Majestic City, Here We Come

Fahim and I went shopping at Majestic City today. Fahim has to get a laptop bag for the new laptops that arrived for the whole infoshare/groove thing.

Short version: infoshare/groove is a project to promote the peace process in Sri Lanka. Fahim is a part of the project, and he’s doing some computer techie stuff for it. Anyway, some members of the team received laptops to make it easier, in theory, to do their job. But they also need laptop bags to cart the laptops around. Two other guys picked up laptop bags at a P G Martens, but that was all there were. Fahim elected to do his own shopping.

Fahim went into work by himself and tried calling Mervin, our usual trishaw driver, from there. He tried the cell phone, and when that didn’t work, he called Mervin’s home number. Mervin wasn’t there, and Fahim told the person he was talking to that he’d try Mervin on his cell again.

Meanwhile, the doorbell here at home rings, I answer it, and there’s Mervin. I assume that either Fahim changed his plans, or Mervin was confused. I started walking down the steps and Mervin’s cell rang – it was Fahim, finally getting through to Mervin, and letting him know we wanted him to pick us up at 9:30am. Okay, no problem. Mervin waves at me and drives off.

Mervin came over because he knew it was us trying to reach him – the people at his home number must know Fahim’s voice by now or something like that. We like Mervin. He’s polite, he speaks enough English that we can understand each other, even though it’s sometimes and somewhat a bit difficult and slow. And he always asks a fair price – he doesn’t try to overcharge us just because I’m a foreigner, unlike a lot of other trishaw drivers. Of course we use him as much as we can.

When we first moved here, we started using one trishaw driver who seemed to charge us fairly, but after a few days of driving us around as we ran errands and bought household stuff, his prices started getting higher and higher and higher. Fahim reached the point where enough was enough and we started using someone else. We’ve tried a few, and when we get one that seems reasonable, we give him a try. Mervin has lasted the longest by far, and he’s showing no signs of jacking up prices, so it appears as though he’ll remain our driver for a while yet to come.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but perhaps it bears repeating.

See, you can hire a taxi in the form of a car or a white van and they will meter it. Unfortunately, as that one driver a few weeks ago did, they can take the long way of getting somewhere because they don’t know where they’re going, or because they know you don’t know where you’re going, and end up charging far more than they should. The driver from a few weeks ago demanded a tip on top of the metered price – and that was after he drove around lost for ten or fifteen minutes. Whatever.

The other option is a trishaw. Not metered. Price negotiable. Always negotiable. To get from home to church, for example, is about a 25 minute trishaw ride. Mervin charges me 220 Rupees. Other drivers ask for 600 or so if they don’t know me and Fahim’s not with me. Marlene’s driver charges her 300 Rupees. Fahim has negotiated prices for me of 220-250 Rupees depending on the driver. That’s reasonable. But I’m a foreigner, so if they don’t know me and don’t know I’m married to a local, yeah, they try charging as much as they think they can get away with.

Anyway, back to Majestic City. Because we don’t know how long we’re going to be and how many stops we’ll be making along the way, we can’t negotiate a price until we’re done. This is when it’s handy having someone like Mervin. We leave here and Fahim tells Mervin what he’s looking for, so if there are shops along the way that will have what he wants, we can stop there, too.

We stop at a shop that sells bags and backpacks, but they have nothing for laptops. Same as the second shop we try. both shops are a typical Sri Lankan size – small by North American standards. The second shop, for example, was about five or six feet wide and perhaps a dozen feet deep. It appeared as though there was a back room as well, and it was probably fairly small.

Onwards and upwards.

We get to Majestic City, which, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I’m fairly sure, is a shopping mall. It’s a bit of a maze with hallways and alleys all over the place and the shops here are small and crammed as well. That seems to be a fairly standard thing here with the exception being Arpico the department store and Odel’s, the department store designed for rich people and foreigners.

Fahim is mainly looking for a laptop bag, I need hair color, and we’ll also look at DVDs to see what we find.

Well, after looking in a whole bunch of stores, we wound up going to P G Martens, and like everyone else, they didn’t have anything close to what Fahim was looking for – at least, not at first. Fahim finally managed, with their help, to find a brown leather backpack that had sufficient padding to carry a laptop around. Sufficient padding on the back of the laptop, that is, but not on the bottom and the sides. Fahim will have to buy padding and remedy that. But at least he has something now.

It also means that I won’t have to buy a backpack for me – I’ll inherit the one Fahim has been using. There are times, many many times, when a backpack is so much more convenient than a purse. As in, pretty much all the time except when I’m going to church, and even then I wonder.

We also go down to La Perfumerie and buy my haircolor. Ruby Red, No. 666. Sign of the Beast. I wonder if they planned it that way? Bright red haircolor to match the image of a bright red devil going with the number 666? I always thought that certain numbers were just avoided as a matter of course. You know, 13. Well, and others.

As for DVDs, we looked around, and I learned a few things. Some movies were sold in small cardboard cases barely big enough to fit a dvd – turns out they weren’t, they were movies in VCD format instead, and they’re cheaper than DVDs. Makes sense. Cheaper media, not as good quality images and sound. Fair’s fair. As for DVDs themselves, you can get them in the plastic cases or sometimes not. If not, then you still get the sleeve and the DVD is in a plastic protective envelope, and you save 10 Rupees. It also saves on room at home – especially when you consider how many movies Fahim (and I, now, since it’s all community property) owns.

We ended up buying the entire second season of 24, plus the one and only season of Planet of the Apes. As for movies, we picked up Legally Blonde II, Harry Potter II, and Matrix Revolutions.

Yes, folks, Matrix Revolutions is available here already. And of course we got it. Don’t be silly now.

Fahim doesn’t want to watch Planet of the Apes because he watched them a long time ago, and he doesn’t want to watch Harry Potter because, he says, he doesn’t like watching movies of books he’s read and enjoyed. Oh big deal. The movie’s good anyway. Yeah, of course it loses some of what was in the book – that’s bound to happen. It always does. Take a look at Bourne Identity for example. Severely missed out on a whole wack of the book. Oh well. I can still enjoy the movie anyway.

Back to the DVDs. They cost us anywhere between oh, 225 Rupees to 300 Rupees. Cheaper than renting a movie in Canada.

Because we had Mervin, our usual trishaw driver, for this trip, we know we’ll be charged a fair price. We really do get him whenever we can, and that’s almost all of the time that he’s available when we need him. He charges us 500 Rupees. Not bad considering we were out and about and shopping for two hours.

Oh. And when we got home, Fahim was going to go out and get a refill for our blue gas canister. You know, the gas canister that we hook up to the stove. Our first gas canister lasted us about 2 1/2 months. Fahim originally estimated it would last a month. We’re doing pretty good I think. So we switch the empty for the full, then get the empty replaced by another full. So we always have one gas canister hooked up to the stove and a backup.

Anyway, Fahim was going to get the gas replaced, but Mervin offered to do it for us. Okay. So Fahim gives him the gas canister, and ten minutes later, Mervin’s back.

I’m gonna say it again. He’s a decent guy. I like him. Mervin, that is.

When we get back home, what do you think is the first thing we do?

Okay, the first thing is me checking my email. But after that.

Matrix Revolutions.

Then Legally Blonde II.


And because Fahim’s obsessed, we watch the episode of 24 that I watched last Thursday that Fahim missed because he went to bed early. Or on time, really.

Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at

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