And so it was off to Kandy on Sunday after the previous good evening’s chat and chow-down with Rhythmic and Mala – but more of that later. The Sibling’s plan to return after many years of being Scots has resulted in the possession of a prime piece of real estate perched up on a wooded hill with a super view of the Knuckles range. Proximity to one of the Amaya Group of hotels made things convenient, as a walk up the hill to the site was a mere fifteen minutes up what is more or less a private road.

The Last Queen of Kandy made his appearance later in the evening and The Dancer, The Sibling, The Queen and I wended our way up a hill on the opposite side of the lake from the town and ended up at Helga’s Folly for dinner. Helga’s Folly is the most incredibly surreal hotel one could hope to find anywhere and defies conventional description. What I mean is that any description, however minute, could never do complete justice. Walking through the foyer took me straight back to the living room of the ‘Adams Family’ or, for those that don’t know that classic old TV series (now a mega-movie), it was like walking into the inner-sanctum of a very old and very haunted manor. The diffused lighting added to the surrealism brought about largely by the candle stands that dripped a thousand petrified strands of wax, now congealed into a dreadlocked fantasy suspended in space. There were many of these luminous wonders flickering madly and casting their amber luminescence about the room illuminating the hundreds of paintings, sculptures, collages and other artifacts that defied close inspection, unless one has many hours to spend. The furniture accentuated the ambiance with loads of brightly coloured cushions glistening as the flickering light caught the satiny brocades and other materials that they were wrapped in. The ceiling was a wonder to behold – astrological signs and celestial symbols beautifully executed on the squares above – designed and outlined by Helga herself and executed by many others, including various guests.

So we sat ourselves down in a corner of the main room and the Queen of Kandy (a very old and dear friend of Helga) ordered drinks and sorted out the menu with Weerasinghe, Helga’s trusted butler-type, who informed us that Helga would be joining us momentarily, as soon as she received an overseas call she was waiting on. A few rounds of drinks later, having been thoroughly entertained by The Queen’s unique style of conversation and hilarious anecdotes, we moved upstairs for dinner – another surreal experience where Alice’s Wonderland meets Salvador Dali. More candle stands – graveyards of a million candles, with their trails petrified and suspended in space.  The candles flickering illuminating more artifacts installed in every conceivable space – the ceiling had more astrology and astronomy – all very stylized – all very striking and artistic.

The coconut soup came in coconut shells and the pumpkin soup in pumpkins – both very good. The course was equally appreciated, as was the desert. The only problem we had was that the side plates and desert containers were of silver and brass! Helga made her entrance in the middle of dinner – tall and elegant in a black kimono, her square, heavily-framed glasses adding to the overall effect. Eccentricity personified, her eloquence disturbed by her vocal mannerisms, she was both fascinating and entertaining. The Queen of Kandy, equally strange in his own wonderful way, complemented the surrealism – now come vividly to life with the advent of Helga.

Dinner done, we were escorted downstairs for coffee and night-caps ‘on the house’. More hilarity ensued with the conversation dominated by Helga and the Queen, interspersed with colourful bits of goss about mutual friends and acquaintances – all very humorous with nothing vicious or nasty.

Then all too soon it was time to leave and so we left this bit of ‘Wonderland’, still buzzing from the experience and headed back to the relative boredom of Amaya, where later I dreamed of tripping around magical surroundings in the Theatre of the Absurd.