German Memories in Asia – A Visit to Indian Ocean’s Kayts Islands

Torsten Kapeller, is a student from Stuttgart, Germany. He traveled in the war-torn North and East of the island on a tsunami-relief mission to provide tsunami warning sirens and telling various stories on his mission.

The tsunami sirens were brought from Germany and could be operated manually to alert the coastal villages up to a few hundreds meters.

Torsten said his mission to North was exhaustive. He visited a beach and was struck by the beauty of its shallow sea-bed. From his description, I guessed it was the “Saddi” beach in the Kayts Islands.

Visiting Kayts Islands from the Jaffna Peninsula, crossing a mile-long narrow way had been a fascinating experience since my school days. We could see the shallow sea on both sides of the way, which is an extension of the Palk Strait connecting the Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.

We could always see in the shallow seas, the sea-gulls, the Brahmin kites and other birds of different varieties busily fishing all the time. Some of the large Brahmin-kites used to rest on the top of fixed fishing nets everywhere in the sea. It was fascinating to see their take off from the nets and I was surprised in my early school days how large birds like them could uplift their bodies using their wings.

When Torsten was sharing his experience about his travel to Kayts, my thoughts went back to the Dutch Sea Fort, which was built by the Portuguese and then reconstructed by the Dutch in the sea off Kayts Islands.

The Portuguese not only constructed Forts in the island but also in other parts of Asia.

The Portuguese, Dutch, English, Danish, French even German and other European cultures and architecture heavily influenced Asian art, culture and architecture and my maternal ancestors’ house in Kayts resembled that of a small Dutch Fort with inside gardens and large rectangular verandahs and corridors, which made me to wonder about the different types of architecture.

Torsten was telling about the soothing climate of the Peninsula. As the Jaffna Peninsula sets a breeze from the Bay of Bengal and Indian sub-continent by its close proximity, there is an effect on the humidity, the climate and even on the monsoon system.

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