on the hunt for a car and going to a meeting click on this link.

The day started with the hunt for the licence.  I knew it was gong to be a slog and there would be a lot of red tape. My dedicated, and very helpful, tuk tuk driver picked me up and took me to the licensing office.  To get there (the middle of nowhere), we took one of his ‘short cuts’ travelling down back alleys and unmade roads.

We arrived to what seemed like a university enrolment day. There were literary thousands of people milling about. Some under trees, others around cars and tuk tuks. Files of people with ‘L’ plates in their hands  were waiting to get into some clapped-out mine bus. One bus said ‘lady teacher for the lady driver.’ The bus was being driven by two blokes! They were both miserable faced men with pencil thin moustaches.

Thanks to the assistance of the best driver in Sri Lanka, who navigated me round the many ground level offices, each with its own number in English and Sri Lankan and its own line of people standing out side. Now this could have taken hours, but we strolled to the front of the line. There was a very stern, hooked nosed man dressed in military style uniform. He was making sure that no one was queue jumping or squeezing past the door. We had a little chat and strolled in to the font desk and subsequently directed to door 16…

Door 16 was the cash office. From there, they directed us to driving licence office (door number 17). This turned out to be the wrong one because I wanted a temporary driving licence, so we went to door 19. I showed my form and filled out some more paper work (just the one sheet!). I gave copies of my visa, passport and driver’s licence with two photos. I then had to go back to door 18 to get approval. This turned out to be a bit of an interview.

After approval, I had to go back to door 19 for it to be signed and filled. Then to the first door (16 – the cash office) to pay for the licence. It was only £16 for 3 months! Finally I went back to door 19 to get the physical driving licence. After an amazing (only) 30 mins, I was fully kitted out with a laminated licence the size of an A4 sheet! It’s not quite pocket size let alone wallet size. Time to find a car…

The driver’s son had found an interesting Toyota /BMW/Honda… I’m not sure what it was, but it had tinted windows, big exhaust and alloy wheels. It was truly pimping, straight out of MTV’s ‘Pimp my ride’. He wanted about £560 for it. I thought this was a good price, but I looked under the car and it told quite a different story. Even with my limited knowledge of cars I knew that when the chassis is rusted wafer thin, it’s not a great sign!

I took it for a spin nonetheless, and it was bloody fast and had an amazing sound system!! I knew it was a bad car to get, it was very chavvy and I’d probably die  if I drove it. The chap selling it was a gem dealer with a clean, pressed shirt and suit trousers. He didn’t really look like the boy racer type. It was a bit of a no really…

The day got better because we dropped by the tuk tuk driver’s house. I met his son again and his wife too. We had tea and chatted about cars, cricket and the lake. He, coincidentally lives opposite Tony’s place on the other side of the lake.

His house was humble, made from wooden panels and had a corrugated iron roof. A few things caught my eye as I walked into his house: he had pictures of Buddhist monks; golden idols hanging over the door frames; a cricket bat with a few strawberries on; in the corner was a kind of display cabinet, which, I figured, back in the 70s would have been a very expensive piece of furniture. Made from wood with sliding doors, it now housed a random selection of items and the big TV was on it too. His wife gave me a cup of sweet tea on a coaster. The family home was basic but incredibly welcoming and clean too. It had the two tuk tuks parked out side, one for the father, the other for the son.

No car, but a great day…

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