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travels from afar

August 13, 2012

What’s the date today? I can’t remember. Time has frazzled into a tropical sweat …quite literally too…it was difficult to see the clock tower today on the old East India Company College, (part of HFI Institute) where I find myself plonked, as it was soaked in cloudy hot rain stuff…or as I like to describe it…atmospheric spunk…

Somebody forgot to stop pouring petrol onto the BBQ flames…but then you realise, that’s just the weather outside…even buses have air-conditioning, and thank whatever ‘Lord’ there is for that…

I went into a Hindu temple today by accident,  and just had enough time to take my shoes off, otherwise I would have been accosted by…well…people, and I watched the procession walk round, whilst gatherers in the middle were offered incense by a semi-naked Monk. I could never ‘get’ religious practices, but I suppose it’s good to sort of pass the time. It was very peaceful and I would go back there…for a semi-naked monk primarily.  On a serious note, it had a sense of serenity and humblenes about it, simply to watch families & young couples with children walk around in a congregation; community like that is quickly receding in Britain)

On Monday I flew Emirates to Bandaranaike International Airport – which is in Colombo, Sri Lanka….

Earlier in the day I had met Mr See Nee at Dubai (I had to change flights there). Mr See Nee was a thin man (like me), from  Singapore (unlike me), who works for HFI (International Institute in SiNgapore – LET’S JUST CALL IT HFI for now…the place where I’ll be working as an English Teacher, or as they so pretentiously like to phrase it ‘primary Consultant for Linguistic & Literary studies…’who’d use THAT title if anybody asked them what they do for ze living? Probably moi actually).  Mr See Nee is their ‘human resources’ person out in Colombo. Yes. That’s right – you read that correctly: the school has their own human resources department. The Glen of Thornes (school UK) has Debbie: I’m not sure which is more domineering though. Anyway, I accompanied him – all the way to Bandarankaneekey weekey (apologies for butchering unfamiliar names and for being xenophobic…you may have to acclimatise yourself to it…I had to…because I SHOCK myself at times,,,especially that time when I put my finger in….never mind…)Anyway, it was all very 007…if you ask me. I put to him that very same question on our 6 hour flight; the movie was Shutter Island (how appropriate I thought)-  “all a bit 007 Mr See Nee, eh?”  To which he replied – with a puzzled look – “no…the windows ARE NOT made of the fibre glass…these are special Shanghai Airspace manufacture….from China…”

“F**k it” I said in response, as the sun slowly dropped off the edge of the horizon “I’m off to sleep”

My actual response was something like this: “Oh how surprising that this plane was also made in China Mr See Nee…very interesting…but what I MEANT was – “

“And China make the best aircraft in the world; did you know that…? Even better than your British Rolls Royce…ha ha”

“ha ha…” I lied a laugh.

When I awaoke (after many a single malt whisky ‘sip’ and a couple of sleeping pills), I COULD JUST GLIMPSE some land below. My first reaction was: ‘OMG…we’ve DISCOVERED another colour…and nobody’s been told”    :-/

It wasn’t green. This was something URGENT and green, wih a hint of pink to it – almost as if all the ‘green’ in the entire world was just about to run out, and so the Sri Lankan government – in a panic- suddenly rushed out and bought all the ‘green’ there ever was. Waves of date palms, coconut, coffee plants – what I assumed to be anyway. It looked like a child’s version of heaven, until the plane circled even lower and then I saw some cars (not many), and buildings, which were all jumbled together like LEGO bricks – with bits of plastic stuck to them…and the RUBBISH / LITTER / REFUSE …it littered every house and every road and every tree. An old woman – who looked like a Sri Lankan equivalent of Margery Doors (Shooting Stars…some of you will be too young to know that show) – sat next to Mr See Nee. Margery had quite obviously spotted something tantalising out of the window. Maybe it was her husband’s penis (anything can blow off in a tropical storm…no pun intended). Having done this, she stretched her large hand over the two of us, smacking Mr See Nee in the face with her cleavage – and spilling the contents of his Burma coffee over his trousers. They said something to each other that I didn’t understand – but I’m sure Mr See Nee’s trousers did…

Margery looked a bit miffed after that…

Anyway…they were the general events of my flight. On Thursday (whenerver that is), I fly to Singa, where I am due to have lunch with Dr Chang, let’s call him, Mr Principal (from UK), and another rather elevated manager, pitched into the higher echelons of the Ministry of Magic / Education work. They pay well…but there must be some catch somehwere, (perhaps teaching 110 pupils how to translate & then recite Corialanus into Mandarin in one and a half hours would be easy compared with trying not to s*** yourself every 5 minutes due to long haul stomach cramps and heat exhaustion….(personally I’d go for the Corialanus /Mandarin malarkey…oh that old chesnut again…)

Colombo is a haze of beautiful (and sometimes dreadful) smells. Once we checked in at the landmine…I mean…the HOTEL…I was ushered to a fairly comfortable room (which probably had a trap-door installed somewhere…still believing I was 007) , and a Hindu warrior with a knife in his mouth, ready to hang me up by my collar to the ceiling fan.

Sadly, there was only complementary tea and kleenex.


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