Random thoughts from abroad

My two little Bridge Year girls are Lithuli (lit-oo-li) and Nethumi (net-oo-mi) and even after a week I still get them confused. I think it’ll be OK to post their photos as the girls have also appeared on the official TGS website and Facebook page in the past. They aren’t really at all alike in appearance: I guess the similar names confuse me.



I’ve realised the school trip to the Martin Wickramsinghe museum is this Friday, which clashes with my booked dive. A phone call to Hans, but answered by a local member of staff, should have sorted this clash out, but I do find phone conversations with Sri Lankans hard to follow. They probably feel the same about Scots. Anyway, I hope I’ve managed to shift to Saturday: at least I tried. That should leave the weekend starting 2nd Feb. available for Visa renewal in Colombo.

Talking of Wickramsinghe, I’ve been reading in translation his children’s book “Madol Duwa” (“Mangrove Island”). Apparently it’s very popular with Sri Lankans and has been translated into many other languages. Two boys run away from home and start farming on isolated, uninhabited and spooky Mangrove Island before being reunited with their parents, apparently after some considerable time. It’s not clear to me whether we’re supposed to believe the boys really did do this or whether it’s an imaginary adventure, if you see what I mean. Anyway, the “real” island of Madol Duwa is not far from Wickramsinghe’s house (the museum) and I think it forms part of the tour.

The rather grubby small town of Koggala is not just home to Wickramsinghiana but also to The Fortress Hotel: its website (www.thefortress.lk) is worth visiting to see how the other 10% live. I’ve not looked thoroughly, but it doesn’t seem still to be advertising “the most expensive dessert in the world” costing US$14000 according to the guidebook. Apparently it features a real diamond. Last time I was in Koggala I treated myself to a choc-ice after going round the museum.

Today, whilst I was teaching two of the “gang of four” – an unfairly negative name – their mother appeared out of the blue with a friend she was showing round the school. As her family comprise over 50% of the “upper” school roll, I guess she has proprietorial rights. I was able to check up if she made the doughnuts one of her boys distributed last week and then thank her. That should improve the chances of another delivery!

TGS does its best to be environmentally friendly. A new addition to the garden is the raised bed cum composting unit. Assuming I remember to post the photo, you’ll hopefully be able to make out the circular raised bed made of stones and mud. In fact, it’s a circle with a bite taken out of it. The “bite” makes it easier to reach the middle which is a cylindrical hole lined with chicken wire. Into this the compost is put and the resultant nutritional goodies are readily available to the plants in the surrounding bed. A nice idea: I wonder how durable the design and manufacture will prove to be.


There is an ever-shifting population at Sera’s: I have no doubt I will be the longest resident. Last night four young Germans were here for the night and we chatted in English for a while. I said “Goodbye” to one of them when I went over to work. When I got back soon after 2pm, they had gone. So had my jar of coffee: just saying, like.

Confession, sayeth the preacher, is good for the soul. An hour or two after casting aspersions on the German students for stealing my coffee I was resignedly making a cup of tea when Amjit produced the remains of my coffee from the bowels of a dark cardboard box where he had hidden it. He was needlessly apologetic about not having stopped the use of the coffee, but had hidden the jar soon after bolting the stable door. I tried to explain that I had no real objection to someone – including him – helping themselves to a cup’s worth of my coffee, but certainly hoped no-one would finish it without asking. So the young Germans are off the hook: at least they left me about a quarter of a jar.


Whilst this conversation was staggering along, Vanushka came in to the kitchen to replenish the oil for the lamp that burns in front of the little Buddha statue. He’s been mentioning me helping him out as a tutor and that’s OK: what I didn’t expect was Tue 6:30pm, IT; Wed 6:30pm, English; and Thu same time, French. I may have got the last two the wrong way round, not that you lot care, but I may need to use this as an aide-memoire when I’m dottled, so I’d better be accurate. I already look back at last year’s blog to refresh my memory. I mentioned this Wed is Burns’ Night and there’d be no class, but now realise in fact I could slip it in before donning my full Highland Dress, warming up my pipes and microwaving a haggis. (Just joking about the preparations, honest.)

I started a class at Teaching College in 1975 called “French Methods” but gave up after a few weeks as I didn’t want my “career” sidelined into taking first and second year French. Besides, whilst on English teaching practice in Fraserburgh – more or less teaching a foreign language to the pupils and me undergoing an immersion course in Broch – I decided I couldn’t be bothered preparing sample lessons on “Tenses after Quand”, “The use of partitive de” and something else equally recondite. Any readers with experience of teaching French – particularly at an elementary level to an intelligent 17yr old – are cordially invited to get in touch. I suspect we’ll just practice whatever he does in his evening class.

Here are a few pictures of “home”:


Newly made bed. Note router on right.


Table / desk, chair and “wardrobe”


Communal Kitchen (and hidden coffee)


Kitchen again



One response to “Random thoughts from abroad

  1. You r keeping busy aren’t you! I’v found your Slank guide so any info u need – I’m your woman.

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