Saturday, July 25, 2009

A meeting over the tracks

At the end of my second of week of teaching, I'm feeling a little knackered!

We've been at Perandeniya this week. I say we because Linda and Liv joined me on Tuesday which is great. Their train was delayed by two hours - which wasn't!

The week has been generally good but hard. The students on BTh course are not as competent in English as the MDiv students which makes teaching more challenging. Even more of a challenge is grading papers. I have 25 exam papers to mark this afternoon - blogging is a welcome relief!

Today we went to the elephant orphanage at peniwalla which was fabulous. It was our second visit but Liv's not been before. It's great to large numbers of these amazing animals up close.

While waiting for Linda and Liv's train on Tuesday, a man from another delayed train – one that had been shunted into a siding and all-but abandoned there – came across the tracks to ask what was happening. He looked up from the tracks and asked in Sinhala. I apologised for not speaking his language, so he spoke mine. I explained what was going on as far as I understood it – there had been no announcements over the public address system, no word shouted by station staff to the stranded passengers.

We then got talking about Sri Lanka. He was in the hotel business – as far as I could make out, his family owned a hotel – and he was worried about the world economy and the effect of the war on tourism. He kept asking whether I liked his country. It felt as though he thought I might be the key to its economic turnaround, my tourist rupees alone would cause an upturn! It was an interesting conversation. There was something desperate in his tone, as if he wanted to see his country’s fortunes restored but despaired of them having the wherewithal to do it.

This place is full of such chance meetings.

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