Monday, October 13, 2014

Nearing 'Oottamawady' on the Vakarai - Batticaloa Road, Sri Lanka.

There is a story about how the village of 'Ottamawady' got its name on the survey map of Ceylon. In the old British colonial days, road maps were being prepared. The method of finding the names of villages along the road was for a surveyor to travel by a bullock cart. As he passed each village the knowledgeable cart-driver would give the information and the surveyor travelling in the cart would note it down on the road tracing. If the cart driver did not know the name of the village they would ask a passer-by.
Arriving at this place the cart-driver did not know the name. They saw a damsel walking leisurely in a paddy-field towards her mother who was standing by the road side. The surveyor asked the mother what the name of the village was. The mother was more worried about her daughter's slow pace and shouted out 'OTTAMAA VAADI' meaning 'RUN FASTER'. The surveyor thought that that was the name of the village and wrote it down on the tracing of the map. Thus the place came to be known as 'OTTAMAAVADI'.
A similar story is told of how Negombo got its name. The surveyor in the cart was approaching a village long after sunset. The dogs in the village started barking at the sound of the cart. The surveyor asked the cart-driver the name of the village. The sleepy cart driver thought he was being asked why the dogs were barking and replied "NIKANG BURANAWA' meaning that the dogs were barking without a cause. The surveyor wrote down the name of the village as 'NEGOMBU'.
These were the tales related in surveyors' camps in Sri Lanka over a glass of arrack, to wile away the night.