Sri Lanka has a strange democracy. Six months ago there was a big power grab that happily failed. And now there is an influential MP/monk who decided to go on a hunger strike until certain (Muslim) politicians were removed from their posts. Sort of like "I'm going to hold my breath until I get my way." He did this stunt right here in Kandy at the Temple of the Tooth. I didn't know anything about it until I came in to town on Monday morning, as usual, but all shops were shut and black flags (mostly made from trash bags) were waving all over the place.
Police and soldiers were out in force and some roads had been blocked. I could see some kind of protest march in the distance so I decided to head back home. On my way to the railway station I ran into marchers coming up the road with signs, shouting. I tuned left, but other marchers were coming. Suddenly I felt a bit trapped. Quickly I skirted the assembling crowds and hopped into a random passing bus.
Even near home, in Peradeniya town, I found angst in the streets as the day heated up. A crowd formed around a man shouting at some schoolboys. A policeman had difficulty keeping them out of the road. My bus inched past the commotion, and some fellows were shouting and pointing at the bus driver. If only I could understand what everyone was saying! Most people were just keeping quiet and wanting to get on with their business, but the hotheads had me on guard.
Apparently ten thousand protesters gathered in Kandy after I left, and the targeted Muslim politicians caved in and quit their posts, along with all other Muslim ministers in solidarity. The fasting MP/monk got his way and was taken to hospital Intensive Care after 72 hours without food (really?)
On Tuesday the heat wave broke and the monsoon rains came. The temperature drop and the wet made everyone sober again. Now it is Thursday and everything is back to normal and after a nice stroll around Kandy Lake I'm back in a cafe enjoying a ginger iced tea.