a-z of my day

When I saw Poornima about the laundry yesterday, she was bemoaning the fact she was so busy that she didn’t have time to chat: of all the family, her English is best and when holding a conversation – though sometimes we would hit a brick wall – her command of the language made up for my total ignorance of Sinhala. Later, when I was making a cup of coffee and quietly thinking to myself that a tea cup was hardly big enough, Sera appeared with a mug. “My wife say you keep this. Other people not wash cup well.” After clearing up any possible misunderstanding – there was none – that this was just a loan, not a gift to take away, he went off again to supervise Amjit.

Amjit is general factotum around here. A lad in his early twenties, he is on almost all day and 7 days a week he tells me. He is chambermaid, gardener, kitchen tidier and watchman all rolled into one. Holding a conversation with him is hard-going for both of us as his English is very limited, or else he’s shy about using it. Last night in the dusk he appeared to be banging something metal in the vicinity of his bike, while a small smoky fire, which apparently doubles as some element of worship, cast a flickering greasy light. I tried to take an interest, but he’d almost finished and was unable to tell me what he’d been doing. I don’t know which religion requires the burning of a smoky oily fire as part of its devotions, but I don’t think it’s Buddhism or they’d all be at it.

I gave Sera LKR25000 today – my withdrawal from yesterday. That’s him got just over half of his first month’s rent and it looks as though at worst I’ll have to get two withdrawals per month for him.

It rained briefly this afternoon: two or three short sharp downpours over an hour or so: not enough to do any good.

I’ve spent all day working on a program for the wee ones to recognise the English letters, complete with animated tuk-tuk. We used to say all computer programmers were either “just started” or “almost finished”: this is in the latter stage of being dressed up with friendly front page, lots of sound and effects etc. Whether it’ll ever be used more than once or twice is hard to say.


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