Fahim took me to church today on a trishaw. The trishaw driver, as it turns out, knew where the church was because he’s taken another North American from this neighborhood to it. I need to find out who she/he is.
It’s about a half hour trishaw ride and it costs 250 LKR, or about $2.50 US. I was told by the District President that the building looks like a typical North American meeting house, so it should be very easy for me to spot. When we arrive, I recognized it immediately by the large sign on the front, but not because of the design. I’m expecting a building with the typical orange/brown bricks. This building was white/pale grey, two story, and had a guard and guardhouse out front. The gates were open, but I’m gathering that when church is not in session, the gates are locked. Are the guards there 24/7? I don’t know. Probably. Fahim tells me that most businesses here have armed guards – if they don’t, they’ll definitely be robbed. Even with guards, places still get robbed, but not as much. I’ve never seen guards at a church before, and honestly, I’m surprised. They also apparently keep the riffraff out. Fahim tells me that, without the guard, people who have no business being there would just walk in. People here do that. Oh.
I walk in, and who do I see standing by the front door but missionaries? They look the same even in Sri Lanka. I’m not surprised, but I had read that as recently as 2000, Sri Lanka didn’t have any proselyting missionaries – it was against the law to proselytize here, but perhaps it isn’t any longer? I’m not sure, and I haven’t asked yet.
Relief Society is first, so I ask for directions to the RS room. I walk in and a woman named Nancy is at the front of the class. She’s teaching today. I introduce myself. As I continue to meet people during the rest of our meetings, I notice that everyone introduces themselves by their first names – there are so many cultures and languages spoken by people here that it seems easier to go by first names rather than first and last. Some of the last names, I have a heck of a time twisting my tongue around. I meet other North American people here, many more than I was expecting.
One woman moved here from Utah two weeks ago to teach English at the Asian School (I’m expecting Fahim to correct me on the name of the school.) Another woman with one or two children, I’m not clear, also moved here a few weeks ago from New York state to teach at another school. An older couple, also from Utah, arrived in the last two weeks to serve a humanitarian mission here. There’s another couple here who work with the Church Education system, also from the US. And there’s another couple, I think from England originally, who moved here a couple of months ago for his work. Then you throw in all the locals, and it’s an interesting group. They were all excited that I was now added to the list of permanent member of the branch.
People keep asking me what brings me here, and they’re surprised when I say that I married a Sri Lankan. It takes some effort to introduce myself as Laurie Farook – I’m still not used to that bit yet. Well, heck, it’s only been a week and a half. I haven’t had much time to adjust yet. I have a hard time with the accents – I haven’t yet developed an ear for it.
The classrooms are on the lower floor and the chapel, kitchen, and a few more classrooms are on the top floor. Not something I’m used to, but in Colombo, where space is at a premium, you have to stack buildings up. There just isn’t the space to build out. There’s a large parking lot with a basketball court in the back. Of course there has to be a basketball court. Why am I surprised?
Everyone is friendly, a lot of people welcome me, and I like the feeling. There are also more people than I had expected – about 80 people or so were in Sacrament Meeting. Does it have anything to do with this being the English branch? I have no idea the size of the three other branches in Sri Lanka, but when I checked statistics for 2000, the information I saw said there were 78 active members in 3 branches. Evidently, the church is growing here.
After church, Fahim picked me up and we caught a trishaw back home.
The repair guys came over today to fix the lock and the sink cabinet. The owner had given them money to buy a new lock, but in typical Sri Lankan fashion, they’ve pocketed the money and are going to take it apart, figure out what’s wrong with it, and fix it. Uh huh. Okay then. They don’t actually fix the sink cabinet, but merely look at it and evaluate what they need to do. Same as the upper kitchen cabinets. Look, but no actual work. Alrighty then.
And once more, we got take away from the 7 Plus Tasty Food. Did I mention before that a lot of restaurants and take away places have the phrase "Tasty Food" on them? Hmmmm.
Just as a really really side note, here’s a pic of Fahim on our couch. Okay, so it’s not a couch, but we haven’t bought any living room furniture yet, so this is what’s doubling as our couch and dining room table, for lack of anywhere else to park ourselves.
Tellulah escaped into our neighbors yard. We suspect she jumped from our patio to the roof over their carport, then around the side of the house, down to the wall, then down into their yard. We tried calling Tellulah, but she didn’t really feel like finding a way to come back. She mostly parked herself on their patio, or under some of the bushes. A few times, she looked around, looking for a way up, but she wasn’t bright enough to think about coming back the same way she arrived. Drat. And our neighbors weren’t home, so we couldn’t ask them yet to retrieve her.
Oberon, being the pest he is, decided to see if he could find a way to Tellulah. No, not two cats? But he lacks the courage to make the jumps Tellulah did, knowing full well he’s too portly to make it. Fat cats can’t jump. So instead, he sat there, on the roof, watching her as she enjoyed herself without him.
Eventually, the neighbors came home – hours later after dark. We went downstairs and rang their doorbell, but no answer. Eventually, we had to come back upstairs and call them on the husband’s cell phone, explain to them they had our cat, and then go back downstairs.
In the meantime, after they came home, they opened their patio doors and their children sat at the doors playing with Tellulah. Eventually, Tellulah became skittish as she tends to, and ran inside. They tried reading the phone number on her tag, but Tellulah moved too quickly for the husband to be able to read it. She became increasingly agitated, and they tried feeding her milk to calm her down. No go. They knew she was an owned cat – as opposed to one of the many many strays – because I’d left the harnesses with tags on both Tellulah and Oberon. Tellulah finally ran to the top of the inside stairs which lead to a door which connects with our portion of the house. They tried coaxing her down, but no go. Then we called.
After I retrieved Tellulah from the steps, they invited us to sit down. The first time Fahim went down to meet them – to talk about the water bill – they were polite, talked for a couple of minutes, but didn’t invite him in. I, from Canada, think of this as no big deal. Fahim says that for Sri Lanka, that’s rude and abrupt. Oh. I wouldn’t know, but I’ll take his word for it.
They were very apologetic about upsetting Tellulah, and I explained several times that Tellulah is just a skittish cat, they did nothing wrong, and she’s just like that. The whole time we’re talking, I have Tellulah wrapped in my arms, close to my chest, and she’s growling and hissing. She tries to escape from me several times, going so far as to claw her way halfway down my back. I refuse to let her go. After all, I’m bigger than her, and in theory stronger, so also in theory, I should be able to control her.
So we sit, we talk about Tellulah and Oberon, we explain that I came over from Canada a week and a half ago, and they’re very interested and very polite, and the entire time, Tellulah hisses and growls. Finally, Fahim and I leave, go upstairs, and release her. She runs away and cowers in a corner. We leave her be.