Yesterday’s eclipse, which I didn’t see, by Michael Marnet
A dansal is basically a public alms-giving. You collect money, buy and prepare food and give it away to whoever. It’s a great idea – giving food away in the streets – but it gets digestively dubious when that food is also prepared on the street. Dansal drinks are made from god knows what water, and the food emphasis is on speed rather than cleanliness. I have, however, found one dansal that is completely non-dubious. Ice cream.
I live on a street that’s kinda hood. One of the neighbors keeps a giant turkey in the yard. Another seems to keep cows. There’s a family that basically lives in the street, drying their clothes and letting toddlers amble among the sparse traffic. That extended family was organizing a dansal and they hit me up for money. Normally I avoid this because I’m not sure where the money goes, but I couldn’t this time. I was walking back from the park and all of a sudden everybody was smiling at me. Then, bam, they hit me up for cash. I paid Rs. 200 and went home.
I thought nothing more of it till this Poson Poya (full moon, non-related eclipse, and I think the anniversary of Buddhism arriving in Sri Lanka). We went to temple and stuff in the morning and coming home the road was blocked by a dansal. So they actually spent the money properly and they were dishing out the eats. I normally avoid such things, but went out to be social.
I amble over there and they people are extraordinarily effusive, calling us over. There’s a huge class and language difference on the street and we don’t interact much. During dansal, however, they were just nice. They gave us three cones, one a choco-vanilla mix and the other with some jelly on top. It was really nice. And I think completely hygienic and fine. Free ice cream on the street. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Hope you enjoyed your Poya.