It was 06:45 outside Gotagogama (GGG) on a gloomy Monday morning.
That’s the name of the protest site at what was previously Galle Face. On the day of writing, it’s four days since the country’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (if it wasn’t obvious already, the name for the protest site was inspired by the very same president, i.e. – Gota Go Village (which is gama in Sinhala) had tendered his resignation.
The crowds at the site were reducing. The protest and struggle (Aragalaya) of the people still continue and the demands and asks for the new government continue to be vocalised.
But from an outsider’s perspective, an outsider who hasn’t actively participated in these protests, I don’t know if it’s fair to say if there’s been a loss in vigour and robustness that was there earlier. But I might be wrong. And I’m sorry if I am. It was also 06:45 am and I didn’t know what I was expecting. But that’s what the air smelt like.
Yesterday was the 100th day of GGG.
The tents are still up. Both GGG and No Deal Gama (also known as Maina Go Gama) is located outside the Temple Trees. People are still waking up as I make my way toward Kollupitiya.
There seem to be slightly more buses on the road today. By slightly more, I mean I see a bus every 5-10 minutes, which is a significant improvement compared to the last few days. The buses continue to be inclined at this strange 60º angle, however, but there are buses and not just state-owned (CTB/Ceylon Transport Board) ones. There are even a few private buses that seem to make their way.
The fuel continues, despite reaching a record of 1000 registrations for the fuel pass that is to be implemented by the government, continue to stretch kilometres at an end. Those gathered in the queues are waking up, some having food, cigarettes or whatever that’s available to them that constitutes breakfast.
I can’t help but notice that with these fuel queues that there is an increase in the amount of trash being thrown by the side of the road. This might be a common sight in most developing countries but the streets of Colombo city have been immaculate for the last few years.
The Rajapaksa regime made sure of this. Of course, now that the Rajapaksas have gone, I can’t help but lol at this thought. Of course, despite it all, our Municipal Council friends in orange and green continue to make sure that the streets remain spotless by getting a head start on the day.
Somewhere around 07:30, the sun begins to peak from in between the buildings as a man makes his way to go throw trash at a cart that’s parked outside.
Besides the trashy streets and almost empty roads, we are seeing an influx of bicycles on the road. Fancy bicycles and artsy-looking accessories as full-time workers peddle their way to work.
Regular bicycles now retail at LKR 150,000 upwards (from what I heard on Saturday) and e-bikes at LKR 400,000 upwards. These figures might have drastically increased by the time you read this.
Moving away from what’s written above and I have to of course preface with an apology to those at the protest site and all those who have been on the streets the last few months. I would also like to use this as a space to explain what I have been doing, or think I have been doing during this crisis.
So for those who don’t know, my skill set lies in communications-related work. Though my own personal communications are probably questionable, I still get work to ‘communicate’ on behalf of others. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – I’ve been giving out my time to those who would make use of my skillset.
While thinking of this particular “contribution” combined with a few discussions I’ve been having with close friends in line with my last post, I realised that maybe I need to take a step back to reevaluate how I’ve been looking at things. Sure enough, the privilege remains. It’s not the sort of privilege I can well remove. Maybe I can if I choose to go live elsewhere away from the resources I have. But then that wouldn’t be practical, would it? So instead I realised, that what I can do is to continue to use the skills and platforms I have to help talk about what’s happening. Not sure how many would see, read or hear but I guess we can all start somewhere at this influencing business noh.
Besides that little documentation, I hope all of you reading this have been as well as one can be during these times. It’s tiring. It’s rough. I would like to think that it would be behind us soon, but I don’t think that would be the case. Please stay safe and continue fighting the good fight.