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  • Arthur Max

Room with a Diminished View


If I had to do it all over again, maybe I’d be a farmer.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a wonderful career as a foreign correspondent. It took me to places I couldn’t imagine otherwise going. It kept me excited and engaged day-to-day. It satisfied creative impulses. It gave me, as they say, a front-row seat to history.

And yet …

There’s something about planting a seed or a sapling, tending it and watching it grow. Or, if you have the time, a tree.

These thoughts ramble across my brain as I sit on the balcony of the Blue Suite at our boutique hotel in the early morning. My routine for many years has been to take a weighty book – a bit of history perhaps – and a large mug of coffee, but to let my mind stray onto the changing colors of the sea, sand and garden as the first sunlight strikes. Book, sea, beach, garden, book, etc.

Well, that routine is disrupted now. The coconut trees that we planted six years ago have beanstalked, with fronds as high as our two-story building. Along the edge of the beach are 10 coconut trees we planted two years ago. My once-unobstructed view is being obscured.

All of them replaced old, fragile trees brought down by storms, erosion or old age. Their spindly trunks, lifting their crowns 70-80 feet high, were never an obstacle. Alas!

And yet …

The young trees, rising firm and strong, are now bearing fruit. I look around. The garden is verdant, bursting with color. I recall the barrenness of the early days when the salty sea breezes frustrated every attempt at decorative vegetation.

That’s not all. Elsewhere in the garden we are growing eggplant, okra, watermelon and beans. A papaya tree is groaning with fruit right now. A small plot across the road supplies us bananas and mangos, in season. The coconut yield is enough to fill all our cooking needs. And the king coconuts, planted when we installed the swimming pool eight years ago, gives us sweet drinking water.

I don’t claim credit for any of this, of course. It’s all planned and maintained by our manager Ranjan and his team, led by Indika. Still, I feel I have a stake in it, just watching this amazing place blossom.

Seventeen years ago Max Wadiya itself was a seedling in our minds that has grown and matured. Farmer Ruth has nurtured the Wadiya from a modest holiday bungalow into a much-praised boutique hotel. When we read our guests’ reviews, we feel we have created something of beauty and worth.

Still, I miss the view from my room. But I should get it back when those young trees grow to full height, in about 40 more years.

I can’t wait.

#boutiquehotel #coconuttrees #eggplant #okra #watermelon #beans #papaya #swimmingpool

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147 Galle Road (Parrot Junction)

Urawatte, Ambalangoda | Sri Lanka

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