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Bits and pieces

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I have some time to jot down what I have been up to while my students are doing an assignment.  This entry is just bits and pieces of some things I’ve thought about or done since my last entry.

Yesterday there was some excitement at the office.  A dead mouse was found in Rajeeshan’s desk.  They had smelled something but had not found the source until his drawer was opened.  That was not good news but the worse was yet to come.  Some of the computer cords had been chewed and there was evidence of more than a mouse in the office. While cleaning up from that discovery the culprit was seen running across the floor and deking behind a filing cabinet.  Not a cute little mouse; rather a large ugly rat!
Many of the office staff, guys I might add, were in hot pursuit!  It was quite comical but I did not stick around to watch.  I inquired into the rat’s demise when I went to the office after work but alas there was no demise.  The hunt is still on and I am hoping they find it before it decides to move up the road to the place I am presently calling home.

I put the pictures up on facebook but forgot to mention that when at Aragum Bay Amanda and I rented a canoe for an hour and paddled on a lagoon.  We were told we’d see the jungle, elephants and many water birds.  Ever the optimistic I set out to at least have a paddle and some exercise.  Sure enough after about a half hour of paddling across to a point in the distance we were rewarded.  There was a herd of about 8 to 10 elephants knee deep in the water grazing and splashing away!  There were others in the distance and a few stragglers standing alone.  A couple locals in their dugout canoe kept saying come, closer…………and other words we did not understand.  The point being they wanted to be our guide to see the elephants, take pictures and then pay them for their help.  We obviously did not see any need for a guide being as the elephants were right in front of us.  We did get braver and paddle closer though. It was a rewarding experience and one that I will remember.  As we paddled back in the setting sun we enjoyed the abundance of water birds and the coolness of the evening air.

In Sri Lanka the first birthday is a big event to celebrate in a child’s life.  Yesterday the nephew of one of Rose’s staff (Jana)  turned one.  We were invited to go to the home of the birthday boy to help celebrate.  There were many chairs set up both inside and outside of the house.  We were given a plate of food upon our arrival.  It was a tasty rice, chicken curry.  I was asked if I needed anything else and an offer of cutlery was made.  For a change I decided to decline and eat with my fingers like everyone else.  A young man came around with a pitcher of water and basin for each guest to wash their hands. Someone ran out and purchased bottled water for Amanda and I. (the others had a drink in a glass but maybe they felt we only drank bottled water)  I was definitely the last to finish; I guess I’m a slower eater plus my fingers don’t scoop up the rice as efficiently as the locals! As soon as I finished the basin arrived for washing my hands and then I was offered an ice cream dixie cup.  The room was decorated with birthday balloons and a table set out for gifts.  After eating and visiting we left thanking the family and saying bye-bye to the birthday boy.  I presume the gift opening followed but we went back to work.
I have not seen another Caucasian in Kalmunai.  I am sure many of the locals have never seen one either so I do get stared at. I find when folks see me I get mixed reactions.  If they are a shop owner it is, “Hello, good afternoon mam, come in, come in!”  If it is a lady I receive big smiles and either a hello or a how are you greeting.

Older guys look and keep walking but the younger males want to talk.  Obviously they are not hitting on me due to a somewhat large age difference so I do take the time to walk along and chat.  I always get the introduction of, “Hello, where are you from?  How long have you been here?  Where do you live?  How are you? ” Depending on the time and place I ask about their english, school and whatever to give them practise in speaking english.  Sometimes they use me to ask about Amanda which is something we have had a chuckle over. It is especially humorous for us when Amanda can pick up on the Tamil words and know what they are saying!

Children for sure want to say hello and I see them timing their encounters just to say, “Hi, how are you?” then they walk along busily chatting and giggling with their friends.

Across the street from us is a family of 4 children.  Each morning as I leave my yard they are peeking through their fence waiting to greet me with a big, “Hello, how are you today?”  They are so adorable and I love how they practise their english on me.

I had expressed an interest in seeing all 14 preschools sometime before I leave Sri Lanka.  I have worked with and met all the teachers so now wanted to meet their children and see their working environment.  Today we drove out to one of the Muslim preschools that is in a village far from the office.  It was an interesting drive and I truly felt as though I was in the middle of a jungle when we finally arrived.  The distance gave me yet another appreciation for the dedication of the teachers making it to my classes.  The children were all seated on floor mats enjoying their morning snack when we arrived.  I got lots of giggles and excitement by blowing bubbles for them to catch.  They then took turns singing songs they’d learned or they stood up and introduced themselves to me.  It was one of the best preschools I’d seen so far and it has only been in operation for 4 months.  I was also impressed by the number of parent volunteers there to help.  It just went on to show the community involvement and the interest taken to give their children a leg up in their education!

Driving home I saw the canal which is dug into the ditches where they control the water flow to irrigate the rice fields. I saw women washing clothes in the canal while their children splashed and cooled off. I saw young men herding goats down a path, water buffalo grazing, and men working in the rice paddies.  I love driving along and never tire of the different sites and sounds of Sri Lanka!

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