wheels on the bus
and, appropriately, meeting my once and future fellow Americans
Having left Jaffna at 8am yesterday, we arrived back in Kandy at approximately 8pm. It’s about 350km, for an average speed of under 30kmph. I can probably bike that fast. (Not for 12 hours straight, it’s true.) We switched buses in Vavuniya, which is less than halfway, at 3pm, and waited half an hour to depart there. This means that we spent roughly 8 hours getting out of the Peninsula and across the Vanni. More than half that time was waiting at checkpoints—for the searches to be done, for the passports to be returned, for what? We didn’t know. There was insufficient A/C and the Vavu-Kandy bus was open windows (nice breezes and views but boy was I filthy).
So, was kind of wired-tired last night. Tod had come into town for the Tulane orientation and after I had lavishly bathed and fed myself (toasted Granny Swiss applecheese with copious mustard) we stayed up a while having one of our usual rambling semisnarky philosophical conversations about Love. He mocks my various idealisms and devotions and yet he’s a more unredeemable romantic than I. Someone should find that man a good-hearted woman. I have him to thank for a good-hearted man.
Pages and pages to write about Jaffna. So glad I went. It’s possible, clearly, to have been here a long long time and not comprehended the conflict as I am now [more] able to do. Instead of writing that, however, I wrote dam safety comments and references. Ah, my little illicit side project. Today there was more of that, and also extreme culture shock at the Tulane meeting. I had quite forgotten what Americans are like.
Which is not to say that I disliked it/them. A small glimpse of what cultural incomprehension awaits when I eventually go back to the States. They were loud, friendly; mostly big, white, and homely (sorry); sarcastic and unguarded. They were obvious in their preferences and disdains. They were, despite being all grown-up law and med and Master’s and PhD. students, obviously cliqueish. On the other hand they were enthusiastically scarfing down the kiribath at tea, and making friends with the fabulous ICES staff. Hella funny compared to any similar gathering of academic Lankans.
Last night Kandy felt like a first-world country. At least, there were no pillbox bunkers on the corners, bristling with machine guns and bored soldiers. Have to fully digest the trip, get a good night’s sleep, and submit more dam[n] work. Then, something will get said about Jaffna.