Tempus Fugit

 

Today’s the last day of February: time is flying past. I have the remainder of this week and then I finish at TGS Thursday of next week. Rick has asked if I’d attend Assembly for a formal goodbye on the Friday and then I’ll have a few days travelling before my flight home!

It’s been a couple of days since I posted anything, but quite honestly there’s not been a lot to tell you all about.

Yesterday should have been a non-eating day, but I was going into the Fort area anyway to check up on some stuff for the Treasure Hunt, so I slipped a little lunch in as well: rice and (seafood) curry, which filled a gap. Whilst munching away, I spotted a very ragged looking bird in the sky and was just wondering what it was when it was joined by one or two more, then several and then dozens. It turned out that Southlands College – a school for girls with a roll of about 3000, apparently, was having some sort of kite-flying extravaganza. Luckily, not all the girls seemed to be flying a kite! It made for quite a sight nevertheless. I took some photos on my phone, but they don’t do it justice.

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Last night’s lesson with Venushka turned out to be IT as he had an end of course test today and wanted to revise and cover things he’d missed because of the wedding a few weeks back. The course seems to have been very short for the amount he needed to do. I saw him earlier today when I got back from work and he didn’t seem all that sure of how he’d done: he only completed six of the seven questions in the three hour exam, reckoning some were difficult and some were very easy, so we’ll have to wait and see. He’s certainly very slow at typing, which can’t have helped. As it’s all in English, I hope they don’t take marks off for spelling. It’s a blessing it’s not an oral English exam.

There’s no rest for the wicked, though: tonight we’re doing French and English.

With next week’s “field trip” to the Fort in mind, I had asked the two eldest kids, each of whom will be leading a team, to bring in their mobile phones. I was genuinely surprised, if not shocked, to find they had no idea of the difference between texting (by phone signal) and emailing (by wi-fi): Tariq in particular took a lot of persuading there was any difference and that, as they’d be out and about wandering around, anything wi-fi based was unlikely to work. He’s a nice lad, but needs to be a bit less stubborn and a wee bit more willing to accept that – unlike me – he’s not always right! To cut a long story short, Sarah’s phone will be fine for the job, but Tariq’s seems to have all sorts of problems: he reckons he has the same phone number as his father, who’s in Saudi: I’d be surprised if that were the case, but… We’ll need to find another phone for him.

It looks as though the Treasure Hunt is going to be quite an event now: the Bridge Year girls (P1 at best) are coming and instead of one teacher with each of the two groups there’s going to be about three, so we’ll end up with nine children and six or seven staff. No pressure, then…

Whilst I was trying to explain about mobile phones to S&T, the heavens opened – comme une vache qui pisse as I think they say in France. In fact like a whole herd suffering from dyspepsia as lightning flashed, thunder crashed almost continuously, rain came down in milk pails and Uninterruptible Power Supplies beeped their insistent warnings before shutting down under the influence of force majeur. It was sufficiently dramatic that even monsoon-hardened Sri Lankans were impressed. It stopped almost as quickly as it started and within minutes the large pools of standing water you could have sailed the Titanic in disappeared into the sandy soil. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more in store though.

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I came out here with a couple of educational / toy robots. One is a robot arm controlled by the computer via USB, at least that’s the theory. Fathima and I have spent quite a bit of time trying to get it to work, but it won’t play ball at all: in desperation we started disassembling it today to check connections and so forth, but to no avail. It’s a real shame because it was working in Inverness, so something somewhere has put the kybosh on it. The other robot is working: it’s a humanoid thing called RoboSapien, but very fiddly to try and program via a remote control with multi-function buttons and no way of correcting a mistake other than starting again. You can’t store programs in it as it has no long-term memory: unlike me as it’s short-term memory I seem to be losing. Have I told you that before?

I have finally thrown in the towel in my attempt to go back to Lake View Cottage at Tissamaharama: a combination of them being dilatory in responding to booking requests, their being heavily booked and then booking me in for the wrong days. Instead I’m going to be near Hambantota – the town with the white elephant “international” airport. Hambantota is the home of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, thought by many to have been bordering on corrupt and who had a new airport built, funded by the Chinese, which provided jobs and for many of his family and his southern power base. There are very few planes use the airport due to a lack of infrastructure. An interesting article which I may have posted a year ago can be found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2016/05/28/the-story-behind-the-worlds-emptiest-international-airport-sri-lankas-mattala-rajapaksa/#fc4b4e77cea2

So, my stay at the Lagoon Inn on the edge of Bundala National Park should not be disturbed by the incessant noise of jet aircraft, though the name suggests smaller flying things may be in evidence. I’m going there on Friday of next week, after Assembly, and am staying for three nights. One of the days will be a safari in the Park. Bundala is reckoned to be quieter than the very popular Yala which I visited last year, but doesn’t have as wide a range of animals, though it’s described as a birdwatcher’s paradise with some elephants and more crocodiles than you could wave a good-sized stick at. In fact, guides often allow visitors out of their jeeps to get up close or down and dirty with the crocodiles. Having patted crocs in Katchikally in the Gambia, I consider myself an old hand at that: two hands with any luck. I’m getting blasé about some of SL’s animals, so land monitors and monkeys are not as big an attraction as they might otherwise be. I’m looking forward to it, though.

It’ll soon be time to go and brush up my Srançais and Sringlish, so I’ll draw to a close. PS: I was right about it not being finished raining: it’s just started again, with renewed vigour.

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