Awesome Colombo Hangouts: There Aren’t Any

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Firstly, it’s been 20 days since I wrote a blog post and I apologize for my insolent negligence and lack of consideration for my devoted readers. I can only imagine how you suffered without having makuluwo-esque accounts of inane mentally deranged thoughts to keep you entertained.

I’m experiencing some semblance of artist’s block these days – where I start writing, painting or working, and then get really bored half way through and throw it away. My mother uses the phrase being a bum but I think artist’s block sounds way cooler. It doesn’t help that my new workplace tolerates this attitude, by letting me hang out on the rooftop eating pudding most of the day, blow bubbles within office premises, and just work two days a week. Albeit I’m definitely not complaining.

Oh and happy new year or whatever.
2010 was lame, I’m not even going to acknowledge its existence by talking about it.

Anyway. Today’s awesome post is about how hard it is to find a good place in Colombo to hang out at and kill time and how it makes me want to murder a carebear with a machete. Ok maybe I’m just using it as an excuse to get away with killing a carebear but still.

Coffee shops are boring. Although the most popular hangouts these days. Barista, Coffee Bean, Coffee Stop, Coco Veranda – whatever; they’re all the same. Sure, Coco Veranda has tasty chocolate cake, and one of those other coffee shop clones maybe has some delicious pudding or a big cup of awesome chocolateshake. But 1. everything’s ridiculously overpriced, 350 bucks for a slice of cake? Please. 2. The atmosphere is so… dull. So 18th century british, to put it racistly. Same style sofas and straight back chairs in all of them, with Colombo 7 ladies sipping on cappuccino that costs five times the worth of its taste, which is akin to coffee beans floating around in hot water.

Budz closed down. It was a relatively little known place down the lane next to the petrol station near Odel. It was awesome at one point – Bob Marley’s face painted on the wall outside next to a reflective pool, large posters of Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson in the veranda, reflective pools inside with paintings on the walls, collector’s item photoframes of the most famous celebrities in history on red walls upstairs (from Gandi to David Bowie to Mohamed Ali), one room for books and board games, another for bean bags, hand carved ashtrays and tatami mat curtains, and one large one for musical instruments (from the guitar to the tabla). Then taxes went up, the air conditioning died, the photoframes got stolen, the instruments got broken – they ran at a loss, and bam.

MC is full of leery pervs. Majestic City used to be a really fun place to hang out, being the most popular mall (or only real one, I think) in Colombo. I don’t know how exactly it happened, but it has now become the abode of MC Dudes. You know, the ones lined up on the supports at the edge of each floor all freaking day like it’s their occupation, they travel in packs, and look like they get their grooming tips from 90s Backstreet Boys music videos, with turned up collars, too much gel in their hair, boxers audaciously peeking out over ass-pants. Oh and their idea of a pick-up line is ‘hai sweetie!’ Still I’d say the food court has good food, and the shops have good stuff, and whoever’s controlling the music is playing some relatively good music these days. Too bad you can’t walk around for too long without the violent urge to give an MC Dude a belt for his pants.

Liberty Plaza and Unity Plaza aren’t really even plazas. Does anybody go there today? I actually asked my dad today if Unity Plaza exists anymore.

Crescat and Cinnamon Grand are just places you go to, to do nothing in particular. You literally just hang out. The Cinnamon Grand lobby has some nice spaces to wander around, but there’s nothing to do and Coffee Stop is rather bland. You need 10,000 bucks in your wallet to go proper-shopping at Crescat, so more wandering around there, before descending into the food court, which has nothing great to eat, besides maybe a Stardogs hotdog or some pudding at Cravings. Odel is just as fruitful.

Exclusive society gatherings make me nauseous. Poetry readings. Jazz Sunday. Simplicity. Forgettable bands mimicking popular ‘alternative’ American ones at the Park Street Mews. They are the things that the same social crowd gather for, in their skinny Levis, Beiber hair, and elocution english accents. They meet to socialize, and there’s not much entertainment you can get out of the event, unless you are a 15 year old from an international school.

I’m re visiting some old joints now, the ones that have been discarded as goday and kakki-like after their reign in the 90s. Millenium Park, Vihara Mahadevi Park, Sathutu Uyana, Independence Square. I can already hear my kopi kade friends rolling their eyes and calling me an unrefined godaya. Yes I can hear the rolling of eyes. Mad skills, I know.

First of all, when Millenium Park became Excel World, it somehow dispelled some of the safe family crowd, and some of the MC Dudes relocated themselves to Excel World. But still, it’s one place in Colombo that has a food court, bowling, gaming at Ground Zero, pool tables and dodgem cars. Activities. Oh joy.

The main issue that people have with Vihara Mahadevi Park is that couples go there to canoodle under the trees, and drunks pee on them too (on the trees, not on the couples.. as far as I know) before passing out on the green, you’ll find some MC Dudes again, and it has formed a bit of a notorious reputation as a goday joint. But go there with some friends on a weekday afternoon, when there’s hardly anyone there, and you’ll notice the place is really peaceful – it’s got gorgeous towering trees, pretty flowers, a stretch of well cut clean grass, and of course, ponies.

Outside the park is that line of amazing paintings by artists who are so under-appreciated by the masses- their collective work, sometimes sold for as little as 500 a piece, is usually way better than any of the 10,000 rupee canvases sold at an exhibit at the National Art Gallery opposite. Next to it is Sathutu Uyana – and most of my friends hate me for liking the place – and I told them once and I shall tell them again, stfu. Sure, it too has a reputation for being goday, because the usual crowd there are the lower middle class and annoying children and parents with toddlers dressed like douchebags in their arms (giant bows on their heads, wtf) who cut you off in the queue to the ride with the spinning cups. But hey, there’s candy floss, there’s dodgem cars, there’s that thing that carries you in the air kinda fast, and there’s this hilariously awkward and random train ride that just feels like you’re in a tuk-tuk on a bumpy bylane. How can you not get a lol out of the experience.

Independence Square has no food or anything around, but it’s a beautiful place to hang out. It’s very quiet once you climb into the pavilion and oddly breezy even on the hottest day, and it’s a nice place to sit and stare out and think deep thoughts. Or strike a nonchalant pose when the tourists come to take pictures of the locals.

The Saivar-ish kades like Raheems near Odel, Pilawoos and Burger King, are definitely spots for great food that’s damn affordable, but alas, they aren’t very hang-out friendly unless for a short guys-out lunch break or something (female population after 4pm- zero; female to male ratio in general- 1:10).

But I found this awesome little underrated place in Bamba – delicious juices and juiceshakes from rambuttan to nelli to mangosteen, to the most unheard of  things, at just about 70 bucks a big yummy satisfying cup. I shall not tell you what the place is, because it’s so little known, and we all know what happens to great places that get good publicity – the prices go up, and they put more water and less fruit in the juice cups.

I might be more willing to speak for the price of a cupcake though.

So in a nutshell, Colombo needs to 1. put up a new mall FFS 2. come up with a hangout that has stuff to do/eat that’s actually affordable for the average Colomboan and still retains a nice decent atmosphere (imagine if Excel World and Cinnamon Grand had a baby) 3. find a way to successfully exterminate the MC Dudes who keep cramping everyone’s style with their suffocating godayness… perhaps lure them all into the food court with a moving trolley of hair products, lock the doors, and gas them. Or just pull a pied-piper and dump them all in a far away land i.e. Battaramulla.

Any hangouts here that I’m missing out on, guys?

  1. She Who Eats Cookies says:

    DUN INSULT MEH. I’m a 16 year old from an international school and I bloody hate Jazz Sundays.

    Also- damn straight man, the lack of hangouts due to the spread of godaytiousness is such a poo.
    Instead of fussing about the length of girl’s skirts and going commando under sarongs, they should worry about this instead. For shame.

  2. Chavie says:



    Also, Unity Plaza never was *that* kinda plaza. It’s nerd heaven, where we go to get all our computer parts and other nerdy accessories. 🙂

    • makuluwo says:

      I totally forgot to mention Galle Face, thanks! 😛 Yez, methinks it’s in the same league as Vihara Mahadevi, fun times but a tad dodgy.

  3. Lasith says:

    This is why you should come for one of our gigs moda sena

  4. මෝඩයා says:

    Glad someone talked truthfully about that damn coffee joint

  5. isura says:

    Spot on !
    Damn honesty, and loves the writing style.

    You have missed out on “House of Fashion”. I see many people now hanging out on steps beside the entrance. And they do not have fit-on rooms. Very entertaining sight to see folks (men & women alike)try them on public. Foreigners and wanna be Sri Lankan migrants rush to winter clothes like it’s the opening day of ‘iPAD’ !
    Really love the place. May be you can insert this place too, to your ramblings.

  6. Azrael says:

    Yeah, so many places to go get drunk, but so little places to hang out sober. Says a lot doesn’t it? 😛

    As a bookworm, i like hanging around the BC, and sometime even at bookshops. But not good when you want to hang out with friends. We usually got to Excel world, at least they have some activities, but it gets boring pretty soon, and it’s too crowded. I wish they would expand the place, maybe add some more activities. Carnival games would be cool.

  7. hijinx says:

    Well said, spidey… u didn’t mention failday, and the fact that we saw Himal and his girlfriend at the juice place we went to? =D No, I’m totally not stirring anything up.

  8. Yasmin says:

    Nice blog post, love your style, and true what you say. I have huge issues with your definition of ‘godayness’ though. Lower middle class people are goday and write-off’s are they? How sad that you subscribe to this snobbish notion. I thought someone who writes so well would realize that this construct of ‘godayness’ is not only narrow minded but down right wrong.

    • makuluwo says:

      Thanks, and relax man, if I ‘subscribed to this snobbish notion’ in all seriousness I wouldn’t have exactly shown so much loathing to the high end coffee shops now would I have? It’s called satire. 😛 The only people I consider goday are the leery pervs!

  9. Gehan says:

    i spose this is the part where someone says something cliche like “it’s now where you hang out but who with..”

    and i’d have to partially agree with that.. i love just mindlessly ‘hanging around’, unlike some people who need to be actively doing something for them to not get annoyed, but colombo is 56million times better for ‘hanging out’ than Kandy so honestly, i identify with absolutely nothing in this post 😀

    yall should come to kandy for a week, i guarantee u’ll be lounging around MC for hours without a care in the world..

  10. dramaqueen says:

    Here. Cow.
    My job offer still stands, ah. Call me.

  11. Santhoshi says:

    You are so right about the lack of places to go to!
    Where is this juice place>>>> hemmm

  12. dee says:

    You know what! one old school friends…we just hung out at viharamaha rocked! Just laughing and being loud! and playing charades 😀 its so green and treeish…albeit the occasional wierdo who stares BUT good!

  13. Jack Point says:

    Well, you could hang out at Odel, Ward Place, its about the only thing you can do there given the prices but not a bad place while away the time.

    More eating than hang out, but you can try these once in a away:

    The Galle Face Hotel Verandah has a super tea buffet between 4-6pm on weekdays (used to be about 700) or simply order a pot of tea (used to be about 350, enough for 2) and sit on the lawn or verandah. The only problem is parking so don’t even think of driving there in the month of December or when ‘wedding season’ is on. If you can slope off from work at 3 on a Friday, this offers the perfect escape.

    The Mount Lavinia Terrace has a similar atmosphere in the evenings.

  14. Yeah Galleface is good. I went there twice in Dec’10

  15. Ahamed Nizar says:

    Well I like Cinnamon Grand mainly cause of Taprobane and Breeze Bar. Taprobane is open 24/7 and serves affordable food for the service and atmosphere. Its a better joint to go and eat than Pilawoos at 3 in the morning if you have a girl and want to get out of the car.
    Breeze bar is pure sexy. They have an awesome band, the drinks are a bit pricey but it serves the purpose with the atmosphere.

    Anyway if anything is too cheap it attracts the wrong crowd.

    And the thing about Coffee houses is that they used imported coffee which is costly. Not many people know about it but there is a niche crowd that goes for the taste. I’m a regular at Coco Veranda and I go there mainly for the atmosphere and that I can get a good hour of undisturbed conversation done. Its not good to go to Coffee houses with a crowd.
    High Tea at both Galle Face and Lakeside are fantastic good spread and value for money.

    In the end it all depends on what you want to do. Also you let out places like Buba, Station, Mount Beach.

  16. ysoglum says:

    Agree with you on independance square, awesome place to just ‘be’

  17. Pavithraa says:

    Colombo doesn’t have Nice places hang out 😦 All Buildings and vehicles , if not artificial places….

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