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!
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.