940007: Still Life

S. M. Owens posted a photo:

940007: Still Life

Sri Lanka: Galle, Church Street from the Ramparts

The photo was taken on my first visit in 1983; the following edit was written after my visit in 2014.

Galle Fort is wonderful. For anybody with an interest in history, it’s a delight: so much nostalgia in such a small area: Since my last visit, it would appear that a lot of work has been done: buildings renovated and refurbished, and many, new, start-up businesses are feeling their way; but the Lighthouse and the Ramparts, and the churches and the law courts, remain unchanged, and personal favourites such as Clan House and the Library, are still there.
There were considerably more tourists around than I’d ever seen before, and they came from a variety of countries. There were Chinese and Russians, and French and Japanese; I spoke to a couple of Germans, and a Serb – they thought Sri Lanka was wonderful.
I should also say that there were lots of Sri Lankan visitors, as well – the new highway has improved communications and accessibility, and the peace has produced the security required for carefree movement…. although it may still be necessary to tread carefully: I did see a huge snake (two metres); I was told by a local that it wasn’t poisonous.
Outside the fort, it would appear the cricket ground has a new stand, the Sydney Hotel has been repainted, there is still an original Chinese restaurant on Havelock Place, and the clutter of China Gardens is just about worth a wander.
Matara is unrecognizable since the 90’s, or perhaps I’ve never been there before – but I know I have. True, I’d never been inside the fort before, and I was determined to put that right.
I’m exaggerating here, but Matara Fort is like Galle Fort was a hundred years ago. Very little imagination is required to envisage how it was back then; and, I virtually had the place to myself, although there were a few people waiting outside the prison – perhaps someone notorious was due to be released.
Matara has a new bus station, and the promenade has been totally redeveloped. At the right time of day, with the right company, it could almost be enchanting, with the Buddhist Temple on the little island, just offshore.
For lunch, I stumbled upon a delightful if busy, cake shop, and then made my way to the railway station, to catch the stopping train back to Galle.
The image has been scanned from C41 print film; I’ve removed a telegraph pole and some wires, and partially rebuilt the house on the right. The hotel on the left is history.
Photo and text:
© S. Owens
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