26. A City for Gems

@Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka

Ratnapura is exactly what it’s name suggests; the land of gems, the famous gem-mining town of Sri Lanka located about a hundred kilometers from Colombo. As “ratna” means gem and “pura” means city, there is not much doubt about what the city would be, other than being the city of gems. If it was named in Malayalam, the name would have been Ratnapuram, not much different except for the last letter addition. Not very often can you guess what a city is about, just by it’s name; as Ramapuram doesn’t have that much importance as a hallowed place of Sri Rama and Mudickal is not an obliterated place; Kottayam is not situated in a “Kotta” or fort; Ernakulam and Thiruvairanikulam are not ponds and doesn’t have that many “ponds” as it’s name suggests except for the occasional gutters which has started to make them look so; the places ending with “kad” meaning forest are not really dense jungles and those ending with “puzha” or river are not islands in the middle of a water body, and thus the names seems to suit the wrong locations, but it does work with a few places and one of the is surely Ratnapura.

Even as Rapadura is the Portuguese name for a form of sugarcane juice, used as a sweetener, common in Latin American countries and the Caribbean, and as the Portuguese domination had a big influence on the island, the possibility of the name being derived from that word is less; seeing what the city is about, it has to be from the two words meaning gem and city. The place is the centre, the most important industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other sparkling gems. Apart from that, the town is a place of natural beauty and lots of cultivation. Not only fruits and rubber, tea is also grown in this place, even as the place is located kind of lower compared to the other places of tea plantations. Tea itself would be a gem if you would ask me; having tea growing at your town is something to boast about, even as gems will be the thing most people would be looking for. Sri Lanka has the highest density of gem deposits compared to its landmass and Ratnapura has the most of it; the island nation has always been known for it’s gems for centuries; the colonisers always had specific interest in it.

We can say that the town depend on gem trade, the most productive method of earning money and a little on the agricultural industry which is far less profitable which is even lessened by the possibility of floods in the Kalu river. But one has to wonder when profit becomes really what it stands for; as sometimes it is vain. A good number of well-known people have taught, written books and stood for agriculture; still the easier way will always look better for people. The global demand for diamonds, gold and other precious metals hasn’t done anybody any good. It can glitter and it can look good to you, but it will depend on how you view life; as none of the precious metals interested me so far, and it didn’t really mattered how much I tried to make it look extra special to my eyes and how much I kept looking at it with a heavy amount of concentration. It doesn’t mean anything to my aesthetic sense and it fails to invoke any feeling of beauty in my mind and it seems to have a complete lack of soul in it. It seems more and more like the dead man’s metals, the stones of the deceased; the more I look at them, the more dislike I feel about it; to me they are depressing.

I would like to consider Sri Lanka, not thinking about the gems; Ratnapura as the gem land, but not of just those stones which has only that external beauty; for me, it would be that land of spirituality, that land of Buddhism which is not of this unreal world. It would be that land of Ramayana and that land of beautiful churches on the coast. For me, it is the land of that gem of goodness which is valued further more than any random metal or stone; it is the land of humanity; it is the land of truth, wisdom and love where peace has settled down with all it’s might. The true gem is that heart, which is unaltered in it’s quest for truth, peace and non-violence; the true value of a gem is not based on how good it looks and how much it sparkles; it is something which is far beyond this world and long beyond all means of understanding. The price of all these can go up; the gold price can continue and reach the top of the world; but none of these are forever and it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you have to leave all these here; what you take with you is your soul which carries it’s stories.

You can be anybody; from the current situation of the materialistic world, you can be King Midas or you can be Doctor Faustus; achieving both options have never been easier. You can have all the gold in the world or you can have Mephistopheles’ service in return for your soul which would be damned for all eternity with Lucifer, but both options are leading to you to that pandemonium, that hell which has that eternal pain awaiting you. It is the exact place where the unnecessary ambition and desire leads one to. Even in my lands, it is ridiculous to see the attraction towards gold. At least Faustus still had that desire for knowledge and a side inside him which wanted to repent; Midas also understood his mistake, but some people never change. Even after the watch Elizabrth Hurley giving Brendan Fraser those wishes in ‘Bedazzled’, they are still so interested in selling their souls for all that wealth and glory which they can’t even keep after death. At the end of they day, they are dead and they not only split from their precious thing, but also from their body itself which will completely cease to exist.

This is exactly why my only interest while visiting the gem stores of Sri Lanka was to capture the beauty of the lands from the window of that store too. There was also the need for tea; for me the drink had much more value at that time. It was about having my gem of a drink which lived far beyond all nations; the drink which was simple and had a soul. As the gems were to die, tea was to live and Ratnapura for me was my land of tea; Sri Lanka was my island for having great tea. The gems will play their part and will be sold and bought, but tea will be drunk; it is internal and it within you. Here the bottomline is that I was at Ratnapura, and there was tea and spirituality. Gems were there and they might have attracted many, from the West as well as the North, but I was not to be among them. I shall proudly fail to understand the need for gems and gold, according to them; and be extremely happy about it, for it proves that I am different and far away from any possible sin of wordly desire.

Diving out —>