Sri Lanka Jan 9th, 11am
2 bombs went off in Colombo yesterday. There have been 3 that we know of since our trip began. We aren’t sure how to respond. We may pass out some flyers today asking people to pass on the flyer after reading it. It will say something like, “Without Killing, let’s progress with good intentions”. We’ll try to get it translated in Tamil, Sinhala, Hindi and English. We feltuneasy about talking about it. Our group was concerned about where it happened and how many people were killed. An MP was killed.
Colombo has been in high alert since some high ranking LTTE commanders were killed in an attack. The “ceasefire” is about to formally end in a few days. There was no real end to killing from either the government or the LTTE during the ceasefire.
Just the other night, some of us were wondering how did South Asia become so chaotic. This area is where ideas like Ahmisa, Dhamma, Sataygraha, etc were formulated. But during a strange 20th century filled with ideas of violent revolution, it seems the sons and daughters of those people have already forgotten. I guess it only takes one bomb blast to anger people and a few more to create more hate and fear. Then after a few more, people can become de-sensitized to meaningless killing. The ideas of violent revlolution are foreign,but nobody understands why places like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, etc are so deep into buying weapons and using them against each other.
Sonali cried after she saw a little dog get run over. The dog was sleeping on the road and got hit by a vehicle. This happened while our van was broken down. It was really lucky because we broke down right next to a house of a mechanic. It took us about 2-3 hours to get it fixed and get back to Colombo. We missed visiting the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage because of the delay. But we felt pretty lucky to be safely back at the hotel. Silva, our amazing driver, was asked at the parts shop if the travelers he was driving were mad at him. He said proudly, “these people are like no other I’ve been with”. Silva has become part of the group and has jumped in to helping out with everything we do.
We visited the Dambulla Rock temple. Some of us meditated. I was thinking about if Gautama would like that we have statues of him. I think early on people made statues of an empty throne with slippers next to it that have been left behind. I was told to think of the iconification of the Buddha as a reminder to be mindful. That’s why his back is erect and eyes look calm, etc. So, I guess it’s just to reinforce some practices the same way some Americans put up a picture of (my favorite American) Malcolm X on their wall.
Before Dambulla, we spent a couple hours at the Mahasena Village school and offically opened the library.Â TheyÂ prepared anÂ assembly where they danced and sang and recited for us. One play was about a man in a rush to goÂ somewhere. HeÂ asks what people are doing, to only respond, “I don’t have time, I have to get somewhere.” Until he meets a woman that he wants to marry on the way. The principle says that the message for us Â that we might be on our way somewhere, but that we might find “something else” during the journey.
Laura, Raju, Shwetha, and I gave a short talk to thank them for all that they did for us in welcoming us for a few days. Laura made us all cry. I ended up talking a little too long. I tried to tell the kids of some of my heros, Sukh, Nirali, Sheetal, Manuri, Kristeen and how each of them made my world better. We tried to tell them that we would be very satisfied if we found out that the kids we met inspiring someone else because of how they were affected by something we said or something we did. In 2 days, it was tough to have a deep conversation.
The teachers and other people wanted our contact info. It felt good to make new connections.
We gave a small gift to the mason that has been working night and day through rain. There were a few other people that had started our work since Dec 19th. Without them, we wouldn’t have the flexibility in our schedule.
We filled the library with almost 200 books and 2 brand new cabinets. The library is almost complete. Just some fixtures, 2 windows and some plaster is yet to be done. We filled in cement for a payment next to the library and helped plant some new trees.
The day before that we visited SigiriyaÂ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigiriya)Â with teachers and students. After that we went on an elephant safari. We saw 10 or 12 elephants. They move so fluidly and gracefully for such a large animal. Nishanthi, one of the teachers with us, said that 2 nights ago, an elephant came by her house.
This whole trip we were entertained, taken on tours, and fed us well. We can’t repay the hospitality we’ve felt. Good intentions are rewarded.