Sunday school

As I was finishing my web session last night, Poormina (Sera’s wife) came back from wherever she’d been with her kids and offered me some home-made rotti. It’s a bit like Naan bread and very good – not spicy at all. I got chatting to her and the kids, who are a bit older than I originally thought: about 15 & 16. As it was Saturday, I asked what they’d been doing and they both had spent a couple of hours in extra tutorial classes. “Ah well,” I sympathised, “you’ll have Sunday off.” But no, they both have extra classes on Sundays too. When I asked Poormina if they went happily to the classes, she grinned and said no. I’m not surprised! Especially as Sera tells me the kids go to extra classes every day after school as well. You wouldn’t catch Scottish kids doing that!

Last night there was a fierce thunderstorm and torrential rain. The rain was heavy enough to waken me and make me think I’d left a tap on. By morning, the great puddles I spotted during the night had all but gone. The ground in Galle is very sandy and seems to drain fast.

Today I was back on the bus to Unawatuna for the last two dives of my course and noticed quite a few teenagers with folders, textbooks etc., so these extra classes must be quite a big thing out here. It’s maybe explained by Vanushka’s comment that his classes have about 50 pupils in them. The school where I spend some time seems to average about 15 in primary and probably fewer in the upper years. I’m told Madam is trying to resurrect a dying school: the haemorrhaging of pupils has decreased to a trickle, but Mr Vinnie told me that they could handle about twice as many as they currently have.

Anyway, my Sunday class went fairly well. No, make that “very well”. I had my deepest dive so far: 18m. Not quite Stuart Anderson’s depth, but I didn’t need to spend ages in decompression and speak with a squeaky voice. There were two dives today: the first involved a few exercises, such as Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, where you pretend you’re out of air and too far from your buddy to share his, but the second was just for the sheer pleasure of it. Visibility wasn’t as good as previously, but once again we saw lots of colourful wee chaps going about their fishy business and paying no attention to us. And not once did I hear the “Jaws” theme tune.

The result is that I’m now a fully-qualified PADI Open Water diver, officially allowed to go to 18m provided I have a dive-buddy etc. etc. etc. My official PADI card should arrive in Inverness round about the time I do. I imagine diving off the West Coast of Scotland will be a different experience – a full wet suit for a start instead of the natty little cut-off thing I’ve been sporting here.

Joanna did this course and – although she’d need a refresher – I’m going to suggest that instead of walking her down the aisle in August, we could do something underwater off Fortrose instead as a prelude to her tying the knot. Ben’s Mum is a keen sailor, so there’d be no problem with a dive boat, either!

I celebrated this achievement by having a vegetable rotti in a grubby little dump on the main (i.e. the only) street of Unawatuna. After that, it was back to Galle, visit Hiyadath Stores – a sort of down market Aldi (purchases, nil) which also sells furniture, clothing, electrical goods and so on. Then I walked home.

Back to “work” tomorrow and start planning my next SL adventure, which may well be Yala National Park and involve leopards, elephants and crocodiles. But no diving, especially not near the crocs!


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