Sunday, December 20, 2015

Am I in Sri Lanka or not?

Exactly three months into our Fulbright and the question arises whether I'm actually in Sri Lanka or not. Of course physically we are very much "here." Bus rides, food and music, acquaintances, friends, and work are all going on here. Even language has begun to bloom and though no one can understand me when I try to speak Sinhala at least I'm putting the thoughts together in a Sri Lankan language.

So here in my guesthouse outside of Tangalle there's the usual conundrum. Great to not be isolated. To have people around, especially Sri Lankan people. In our guesthouse in Colombo there are lots of Indians and Maldivians in addition to Sri Lankan guests. But to get back to Tangalle, a lovely small guesthouse with just a handful of rooms, the unfortunate reality of a table full of Germans speaking their language with the gusto of young drink people somehow not ashamed of who they are. 

Their happy drunk voices travel in through my front window and through the back window the Sri Lankan staff, the houseboys and kitchen boys and server and manager can be overheard. 

All of these voices are in their own way Sri Lankan, even the obnoxious guests who bring their own food and beer and make a racket and put their feet on the tables and smoke. Lovely European visitors. 

But as the months slip by my feeling of being rooted in Sri Lanka seems to deepen only incrementally, neither as fast nor as deep as I wish it were. The countryside flies by. My feet don't touch it. My hours are spent with flies and Germans and something somehow is missing in this experience. 

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