The sun was at the edge of the horizon and the Galle Face green was warming up for a long night despite the slight drizzle. It was a busy Sunday evening at the Galle Face Green. An array of old and new models of vehicles filled the car park and the ticket officer was busy issuing parking tickets. Through the barricade, we entered the breezy stretch of green, the walkers’ paradise, which graciously welcomed us to the arena.
Though it was just 5 o’clock in the evening, the promenade on the sea face stretching one and a half kilometres was swarming with families, children, vendors, lovers and merrymakers.
The largest open space in Colombo used by many hundreds a day was a donation of the British Governor Sir Henry Ward. He laid out this land in 1859. It was used for horse racing a hundred years ago and it is now a paradise for high-spirited citizens.
Two major Sri Lankan hotels, the Ceylon Continental and the Galle Face Hotel, mark the boundaries of this picturesque green turf, while Taj Samudra overlooks the stretch. Many Romeos and Juliets were huddled under umbrellas were dreaming and in their own world. At the same time, some children along with their parents raced across the stretch with their toys and while some flew kites.
The tantalising aroma of fast food vendors was too inviting to ignore. Unless you are a hygiene freak, there are enough and more food choices to make. My favourite has always been the prawn vade, without sauce though. These vendors have everything you need to pile up some fat on your tummy. If you are not into snacks, they will even give you dinner. The famous of the fast food joints is the Nana’s. There were three shops with the same name; however, the inauguration years were 1979, 1987 and 1988. The Nana’s food stall of 1979 boasts of being the pioneers. Galle Face Green hardly goes empty during any time of the day.
It attracts many locals as well as tourists. It is the best spot in town for vendors. Merrymakers strode on to the beach from the steps, which lead from the parapet wall, under the vigilant eyes of lifeguards, these merrymakers enjoyed the experience of the rolling waters. The giggles of the girls echoed on the walls and the men followed the hum to check out on girls. Those who wanted to remain in dry clothing cheered the rest. The evening was vibrant!
A little walk towards the Continental brings you to the 100 metres tall remote operated flagpole and to the newly built bridge, which spans up to the deep waters. The experience on this observation point is wonderful. The deep waters circle around the supporting pillars, as if they are ready to drag them to the seabed. This is the ideal spot to watch the divine view of the sunset.
The mesmerising colours of the evening sky hold you to a step closer to nature. The view of the sea is magnificent; it calms down a tensed mind and eases the pressure. However, the situation on land is pathetic. Among vendors and visitors are piles of garbage thrown here and there. There are garbage cans kept at some points. Maybe these are inadequate and the public are not educated enough on the proper disposal of garbage.
At one point there was a board displayed to warn the public of a fine, unfortunately, someone had changed the lettering and it read ‘If you keep the environment clean, Rs. 500 will be fined.”
However, it is the responsibility of all of us to keep the place clean, so that future generations can benefit from this invaluable landscape.