Pol Sambol, Kiri Bath and and cup of tea were standard diet of a student out side the university residence.
Within the university residences we were served, cheese, butter, Pariipu, beef, fish and Cadju (for the pure vegetarian students from Jaffna) on a regular basis.
No wonder most of the non-resident student would come for Gajai and Wala on weekends when many of us go home to tell our parents that the food in the campus was horrible (big lie) to supplement our liberal pocket money which were spent on cigarettes, alcohol and once a year gambling during Perahara Carnival.
One should not take that to mean we did not go to cinema.
I used to hit the first day first show since if somebody tells me the plot I never used to enjoy the film and fortunately most of my friends used to find a boarding place near a theater and would be in the queue well before me and jumping the queue the was not an issue.
Unfortunately some of our professors also used to hit the show on the first day.
But our modus operandum was changed and skipped the first two days and go to the 9.30 show and that also was only to the gallery for 60 cents and the money saved was well spent on beer and if the show was bad we would leave after a round of beer sometime well before the interval.
Suffice is to say the back row was reserved for us by default for English shows and when we start to move in for a Sinhala film “market somes’ (city thugs) would move forward leaving the back row empty.
We used to command respect from even these guys those days and that was the respect for an undergraduate of yesteryear.
To recap good quality Pilsner Beer (we could not come to halls of residence drunk, though–now even booing, smiling and even cracking a joke of political nature is prohibited) was Rs.1.80 and two of us could enjoy a round meal or mixed grill for Rs.10/= which included a liberal tip for the waiter.
I would go home have a little nap and have a run round the lake with my dog till all the smell of alcohol is dissipated to fresh air around Kandy City and I never wondered what my friend would do-may be to the gym).
This is the way we kept our friendship and never got involved with private life of others .
We were fiercely independent.
I promised our team which I captained that I would throw a party (lunch) if our team wins the inter-university championship and that was the only encouragement that was needed to lift the cup, beating Colombo on a Penalty shoot out.
I never liked the way Colombo guys reacted to the defeat and they turned down my offer for a round of refreshments on my account (not University).
I still wonder what happens to people when they migrate to Colombo from far away villages and many of them become monsters (or is it ministers) in no time including politicians.
The cost for the lunch was Rs.110/= and that was raised by me on one day of gambling at the carnival.
Thank god we did not have Casino then but Tombola only in Kandy Lake Club and I never told the guys how I got the money but I made sure I got some extra money from my mother too, in case guys would double my expenses on beer.
Now my mother is no more it is more than enough time I kept all these secrets from her which she would only know from heaven.
I believe she still won’t believe that her small brat was capable of such feats.
Extra Rs. 10/= was the tip for the waiter with left over beer.
What was obvious none of us had the gene for alcoholism unlike our politicians, even when the prize of alcohol was very cheap.
We were soon graduated to VSOA (Very Special Old Arrack) and the price was Rs.7.50 at Union Place Grill (with full birds-this was the time cats and dogs meat were substituted for chicken) in Colombo.
Soon afterward, I was baptized with 6 rounds of beer in a Pub in London and that was the last time I had a drink with that crowd and told to myself, I would never have in excess of a glass of beer and that is also with good company and never with a crowd of drunkards.
But I could not resist myself half a chicken for lunch and another half a chicken at night (free from NHS on days I was on night duty) and liberal amount of fresh milk instead of beer (half that from the NHS).
Now to the present moment and cup of tea in Sri-Lanka.
It was only today I went out to buy some bananas and the Muslim guy who sells me good banana and runs a tea shop round the corner got little chatty now the Vesak fever is over.
I asked him how many cups he makes from a Kg and told him unless his raises the price of cup of tea he has to close the shop for good.
He was not convinced.
I told him tea has gone up in price even before the election by 100%.
I told him if I put two good blend tea bags in a cup (without water or sugar) it costs Rs. 90/= and the cheapest brand costs Rs. 75/=.
(Needs little explanation here to see how simple arithmetic is used. Two tea bags will cost only Rs.7 to 10 but when it is made in to a cup of tea it is called value added and it is rounded up by ten times-in other word value added means a profit is 10 times.
It used to be Rs.25/= if one bag is dipped (dipping a tea bag into hot water costs, 10 times) 10 years ago but 50 if two bags were dipped. Now the price of tea has gone up by 100% and if one ask a cup with two bags it costs Rs.100/= or more.
Two years ago in a reasonable hotel in Kandy (not 5 star-one needs a decent swimming pool for that classification) the price of tea pot for two was Rs.175/= (before the election). Gods only know how much it costs now.
But I can assure you that take away prices have doubled. in this city .
I give a break for my family members (all adults) and stay at home with the dog (cannot afford to hire a watcher and thieves have increased in numbers even in our neighborhood and practically every house has been broken into either day/night.
I do go for take away regularly and spend an eat out once in a way when friends from abroad visit me since thing have improved security wise.
The cost for a meal for my dog (fish for the dog) and me which was Rs.450/= will cost now over Rs.1000/=. That was my experience last time round. Strangely enough in Majestic City in Colombo a tiny peace of fish is Rs.250= (10 times value added) and a buffee that costs over Rs650/= per head was so horrible (another place in the Colombo City) none of us finished the meal and went to an American take away and had ice creams of all sorts to satisfy our hunger and drown the anger with delight.
There is something horribly wrong in our hospitality trade.
There is no exaggeration here.
This is miracles happening in broad day light.
I have to spend Rs.100/= for cup of milk tea (if somebody else makes the cup of tea for me) and from 6 cups (in 10 years) I have come down to 2 or three a day and very soon I will stop drinking Sri-Lankan tea.
I went on to say for the last one year I do not drink tea in my office, and he was more than convinced.
He still sells his plain tea for Rs.10/= and he has to have 100 to make Rs1000/= turn over.
I do not think he gets 30 even though he works 7 am to 7 pm (12 hours).
In my case I have to make my own cup of tea and stay away from drinking tea while on work.
I told him to make as much tea as possible from his bulk tea strainer for him to stay in business and display the price one (1) Kg tea in a prominent place in Sinhala and let the customer calculates the number of tea one can make from a kilo of tea.
They are very poor in arithmetic’s and would blame the Gods or Tamil State Worker for the price but never the present government to which they are immunized and anesthetized.
Coming back to University, the teachers and students should do their teaching and studies without a cup of tea.
We must teach students that tea is addictive and it is good for only foreigners.
For teachers who are asking a pay hike should stop drinking tea and coffee and should drink the miracle water the government promised them before and during elections.
If they go for an audience with our president I am sure they will be provided with a different type of miracle drink that would make them to think that the miracle will come in two years after the predicted end of the world and with new world order taking shape where intellectuals are persecuted for telling the truth like what happened to Hippocrates.
History repeat itself!
That is a normal phenomenon.