17 July 2008

Letter 2.39

My walk ended some time ago with visits to Bandarawela, which I didn't find nearly so lovely as the tourist booklets claim, Buttala, where I stayed with a 104-year-old monk who lives in an open cave in the jungle all alone -- a fine old man -- and a few days visiting Mark at Godawaya. Things have not yet worked out suitably for me to stay at the house in Kandy which I mentioned earlier, so I'm temporarily staying with Ven. Piyadassi in a forest reserve adjacent to Kandy town -- from parts of it one can overlook the entire town -- yet it is very quiet and secluded. My residence here, however, is temporary. Most likely possibility is to get a mud hut built somewhere in the preserve, which much appeals to me. But here too some possibilities are less than others, and so nothing is definite.

We interrupt this letter for a Special News Bulletin. Since the preceding paragraph was written I have a) found a suitable location, about 200 yards behind the house, for a hut, and b) found someone willing to arrange for construction of a hut. This will take me one or two weeks to do, unless there are unforeseen delays. The place is on a grassy hill accessible by a charming footpath. Jungle all around, but a patch of a few acres are bare of trees and afford a splendid view of Kandy's hills -- village nearby (1,5 mile) for food, well already there, needs cleaning only. I will be a 'squatter' on government land (Crown Forest), but am not likely to be evicted since the D.R.O. (District Revenue Officer) would have to be the one to evict me, and part of the cost of the kuti is being paid for by the D.R.O.'s wife. As soon as further details become known the News Service will interrupt this letter with further Bulletins. We now return you to our regular letter.

Here the weather is in the high 70's in the day, middle 60's at night, sunny with showers every few days (leeches are only a problem for 24 hours after a rain; after that the ground becomes too dry for them and they disappear -- I don't know where too -- and even for the day after a rain if I remember to soap my feet well they'll keep clear of me), usually in the evening -- typical February weather hereabouts. Also, typically, there may be a postal strike, in which case a foreseen delay will hold up this letter.

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