Archive for August, 2009

Wearing A Sari On The Final Day

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I was asked by the college president to wear a sari on the last day of the CCPSD course at Peradeniya. Since he is the college president, I said yes.

I have a black sari blouse. I have a black sari underskirt. So I borrowed a sari from Suchintha that would work with a black blouse. I wanted something plain and as dark as possible.

Suchintha had some very nice, fancy saris. Some of which would work with a black blouse. I started by vetoing anything with even the slightest hint of pink. I really don’t do pink.

I found a plain blue sari. It wasn’t a particularly dark blue. But it was a sari. Actually it took much longer to type this up than it took to decide on the sari.

Suchintha thought it was funny that on the last day everyone would be trying to wear their richest and fanciest saris and I was going to show up in a plain one. Annoying that my attempts to not stand out were going to guarantee that I would stand out.

So I wore the sari. No jewelery though. I even dressed myself (which everyone was really surprised by). After about 5 mins I decided that I desperately wanted to go back to my room and get changed back into trousers. I really hate saris. I particularly hated the fact that everyone felt compelled to comment on the fact that I was wearing one. Most of the participants were impressed at how beautiful I looked. Most of the lecturers were stunned. A few actually laughed.

Some of the comments I got:

  • Sha!! Beautiful!!
  • You should wear a sari all the time.
  • Oh, if you are going to wear a sari, couldn’t you have worn a beautiful one?
  • Who dressed you?
  • Why didn’t you tell me? I would have given you some jewelery!
  • Why didn’t you tell me? I would have given you a sari!
  • Let me give you some saris.
  • Now we just have to teach you to stand and walk like a proper Sri Lankan lady.
  • Now you just need to grow your hair.
  • She has a lovely figure for a sari, aren’t her hips beautiful.

As soon as lunch was over I ran back to my room (even though running in a sari is definitely not encouraged) and got the thing off me as soon as I could. Being back in trousers was lovely. 🙂


Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I bought some vegemite the other day!


It cost me 400Rs (2.15GBP, 4.30AUD) for a 150g jar. Which is stupidly expensive by Sri Lankan standards. But was worth it. 🙂

Very tasty.

I haven’t seen a toaster here so haven’t been able to have vegemite and butter on freshly toasted, fresh white bread. But I have had it on fresh white bread with margarine! Yum!!!

So I’m still missing carpet and hot showers and coffee shops but at least I’m no longer missing vegemite! 🙂

You Look Beautiful

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

People kept telling me on the last day of the course that I looked beautiful.

I was wearing a sari. They hadn’t seen me in a sari before.

I don’t think I look particularly beautiful in a sari. This isn’t a self-deprecating grab for compliments. This is me honestly saying that I don’t think I look particularly good in a sari.

Anyway, lots of people kept telling me I looked beautiful and it got me thinking about why they were saying it. Since I didn’t think I did look beautiful I guessed they weren’t saying it because they actually thought I looked beautiful.

Here are the possibilities I came up with.

  1. They have substantially different taste from me and actually did think I looked beautiful.
  2. Regardless of the absolute level of my beauty in a sari, they decided that me in a sari was relatively more beautiful than me in trousers.
  3. They thought that the thing you are supposed to say to a woman is that she looks beautiful.

My suspicion is that the third is the most likely. Which is annoying because the last thing I wanted to hear was that I looked beautiful.

I wear clothing so that I will be warm, decent and not sunburned. I want to get up, get dressed and then forget about clothes completely. Oh, and I don’t want to be beautiful.

I didn’t tell them that though. I just smiled and said thank you. 🙂

Sari Symmetry

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

It occurs to me that one of my objections to the sari might be it’s lack of symmetry.

I like symmetry. I feel unbalanced without it. I keep trying to wrap the over-the-shoulder-dangly-bit around to the other side of my body. I think this is probably to try to balance it out. Needless to say it doesn’t work.

Weird. Hmmmm. 🙂

Bus Crash

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I’d heard that buses in Sri Lanka were dangerous. And I’ve seen the way that buses (and everyone else) drive in this country. I’ve seen the condition of the roads (Sri Lanka has several amazing collections of potholes – for some stupid reason people keep putting roads around them – it’s terrible). I’m not surprised that buses are dangerous.

I had been wondering whether we in the UK (and Australia) were just being ridiculously over-sensitive when we insist that:

  • vehicles keep to their side of the road;
  • they don’t overtake when they can’t see what’s coming;
  • they drive at a sensible speed that allows them to stop if they need to;
  • passengers wear seatbelts;
  • people sit down in buses;
  • the bus doors are closed while the bus is moving;
  • vehicles are roadworthy;
  • people obey the road rules
  • etc.

But I do believe that these rules (and others) do actually save lives and prevent accidents and injuries. Especially now that I’ve been in an actual bus crash!

I am perfectly ok. In fact I didn’t get a scratch or a bruise or a sore muscle or anything. Completely unharmed. Which, if you have to be involved in a bus crash is the way you want it to happen.

The bus I was on was driving along a wide, straight, flat piece of road. It was the Peradeniya low road coming into Kandy, just near the Courts Complex (for anyone who knows Kandy). It’s a part of town I know (which was lucky).

The bus was on its side of the road (it’s worth mentioning that since it doesn’t happen as often as one would imagine). I was sitting down towards the back of the bus and was awake (also worth mentioning since neither of those happen that often either). The bus wasn’t too crowded and I think there was only one person standing up in the aisle (this is incredibly rare!).

The bus started braking heavily. This seems to happen a lot here. I don’t know if there is something special about the windscreens on Sri Lankan buses, but bus drivers seem unable to see more than about 5m ahead of them. They frequently accelerate towards an obstacle and then brake heavily (with some disdain, it seems, that the obstacle hadn’t got out of the way).

So the bus started braking and I (and everyone else) put our hands out to grab the seat in front to brace ourselves (perfectly normal Sri Lankan bus behaviour). It then started braking very heavily. Which, while not very common, is certainly not rare. Then it hit something and decelerated even more rapidly. Until we came to a stop.

The person who had been standing in the aisle at the back (actually he might have been sitting in the middle of the back seat but I don’t think so) was thrown down the bus. Sliding down the aisle on his back.

I think he was ok.

We waited on the bus for a minute or so then everyone got off. It seems that the bus had hit a car – which wasn’t on its side of the road. So I suspect that the car had been overtaking and had got stuck on the wrong side when the bus hit it. I don’t know if the car was moving at the time. The impact was bad – there was a lot of damage to the front of the bus and the front crumple zone of the car had crumpled. But the actual cab of the car seemed untouched. When I saw it, there was no one in the car and no sign of any serious injuries. So I don’t think anyone was badly hurt. But I don’t know for sure.

There was a police person (who I think had been on traffic duty) who came to direct the moving traffic around the bus. I stood around for a while making sure I was ok and seeing if there was anything I was needed for. I didn’t think I could be particularly useful since I don’t speak Sinhala and didn’t actually see what had happened. No one seemed to need me and other people were leaving so I wandered off down the street. I crossed to the high road and got a bus the rest of the way into Kandy to get my next bus to get out to see the people I was due to visit.

So if I have to be involved in a bus crash, that’s the sort I want to be in.

Exciting. But now that it’s done, I can cross “being involved in a bus crash” off my list of things to do and get on with more sightseeing. 🙂

What I’m Up To

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I haven’t fallen off the edge of the planet just yet!! I have been rather busy and haven’t done a good enough job of getting appropriate net access hence the prolonged silence.

So it’s silence-breaking time. I’ve written several other posts and have a big list of lots more to write.

But now, what I’m up to! I’ve been at the National College of Education in Peradeniya (in Kandy) helping out with a course there. (There are several other posts about it). That has now finished. But there’s another one starting in September. It is another three month residential course. I won’t stay for all of it since I have lots of travelling to do and people to visit.

So my plan is to spend two weeks at the college then travel for two weeks, then back to the college for two weeks etc. I’m hoping to visit lots of the people from the last course on my travels as well as seeing some of the country.

So I’ve got 18 and a half weeks left in the country. I’m due to leave on the 3rd of January 2010 to head back to England.

All great fun!!! 🙂