I thought I’d start with a few moans.
I’ll never learn to keep my mouth shut. No sooner had I posted an optimistic comment about having disposed of my flea than back it came, hungry for more.
After school today (nothing to moan about there) I went into town for a bite of lunch and then set off to track down a pharmacy and get some flea-killer. The first place I found was small and very Sri Lankan – which in this case is not really a compliment. I have a small Sinhala dictionary app on my phone and had already set it to show the Sinhalese for “flea”, which was just as well as the staff’s English was very limited. “Big dog, little dog?” was the first question. I did some pointing at myself, saying “me” and eventually rolled up my tee shirt to demonstrate. The lady came back with some sort of Savlon stuff. I showed her the local word for “kill” on the app and luckily she realised it wasn’t a threat to her personal safety. Out came an ancient bottle of some oil that looked a bit like cochineal. All the instructions were in Sinhalese, so I decided to try elsewhere. The next place was more successful, though I had to go through much the same routine, eventually leaving with a bottle of permethrin-based liquid for scabies. I’ve to apply this all over: “top of head to soles of feet on cool dry skin” (problems number 1 & 2!) and leave it for a minimum of 8 hours. At least I shouldn’t get greenfly when I’ve finished.
While I’m on ailments, the bites on my foot from yesterday haven’t ballooned up or anything, but they’re very itchy. Piritin, here I come.
I should apply for a job as a bus conductor on the No381 route here as I clearly know the route better than many of the present incumbents. I frequently take the bus into town and back out at some point and I always say “Thomas Gall School, Morris Road” when handing over my 20 or so rupees on the return journey. Quite often the conductor has no idea where I want to go, even after I say it slowly two or three times. Today’s conductor tried to put me off the bus, claiming I was on the wrong one. I was positive I was right and stuck to my guns, proffering the right amount of money (or one of the right amounts, as it seems to vary between 12 and 22 rupees). He started consulting other passengers (in Sinhalese), who either didn’t know or didn’t want to be involved. Finally he charged me some ludicrously small amount – 6 rupees, I think – and I was silly enough to say “It’s 20 rupees. I use this bus lots of times. I live there”. Of course, he didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand him. I did, however, point out the school’s name on the sign and say the name of the school and “Morris Road” loudly to him as I got off.
That’s today’s moans over with: no doubt I’ll think of more before long.
I’m really impressed with TGS and “Mr Rick”, the Principal. Admittedly the classes are small, but the kids are really engaged in what they are doing. I sat in with him and a class of 8-9 year olds, to whom he was showing a video about Ancient China. They seemed entranced and were keen to discuss points when he stopped the program from time to time to raise questions about religious beliefs, architecture and Chinese inventions introducing words like “dynasty”, “terracotta” etc. They were a really international group: a half-Japanese girl, a boy who had spent some years in China, a wee girl who clearly knew lots about the ancient Egyptians from a previous school, a lad who later told me Namibia was the country he liked best so far, a boy from Australia… Teaching such a group may well have its problems, but they all seem keen, intelligent and interested. They chat confidently and politely to staff: I’m “Mr Doug”. The staff treat the kids as equals, though are always willing to correct behaviour etc. if and when needed, which is rarely. Sri Lankans are generally polite and these international kids seem to pick up on that. There may be mischief and occasional horseplay – they are kids after all – but they say “hello” or “good morning” when you meet them and appear to me to be likeable and rather charming. In both schools, I’ve been amused by little kids dragging the sort of wheeled cases you use as cabin luggage behind them: goodness knows what they can have to take to school that merits a case that size! There are also wee ones with rucksacks big enough for their mums to put them in when they come to collect them at the end of the school day.
Later Rick and I had a group of 12-13 year olds, whom I have quite a bit of contact with. He is doing journalistic writing with them and is very imaginative in his approach. They were to write an article to go with the headline “English Teacher Missing: Students Suspected” and they were all to make up five questions to ask him and me about this mystery. Rick and I were free to give whatever answers we liked and the kids did get stuck in to the task. I decided to answer on the basis that the “missing” teacher was doing some charity stunt with a class: not that I said that to anyone, but answered as if that might be the case, though I don’t think any of them picked up on it. They’re off to do a first draft for tomorrow or Thursday.
Miss Angela (IT) and I combined two classes of P3 and P4 due to a teacher’s illness. This vast class of 10 worked in pairs on making a word search, which honed their skills with tables in Word. (Note to those interested: I’d have preferred Excel for such a task!)
The place is just so much more fun and inspiring than TIS. I’ll try to remember to post one or two shots to give you a feel for it. I took a note of the names of P1 from a “Birthday Month” poster. It gives you an idea of the range of nationalities: William, River, Grace, Cosmo, Liman, Aabidh, Kiran, Ahamed, Azry, Orlando, Thusith, Sihas, Vethara, Farrah, Riona, Tobias, Luna.
I hope the positivity of the last few paragraphs outweighs the initial moans because, minor irritations aside, I am enjoying my stay here. Don’t take the negatives too seriously: they’re really meant as a sort of “aren’t foreigners funny” leitmotiv. Besides, relentless joy and happiness really get on my tits nerves.
Sidny’s (sic) poster about angles.