SUBA UDE provides physical, creative and emotional projects for displaced persons living in welfare camps in Sri Lanka. We focus on psychosocial needs beyond food, shelter and medicine.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Spring Break 2005, Matara!

Matara (the town we are working in ) is not exactly a haven for
dance-party lovers.  Perhaps the tsunami swept away the discos,
bouncers and (god willing) those loser guys who stand on the edge of
the dance floor and don't dance.  You know who I'm talking about. We
hate those guys.  Anyway, with the beautiful beach as a backdrop, I
think Matara could do some bang-up business around spring break,
perhaps it did before December 26.  But today, there's nothing to do
here.  When we return home (to our beach hotel) at night, our
activities are pretty much limited to scrubbing the 3rd world glop and
grit off our bodies, drinking Lion Lager (or Sprite for our resident
jewish-mormon) and strategizing for tomorrow.

Oh, but then came Thursday night.

The head of the cultural center invited us to his home for a "little
music show," which is Sinhala for "lets make the unassuming foreigners
dance for our own entertainment."  And so we did.  In a house packed
with locals, we learned how to dance the Sri Lankan two-step with the
tabla and harmonium providing the  back beat.  The harmonium is a
cross pollination of the accordion and the piano.  It makes for a
rather breathy, Polish rendition of "Piano Man."  FYI, Billy Joel is
not the international super-rock star i thought he was when I was
14-years-old.

At first I couldn't tell if my "dance teacher" was kidding around.
Like teaching a foreigner profanities or better yet teaching a Sri
Lankan to say "you da' man!" and "i'm da' mac daddy," the dance she
was teaching me must have been for her own entertainment. Her
movements looked like those of a tone-deaf drunken uncle with a touch
of innocent country-bumpkin topped off with lovely traditional Indian
hand gestures.  Ever the foolish competitor, I tried my best to match
my dance teacher's body and eye movements amidst the hooting and
cackling from the audience.  I know I kicked her ass with my head
isolations.  After enough prodding, Ms. Wanna got her ass up and
ripped through the floor with her West African moves.  The room lifted
itself into the air howling with delight.

Then came dinner.  Imagine inviting a Mexican to dinner and serving
him nachos. As much as we appreciated the cooked veggies and
mound of white breadand butter, we found this menu a little curious.  
We asked our host if this is what they eat every night.  His reply-
"Oh no, we eat rice and curry."

We finished up the night with a little "American" dancing, took a bow,
hopped in a tuk-tuk (three-wheel taxi) and left our new fans begging
for more.

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