As expected, I learned a very great deal from my field visit, in addition to enjoying it. The peninsula is generally drier than Colombo, and that makes it feel a bit cooler even if the air temp is not any cooler. Moreover, the air anywhere on this island is likely cleaner and less cough-inducing than the smog-ridden soup of Colombo. But the visit yielded more than just personal comfort and enjoyment. I’ve heard many say that the Jaffna Peninsula is effectively under a military occupation – an idea I appreciated abstractly, but which took concrete meaning for me when I visited. The security in Colombo is tighter than any place I’ve ever lived before: presence of soldiers at street corners, sandbagged bunkers in many strategic locations, pat-down searches and metal detectors to get into many public buildings and almost all government offices, etc. Jaffna takes it to new levels: every 250 meters or so on the road, you hit a new roadblock and checkpoint. Every 100 meters along the coastline, there’s another bunker with soldiers looking out in four directions.

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