It’s Not All Bad…

5 Jun

Of course, I don’t want to leave the impression that returning to this country only fills you with deep, unanswerable questions. There’s a lot of joy to be found in every single day in Sri Lanka. In the last seven days, I’ve:

Gone to Mr. Abeygunawardana’s mirith, a house blessing where twelve monks chant all night long into the morning, then are given breakfast. I got to sleep on an unrolled mat on the floor for the first time–this is how a great number of Sri Lankans sleep every night. I slept soundly for the three hours I was allocated (the monk chanting ended at 5:30), but going to sleep at 2:30 in the morning probably helped. And then in the morning I got to watch monks eat! Monks can’t eat after one o’clock in the afternoon, and so giving food to monks in the morning is one of the highest duties one can do in Buddhism.

Monks fingering their oya leaf book.

The attendees pray in accordance with the monks’ chantings.

In the morning, the monks await their breakfast.

In May and June, the afternoon skies are filled with kites that fly dozens of meters in the air for hours, sometimes days. Some of them have strings lined with broken glass as to cut into other kites’ strings, but there is no kite competition as far as I know, unlike Houssein’s The Kite Runner. The boys at Rohana are especially proud of their handmade kites, as I observed last year and now this year, too.

Prasanna with his handmade kite.

Sampath, the new kid, and Dhanushka flying Kumara’s kite

And on a Sunday that turned positively rainy, I got to hold a goat and practice shooting coconuts with a slingshot. We were supposed to go birdhunting with our rubber weapons and cook’n’eat our prey for dinner, but the torrential rains in the afternoon earned the birds a reprieve.

Naushan holding one of Sishan’s goats.

And my turn to hold the goat.

Practicing the slingshot.

Munsif shows off his skill with the slingshot as Naushan looks on.

And then in one of the Deaf Studies class, we made a poster using acrylic paint and our hands.

Supuni, Nadeesha, Chaminda, Kumara, the new kid, Peshila, and Irangika.

On Thursday, Mala and I went to Amila’s older sister’s wedding in Angulugaha. The unfortunate thing about Sri Lankan weddings is, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. They’re all quite exactly the same; the first day is the white sari and the ceremony which appears to be more of a photo shoot than a celebration of love; the second day is the red sari and homecoming where it’s more of a lunch affair. It is so bogged down with ritual that there is little room for individuality, unlike Western weddings. Still, the food’s a great reason to go.

The wedding party.

Lakmal, Mala, I, and Susaththa have some fun with my camera.

And afterwards we went to the home of Sanjeewani, one of my favorite students, in Imaduwa. I love her family; out of five children, three are deaf. I was delighted to see that the oldest child, Renuka, had thought of installing a doorbell light! No one gave her the idea; she came up with it all on her own. My only regret is that our visit was too short; someday I’d like to live with them for several days as the family is a delight.

Renuka, Sisi the mother, a neighborhood girl, and Mala in front of the house.

Susaththa, Lakmal, me, Naushan, Amila, and then the women in front: Renuka, Sisi, and Sanjeewani.

And now there’s just a weekend and a Monday left. Then it’s off to Hong Kong for a couple days then back home after.

In other exciting news, Mr. Abeygunawardana has okay’d the “WE CAN!” celebration of sign language, to start at 12:30pm on Monday. I expect it’ll just be 30 or 45 minutes, and it’s pretty hard going with the children in creating sign language stories (both of the single-handshape and the 1-10 varieties) as I haven’t yet figured out what the Sri Lankan sign for “story” is! I’m not sure if it exists, and the children have, of course, been severely underexposed to the idea of stories and folklore, both traditional/oral storytelling and through books.

But we’re figuring it out as we go along. I trust it’ll be a wonderful eye-opener for the teachers and the other students who are about to see just what children can do with sign language!

10 Responses to “It’s Not All Bad…”

  1. lizzie 06. Jun, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    awesome to hear about the “we can” celebration! fabulous step to undertake!

  2. jill 06. Jun, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    What did the monks eat? Did you eat after they ate? How did you do with the coconuts?
    Loved all the pictures especially the kids painting. They are so happy doing that! Lovely family picture also. Are those madras dresses? The latest fashion trend here.

    Congratulations on the “You Can” celebration. I’m sure it will be fun.

    Can’t believe you’ll be home next week! I’m really looking forward to it!
    Have a wonderful time in Hong Kong. I’ll send you my shopping list! :-)

    love mom

  3. ROSEBUDZ 06. Jun, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    Mr. Abeygunawardana has okay’d the “YES WE CAN!” celebration

    glad to see he supports Obama….

    great pix

  4. Ginette 06. Jun, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    Great photos Adam! I love the one of Kumara! I do miss him a lot! Only 2 more days until Soph arrives (yes, I’m counting down for you!). Have a fantastic time catching up :) I’ll be there in spirit…

    Look forward to the feedback on the We Can celebration!

    xox Ginette

  5. Marilyn 07. Jun, 2008 at 6:11 am #

    Can’t wait to hear more about this “We Can” Celebration. Enjoy your last few days and your travel home.
    P.S. Mickey says hi too

  6. Eric 07. Jun, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    LOVE the pictures of you and the goat/slingshot! I hope to see some video of the “WE CAN!” celebration.

    Hopefully we’ll get to catch up in person very soon… Safe flights!


  7. Anne 08. Jun, 2008 at 8:39 am #

    Lovely to read about and see pictures of Sanjeewani’s family and Amila’s sister’s wedding. Great to see Mala too – she looks so happy! Thanks to you she’s being immersed not only in Sri Lankan culture but deaf culture too!
    Hugs to you both

  8. Anne 08. Jun, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    PS By the way Adam – it’s a ‘Pirith’ ceremony. (These confusing lip patterns…!) x

  9. amanda 10. Jun, 2008 at 5:55 am #

    love all the photos!

  10. Eilidh 01. May, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Hi Adam,
    Just wanted to say I was inspired reading about everything you have done!
    I have also been going to Sri Lanka since I was 18 and working in a home for disabled children and adults.
    I am just graduating from uni and my dream is to make a art/play bus and do outreach work in schools/homes similar to this using the arts to create opportunities and raise awareness about disability.
    Where is the home? I would love to visit and do some work! The kids look so happy and full of energy!
    great work. :)