When I come home after a day of teaching, I am drained. Too drained to make anything to eat that requires more effort than peanut butter on crackers; too drained to read; too drained to even feed the fish. It’s a good kind of drained – I’m exhausted from stimulating class discussions, from giving lectures, from grading essays. So when I drop my bag on the floor of my room, kick of my shoes, and fall back on my bed to be horizontal for a while, I’m smiling when I do it. This is called working—this is what it feels like to spend all day doing something you love but that tires even your tendons. This is teaching.
My room makes it easy to relax. I have a balcony, a big desk, an almost too-big bed, and even a yoga/ironing corner. My two Fulbright roommates – Lisa, 24, and Jeff, 28, both researchers – and I found this spacious, open house tucked away on a side street near Colombo’s town hall about a month ago. We’re in a great central location, walking distance to a number of grocery stores, bus stops, bakeries, florists, hospitals, banks.. you get the idea! Our house has become the official Fulbright hangout house, and if you know me at all, you know how happy hosting and having people over makes me! (Which is why, friends and family who haven’t bought plane tickets yet, you have no excuse not to come visit – you can either share my king-sized bed with me, or have your own guest room!)
So. Two months in, job has begun, and I’m beginning to settle into a good routine. I spend most of the week at the university teaching, but weekends are for exploring. A few Sundays ago, Jeff, Lisa, and I had a French-toast breakfast, went to a local café/garden/gallery to listen to live jazz, came home and worked out, then made pumpkin curry. (Lisa also made homemade granola. And next week she’s making homemade hummus. And the other night we *both* made stuffed peppers with couscous. Needless to say, I love living with a fellow health nut!) Last weekend, the Colombo Fulbrighters (those of us based here) went to a rugby tournament, and we all recently saw Skyfall, the new James Bond movie. (I will save “movie-going in Sri Lanka” for another post, because what an experience that is!) We go out for Korean food. We have a housekeeper. We order pizza. We have semi-regular tuk-tuk drivers. We take out our trash, pay electric bills, and need to buy more plates. These are all normal, adult things to be doing, but somehow, doing it all in Sri Lanka is still fairly exotic and exciting. It’s strange, really, being back in a country that I have come to associate with constant traveling and adventure, and realizing I’m really living here. I never have a routine when I travel. And that’s how I know I’m home, at least for a little while.
And then there are the animals. Chipmunks scurry up and down my windows constantly (those of who I’ve Skyped with have seen my head dart to and from when these little guys are playing nearby). We have fish, because we have an indoor courtyard with a little pond. There are a few cockroaches, birds that wake us up every morning, and, yes, the occasional bigger-than-your-hand spider that Sean once found cozied up in his shoe when he slid his foot into it one morning. Living in Sri Lanka means appreciating all its creatures – big and small, scary and cute – which includes things that sort of look like creatures, like jackfruit, which my friends and I had as our main dish for our belated Thanksgiving dinner last night.
Twelve of us Fulbrighters had the most fun cooking and eating our FriendsGiving meal! (We were looking forward to it for weeks, so we named it.) We had mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, jackfruit carnitas, pumpkin and cabbage, shrimp curry, a colorful vegetable medley, and homemade apple pie for dessert. I went to sleep almost painfully full, but the whole evening of food, Christmas carols, and hanging with my Fulbright family was the perfect way to ring in this tropical holiday season.
And now, friends and family, I am off to Nepal! My fellow Fulbright ETAs and I leave in a few hours for a week-long Fulbright conference in Kathmandu. I have wanted to go to Nepal ever since I began traveling in southern Asia, and I am SO excited for this trip!