Looking at the new houses
On our trip to Arugum Bay we spent a day in the East Coast town of Batticaloa. Batticaloa is a Portuguese derivation of the original Tamil name, Matakkalappu, which translates to Muddy Swamp. That’s a pretty fair description as there is not much to do or see in Batti other than eat fresh cheap seafood. I’m also at a loss as to how Batticaloa is a derivation of Matakkalappu – it sounds more like the Portuguese just made up a new name after they could not understand the original one. I imagine the scene went like this:
Portuguese Colonial 1: You, local man come hither, what do you call this muddy swap of a place here?
Local Man: Matakkalappu
Portuguese Colonial 1: Pardon? Oh goodness, do you think we will ever be able to pronounce that?
Portugueese Coloinal 2: It is an unfit name to exist in our colonial empire where every child under the sun shall watch bull fights and eat Portuguese tarts
Portuguese Colonial 1: Indeed you are correct. My great aunt’s name is Batticaloa so lets just call it that. Oh yeah and kill that guy and steal all his spices.
Boat at Pasikudah
There is not much to do in Batti and most people travelling through just stock up on the way to their intended destination of the surf-haven Arugum Bay to the South or the white-sandy-beaches of Pasikudah to the North.
Swimmers ar Pasikudah
A temporary house
We went to Batti to visit some of the areas where the Sathya Sai organisation support vulnerable families. The Sathya Sai organisation is an international spiritual group that amongst other things delivers a range of charitable programs across Sri Lanka and other countries. The work is all performed by volunteers who subscribe to the Sai ideology, and its Service arm is sort of like a spiritual rotary or lions club. They were building a couple of permanent houses for families in flood prone areas, who had been living in temporary accommodation since the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. The husband of the first family had lost the use of his legs and his wife earns an income by selling mangoes and eggs from their backyard chicken coop. The second family we met was headed by a grandmother who was the guardian for her daughter’s 3 children – their father had left them and their mother was working overseas to send money back to the family. The Sai organisation was working with the families to design the house to meet their needs and could build a three bedroom house for about $6,000 Aussie dollars.
The youngest daughter in the family
We also went to visit a small community on the outskirts of Batti that were having issues getting their children to school. The round-trip to the closest school is 10kms on rocky roads with the only mode of transportation being their little legs. All the children waited patiently for us to arrive and we listened to the discussion on what could be done to help – with solutions ranging from bicycles with the older kids dinking the young ones to funding a community bus.
The village kids
That evening I had a bad case of Batti Belly (I blame the cashew curry – delicious but deadly) and hit the sack early before we bussed down to Arugum bay.
Delicious but deadly
Note: I also woke up that morning with a large mozzie bite on my side. That was about 7 days before I got the Dengoo.