Learning the language…shit happens!

April 8, 2008 at 6:52 am | Posted in Food, Friends, Health, Life, Love, Travel | 1 Comment
Tags: ,


 Aaiboowan =  a formal greeting, wishing you a long life… yes  language lessons have started and don’t I know it, my pronunciation has every one in stitches, must be me Yorkshire accent! The problem is the Sri Lankans (SL) like to keep their communication short and simple …difficult for someone like me who enjoys a good old ramble around the houses. It is a functional based language unlike English which is tence based.It can sound very directive or rude, however tone and non verbal’s soften the effect, so with  head on one side, a smile and a wave of me hands I can manage to get through and have successfully bartered the price down with the tri shaw drivers.

The trainers are very experienced so we also are learning about the culture and the practicalities of day today living, sessions are often held in the garden of the VSO offices makes a change from the air conditioned room. This week we are going to go to the markets to identify fruit and veg, to the train and bus stations also visiting the areas we will be living. Saying that we( Lynn and Sarah 2) were out again on Saturday buying safety pins like you do, we ended up counting from one to ten with the shop keeper who giggled at our efforts but like any country you visit if you make an effort the Sri Lankans appreciate it and help you out which is great otherwise I could have ended up with 7 pairs of flip flops!

Other elements of the training have focussed on Sri Lankan history, working in development, political situation, safety and security issues.

Lynn and I left the city yesterday and ventured to Pinnewala to the elephant orphanage. The journey took about 2 ½ hours on the A1 towards Kandy in the hill country. I was amazed at the number of people up and about at just gone 5.30 on a Sunday morning. During the language session today  re time of the day it explained that the SL’s we saw are early risers as their day is different to UK-


Morning= udee 3am on wards

 Lunch time = dawal 12-2pm

Evening = hawasa 2-6pm

raeae= after dark 6pm on wards when dark

This is very relevant from a work perspective, when arranging meetings you have to be time specific, they have no teatime /evening, tea time means a drink of tea at about 3pm… ooh soooo much to remember my brain aches!

Back to the elephants, the were amazing to watch – saw a baby one born on new years eve so cute, and then crossing the road to the river to bathe. It was saddening to hear the stories behind them being there, land minds causing blindness and loss of limbs. They did seem to be well cared for with room to roam. One of the most novel wildlife initiatives in SL in recent years has been the invention of pachyderm paper:  paper made from elephant dung. The dung is dried in the sun and boiled; the pulp is then used to make high quality stationary with an artistically textured finish. The texture and colour varies according to the diet. More than just a novelty stationary item, pachyderm paper could prove an important source of income for the locals- and thus help in conservation measures. By the way important customers to date have included the Colombo Hilton, Sri Lankan Airlines, and the Bank of Ceylon, have a look at www.paperhigh.com if you want to but some.

On route we passed thro Colombo suburbs and then the villages towards the countryside,  taking in the sights of roadside stalls stacked high with annaasi (pineapples), hand made cane work and local vegetables. The roads are in need of repair (there is talk of major road  and waterways developments)hence the time to travel just over 70km.I was pleased to be in the lush country side after a week or so of urban living, as was Lynn  who will be living in Hambantota ( in the south )which is the dry zone

On return the weather changed and the heaven opened. Our land lady explained to us that we are currently experiencing some severe weather at the moment very hot days in the 30’s with rain daily and fierce storms most evenings.  She even took the time to ensure we read an article in the paper about safety   during storms, like turn off electrical appliances… the cynics among us thought she may have just wanted to save her on her lecky bill! (Reminded me of being a kid during storms all the lights off no TV…) When it rains you know about it, un- like Peter Kaye it’s that heavy rain that does SOAK you thro!


1 Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Wow, fascinating stuff, particularly about the paper manufacture. A whole new approach to scented paper!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: