Herewith, an inventory of omens that appeared during the early days of the Out-of-the-Box journey in Batticaloa:
- Picked up at Batti railway station by skeletal, barely upright, tuktuk driver.
- Skeleton driver throws Samsonite suitcase (27 kilos) aboard as though filled with horse feathers.
- Putters off down road Pioneer Road passing funeral procession going the other way.
- Upon arrival at Monkey’s Tale Center, gentle rain falls on chained and padlocked gate.
- Windows closed, doors locked, grass uncut, paint fading, plaster chipping away.
- Ripe jackfruit rotting on the tree in back yard of Monkey’s Tale Center.
- Perfect flower pooja (offering) arranged every morning by Thangavel, the intrepid security guard.
- Equally intrepid crow pusaris (temple priests) impiously scatter pooja flowers in four directions throughout day.
- Cook Vigneswari appears daily to make delicious breakfast and lunch in spite of migraines.
- Over time image library has become storage closet catchall. Books in sorry state of disarray.
- Hanuman statue, gift from Mango Tree Garden in Cambodia unearthed in library, sword broken at hilt.
- At local mosque, boy muezzin’s voice has changed, it’s bell-tone purity now a fading memory.
- Kula and I meet on first evening with lights flickering on and off throughout conversation.
- New Mac Air slips out of case crashing down to granite tile floor. Small dent, otherwise “No Problem Sri Lanka”!
- Murder of turbulent crows abduct baby bard owl on 2nd morning but she escapes when I shout at them.
Other omens of more of less significance occur. We re-organize the library and locate Out-of-the-Box operational headquarters there. I commission Kula’s assistant, Thevakanth, to repaint the icon, “Days and Nights of Love and War” from my 1989 Toronto Harbourfront Glyphsyllbus series. Hanuman’s sword now stands at the ready thanks to a drop of super glue. Arrangements are made for thirsty crows to have their own private water bowl on front painting rotunda. Grass cut and back sand gardens swept by the cashiered caretaker, Kanagaraj, in preparation for first two workshop sessions arranged to field-test curriculum toys Number 4 and Number 5, (Story Crow and Story Snake) with senior and post-graduate students from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Eastern University at Vantharamulai.
Best to observe omens carefully but avoid paralyzing superstition, remembering above all that an omen is just what it is – a teaser, a tracer, a temptation, a sign. Nothing more. Whatever else it may be, an omen is not an amen.
Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
July 10 / 2015