Book Bloggers Abroad (9) – Sri Lanka

Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country will be featured who will talk about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.

Sri Lanka

Our guest blogger for today is Mystica from Sri Lanka. Her book blog is called Musings from Sri Lanka. She reads and reviews general fiction, historical fiction, Victoriana, books set in WW1 and WW2, as well as mysteries and murders. A lot of different genres, so go and have a look at her blog!

Interview with Mystica

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live with my husband in a suburb of Colombo (which is our main city). This area is a normal suburb of a city, very crowded but certainly not as built up as the city itself.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

I have three children who live overseas. Two of them are still students – one of them is a final year nursing student, my son is a second year computer studies student in university and my eldest daughter has completed her studies. So we are basically empty nesters.

Where do you get your books from? Can you get the books you want to read?
Books are horribly expensive in Sri Lanka. English books I mean. The only libraries which may have something which would interest me are the British Council and the American Centre. The genres are limited though as they cater mainly for students.

Bookshops will of course have the books I want but at an exorbitant price and way beyond the average earner in Sri Lanka. I totally depend on three sources of second hand books and they all provide me with gems. There is an Association of British residents that run a charity shop which provides me a good many of my books, there is a dusty second hand bookshop where the owner doesn’t have a clue as to what he has and you have to go yourself and dig around. He doesn’t mind this at all. The books are ridiculously priced because very few people want them so that’s a good bargain. My other source is buying books from sellers who just sit on the side of the road (what we call pavement sellers). You get unusual stuff from them as well.

I am luckier than most other English readers in Sri Lanka that I visit Melbourne often and so can use the facilities of the library there. It is here that I get a lot of new books to read (which I devour!). I have enormous TBR piles so its a question of trying to squeeze in as many books as possible during my stay in Melbourne.

Cultural site

Cultural site

Do you have electricity failure or internet disruptions?  How does this affect you as a blogger?
Tell me about it. We have electricity cut outs (what we call shedding) – when there is a drought the government cuts electricity off in turns from suburb to suburb. This is a frequent occurrence. We just live through it.

What are your circumstances? Do you have limited time for blogging because you’re working full-time? Or do you have a housekeeper and plenty of free time?
I am self employed (actually my husband and I work together). We are a tea exporting firm and my husbands main occupation is that of a tea taster (somewhat similar to wine tasting). I do have a lot of time to blog and though I came to this rather late in life I love it very much.

I do have domestic help though (one of the perks of living in Sri Lanka).

Tea plants

Tea plants

Name one fact that you would like others to know about your country.
Sri Lanka got a bad press for over 25 years due to its civil war. We became famous for terrorists, bombs and violence. Fortunately the tide has turned, the war has ended and we are now in a process of development and progress. It will take time but we will get through it.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country – you can enjoy wonderful beaches and surfing, vistas of tea estates which are just not possible to describe, ancient civilisations and cities, temples of both the Hindu and Buddhist faith, gems for which the country is famous for – blue sapphires particularly and lots more. A very friendly people (by and large) adds to its attractions. I know I sound like a tourist blurb but its true!

Where do you read? Is it warm enough to sit in the garden under a tree, or is it much too warm or cold for that?
Its warm enough for all to sit out but its unlikely you will find a Sri Lankan doing that!! I much prefer creature comforts of sitting inside.

Countryside

Countryside

What language(s) do you read in?
The languages of our country are Singhalese and Tamil. I speak both, the latter language just a little bit only though. I can read Singhalese again not fluently. I was however educated throughout in English and am most comfortable in that language. It sounds confusing but its true.

There are plenty of books in the Singhalese and Tamil languages. Tamil is also a language spoken by millions in South India’s state of Tamil Nadu. So we have plenty of authors from there as well. Singhalese is spoken only in Sri Lanka so the books are naturally more limited. The genres of books will not cover the paranormal and fantasy at all but other than that other genres are well covered. The books are not expensive and would approximately be in the region of 3 or 4 dollars maximum. Compared to this an average English fiction for example book would be 16 or 20 dollars.

Please suggest a national author that you love.
Roma Tearne, Michelle de Kretser, Michael Ondaatjie, Ashok Ferrey, Romesh Gunasekera. V.V. Ganeshanathan are a few that come to mind. Some of them are of Sri Lankan origin.

Tell us why you are blogging in English?
I wouldn’t be fluent enough in Singhalese of Tamil to blog in that language. I am comfortable in English!

(Pictures from Sri Lankan Tourist Board website)

Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks Mystica, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger.

Don’t forget to take a look at Mystica’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Mystica, just leave them in the comments section.

Next week Kinna from Ghana will be visiting us for the tenth Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!

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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

18 Responses to Book Bloggers Abroad (9) – Sri Lanka

  1. Fascinating stuff. I enjoy reading these.

  2. Rachel says:

    That was really interesting! Thanks Mystica 🙂

  3. rikkiscraps says:

    Thanks, Mystica, for this interesting post. I used to have a Tamil colleague and his language always fascinated me.
    Domestic help, now, this sounds good to me. I wish I could afford this.
    The used book seller who doesn’t know what he’s got sounds good, too. In those books you might find the most interesting things, but you need a lot of patience.
    Rikki

  4. Marie says:

    Very interesting. By the way, I’ve read two books by Roma Tearne. I loved them both. She’s fabulous!

    I just added Mystica’s blog to my Google Reader.

  5. nymfaux says:

    WOW!!! This is an AMAZING feature!!!! I LOVE hearing about other cultures, especially from another blogger’s perspective!!!! Thanks Mystica!!!!–I’ll definitely check out your blog!!!!

    • leeswammes says:

      I’m glad you like it, nymfaux! I started the feature because I’m very curious about how other people in other countries live. And it turns out, so are many people! 🙂

  6. nymfaux says:

    I LOVED it!!! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this feature!!!! 🙂

  7. leeswammes says:

    Mystica, thanks so much for being on Book Bloggers Abroad today!

    I think what Melbourne is for you is what England is for me. Whenever I go (which is about 2-3 times a year), I feel totally justified to buy whatever books I want (well, within reason!). It’s such fun!

  8. chasing bawa says:

    Brilliant post! It’s nice to know a little bit more about your life in Sri Lanka. Tea-taster? What an awsome job!

  9. Miel Abeille says:

    This is an amazing post! Love peaking into another blogger’s life. What a great series, Judith!

  10. Carin B. says:

    What a great post! How interesting that your husband is a tea taster. Is your palette very refined as well? What is your favorite tea to drink?

    What kind of tea is most often consumed in Sri Lanka? Black Tea, Herbal Tea, Green Tea? Do you drink it with milk or plain?

    I love tea and think that is just very cool!

    I will have to go check out your blog as well! How fascinating! Thanks for this guest post!

  11. Mystica says:

    I’m glad everyone has enjoyed the interview! Yes Carin the palate has to be refined to taste teas – considering that you can taste upto 300 cups a day!!! no smoking or drinking of alcohol is allowed (generally not always adhered to!!!). Please everyone come and visit my blog. Right now I am a bit behind as we are having a family wedding but after the 29th I will be back in business again.

  12. How fascinating – I love this series, getting to know more about bloggers and culture!

    Sri Lanka sounds amazing.

  13. gnoegnoe says:

    Thanks for sharing all this with us, Mystica! Your husband has a cool job (much cooler than wine tasting, although sake tasting would be fun too 😉 ) and it seems great to me that you can work together.

  14. Nish says:

    I love this feature. Thanks Mystica for the interview. I was lucky to visit Sri Lanka once, and I have to say it is a beautiful country – the beaches, the temples, the way of life…lovely!

    Unfortunately, we had to restrict our visit to only the South and west of the island, because of the civil war that was going on in the north.

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