Colombo, Ceylon

Tuesday, July 9, 1929

Didn’t sleep so well last night either. Fixed the camera and sewed the shorts up to last a month more. This done, I set out to have a look about. Colombo is a very pretty city in its business section. The streets are wide and clean, the buildings something of a credit to the place, may having cloistered sidewalks. And for once I have found a place where the Customs House and Passenger Jetty is a thing of beauty. The well-filled harbor is amply protected by a breakwater far out from land.

Following the coast around by Queen Street one passes evidences of the old Portuguese fort pulled down fifty years ago. The boulevard widens into the Galle Face, then goes through a treeless park on the ocean’s shore. To the left is a lake of good proportions, and Slave Island, so-called because of the slave traffic that was once carried on there. The residential section is in Cinnamon Gardens at the north end of town.

Rain cut my sight-seeing tour short. The Hakusan Maru is due in here at 6PM and will sail between now and noon tomorrow.

The shops here show an increasing tendency toward Chinese and Japanese silks, etc. Jewelry, ivory, and ebony-carved objects, sandalwood, and teakwood carvings, are all here in plenty, and I imagine rather cheaply if you bargain. The best thing I do is walk by those shops without stopping.

People here are but little different from those of India. The Indians, even coolies, both here and in Southern India, seem to have the knack of picking up English and speaking it well. In fact, I have heard many coolies speak it with better pronunciation than do the Anglo-Indians. These latter can not pronounce a W. Their W is a V and their accept very poor. Some, including the hotel proprietor, sound more like Germans.

In spite of all the bananas here, the best I could do for a dozen was 18 cents, or in our money 4½¢. Bread is (our) four cents a loaf and coconuts must be given away.

Haircuts are less radical here, but many wear it long. These usually slick it back with a knot at the rear and a big, high, half-circle tortoise or celluloid comb posed on the top of their heads, adding an inch to their height.

Rickshaws are a very plague here. The ox carts have become elongated and proudly possess a straw roof, all in all resembling a two-wheeled prairie wagon. In contrast, the oxen have shrunken so they are waist high.

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