My first, and last, TGS Assembly was very interesting and rather moving. The oldest class – class 7/8 – of 11-13 year olds run the show, with assistance from Rick, and everyone attends.
This is the last Friday of the term, so a number of leavers were featured and wished well. A few certificates for good reading etc. were presented, a birthday girl got a round of “Happy Birthday”, a couple of jokes were cracked, the National Anthem was sung in Sinhala and I was presented with two cards.
The result – for me – is that I have a slight feeling of pre-nostalgia. Although I’ll be back next week Monday & Wednesday as usual (Tuesday is a Poya day) and am really looking forward to the New Year celebrations on Thursday, I already have a feeling of departure. I have genuinely enjoyed my short time at TGS. I’ve gone on before about the atmosphere, the inclusiveness, the friendly and dedicated staff etc. so I won’t repeat myself here. (Though I may do next week!) I will post a few pictures at the end of this blog.
Just outside my room at Sera’s is a Jack Fruit (I think) tree and eventually I’ve got round to photographing some of the fruit. They are big things: a few medium-sized ones near the bottom of the tree and a larger one higher up. But you can find them much bigger than that as well! My Health & Safety tip for the day would be: “Never sit against the trunk of a Jack Fruit tree”. Apparently, the fruit can be eaten at various stages of its development. When I used to walk to TIS, I would pass stallholders who were processing the fruits by cutting them open and, using a knife, seemingly taking conical sections of firm flesh out from what looked like a 3d honeycomb structure inside. I gather that later in their development, the flesh is soft and more like conventional fruit. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Jack Fruit, so can’t claim any expertise or give you further details.
My lifestyle coach (Sonia) tells me that SL Coconut Oil is all the rage just now with the UK’s bon viveurs and wellness brigade. I asked Angela about the stuff and where was best to get it so, whilst I’m hardly an expert on that either, I have learned a bit about it. You can buy it in supermarkets here, but it tends to be rather dark in colour because the inner lining of the coconut shell can get mixed in with the white flesh. I was told the best place to get quality oil in the Galle area is Batanganwilla Oil Mill and Angela helpfully wrote the address and product details out for me in both English and Sinhala. After Assembly I grabbed an empty water bottle and a tuk-tuk, briefly diced with death on the roads, then presented myself at the mill. I am now the proud owner of a litre of “White Coconut Oil”. It’s not completely white (clear), but the colour of a rather over-watered Speyside malt. I have duct taped the bottle lid, wrapped it in a plastic bag also sealed with tape, then folded it inside another bag. I don’t fancy getting my case full of oil, but I think I’ve wrapped it as well as can reasonably be expected. My tuk-tuk driver quoted me 500 rupees for the one way journey and I tried to beat him down but failed. However, he waited for me and I got a discount for the return, so I’m happy!
Later in the morning it was time for another trip into town. I was hoping to visit the inside of the Hindu temple which I saw from the outside some weeks ago, but no luck. There’s still a lot of building work going on and all the entrances are closed off: in fact one of its “steeples” has scaffolding covered in dead palm leaves. Whether that’s for protection, privacy or some religious reason, I don’t know, but I’m told they do something similar by covering Buddha’s eyes until the official inauguration of a new statue. The statuary / sculpture on the outside of the temple is very impressive and there’s not a bare square centimetre on the finished bits.
I don’t know whether it’s just me, but the weather seems to have been particularly hot recently: maybe it’s because we’re moving towards April. I would not like to have been sitting in the sun watching the Richmond v Mahinda Former Pupils’ cricket match today as it must have been intolerably hot. I was about to feel sorry for the players, but it’s self-inflicted: unlike school kids such as Venushka (who attends Richmond), nobody made them do it! The town is certainly buzzing with extra helpings of horn-blowing and flags. The traffic and parking round the stadium are worse than usual – hard to believe, I know – and masses of lads were wearing either “March for the Legacy” t-shirts (Richmond) or “We Outsmart, Outplay and Outlast” t-shirts (Mahinda). When the schools finished, the boys in their white trousers and shirts looked like an army of cricketers pouring towards the sports ground. I had always thought of cricket crowds as rather sedate, with little more than a muttered “Jolly Good Show” or, in moments of high excitement, a muted “Well done!” accompanied by a modest clap of the hands. That’s not the case here: the crowd have air horns and klaxons, ghetto blasters and whistles, flags and balloons. Music blares from speakers mounted on scaffold towers and the spectators roar like a worked-up football crowd. Maybe it’s like that in the UK too, but I doubt it: I must admit to not being much of a sports enthusiast. It’s certainly not John Major’s “lukewarm beer on the village green”!
This walk with Purmina business is an on/off sort of thing. The other evening she showed me half a dozen jars of herbs etc. that an Ayurvedic (SL holistic / herbal) doctor had prescribed. She has a strict regime of times to take these, which, combined with her domestic duties and keeping an eye on the builders, means that a walk would have to be in the evening. I’m a bit dubious about this: it would certainly be cooler, but it’s dark by 7:00pm and, besides, the one or two outings we could manage at most would hardly be enough to do her any good, especially as she can’t continue on her own and Sera couldn’t accompany her as someone needs to be at home to supervise the kids. They are quite old enough and apparently sensible enough to be left alone for an hour or two, from a European point of view, but that’s the way it is here. Tonight’s first walk, scheduled for 7pm, has been cancelled for some reason but I can’t say I’m too disappointed: instead, I’ve volunteered a “Photoshop” session with Vanushka. The good news is that Sunday’s diving is confirmed: coffee at Rick’s 7:30 am, then off to Hikkaduwa. Angela has warned that, depending on the result of the cricket match, road travel on Sunday could be problematic: I’m not sure if it’s victory parades, hung-over revellers or rioting at an umpire’s decision that she’s warning me of!
Anyway, must go: it’s time for Photoshop.