Bad luck – we have been getting to Unawatuna almost for 8 hours. We got stuck in a big traffic jam in Colombo and it took us 3 hours to get out of the city. But I will freely confess that after two-month longing for Lanka, it was quite a pleasure to drive through the city overfull with energy of the Lankans. It is enough to give a smile to a driver of a passing by car, and you will see at once a brand smile from a popular tooth paste advert in response. You just take your camera out and a triplet with their mom sitting in the tuk-tuk back-seat driven by their father are all smiles and wave their hands to you, quite as children in the picture “Stalin visiting a kindergarten”. Twenty-three skidoo – we were dreaming to come back here not for nothing. Right in 2 hours I caught myself at a though that I had not left from here ever, and there had not been the long days of waiting, as if I got asleep and woke up here, on Ceylon.
The travel, of course, crocked up – 3 plane-shifts mean something, and a Grants, drunk straight from the bottle on the way from the airport, also did not add strength. By the way, I was surprised when I saw at arrival in Sri-Lankan duty-free a 1.250 l bottle of Grants and a 1.750 l one beside. The price of the first was more economical, which we were not slack in using, twice. At nine in the evening, having got to the guest-house, we were thinking only about going to bed, but we simply could not deny the children swimming in the pool after all they had stoically passed through.
It’s trifles that it is dark and the pool is open till 6 p.m., Lankan hospitality does not know time limits, we just uttered a word about the children’s dream and in a minute an expressive guy, reminding distinctly an European, appeared from the dark and said that there was no lighting in the pool but he would figure out something what they could light up. A man said – a man did! Some token of light was created and a peaceful settlement was flooded with cheerful squeals of the young spawns and their temperately drunk parents, who joined them. The children slept like marmots, joyously and tranquilly.
What is a morning of a tourist, even if he is not the first time abroad? – to drink at the pool! Or, in an extremal case – to read Canth under the tent in remote corner of the hotel, or to justify the salary of animators. Rubbish! Sri-Lanka is absolutely different, and sitting in the hotel is the same as sitting in the cludgie 1 minute before the end of the final game of the World’s Football Champ. This country appeals for movement and action. During the 5-day stay at the guest-house we had to select 2 dwelling houses for the next half a year and to take care of the houses for our friends, who will join us after 2 months.
A tenement house in Sri-Lanka – what is it? First three houses, carefully chosen for us by our Lankan friend, in practice appeared to be two houses, one of them was a two-storey semi-detached house with separate entrances. Clean, tidy, no furniture, no railings at the staircase and on the balcony of the first floor, and no air conditioner. The second one looked worse, but also not so bad. The price was affordable, but no great shakes. The house mistress is not on tenterhooks and is not trying to sell us a pup, is answering phlegmatically the questions and smiling. Our conclusion – optionally it could do, if we install an air-conditioner, what makes about 300 bucks for a standard conditioner per room. On the way back we drive into the town Galle. Everything is as usually, abundance of faces, colours and emotions. Our task is simple – to buy high-speed unlimited mobile internet connection, an extension unit, an adapter connector and some rambutans (a kind of fruit). The first task becomes a classical Asian thriller about pigeon prank. Everything is solid, we come to the office Dialogue, take a ticket and immediately get to one of 12 managers in the hall. He is glad, understands everything and surely he will do all. But it is too early to celebrate, because there emerges that as I am a foreigner, I have to make a refundable deposit of 10.000 rupees (about 100 bucks) additionally to 3.000 of monthly connection fee. Kissanta, as is the name of our Lankan friend, suggests to arrange the papers with his name – no problems, so said so done, the contract is signed, and now … well, a small detail, the contract must be signed for 6 months…. “№;%:?*:%;№;%” I swore in the language of Pushkin and Tolstoy, no problem said the manager, You can break the contract earlier warning us by mail. Very like a whale – I though, BUT! Said the manager, You have to pay for 2 months in advance, this is 6.000 rupees and if you disconnect you’ll loose this money. Thanks to Mayakovsky we have a lot of picturesque words in our language. The conclusion – the contract goes to the trash-bin. After 5 minutes of disputes we agree that there are some quite adequate alternatives. For example, for 400 rupees (4 bucks) you can get 24 hour (exactly the time of duration) internet during maximum 7 days. Traffic is not taken into account. It means today 2 hours, tomorrow 5 hours, then 1 hour, and so on and so after, till these 24 hours are over. At this point we made a deal and I got out. My soul was satisfied that my small revenge was left to me. My stomach was naughty due to acclimatization and in the office of Dialogue I had to visit the room built by unknown architect. Safely having finished my concerns, it was quite expected that I revealed the absence of toilet paper. “You tip the mitt with your right hand, and you wash your arse with your left one” I remembered. “But if I put up the trousers on the wet heinie I will look like a shit myself” I thought again, I was saved from the shame by a beautiful, fluffy hand towel with logo Dialogue. “There you are!” was my final thought.
The purchase of an extension unit and rambutans was not so anecdotic, and we safely came back to the guest-house. While impiety of mobile operators our girls went to the beach, walked to the places of our old fame and agreed about lunch. I will confess, a lunch on the oceanic coast in the place of our goo-bye lunch two and a half months ago was symbolic as a time machine cabin. The time flew and we are here again, and again vendors, half of them remembered us and greeted with load cries, sell elephants, necklaces and bangles, a huge dish of shrimps with garlic, French fries and salad on the table. Lime-juice in glasses and incredible ocean around – I love you Sri-Lanka!
3 more houses we managed to visit after the lunch. Most of all we were impressed by the first one. Two floors with separate entrances and inner staircase. Waterfall! (from the first to the ground floor), European repair and full furnishing. Solid mark “five” in this category. On the first floor – air conditioner and 3 bedrooms, on the ground floor – 2 bedrooms. A cute yard, the price at once is twice higher – we shall think.
And eventually dinner, which we decided to have in the guest-house. We ordered from the menu, the guys popped down to the town, bought in and after 2 hours we laid the cloth on the 3rd floor of the guest-house. While the guys were cooking, there turned up the master of real estate, Sana – the owner of the guest-house. A charming person with permanent smile and wide Lankan soul. 15 minutes of communication and we became friends, besides Sana became client nr.1 of our project, saying ‘Alex – I turn thumbs up!”. During the conversation it developed that he is from the same area as the president of Sri-Lanka and he is ready to assist us in all our undertakings. He is a really worthwhile man, he lived in Europe long, so not a beach-boy. First, what he said when we came for dinner: “Alex – this is my treat, this dinner is my present to you”. Let me remind that we are 9 people, not me alone. He rejected my objections and did not take money. “Ok, if you do like this, we shall do adequately” I thought. A bottle of Russian vodka, rye bread and lard, carefully reserved by my wife, took their honored place on the table. I felt myself a missionary, bringing kind and eternal to the masses, when I told to Sana and his colleague B.P. (this is his name, his Lankan name is unpronounceable for a Russian man) the way to take rye bread, to put a piece of lard on it, then some onions, then a sip of vodka and then a bite of such a snack. Make no bones, all disappeared with a bang.
It is almost 2 in the morning, I am finishing these lines lying on the bed, my wife is sweetly sniffing beside, and the children – behind the wall in their room. My younger one, he is 4, to my question “So, do you like staying here?”- exhaled with shining eyes full of life– “Of course daddy!” I am glad, I am happy. Good night country!