Thursday, 8 July 2010

Three years later & a lifetime to go.

As I sat down to write this the only thought that went through me mind was that I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve spent so much time writing each day it’s wearing me out. Another reason behind this is that my time is being spent at the laptop, not walking around observing new stuff. I’ve not been into town again since last week; my excursions into the local village have been the extent of my explorations. I do go in along there most days though, to supplement my diet and reduce my expenditure. The guesthouse I’m at does a limited menu and it’s a lot more expensive that the local cafes. I rather like the surprise on people’s faces when they see a foreigner eating locally, it doesn’t happen much. But my reasons for coming over the east coast are to put some money into the local economy. If I eat in-house all I do is line the pocket of the Singhalese owner. OK, it’s not as simple as that! The produce used here is all locally sourced, so wherever I eat it benefits the local economy, I’d rather do it first hand though. (Photo: Hauling in the catch - Tamil fishermen, Uppuveli, East coast of Sri Lanka)

In the last week a lot of people have come and gone, some have been great company, and some I wish would drop down with an excruciating tropical disease. In particular an old ugly Brit, who seems to feel proud of his status as a sex tourist. His interest in countries is how much it costs to have sex with the local women, it disgusted me listening to him. Course and unpleasant, to imagine this guy taught in our schools for 25 years, and he funds his exploits with his teachers pension. How naïve to think we have upstanding members of society standing before our children, shining examples of humanity. Never having been a person to agree with too much about our education system at home, it doesn’t surprise me, it actually confirms my opinions of the average teacher. Very few teach because they have the kids best interests at heart, much more common are the ones who teach as a last resort. To me, this guy (Paul, 66yrs old, taught in Hackney, graduated from Liverpool Uni, originally from Yorkshire) really is the dregs of society! I’ve been very free with this information among the other guests here, he made me feel so disgusted with his bragging. (Photo: Playtime with baby brother - Young Hindu Girl, Uppuveli beach, Sri Lanka)

I’ve only laid in the sun once since arriving, normally my favorite past-time. Not being happy with the progress of my book I’ve become more disciplined. To some extent I’ll maintain the primary occupation of sat, attempting to write. Don’t get me wrong, it is coming along, but oh so slow. Chapter five is well under way, with a total of about 100 book pages so far. Hey, it’s better than I’ve managed since leaving Cuba. It took a few days reading and amending the first four chapters before even starting, there was no way round that, I had to get back into the groove. As ever, being harsh with myself comes easier than giving myself praise for what I have achieved. I am determined though, that doesn’t diminish in the slightest, I will finish this. (Photo: Family fun - Locals at play, Uppuveli beach, Sri Lanka)

My cynicism begins to reach new heights, which encourages me to become more and more withdrawn from the world around me. In many ways this is worrying, in others it makes me stronger. I don’t feel like participating in the unpleasantness of the world around me, I’d rather cut myself off completely. I don’t feel like pointing out the faults and shortcomings of the world to those involved, to those contributing to the problem. Even on a simplistic level; I’d rather pick up the bottles from the beach myself than point it out to the guesthouse crew that maybe they shouldn’t leave their empty spirit bottles laying on the sand. That is complacency, it isn’t what I believe in, nor how I’d like to be. But it is easier to allow everything to slide past without causing a ripple, what effect can I really hope to have on anything, isn’t it just easier to ensure I don’t add to the unpleasant side of life personally. (Photo: Some ugly cows on the beach - Uppuveli, Sri Lanka)

Since arriving in Uppuveli keeping track of the days has eluded me. It wasn’t by design, they just merge, one into the other, quietly slipping away unnoticed. Nothing special punctuates one from the next, even which day of the week it is generally remains a mystery to me. I check every few days, it’s sufficient. If I think about it a quick glance on the menu bar of the laptop keeps me informed, but most times the day doesn’t register, just the time. Is it time to eat, how long have I dozed off for? Ok, I knew it was due, but on Saturday it was only as I checked for emails that I realized the date. I’d not turned on my Blackberry for a few days, as it dawned on me that it was actually 3rd June, three years now since Cai died, the emails started coming. Its nice to know people think of me, especially on this date, but without wanting to seem in the least ungrateful, spare a thought for Cai himself. Think back on his life for a moment, maybe share a smile at the thought of his dimples, enjoy some happy memories of a life with him. And even saying that I know your thoughts are for my suffering, I know his suffering was over three years ago. So what more can I say but thank you folks, for your thoughts and messages, thank you for the hugs and love afforded me. They do mean a lot, believe me! (Photo: Dimples 'n' all - Cai at 16yrs old)

For a couple of days we had army personnel hanging around the guesthouse, not being nosey, not intruding, just hanging around firearms on show at all times. I've got used to seeing the police wander along the beach checking in with every hotel and guesthouse at least four times a day. The army patrol the beach regularly too; a pair will walk point, with another in radio contact with their control centre. But this was different, one guy with an AK casually loitering, though he never once put his weapon down, and had his hands on it, at the ready constantly. He looked chilled enough, was even smiling and chatting to some of the lads who work there. Please bear in mind they are nearly all Singhalese! While this went on an officer gradually worked his way around all the staff and all the guests extorting money for soldiers and their families who were killed or injured in the war. Now I say extort, their very presence could be said to be intimidating. A reluctance to accept no for an answer made for a very uncomfortable situation. When asked I was horrified at the idea of giving even the requested $1 towards the Sri Lankan military, from the look on their faces I knew they could see clearly how I felt; my own face must have said it all. Even now I keep asking, "why did I give the money?" I still think the only way would have to of been to explain how strongly I disagreed with their actions, how horrified I am by the SLA hold over all theTamil dominated areas of the island. To be honest, I'd rather not have the local military know my feelings against them. (Photo: Military patrol - Uppuveli beach, east coast, Sri Lanka)

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