2.05.2005

There and Back Again
Subha Nidahas Dawese! (Happy Independence Day!)

The price of travel in Sri Lanka: a point-by-point analysis
Trishaw from Dangolla Junction to Peradeniya Road: Rs 40
Local bus to Kandy: Rs 5
Intercity express from Kandy to Colombo: Rs 120
5 mg Valium: Rs 10
Not arriving in a towering irrational bus-induced rage: you get the idea.

Thanks, MasterCard, for having the most plagiarizable advertising ever.

I believe it reflects on my rather [in]tense mental state that the starting/baseline dosage of Valium makes me merely calm, able to tolerate traffic and bad driving, and not dopey or blissful or tired. I would like to attribute current state to recent events, but as I ponder this, I realize, I’m just that kind of person. Intense. Uptight, you might say.

It’s fun to buy things like that over-the-counter. I was just going to get two or four, but come on, for that price, why not a whole boxful? Not like I’m never taking the Kandy-Colombo bus again!

I am proud of myself for having taken a trip to Colombo, returned in just over 24 hours, not been a spaz and not had a psychotic breakdown. I was really concerned that I not have the (recurring) experience of getting there, being overwhelmed and overhot, feeling frustrated, getting sucked into one waste of time or another (a pointless meeting, whatever), not knowing when I was leaving, not having any purpose in the world, being a generally useless human being, being really, really hot, getting a sunburn…

I went initially for Dharmasena’s farewell party (and to do some errands: vide ultra). He’s the now-former driver for the Fulbright Commission, a wicked funny guy and super helpful, leaving for Maryland next week after getting his in-service visa. Guess how long you have to work for the US State Department to get a special visa? Twenty years. I can’t imagine working for twenty years to get a lousy visa. I mean, being the Commission driver is a good job, but still. So, he’s going to move his family there, find some work, try to put his kids through university, and then retire back here. If anyone knows of any work for a sharp, hilarious, smart guy in Maryland/DC, let me know.

Then I put on my snazzy new shirt, in which I feel like a real person because it’s something I’d wear in public at home, and went to the Bistro with Jill and IndiaDave supposedly for dancing but the cigarette smoke gave me all kinds of optical irritation and so (after sri-nachos) we skedaddled out, on the early side. IndiaDave is great; Jill's year on ISLE and of much amusement to Lankans because he has long blond hair and a huge mountainman beard. Everyone stops on the street to look at him; children want to touch the beard. He is distinguished from RotaryScholarDave, who lived across the street from Jill in my future apartment, and MyDave. I mean that in a non-proprietary sense; just that of all the people I know in Sri Lanka, I'm the only one with ties to the Dave in question.

The next morning I was unable to do three of my four desired errands because, duh, it’s Sri Lankan Independence Day! Post office: closed. Shop to buy some stationery items I need: closed. Mercy Corps office where I was to pick up some info about a project I might work on: yup, closed too. I did drop Jeremy’s precious forgotten phone-charger with his landlady, though, and could just feel my halo shining ever more brightly. Somehow ¾ errands un-done didn’t bother me that much, though I had come to Colombo precisely to do them. Maybe it was the previous day’s 5mg.

Jill and I ran into each other near the bus station and lucky for us! Because we had to wait forever for a bus. Not a lot running on Nidahas Dawese. I had a great chat with a trishaw driver about American Independence Day; I told him we have fireworks, barbecue, and beer. And we sing. He said, in Sri Lanka we have political speeches and a march or a parade, but only ‘crazy people’ go to these. I asked him why he was working, given that everything was closed and no one going much of anywhere, and he said, otherwise I’m just sitting at home, it’s boring. I asked, do you eat special foods for the holiday? Or drink arrack? He laughed. We eat rice, he said dryly, and all the liquor stores are closed. So boring.

Yeesh, it’s late.

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