What an incredible night for our launch of Olcote in Ceylon, in Dublin on 22nd August.
August 2016 – The Build Up…
16th of August has come and gone and because of the usual bureaucratic hiccups where International visas are concerned, Manoj and family just have to wait three or four extra days to see our Green Isle for the first time.
The wheels in the Irish Consulate in Sri Lanka grind so slowly……..frustratingly and infuriatingly slowly – but Manoj, once my pupil, who hung on my every word is now reminding me of those words of wisdom – let go of expectation, “expectation is the root of all heartache” the erudite bard of the English Language William Shakespeare once said. Too true! But I can have moments of stamping my feet on the ground and I am allowed a tantrum – aren’t I?!! This reminds me of a very wise little piece on love by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that I once read and quote to my older children all the time
“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom!”
What has that got to do with visas and Embassies you might ask? I suppose that we have so little faith in the flow of life, to have the faith to let go of our control and let things just manifest by themselves. We want everything to stick to the plan we have in our heads of how things should be and how we want everyone to stick to the script we have in our hearts. But life is not like that…… Nothing is permanent says the Buddha – just go with the flow.
And that’s what I just did – changed flights – no big deal! Asked Val to push the Airbnb rental on their house by three extra days – a doddle! Cancelled hotel bookings – easy peasy!! and finally they will be here on Saturday at noon!
The waiting must be so frustrating for his children though. Their excitement is certainly palpable – on a plane for the first time? In an airport for the first time? Oh the wonder, the marvel, the wide-eyed astonishment and yes, the fear!! For us jaded travellers – it must be just fabulous to see the world again, albeit through a little porthole in an airplane, with the sheer wonder and excitement as in the eyes of a child!
Preparations for our launch in Dublin are in full swing – the Kandyan drummers and dancers are primed and ready to fly in from London and Manchester. Manoj is arriving with bottles of arrack for our welcome drink – an arrack cocktail for members of the press and guests – a feast for all senses!!
Sri Lanka is the largest producer of coconut arrack and up until 1992 the state played a significant role in its production.
Other than water, the entire manufacturing process revolves around the fermentation and distillation of a single ingredient, the sap of unopened flowers from a coconut palm(Cocos nucifera). Each morning at dawn, men known as toddy tappers move among the tops of coconut trees using connecting ropes not unlike tightropes. A single tree may contribute up to two litres per day.
Due to its concentrated sugar and yeast content, the captured liquid naturally and immediately ferments into a mildly alcoholic drink called “toddy”, tuak, or occasionally “palm wine”. Within a few hours after collection, the toddy is poured into large wooden vats, called “wash backs”, made from the wood of teak or halmilla trees. The natural fermentation process is allowed to continue in the wash backs until the alcohol content reaches 5-7% and deemed ready for distillation.
Distillation is generally a two-step process involving either pot stills, continuous stills, or a combination of both. The first step results in “low wine”, a liquid with an alcohol content between 20 and 40%. The second step results in the final distillate with an alcohol content of 60 to 90%. It is generally distilled to between 33% and 50% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 66 to 100 proof). The entire distillation process is completed within 24 hours. Various blends of coconut arrack diverge in processing, yet the extracted spirit may also be sold raw, repeatedly distilled or filtered, or transferred back into halmilla vats for !maturing up to 15 years, depending on flavor, color and fragrance requirements.
Premium blends of arrack add no other ingredients, while the inexpensive and common blends are mixed with neutral spirits before bottling. Most people describe the taste as resembling “…a blend between whiskey and rum”, similar, but distinctively different at the same time.
Coconut arrack is traditionally consumed by itself or with ginger beer, a popular soda in Sri Lanka. It also may be mixed in cocktails as a substitute for the required portions of either rum or whiskey. Arrack is often combined with popular mixers such as cola, soda water, and lime juice.
Thank you Wikpedia.! Arrack – an experience to be savoured, that’s for sure!
I am having withdrawal symptoms, not being at Olcote for so long! I just love being there, love falling asleep to the whirring of the fan and the gentle hum of the air-conditioner, love being woken up by the singing birds marking their territory and seeing bright sunlight at 6.30 in the morning, I love walking groggily into the verandah in my pyjamas and seeing the amazing array of fruit and food set out for me – and for just a little minute, envisage in my minds eye, how the ancient royals must have lived. Bliss!
Anyways here in Dublin there is much work to be done
To be continued. . .