25/02/2013 18:20
f. Serendip, a former name for Sri Lanka + -ity. A word coined by Horace Walpole, who says (Let. to Mann, 28 Jan. 1754) that he had formed it upon the title of the fairy-tale `The Three Princes of Serendip', the heroes of which `were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of'.

The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Also, the fact or an instance of such a discovery. Formerly rare, this word and its derivatives have had wide currency in the 20th century (from the Oxford English Dictionary)

Serendipity can be translated as a pleasant accident, or a pleasant surprise. It is a term stolen from Arabic sarandib which in turn comes from the Sanskrit suvarnadweepa, meaning golden island. Sarandib is how former Ceylon was known by the Muslims and thus recorded in the Persian fairy tale Hasht Bihist, Eight Paradises, written by Amir Kushrau in 1302 it was translated to Italian by Christoforo Armeno and published in Venice by Michele Tramezzino in 1557 as Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo, The Three Princes of Sarandib. It relates how an Eastern king tries to improve his three son’s education sending them on a journey where adventures chained their observation skills with some lucky coincidences easing a graceful denouement.

Weligama looms without curiosity to its own sandy bay. Between Matara, the capital district, to the north where the soft beaches of Unawatuna lies. Its name means, more or less, sandy village. The fishing technique of its inhabitants, literally suspended on long poles stuck in the bottom of the harbour calls outsiders attention. The road leading to Colombo's laconically borders the coast profile in front the maritime facade houses.

The pleasant surprise was caused by a tropical storm that relieved the stifling Sinhalese summer. Air cooled and moistened to consciousness, almost willingly, as if drops were built one by one. The coconut trees swaying with the wind carrying raindrops capriciously in different directions. Now inwards, now  towards the beach. Sometimes simultaneously in opposite directions. It seems  people didn’t almost noticed rain. Some unfurled an umbrella, others roamed the bike ride, others sheltered inside a rickshaw. Contrasts on a flat background blurred by the density of the storm. Carefully I placed the camera upon a table sheltered from water, set the exposure, focused and framed. I let pleasant accidents were set in the roll film succeeding one after another. A serendipity morning. 

© J.L.Nicolas