February starts

Two days’ worth as I missed Tuesday and apologies for the uninspired title of today’s posting.

After school on Tuesday we had another staff meeting: I think it’s more or less a weekly event, though not all will be relevant to me. Once again, Rick had those of us who were on time draw lots to win various goodies: a kitchen timer, a couple of glass serving dishes, a small wicker basket etc. I didn’t win anything, but quickly got over my disappointment when I manned up.

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Some of the Lottery Prizes

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A Lucky Winner

The only topic that might be of interest to some of you was feedback on the Christmas Concert (referred to as the “Holiday Program”). In a break from past practice, the Concert was held in the Chamber of Commerce rather than the school and Rick had invited feedback, which he carefully collated into a closely-typed A4 sheet with Pros and Cons as well as the survey results. Most of the sheet dealt with organisational matters: seating of children, management of kids during Staff items etc., but I thought “Some performances too long, consider timing next year” might ring a bell with some teachers I know! There were also calls for Santa to visit.

As the meeting continued, I occasionally found my mind wandering and watched a troupe of monkeys use the school rooftops as a passage way from one clump of trees to the next. Later, at Sera’s I watched a young monitor lizard scurrying – no, that’s the wrong word, lumbering, plodding, wading? – across the short grass. Young monitors, whilst no doubt endearing in their way, don’t have the “aaah” factor of kittens. It must be the lack of fur, the darting tongue and beady eyes or the curious gait.

Sera and family came back in the evening and by all accounts the wedding went well. It was held in Kandy at the Golf Club and tonight I saw some footage of the auspiciously-timed nuptials. Whilst the greens might not be up to scratch in a Scottish context, they looked good and provided an attractive background to the proceedings. Sera offered me a rambutan to eat: if these are unfamiliar to you, then the photos will give some idea. I had seen them often enough, but not knowingly eaten one. The taste and texture is akin to a lychee: Wikipedia confirms they are closely related. The fearsome looking spines are completely harmless, having a rubber texture. The flesh surrounds a sizeable stone. I like rambutan.

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Rambutan – a Still Life

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Partly opened

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Anyone fancy a zombie’s eyeball?

Today, Wednesday, was a big day. The new new IT teacher started work. The original new person turned down the job at the last minute and Yasendri is no more: instead we have Fathima. She is a young woman, mother of a two and a half year old, with British Computing Society qualifications. I think she has done some teaching before, but I’m not positive. She is very pleasant and seems eminently capable, with good English. Rick wants her partly to shadow me over the next month and a bit, gradually taking over entirely. She smiles and does that charming head wobble so common in Sri Lanka, a cross between “yes”, “uh-uh” and “maybe”: a sort of polite acceptance of what you’re saying without necessarily committing to agreeing. On top of her, metaphorically speaking, I also had Hajira – a young classroom-assistant in training. Her course takes a year and involves six months’ college and six months in schools. Given that I had suggested to Rick that we needed the services of an external  network technician to fix a problem (two turned up) and that an electrician had been summoned to replace a faulty socket, supervised by Zulfa from the school office, there were at times more adults in the IT room than there are kids in the primary section.

This evening Vanushka and I spent some time on MS Access again: I confessed to him that whilst Access is no doubt very useful and powerful I find it deadly boring, but we worked through some of it anyway.

img_20170201_202223Sera has just received a plaque from booking.com attesting to the 9/10 rating Sera Villa has been awarded. It is thoroughly deserved. The rooms are adequately equipped – though an armchair would make a welcome addition to augment the patio chair and table. The kitchen is also fine: I suspect most of the quirks are cultural, or just the local way of doing things. The grounds have been prettied up and are nicely-lit. The location out of town may have disadvantages, but there is a good local service into town for 6p, with the bus stopping opposite the house. Amjit is almost constantly on duty, certainly in the early mornings, mid afternoons and evenings: he keeps the place clean, provides tea or coffee if requested, runs errands and chats to residents where language allows. He also showed me the plaque with pride. Sera is generally around in the evenings to welcome guests, some of whom arrive quite late. Though my stay is quite understandably more firmly on a business footing this year, the whole family are kind and generous. Poornima provides cups of tea at the drop of a hat and, whilst I was with Vanushka, a pineapple from a place whose name I’ve forgotten but is synonymous with the best Sri Lankan pineapples. I like pineapples.

Tomorrow, Thursday, will be yet another different day. I am accompanying the primary school swimming. The little ones went on Tuesday, but that didn’t involve me. We are going in the school bus, so I’ll get a chance to see that, to a hotel’s swimming pool, I think. Rick – who is a PE teacher – will already be there in the pool and there is a swimming coach. I may or may not decide to go in the water.

After school I’m going to Colombo and on Friday I’m going to see about extending my visa to cover the rest of my stay. I’m staying the two nights in City Beds or whatever it’s called, where I stayed after my flight. Due to the frustrations of “typing” on my Kindle, I suspect any blog will be short. It’s also, just this minute, dawned on me that Saturday is National Day, the anniversary of the country’s independence. I don’t know how, if at all, that will affect my trip to Colombo: not much with any luck.

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