From my previously comfortable spot in Canada, I didn’t know about stuff like this other than from news, which tends to be dry and boring, so in my egocentric view, I tend to think it’s interesting to others as well. If that makes sense – I’m just barely waking up and my brain isn’t totally on yet. Anyway, that’s why I write about it.
More about yesterday.
These elections were considered to be very peaceful compared to previous elections. No body count, which, in Sri Lanka, is a huge improvement, and only hundreds of complaints of election violence. Compare to the election in spring of 2004 with 6 dead and over 1400 counts of election violence and you begin to understand.
However, most of those counts of violence were in the north and east and perpetrated by the Tamil Tigers.
Also, no curfew after the elections this time, either. There was no curfew after the spring 2004 elections either, but apparently, previous to that, curfews were common to the point of being the norm. Also, no rioting that we’ve heard of, and historically, that’s also the norm. All in all, it bodes well.
Yesterday was Fahim’s day off, and we haven’t been out and about in over a month because of Ramadan, which ended, what, a week ago? Oh, how I lose track of time! During Ramadan, Fahim doesn’t like going out if it’s not necessary – he’s already dehydrated and it’ll just make him more sick and irritable. I don’t really want to do that to him, either. So yesterday was our first opportunity in quite a while.
We went out. We hadn’t heard of any rioting and things seemed calm, so we went.
First thing we noticed – more than half the shops and stores were closed. Not just in our neighborhood, but everywhere. Would the places we want to go be open? No idea, but we decided to risk it.
Very little traffic. Where normally, it would be bumper to bumper, there were perhaps six vehicles in a one block stretch, sometimes less.
Men with guns. They were everywhere and there were lots of them. Some barricades were up, but that’s normal here, especially around minister’s houses and the like. But many many more men with guns. And when we’re talking guns, we’re talking rifles as well as the, whaddya call ’em, sandbagged barricades with automatic weapons behind those.
Honestly, though, men with guns are common enough here that it wasn’t scary. It looked more preventative than anything else.
Buses were nearly empty. Understand, first of all, that a lot of the buses were co-opted to be used for election purposes. I don’t know if it’s to transport election workers, or those who want to vote, or what, but whatever the specifics, that’s where most of them went. With not very many buses on the roads, most people stayed home because there’s no way to get around, hence the empty buses. This also, of course, contributes to the closed shops and stores.
Lots of foreigners were out. Lots and lots and lots and lots of pasty white people. I don’t know if it was just easier to notice them without the crowds of brown, or if there really were more out because they’re taking advantage of no crowds today. Either way, there were loads of them.
Um, yeah, I think that’s about it.
We went to one of the DVD places we shop at at MC, and they see us approaching the closed, locked door, recognize Fahim, and let us in. We’re memorable simply because we buy 20+ DVDs at a time. Yesterday, we bought Lost season 1, Fawlty Towers, and about 30 or more movies. Yeah, they remember us. [Smile] Anyway, they let us in and lock the door behind. I guess they want to control who comes in. Not sure what they’re scared of, but on a post-election day, anything is possible.
We were going to do our grocery shopping at Arpico on the way back, but even that, a huge department store (huge by local standards, not by North American standards) was closed. This store is almost never closed. It’s traditionally open Poya days (Buddhist holidays – full moon days – and the biggest deal here), Christmas, everything. But not yesterday. Luckily, we have enough food so it’s not a problem.
I suppose we should check out the news and see what kind of developments there are since yesterday. Maybe.