Drinks at Lemon

The Indian novelist and Jaipur Literary Festival director, Namitha Gokale (what an engaging and perspicacious woman she is!), has been visiting Sri Lanka this week, promoting her latest book, and meeting Sri Lankan writers.  My (oh so very social) book club scored an invitation to meet her at the High Commissioner’s residence, India House – a magnificent colonial building set amid expansive lawns and tropical gardens on one of the tree-lined avenues near the university.

Although I’d never read her books, one of the things I really like to do is meet writers, and listen to them talking about their work, and the way they view the world, so I put my name down, and rounded up a couple of friends to come along with me.

It seemed a shame to end such an interesting afternoon (in such august surroundings) with a simple cup of tea, so we piled into a three-wheeler and headed toward Independence Square, to have a drink at Lemon.  None of us had been there for ages, but it seemed the perfect choice, just before sunset –  a rooftop terrace, open to the breeze and the sky.  And so it was.  Mo had exciting news to reveal,  C had lots to tell us about her recent wet, autumn-like visit to London, and I was just delighted to be sitting out in the open like that, chatting with friends, drinking a perfectly chilled Semillion Chardonnay, and basking in the cool breezy sensations of sunset. Since we’d had a couple of pakoras at afternoon tea, we decided against the customary ‘bite’ with our wine, even scrumptious warm devilled cashews!


That time of night


A perfectly unremarkable – and delicious – evening out and about in Colombo!  Mid sentence I remembered I had my camera, so here’s a little snapshot.  Down below, serious Rugger practice was under way, while in the far corner of the oval a handful of hockey players were going through their moves.  On the other side (out of view) we could hear that distinctive combination of splash and exclamation that comes from a happy swimming pool.   You’ll also have to imagine the murmur of conversation a few tables away, a little jocular chit-chat as our host returned from his jog, and the silent punctuality of the bats flying out of the trees in the Viharamahadevi Park, cruising the sky on wavy black wings.  By the time we’d left, the sky had turned pewter, the lights beginning to glow in the cool, quiet gloom.

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44 thoughts on “Drinks at Lemon

  1. You paint a wonderful snapshot of a literary, leisurely interlude. I could hear the murmurs, the laughter & conversation. I could taste the perfectly chilled Semillion Chardonnay. I would have indulged in the scrumptious warm devilled cashews… because I too went to a book club function, at lunchtime, in a meeting room of our offices, and partook of aged sandwiches & diet coke, returning thereafter to my desk. No matter, next book club meet, I will take myself to India House, and Lemon… in my mind 🙂

    • Yes Food, Photography & , it was a lovely evening. It occurred to me that although it was such an exotic setting, it was just like evenings elsewhere, meeting with friends, having a drink and watching the sun go down.

    • Yes, I suppose it was, Michelle – like so many unremarkable occasions we enjoy, sunsets we glance at, because they’re part of the rhythm of our lives. But each one IS a moment of perfection, and stopping to take the photographs reminded me of that – stop, be in the moment, and see … 🙂

  2. Oh, I can feel being there. The interlude sounds perfect; the time of day, the glass of wine, the view. You’ve painted a picture that is oh so relaxing.

  3. Devilled cashews – ? What may these be? And hockey in Sri Lanka? Who knew! You DO paint beautiful pictures with your words, stirring memories of similar times in different places. Enjoyed this post.

    • i’m glad you were stirred, not shaken, Lynne, and enjoyed the post and your memories of other places, other times.

      Like India, hockey has a long tradition here – I’m always more surprised about the rugby matches (in this weather!).

      Devilled cashews are fresh cashews which are dry roasted in a pan with salt and chilli and are served up warm – delicious and soooo moorish!

  4. Oh, how lovely! You conjured up a lovely atmosphere of a quiet and enjoyable evening. I wish I had been sitting down with your friends sipping Chardonnay! Lemon sounds a wonderful place…

    • Had to chuckle! Our convenor got so she began posting a list of questions and salient points to look out for … I rarely go anymore, but thought this time it would be worthwhile – and it was. She was a great talker – imagine her life, writing, travelling the world meeting writers, curating an annual festival … lots to talk about!

  5. what a gorgeous afternoon, your pics and description recreate the ambience for us so beautifully, but i am not sure about the aromas …. a hint of frangipani, a whiff of rugby, some wafts of spicy dinner cooking ????

  6. Ah, what a beautiful place you live in, Wanderlust. The light in those pictures is stunning. So glad you had a good time. It’s good to spend time with friends.

  7. When I read your line about “devilled cashews” I wondered what they might be, because here in the United States I’m familiar with the word in deviled eggs: boil an eff, cut it in half longitudinally, remove the yolk, mash it up and add seasonings or other things, and put the mixture back in the hollowed-out place. In looking at some dictionaries, though, I see that that’s a toned-down version of the general use of the term, which involves coating something in a spicy mix. Live and learn.

  8. Didn’t sound unremarkable at all the way you told it, quite the contrary! Made me wish I was there 🙂 Did you pick up Namitha’s book?

    • Thanks, Madhu. It would have been lovely to have had you with us. C, I know, would have been fascinated by your insights and experiences and we will have had most lively conversations!

      It’s interesting, I was trying to relate how ordinary life unfolds here – and yes, the evening was uneventful and could have been played out by any of us, anywhere in the world, and yet it had its own flavour and now, because of the blog, I took pictures, and have an ordinary evening to remember when memories begin to fail. (I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but my Grandfather had Alzheimer’s, and I’m beginning to understand why Ma was so worried she would get it too … 🙂 )

      The books haven’t come in, yet. Been thinking I might order a couple through her website if they don’t arrive soon.

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