We venture down the coast to the Galle Fort on Tamil and Sinhalese New Year’s day, though with the full moon Poya, the Holy Prophet’s birthday, the coming of Easter, etc., we are quite confused about just what is being celebrated and by whom.
We do know that within the old colonial fort, in the coastal village of Galle, everything is calm. The streets are nearly empty and a white-walled quietness surrounds the city’s various mosques, Buddhist dagobas, and churches. The only activity is on the earthen ramparts, where families walk and talk, fly kites, and laugh. Atop one, a dripping wet teenager asks me for 200 rupees for the honor of photographing him jumping 15 meters down into the dark surf. I decline, focusing my lens instead on the sky and the silhouettes and the lads playing cricket below the walls.
The sun goes down somewhere over Africa, and its thick, golden light lingers for hours before the event, as waves crash below; it is impossible not to imagine the ocean rising up to breach these walls, as the tsunami did last year. Just this mental excercise alone is mind-boggling as to the power of that errant wave, and I let it go as I continue along the walls, until, finally, the sun gone, the sky on fire, the restaurants all closed, we catch a ride back to Hikkaduwa.