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Out in the open, a place to hang out

By Sandamalee de Fonseka
As promoters of the Sri Lankan culinary scene, we think that Galle Face Green must, surely, be the world’s greatest hawker joint! Every evening, and more on a holiday, the ground is filled with a variety of hawkers, selling anything from pulses to pickles to barbeques, with lovers hiding behind colorful umbrellas and children flying equally colorful kites, and families out for a stroll and a picnic. With pony rides, and other treats, Galle Face Green takes a definite carnival atmosphere.

Then, of course, there is the sun setting to add to this pretty picture. It is such an awesome sight, as the sun seems to melt and its vibrant hues seep into the clouds and the seas, before disappearing for the night. Nearly everyone stops to watch this magnificent descent. In fact, many time their visit to Galle Face Green, just so to view this most beautiful sunset.

Now that Galle Face Green is closed for restorations, there is a gaping hole in the Colombo evening life. Though Colombo is the commercial hub of Sri Lanka, there are not nearly enough places to go in the evenings. Colombo would indeed be a bit of a bore, until Galle Face Green opens up again.

However, we Sri Lankans are a very versatile people. Very little actually gets us down and even if things do, not for long, for we quickly think of an alternative. It may not be as good as the original, but it is enough to keep us happy. Our alternative to Galle Face Green is the Parliament Grounds. The seemingly floating Parliament buildings are a beautiful enough vista. Like a wet blanket, there’s some monstrous construction taking place right in the middle of the grounds. Due to security reasons, most vendors, especially those selling from vans and huts are discouraged, so, except for the vendor on his modified bicycle, there are no hawkers of the magnitude of Galle Face Green.

Still, people crowd the Parliament Grounds in the evenings – more so during weekends, and seem to be having a good enough time. Of course, the weave of people is also much less. Galle Face Green attracted people from all economic strata and few were decidedly undesirable.

The good thing about Parliament Grounds, for some reason or the other (perhaps the presence of more vigilant security) has deterred this undesirable crowd. There are also clear signs from the police stating that consumption of liquor, even in the privacy of one’s vehicle is strictly prohibited and violators are liable to be prosecuted – clearly indicating that this is a place for families and respectable society. This may well be the plus point Parliament Grounds has over Galle Face.

The vibrant Grounds of the evenings, return to tranquility in the mornings and becomes a perfect place for a quick jog or a quiet walk. Many people of all ages and stamina thus take advantage of this well groomed ground. After all, not many places in Colombo are kept in this pristine condition. It was because of this ‘exclusivity’ that I was irked, when this woman brought her dog to use these grounds as her pet’s toilet! In the mornings, many people come for walks, and in the evenings, many children play about, and here she was, thoughtlessly using it as her pet’s toilet.

When I politely asked her to clean up after herself, her immediate response was why I won’t teach my own people, before I tell her (she’s Caucasian). I looked around – there was no one else littering, and an amazing point hit me. In the evenings, there must be at least a hundred people on the Ground. Yet, in the morning, except for the odd wrapper fluttering by the sidewalk, there’s not a trace to indicate such a crowd. Kudos must be given to the people, for the litter baskets left by the municipality, are really not up to handling its task.

I pointed this out and she made the absurd accusation that I’m picking on her because of her skin colour, and the heated words that followed is not worthy of this column. Anyway, the point is this, if there is a reader – irrespective of skin colour, ethnicity, religion, gender, left or right handed, with or without driving license, level of qualifications and whatever other self-entertained inferiorities – out there who had been thoughtlessly committing anti-social acts like littering, please stop.

There are very few places in Colombo that you can take your young family to enjoy an evening, especially outdoors (strange isn’t it, for a tropical country!). Please be kind to people, even if you don’t know them and leave the place as clean as you found it. This woman enjoys coming in the morning because this is a nice, clean, pleasant place for a walk, but leaves it dirty. Don’t follow her footsteps!

Come on Foodies! Gossip with us on food! We’d love to know your food experiences – good, bad, humorous… basically, anything and everything. Just drop an email to info@bojoon.com and the most interesting experiences would be published here. For more information, do visit www.bojoon.com.

Sandamalee de Fonseka is the founder of www.bojoon.com that is both the organiser of action-packed one-on-one cooking programmes with top chefs of Sri Lanka, and the portal of food in Sri Lanka.

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Submarine Fun - May 7 to end of the month!

Looking for something new to experience is what today’s generation expects from a hotel or a restaurant. The team at the Trans Asia Hotel is aware of this expectation and has come up with a fun way of enjoying a wholesome and filling meal. Come to Goodies and ask for a Submarine, which comprises a portion of carbs (bread) filled with chicken, beef or a calorie conscious mix with a tasty seasoning. For just Rs. 450 plus taxes, the deal is accompanied by a portion of the popular crispy French fries and a complimentary soft drink of your choice.

At Goodies, you could also enjoy a Shawarma, which is like the ultimate for an “on the go” meal. Thinly sliced chicken mixed with veggies and sauces are packed into a pita pocket and ready to eat! For just Rs. 400 plus taxes, you’ve got what it takes with a Goodies Shawarma, one of today’s popular take out meals.

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