Sunday, June 25, 2006

The streets were empty. Where avid cricket fans usually gather was now dead quiet and we three stood on the dark corner of two side streets making eating motions to a cop. "You know, food? Food! To eat? Where is the cricket club at which I can eat?" The cop understood little and just pointed at the cricket stadium where the trishaw driver had dropped us off a few minutes earlier, after a misunderstanding. "No this is a cricket stadium, I need the Cricket Club, on Queens Rd." He just pointed and smiled. "Okay, thanks anyway." I couldn't blame him, he only understood one word and from what he summised, he was giving us the correct instructions.
"That looks like a major road, lets go there" Blair said. So we started walking. I glanced up and became mezmorized by the airial assault of vampire bats. The near 4 ft bats came gliding across the sky in search for food. They would swoop down and eat tiny bugs, bugs that I had to assume were there becasue they were so tiny. These large bats were able to find tiny bugs and eat them till satisfaction, and we three, semi-intelligent human beings, couldn't find an entire restaurant.
We eventually hopped into another trishaw and he took us to the Cricket Club. Melissa and I had both eaten there in January and we thought that Blair might like it. There was a vegitarian menu so she loved it. We had a great time, with great food. Blair regailed us with a tale of her getting naked and then kicking some Buddhist monks off of the radio, and then went on to embarass Melissa. We were filled with a delicious two course meal (the ice cream was amazing) and cooled off with the air conditioning. We fell about the place in laughter.
We left to get a trishaw (or "took took" as I have come to learn they call them here) and found a group of them standing at the crossroads. They all came out and asked where we wanted to go. "Mutwal. De La Salle st? St. Joseph's school?"
They talked to each other trying to figure out where it was. Then one of them turned to me.
"By the big church?"
"Uhhhh..." I couldn't remember.
"Yeah. Yes." Blair interjected.
"Oh yeah, and the police station too. Between the church and the police station" I said. "How much?"
"300 is good."
It was okay, so we took it. It's rather futile to bargan with a group of them. Then they chose one guy, a kid practically, to drive us. I could tell that they were giving him directions and then they said something else and I couldn't understand them.
We hopped in. "Colombo 7?" I had no idea.
"I think so," said Melissa.
So we squeezed in the back of the took took and took off. The man drove like an animal, he stopped for nothing. We prayed for dear life. As he kept going he would turn to us and ask if he was going in the right direction. At the time he was in the wrong lane and to be honest, I would have liked to start working on that.
We found our way and got out. We took out 300 rupies, and since it was late I was going to give him 400, I was still in a good mood. "Okay, 500" he said.
"Uhh no we said 3, and im giving you 4" I said.
"Oh no. I did not know how to get here and it is late."
"Well I'm not the cab driver, I shouldn't have to tell you how to get here."
"If you didnt know you didnt have to say yes to us then!" Said Melissa.
"We are already giving you a hundred more than we agreed on" Blair added.
The argument went on like that. I did most of the talking, mostly nonsensical stuff, and then Blair and Melissa would make good points. Then I would just repeat what they had said, using my size as my only addition. He thought we were tourists. They know that we aren't tourists since we are living in a provincial, but they still try to squeeze more money out of us. It's not so much that I couldn't spare the extra dollar, but I took it as an insult. I wouldn't let him push me around and besides, we weren't getting paid to teach and a dollar can go a long way here. If I got ripped off a dollar every ride for 6 weeks, I'd be short nearly 60 bucks.
"Is night time, is different."
"It was night time when we left, when you said 300!" In actuality it was his friend that said 300.
"No! He didn't know what he was talking about. He didn't know where we going!"
"Then- you- didnt-have-to-take-us." Uh oh, Melissa was getting Bronx on him. I was waiting for the earings to come out before the rumble.
"Okay," he said "then lets go to the police."
"Okay," said Blair and Melissa together. The man was taken aback by their willingness to go to the police. At first I thought that the last thing I wanted to do was get their police involved. Then I saw what they were doing, this guy had to work and couldn't waste his time with the police, and besides, the police would cause him just as much trouble as they would us.
"Yeah let's go! Let's get in your cab and let's go."
"I don't know where it is." He said.
"It's right here!" I pointed to the wall 3 ft away, behind which laid the fortification known as the police station.
"Let's hop the damn fence!" Melissa suggested.
"Common! Let's go! After you." I was practically shouting. It was very unlike me, but I was having a good time. "I don't have to teach tomorrow, so let's go, let's go bother the police for 100 rupies." I was stepping into the took took, hoping that I was calling a bluff.
The man turned to me. A pregnant pause.

I thought he was going to hit me. He was half my size and the security guard was watching me, but I was a bit afraid. It was a dollar, I could give it to him, a dollar to not get hit or stabbed. His eyes were a little worried and tired.

Then, in a low voice he said to me, "you are a crazy-man!" He took the money and left. We ran inside and threw the gate closed behind us, the security guard was laughing.

We sat down in the lobby of the provincial to take it all in when Bro Rajan came up to us. "Have a good evening?" He was so polite, so concerned for us. His aim was to please us with all that he could. He had told us several times that it would make him happy if we could come up with something for him to improve on, but really, everything was perfect.
"Mmmmm... yyyyeah." Blair said.
"Your 'yes' does not sound so..." he was searching for the word.
We laughed and told him our story. "Yes well, then you got a good taste of Sri Lankan hospitality." Everyone laughed "Okay, I am going to bed," he looked tired. "Is there anything I can get you first?"
"No," we all said with smiles on our faces, "nothing at all."


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