I know you’re supposed to describe a trip by the scenery, the food, the cool wind whipping your face as you drip sweat from your lip and curse Rexona. But I don’t like descriptions. Only if they’re of people; people are fascinating.
So I’m going to tell the story of my day in Sri Lanka by describing the people I met. Firstly I met the elephant I posted a photo of, and this blog is a follow up to that post. He was pretty awesome. We bonded over a shared love of bananas.
After that, I went to an ancient monastery, full of ruins from before the time when Jesus was just a twinkle in Mary’s eye. It’s full of history, religious significance and architectural magic.
But I didn’t give a shit. Not because I’m uncultured (although I do like ABBA and processed bread) but because the lady at the door ripped me off.
I’d pulled out four one thousand rupee notes for the three thousand two hundred ticket. The lady started going on about correct change, and demanding the two hundred rupees. When I explained I didn’t have any, she didn’t understand my English. So I borrowed from a friend. But I obviously had bad karma for breaking English law (never make scene) and the lady kept the extra thousand rupees.
I tried to protest, so she gave me a lecture about obeying Sri Lankan customs, and when you come to this country, you show us proper respect….
I wasn’t about to start a fight with an old Sri Lankan lady; I was already getting the ‘look at that rude, racist teenage making a fuss’ look from the other tourists in their pristine Kathmandu hats.
So I thought ‘sod it’ and gave up. It had already cost $35 USD for the ticket, and now I’d lost another $10. Which, despite a reservation for being so tight arsed, pissed me off.
That’s why when I finally got in I wasn’t in the mood to coo over broken pots.
Thankfully I saw a monk in a Burberry scarf which cheered me up. Then I saw the guide. She was surrounded by sprawling temple models, glittering exhibits, and hunks of dense text on religion and architecture. She was also reading Cosmo.
It was like when a kid starts throwing trucks in church. It was one of those moments when, despite everyone straining to be seriousness and cultured and intellectual, reality intrudes. Priceless.
I was further cheered up when we got a guide who looked like a Sri Lankan Indianna Jones. He was tanned, sexy, and bursting with knowledge of Sri Lankan history. But then he asked me what was the main food Elephants eat. I said bananas. He stared politely, and my friend snorted in laughter.
Apparently it’s grass. After that I was too embarrassed to say anything to him. So I spent the rest of my time eavesdropping on some Americans making jokes about dropping their pants.
And so my day passed in a range of emotions and encounters. Whilst I appreciated the beauty of the place, and would have more so if I hadn’t been ripped off, I was just too diverted by the human world. I’m just one of those people who likes to watch others. In as a non creepy a way as possible.