Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oh dear oh dear..

Well it seems that I/we have offended a fellow blogger who left a message on the last entry by Kyle.

And I quote: 'I cant say well done for various reasons, you are probably spoiling it for me and a load of others as i drive past almost daily and the cops here NEVER take bribes fom foreigners, especially down south. now they know they can get money from us, thanks a bunch, we can add them to the list of people after our (imaginary) fat wallets. u gave money for no reason, you shouldnt even have got out of the car and said you had an appointment with some government official or somethin (literally anything) and drove off. what if u run over a kid without a licence anyway, what insurance is going to cover you? there are enough illegalities going on in the country without you adding to the misery.'

Meowr. Oh dear oh dear.

I suppose that then, in any foreign country I should ignore the police who wave their hands in my face and tell me to stop. And that if an officer tells me that I have committed a crime in a foreign land to which I am unlearned in the intricacies of their law system, that I should simply refuse. If I am given a fine, then I shall not be paying it. And that on a religious holiday I should exclaim that the government office I am going to in the sleepy seaside town is definitely open and awaiting my late arrival at lunchtime.

After all, as I am a neurotic traveller who has only for the first time set my little toes on Asian soil, or as a saying from home seperti katak dibawah tempurung (like a frog under a coconut shell) I am going to assume that every one is after the dollar dollar bills in my tiny student wallet. In fact, that is the reason why I so gaily throw money down to indicate to others that I am indeed paying a fine.. Or a 'fine' as found out later.

Okay, now I can roll my eyes back into position and assume my normal (non-sarcastic face- in case you didn't pick up the hint)

Let us clarify this first. Born and bred a pure Asian child I'm quite aware of who it is that is after the pittance that I carry around daily. In fact you can ask the three children and an older man on three separate occasions when we had stopped to rest who had openly walked up to us pointing at some tent in the distance, hand outstretched repeating 'Money?' Perhaps snippets from my journeys not necessarily blog-worthy, wouldn't you agree?

Having travelled relatively extensively around the region I have found that exploring your way through some less road user friendly areas are often quite rewarding. Often, these areas see fewer tourists and you are happier to part with what cash you have in your wallet for the overpriced bunch of bananas you have stopped to buy only to help the Aunty sat behind the table who has been there since the crack of dawn.

Having said that, Kyle (who was driving on the weekend) does posses a Motorcycle license from the UK (not that that made a difference to the kind man who took if off him) to ride a motorobike and experience to match. Granted, it isn't International, and merely allows the holder to ride a small engine (which we were on anyway), though a license none the less. The only reason why he was told to get off his bike and to follow the officer was 'because it was not International and not endorsed here'. A procedure which can be done in Columbo (where we had stayed for merely a night before coming out here), although not necessary according to our insurance company. Oh and insurance has already been dutifully signed up for - though thank you for the concern.

Details I would much rather spare my handful of regular readers-yes?

I suppose then a curt rebuttal would involve a 'well you should have said you had some kind of license in the first place' (I read again the post) Oh the mysteries of the written word void of physical contact or facial expression. And I say this with a smile.

And lastly, something tells me.. That our dear friend (or many others for that matter) at the road block won't be reading this entry and think 'AH! NOW I can stop any foreign person I like and make them give me money.' Read that bit again about the kids pointing to their tents?

Its true that many tourists wear their money on their foreheads, asking to give money away. Perhaps it is the un-tanned skin to suggest having just come off the plane? Or maybe its the neat, ironed clothes, just out the bag? I suppose in that sense I am indeed guilty of that crime. In that the sticky dirt that I trudge through in the hot hours of the day be a testament to the cement I'm mixing to help build a couple houses. Oh yes, I'm *gasp* paying to stay in a hotel while I help the lads chuck some muck at the walls. Oh how absurd. Silly little filanthopic gallivants I indulge myself in. Shake head.

But in all seriousness.. no, we aren't asking for a pat on the back well done for getting round some perhaps (or should I say allegedly) shady goings on with accordance to the blue. Merely a story regaled and yet even more experience with a haggled down 'fine'. Older stories I might save for a later date. xxw

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1- "I suppose that then, in any foreign country I should ignore the police who wave their hands in my face and tell me to stop. And that if an officer tells me that I have committed a crime in a foreign land to which I am unlearned in the intricacies of their law system, that I should simply refuse. If I am given a fine, then I shall not be paying it."

on the other hand it's correct to bribe in your books!very good, especially in a foreign country!

2)how can you ignore the cop's signal to stop and also talk to him at the same time? mind boggles, i never suggested not to stop

3)govmnt offices/holidays etc... it was just an EXAMPLE didint u get it?! any excuse would do..

4)money? children are trained to pester foreigners to get money, when tehy grow up they become touts at galle station!??! u should know THAT! u r ASIAN!????

5)is paying overpriced bananas a HELP? maybe instead of buying 10000 bananas u could buy somebody a water pump? a gas cooker? school books, shoes anything more constructive instead of laundering your conscience with a small freebie

6)thank god for insurance i still have doubts whethter it would cover, buit if u r happy, i really dont care

7)there's no need to keep telling how u "help" this that and the other, other, giving and charity are done best in silence and discretion where i come from...

galleblogger

May 17, 2006 3:22 pm  
Blogger moostar said...

aloo widarchitect! i like your rebuttal/explanation about the motorcycle license :) Your stories are well worth the read in my dull life. (ive even added you in my blog!-okay okay, so im a bit of a saddo...lol)

3 cheers for your efforts in sri lanka & all the best!

May 18, 2006 1:14 am  
Blogger Widarchitect said...

galleblogger- are you condemning the fact that I don't mind not haggling down the price of bananas? And that I hope that the few dollars extra that I have given the lady give her the chance to leave the stall a little early today and go home? Is that not helping her just the tiny bit that I can as a result of the few moments I happen to chance on her stall?
I wouldn't think that a person like you is often this quick to judge others. A humanitarian you title yourself so proudly on your site. For all you know I might have spent the last year working in a nasty desk job trying to come out here? For all you know I might have spent a good wedge of savings I have taken away to, oh, say Thailand, to indeed buy schoolbooks and shoes for a local school? Granted I haven't paraded what small efforts I might have made for your mighty evaluation- but you have just said yourself that discretion is the better route. You needn't tell me.
Of course those kids are going to pester for money and become touts because weren't you the one who had 'thanked' me for adding to the list of people who are after our wallets? I was simply re-iterating the fact that you had pointed out and that you aren't the only one in 'the know' when it comes to grabbing money.
You had suggested that the proper way of handling the situation would have been to stop, lie, then leave. Perhaps someone like you might be able to do that. But in our actions of stopping, being told to pay a bogus sum, then leaving does not mean we had any intention of bribing. Nor does it mean that we think it to be OK to do so.
If you had read properly, you would have noticed that we were on a motorcycle. In which stopping, effectively means you are affectively within physical distance as you would be if you were in a car and had gotten out. Are you not? You write such scathing remarks about me and what little I can try to do without taking the time to read.

So for everyones sake, get off your high horse - the real world is down here.

May 19, 2006 2:28 pm  

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