#5 Tales from Serendib: Gossip will not cook rice.

In a (perhaps) a somewhat stretched connection, last night I enjoyed a fascinating talk by Cyrus Todiwala, one half of the ‘Incredible Spiceman’ duo on a tour of his new book ‘Mr Todiwala’s Bombay’ (highly recommended!). His description of the bustling markets he visited as a boy, making commission on grocery trips he conducted for his neighbours and watching his father haggle with fisherwomen over the freshness of the catch, has had me daydreaming about Sri Lanka and life in the fishing village of Unawatuna. I have been unashamedly repackaging a journal series I wrote during my time there and this is #5…

The week started quiet enough, working in the office re-writing a teacher training handbook.  The Sri Lankan schools started back for lessons this week after the month-long summer vacation, I was able to accompany Dulani – a Field Officer, on her a couple of her school visits last Wednesday. It was great to finally see some of the staff and students which I had been preparing guides for the last month.

Schools tend to be brightly painted, adorned with such slogans as ‘gossip will not cook rice’ and pupils dress all in white with matching sneakers. The girls traditionally where red ribbons in plaits due to the Sri Lankan fashion of really really long hair and boys blue shorts; they look quite a picture. I visited some more rural schools, who tend not to receive so many white visitors and I proved to be (as always) quite an attraction. I will end up with quite an ego by the time I return to the UK at this rate.

Socially, things began picking up towards Thursday. My yoga teacher Anna, previously a lawyer in Hong Kong, was leaving for Colombo. Harrison and I sent her on her way after a farewell dinner at India Hut. (A take-off of Pizza Hut, definitely crossing some kind of copyright law there, but they do the best naan and freshly squeezed mango juice in the town!)

Saturday, as a dedicated tea-lover I visited a white tea plantation. The tea-guide, became rather overly excited about the prospect of guiding round a British person, something Gino found hilarious (yes, he came to!).

For me the highlight was seeing the machinery they use to process the tea – equipment imported from the British Isles at the beginning of the Ceylonic-age, making them over 100 years old and still in perfect working order. “Good British Quality!!!” as the guide stated!

Laden with boxes of tea, (goodness knows how I will transport it all back, I’m hoping I won’t have to declare it through customs) we managed to get stuck in a ridiculously long traffic jam and I received Gino’s life story. Partly my own fault, for being far too curious – but suffice to say it is almost worth adding an supplement to this email! It  ranges from a shaky Dutch divorce, army desertion, bongo playing to growing Ganja.

To celebrate the end of Ramadan, Kingfishers through a large beach party Saturday night complete with drum playing – another night where we ended up getting home so late it was early!  Sunday, Harrison and I managed to drag our tired and  hungover-selves to the rather well-to-do Jazz Brunch at the Sun House for the best breakfast in 4 weeks. They had bacon! Real crispy bacon!

Anyway, I will sign off here with just a hint of next weeks adventures – supposedly, Harrison and myself will be spending the weekend in Ella, the heart of the tea country, backpacker-style. It means catching a bus at 4am – no Happy Banana next Friday!

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1 Comment

  1. researchinthenews
    February 6, 2014 / 5:28 pm

    All sounds very interesting and exotic!

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