Growing Up In Sri Lanka

Rain + Thunder + Lighting = a bad mix!

And a bad mix is what loomed over us in Atlanta, this past Tuesday and Wednesday!

And this bad mix, nipped our power supply in the bud resulting in an outage in the wee hours of the morning.

Fortunately, I have been gifted with a daughter who entertains my brand of zany and she played along, making light (no pun intended here) of the situation as we got ready to start the day, with candles and flashlight apps lighting our way. On our ride to her school, we couldn’t help but reflect on how much we take electricity for granted. We flip a switch and voila – coffee is ready; turn a handle and hot water comes from our taps; turn a knob and oats are cooked; flip a switch and we are not stepping on the dog or bumping into a table or not wearing socks that don’t match. After I dropped her off, my thoughts were consumed by something else I had taken for granted: the country where I was born, when I was there.

When I was approached by Martin of “Withlocals“, to write a post on the workings of “Withlocals” in Sri Lanka; I struggled with what to write, first I thought I would recreate one of my mom’s traditional Sri Lankan recipes and feature it along with a write up, but, to date, I have yet to master my mom’s recipes-even when she provides me with step by step directions! However, when our power went out, I started thinking about how often it used to go out in Sri Lanka and how it never seemed to bother us then because what gets to be the norm, doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable anymore; and I figured I would take this post in a different direction.

I spent the first 9 years of my life in Sri Lanka, leaving it shortly after the treacherous civil riots of 1983. As a child, it was hard to make sense of the violence that erupted during that time, my memories of the past 9 years seemed to have been erased and replaced by those of the few months before our departure. And for years later, I never wanted to go back home!


Somehow, I managed to forget about the blackberries my cousins and I ate on walks we would take through tea plantations hugging the curves of a mountain;

I managed to forget about the bread and “cutlets” (expertly made by my mom) that the four of us stuffed ourselves silly with while enjoying each others company on a train ride;


I managed to forget about the waterfalls that took our breadth away when riding with my late uncle along winding, bumpy roads;


I managed to forget about the giddy feeling my cousins and I shared while watching a “Perahera“;


I managed to forget about our frequent trips to the beach because we lived so close to it (and Sri Lanka is a tiny island surrounded by some amazing beaches);


I managed to forget about a fascinating trip my family -uncles, aunts and cousins included- took to Sigiriya where, after looking at some amazing frescos my cousin enticed me onto a rope bridge and then began to shake it (yup, we made each other feel the love when we were younger! NOT!); 🙂

With age comes clarity, and the realization that a few negative things cannot erase a gazillion good ones…and there are days now when I long to go back to visit. For me, the best memories of Sri Lanka were with family and friends I knew.

Which brings me back to Martin and Withlocals; Withlocals is an organization that helps connect people travelling to Sri Lanka, with “hosts” who are individuals and/or families that provide one of a kind tours and at home dining experiences in Sri Lanka and other surrounding countries. If you ever find yourself contemplating a trip to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal or Malaysia, please check out Withlocals first to see if it would be something yall would be interested in.

Somehow, thanks to my mom, I managed to never forget about Sri Lankan food; from “Chinese rolls” (yup-you are confused, inspite of the name, they are a Sri lankan pastry), “cutlets”, “Kiribath”, “egg hoppers”, “string hoppers”, “wattalapam”, and “seeni sambol” – she continues to churn some amazing dishes out and at times I am glad I cannot cook these dishes like she can, because, if I did, I would be eating ALL the food!!!


Happy, Happy Friday!

~Here’s hoping yalls weekend is wonderful!

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  1. I have a friend who married a guy from Sri Lanka who’s been living in Sydney for about 30 years. They go to Sri Lanka every year to see his mother and family. She raves about the country – it’s beauty, climate, how affordable everything is and the stunning beaches. She has also fallen in love with the cuisine and has become a really good cook of Sri Lankan food. Going over there for dinner is a wonderful treat xx

  2. I think this is an absolutely brilliant idea. We always find a local to work as our tour guide when we travel but this With Locals takes all the hard work out of it.

    My son and his family live in Atlanta and it was a near disaster that my granddaughter didn’t get to go to the zoo this week because of the crappy weather. 🙂

  3. How lovely is this post! Sri Lanka is actually high on my list of places to visit! I was actually talking to a friend yesterday about making a trip there in August or September…I will definitely be picking your brains closer to the time if the trip works out :)!

  4. What a beautiful post! It reminded me of the stories my mom tells us about her childhood and all the fun they had growing up in India! I really hope to visit Sri Lanka one day – it’s def. on the list! Have a wonderful weekend, S!

  5. Yikes, so glad to hear you are both okay after the big storm. This is such a beautiful post Shashi – thanks so much for sharing all of this with us, the pictures of are gorgeous 🙂 Happy Friday and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  6. It’s so crazy how something like a random thunderstorm can totally take your mind back to another time and place! I can feel the nostalgia in this post!

  7. Loved reading about your memories of Sri Lanka. One of my favorite things about reading blogs is getting a glimpse at life in other places! Withlocals sounds like a wonderful organization that really helps you get immersed in the local culture when traveling.

  8. Oh, what wonderful memories. I’m so glad you had a chance to think back an remember them because they are lovely!!
    Sri Lanka looks absolutely *beautiful*. The pictures are amazing! Withlocals sounds like a fantastic program and would be the perfect way to experience travel!! –Lisa

  9. Those are such great memories! I think we all take things for granted … I’ve been trying lately to really not do just that! It’s hard though … as soon as something negative happens … but I think I’m making progress : ) Loved reading this post! Have a great weekend!

  10. Gorgeous pictures!!! I loved reading some of your memories from Sri Lanka. I know this is pitiful, but I don’t really even know where Sri Lanka is.

  11. Withlocals sounds awesome!
    I know that for me, having family in India to rely on when we visit is a HUGE help and blessing.

  12. What a fantastic read Shashi, now I want to travel to Sri Lanka to see all those beautiful places, taste all that amazing food and meet the locals.
    It will happen soon, really soon I hope!

  13. Beautiful photos and stories! I traveled to Cambodia a few years ago and was so blown away that I swore I’d make it my life’s mission to go back to South and Southeast Asia. Sadly, I haven’t made it back but your post reminded me of what it felt like to visit these incredible villages and check out from my hectic life in New York.Thanks for sharing the tip about WithLocals AND for making me so hungry- that food looks SOOO good! I’ve never had Sri Lankan food but that’s going to change now thanks to your pictures. Have a wonderful weekend!

  14. Shashi , thank you for sharing your beautiful memories with us. Do you think you will go back to visit soon? With the locals sounds like a great program to help people really understand the people, the culture and the food. I am glad to see that your electricity is back up or at least your internet is up and running. Take care, BAM

  15. Loved the post! I’m Sri Lankan and it’s always so nice to read something about one’s country. 😀
    Do you still live in Sri Lanka?

  16. What a great idea! There is no better way to see and experience a culture than from the locals. I love this post. So beautiful!

  17. What a lovely post! What I love about Sri Lanka? The tea, the tea is awesome 🙂 Of course, there are so many wonderful things about that beautiful country. My uncle and cousins lived there for many years but we never did visit. I also have friends from Sri Lanka, all wonderful.
    It was really nice to read about your memories and see the beautiful photos. xx

  18. Shashi, I know how you feel about taking things like electricity for granted! Living in India I learnt to appreciate what we have in the west. It is a common topic to talk about how the light is gone- sometimes up to 10 times a day!
    I really like this post on Sri Lanka, what a beautiful place to have grown up in. Hope you had a great weekend 🙂

  19. I did not know you were born in Sri Lanka. Your pictures show a beautiful colorful country. I have the same thoughts when I experience electricity blackouts. It is such a huge part of our lives… we don’t even realize we could’t do most of what we do without it!

  20. Wow so much about Sri Lanka looks and sounds so wonderful 🙂 I’ll admit it wasn’t on my list of places to think to go travelling to but now it definitely is!

    I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

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