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Badulla town
Badulla town

On the day after Poya, at 7.30 PM on 26. March, the moon rose like a ball of flames from the gap between the two large tea estates Cullen and Telbedde. It rose so fast that it soon was covered by the roof of my pavilion in front of the old house. Thousand of lights sparkled in town at my feet -in the recent few years they had started climbing the slopes around the valley. My side of the hill was still rather dark, only fire flies connected the town lights with the awakening stars over the contours of mountain tops. To reach the large rock in the garden deeper down at my left, I had to push my way through a 'tunnel' of the red and yellow flowers of a hanging creeper. From the rock the view was still more magnificent ! Black shadows, like flying dinosaurs of the Jurassic Age, the Flying Foxes crossed the moon. Yesterday the (amplified!) chanting had carried up to the house breaking its usual quiet. Now only a distant drumming mixed with the noises of a tropical night.

Never draw the curtains in Bonnieland -there's nobody down in the garden anyway. Keep the windows open to let the sounds of the night in. Should you not have been woken up by the early prayers from the mosque in town , else through the chanting from the temple, you will now hardly be able to oversleep the first purple rays of the sun behind the branches of the large Tulip tree in front of your eyes. But the moment is worth the sacrifice (and you're welcome to close the curtains now and continue sleeping -unless you'd like to call the 'Second Servant' for your bed tea).

Within minutes of the sunrise the birds come alive! A noisy gang of crows in the red cedar might prevent you of falling asleep again but soon they will continue their flight leaving space for varieties of singing and tweeting birds. This is a bird lover's paradise! An expert will easily identify forty, fifty different species -for us it is enough to see the occasional Red Woodpecker, the Golden Oreole, the blue King Fisher or the beautiful Paradise Flycatcher. Or to hear the cry of the Jungle Fowl up in the forest and to listen to the Magpie Robin before the sunrise. A couple of Grey Hornbills are nesting in the Raintree.

The fifteen acres of ephemeral forest above the house and the rocky grassland towards the hilltop harbour a number of mammals too. The Giant squirrels bombard us with half eaten mangoes, the wild boar sniffs for jams in the lower garden on moon litt nights. Right in the front of the bedroom windows, Flying Squirrels have been observed climbing the trunk of a Coconut tree (flat like the trademark for genuine leather!) before elegantly gliding for the next tree top. Palm civets, 'Pol cats' are a menace! There are stories worth telling about them -but it has to be later! A Hairy Mongoose runs hurriedly across the lawn and a group of Langures visit us sometimes - so does the occasional cow from the farther neighbourhood!

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