My Kingdom for an Umbrella

When I think of umbrellas I generally think of England with its cold and wet weather, the illustrious English gent carrying one to ward off not only rain but the occasional villain as well.  The most famous example being from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade  in which Sean Connery saves the day by opening his umbrella and scaring a large herd of birds that cause the evil Nazi pilot to crash.  Extreme- I think not, my trip to Sri Lanka has taught me the very importance of an umbrella.

Being so close to the equator, the umbrella is more than likely used to ward off the penetrating rays of the sun.  Ladies carry them like parasols, their varied colors bobbing up in down as they pass along the streets.  Sri Lankans shun the sun with good reason, their skin color is such as I would like to attain by a week or so at the beach, so there is little purpose in subjecting themselves to the dangerous and scalding rays.  As I sit in the open, the umbrella women look at me as though I am crazy wondering why anyone would subject herself to such torture.

Suddenly there is a rain shower as is common in a tropical climate.  Immediately people scurry but those with umbrellas bravely shuffle on, protected from the rain by the handy umbrella.  The rain feels good it breaks the sweat on my skin, but as I am the only one standing in it- I succumb to peer pressure and run under an overhang.

Now I come to my favorite use of the umbrella.  In such a crowded country private space can be hard to find, particularly for young Sri Lankan lovers. Using the umbrella as a sort of makeshift wall- Sri Lankan couples court each other behind the privacy of the umbrella.  I see many, many of these couples as I walk allow the Fort at Galle, I try not to look- to offer them their privacy but I must say I find it terribly romantic.  In this conservative and densely populated community, finding quality time together is of the essence and the young people of Sri Lanka have found a way to make the ultimate British accessory- the umbrella- uniquely Sri Lankan.



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