Why I love the Internet

Three decades after my summer in Sri Lanka, and 25 years with no contact, the wonders of the web reunite me with Delanie, my host sister from the city of Mt. Lavinia.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pinch me

I am in my kitchen peeling back some leaves--plantain?--that are wrapped around the ball. There is a funky, queasy-making and ever-so-slightly familiar smell, and I am hoping that when I remove the leaves, the smell will not be there. Tle leaves come off in two pieces, retaining the shape of the jaggery. I discard them and lift the heavy, softball-sized mass to my nose. It is molasses-brown and glittering with sweet crystal-- solid sugar, I guess. The odor is detectable, but just barely. With a sharp knife, I pry off a small hunk and let the bit melt on my tongue, closing my eyes and remembering sitting on a hot and crowded bus in 1975, doing just as I am now, savoring the exotic sweetness of the treat that gave me the nickname "JB", Juggery Balls.

Why is it that my memory of my summer in Sri Lanka over 30 years ago seems more tangible than my trip last weekend to New York? Did I really see my Srilankan sister in the lobby of the Best Western City View in Queens? I was just leaving her a note at the front desk when she spotted me, and we hung on each other, clinging like young lovers, repeating "I can't believe it! I just don't believe it" as we stumbled to the parking lot to introduce her to my family. Then came her husband, Duleep, who had been her boyfriend in '75 and grinned at the delirium before him.

Pinch me.


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