Another week goes by …Barbie moves to the jungle

April 15, 2008 at 10:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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 Tuesday 15/04/08.

I must be enjoying myself as time is certainly flying by. Having survived the lightening storms (which seemed to have eased now) and another week of language training I am typing this from my new abode …the pink house! –  More of that later.

Last week saw Lynn Riza and Sarah 2(now called podi Sarah- small Sarah) venture to Raheems the tailor (he was recommended by another volunteer) where you can imagine much hilarity ensued as we chose fabrics looked at patterns complimented each other or not on choices, being measured and having to do our own in side leg as we were all wearing skirts!!! (Oh suits you sir!) Raheem assumed I was mother of the brood! I did correct him, he said that due to my hair colour people would assume I was the eldest (which is true)or mother ,he did redeem him self by saying  “ I had youth in my heart”…ahh flattery left him with a orders from all of us for trousers  (shalwar) and long shirt tops (kameez) should be ready for collection this week.

Tuesday was fun our first bus trip and as the rough guide informed me, regular use of this form of transportation is to taken you can forget your gym membership … standing on a crowded bus you use muscle s you never knew you had, even seated  as the seats are narrow. We explored the areas where Podi Sarah and Jesse will be living and working. Practised our language (sinhala chuTTak pulawan = I speak a tiny bit of Sinhala) to purchase limes –(for the Vodka) and a cooking spoon for James birthday on Wednesday. I also did my first text in sinalen to the language tutor Ianthe.

Wednesday saw us all dressed in our work attire (not casual wear), as we would be meeting representatives from our organisations, they were attending a briefing session to prepare for having a volunteer. I found this quite daunting as the 2 nurses’ who attended from Mulleriyawa (pronounced mull- aarea –waa) had as much English as I Sinhala!!! Instant thoughts of how the ???? am I going to do this, so smiling a lot and giving it my best shot we were able to make some small talk. After lunch I was introduced to a senior social worker very proactive in discharge at Angoda (the main hospital) who is fluent in English. She has worked with VSO vols before was very kind and I felt adopted by her, I have arranged to meet her on Wed 16th when I start.

Lynn had met with her partners and over a quick drink before dining out for James birthday, realised she had felt the same. We rationalised our anxieties, reassured each other about skills and abilities and agreed to stop fretting as we headed of to the Cinnamon Grand ( described as Colombo’s most appealing luxury option. Well it was a special occasion James was 31,we headed for the Cheers bar for a beer and English fodder – I had fish and chips it was delicious! James wanted to dance so we retired to the lounge bar to be entertained by Aubrey and his band Heat, entertained by his very poor James Brown and Shaggy impressions. James got to dance; we laughed a lot just what the doctor ordered!

Thursday was the VSO Project Launch- Supporting and Developing Rights Based Mental Health Services in Sri Lanka. Here I met Dr Jayan Mendis Director of Mental health services Angoda, he is the driving force behind the developments and changes in Mental health. He was keen to meet me and was very kind in his welcome  – the New Year would have dawned when I started he felt this was a good sign…  how much more reassurance do I need! Once the pleasantries were over and the spicy fish pasties and veg rolls munched we headed off with other vols of 12- 18 months experience for a beer to hear tales of their experiences and travels around the island, we ended up in Clancy’s Irish bar dancing to Reggae till 1 am…

Friday morning language classes were a little quiet – we got our come up pence as we spent the afternoon shopping for household goods in Apico one shop for all like a big Tesco. Packed with people buying in for the New Year festivities us VSO vols debated about toilet brushes, sheets, saucepans and cockroach sprays! Not an activity I will wish to repeat too soon.

Saturday saw us on the buses again heading to Angoda to meet Helen a vol social worker, who kindly arranged for us to have a look around the Hospital. I was very surprised at what I saw. Large open spaces, wards clean and tidy, patients up and about, garden space and evidence of activities taking place. A lot of money has been spent recently it even has a mother and baby unit, although all very basic they have come along way. Helen reminded me that Mulleriwaya (Mully) was not as developed but that was the reason for my placement. Dr Mendis had recently taken over administration for Mully and had made in roads with change, plans were in place to obtain community housing to support the discharge of the patients incarcerated there…ECT I think = Exciting challenging times for me!

Helen kindly invited us back to hers fro a welcomed glass of arrack and ginger beer  (lashing and lashings of ginger beer! just like the famous five by Enid Blyton I think not) Her placement is until Nov – so I can see myself calling on her experiences both professionally and personally of living in Sri Lankan. She will be a tri shaw ride away she saw my CV before I arrived and is keen to sample my cooking …she will have to wait a bit until I’m settled before the soup is on the menu though if she wants to pop in for an arrack I’ve told her the door will be open.

Sunday 13th saw us girls making the most of the Bank Holiday and headed for

Colombo to see a couple of temples the streets and roads were deserted as the locals were preparing for the new year 2551 which was to arrive at 6.29pm that evening. We visited 2 Buddhist temples Seema Malaka and Gangaramaya. Both different one modern on a platform on a lake the second a hotch potch of Buddhist arts and architecture from Sri Lanka, with a Bo tree in the court yard draped with prayer flags. The museum holds a collection of vintage British cars amongst old printing presses from London and Edinburgh. We had to remove our shoes, no problem but the marble flooring was so hot – it burnt our feet as we did  “ahh grasshopper” impressions on to the sparse matting. We returned via the Holiday Inn to check out the pool access for non residents – 200 rupees( Rs) which is duly noted compared to that of the aforementioned Cinnamon Grand at 800Rs we were informed later the Holiday Inn is the best bet as CG has very chlorinated water.

Returning to the Guesthouse I made poor attempts at home work then packing before listening to the New Year arrive with the gang in the garden. Lots of fire works just loud bangs though no visual display.

Monday dawned the bags were packed. We arrived at the office to find a New Year Breakfast awaited us put on by the office staff. It is a traditional thing to do.wish some one had told me I would not have had breakfast but I managed to sample a little of every thing it would have been rude not too!

That afternoon I was taken to my new abode I had seen it from the outside on Saturday and admired the setting, the house was surrounded by palm trees and had orchids growing in the garden and was newly painted in PINK. Opening the gate at the bottom of the stairs leading to my rooms I realised that it was pink there too and the bedroom and the kitchen and the balcony ….how lovely. As you know I like my pastel shades especially pink but it was a bit of a shocker luckily Lynn came with me so we laughed a lot! I am sure as she text me later- at the moment it is a pink house soon I will make it a home. Once I’d done some immediate cleaning I showered and made a drink before retiring to my bed which by the way has pink sheets and a pink mosquito net!

More from Barbie’s house soon!








1 Comment »

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  1. i ken imagine the scene, barbie. (geddit??!!)

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