The fisherman Sunil

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Its early and the sun still has its hazy red glow.  I take the short walk along the quiet, cool and sandy path that leads to the sheltered northern side of the bay.  The locals greet you with a familiar kindness, occasionally attempting to ply trade, but not this early. 
As I cross the beach an older man, thin and wiry, who later introduces himself as 'the fisherman Sunil' greets me and after a pause he asks if I would help him with his boat.  Its the usual carbon-fibre main-hulled catamaran (oruwa) with wooden supports and wooden second hull with rope lashings.  I comment on the beauty of the wood and ask if fibreglass is better ( most were wooden before the tsunami).  He seems to prefer fibreglass for its lightness and strength.
Before he directs me where to push, he looks toward the sea, clasps his hands and says a few  words under his breath.  I'm not sure if this was a fisherman's ritual or a prayer, but with over two thirds of the population being Buddhist, perhaps it was both.
After we shove it down the slopping sands, I ask him if he is going fishing, 'no... 
fishing some days... snorkelling today'.  Inside the  white plastic bag he is carrying, he shows me a pair of masks and snorkles, for the two English tourists he is due to set off with at eight.  He is keen to show me the outcrop of rocks only a few hundred metres away that he will row to and where he says many brightly coloured coral fish and turtles can be found. He also speaks of a large wreck that lies in only a few metres of water, that you don't need expensive tanks to see.  On the way back I ask the price and after meeting twice more that day I consider the offer...
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