Meet Nishanthi, the beautiful lady who cooks and cleans in my Negombo guest house, and smiles and sways by in long, patterned cotton skirts. This morning at breakfast I asked her how she was and she answered, ‘Tooday too much me happy my grendaughter birday.’ How old, I asked, was her granddaughter today? ‘Phi year ol,’ was the reply. Happy birthday Ashwini.
Last night I ate Sri Lankan. I’m led to believe that in a couple of months I may regain the feeling in my tongue. I lie: apart from the Donner und Blitzen pickle smouldering at the edge of the plate, which was introduced by the charming and impressively tubby restaurateur as ‘this spicy’, my vegetable curry was wonderfully layered in flavour; shamefully cheap too.
House crows must be the most under-appreciated birds in all Asia. They suffer in public opinion, no doubt, through their great abundance and through being black; though when looked at, really looked at, they are as their scientific name Corvus splendens implies creatures of resplendent beauty. Their mantles and long, sharp wings are the lustrous blue-black of spilled petrol, their necks and breasts the warm grey of wood ash, their masks the absolute black of a no-stars night, and their bills are long and down-curved, as a Nepali khukuri. I'm sure they just need some PR help to get the good press they deserve. Make it your mission to love a house crow today.
Some news from New Jersey, courtesy of our stateside correspondent Chris:
It is rather spring-like. Daffodils are popping, blooming bittercress in fields. Eurasian collared doves are carrying nest material. Canadas are getting territorial around patches of cattails and don't like flocking as much as they did a week or two ago. Black scoters can be heard wailing, even if one isn't on the beach, if the wind is right. Robins, cardinals and chickadees are getting quite vocal in the morning. I think I'm going on a hunt for the first piping plover today.
Enjoy the spring everyone. Send me news of your chiffchaffs and your Sandwich terns.