Official business in Sri Lanka

Monday, 7 March 2016
Neither of us really slept last night. Jet lag is still hurting us but I took a nap between the hours of 3:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Then it was up and at ‘em for my first official Fulbright meeting at the US/Sri Lankan Fulbright Commission in Colombo 3. James and I left the apartment at 8:30 a.m. in order to get me to the breakfast at 9:00 a.m. It was supposed to be a 30-minute walk but about 5 minutes in, a tuk tuk (electric 3-wheeler) pulled up beside us. The driver was very nice but didn’t know where the commission was located even though I had the address and showed him the name of the street (albeit in English). Thankfully, James, ever prepared, had the location pulled up on his phone and used Google maps to navigate us there.

After security greeted us and we walked through the gate to the Fulbright commission (sweating even at 8:45 a.m.), I asked James to take a photo of me in front of the Fulbright sign. My face looks happy but flushed in the heat but I’m thankful to have the photo – my first official business in Sri Lanka! 

James went on his merry way to do the grocery shopping (he is an excellent stay-at-home husband). The meeting was informal but informative and Sue Borja, Branch Chief with the South & Central Asia Fulbright Program of the U.S. Department of State was there from the U.S. I am the only scholar in Sri Lanka that is conducting full-time research and the other senior scholar here (currently) is from U Mass and is teaching English plays at a university in Kandy.

The food for the breakfast was traditional and included rice, spicy chutney, banana leaves filled with a sweet, date-like substance, sweet baby bananas and of course, tea. The rice and chutney are traditionally eaten by hand. (Not easy to do!) You are supposed to take some of the rice which is slightly sticky, put some chutney on it, mix the two on the plate with your fingers, ball it up and place a bit in your mouth. I did my best but the chutney was really too spicy for me to eat. I used tiny bits and it was delicious but HOT.

After hearing about the progress of the 10 Fulbright Teaching Assistants (they are recent graduates from college and teach English throughout Sri Lanka), I talked about the research that I will be conducting. People were friendly and helpful and I have a positive vibe about the program here in general. I was also able to start on the road of paperwork and red tape for residency visas, a bank account, and payment for equipment for my research here.

James and I agreed that today was a good day and that (maybe) we are very slowly getting used to the heat. He even found a bottle of Jacob’s Creek sparkling wine at the superstore (we don’t recommend it but it was fun) and we had some bubbles with the quesadillas that I made on the stovetop (there’s no oven here). I hope your week is also off to a good start. Much love.


knoxsox said...

Really excited for you guys. All of this is fascinating: weather, food, life, studies . . . all of it.
Doug Renalds

Sh'shank said...

Denae, the food looks great. Maybe you will have a higher threshold to spicy food by the time you are back :) said...

Jacob's Creek Moscato is pretty tasty, but I'm not a wine expert. Enjoy your experience!

Denae said...

Doug - many thanks for reading. You were one of the many educators over the years who encouraged me to seek true knowledge. I'm thankful that we have become life long friends.

Shashank - I just love that we've stayed in touch over these many years. Your friendship means so much to me and we have to get together so you can meet James and so that I can meet your lovely wife. - Thanks for the tip on the Moscato. I will see if they have it here.