Lost in translation

(the following is a Facebook post in December 2022 from something called Thattayagekolama Blogspot, translated from the original Sinhala, in which I suspect it was perfectly intelligible. Comment is superfluous.)

Teepee The Campsite – Hakbellawaka, Yatiyanthota

There are some questions that many of us ask. First of all what are you going to do? This is how it’s not a camp with adventure activities. So every activity is outside the camp. For an example if you are going to hike Hawariyangala, you should come to this camp and leave there. Kayaking is the same. Our boatyard is in Teepee One. Need to go there. But we carry all these places in our 4WD truck. They can all be done with us!

Then what can we do in the camp grounds if our camps are not there?

Yes you can listen to the sound of a beautiful float that will be remembered for a lifetime from the time you entered the campground until you come back. And that’s the possibility of soaking your body with cool clean water all day. The three four hundred metres border of our camp is surrounded by the beautiful water pond. And another little waterbaby surrounded by a really small doe on the other side. Most of the smaller fires around it are used extremely personally. That’s why privacy is at its highest.

And on an ordinary day this dola flows very innocently. That’s why even the youngest child can live alone! This is full of native fish. The campground is completely covered in a wild wheel. Though it is so watery we have provided clean tube water for sanitation work. That’s why we are all set up so that our sisters who come to our camp have no inconvenience. (Our ladies can’t do it when the camping is said! We’ve experienced every reason!)

The birds sound when you hear that attack all day. At night the wires are overtaking the sound of birds. So if it’s a drink tonight or a hot cup of coffee enjoying a BBQ and mixing with Miasia all the space is there! In the top necklace of our attic setting up our tents for sleep! In addition, the elevator to climb into that attic is designed to be able to scrap up. Al of this we are trying to get a comfortable sleep in a strange environment because we need to double mind the fact called “safety”. Isn’t that the truth?

So if you want to enjoy some extremely beautiful Hindustani Ragadhari music our Visharada Ananda Rajapaksha brother will also join us. But it will have to be postponed.

However those two days will be a beautiful one, here’s our heartfelt belief!

So it’s only Rs3,500/= to spend two days and one night with food in the morning, lunch and dinner. Really until the end of this December!

When you come to Yatiyanthota-Huckbella we will accept you from there. If you come in a vehicle you can put it on Teepee One. (It’s located near Hatton Colombo main road). Since then we have to go through a pretty tough and beautiful atmosphere! Our campsit will be found only after 3 kilometres like that.

So if you want to know anything else call [2 mobile numbers].


Mexico comes to Kandy (sort of)

In a world gone mad, Sri Lanka is a good place to be. Few countries do daft quite as well. Having been stranded in the UK for almost a year (reasons too tedious to trouble you with) we finally made it back home last month, via two weeks in a quarantine hotel. Back to the social whirl of expat life, featuring lunch with friends in Kandy’s newest gastronomic experiment, a faux-Mexican restaurant run by a couple of Sri Lankans who’ve lived for a while in southern California. Predictably they’ve named it Los Amigos Locos – a case of Sri Lankans racially stereotyping Mexicans. And what are we whiteys to make of that, I wonder?

I’m sure most of my legion of readers will not share my views on the pandemic, or rather the world’s reaction to it, and I won’t dwell on it since I don’t have so many friends I can afford to lose them. But even the most lockdown-enthusiastic among you might find the reception at a Sri Lankan quarantine hotel a little excessive. Like being on the set of Doctor Who, it was.

Cybermanic welcome to Sri Lanka

For a full account of our strange journey from Heathrow to a fortnight’s hotel quarantine take a look at the piece I had published in Lockdown Journal last month: http://lockdownjournal.com/2021/03/28-february-1-march-2021-kent-uk-to-kalutara-sri-lanka/

I may have noted in earlier posts that in Sri Lanka almost all legislation is ’emergency’ and announcements of change are usually ‘with immediate effect’ allowing neither time to plan the implementation nor to undertake due diligence i.e. to check whether this new regulation is consistent with all the other regulations already in force. A member of one of the Facebook groups Sally is on reported a few months back that the Sri Lankan government has banned single-use plastic. Another member commented: “Yes, for the fifth time. Notice any change yet?” Indeed. So we now read that palm oil imports are to be banned and all existing local palm oil plantations must be uprooted forthwith. Squeals of protest, and likely nothing much will happen as a result.

So it is with the ever-changing rules regarding foreign visitors. A tweak here, an (inconsistent) amendment there, endless questions on a bewildering range of online forums from from would-be tourists trying to ascertain whether it’s worth booking their flights yet. Here’s what I understand to be the present position (it will be different tomorrow so please don’t regard this as any kind of guidance). If you have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before you arrive, and carry the documentation to prove it, you have to spend a night in a quarantine hotel near the airport and in the morning they will check your papers and release you to wherever you’ve chosen to stay. No need for a PCR test – though the day before yesterday you would have needed to have one. Quite why they can’t do this at the airport is not explained. But if you have kids aged under 12 and over 2 with you, they do need to take PCR tests so you can’t leave the quarantine hotel until their tests come back negative. Which could be another day or so, meaning you can’t make definite plans. If your kids are aged 12 and above they are counted as adults, so irrespective of whether you have been vaccinated, if they have not you all have to spend 14 days in one of the so-called ‘safe and secure’ hotels listed by the Tourism Development Authority before you can go to a place you actually want to stay in. As of course you would if you ourselves have not yet been fully vaccinated. Small wonder that so far only a trickle of people have responded to the attempt to welcome tourism back to Sri Lanka. Incidentally we did not go for ‘safe and secure’ status since the requirements include such pieces of complete daftness as (a) having a ‘Management Team’ and a ‘Rapid Response Team’ (response to what?) – we have a total staff of three, not easy to jump through that hoop – and (b) all staff required to wear uniforms at all times – it being, of course, established scientific fact that the wearing of casual clothes contributes to the risk of catching the virus.

The only respect in which being back here is worse than being in the UK is the odd local requirement to wear masks outdoors as well as indoors (penalty – an on the spot fine of Rs5,000/- if the police spot you; a bit under £20). It’s definitely the 18th century miasma approach to infection which the local public health authorities subscribe to. And even if you disagree with my scepticism, you’d surely accept that a country where small children ride on motorbikes sandwiched between mum and dad, fully masked but without a crash helmet; where guys do arc-welding, masked and without goggles; climb trees with chainsaws slung over their shoulders, masked but without harness; or operate road drills masked but without ear defenders – that a country such as that is one which has its public health and safety priorities seriously out of kilter. Welcome to Sri Lanka, then.

At least I’m not a politician. This week’s Sri Lankan Sunday Times included a report that a prominent MP and former Prime Minister was “literally roasted” by his party colleagues at a meeting. The report does not say whether they then ate him or fed him to the dogs. Or whether the chosen method was spit- or oven-based. Sloppy journalism, I say.