Sunday, January 13, 2008

Credit Fraud, Embassy Briefing and Death Defied

So Mr. Aruna told me Friday that the cleaning lady would arrive at 10 to clean the house. I requested that she please be on time as I had a lot to do. He said it would take a long time as the house is so dirty -- I agreed which is why I was requesting she be on time. I then said it wouldn't be so messy if people actually took their shoes off when they came to our home. He mentioned that it is difficult to take his shoes off, which I don't except as an excuse. It is custom here to take your shoes off -- it is rude to not do so. Then I went on to say that when people stay in our house they not only don't take off their shoes, but they leave the bathrooms completely covered in mud. He said if I felt the bathroom was dirty I should clean it. I do clean the house, have done so several times, but it isn't my job to clean up after others. When I mentioned this he actually laughed at me! I have absolutely had it with this constant disrespect. Since I've already requested a meeting with Amanda I'll just tack my request that Sewalanka staff no longer stay at the house on top of all my other discussion points. I don't see why we should be expected to allow people into our home if they can't show the slightest bit of courtesy. There must be somewhere else they can stay as this is a new policy of Sewalanka's (which is absolutely 100% not working).

Then the cleaning lady came two hours late. At least she did a fairly good job.

I left for Barefoot to confront them about my stolen credit card number. The manager was shocked, wrote down their order numbers from my receipts and promised they would look into it. She did not actually believe me when I said I had only used this card at Barefoot. This is the problem here -- so many people lie on a regular basis that when you are actually telling the truth no one believes you. We'll see if they actually call and tell me what happen.

At least HSBC is reliable -- I've already received my new card!

Then I went to the Ambassador's house for a briefing on the conflict. After the meeting I asked the security guy if he wants us to report when we are the victim of crime even if we aren't Embassy staff and he said he did. Before I even told him my whole story he mentioned how there is a huge problem right now with people taking numbers and making fake cards to use in places like Malaysia! Apparently, I'm a victim of a crime ring.

Anyway, the Embassy briefing didn't really tell us anything I didn't know. I have more chance getting killed by traffic than by a bomb (this is probably especially true for me due to the bike -- more on that later). LTTE is trying very hard to avoid U.S. citizens as that might bring in the U.S. army, which they really want to avoid. The Ambassador's helicopter was almost hit by stray mortar last year and the Ambassador actually received a written apology from the head of LTTE.

The health officer, in my opinion, wasn't completely honest with the crowd. She advised those in attendance to always use at least 30% deet to protect against mosquitoes. She said it was perfectly safe. The jury is actually still out on the safety of deet and there are a number of alternatives that contain no deet, but work just as well. In fact, when we were in the jungle in Borneo everyone started borrowing my Burt's Bees on a regular basis, spurning their deet-based repellent, because it worked better. Anyway, telling people to slather it on everyday, on their children and even babies, well that isn't really giving the entire story is it? If she really is so sure it is safe you'd think she wouldn't be worried about mentioning the entire story. I mean the stuff can eat through plastic! She didn't even mention that it will put holes in your clothes if they are made from synthetics (and I've heard people say it eats cotton too).

And then on my way home I came very close to dying. I'm not joking. I was on Council Road and some idiot not only decided to enter the road without looking, but also chose to do so while speeding. Generally when people turn into traffic (always without looking) they do so in a very slow manner -- practically creeping -- and I can usually ride around them and not worry too much. But this idiot decided to zoom out and there was a bus coming in the other direction. I'm on a downhill slope at this point. So I had no choice but to break hard and pray I didn't flip over my handlebars. The idiot stopped also and literally my front tire was touching his bumper. So I yelled at him and rode on. When they caught up to me they yelled at me and then cut me off! Seriously I was completely in the right on this one. Later a motorcyclist caught up with me and said I shouldn't bother yelling at such people. I replied that the guy almost killed me and the motorcyclist said he saw, but clearly this guy was a very bad person and I couldn't reason with him. This is true, but I don't know how you hold your tongue when your life has been so close to ending. I see people do it in the movies and I want to yell at them to speak up. I'm incapable of holding my feelings back in these situations.


tj said...

yelling or venting your feelings with a finger (I'm sure you're too ladylike for such things ;) just escalates the whole thing. Is getting cut off again (or worse) worth it? I guess that's what the motorcyclist was trying to say too.

Having said that, yeah. I would have done the same in your position so I don't know why I sound so measured.

card skimming at Barefoot eh? I'll keep that in mind. I try to avoid using plastic in SL anyway, so perhaps that's the better option.

Ivanna said...

Yipes, Jessica!
I'm glad you are alright!!!!

Jessica L. said...

tj -- thanks for your comments. I know I shouldn't react. I do. But it is just so hard for me to not and I think I might blow up if I kept the emotions inside.

Yeah, I definitely suggest not using credit cards in Sri Lanka. That is my official advice. If you can get scammed at Barefoot (and I've heard of someone getting scammed at Hilton) then you can get scammed anywhere.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Indeed, homes stay much cleaner if people take their shoes off.

I actually dedicated an whole blog to this subject:
Shoes Off at the Door, Please
You might want to take a look.