view from back of a moving trishaw
It’s nice to get out of the air-conditioning now and then. Actually, it sucks. Take a trishaw home at 1 in the AM, feeling strangely lucid. I’d like to put my headphones on and just drift but it’s just too uncomfortable two feet from another human being. My Sinhala puts rudiment to shame, though I’ve got my life story down. The conversation is always the same. I’m 23. No, I’m not married. Yes, I was at a girls house. No, she’s actually a friend. Yes, I like Sri Lankan girls. No no, I don’t want a girl right now, thank you. And of course – yes, the country is fucked. Sometimes you can shuttle from the pub to the resto to home and forget what’s going on. Read the New York Times, watch Star World, whatever. Sometimes you can’t.
Trishaw drivers are a rather random way to get your news. I don’t watch TV cause the advertisements make me naush. I don’t really read the papers cause the layout and english make me twitch. I still read the New York Times every day. I still watch the same shit TV. I tend to notice where I’m living mainly when it smacks me in the head. Hereabouts that’s far too often. It’s hard to have to have breakfast on top of some suicide bombers severed head or people crying over their dead family. This country is a paradox, civilization spread paper thin over raw muscle and bone. Like putting the skin back on a dead cow. Step out of the origami hotel and you can see the blood underneath.
The drivers at night never own the trishaw. There’s no way you’d be driving your own vehicle around at 2h15. They just rent it and keep what’s left over after gas. This one says Mahinda looks pretty and does nothing. Yeah, I know. LTTE this, LTTE that. I know. Kid’s finished A-Levels but hard to find work. Yes, I lived in America. Yeah, there’s good money there. What can you do. Same shit. Everybody’s got kids. Everyone wants just a little bit more money. Not even a lot. Just a little bit.
I had another driver, during the day. Said he was Tamil. Usually you can tell, people post religious markers in the cab. I wasn’t looking. I asked if he saw the Vesak lanterns and he said he was scared to go out cause he might get his ass kicked. That struck me. More than anything on TamilNet really. Just that this guy was scared to walk the streets of his city. It’s a stupid example, but it’s the closest I’ve come to understand that very normal people just don’t feel secure in their own country. But I don’t get any catharsis there. Mainly I just hang my head through the bars and wonder what the fuck. Then I go home and read Metafilter until the bombs ruin my breakfast.