So far, my hosts have made a mission of feeding me 'authentic' Sri Lankan cuisine and I've been indulged with utterly delicious food for every single meal. I'm steadily becoming a big fan of the local cuisine. Amongst the things I've had today (which were really, really good) was 'kuttu', chicken, potato and rice cooked on top of banana leaves, sweet and spicy pineapple curry as well as jaggery and tamarind mixed with 'kiri' - buffalo mik curd. Interestingly, Sri Lankan sweets aren't really sweet. I tell 'J', they're kinda missing the point here. She replies that we (Indians and Pakistanis) are overdosed with saccharin and can't really appreciate the subtlety of Sri Lankan sweets. Oh-well, sweet or not sweet, I quite like the desserts I've tasted.
Aside from eating, I've been shopping. Or trying to shop at any rate. First of all, everything is so interestingly shop-worthy I've been itching to spend a fortune at every store J takes me to. Unfortunately, even as she shows me lovely-things-to-buy, she counsels me to put it back on the shelf since she knows of some place cheaper-than-this where I can obtain the same item and she'll take me there. And so after an entire day of window shopping, I come home with next to nothing determined to shoot J if she takes me to yet another shop where I can't buy things. I mean friendship aside, this is an exercise in Sri Lankan torture. Don't you think?
In other news, I just got home from the Gangaramaya Temple. Right in the middle of the city, this Buddhist temple has the largest collection of Buddha statues (in assorted poses) that I've ever seen. And it is true that I have not been known to frequent Buddhist temples very much, but I feel like anyone who see's the place must be in awe of it as much as I was. First of all there was the elephant, predictably named 'Raja'. A gift from the Indian government, Raja is - I was told - a perfect specimen of elephant-hood. Not that I'm a judge of these things, but he is a very impressive animal with huge tusks. Between you and me he looks a little bored, but I suppose if he had to put up with tourists and pilgrims fawning over me day in and day out the attention would get old rather quickly. Apparently, Raja's shining moment comes two days a year when he's all dressed up and paraded in the city to celebrate the king's coronation. It's been a while since Sri Lanka had a king, but its a good thing no one seems to have told Raja that. It must also be mentioned that this temple has some beautiful paintings and wall murals of the Buddha's life that is a privilege to have seen. All in all, it's a must-visit location for any tourist to Colombo.