Thursday, June 22, 2006

A tropical paradise, a beautiful summer's eve, two good friends, and the best sea food in all of Sri Lanka, what more could I ask? I spent the better part of a few nights ago stuffing myself with a fresh fish (the head of which Blair attempted to make out with until its tongue fell out), garlic prawns, and spicy crabs. It only cost me $18 too. Eventually I rolled out of my chair and walked onto the beach. We walked over to get a cab and we found the greatest cab driver ever.
"Cab, Taxi."
"Yeah. Mutwal? De La Salle road? Okay?" While talking to Sri Lankans I talk like a retard.
"Yes Yes! 350 rupies?" The price was pretty good, so we said okay.

Then he ran away. I looked for him and I caught him jetting down the block. Usually I would have gotten someone else but I knew that he would be coming back.

And he did. He wheeled around in his red trishaw and we hopped in. I generlly judge a cabby by his cab. Some cabbies deck theirs out, statues of Hindu gods, sexy Sri Lankan babes fully clothed, its pretty much right off of the set of "Pimp My Ride." All this guy had was some Arabic writing on his windshield. You know, it'll give me some reading material as I smash my face off of it.
"Where you from, sir?"
"America"
"Ohhhh, Americans!"
I turned to Blair and trying (successfully) to worry her I say, "This way, he knows what currency he'll be getting after he shoots us and takes our money."
He goes on to tell me that he's a musician who plays the drums. In between sentences he laughes an outrageous amount. Then the conversation turns to musical taste. He likes Abba and The Eagles. Then he says that he loves Peurto Rican music. I turn to Melissa and laugh. "Oh yeah like who?" "Rikki Martin, Marc Anthony...Shaggy!"
"Oh yeah, Shaggy came to Sri Lanka, right?" Says Melissa.
"No, before he come here." We had offended him. How silly of us, he liked Shaggy when he was underground. "Black music also very good!"
"Oh yeah, like what?" No answer. I realized that I sounded like I hated it. Oh yeah? I bet you can't give me one example cause it all sucks!
"Oh uhhh.. I mean I like it too."
"Commadors."
"What?"
"The Commodors" repeat Melissa and Blair.
That came out of the blue.
"Lionell Richie?" Asks Melissa asks as a joke.
"Yea!" Oh, okay then. "English music, American Music very different."
"Yeah I love English music."
"Freddy, Queen, Freddy Murcury. Very good voice. Great band. Sad, Freddy died. Old Age."
I didnt have the heart to tell him that he really died of AIDS. "Yeah, old age sucks."
"One time I drove three Ameican to Mutwal!"
"Oh yeah?"
"They give me 1500 rupies!" Then he laughed.
"Yeah well...." then I trailed off, casue I'm cheap.
We got him lost but after asking for directions he found the Provincial.
Melissa gave him 5 rupies and he automically went to give us change, usually they go for it slowly hoping that we will forget. Considering that he drove us across the city and only asked for $3.50, didn't kill us, we got him lost, and he got pulled over because he had Americans, we let him keep the extra money.
Melissa asked for a picture of him as she turned to us and said, "He said Peurto Ricans are the bomb!"
"Come! You sit in here" and he pointed at his seat. Melissa sat in it but she asked for him to be in the cab too. He gave a handsome pose and it was then that I realized that this man looked like my dad's friend Paul. Melissa took one more picture of just him, the gate was opened and we went in.
"Oh shit!" yelled Melissa. "I lost the phone!" The old boys gave us a cell phone to use in emergencies. She checked every pocket. We heard the cab wheel away into silence. We ran inside trying to think of where it could be. We figured that it had to be in the cab. We ran upstairs to the phone in out hallway. Oddly enough it is a hollow phone with fake buttons, but it's plugged in. I figured that there had to be a phone in the part of the building for the old brotehrs. I led the way, tip toeing and making sure that the "coast was clear" everywhere we went. We got to the hallway for the old bro's. the 85 year old brother, who has done nothing but insult us (he told Melissa that she was too dark, Blair was too light, and I think he just hates me) showed us the phone we could use (after I tried to use the phone that could only call in the building). Melissa dialed the cell number hoping that the cabbie would pick up. No answer. "Try again" I said, and she did. I was glad that she was doing it 'cause I didnt want to have to put up with trying to explain the situation to him. "Does this sound mean that it's ringing?" She asked as she gave me the phone just as the cabbie picked up.
"Hello?"
"Hello?" Damn you Melissa "Yes! It's me. The American. In Mutwal. De La Salle!"
"Oh yes! Mutwal! How are you?"
How am I? Didnt he think it was strange that we called him on a mysterious cell phone, yet I still responded "I am good.... You have my phone. Can you bring it here, please?"
"Oh yes your phone! I have it. Okay Okay, I bring it tomorrow." It sounded like he was going to hang up.
"No no! Please we need it tonight. We will give you money!"
"Okay I come!" Uhhh hello, it's I WILL come. Anyway I thanked him a million times and we hung up.
We ran back to the courtyard. Blair and Melissa ran to their rooms to get the money, I went to the street to meet him. The gatekeeper jumped out of the dark bushes and caused me to scream like a little girl. He opened the gate with a cigarett filled smile.
Blair and Melissa met me a minute later.

And we waited.

A trishaw went by... not him.

And we waited.

Another trishaw!

We witnessed some sort of drug deal and them some other guys walked by saying hello to Melissa and Blair. The guys blew them kisses. I was the only person to say hello back and the guys got mad and left. Oh well.

We waited.

Trishaw.

The police came by and asked us questions.

And we waited.

Trishaw.

A tiny bat flew past the street light.

Then a gigantic bat flew by. I think I peed myself at that point but it's so humid here, who can tell?

And we waited. And hour had gone by.

"Who are we kidding, that guy is curled up with a Lion Lager and a Shaggy album calling everyone he knows," I said. We went to the guard booth to see if they had a phone. They didnt. I walked to the entrance to look with one last ounce of hope for the man as I considered to close the gate.

I heard another trishaw.

It was red! It had Arabic lettering on it! It was him! I shot my arms up in joy. "My man!" I yelled as Blair and Melissa jumped and clapped. He stuck his hand out of the cab and slapped me five and then we shuck hands.
"I drove very far!" He said sounding like a kid who just learned how to drive. "I did not hear it the first time and then I heard it!" He got out and stretched, the poor guy drove all over. He showed us his phone and I think he wanted to give us his number, we should have taken it. We gave him 700 rupies, almost tying the other Americans. We should have taken his number. He asked the guard how to get somewhere and we went inside thanking him. He had a huge smile on his face.

I can't help feel like that man. I came here once to help these kids and I had a great time. Then eventually, after not writing, only three of us came back. Some of the students seem dissapointed that so few of us Americans liked their country. enough to come back. A few of them though, like me waiting for the cabbie, seem relieved that we came back, having never lost their faith in our word. Some thought that none of us would ever come back at all. But like I said in the beginning, I knew that the cabbie would come back. I hope no one closes the gate. I hope we don't come back too late.

2 Comments:

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Profile Machine said...

mike! such adventures. take care of yourself, and blair and melissa. i've been reading in the news lately about the political situation and i hope you are all keeping safe. have funnnnn!! --lindsay

 
At 7:42 PM, Blogger Peter T. said...

Hey there pal. Loving the blog. So very wish i was there. I am sweating my balls off hanging out with kids who a little nervouse about meeting me and their school. It's sort of like Sri Lanka, except i'm not treated like a king. I regret not coming. I won't make that mistake again. Here i'm Jack Black to the freshman and John Belushi to the parents. SO i'm either generation loud fat funny guy. Once again in Sri Lanka you were the hefty one and i was the football player. Wish i was there. Miss you very much. Glad you are having fun. Goodluck. So long
Peter

 

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