So it has been nearly two weeks since I have arrived in Colombo and my experience has been quite a mixed bag. Things have been made significantly more complicated by the delay on Shaun’s work visa and some confusion about my own visa, but I’m making the most of things.
One would think being unemployed in a foreign country by myself would mean that I would be bored, but you would not believe the amount of things I’ve found to keep myself occupied. In fact, I don’t know if I will have time to work if I find a job.
The following are the things I have been doing to occupy my time. Bear in mind that every task takes substantially longer to accomplish here than it would at home. The formula I use to calculate how long a task will take is the following:
estimate how long such a task would take at home and triple the length of time + 1/3 of total time for unexpected socializing + 1/4 of total time for getting lost + 1/3 time for difficulties with translation/ communication or technology
Here is a recent example. Yesterday morning I needed to get some nail polish remover and print my resume. Time this would take at home 30 minutes. When you apply the formula, this becomes 90 +30 (socializing) +22 (getting lost) +30 (technology) = 2 hours and 42 minutes
This would have been an accurate estimation except that an unexpected incident with the bursting of the nail polish remover bottle and my running to the washroom to do some first aid emergency flushing out of my eyes that added an additional 20 minutes. However, who could ever anticipate that (I’m fine by the way).
So back to the list of how I fill my days:
1. Watching cricket – The world cup is on right now and you can watch it on television at any moment. I have spent many nights in front of the tube with my host father dissecting the game. I believe it will take me a lifetime to learn all the rules but it is worth it. Sri Lankans are crazy about cricket. When you step into immigration at the airport there is a huge sign saying “Get ready to eat, sleep and breath cricket”. It is true. They all love the game. The city literally shuts down when there is a big match.
2. Studying Buddhism and Meditation – I’ve made a great number of Sri Lankan friends who love to discuss the principles of Buddhism with me (amongst other things) and have lent me some fabulous books on the topic. I’ve even joined a regular meditation group that goes on retreat one weekend a month. One friend and I meet even night at the temple to meditate and continue to practice our mindfulness. This has proven especially useful when encountering the many stressful situations that I’ve been through as of late.
3. Learning Sri Lankan Cooking – The food hear is a fabulous mix of all sorts of flavours. Auntie Nagani (the owner of the guest house I’ve been staying in) has been showing me the basics. Every week we will make arrangements for me to come over and learn a dish with her. She is a fabulous cook and I’m so lucky to have her expertise.
4. Going to the Gym – I’ve splurged on a local gym membership. It is a haven away from the bustle and craziness of the city life. (Plus it has a/c). There I have tried zumba classes and I also spend many hours lounging by the side of the pool.
5. Doing Laundry – Do you realize how long doing laundry by hand and ironing can take??
6. Searching for Work – This is a big part of my time right now, which is further complicated by the inaccessibility of the computer for me. I had an interview at one of the international schools yesterday and things sound promising (keep your fingers crossed).
7. Hashing – Tried my first session of Hashing last night with a local expat group. It is kind of a mix between orienteering and running. A trail is set by a “Hash Hare” in advance and we follow the winding trail through rice paddies and the winding streets of Colombo’s suburbs. (You should see the looks on the local’s faces as all these sweaty foreigners run by). After the run a meal and drinks are shared. There is also a crazy circle time in which new hashers (that was me last night) must be quizzed and initiated by chugging a beer. Check out the website for more on their crazy antics. You really have to see it to believe it!
8. Updating the blog and Facebook- As you all can tell I haven’t exactly been on top of this one. Without having a computer here and the internet access at cafes being unreliable at best, it has been hard to keep up to date. I have so many stories and photos I want to share but you will have to all be patient with me. I’ve actually found myself getting stressed about keeping up the blog (that is until I practice mindfulness meditation abuot the situation). Keeping this blog could really be a full time job in itself. Especially right now when everything is so new and exciting.
Anyway, that is all for now. In summary, I may be unemployed and homeless, but I’m enjoying living in he moment and as a result many amazing opportunities have been coming my way.
P.S. Just received word that Shaun will be arriving on the 31st which is two weeks earlier than initially expected when they had to cancel his flight due to the visa delay. This is great news and I’m looking forward to really getting settled into our actual apartment, getting our in country training and having regular computer access. Blogging and Skyping correspondence should be much better at that time.