Sewwandi’s aunty might not have heard anything Beth and I said to her, but she was eager to be led to the dance floor to in her words “party hard”.

Communication is difficult at the best of times. Throw in working in a foreign country with cultural and language barriers, and the fact that I work with students 13 and younger, and you have a recipe for disaster. See the following examples.

Conversation #1

Me: I would like to go to Gregory’s Road.

Tuk-tuk driver: Yes.

Me: You know?

Driver: Yes, yes, yes . . .

I get in the tuk and he starts driving the wrong direction. So I point the opposite direction and tell him it’s the wrong way in Sinhala. The driver turns the tuk around unapologetically.

The rest of the journey continues much in the same way.

Me: Turn left here (in Sinhala).

Driver turns right.

Me: Stop (in Sinhala)

Driver drives faster.

Me: This road (while gesturing wildly). It’s number 51. Go straight. (in Sinhala)

Driver passes the road completely.

The journey ended with me getting out and walking the remainder of the journey.

Example #2

Seamstress: Would you like puffed sleeves on your sari blouse?

Me: No. I was thinking of just a cap sleeve. (I gesture and show a picture.)

Seamstress: Oh, okay so you’d like puffed sleeves.

Me: Sure, whatever.

Seamstress: Would you like a built in bra or not?

Me: It’s okay I’ll wear my own bra.

Seamstress: Aw right. So you will have a built in bra. What kind of neckline would you like?

Me: (catching on now) Whatever you think is best. You are the expert.

Seamstress: I really need to know what you want.

. . . and it just went on from there.

Conversation #3

Me: Okay class please turn to page 63 of your text book.

Student #1: Which page?

Me: Page 63. (I have now also written it in boldly on the board).

Student #2: Ms. C. can I go get my math text book from my locker?

Me: Sure, I mean why would you think you needed your math text for math class. Go get it and hurry back.

Student #3: What! We need our textbooks. Can I go get mine too?

Student #4: Hey, Ms. C., do you have any pets?

Me: No, and what does that have to do with anything? Come on class get to page 63 so we can review order of operations.

Student #1: What page are we supposed to turn to? I’m confused. . .

Conversation #4

Me: (returning home for the day) Shaun I’ve had the most unbelievably frustrating day. Sometimes I feel as though no one at all is listening in this country. Do you ever feel this way?

Shaun: (removing iPod headphones) Sorry . . . what did you say?

But on a more positive note, the supermarket was playing the Wham! hit Careless Whisper on the radio. This took me back to a simpler time when my dad would play this cassette (one of his 12 Columbia House cassettes for a penny) as he would cart me around in our family’s 1984 Hyundai Pony running errands on a Saturday.

Not to mention, thanks to a colleague, I discovered this gem on YouTube. The Olympics may be over, but the Bollympics (Bollywood Olympics) have just begun. This is brought to you by the creators of the Apple iYo and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.