Swiss smile in Jaffna

Situated on the Urelu Road, almost equidistant between the Palaly Airport and the Jaffna Town is "Anouk Swiss Chalet", a discreet and charming guesthouse, managed and operated by Anula Radalage Meier, an enterprising woman from the south.

It gets its name from Anula and her sister Janaki (Anou-K), and Anula's former marriage to a Swiss doctor. The Swiss flag in fact modestly flies at full mast at the entrance to the property, giving no inkling of the warm hospitality inside.

Popular with almost all expatriates visiting the Jaffna peninsula, Anouk Swiss Chalet is a comfortable and spacious old Jaffna house whose four large rooms have been air-conditioned and furnished with a minimum of clutter.

The walls are white, stark and bare, as are the central dining area and 'meda midula', leaving ample space for sunbathing in the hot Jaffna sun, or simply lazing around to the rich strains of classical music from the Masters.

At Anouk Swiss Chalet architect Jivaka de Soysa has brought in the concept of attached toilets open to the sky, and, with hot and cold water. Anula says that many of her foreign guests "indulge in an invigorating shower under the Margosa tree at dusk". This followed by a barbeque in the "meda midula" under the stars "completes the experience".

Breakfasts are generally a selection of both Continental and Sri Lankan dishes, while delicious traditional Jaffna specialities are home made, and take pride of place. Dinners are usually relaxed barbeques in the 'meda midula', where guests are welcome to tend and fan the embers while the "catch of the day" gets done to their liking. Chilled salads, grilled jumbo prawns and buttered potatoes piping hot off the fire, with warm garlic toast are a popular and standard order here.

Anula gets her seafood, fruits and vegetables all fresh from her chosen and favourite vendors at the old market in the Jaffna town.

"I tend to avoid meats", she said. Her two-acre garden also yields a variety of bananas and different fruits for dessert.

Living in Jaffna since August last year, Anula speaks fluent Tamil and German, and understandable French, in addition to English and Sinhala


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