Our Sri Lankan narrator visits his friend Joe in Italy where Joe attends a course in higher (or, shall we say, lower) studies in women. But Italians-much like today's residents of Colombo-live at home till marriage, death, and sometimes even beyond. A hen and chicken affair of fake fiancés and phony engagements ensues. Long years and many miles away, Colombo's Father Cruz attempts to rescue a church from parishioners who like to put their donations where others can see them-with plaques to announce their charity. On the coast, a retired Admiral escapes the tsunami on an antique Dutch cabinet. A broken mother-with neither Dutch cabinet nor navy helicopter to rescue her-feels her son slip away, and watches him go giving her looks of mild reproach. Two childhood sweethearts, in time-honoured Sri Lankan tradition, are married off to strangers. Nineteen years of clandestine meetings culminate in another chance of marriage. Perhaps time does separate. Ashok Ferrey writes about Sri Lanka and its people, wherever they roam. He writes of the Sri Lankan diaspora, who seem not to notice that their country has changed in their absence. He writes of the West's effect on Sri Lankans, of its 'turning them into caricatures, unmistakably genuine but not at all the real thing'. As you laugh, you are left with nostalgia for a bygone Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans who might have been.