A love for stuffy old buildings


Old buildings just get me. I don’t care if they are dusty or creaky or ugly or old – I love them with a passion. There is also a penchant to stand in them with my eyes squeezed shut trying to recall my past lives. There should be at least one in which I was the Dowager Countess of Grantham, I swear.

Downton Abbey quote - Violet Crawley

Telephones are the pits

I should point out though, that I would not actually want to live in one of these great hulking beasts today unless I had an army of maids and butlers. As a personal preference, I like to inhabit solidly air-conditioned (fuck the goddamn tropics), minimalist spaces with little to no furniture (when can we have self cleaning apartments again?) but this isn’t about my hangups, this was supposed to be about stamps. Specifically, these beauties.

Colonial Buildings of Sri Lanka

Colonial Buildings of Sri Lanka

Oh yes. I bought this set at last year’s stamp exhibition and have gazed at them adoringly at least once a month since. The first sheet includes The Municipal Council and Old Parliament whilst the second depicts Galle Face Hotel and the National Museum. Since there is little point in spouting boring details about when they were built etc etc (go and Google it your fucking self you lazy bum) I will now attempt to relate a personal story about each of these iconic buildings.

The Municipal Council and The National Museum

When I was twelve or so, a school outing of some kind meant that I was supposed to meet the rest of my class in front of the Municipal Council on a Saturday morning. My father put me on the correct bus and said “get down at the big white building”. What the idiot didn’t realise was that the National Museum comes before the Municipal Council on that particular bus route. Poor me got down at the Museum (“big white building”) and wandered about completely confused for over 20 minutes (the ginormous whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling should have clued me in but then, I was a rather slow child). Eventually, I had the good sense to speak to an adult and ended up in the right place so no drama except for getting most unfairly laughed at. Suffice to say this was an important day in my otherwise pointless existence where I learned to tell the difference between the Municipal Council and the National Museum. Yay me.

Observe the dome

Observe the dome

Now observe the lack of dome

Now observe the lack of dome

The Old Parliament

The Parliament story is not technically mine but courtesy my uncle. Poor bloke was entertaining some Chinese business visitors at the Galadari Hotel (situated opposite the Old Parliament) when they spotted the building and got very excited. Gesticulating wildly they had whipped out some fancy looking photographic equipment and starting snapping pictures in typical single minded tourist fashion. What they didn’t know was that a) Colombo was on high alert due to to terrorist/bomb threats at the time and b) the army sniper on the parliament roof had them in his sights. Within minutes, special forces crashed into the hotel room and all hell broke loose. My lesson from that episode was to look all four ways at least TWICE and assess the crazy before snapping pictures of old buildings. Fortunately, the situation in the country has changed a lot since then and I dare say one can now take as many sodding pictures as one likes. Try it and let me know.

Now safe for selfies - I think

Now safe for selfies – I think

Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face Hotel is where I got married. Whilst I tend to veer towards practicality with regard to weddings and was horrified at the obscene amount of money our parents spent on the whole thing, I am also very glad we had it here. The wooden floors, archways and high ceilings were a dream and I could completely ignore the fact that we were next to the sea (have I mentioned how much I loathe the beach?). Best memory of the night was being blindingly drunk, sitting on the floor in my elaborate wedding saree (trust me that contraption is no fun) and grinning ridiculously at everybody. Top of the world yo.


Maybe some day I can buy this joint

And that is my take on the Old Colonial Buildings stamp set. May the Philatelic Bureau of Sri Lanka have the good sense to produce more of these classy philatelic goodies in the years to come.

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