German snakecatcher removes cobra from Jafnapatnam lodging house, Sri Lanka
Published in Philippus Baldaeus, Description of East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and Also of the Isle of Ceylon, Amsterdam: Johannes 1672
“The serpents come frequently into the houses, especially in the rainy season.
During my abode at Jafnapatnam, two dogs were stung to death in the house; and I have seen them sometimes pass up stairs over the beds.
Another time a serpent passed so near my wife in the house, that he touched her leg with the tail, and was afterwards killed by the servants.
There is also here a kind of adders, called vipers by the Portugueses; they are speckled, and very venomous.
Whilst I lived at Jafnapatnam, a certain High-German soldier belonging to the garrison (commonly known by the name of the Serpent Catcher) being sent for by Mr. Anthony Pavilion, governor of Coromandel, to take a certain Cobre Capel that was in his lodging-room; he came accordingly; and with his hat only before his face, laid hold with his other hand of the serpent, without receiving the least harm: he did handle the creature afterwards in our presence, and not only carried it away in his knapsack, but also used to sleep near it.
I suspecting some witchcraft in the matter, talked to him seriously about it; but he assured me that nothing was done but by natural means; and that he always carried the head and heart of a serpent about him: wherewith I was forced to rest satisfied, he being not willing to discover the whole mystery.”
Philippus Baldaeus 1672, translated in ‘Description of the great and most famous Isle of Ceylon’, in Awnsham and John Churchill, A Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.3, London 1732
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Roti. We often used to eat roti. Thin, unleavened bread. A hard pancake of cooked dough. When the roti is hot, scrape a bit of butter on, it begins to melt. Twisting-off pieces, sopping up hodi (gravy) on one’s plate. Maybe scooping up some dhal, add a smidgeon Katta Sambol for spice. In my head I can smell wafts of molten butter, mixed with the coconut in the dough, rising up, mixing with the thick, wholesome, milk-gentle fragrance of dhal… The thought of dhal reminds me of Cadju curry. Piles of cashew plucked, separated from the fleshy fruit, dried and cleaned, cooked in coconut milk until their raw crunch softened into a milky chalk-soft creamy texture. They’d be cooked with peas that would bob about amongst the cadju and rupture in a juicy burst upon biting, or disintegrate. Sweeter, more vegetal than the cadju.
…and Poll (coconut) sambol. First you use a coconut scraper, (there’s a place called Odiris that makes them), to scrape a decent pile of coconut, holding the half-coconut steady while you turn the handle of the scraper, round and round. Then you mix in chili, lime, andumbalakada - maldive fish – and mix it about, adding in a pile of chopped onion. Its all mixed up until it is a small mound, fluffy, in a bowl. When eaten with bread, or perhaps even roast paan(small, lightly roasted loaves) and spicy fish hodi, with the onion crunching it is indescribable. The savoury-ness of the dried fish adding depth to the chili. and the lime a slash of tartness, mixing in with the other flavours. The bread giving body and chewy-ness, the hodi an infusion of spicy liquid. Smooth, savory heat. (One of the joys of traveling in Sri Lanka is eating in dodgy places, or semi-dodgy places. Once on a long drive back from Yala, Nimalan, Anojan, S and I stopped at a “hotel”, half constructed, ordered food. I remember having the most amazing sambol. Fluffy, infused or rubbed with just enough chili, finely chopped onion, occasional, unexpected pleasure of Umbalakada.) I could eat it for hours.
Moscow (CNN) — A meteor streaked through the skies above Russia’s Urals region Friday morning before exploding with a flash and boom that shattered glass in buildings and left about 1,000 people hurt, authorities said.