Story behind the Mystery Bar team building event in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Tale of Satyavati and Sir Clarke

Master horticulturist Sir Alfred Clarke was recognized by the government of His Majesty George IV and was awarded a senior position amongst the recruits being sent to the colonies. In 1822, he landed on the golden shores of Ceylon and thus sealed the fate of his life and heart.

Settled in the cool hillside of Ceylon, he studied and mastered the tea trade. During his weekly strolls along the cool hillside, he met Satyavati, the daughter of a local tradesman Murghan, who supplied the estate with its weekly fruit, veg and spices. It was at this point that Sir Clarke’s desires were roused and passion seeped into every crevice of his heart.

One dreary monsoon morning, Satyavati arrived on the estate devastated and drenched. She had walked all night to get there. Sir Clarke hurriedly invited her into the warmth of an empty tea factory. Upon inquiry, he found out that Murghan’s body had been found washed up on the banks of a river near their home. No one knew how.

In the years which followed Satyavati carried out her father’s trade which proved to be immensely difficult. She was not only an unmarried young woman in a man’s world, but also an only child with no other relatives for support. Clarke, unable to hide his affection for her any longer, declares his love to Satyavati. For fear of any repercussions and shunning from her local community she refuses to entertain any such thoughts. She is however unable to deny his continued kindness towards her and eventually, gives in to her heart’s craving for him.

During a secret liaison to his beachside cottage, Satyavati tells Clarke of a recurring dream she is having about her father on the banks of a lake and a dark shadow that follows him. Yet the moment the shadow gets too close, a flock of pink flamingos would fly in and carry him away to safety.

Realising a secret life was the only way he could love Satyavati, Clarke buys a property in the hills of Lindulla overlooking a river. An only child himself, all his belongings and family heirlooms are brought to Lindulla from the Farnham Estate in Buckinghamshire to replicate his lifestyle in England.

He then proceeds to recreate the lake in Satyavati’s dream on this property. A flock of Flamingos are brought from India along with twenty workers who do not speak the local language. This would become their hideaway for the next 22 years.

In 1843, during a trip to England with Satyavati, she becomes violently ill and passes away in his Buckinghamshire home. Sir Clarke returns to Ceylon with a broken heart and spends the next seventeen years in his Lindulla home, in complete isolation.

On the fourth of April 1844, Sir Clarke had a dream. He dreams of Satyavati at the lake with her father surrounded by thousands of Flamingos. He runs to her and when he gets close to her she turns and stretches her arms out to him. He holds her tight and says he will never let her go again. Ever. She looks into his eyes, kisses his head and says “We will meet again. Never forget what I told you”. The very next day, Clarke orders for the name on the gates of the Lindulla estate to change from Fernham Estate to “Flamingo House”.

Sir Clarke passed away in 1861. The flock of Flamingos left the lake never to return again.

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