4.28.2005

Classic
Bus Accident and Postal Muddle

I wasn't on that bus yesterday, I was on another bus on the same road on the same day at a later time in the opposite direction. I suffered through a big traffic jam, sans Valium and iPod, crucial bus accessories which I had stupidly forgotten to remove from my bag before luggage-racking it. I am of course relieved that I wasn't worse affected, though I rarely take that kind of bus (non-A/C), and feel terrible for the families.

More than that, I'm bloody mad at the driver and conductor, of course. Not only did they get a pile of people killed, they add fuel to the fires of this country's bad rep. Without being histrionic, I can say that it squarely supports the Western perspective on the developing world. It's tritely typical: brown people with rickety transport and poor roads, acting macho (read: criminally stupid) over potentially-gainable, yet unimaginably small, sums of money. So sad that those people died, but doesn't it just go to show you how idiotic and subhuman(e) those people are? Everyone knows you don't drive around train crossing barriers!

Eh, I'm just being reactionary. Not like the local papers are better. The AP kindly added this (fascinating) footnote, for the 99% out there who don't know a thing about Sri Lanka: "Sri Lanka, an Indian Ocean island country of 19 million people, has a railroad system established by British colonial rulers in 1865." Thanks for the history lesson!

Otherwise: ha ha, I didn't lose that post about Passover! It was there all along. Lesson learned: read your own blog, occasionally. Am enjoying preparations for our seder, especially since I've received my giant box of kosher good(ie)s from my darling mama/ima/amma. I had to go pick it up from the municipal post office's Foreign Parcels Unit, which is closed practically all the time and charges you for storage if you don't collect your box right away. They also like to charge random "handling fees," ie bribes, for fun, if you don't incur any import taxes. Co-Fulby Lisa got 5 lbs matzo in the mail from her grandmother, and had to argue with the counter peon that she wasn't 'importing crackers' (which would incur levy) but that these were locally unavailable religious items. I just got a lot of flak because the package was in a dog food box and people here can't imagine buying dog food. A guy on the street who clearly couldn't read English asked me if I had a dog in the box.

Also at the post office, I mailed a gift parcel to a friend. I tried to send it 'small parcel' rate, which is ultra-cheap, but the three people working at the counter couldn't decide whether that was legal and so refused to give me that rate. They clearly didn't really know what was what, and kept looking at each other and muttering questions sotto voce after discovering that I speak Sinhala. (Before that they were just talking loud in Sinhala: "what is 'small parcel' rate? I forget" "oh, there's something around here with the rules written on it" etc.) Finally the one woman turns to me and says, as if clarifying something, "small parcel not possible. That means samples."

I asked her what 'samples' are, and she, very helpfully, said, "small bits of things, you know?" Hmm. Then I asked, samples of what? She blinked, thought, looked at me, thought some more, and ventured, "rubber?" I tried to stop myself from laughing. Of course! It's the special international-small-parcel-of-rubber-samples rate. From now on I'm sending my parcels from the Dangolla or Mulgampola sub-post-offices, where they'll give me any rate I like.

9 comments:

LG said...

Hello Rebecca,
I didn't know that you're still in Sri Lanka. You've got a nice blog here and I've been reading it for a while and I didn't know it's you. So, if you are around Colombo on May day please visit the New Town Hall - 3 p.m, there is going to be a May Day meeting held by the Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka. Some of our friend will be there. See you later.

LG said...

Good luck with your new post offices! Heh heh

ester said...

mmm, socialism ... yummier than matzoh.

i'm so glad you weren't on that bus. i almost called you at 4 am your time again just to make sure.

there was a similar accident in japan around the same time. the cause there? the conductor was running 90 seconds late and so sped up to try to make up the difference.

Haakon said...

Nice blog you've got going here. If you don't mind I'll add a link to it on my own.

You definitely have a new reader in me :)

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