Sunday, 25 July 2010

Classic culture

Lazy beach life can be time consuming, broken with bouts of writing makes it more productive. It was the excuse I made for coming here for such a prolonged period of time. But I’ve not been too harsh on myself, despite not writing as fast as hoped, there are many aspects to life, it doesn’t do to be too blinkered. Having friends around induces a greater desire to join in with parties at night, with the associated wooziness the following morning. At least today it hasn’t been accompanied with a hangover. But stepping off my pedestal have affected my writing, basically I’ve not done as much in the last week, though have finished the North American part of the trip. Despite only taking up 25% of the time spent travelling, the mileage is more than half. I’m expecting Central America to be the smaller part of the book, though mustn’t skim over the time spent relaxing. I think the experience of living again will need to be expressed, it’s a vital part of the bereavement process. In many ways it’s the period where I stopped running scared, where my self-analysis kicked in. I won’t claim to have sorted my emotions out, I didn’t feel wholesome, but I started to open up again, allowed myself to laugh with new found friends. (Photo: Shoreline - Trincomalee fishing village, Sri Lanka)

Last night was the most in-depth discussion I’ve had with Sri Lankans, crossing inter-cultural issues and breaking into topics like how the local men view white women. Interestingly they like seeing tourists wander around in bikinis, but would not like to see their own women exposing themselves. They firmly believed the local women should stay covered in public! I didn’t want to get too personal, I didn’t question them whether this was to hide them from western eyes, it was certainly their preference to see their own women clothed, it added a bit of mystique for them. They were honest in saying that most Sri Lankan men would like to have sex with a white woman, I didn’t broach the subject of white men having sex with Sri Lankan women, again I didn’t want to push too hard. (Photo: Hindu Temple - Trincomalee fishing village, Sri Lanka)

Dancing was another observation, between locals the women don’t seem to be up on their feet strutting their stuff on the dance floor. The men invariably dance, in fact really enjoy dancing, but it is with other males, and I don’t mean in a smoochy way. Having been seen having a boogy in my porch, one guy was very persistent about dancing with me. He found it hard to understand, or maybe accept, that I didn’t feel like dancing at that particular time. He kept reiterating that he wanted to dance with me, he’d seen me, he liked the way I danced, he wanted to dance with me. Not for one minute did I think it was a sexual thing, there was no hint of him getting fresh with me. Unlike the guy the other night, patting my arse and inviting me into his boat with him. I’ve sort of got used to declarations of my tattoos being beautiful, but when a guy tries twiddling my nipple ring and telling me he thinks I’m beautiful, I tend to assume it is a sexual statement. (Photo: Card game under the shelter of UN tarpaulin, Trincomalee fishing villlage, Sri Lanka)

Prostitution is common, hence all the offers of finding me a woman, mainly from tuk-tuk drivers. They are definitely the sleaziest of characters, no one else comes near. I small group of women on the beach the other day were really pissed, almost unheard of with Sri Lankan women. The fact that a guy was almost lying on top of one, on the beach, and getting amorous leads me to believe they might have been prostitutes. Narrow-minded attitude? I don’t think so; that type of behaviour is not acceptable amongst local women. Such restrictions do not apply to smiling and being openly friendly with western males, I shows a fairly open minded attitude to women in this culture, There is no shortage of women in public, they are not so down-trodden they are expected to avert their eyes, or avoid us altogether. There is a difference between the sexes though, women will not engage in conversation with me to the same extent that men will. In general the women tend to hang out together, seldom do you see them eating in restaurants or sat with the men when the guys are drinking. (Photo: Fishing village, protected from Tsunami - Trincomalee, Sri Lanka)

Rain has been a big surprise, for the locals and me. It rained two nights on the trot a couple of weeks ago, then yesterday it hammered down for hours. A really spectacular storm rolled in, forked lightning streaking across the sky, framed by a double rainbow. It was glorious, as it generally is with tropical storms. Getting wet and remaining warm is heavenly, it just doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest. As I walked round Trinco countless Tuk-tuk drivers stopped to entice me out of the rain, all at an exorbitant price. They seemed surprised that I refused even when they came down in price, I took the time to explain, if they had offered a reasonable price straight away I would have accepted. By asking twice the price it’s possible to pay they will not get my custom, however much they reduce it by. I really want to get the point across, by trying to be greedy they are the ones who miss out.(Photo: Moonlit night - Uppuveli Beach, East coast, Sri Lanka)

I actually meet two other tourists in Trinco yesterday, next to the internet cafes recommended by the guidebooks. If there was one obvious place that was it, from the looks I received from passers-by you rarely see tourists around other parts of town. Which I like, it makes me feel special, makes the effort of walking all over town worthwhile. Most people are perplexed as to what I’m doing, walking and looking is the usual answer, which confuses many people. It doesn’t detract from their interest or friendliness, which is standard here. For the first time over here, on the east coast, I’ve been subjected to overcharging. A liquor storeowner added 15% onto the price of a bottle of Arrak, he lost my custom. I couldn’t believe it, he’d shown me the bottle, the price was marked on it. What really got to me, I’d bought Arrak there twice before. (Photo: Princess, motherless puppy saved from near death - French Garden guesthouse, Uppuveli beach, East coast, Sri Lanka)

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