Saturday, January 09, 2010

Back in Colombo

Late last night I arrived back in Colombo after visiting several Asia Foundation programs in central and eastern Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with several large coastal cities, lush fertile lowlands and cool, fresh hill stations. A "leftover British flavor" lingers and in many ways Sri Lanka reminds me of a more tidy, more sedate, more manageable, India.

Over the past 30 years the Sri Lankan government has been fighting the LTTE  (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and just recently the Tigers were defeated. A sense of guarded optimism is palpable as the country enters a new chapter in its history.

While traveling around the country, police and military roadblocks are frequent. One of the components of The Asia Foundation’s Peace Building Initiative is a program wherein police receive Tamil language training, so that they can better communicate with Tamil people.
Even though the war is over, the government is still preoccupied with security.  East of Kandy, where a bus load of passengers were being screened at a checkpoint, I took the opportunity to photograph the procedure. All the passengers were asked to off load, pass through a document check, and then reboard the bus. I photographed the police and the Tamils, Sinhalese, and Muslims traveling to eastbound destinations. All was calm and orderly. The government has set a date of January 31 to resettle all internally displaced Tamils in the country.

 Earlier today, I was shooting in the main fish and vegetable market in Colombo, grabbing some Sri Lanka daily life images. The market was frenetic but as most markets are here in Asia, they're great places for photography. Above is an image of a worker in the fish market, pausing for a cigarette. He was delighted that I took the time to photograph him and we chatted briefly before I moved along.

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