Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monsoon Season Has Begun

Today I added the weather to my laptop sidebar. All day it has said 84 degrees Fahrenheit and raining. I have a window in my office (which I share with between 3--5 other people), but it is on the other side of the room and has curtains. Since we have aircon, I never really know what it is like until I go outside (inside, I can say, it is freezing!). Well, the weather thingy was absolutely correct, it is raining. The monsoon season has officially begun.

Some of you may recall that I mentioned there are two monsoons seasons here. I read that each side of the island has its own monsoon, so you only really feel one season (unless you are traveling). Well, I've been told this is incorrect. We lucky West Coasters get two monsoons a year -- this one and one in the fall. Technically I think we get three, because there is also a rainy season in the Spring. That is right, our only non-waterlogged season is winter. Of course, we are only 5 degrees north of the equator, so we don't really have winter. Read: if you want to visit me winter is the time to come.

I left my office today with the thought that my little red umbrella that my mom gave me for Christmas a few years ago is not going to cut it for such weather. I did notice a number of other people struggling to stay dry under similar umbrellas and also failing. Also, there is a considerable lack of umbrella etiquette here. If you have ever lived in England you may have noticed this (it doesn't happen all the time, but you do recognize it when it does). If you are walking in the direction of the rain and therefore are capable of seeing ahead of you (as the umbrella is basically protecting your backside), then it is up to you to make way, raise your umbrella, etc. for those of us walking with the rain hitting our face. This does not happen here. Also, you are basically walking on the street (no sidewalks); cars, trucks, tuks, bicyclists, etc. are throwing water on you or worse, driving in your space while you can't really see.

My other thought on my walk home (the distance is about 1 km) is that my little short cut through the cricket field is not conducive to the monsoon season. First, my little red umbrella, which was not helping anyway, doesn't fit through the very small gateway. Second, the cricket field floods.

So since I was soaked once I got home (my hair was dry, thank you little red umbrella), I am writing this in my pajamas at 5:56 p.m.

Beth (housemate from England) left yesterday (forever, she is done with her contract). Now it is just Crista (who is in India for another week for work) and Manurie left. Christa leaves three days after she returns from India -- she is from Guatemala. Manurie is Sri Lankan. Apparently, Sewalanka has had a rough run with recent foreign hires (Christa is leaving after only 6 months and I guess a few others didn't really do a good job) and so they have decided to not replace those that are leaving. They hired me because the environment program is still relatively new and they felt they really needed a foreign adviser. At work this leaves just Jodi (Australian on the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development) and Amanda (American who has been here for years) in the main office and then a few random foreigners who are actually paid by other organizations in the field. Since Jodi is on that AYAD program, she gets paid enough to rent a flat, which is what she does. Amanda is a senior staff employee, not an adviser, so she has her own flat also. So that means I'm the only foreigner living in the hostel. Thus, Sewalanka is putting senior-level local staff who are not from Colombo, but now work here, in this house. I'm going to give this situation a chance, but I can already see some downfalls.

First, I'm sorry, but I can't eat rice every night. I like rice and eat it a great deal in the States, but not every night. Manurie just asked if she should cook some rice for me. This is very kind and I do appreciate it, but it is extremely hard to explain that I can't eat anymore rice (I O.D.'d on the pilgrimage).

Second, this is actually Christa's point, but I can relate, I have stuff (Ipod, computer, etc.) that the other women living here don't and I don't want to create friction from my use of said items.

Third, actually I'm surprised this hasn't been a problem in the past, our refrigerator is definitely not large enough for everyone's leftovers from full meals cooked on a regular basis. There are only two of us here right now and it is full. Our refrigerator is not like a standard U.S. fridge (which do exist here and are common), but is more like the little fridge they have on the British television show
As Time Goes By. It is maybe three feet tall. The freezer is constantly frozen over leaving no room for anything. This doesn't really concern me as I rarely have anything to freeze (well, ice cream, but I can't get it home without melting, so forget that thought). The fridge is a real problem.

On the bright side, when I finally find a Sinhalese class, I'll have in-house tutors. Plus, I'm going to be provided with constant cultural insights and I'll have people to ask what stuff means or is about. For instance, I bought some curds yesterday, which to my personal horror, were covered in mold. Problem: I can't just dump the curds into the compost as you can't do that (milk product and all), but I also can't throw them away because then the whole house will smell like rotten curds. Our rubbish was just taken out (and burned) and I wasn't about to contribute to dioxin production so quickly, so I just left the moldy curds in the fridge, figuring I'll throw them out as soon as the rubbish bin is full. Manarie found them and asked if they were mine. I answered and she said I should take it back. I was flabbergasted. The supermarket will take them back! I mean, I guess they would in the States, but most people wouldn't bother. She insisted they will take it back and I should check the curds before purchase from now on. They should only be pure white, with absolutely no yellow or even yellow or off-white spots. So now I know how to buy curds. Very helpful as I'm in love with them. Most people just eat curds here rather than yoghurt as the yoghurt has not only gelatine (before you go crazy, it is Hallal and made from agar-agar and that is how they spell here for you grammar hounds), but a ton of sugar.

While I'm on happy thoughts, I'd also like to share my joy in Tim Tams. I'm not a store bought cookie fan, but Beth had some and insisted I try them. They are pure heaven in a cookie. Actually, cookie probably isn't the correct term as they are more like candy. They are basically square mint stuffed Oreos covered in chocolate. Oh yeah, they are good. I bought a package two days ago and now they are gone (luckily this isn't as bad as it sounds, I think there were only ten in a package). I'll have to buy more when I return my curds.

So anyway, those are my thoughts from today. It is still raining!

1 comment:

Lorili said...

Moldy food and awesome cookies ... that's my kitchen too. You find something odd about that combination?

I hope you packed your Gore-Tex. Sounds like you could use it for everyday wear.

What an adventure.