Posts tagged pettah
A cultural walking tour of Colombo

I remember being struck by John Gimlette’s observation in his book “Elephant Complex” that the people of Colombo had no collective word to describe themselves. They were neither a Colomban or a Colombite or anything else for that matter. Everyone it seemed was from the village or place of their ancestors. It made me think that the ethnic conflict which had marred most of Sri Lanka’s recent past was a testimony to the country’s inability find some collective identity amongst the many differences of its people. And yet, when I walked through parts of old central Colombo on a cultural walking tour with Pepper, I glimpsed at ways of worshipping and being which suggested, as always, that the truth was far more complicated.

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Pettah produce markets: a feast for your senses

All my memories of the central Colombo district of Pettah over the years are pretty much the same – loud, brash, haphazard, gritty and at times claustrophobic and somewhat unnerving. Pettah is an old trading district created during Dutch colonial times outside of Colombo Fort (and literally named after that fact – “Pettah” is a corruption of a Tamil word “pettai” which means “a town outside the fort”). It also goes by the official district code of Colombo 11 and “pita kotuwa” if you’re talking in Sinhalese. It was the sort of place I remember …

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