French Without Tears?

On my way to Unawatuna, I stopped at the People’s Bank to withdraw cash, but got a discouraging error message, twice, which referred to a temporary refusal to cooperate. I tried an ATM in the Fort which I sweet-talked last year but it was out of action today. This didn’t amount – yet – to a crisis, but I was wanting to check everything worked and pay for my accommodation.

Once at Unawatuna, a short bus ride out of town, I wandered the length of the beach and climbed up to the Japanese Peace Temple. I had just spent a few minutes getting the sand out between my toes and putting on my sandals, when I remembered: the climb to the top is undertaken unshod. No photos allowed, but I think I posted some last year. There’s a giant golden Buddha at the top. I stepped out of the grounds onto public road and  took a couple of “view” shots, but will only try posting them if the Internet speeds up, which it is not yet showing any signs of doing.

I think the bay is even more commercialised than last year: for most of the beach’s length you would have to go through cafés, bars, hotels and the like to reach the sand from the road. Back at the southern end of the bay, I revisited the Unawatuna Diving Centre. I didn’t introduce myself, but Hans the proprietor remembered me, though he thought I was Dutch. I’ve had worse insults. I booked a dive for next Friday, a week today: Hans was clearly surprised at someone booking so far ahead, but I need to ration my dives on financial grounds. I took advantage of their security to leave my rucksack and go for a swim.

After that, I had “Batted Prowns” and slobbed a bit on the beach before returning to Galle. The People’s Bank still insisted they were temporarily unable to accede to my request, so I went to another ATM that I recalled. First attempt, the machine said I couldn’t have as much as I wanted, but we agreed on LKR25000 (about £140).

Back at base, I looked out Poornima, who had not been around earlier and she got Venushka to take me to the washing machine. It is indeed new looking and swanky, but quite different from anything one sees in the UK. The drum is vertical, so it’s a top loader with a sort of folding door arrangement at the top. It was already set at 40°, but Venushka asked me how long the washing should be in for and somehow we settled on 12minutes. By the time the laundry came back to me, it was far too dark to hang it up, so my room is festooned with damp washing.

There’s a drought in Sri Lanka and water shortages are on the cards. On top of that, most of the country’s electricity is hydro-generated, so power cuts are also up there as possible, which may well have an impact on my classroom work.

Venushka is not at school just now. He starts doing A levels, possibly at the university, in May. I gather he has just started attending beginner’s French classes and wants me to tutor him in that, as well as IT. Nothing definite has been arranged as yet. I think Sulakshi may also want to come to the IT classes, but I’ve still to see her. I think she is more naturally studious than her brother, though they both certainly keep their noses to the grindstone.



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