The Galle Face Road is the pride of Colombo. It runs parallel to the ocean and runs down till Galle, at the bottom tip of Sri Lanka. In the capital, it houses some of the most important buildings. Embassies, hotels and government offices are followed by all kinds of shops and malls. Somewhere here is the place called Kollupitiya. Somewhere here lies the anchor to Ashok Ferrey’s 18 short stories in his wonderful book, Colpetty People.
A lot of characters you encounter here have left Sri Lanka for Europe. They have their jobs, small ones generally, and they yearn to come back home. It is however not ever too melancholic thanks to Ferrey’s witty writing. There are people who build their dream homes only to rent it and burn their fingers. There are foreign-returnees who fail to get used to a Sri Lanka that seems so different to the one they left behind. There are travellers on their first flights abroad and there are those who want to take the first flight back home. New homes, old wills, cats, dogs, maids, cooks, tenants, owners, locals, foreigners, god, devotees… they are all here. Then you have Crescat, the housing complex with the food court in Kollupitiya. Slave Island, the place which has Hotel Nippon and the shop selling food opposite it from 7 pm to 3 am. And not to forget bus no. 138, which somehow you find everywhere in Colombo.
Among books that I bought in other countries, about that country, this is the first I’ve ever read fully. It is easy to read and like good short-story collections each one of them makes you want to read the next one. Appropriately, I bought it from a shop called Barefoot, right in Colpetty.
About the author, the book says:
Ashok Ferrey has been many things: Failed builder, indifferent mathematician, barman, personal trainer to the rich and famous amongst other things.
He also writes well.