Monday, 14 March 2016

Indigo in Sri Lanka

 Some indigo and linen tossed into the Sri Lanka bound suitcase did come to life.

Except for a tsunami scare a few nights back..... life is tough.

We were sitting by the water, dinner on the table, wine being poured when the head butler came and whispered, "There has been an earthquake off Sumatra and there is a tsunami warning."

Appetite killer.

Over 30 000 people died right here in the 2004 tsunami.

Just two weeks ago I translated a 'Tsunami Evacuation Study' for a local professor in Fujino.

A group of 18 Spanish are staying in two of the villas and I've been watching them enjoy their extended family vacation.

They were lounging and laughing and drinking by the pool just after sunset as the temperature had dropped from unbearable to breathable.

" Aghhhhh excuse me....could you please check the news because there is a tsunami warning..."

Party killer.

The men were furry macho, concerned and charming and asked questions....the woman had the kids in line in less than two seconds. "Where, how, when do we go?"

The women win in the "Let's-get-the-hell-out-of-here-a tsunami-is-coming" category.

What can you do? Inform and explain where the high ground is. Make sure everyone knows. Let the hotel staff know they don't  have to wait. Your jobs are not worth!!!! We waited twenty minutes for the manager to come and open the safe so we could get our money and passports.  Then headed inland and upland.


The tsunami warning was lifted in 30 minutes later. Intense time packing up, trying not to panic ( I volunteered six times in Tohoku cleaning up tsunami debris. I know what these things do.)  I was worrying about all the people who were not preparing to leave although they had the same information as I did.

It is very hot. This can be helped with a few snorkelling spells on coral reef a thirty meter swim from the beach. And then a few laps in the infinity pool. I need to work off the food. My friend owns a boutique hotel here on the beach on south coast of Sri Lanka. The menu is being tinkered with and someone has to taste all the new options.....

A potential new pastry chef desperately wanting a job here trying to impress us with his dessert skills.....

Am I in heaven?

I helped design and put together an indigo studio. The Sri Lankans are really good with beautifully polished concrete. The area and the vat was red bricked out and then sealed and concrete finished. Very beautiful work.

We sat together and stitched and stitched and wrapped linens for a few scorching afternoons praying for the clouds to break and water the gardens. Only a few drops of rain until this afternoon when a deluge broke. The palms and monkeys and iguanas took deep wet breaths and sighed.

Anna says she hasn't figured out the metaphysics of why a group of people on a veranda stitching at sunset is so peaceful and satisfying. She mused...."People spend money and time on meditation to calm themselves down....and you end up with not much to show for it. At least with this stitching and indigo dyeing you end  with a beautiful shawl. "

Spirituality and materialism.

There are a bunch of Russian friends here and we were dunking (and drunking) a lot around the brand new indigo vat.

A cool beer after the first day of dyeing. Admiring the fresh catch of blue.

There were a few decent local textiles. These two saris that will become curtains upstairs and this bed throw. Next time around we will explore more.

It was Hiro's turn to shine with tropical style flower arrangements around the villas.

The monkeys had a proper rampage on this flower arrangement by the pool.


  1. paradise - with friends, food and indigo, heat and a tsunami! when are you going back to maintain the vat? blowing a full gale here, cherry blossoms falling like snow.

    1. I am back in Japan and it is snowing. Some blossoms out. I had the first and last door canal of my life today.....and walked through the slush to the van....wish I was back in Sri Lanka.

  2. How peaceful yr narrative is (apart from the tsunami alert). I have been to Sri Lanka but saw none of the textiles that you found.

    1. I think the good textiles come from the Kandy area. There are some Fair Trade projects in that area. I didn't find anything really spectacular. I guess so many years of civil war and having India right next door is hard on the textile culture. The Sri Lankans seem optimistic about their future so you never know. There will be some good indigo dyed work coming out of Welligama I suspect. Ill go backhand teach some stencil dyeing techniques with traditional Sri Lankan motifs. Hopefully it will catch on.

  3. I love the blue in front that beautiful butter yellow on the house. And those arrangements of Hiro's! Fabulous!

  4. i've been doing my share of tropical island as well. no indigo though. life's not perfect ;)