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Arrival

October 19, 2012

Arrival.  No Beach-style madmen or ceiling fans a la Apocalypse now, but some amusing moments, more Richard Curtis than Joseph Conrad….

I was pretty shocked on arrival at the college from Colombo airport – from interrogating Google Earth I’d expected pristine tiled buildings poking up from dusty waste ground, something like a hot and dusty Birmingham University with red poofs of dry dirt. Not a bit of it; this is a lush tropical rainforest with simple buildings hugging the hillside, all on a very small site with just one classroom block.  Chipmunks bounce across tree branches and a stoat raced across the path this morning during my campus circuit that took about fifteen mins, even with a slightly desperate attempt to run one hill twice to keep my blood from coagulating to a Sri Lankan slow.

In keeeping with the rest of the place my own apartment is very simple: a kitchen and living space and a large study bedroom and bathroom at the back.  I should charge entry: ant feeding in the kitchen: 9am; mice acrobatics in the fridge: 2pm; cockroach training in the kitchen: midnight…  Still, I now have snake-proofing made of newspaper, and a coffee table from a wastepaper basket and a shelf, a veritable Habitat of design!

The housekeeper Chandra was in the apartment to meet me.  Her first question: What’s your name? second: are you married?  Her face fell when I said no, as if I’d said admitted to administering him a painful death at my hands.  Sympathetically, she asked about any parents and seemed relieved at my answer, and even more cheered to hear I have a sister and a boyfriend.  Quite odd, these wandering westerners.

I’ve also had my Vicar of Dibley moment –  two breakfasts, two lunches, to keep my new hosts happy on our way to the college from Colombo airport.  The fish curry was particularly tasty and when I asked the bursar Clinton for advice on how to order this in Sinhala for next time, notepad in hand, he said with a straight face “Fried rice, R-I-C-E”.  Think I can manage that.

Arrival is a funny thing – it lasts longer, the bigger the culture shock.  I can arrive at my house and be there instantly; this far-away arrival has taken about four days, but I think I’m here now.

Here’s to Sri Lanka!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick Havard permalink
    October 19, 2012 11:06 am

    You’re in Sri Lanka! How exciting! I’m looking at jobs at the moment and Sri Lanka is on the list so I will be following your e-missives with avid interest. More please.

  2. Jane permalink
    October 19, 2012 11:30 am

    Laughed very hard when I got to the penultimate paragraph 🙂

  3. liz permalink
    October 19, 2012 1:27 pm

    We suggest for your next career move – maybe a small animal/insect circus? Watch this space!!!

  4. Rachel Williams permalink
    October 19, 2012 4:41 pm

    Your blog made me giggle out loud (gol) – sounds like you have landed on your feet! If you want to keep food and ants separate, surround the food with water. I don’t think ants swim.

    • October 22, 2012 3:21 am

      unfortunately they can and do, I have seen it with my own eyes. They’re not so keen about swimming through dettol though, ha! x

  5. October 19, 2012 5:09 pm

    Ha ha, love the animal training camp! Can we see some pics of the lush vegetation and the cute chipmunks, pretty purlease 🙂 xxx

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