Where the Wild Men Drink

Open a door to any local bar in Sri Lanka and you will see men drinking. Alone or in pairs, they stare deeply into their pint or bottle of arrak. The bars may not be the nicest, or even very clean, but in a small town like Kandy or Polonnaruwa where there’s nothing else to do, a cold beer on a hot afternoon is a good way to while away the boredom.

You sit down to nods and smiles. A lady is always welcome. Just as you start relaxing, you hear murmurs. Loud voices. You look around to see where the noise is coming from, but none of the men around you is speaking. Then you realize: the sounds are coming from downstairs.

Almost every bar has one – a tori-tori. It’s where the poorest, most alcoholic brothers get together to satisfy their thirst. Drinking god-knows-what from large plastic jugs, they sit on hard chairs, in row after row, gulping their pain away. And it’s not just any kind of plastic jug, it’s one of those big colored ones used for milk, or perhaps to measure flour. Is it because they might break a glass? Or just because no glass is big enough to hold what they are drinking?

Some tori-tori’s are slightly better. Instead of in the basement, the wild men are shown to the back room, away from the public eye. There they order quarter-full bottles or half-full bottles of cheap arrak, which they finish in minutes before getting on their motorbikes and speeding away.

The men in the front room laugh and shake their heads. As if saying; “I’m not there yet. I can still control my drinking.”

And still, they finish their large glasses of liquor in seconds. No, they’re not ready for the tori-tori.


Not yet.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. robynblue
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 14:19:38

    I love your blog! I nominated you for a Liebster award, you can get details on my page!


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