10 June 2016

Three-wheelers are tortoises and hedges are sentinels

One of the greatest delights in my brief career as a journalist was writing for the kids' section of 'The Nation'.  I wrote over fifty articles in my last year at that newspaper.  I have resumed the series, which is now published in www.nightowls.lk.  Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Three-wheelers are certainly not the fastest vehicles on the road.  On the other hand they are not the slowest either.  In certain situations they can be faster than bigger and more powerful vehicles.   We have all seen three-wheelers weave in and out of traffic haven’t we?  It’s a small vehicle and therefore can squeeze through tiny spaces.  In fact sometimes three-wheelers are like traffic policemen.  For example, if there’s a block at a roundabout it’s often a three-wheeler that seizes the opportunity provided by a slower vehicle coming from the right to cut a path for the vehicles behind it.

Anyway, we really can’t say that three-wheelers are ‘slow’.  And yet I think of three-wheelers as tortoises.  I’ve seen them everywhere, especially in what are calls ‘Three-wheel Parks’, where these little scooter taxis line up and await their turn for a hire.   If you happen to be walking on an overhead bridge, say in the Fort, or looking out of a top floor window of a tall building, and observe the movement of tuk-tuks you might understand what I am trying to say.  If you can re-play their movements in slow motion you’ll understand even better.  For me, three-wheelers are tortoises. 

Hedges are sentinels, especially if they are made of separate bushes.  They are like a row of silent security guards.  It helps if you look at them early morning, just as dawn is breaking, or late evening, just after the sun has gone down.  At such times, from a distance, to me, they are like a row of well-build men, determined and disciplined.  Their job is to guard houses or properties.  They don’t move from their ‘spot’.  Yes, hedges are security guards. Sentinels.

Now you might think all this is silly.  You may be right. 

Place a tortoise next to a three-wheeler and it would be laughable to say they are similar.   If you see a security guard standing near a hedge around noon you will not see any similarity between the man and the bushes. 

But I insist that it is fun and useful to look at something and imagine it is something else. 

Rain drops hanging from an electricity wire after the rain has ceased look like precious stones on a necklace.  The little streams that appear from nowhere during the rain are rivers and the pools them run into are oceans.  An anthill is a mountain.  The communication devices around the house are actually magical windows which open to all kinds of wonderful lands and worlds.  The footprint you leave in the dust will be erased by the play of dust with wind and rain or simply by other feet that walk the same path you did; and in that erasure you learn that time passes, things change.  A footprint is therefore a classroom and a teacher. 

Pens and pencils are really people, only they have lead and ink for blood.   The tiles on a roof are related to the earthenware pots in the kitchen, because they were all born of the same mother: our earth. 

There are walls that speak to us about separations, safety and security.  There are hedges that are on guard.  And on our roads we get snails and we get zebras, horses and donkeys, chicken and pigs.  We get three-wheelers too, but they are really tortoises. 

Other articles in this series
A puddle is a canvas
Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table