Several years ago, Shaun and I were traveling with another couple to run in the Manitoba Marathon (shout out to Kim and Trevor). This was near the end of the school year, and I had brought along some marking. It turns out the student work was a great source of entertainment as we read through their responses to a reading test. My favourite was the student who responded to a question on the novel of the Outsiders with “I don’t know but here is a joke. What do you call a vampire snowman? Frostbite. Laff now!” How could you suppress a giggle at this? (BTW, I don’t accept any responsibility for the student’s spelling).
Often the experiences I have in Sri Lanka feel like a joke in which I’ve missed the punch line. Sometimes I wish someone would just pop out of now where with a flashing sign that said “LAFF NOW” so that I would I get the joke.
Examples include the following:
On the bus to school and a random guy sitting next to me says “Artificial lakes”.
I say, “Excuse me?”
He repeats, “Artificial lakes ” with a goofy grin on his face and points to a body of water that is more like a slough than anything else.
I’m still not sure what he was getting at. Maybe he was practicing his English, but I’m glad my stop was the next one
After the middle school production concluded, Shaun decides to take me out for a proper drink. I’m allowed to order whatever I want for this special occasion (not just the $1.50 local lager that we usually stick to). Since we are at a pretty swanky place, I decide to order a gin martini. It takes 45 minutes and 5 people to execute the task, but in the end it is delicious!
Upon entry into our gym together, Shaun and I are greeted by a familiar face who works at the door.
He says, “Hello madam and sir. It is so nice to see you come together for once!”
I think he probably thought we got divorced like all foreign couples are rumoured to do at least a half dozen times here. Then he proceeds to give me what he thinks must be a huge compliment.
“Madam, you are looking so slim and good. Before you were so (gestures largely with his hands around his belly) fat!”
I could see the fear in Shaun’s eyes as he wasn’t sure if I would drop kick the poor, socially inept man.
Luckily, I was in a good mood so I replied with a smile on my face, “Yes, yes, yes, before I was so fat and ugly. Good thing that I’ve changed.”
He replies, “Yes, yes, yes, that’s so right!”
I honestly think most Sri Lankans would agree with anything you said as long as you have a smile on your face. They really take avoiding confrontation to the extreme!
Shaun and I are waiting, and eagerly anticipating our first (and last) Bollywood dance class at a local gym. We report in to the front desk and the kind gentleman tells us that the instructor is not in yet and to kindly take a seat. We sit down and quietly practice our Bhangra Shrugs (which look more like seizures) as we wait. It is 15 minutes past when the class was due to start and we ask the man at reception if the instructor is here yet.
“Not yet sir,” he says to me (I hate that they always get mixed up and call me sir. I’m starting to develop a complex). “The instructor just phoned and said he is behind. He should be here any moment.”
We sit back down and wonder if the night will be a bust.All of a sudden, like a stealth ninja, out from the dark a man signals for us to “come this way”. We do and we are guided to a class through a “secret stair well” that has already begun.
It turns out the class was on time and the man at the front desk just didn’t know anything about it, but didn’t want to admit it.Luckily, Shaun’s sultry moves were worth the wait!
With that image in mind, Happy holidays to everyone! It is my first official day of holidays and we are just over 24 hours away from a vacation in Nepal. Life is good!Trina