Friday, 9 August 2013

Day 5 Aug 9 Kandy

A rest day in Kandy and Buddhism dominates here. I went to the world museum of Buddhism and put the Sri Lankan monuments I had seen into a larger context. There were also excellent displays about Buddhism in other countries and I have seen the different forms in Nepal, Indian, China, Indonesia  and S Korea. They are all influenced strongly by local customs. In the evening I went to the ceremony of the opening of the Buddha's tooth. The temple was packed with devotees. I carried a flower offering to remember Laura and was barely able to put it at the front . There was also excellent Kandyan drumming. In the morning I had visited the British cemetery which has just been restored. It has about 120 graves of colonists who died in the 19 century in Kandy from fever, cholera, snake bite, elephant crushing. There were so many who died young.

I have been comparing Sri Lanka and India it is strikingly cleaner, richer and better organised than India. There are no beggars, our guides advised us that here the beggars were genuine unlike India! The children look well fed and one does not experience starving children being thrust at one. The caste system does not operate amongst the Singhalese and I wonder whether this makes them feel that their country belongs to them. I also sense that there is less inequality here. The effects of the universal health care system are visible. Sri Lankans stay in school until they are 18 years old and many people speak good English. However IT technology and services seems far less developed here, although mobile phones are ubiquitous  since Tata from India provided a sea cable. Sri Lanka does not seem to have taken the opportunities for developing the It sector. Here are also few newspapers being read. So now I am aware of the plus points of Sri Lanka. I have seen only a few references to the Tamil conflict. 

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