The Opera

January 9, 2008

 TomRuki called a taxi for us and we were at the Fulbright Commission office about 9am (250 rupees or $2.34).  We met the staff – Soraya the Secretary, Ramya the Program Officer, Chitra the Accountant, and Nelum the Student Advisor.  A driver then took us to open a savings account with ATM card at the Hatton National Bank.  Also stopped at a bookstore to get a detailed book of maps of Colombo and Helen bought a Sri Lankan cook book.


Did some email at the Fulbright office and then walked to Odels which is a mini shopping center.  Ate a DeliFrench roast chicken sandwich and then went to Dialog to buy two cell phones, cell phone service and a $10 Kit card for each phone.  Total cost about $91.  You scratch the back of your Kit card to get your number then phone Dialog to record the amount.  You can call the phone company any time to hear how many rupees you have left.  The rates are great; 0.10/min in country, 0.15/min to the U.S., and .05/min phone to phone.  On our walk back to the Fulbright office we bought a cut up mango on the street.  Actually it’s recommended you not eat cut fruit, you’re supposed to buy it and cut it yourself to guard against bacteria. 


Helen sat in on my meeting with Tissa the Fulbright Executive Director.  We reviewed the history and problems I had during the application and selection process.  We agreed that Helen and I would drive to Matara and the University of Ruhuna on Friday to determine if I could have a meaningful assignment there.  We also discussed the possibility of working at two or three different universities.


When we arrived back at the guesthouse we found that Ruki was preparing to go to the Opera with one of her daughters.  She called and found that tickets were still available.  So, we changed immediately and rode a Tuk-Tuk (100 rupees/little less than $1) to Bandaranaike Memorial Hall.  If you get a Tuk-Tuk from your neighborhood, they pretty much know you and you get a fair price.  We bought the cheap seats ($15 each) in the nose bleed section in the very top row.  We saw “The Pearl Fishers,” with the setting in Sri Lanka sung in French with English subtitles by Georges Bizet (1863).  It was performed by an Indian company and they were excellent!  This is the same composer as Carmen with the familiar love triangle   Think of it, an Opera in the chaos of Sri Lanka – incongruous but enjoyable.  Afterward, we tried to take a Tuk-Tuk back but the minimum we could get the drivers down to was 200 rupees, ticked-off, we walked the mile back.  Irene had dinner ready for us (10pm) and then we went to bed.       

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