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..."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

we are sri lankan

august 11: day 2: thursday (continued)

sri lankan airlines (http://www.winne.com/srilanka/to08.html) was amazing...

winner of 'best asian international airline' for the last five years, apparently. the flight attendants wore, as a 'uniform,' a green sari that was decorated to look like the feathers of a peacock. they were beautiful and courteous, but not in a western way: they smiled a lot but never paid western lip-services like 'excuse me' or anything like that. they were very focused on task (smiling all the way) but perhaps limited english and vastly different world views come off as a bit 'impolite.' whatever the case, they were extremely efficient and powerfully positive first ambassadors for their country for strangers of limited experience like myself.

the inflight entertainment consisted of eighteen channels of programming that cycled through a movie-length loop. i viewed hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy three separate times (the sri lankan leg of the trip was eleven hours in the air, as compared to the atlantic crossing which was only seven) taking notes on different sections for the talk i would be doing on august 28th upon returning to canada... i wanted to hook on the quote "it's a tough universe out there and if you want to survive, you've really got to know where your towel is" and then compare the douglas adams towel to the presence of God on a missions trip. well, whatever the case, i eventually had notes on the whole film.

when sleep is offered in the air, you accept it; so i kept letting myself fall asleep because i knew that it would minimize jetlag upon arrival in colombo.

we are sri lankan is a tsunami-relief benefit song featuring sri lankan musicians. it sounded a lot like that old 70's(?) song the games people play and looked (on video) like usa for africa's we are the world. cheesey and smug western observation: it was a lot better than i thought it would be. i continued to grow with almost every experience, cultural and otherwise in preparation for both the time i would spend in sri lanka and the time i would return home to tell of it. culture shocks in both directions.

one of the tv channels of programming was an ongoing flight progress report- like in those old movies when you see the plane flying across a map with dotted lines charting its course. it showed, at any given time in the journey, where we were in relation to our destination. over germany. over greece, over iraq. there were also cameras mounted which had their own channels- one on the nose of the plane and one facing straight down. it was amazing- on the return trip which took place during the day as opposed to in the black of night like this one- to be able to actually see these places directly below us. to be able to see the differences in vegetation, soil colour etc between germany and greece and iraq etc. 'seeing the world' literally from above.

on our descent into colombo, i was amazed at how i could be sitting here in a plane watching the sun rise over the indian ocean. on the clock, forty seven hours had passed... in real time i think it was about thirty five, but i didn't bother to calculate it for sure.


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