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Tea Leaves

Sri Lanka's cautionary tale of pandemics and sorcery

When the state buys into local superstitions and homemade potions, it makes for an unhappy ending

Portugal's colonial involvement in Sri Lanka ended in 1658, but the colonists left behind a vocabulary that is still audible in the "baila" that reverberate across the South Asian island. The word, derived from "bailar," the Portuguese for "dance," refers to the catchy tunes that get Sri Lankans dancing at festive occasions such as wedding parties and cricket matches.

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