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..."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

sundry sunday observations

august 21: sunday: day 12 (part 1)

it's always hard to believe that you've come to the last day of an experience. this one (the last full day in sri lanka) began with an alarm at 5:30 a.m.

mark twain and brent butt? nope, my friends lazarus and jey... notice the cell phone?
al and i got up, showered etc in time for leaving at 6:00. stepping out of the room, we were met in the dark by a rather weary-looking lazarus and jey who had gotten themselves up to see us off. turned out that they were going to propositioning some land for relief development today, so it would be down to al and me on the road back to negombo.

the smallest things touch my heart and lazarus is very good at those kinds of things.

he let me know that they had picked up a dolkie for me, so i thanked him far too much and then paid the man (300 rupees for the drum and 500 more for the taxi...)

strangely, he enquired as to how 'big' my wife is... my first, western humour response was something like 'no bigger than your wife!' but i suppressed the urge to deliver it, as the cultural differences between easy 'kibbitzing' gauche familiarity/disrespect might very well spoil everything that had been developing between us. i chose the socially safer route, responded earnestly in bit phrases and gesticulations. still, who knows what he was thinking? i had mentioned that i was interested in buying some cool sri lankan shirt or other for mrs jollybegger...

it was funny last night (is 'funny' the right word?) when we were talking. he said how at first he didn't understand my speaking at all and how now it's easy... i've been thinking the same thing.

lazarus gave me a package of photos and we embraced beyond ceremony.

he has become a dear friend and i will deeply miss his smile.

the drive moved along uneventfully for a couple of hours. in times like these i would often scroll through the faces and places locked in the memory of my digital camera. i don't believe that there has ever been a time in my life where i've been so incapalbe of withholding a smile as i was upon looking through the shots taken. even upon returning home i would find myself smiling foolishly to myself at a mental image of lazarus or mohamed or isac or jay... or pretty much anyone i encountered on the trip.

we saw many peacocks in the wild, but upon seeing four of them draggin through a pile of garbage, somehow that sense of pride seemed to fade. real life and face-to-face experience will do that with just about anyone. still, whne these magnificent birds spread their wings to fly out of your way, it was something incredible to behold.

eating in or driving through the city- any city- there was the constant chattering of automobiles comparably to the sounds of the birds in the treas at dusk with countless voices and topics of conversation, as if these creatures can only think verbally- some horns greet each other, some acknowledge others' points of view, some communicate a sense of urgency or restlessness, but none swear at each other like roadrage-ridden north america.


on sunday mornings (and others) one could hear sri lankan gospel radio... rather than actually broadcast, the churches simply pointed their speakers out into the street so that neighbours and passersby heard what was taking place inside God's house. even robert's little housechurch of about twenty-five people had this sound system thing going on.

the more time you spend here, the more you become aware of the basic cultural distinctives... i can now understand why lazarus wants an amplifier and microphones for the ministry centre. the muslims travel around blasting their prayers thorugh loudspeakers three times a day- the christians amplify worship services; the hindus place shrines to peleal (the elephant guy with all the additional arms) and the catholics place similar shrines on corners depicting stations of the cross or mary holding the Christ.

interesting how, in wartime, one's own weaponry and tactics are deployed by the enemy.


  • At 1/03/2006, Blogger Cinder said…

    every time i log on to read these journals, there more stuff i don't remember seeing...they are a good chronicle tidbit of what sri lanka is like.

    something i was wondering last week was, do you get to communicate with your sri lankan friends very often? it was placed on my heart that i should be thankful and cherish anytime i get to spend with my canadian friends i moved away from, because i will fortunately get to see them more than friends which i'll make when abroad.

  • At 1/18/2006, Blogger jollybeggar said…

    that's a really good question.
    i have written the guys in sri lanka a couple of times, and typically include a little gift or photo or something to communicate the things that written language between people of different 'mother-tongues' fails to share. most recently i sent christmas greetings with a family picture.

    dramatically, i received a note from david yesterday. he had received my smiling family picture on december 26- the one year anniversary of the day that he lost 128 of his relatives to the tsunami. he said he felt our love on this sad day.


  • At 1/19/2006, Blogger Cinder said…

    wow! that says it in a nutshell, that your actions, no matter what they are, speak louder than we can ever truly imagine.

    that's really great that you've been able to correspond with them a little bit and are able to bridge the barrier of different 'mother tongues' as well!


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