Monday, January 10, 2011

Keep Calm And Carry On

So I'm back and this post comes to you from the familiar environs of my desk and my office. Familiar to me that is, not you.

I got in early yesterday morning and had most of Sunday to unpack and get settled, ready for another Monday, another week and another month. My Barefoot journal is full to the brim, not that journals actually have brims, with mind maps of my adventures, my thoughts and my experiences in the motherland in the last two weeks. From meeting a particular person who was just the most amazing dancer to getting thoroughly pissed off by the way in which I feel much of the Lankan tourism industry is shamelessly raping the average tourist, it's all there.

Some of it I'll share with you in the days and weeks to come, some I'll keep to myself and only talk to friends about, for fear of the old "he's not a true Sri Lankan if he's that critical" thing that we know and love.

Of course I'm not a one hundred per cent true Sri Lankan either. I live here in London and I want to. Coming back here this time I felt as if I was leaving one home; the one of madness, chaos, corruption and knowing someone and arriving at another home; the one of order, systems, predictability and middleness.

What do I mean by "middleness"? I mean that in Sri Lanka, if you know the right person or have the right connections, you can get things done, often very quickly, more quickly than here in the UK. But, if you don't have the connections, you join the queue. And it's a very slow and cumbersome queue.

Here in Blighty knowing a person rarely makes a difference. Most of us get a middleness in the service we receive regardless of who we are. We get worse than the man in Lanka who knows someone but, as a default, we also get better than that chap in the queue.

This time I quite liked returning to that middleness, feeling a bit worn down by some of the ways in which I was treated by my hotel and surroundings in Sri Lanka. Such is life and I also feel immensely privileged that I'm one of the many with my heritage in Serendib and that I'm increasingly at home there.

It's also funny to see people complaining about the weather there. Here I sit and it's two and a half degrees outside. I'm quite lucky in that my body is doing that thing, you know the thing where being in a tropical country is like having a hot bath and your body retains the heat, so I'm feeling okay. But it's cold and I'd swap some of this dreary West London coldness for some of your much better quality Colombo coldness at the drop of a hat. Or a scarf even.

SL2G? Did I tell you about that?

We've got a really great photo exhibition thing, called "Talking Pictures - Connecting With Sri Lanka". It's on the 8th February at the East Gallery in Brick Lane and it promises to be a lively and rather brilliant evening of stimulating discussion around a set of photographs centred around our connections with Sri Lanka. Get in touch if you'd like to know more, or find SL2G on Facebook.

I must go now. I've got songs to learn, a new chap starting today and jetlag to be getting on with too.


Marc said...

I know what you mean about getting things done. This time I thought I would get my Sri-Lankan driving licence renewed, a process which would have taken all of 30mins in Australia.
I have the 'old card' licence which I 'bought' when I was 17. I thought I would do things the 'right' way and went to the RMV in Piliyandala with a fellow from my office to do the necesary 'running around'. On my way to there a friend rang and asked me what I was doing, and when I told him he said I was wasting my time and he knew a fellow who would 'get it done' for me. I thought no I would persevere and continued on. To cut a long story short when I got there the queue to get a number was massive and the option of using the fellow 'who could get it done' looked like a very enticing option. When I asked the lady at the counter how long it would take to get a number she looked my licence and said "why do you want to change this, it never expires. The new licences are only valid 7 years.."
So I have taken her advice and will keep my old licence even though the picture is very outdated !

Gypsy said...

Miss you, R. x

Angel said...

Sounds like you had a great time... I await the posts!