After returning from the coast having indulged in far too much surfing I have contracted an outer and inner ear infection. I had some drops that didn’t really do much to help so Mrs Abdeem (or ‘madam’ as the staff in the hotel call her) insisted I went to the Sri Lanka Hospital to see an ear nose and throat specialist.

One call and she’d booked me in.

Driving though the back waters of Colombo, winding down un-made roads and we passed road side shops covered from floor to ceiling in mobile phone advertising for Dialog phone network. We popped out onto a freshly tarmaced dual carriage way with new markings and a proper pavement (one of the tuk tuk driver’s short cuts) and shortly after, The Sri Lanka Hospital!

This has a real impact on the landscape. Very modern covered in columns and glass with a cream rendering it is an imposing powerful building, full of confidence in its stature and prowess.

There are doormen dressed in sparkling Persil white suits and hats. Their white gloved hands constantly swinging the doors open for unwell people willing to shell out Rps1000 to see a doctor.

As I entered I was hit by a wall of cold air and then directed by one of the stewards to the reception where I paid my £6 to see the specialist. They then escorted me to the second floor in to a very modern, clean to an inch of its life waiting room. I waited for about 5 minutes being entertained by Sri Lankan Pop Idol on one of the many flat plasma screens

Then the assistant asked me in and the doctor gave me a full check up. Up the nose, down the throat and checked out my ears too. He gave me some antibiotics and some more drops and sent me on my way. In and out in 30min! That’s service…

I know that the average Sri Lankan can’t afford the Rps1000 to see a doctor, but it really was a great experience to see a massive hospital run so efficiently.

Back at the Tropic Inn I followed up some of the contacts from last week and the NGOs I’d met.  I’ve been given access from GOAL to photograph all their projects and the projects from AmeriCares. I am meeting up with Petr from People in Need tomorrow. They have done not only the ice factory and fish storage houses in the Eachchilampashu/Verugal Division, but also constructions including permanent houses, schools and kindergartens. I meet for coffee tomorrow to discuss transposition and they have also offered me residence in Trincomalee while I visit them.

I’m still holding out for actual cash commissions, but have arranged to have supper with an architect on Saturday night so I will see what happens then. I might head up to the east as soon as Monday.

I had a very pleasant surprise as I was typing away: the American, Dan, whom I met previously and we went drinking in the Lion Pub has come back into town. We arranged to go for another drink.

Needless to say I ended up having draft Lion even though the antibiotics were kicking in. I just couldn’t resist that sweet Sri Lankan nectar. The calypso band were there so we decided to get them to play for us. They were really great although a lot of there songs sounded very similar.

As we listened, an odd couple sidled up to the table next to us. A morbidly obese English man with a stick and a strange man bag was accompanied by a very scrawny, verging on skeletal, Dutch man.

After a while they introduced themselves as Tony and Peter! Here we go I thought! They were very pleasant to begin with and asked where we were from and how long we were staying. Dan got a bit of stick for being an American that he took quite well knowing his patriotism.

Then they asked us were we were staying. We said the Tropic Inn. Tony said that he stayed at the hotel round the corner with a pool and there was some deal that we could use it for free. In his very over posh ex-colonial accent, he said, ‘Come boys, you can use the pool when ever you like’. Now, this is when I made the link and I had been trying to work out who Tony reminded me of. Not only his style but the way he presented him self and behaved. This comment dragged the character out of the dark recess of my mind: Monty from Withnail and I.

Then every thing slotted in to place. Dan was blissfully unaware that he was being chatted up by a coupe or 60-year-old gays, and was full of banter and smiles. Even once when Monty, aka Tony, mentioned the beach boys giving him a massage with ‘extras’, Dan still didn’t clock.  He said afterwards that he just thought they were very English!!

It became very obvious when Monty was asking about where and when we exercised , whether we liked saunas and ‘you have to try everything at least once! Drunk on Lion and mixed up with antibiotics I asked a passing waiter for the bill…

As per usual the bill took ages, so Monty and his sidekick has us pinned for another 30 mins. When we finally made our exit, it was amidst lingering handshakes and doe-eyed, lustful looks from both of them, still trying to score out poolside date. Dan and I raced back to the hotel in stitches.

Another one to put down to experience…

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