Saturday, July 31, 2010

On work this week.

Another week of work come and gone. And what a week it has been…Al and I have silently vowed to never have triplets if we can help it, but should it happen we will be fully equipped. Fully.

This week was a long one and a little hard. We were relatively short staffed, we said goodbye to Jenna and Shireen, our kids were out of control a lot of the time, they actually got sick of watching Ice Age, and four o clock saw two very tired girls every day it felt like.

Flower Song sends anyone off to Nepal in good spirits.

But then we get talking over our customary coffee and cookies at four thirty and all of a sudden things get funny.

Like when Janaka came howling in, dripping wet and furiously pointing in the direction of little Ms. Boomie. First of all Boomie cannot be her real name. As we have not the first clue about what her real name is, Boomie she remains. Second let us clarify that Boomie is a doll. She is a tiny little pixie of three, with an olive complexion and big brown eyes that would get her the entire Hershey’s factory should she take a fancy to it. She is also a pint-sized terror and has boys three times her size running for cover. Poor little Janaka ventured into her clutches and subsequently was held under a faucet until not an inch of him was dry. I had to grope frantically for self control as the strong desire to laugh just about killed me and any sense of justice the situation may have salvaged.


Or like when our older boys, under the instructions of “now boys, we learned all about cars and boats, we’re going to make our own boats!” got really excited and proceeded to create little origami paper boats…colored in flawless yellow, green and red. “Bob Marley” one of them informed us. Naturally.


Or when new volunteer Tessa decided that a swing in the baby room would be a good idea. We are in wholehearted agreement with everything but the methods.

Tess: “Now where could we hang it from, I wonder? AH! How about that massive hook in the ceiling? Yes, that one! The one that looks like it could fish a whale out of the Pacific!”

(I am paraphrasing here)

Al: “Perfect.”

Tess: “We better see if it’s strong enough. How about (meaningful scan over Al’s little frame), how about we lift you up and hang you from the hook! I mean, if it’ll hold you, I’m sure it would hold a baby…”

Al: (appreciative laugh at this little joke)

…until she was lifted three seconds later by a clearly not-joking Tessa and found herself dangling from a hook in the ceiling like a piƱata. It held.


We’ve also been taking them to the grounds most days which helps burn off ridiculous amounts of energy and makes afternoon sessions a little easier…how is it that kids can store that much energy anyway?

They watch elephants and tractors...

Play the jump-off-the-table-and-spin-around-until-we-make-Steph-fall-over game...

Get silly...

Find cool stuff...

Build holes...

Go sailing...

Sit under the table…or fort…or castle…or cave…or whatever it happens to be that day...

...or just let us schmooze on them.

And we love it.

So much love,

Alisa and Steph

Monday, July 26, 2010

More on beach holidays (and suitcases).

Ah yes, Galle, the torrential rainfall and the little, hissing, angry, clapping man…that was where we left off. And now to continue…

The next day dawned gray and soggy. Complain, we did not…much anyway. No, it was a wonderful excuse to sleep in, read in bed, extend our collaborate role as Shireen’s Danish boyfriend and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of French toast and croissants. By the time the last smattering of strawberry jam had disappeared and the last of the coffee had been drunk, the sun had decided to join us and all was well.

We strolled on the beach, met an elephant and a couple of horses and went tromping through the sea-side boutiques. The elephant stood out somewhat and Al and I decided to take a leap of faith and pet it. Trust me when I say that elephants look a whole lot larger when you’re standing directly under their trunks than they do on TV. However, the elephant was very good about it all, and endured the furtive taps rather well.

There is only so much a girl can do when she is faced with tens upon hundreds of silky, swirly, beautifully embroidered wraps in every color fluttering in the wind. These can also be conveniently sewn into dresses of your choice for prices that makes cough drops sound expensive, and so levels of self-control averaged at about 0.3 on the Richter scale. Needless to say, our persons will always be welcome back at the Beruwella oceanfront, as helping to keep the Sri Lankan economy afloat became one of our greatest accomplishments.

After a dip by the reef, a spree in the pool, a few written postcards and several Pina Coladas (did we mention we got a terrific deal on the all-inclusive option? We did, thanks to my highly efficient father, and we made sure his efforts were not in vain) it was Bingo time. Now Bingo is all well and good when the man reading out the numbers avoids trying to cause an uproar with every number that pops out of the little behandled globe. Unfortunately we had that man.

“Noooow this next number…is….my AGE…!” (Insert terrific enthusiasm)



Predominant silence. A few murmurs.

“Guess!! Guess! Guess!!”

Feeble, solo attempt of “28” from the back.

“NOOOOOOO! FIFTEEN!!! HAHAHAHAHAH…Joke, joke…one…five…number one…number five…but that’s not my age...” (Insert sly, knowing smile)

Nicky was just about under the table by the time we got to number 97. The Colada’s helped.

Our next adventure was Colombo – the big city, shopping galore and temperatures that would turn the arctic tropical. Shezzie, Al and I stayed with Auntie Agnes who was a doll about allowing us to crash at her place for the night. All was dandy until Auntie Agnes left for work and we left the house an hour later – only to realize that not only were we locked in the gate but out of the house. With a suitcase that weighed about as much as a minivan. No matter, it was but a leap over the gate, with the suitcase being hiked up shakily behind me and tipped over the edge, followed by Al and Shez, the former of which ended up on the gate post with the later clutching eagerly for a foothold with her feet. Eventually we, suitcase included, made it safely to the ground. Panting slightly and having broken a glow, we smiled rather smugly at each other until we turned around to face a small bushel of girls and a slightly alarmed looking Sister staring at us from the convent opposite. Little nuns in training and we had probably scarred them for life.

We met my parents shortly after (post being thrown out of our second church this vacation by a fool man in an awful shirt – it was quite obviously not our best run for churches that week) and proceeded to get ourselves a couple of visas and shop till we should shop no more.

Shezzie decided that she was feeling left out. So in she went. Clothes and all.

We made it home tanned to a respectable degree, several books read, much sleep caught up on and crab legs sampled. Truly scrumptious.

So much love,

Alisa and Steph

Friday, July 23, 2010

On beach holidays and dutch forts.

We’re back! Apologies for being gone for so long. Steph and I decided to participate in a fun little experiment called “living without technology for five days” and we passed with flying colors. Feel free to send notes of congratulations and presents for accomplishing this feat to Steph’s parents’ house. Consequently, being without technology means we haven’t had a chance to update the blog and we have quite a bit to catch you up on.

Packing brings out the worst in us.

We had to renew our visas, it’s hard to believe we’ve been here for a month, and decided to sneak in a beach trip on the way. Our trip began at the crack of dawn on the 6 am train from Kandy to Colombo. The train was quite the experience—we spent a good portion of it hanging out of the car doors admiring the scenery and attempting to capture it on film. We were those annoying tourists who took pictures of everything from our seats to the British tourists we befriended.

We had a brief chance to appreciate the humidity of Colombo while waiting for Steph’s family and then we all squeezed into the backseat of the car and got to know one another real well.

Upon arrival at the beach we were so exhausted we promptly spent the first three hours of our holiday napping. Apparently in sleep Steph and I resemble Shireen’s Danish boyfriend—who knew. After naps we explored the beach and indulged in an extensive buffet before turning in again.


Our second day at the beach we got up early to enjoy the sun before the afternoon rains rolled in. We did all sorts of beachy things like swimming in the ocean, body-boarding, reading in the sun, walking on the shore, swimming in the pool, and such.

For Hannie.

That afternoon we decided to drive to Galle and visit the fort (mostly because Steph wanted to visit the turtle farm on the way—but the sudha prices were a bit much for us to swallow so we left without seeing the baby turtles).

At Galle we explored the fort. The most exciting part of our day was almost getting kicked out of the church. We were happily wandering around, snapping pictures and admiring the history, when we heard a rush of feet accompanied by clapping and hissing coming in our direction—apparently it’s against the rules to take photos inside the church. Shireen pretended she hadn’t heard and continued to take pictures until the man noticed and informed her, “you pay 100 rupees you take 100 pictures”. After we photographed everything possible we vacated the premises before we could get into anymore trouble (we also were reprimanded for climbing the stairs before we left). The church and the torrential downpour we experienced served as a memorable conclusion to our Galle trip and we headed back.


Alisa and Steph

Monday, July 12, 2010

On weekends and playgrounds.


After successfully completing our first week at the center, our weekend was filled with nothing more strenuous than lounging at the pool, watching the big match (I discovered cricket is not my sport—seven hours is much, much too long. The most exciting part of the match was when the guys “found” a little boy, who liked to dance, and turned him into the unofficial mascot), viewing the final game of the World Cup, and spending time with Steph’s friend Shireen.


Shezzie is one of my dear dear friends, and has been from way back in the day. It's been a joy to catch up with her, relive favorite memories and put new ones in place. The cricket match was one of them. The big match is played annually between CIS and Gateway (pppssshhhh...) and for the first time in 4 years, our boys took the trophy home. Not only did we get to witness a well batted win, but we got to dance some prime baila, catch up with friends and last but not least, see Prema, school tea-maker, house keeper and custodian. She is one of those wonderful installments that remains at a given establishment for the entirety of eternity and never changes. Speaking of CIS, we visited school this weekend as was a strange feeling walking down those well trodden staircases and well ambled hallways, but wonderful at the same time.

We also had to bid farewell to our beloved friend, travel partner, partaker in getting charged by elephants and owner of the brightest neon shirt in the history of neon shirts...Ms. Christina Peter. Gah. Chrispet, we miss you already.


Work on Monday was so good. Shireen came and feel in love with the babas. Steph and I got our first taste of visiting the grounds. It was quite the adventure shepherding 16 kids though the busy streets of Kandy town. But, fortunately, we were able to keep track of them all thanks to their bright, matching yellow and red shirts embossed with the words, “I am special” on the back—Steph and I got into the spirit too and also wore our very own matching outfits (things like this happen after living together for a year).

Our time at the grounds was spent playing a rousing game of soccer—I don’t know if I’ve been subconsciously picking up tips from all of the World Cup games we watched or if my ability level is similar to that of 5 and 6 year olds, but the game was quite a success.

Back at the center we did fun things like playing with play-doh and watching a documentary of Sri Lankan animals before heading off to teach computer class. The class, which we had been secretly dreading, was so much fun. We had our English class boys who are a hoot and a half. We learnt typing today—and spent about 30 minutes typing, “The red fish ate the blue fish”. And I really mean we spent 30 minutes typing that sentence. But by the end of the session, Sajeewa, learned the proper way to position his hands on the keys and decided to practice typing sentences for the rest of the class instead of playing games. He also got a trishaw for us, and one for a good deal to boot, after the lesson.

All in all a great day and we can’t wait to see them again tomorrow. We’re bringing a boom box to English class tomorrow afternoon; stay tuned to hear how it turns out.


Alisa and Steph