A Little Something Different: The Joys of Communication

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Asia » Sri Lanka » Uva Province » Badulla
March 16th 2014
Published: November 10th 2018
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My Simple But Healthy Lunch My Simple But Healthy Lunch My Simple But Healthy Lunch

My meal was served on a plastic-lined plate. Why? So they don't have to wash them after each use?
Let's do something a bit different here. I would like to share a story having to do with communication in a different part of the world. This post consists of a particularly noteworthy conversational moment with a complete stranger.

One needs much patience when traveling long term, especially in certain parts of the world, and for obvious reason. This circumstance, despite the heat, my ever-growing hunger and the frustration of the situation, in hindsight, was really quite a humorous moment. In fact, it is one of the more memorable conversations I have had, and here it is, verbatim, taken directly from my journal. As an aside, for anyone who has traveled to Sri Lanka before, you can no doubt visualize this *exact scenario.

Ahh, the joys of communication.

After my bus arrived at the station in Badulla, Sri Lanka, I grabbed my pack and left on foot for the center of the small town. I had a hankering for something to eat, but my heart and taste buds were not in the mood for rice and curry. Again. I was also looking for iced tea, as it was already quite warm and
Adorable School ChildrenAdorable School ChildrenAdorable School Children

A photo thrown in at random to show the beautiful smiles of the Sri Lankans
I was developing a fairly significant thirst.

It was too difficult to navigate with the pack on my back through the narrow door of one restaurant so I just waited outside until an overeager waiter (two waiters, in fact) came outside trying in vain to encourage me to hurry inside to take a seat. I had just been sitting for hours on a bumpy bus journey and the last thing I wanted to do was quickly take another seat.

I stood my ground and was extra calm when I asked, “Do you have anything besides rice and curry?”

“Rice and curry, yes we have,” one of the waiters hurriedly explained.

“Anything else?”

“Rice and curry, ma’am.”

“Do you have fried rice?”

“Fried rice, fried rice, yes we have.”

“How much?”

“200 Rupees.”

At this point throughout the country I had been eating for around 90 Rupees a meal so the quoted price was too high for me.

“Chicken, fish, beef,” he went on.

Sloped Tea PlantationSloped Tea PlantationSloped Tea Plantation

Another random shot to show the amazing tea plantations one can find all over Sri Lanka

“No meat, just the rice. How much?” I tried once again.

“150. Chicken?”

“No chicken. How much is it just for plain fried rice?”


I tried a different approach as this was clearly getting me nowhere.

I asked if they had iced tea.

“Tea, have.”

“Iced tea?”

“Iced tea, no.”

Do you have ice?”

“Ice cream?”

“No, ice. Plain ice.”

“You want ice cream?”

“No, I want iced tea.”

“Tea, have. Come in, come in,” he urged again.

“Are there any other restaurants down the street?”

“No, no restaurants here.”

“Are you the only one?”


“Funny, I just passed four restaurants before getting to your place,” I challenged him.

“No! No more restaurants here. This is the only one. So…come in, come in. Rice and curry, ma’am?”

“No thanks.”

I walked away.

There was indeed a restaurant just next door.

Three doors down and across the street was another eatery; this is where I decided to have lunch. I was in food heaven when I ordered what I wanted, at the price I wanted to pay, with no hassles at all.

They even had iced tea.


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