poitu varam

THE CHRONICLES OF A FLEDGLING MISSIONARY CALLED JOLLYBEGGAR "i still gaze fondly at all of the pictures, drink ginger beer, bunch my food, listen to punjabi dj tunes, play my dholki, wear my sarong (around the house only because in canada it is still really uncommon for a man to wear a wraparound skirt in public) and speak way too much of the differences between east and west..."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

everything informs everything else

august 20: saturday: day 11 (part 1)

still on call, these guys were at work when we checked in the night before, and now here they were at 8:30 a.m. showing no signs of being 'relieved' by the dayshift guys. i encountered this often... i think the sri lankans clone themselves.

we awakened to discover that the generator was down and there was no power. still, it was such a nice place that it didn't matter. by the time al got into the shower, though, the power and the hot water were both up and running.

jey later described a dance that he did in the shower. the telling left us all a bit creeped out because the image of this big, bald, sri lanken buddha/ brent butt lookalike dancing naked in the shower stall of a resort hotel just wasn't working and wouldn't leave.

i saw westerners coming and going with their white socks and their polo shirts and that am i ever going to get some service around here? look on their pink faces. in time, they all climbed onto their luxurious tour bus and pulled out for another adventure- the order of the day was a safari encounter with some elephants. this fancy resort had been built for them so that they would feel at home in a strange and distant land. eventually i would put my negative feelings in the right place, but at the time i was condescendingly annoyed with their complaints about the cold water and all that.

(growth is the result of having embraced change, and i would grow out of my own little snot-nosed presumptions about people and places in time- every new experience brings with it its own wisdom. these personal attitude adjustments were mine to accept in response to a curious reverse culture-shock that is, apparently, quite common for newbie missionaries. the thing is, it doesn't matter how many books (or blogs, for that matter) are written to prepare others for transcultural experiences... ultimately one's greatest growth will be registered as a direct result of the experience itself: that's where the most exciting change and challenges are encountered. it was that way for me, anyway.

i think that it all comes down to one's willingness to embrace the change and be embraced by it- being reshaped by the encounter.)

although we left in good time, we couldn't help but do a bit of sightseeing, as this area was rich in sights to see. twelve monkeys (no, not the terry gilliam film) played by the side of the road, cobra dens and elephants in the wild were all part of the first ten minutes.

most interesting was this crazy stone formation that looked like a huge fist thrust upwards towards the sky through the earth's crust. it was, in fact, a spot chosen by an ancient king (kashuba) as a place of refuge from his enemies (reminiscent of the stories we read of david in his fugitive years.)

for some sense of proportion: i think that the cluster of little tiny things standing upright by the tree is a group of people... and maybe an ox or buffalo or something.

eventually kashuba had developed the area, making it into his place of royal residence, complete with an interior spa already built in by God and a bricked-in moat built by his hired (?) hands.

lazarus, al and jey stand by the coffer.
we came upon this huge standing buddha beside a very picturesque bay that lazarus said was a 'traditional place.' (interesting- the use of 'traditional' rather than 'sacred.')

this buddha reminded me of a seated one that we had seen the night before upon a hill outside of another town, bright lights ensuring that the people could plainly see buddha smiling down upon them from anywhere in town... like the hollywood sign.

the buddha on the hill brought to memory two things that i had seen a couple weeks earlier on a family trip to mt rushmore... not the heralded, four-faced shrine to democracy, nor the crazy horse national monument (although kashuba's fortress looked very much like the crazy horse project) but something seen en route: outside one town was a massive sign with the ten commandments on it; in a farmer's field in the middle of literally nowhere was a huge cross on a knoll, lit up and visible for miles around in the same way.

it is really interesting how everything seems to be informed by everything else.
outside of another town, we saw cows feasting upon the garbage in its dump, sharing it with an elephant. elephants in the streets of some of the towns was not uncommon- although, unlike this one in the dump, they were also kept on leashes. we saw three or four on the trip to batticaloa and back.

apparently, the sinhala translation for 'lamb and lion lying down together' is 'cow and elephant eating garbage together...' although you won't find it in any phrasebook.


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