Bali Detour

On the very last day in Colombo, I was invited to meet some of the students at the Sri Lanka Television Training Institute. As opposed to a physical address, the name of the building, which was apparently easy to find, was given. Hence, I asked my tuk-tuk driver to drive me to that location. After going through the first security checkpoint, things got really weird when too many details were being asked, including a copy of personal identification. I kept thinking to myself that the Institute was probably one of the most heavily secured educational organizations I had ever been.

Communication only worsened the situation: they could not understand the reason why I was visiting the organization, and I could not understand why they were being so difficult. I eventually showed the name of the person I was supposed to meet on my telephone – and just like magic, clarification ensued. Fifteen minutes and several phone calls later, I still had no clue as to what was happening. They had me sitting down inside this room with security guards carrying huge weapons, and constantly giving me the evil eye. Yet, one final phone call and the green light was given. From then on, they started treating me rather nicely.

The guards walked me to the assumed building, and straight away people started offering me things. From there, I was taken to yet another room; and at that moment things got even weirder. Picture lined-up walls, expensive furniture, meeting table and leather chairs – it was either a very nice classroom, or a corporate office. A nicely dressed woman walked in and asked for a brief synopsis of the meeting’s content. Meeting? Content? That was my cue. “I am sorry, but is this the Training Institute?” “Training Institute? (She was the first one to fully comprehend my words) This is Mr. Darshana’s office.” Well, my friend was just about my age; surely, they would not call him Mister. “Mr. Darshana’s?” “Yes, our president.”

Turns out there were a reason for such tight security. No, I wasn’t about to meet the Sri Lanka president, but I was about the meet the president of the biggest television network in Sri Lanka. I immediately replied and explained the confusion “I am supposed to go to this building and meet my friend, Darshana.” She did not let her frustration away, but I could tell she was either worried about giving the cancelled meeting news to Mr. Darshana, or raging about the security fail.

Both buildings had similar names, except for one different word; one word, and a whole distinct meaning. As opposed to Singapore, as described on the original itinerary, Indonesia was opted. Due to its strong economy, most of the organizations in Singapore conduct their work overseas; consequentially, the “local” aspect of any non-profit struggle becomes difficult to encounter – complete different story in Indonesia.

I arrived on Bali on Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning I already had a meeting at a local organization to commence the documentation – and haven’t stopped since. This is the first weekend off in a while, and so I will use the time appropriately. More details to follow.