Sri Lankan Trilogy

Nick’s flight would be arriving in the morning which gave me sixteen hours to kill in the capital. Having flagged down a tuk-tuk (scooter crossed with a pram) I went exploring and quickly found myself in the bustling market district of Pettah. Stopping for a nano second I was immediately accosted by a wiry individual who offered to take my picture.

‘Oh, no thank you,’ I replied. ‘My camera is in the hotel.’

‘We go back to your hotel. I take your picture. You buy me beer.’

‘I don’t want a beer.’

‘I want one.’

‘Well buy one.’

‘No. You buy. I take your picture.’

‘You didn’t take my picture!’

‘Not my fault you forgot your camera.’

‘I didn’t forget my camera. Go away.’

‘NO, YOU BUY ME BEER!’

It took a full out sprint to lose him; weaving between the stalls and disgruntled custodians. The street ended and ahead of me the Indian Ocean stretched out. On the beach a halal barbecue was in full swing. I ordered something called Beef Kottah and was seated at a plastic table next to a chubby gentleman crammed into a misshapen suit. He said hello and handed me a business card that stated he was Mohammed Ali, a spice merchant from Mumbai.

‘I am here on a conference,’ he continued. ‘You give me your phone number. I give you a real good deal on spice.’

‘I don’t tend to buy my spice in bulk so it’s probably not worth your while.’

‘You give me your number anyway?’

‘What are the smallest units you sell in?’

‘Five kilogram bags.’

‘See, I’m never gonna use that much spice.’

‘You never know.’

‘No, I’m pretty sure. Take it easy Mohammed.’

‘If you’re not going to give me your number, give me back my business card.’

I returned to the hotel and found its bar brimming with Brits (over en masse for the cricket). A particularly inebriated Wolverhamptonite greeted me with the immortal words: ‘Won’t you join me in a sorrow-drowning drink. I’ve just been on a disastrous date – hired a helicoptor and an accordian player to impress a local girl, but the accordian couldn’t be heard over the rotary blades – total write-off.’

He took great offence at the suggestion that he was telling porkies and followed up with how, having been declared bankrupt, he couldn’t get incapacity benefit for a (faked) bad back, so had caught a ferry to Belgium and, on the return trip, thrown his passport in the sea and pretended to be Croation so as to seek asylum in the UK.

‘My real name is Mark,’ he stated. ‘I can’t tell you my assumed name.’

‘Shouldn’t that be the other way around?’

‘What?’

‘Shouldn’t you be keeping your real name a secret?’

‘What an earth are you talking about?’

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1 Comment

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One response to “Sri Lankan Trilogy

  1. John Quinn

    Sounds a crazy but typical spot to be in. Fun just people watching

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