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.
Badulla was the first location in which no other foreigners were encountered; hence, curious stares just came naturally. Either through walks around the city, farm visitations or local interactions, the population knew I wasn’t from there. Within the week period, it never felt as though I wasn’t welcomed. On the contrary, Sri Lankans are warm-hearted people, and such hospitality was even greater in the Badulla region.
The everyday fuel came from the people; they kept me within tracks. The greatest difference among previous experiences regards the involvement of the community. Usually one-on-one interviews are guaranteed ways to obtain answers. However, in Badulla and surrounding regions, most of the community wanted to participate. One person would often act as a mediator and talk on behalf of the population, which would then gather around the person as though his/her words represented their communal thoughts.
Sleepless nights: another motive that contributed to such gloomy sensation. From the very first day, the organization provided housing; simple, yet comfortable. One full size bed, toilet and cold showers were in fact superior to previous experiences. Yet, previous experiences did not come with the neighbor’s dog. It wasn’t just a dog; it was the single most obnoxious dog I have ever encountered. Night after night, from early evening until sunrays broke through the clouds, it would not discontinue barking. And by continuity, I mean non-stop ear penetrating, louder than earphones, bed turning barking. I never wished bad for any living thing, but I surely envisioned lightning strikes, vocal cords rupture, and even sketched out sleeping-pills-filled-food plans.