Thursday, 8 May 2008

Travel Journal #6 (5 May): Alone in the City

Today was my first day by myself in Colombo and I was quite excited about it. Sasanka had weddings preparations to tend to so he dropped me off somewhere along Galle Road and I was on my own.

What a difference it makes not having a local close by. People approach lots more, for better or for worse. School kids smiling and waving at me, people stopping me out of the blue and asking me questions like were I am from, how long I will be staying around, do I smoke (???)

But I did also get heaps of tuk-tuk drivers harassing me to take me on city tours, shops, or back to my hotel (I lied to them all and said I was staying close by and would just walk.) Most would give up after a simple "no, thank you" but some are quite persistent and I even had a couple of guys posing as cops and trying to rip me off big time. I won't go into details here but suffice to say that while they didn't manage to get any money out of me things did turn a bit nasty. I was a bit shaken by it all so instead of taking a tuk-tuk home like I had planned I decided to call Sasanka and ask him to pick me up.

When we arrived the house was packed with relatives, mostly people I remembered meeting at the home coming a few days ago. They all came to work on some last minute details for the wedding. We all had dinner (no curries this time, mostly breads, rolls, sandwiches, and papaya, banana and pineapple for dessert) and then it was time to get to work and package the cakes. I'll explain. All guests at the wedding and at home coming get a little wedding cake nicely packaged in a bag or a box. I tried it a few days ago, it is delicious and very rich. Having 600 guests (300 for the wedding, 300 for home coming) means you need to idividually package 600 cakes so I rolled up my sleves and helped them although I kept thinking how nice it would be to have one of those babies as I was handling them. The boxes are usually purchased in specialised shops but in this case Sasanka's father Mahasen, who is a bit of an artist, handcrafted each of the 600 boxes himself! It was awesome spending time with Sasanka's family and helping them with the work, it made me feel like I was part of the whole thing.

Then they all went on to discuss exact timings for each activity during the ceremony. All in Sinhalese of course, which alas isn't my forte so I decided to be anti-social and come up here to write these notes.

All in all it was an interesting day with a very nice ending. A few notes to self:

  1. Never get in a tuk-tuk without agreeing on a price first. You read this everywhere but never give it the importance it deserves.
  2. When you don't know the place, never trust what other people tell you on the streets especially if they are the ones approching you.
  3. It's best to be rude and cut people off at first if you smell something fishy rather than trying to be nice and getting yourself into trouble later!

1 comment:

Gypsy said...

You are part of the thing. I guess Sasanka's wedding is one of the most different one among Sri Lankans coz he has a foreigner on it. So dare to say, you make it a little bit more special than an ordinary Sri Lankan wedding!

Unfortunately I cannot have a piece of those cake. I think the MAF beagles at the NZ airport would not allow that... :(