KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
This island paradise has been known by several names over the centuries; the Romans named it ‘Thaproban’, the Muslim traders referred to it as ‘Serendib’, translated as Island of Jewels, in Arabic. The Portuguese twisted the Sinhala name for the island into something like ‘Ceilao’, the Dutch changed it to ‘Ceylan’ and the British altered it to ‘Ceylon’.
However, in the Hindu Ramayana, the story is told of the abduction of Ram’s wife Sita, by the King Of Lanka. In 1972, the name of the island was officially changed to Sri Lanka, adding the respectful title Sri to the age-old name.
I have always liked the word ‘serendipity’ but never knew that its origins are linked to Sri Lanka. My on-line dictionary tells me that the word is attributed to ’Horace Walpole, who in 1754 coined the word after reading ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accident or sagacity, of things they were not in quest of”.
After staying in the Villa Araliya for several days, we discovered that the owner had another property in Kandy and, when we told him we were returning to the city for a couple of nights, he suggested we stay there. Lo and behold, the property is called The Serendip Stone Bungalow. We were so reluctant to leave our comfortable ‘digs’ in Negombo, but the prospect of being equally happy in Kandy made us take him up on his offer. It was one we didn’t regret for a minute.
We travelled once again by car and driver and it took us barely three hours to make the journey to Kandy. We knew the Serendip was 4km out of the city, but we came in from such a different route, we could have been anywhere, nothing seemed familiar. We left the main highway and took a series of smaller and smaller winding lanes and were beginning to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Just when we were getting really concerned, we rounded a corner and drove into a little piece of heaven.
As we walked up to the front terrace, an English couple, Dave and Sue, whom we’d met a few days earlier at the Villa Araliya, greeted us. Dave immediately said ‘Welcome to Paradise’, and we could see he meant it. As I write this, I’m thinking about the fact that we have to leave here in the morning to start our journey north of the central highlands to visit the ancient temples and then the eastern coast. It’s been two days of doing nothing but relaxing on the terrace, eating great traditional Sri Lankan meals and working on my journal.
After dinner we stood on the front terrace and were surprised to see tiny twinkling lights everywhere, fireflies! Everywhere! It was magical! I think I may have seen a couple or three before, but there were thousands. The surprising thing was that they fly so high; they were twinkling high up in the tallest palm trees as well as creating a carpet of moving lights just over the reeds by the river. Serendipity, you bet.
We’d like to stay longer, but the rest of Sri Lanka beckons, and we just might make some new discoveries, by accident or sagacity.