Dear England, Love Sri Lanka – my Buddha is bigger than your Buddha


Buddha sleeping on the job

After a bone rattling four hour van journey up country with a guide who we were told had ‘perfect English’ but who in fact had very little English and about as much local knowledge as my cat, Monica, we arrived at Anuradhapura home to the world UNESCO site of the Singhalese ancient city. We left behind Negombo town’s Catholic Halloween parade which saw righteous citizens in grand procession down the main street protesting against drugs, prostitution, cigarettes and gay people and entered the land of BUDDHA. Now Buddha was a real person in history and was always striving towards Nirvana. That’s Nirvana the state of perfect peace of mind, not the 90’s grunge band whose lead singer Kurt Cobain overdosed himself off in search of the after life before he was 30. The world heritage site has a lot of temples or STUPAs, A Stupa is a kind of giant circular mound where you go to leave offerings to and connect with your Buddha. The red stupa is over 1800 years old and is still the tallest brick built building in the world. It is a testament to the architectural intelligence of the ancient Singhalese. I thought it looked a  bit like Derwenthaugh coke works at home.


Stumble upon an ancient Stupa

Around the stupas the devout visitors leave floral offerings to Buddha which are promptly eaten by the black faced gibbons who treat the area as their own private sanctuary. I am a bit blase, I admit about ancient cultural artefacts (apart from in Egypt) and often prefer more modern cultural references of the living rather than the dead. I also forgot to wear a top which covered my shoulders (it is 30 degrees after all) and had to wander around with a towel draped over me like a sort of unconvincing superhero cloak.The black faced gibbons are bold and unafraid of people. They swagger about the ancient monuments as if they are responsible for their construction and should receive respect accordingly. They turn on the water butt taps for a drink if they are thirsty and don’t bother to turn them off again and are always in the market for a free snack from anyone. A bit like teenagers really. They file in line across the doorway of the ancient oriental library with absolutely no plans to pop in and increase their education about their ancient and venerated playground.

I’m ready for my close up now..
Are those Buddhas bothering you?
Just do what I do – ok?