quite strange how much of a surprise it came.... how new and unusual it felt.

I never really had it in Dubai. Sure - Seattle's coffee gave me a pretty good run for my money by remembering my name and even using it in a sing-song sometimes. Oh and playing along with me when I asked if there was love in the coffee... even checking it was "low fat love"....? (props to the guys and girls at Seattle's Media City building 8 for rolling with my silliness with such grace). But beyond that... not really...

But here it is different. Or maybe I am?
With a shift to simplicity the most satisfying thing I have found is that you have life right in front of your nose - feel it around you. You gain parts of life that are otherwise inaccessible.... there is less STUFF in the way (including ego, and material possessions) so you can get closer to people and places.

Also a  few months ago I decided that I had a choice. I could either doubt, and "watch out" for being taken advantage of  (a favourite of some not surprisingly not-as-happy-as-they-could be expats here) or I could believe  "I only meet good people".  AND apart from the hairdresser (insert expletives here) that sacrificed my fringe has been absolutely true.
A pretty sweet article that backs up the solidness of this "people are good" approach here

So let me give you a taste of what goes down in my Hood ;-)

.......Stopping by on my bicycle to talk to Keerthie - the IT man to see and all round nice guy. He has helped me with free compost, installing 20 meters of wire to get my internet working, computer advice and even a suggested new bike route we bonded and pondered over the regenerating powers of a bike ride through the paddy fields

...A stop off at the Podi Kade (small shop) to get some fruit. The grandmother has made it her daily mission to teach me Singhala and so I get at least a new word a day (bless her she is VERY patient), love how if I don't have enough money it is "pase pase" (later, later) and that we can exchange our spare coconuts for store credit ;-) Compliments on my varies polka dot dresses (Sri Lankan Ladies often love Polka Dots?!) and inquires about where "suda mama" (white uncle) is from a 2 year old cutie called Benuti round off a charming typical visit

....I borrow some bikes from Chameera - who is starting his own cycling tour business, I have a friend in town... no worries - he lends me bikes  AND gives me some guppies (fish) as he remembered i wanted some... and while leaving his wife hands me a bag of passion-fruit as they remember me saying that they were my favourite. Fruit and thoughtfulness go together rather beautifully I have found.

....I bike past a gorgeous old crumbling house that i admired from the road... but then as often happens in Sri Lanka I got invited in to have an explore (excelent! as I am a nosy minx), with tea and fruit to enjoy with a beautiful family of 3. Yup I do believe unexpected and uncomplicated generosity is always available if you are open to it....

And for me this community, these interactions all link back to something which I believe is so powerful: Simplicity. A desire for simplicity is one of the reasons for me moving to Sri Lanka. Although this word simplicity is hard to define and easily misunderstood.

I for one am glad that simplicity is increasingly being defined for what it is for (connecting and caring for life) instead of what it is against (destructive consumerism). In the 1980's it was seen primarily as "downshifting" or pulling back from the rate race of consumer society. Several decades late there is a growing recognition of simplicity as "up shifting" or moving beyond the rat race to the human race. (Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin)

I guess that is what I am working towards - and as long as my community interactions and daily experiences include free fruit, impromptu singhala lessons, bicycle rides and welcoming smiles I know I am on the right track...;-)

The beautiful old house i got to nose around...

My Daily Bike Route

Fruit tastes best when eaten with friendly strangers


  1. You've done an amazing job of describing the feeling of a sense of community! I can totally feel it and love it!