May 6, 2012

Sri Lanka or bust

The last time Sarah and I declared a year of No Change, we ended up retiring, selling our house and moving to this farm on Vancouver Island. This time, and just this month, we're considering moving into a 600-square-foot cottage, and I'm doing a solo one-month trip to Asia. As I asked last week, is it a true openness and embracing of change and opportunity, or is it a change-addiction?

It's not easy, leaving the family for a month. Missing both boys' class plays, end of school celebrations, Class 4 camping trip that I could have chaperoned, first exciting week of summer vacation transition, farewell to dear Crystal & Tristan and welcome to new (still-to-be-determined) renters, major garden planting, class 2 visit to the reclusive monastery up the mountainside, parking-lot see-you-next-year hugs and vainly hopeful pledges to get together over the summer. It's truly amazing, and affirming, to realize how many high-value life events and daily Joys can get packed into a month, particularly May 15 to June 23.

That's when I'll be in Sri Lanka, on a contract with the Canadian Cooperative Association to do micro-enterprise development . Working in 3 different coastal areas of the country with local small-business co-operatives that were formed to re-establish livelihoods after the 1994 tsunami. It's an exciting re-entry into international development, building on micro-credit work I've done in Tanzania and Kenya as well as my new investment into the co-operative movement. Beyond just being a fantastic one-month experience and contribution, I'm hopeful that it puts me right back in the flow that will lead to some longer-term (6-month?) position that our whole family could go on - the dream we opened ourselves to back in October. Our boys are 8 and 10 and just a perfect age to drink in a new culture and language and way of being.

To celebrate this first overseas trip since leaving ACCES 4 years ago, I'm gifting myself with a week of backpacking life in India. I booked a layover in Chennai (Madras), before I'd read the Lonely Planet description of it:
Chennai has neither the cosmopolitan, prosperous air of Mumbai (Bombay), the optimistic buzz of Bengaluru (Bangladore) or the historical drama of Delhi. It's muggy, polluted, hot as hell, and difficult to get around. Traditional tourist attractions are few. Even the movie stars are, as one Chennaiker put it, 'not that hot.'
So it sounds like the perfect place to go with no expectations, just walk around and drink in a continent I've never set foot in, enjoy foods and sounds and crowds and trains, maybe a trip down to Auroville - "the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with - and practically researching into - sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind."

And just in case you weren't jealous, here's a snippet of the Sri Lanka guidebook:
Available throughout the year are pineapple, papaya (excellent with lime) and banana, of which there are dozens of varieties. The extraordinarily rich jack fruit is also available all year. Seasona fruit include the lusciously sweet mango, the purplish mangosteen, wood-apple, avocado, the spiky foul-smelling durian and hairy red rambutan. In addition to ordinary green coconuts, Sri Lanka has its own variety - the golden king coconut; the milk is particularly sweet and nutritious.
So my dear friends and family, as I sincerely miss the beautiful community season, I will console myself with Bollywood and the sacred Buddhist capital of Kandy and warm water surfing. As you dig into our rich soil to plant our year's food supply, I'll dig into a foul-smelling durian and try to smuggle back a hairy red rambutan for you in my backpack.

1 comment:

  1. those rambutan look delicious! HAve fun Ricky!