Tuesday, April 19th, and I'm feeling noticeably better. Still some dull pain, but nothing too bad, and a couple of ibuprofen have come close to banishing it. I've brought my book and laptop down to the verandah, and have spent a pleasant few hours here, reading and eating (pittu, a sort of steamed coconut and dough, with mild fish curry and coconut milk), drinking tea (four cups) and king coconut juice. Glossy black crows and striped squirrels are in constant movement on the checkerboard and lawn beside me, and beyond them are palm trees and ocean, enticing, distracting. The ocean breeze is cool on this shaded verandah. I could stay here for days.
It feels odd, working on my laptop in full view; if I understand the exchange rate right, this little computer is probably worth a year's salary or more to one of the nice white-jacketed men who keep refilling my teacup. Strange, the sense of privilege. Of course, I'd feel awkward pulling out my laptop on the subway train in Chicago too, even though I used it comfortably on Caltrain in California. Different economic strata.
The plan for today -- shift hotels, leaving the lovely and luxurious Grand Hotel for a far more affordable guesthouse ($17/night). I will miss this place. Try to contact AISLS, the American Institute for Sri Lankan Study. They offer fellowships for visiting professors, something I may well want to apply for if I stick to my plan of coming back for two months or so in a few years. This trip has been good and useful, but has also made clear that I really need to spend more time here. Next time, though, I'm going to do my best to bring Kevin for at least part of it. He's never seen Sri Lanka -- I want to show him my beautiful island. Or at least the more temperate areas of it, since he deals even less well with heat than Karina and I do. Which is not that well, in case you haven't noticed. My mother says that it takes about a year to get accustomed to the heat; Suchetha says just a few months will do it. I'm dubious.
If I can go see AISLS today, great -- if not, I'll head over to Suchetha's office and plug in for several hours, try to upload the rest of our photos. Between Karina and me, we have 270 photos (63 MB) to show you guys so far. We've taken thousands more, of course, but only the strong survive the winnowing.
2:03 update. I checked into my new place, which is quite acceptable and even lovely, in a low-key kind of way. A small room with french doors that open onto a little deck with table and chairs for sitting and working in the garden. A shower that is open on top to the air. I'm not sure Karina would appreciate the open-airness of it that requires mosquito coils and mosquito netting over the bed, but she would like the fact that it's a vegetarian household, so all the meals offered are vegetarian (which I didn't know in advance).
After settling in, I did go to the AISLS, where they gave me some help with some names of people I might want to try to meet while I'm in town. And then, oh joy, oh rapture, I came to Liberty Plaza, to Sucheta's office, where he has plugged my laptop into an ethernet port, so for the first time in weeks I have real internet, and I cannot tell you how happy this makes me, how deprived I have been feeling. If I do ever have a little house in Sri Lanka, as I sometimes dream of, I will have to make sure that it is wired up for real internet as an absolute first priority because I really can barely cope otherwise. I will now spend the next several hours here, reading journals, uploading photos and the like. I so very happy.