It’s been a pretty busy time since heading back to the metropolis from the calm serenity of Flowerbook, what with the mundane needing attention on the administrative side and traveling north-ish – to the Sacred City – also work-related. But the little bit of relaxation afforded by access to Shakin’s jungle hideaway and the company of Shakin’ and Mr. Z, made it all worthwhile.

Getting there for a latish lunch, cool brews and the additional extras required to get our heads in the right spaces just hit the spot. Then came a procession of goodies in the form of perfectly spiced and fried prawns – all the way from the Batticaloa lagoon, no less, crispy fried Thilapia from the inland lakes close by and assorted other munchies, which made even the thought of lunch, redundant. Sitting in the ‘living-room’ wadiya and looking out over the rock that slopes down to the series of wattle and daub structures, we saw the progress of the jungle tide – now a lot closer to the accommodation complex, than it was when we last visited. The recent unseasonable deluges had made the usually dry mana grass and scrubby foreground look lush and inviting and the elephants of the area made their presence obvious from the copious amounts of droppings and ripped branches that were observed.

We watched a storm as it approached from the north – first looking like mist over the distant hills and then gradually fading them out with its intensity as it approached us. In no time at all we were in the middle of a deluge that, fortunately, was as short as it was sharp, leaving us with a perfectly gentle rain that allowed the earth to soak it in rather that erode it with its ferocity. It was perfect – and then the sun came out again and the soft breeze that accompanied it made it even better!

As the afternoon drifted into evening, Shakin and Mr. Z meandered over to the rock with their Gin and tonics, smokes and the rest, and Java climbed up to the rustic sleeping spots upstairs and took a well deserved nap – mostly in preparation for the fast approaching night-time binge.

Suffice it to say that Shakin’s shower is a work of rustic art and the cold rush of a full shower-head does wonders for whatever fatigue the body feels, or the woolly-headedness that may have been induced by whatever it took to get to the state. Invigorated and refreshed, it was back to basics and there we were again – almost as if we had never left the spot earlier that evening.

The relatively early stringhopper dinner with the chicken curry, kiri-hodi with hard-boiled eggs in it and pol-sambol, could not have tasted better – all done in earthenware pots over a wood-fire that, somehow, makes the flavour unique. That done and out of the way, it was back to continuing the fascinating discussions over more inebriants. In between, we would walk the rock, drinks in hand, trailing the pungent smoke from the ubiquitous roll-ups and listen to the elephants as they communicated with each other. The last time we were there, a herd of at least twenty (it was too dark, with a faint moon at the time, to make a positive count) surrounded the wadiyas and munched on some of the trees that had been painstakingly planted and protected, with one of them even taking some illuk off a roof. This time, however, they kept their distance – probably with adequate supplies of food available after the recent rains. Later, though, we heard quite clearly, two males going at it – probably in a dominance-related confrontation – and that lasted for at least fifteen minutes. The moon, that will be full shortly, did its thing and bathed the surrounding jungle in a gentle light as the night drifted on – taking us with it.

And so it went – until we crawled up the rustic ladder once more, to bed.