• Tara B. Vasi

January 4th 2019. The Sri Lanka Mug

Goodbye Sri Lanka. It's not your fault, but I am ready to move on. I am currently at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, but I won't be here long.


As I was packing up and leaving the hostel earlier this morning, I knew I had to downsize my belongings. I had purchased a decent amount of things since I arrived in Sri Lanka on November 24th, 2019. I was anticipating staying for at least three months, but now that I am leaving sooner, its just too much bulk to carry on my crooked back.

I wouldn’t take my kettle, even though it broke my heart having to say goodbye. I selected a variety of clothes and toiletries I didn't think I would need and put them to the side. I parted ways with my protein power, some incense etc etc. I set all of these things aside in a waterproof bag for Rosa or the Australians to enjoy if they chose to.

I picked up in my hand the ceramic mug I had purchased my first week in Sri Lanka. I bought it from a home goods store in Ambalangoda one night when it was down pouring.

It was a standard 8oz souvenir mug that said Sri Lanka over a slightly faded picture of elephants in the grass. I bought it because all of the mugs at the villa were tiny tea cups and slowed my rapid morning coffee consumption. I wasn’t sleeping, so really relied on the caffeine each morning.

I left the mug in the kitchen of the villa when I wasn’t using it. None of the staff every used the mug. It was my mug and I drank coffee from it every morning while I was there.

At first, I felt the urge to smash the mug against the wall of the hostel. It reminded me of that asshole. I didn’t want to take it with me. I didn't even want to look at it.

But, then I thought a little more about how I wanted to perceive my experience in Sri Lanka.

I didn't want to look back with anger. I didn't want to consider it a ruined experience.

There were a lot of amazing things that happened to me in the 42 days that I spent in the tear drop of India.

So, I decided to challenge myself to focus on all of the positive moments. I have the ability to keep the good times closer to my heart then the not so good times.

I was honored to be able to release TWO giant green sea turtles back to the wild. I saw baby sea turtles hatch from their eggs. I watched a leopard take a nap and was chased by a feisty female elephant protecting a baby. I picked up trash at the beaches so they were more safe and clear for the mama sea turtles to lay their eggs at night. I witnessed an eclipse. I visited a super old brick bridge with nine arches and a beautiful waterfall in Ella. I hiked Lion Rock and was accosted by an entitled pain in the ass monkey. I did my best to provide a better life for two different puppies, even if it was just for a few weeks. I was able to feed dozens and dozens of stray dogs in the village of Balapitiya. I visited the famous temple in Kandy. I swam in the Indian Ocean. I met some amazing foreigners and had the opportunity to teach and practice yoga on a rooftop overlooking a beautiful lake. I ate so many different kinds of fruits and enjoyed a ton of delicious and spicy Sri Lankan cuisine.

I am so fortunate to have been able to experience those things.

So, maybe when I look at the mug, I will fully embody those amazing memories, the ones I will choose to keep closer to my heart.

I will imagine the thrill of the bumpy ride in the jeep as we drove away from the charging elephant. I will remember the smell of cinnamon oil gently burning in the clay pot. I will remember the squishiness of the baby turtle bellies. I will forever remember the look of gratitude and bewilderment the first time Lucky used her wheelchair.

Maybe when I look at that mug, I will be reminded of my strength and bravery for leaving a situation that made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. I am angry, but, just like I had to downsize my luggage because it was too heavy, the sooner I can part ways with my anger towards the situation, the better off I will be, and the stronger the good memories will become.

Once I am back , the Sri Lanka mug will go on the shelf with the other mugs, the purple handmade one from my mother, a few from San Diego, and others I have accumulated over the years of popping around the world.

I may not choose the Sri Lanka mug for my morning coffee, but, regardless, I know it will forever be a part of my collection.

And if I do use the mug, I will make sure to cheers to sweet Lucky.


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