I have a soft spot for Galle as I visited it with my nephew first! We were staying at Unawatuna and hopped over to Galle in 2013. Then meeting Sampath the cliff jumper from Galle in 2018 has added another fond memory to it!
So here I am at Galle again, writing this post as I wait for my other group members to walk back to our agreed upon meeting place. As it takes some time for a group to gather, I decide to utilize the time by writing. I am learning to work on the go!
When I visited before I didn’t notice Sampat. He says he has been diving since he was 10. Because I have jumped from a few cliffs (two to be precise ) my curiosity is piqued.
As I walk around I see no safe landing place! I feel even curiouser! There is a poster on the wall and the man sitting next to it looks like the man in the pictures!
I walk up to him and ask if he is the man? He beams and says yes. When I check the height of the wall, he says it is 12 meters. I tell him I have jumped from 10 but it was in the deep sea. I see no place to land here. He laughs again and says he can land! Then I ask- why why why?
(Video by Faizan Patel, used and uploaded with his permission)
He laughs again and says it is his livelihood. If you want him to watch he charges 20 dollars. He added he is useful when people fall in or expensive gadgets take a tumble! There have already been 16 cases of people falling in. I asked if he has jumped today? He said yes as a high ranking military man visited and he wanted to see!
I walk away after clicking a picture of him! Then curiosity gets better of me, and I walk back to him. I ask if I can pay him in Indian Rupees? He agrees. I part with 1500 Indian Rupees and wait.
He requests people at the edge to clear a way for him. I am ready with my camera. It gets all over in a flash. He runs, flies and dives head first! I wish I could see it only with my eyes but I see it only through that square box of my viewfinder.
He surfaces and jumps from a shallower rock! Then he climbs the rock and comes back to the top.
I give him a few moments and then the questions start. That interaction is on the video above.
I hug him and tell him to stay safe. As I walk off I wonder if I did the right thing? By paying him was I encouraging him to lead a dangerous life? I don’t know and I don’t judge him for the life he has chosen. I hope you won’t judge me for the choice I made.
PS. I was invited on board the inaugural Chennai Colombo Flight by Indigo 6E and visited Galle as part of the same trip!
I recently went to Sri Lanka with my younger nephew who is also known as Brat 2. Of course there is a Brat 1, his elder brother, and there are two more, Brats 3 and 4. Brat 3 is my niece and 4 my daughter. The numbering is according to the age, Brat 1 being eldest and Brat 4 is the youngest. It is difficult to say who is the biggest brat of them all. The first time we traveled together it was Brat 1 and 2 with my husband I and we trekked through Goa. At that point I was taller than Brat 2 and he is 6 feet 3 now! Both of them were in school then.
I have a theory, the kids who start speaking late try to make it up for the rest of their lives. Brat 2 and my daughter both fall in that category. Brat 2 started speaking quiet late and so did Brat 4, Chhavi. And now both of them can talk to themselves! Brat 3 (my niece) also is on the quieter side and I shudder to think when she tries to catch up.
The last Brat 1, 2 and I traveled together was to Barog in 2009, they were college students then. Now both of them work! I had almost forgotten what fun it is to travel with them.
Brat 2 and I at Galle, Sri Lanka
At Sri Lanka almost all the time there was a constant chatter next to me! As I said he can talk to himself if need be and a topic is not necessary! And when I went to Shillong right after it, it was way too quiet for my liking. I actually like peace and quiet. I can happily be by myself but traveling on one trip after the other, one with a chatter box and one without, brought out a different perspective.
Brat 2 has done an internship in Russia and on the Unawatuna roads he would often say to me, “Bua that person is a Russian.” He said it so many times that I got openly skeptical!
Prakash, The Boatman at Koggala Lake, Sri Lanka
Then came a boat ride where the young lad who steered the boat told us, “Ninety percent of the tourists in this region are Russian. And I am learning Russian.” And after that I just had it, he kept telling me, “Why would you believe me? It has to be another person who has to say the same.”
Brat 1 has yet not got a passport neither has Brat 4 but one day I want to travel with all the four and see how it goes! Hopefully I will still have some black hair on my head after such a trip. In the end I have to traveling with chatter boxes is a lot of fun!
I never thought exchanging Indian rupees would turn out to be such an adventure in Sri Lanka. I was carrying Indian rupees and some British pounds left over from previous trips to UK. I have a credit card and a debit card that work internationally. I thought this was enough for me to survive in Sri Lanka. I was right on every count except for the ease of changing Indian rupees. I am a little surprised as Indian rupees exchanges favorably with Sri Lankan rupees. You get anywhere from 1.90 to 2.20 Sri Lankan rupees for every Indian rupee.
Our first stop for trying to change the Indian rupees was the Bandarnaike International Airport . My nephew went in search for the hotel taxi that we had booked and I went to exchange money. I casually said, “can I change some Indian rupees?” And I was really surprised when I got to hear, “Sorry ma’am we don’t change Indian rupees, you can change it in the city.” The problem was we were not going to the city but straight to Unawatuna. Then I asked him to change some British pounds and that he readily did.
Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle is a big city near Unawatuna, it is approximately 8.5 kilometers away. We headed there on our second day and we were having a late snack in a restaurant near the fort (which is ruins of the fort actually) area. We asked if we could exchange Indian rupees anywhere in the city? And the young boy who was waiting on our table said he would exchange it but only 5K, they didn’t have more than that at the moment! I was reminded of Shantaram and the illegal money trade in Mumbai but I did went ahead and exchanged the money. We got the rate of 2.20 and I was not complaining.
Then my nephew tried to change the money at the bank at Unawatuna and once again he was told that they would exchange pounds but not Indian rupees! I wonder what was the reason. Informally we were told by many people that the jewellery shops would exchange money. I wonder why this was the case.
Matara, Sri Lanka
Our last try was to try and exchange money at a jewellery shop at Matara, another big city but we once again got a blank. They told us of other places that would exchange Indian rupees but we had money so we did not try any further. In the end my nephew did exchange Indian rupees at a jewellery shop in Unawatuna but overall this made for a strange experience.
I don’t think this would happen in a city like Colombo but it is beyond me that the airport and the bank didn’t exchange Indian rupee when a lot of cars/trucks on the Sri Lankan roads are Indian!