Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of spooks and lovers

After four years in Maskeliya I was transferred to a property in Bandarawela - to a place which in older times was traditionally a 'punishment' posting. Bandarewalla seemed to be at the end of the earth as far as I was concerned and it was my intention to inform my new Superintendent of my intention to resign forthwith when I met him.

Ten minutes of meeting him I decided that I would resign if they ever transferred me from Bandarewella - a decision I was happy to confirm over the next two years and what was easily the happiest of times for me.

Though the estate was classified as a "High Grown" the property was spread out from 2500ft all the way up to 5000. My bungalow was more suited to the mid country with a lovely open veranda running 3/4ths of the way around the front. 7km away from the factory and office meant relative peace from the boring stuff. And being 2500 ft lower, it also meant that I could actually go almost 6km on the neutral!

Here I was responsible for 3 divisions, a total of 200ha, about 700 workers; best of all one of the divisions was an Organic one, which meant requiring a different approach.

So now, a few tales from there


This was the only bungalow I lived in that I ever saw/ felt a 'presence'. Most evenings, as I sat at the dining table reading I would see, from the corner of my eye, a vague shadow drift across the room. Human in shape, head, shoulders were distinctive in shape. With no prompting on my part, in time, three others commented upon this spirit.


Not too far from where I lived there was a 600ft waterfall, one that was generally viewed from the bottom could also be accessed from the top if one knew the paths. I used to camp out there at night, sleeping at the edge of the falls, gazing up at the night sky, watching the stars walking across the heavens...

It was at this spot too, that I had two once in a life time experiences

The first pertains to a beautiful young woman I had met, a gentle compassionate person, she moved through life with hardly a ripple, a calm peaceful oasis, a woman at one with herself and the world. She joined me out there one night and we spoke of life sitting there together near a campfire, the sound of water around us, the edge of the cliff just a few feet away from us on one side, the flowing stream on the other, toasting marshmallows, drinking coffee. Later we made love, in the cold air, our skin pricked by the minute drops of water blow back up and over the cliff, heated by the flames of our fire.....

My other memory is from another night, of sitting there one moonlit night, watching as a wild elephant quenched its thirst, not 50ft from where I was, from the stream at 2 in the morning.


There was a small herd - 10 perhaps 12 wild elephants, who had somehow found themselves up the hills having meandered their way here from the low lands of Wellewaya. These animals used to graze along the lower edges of the estate, occasionally venturing on to the property too. One evening, as I bid a good night to a couple of Policemen who had dropped by, I warned them to be careful that I had had reports of elephants in the vicinity. Not ten minutes later my Appu comes a running to tell me that two elephants had discovered the jak tree in my garden and were happliy making a meal of it. From that day onwards I was treated to the sight of two elephants in my back yard between 11pm and 12.


My boss, another truly wonderful man, often had visitors. And since the elephants were in my beat, I was expected to know at any given time where they were so that he could show them! Now understand, I was all for this responsibility.


This property was a large one, requiring 5 SD's in all, four for the field and one for the factory. Of the four field SD's three of us smoked, something boss detested, along with unshaven faces. With time the number of smokers decreased till it was just me. On that first day I was the sole smoker, the Superintendent walked in to the room we used, picked up the aluminum ash tray and crushed it, all this with not a word spoken while looking at me.


I never worked out how he did it but Boss, somehow managed to get the very best out of all of us - there was something about him that inspired loyalty and a desire to make him proud of us. As a team we celebrated each little milestone which took us from a loss making entity to a profitable one, achieved through hard work by a man who knew just how to challenge us to give our best.


  1. wow... I've heard about elephants in the hill country but never knew they were so widespread... it must've been quite a treat watching those majestic giants, as a part of your job too! :D

    and isn't it strange that you talk of a haunting on this post and follow it up with that truly bizarre pic from Bentota?! :S

  2. @ Chavie: It ws indeed a treat to see them! Lol, not so strange, merely that one line of thought lead to another

  3. Nice post. Are you still in tea?

    BTW is the OSM?

  4. Whoa that's quite an experience. Elephants foraging in estates is something new.

    And about ghosts, I think it must be natural for them to be present since most bungalows are isolated isn't it? And whenever I think of big bungalows, castles, mansions, fortresses and anything beyond normal dimensions.. I think supernatural presence is quite normal in them. You should've done some serious ghost hunting while you were there! lol

  5. @ Anonymous: I most certainly am, albeit not as close to it as I once were.

    @ Harumi: I chose to take a 'live and let haunt' attitude rather than disturb the peace and awaken a sleeping dog - wouldn't want the benign presence going all psycho on me now did I!

  6. @ sbarrkum: Nope, and telling more may just be saying a tad too much!