Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two and a half...

The first thing I learned about Sri Lanka was it’s time zone. It was always just a little more complicated to agree on an interview appointment with my now new employer when making calculations for a 2.5 hour difference. Why the half?? It took up much discussion in my farewell party, and none of us could quite figure out the reason behind it.

Well, I learned all about it on my first day in Sri Lanka, and it is reminiscent of Augustus wanting his month (August) to be as long as Julius’ (July) – Pakistan and India cannot be in the same time zone, so they specified the half hour mark, and Sri Lanka followed suit. (There’s actually more: apparently Nepal also didn’t want to be in India’s time zone or China’s (horror!!) so it specified its time zone on the 15 minute mark!)

After a few days in Colombo, I started noticing a few other things that are done in halfs.

For one thing tuc-tuc’s (motorized tricycle cab) are the most dominant (and most convenient) mode of transportation. They are everywhere, and impose a half lane on the street… producing 2.5-lane roads. And I know I’m stretching the theme here, but can I point out that a tuc-tuc has 2 and a half (of two) wheels?

There are other half compromises that appear here and there – there’s a 2 Rupee coin, but not a 1 Rupee coin, there are ministries for everything under the sun (one for agriculture, then another for irrigation; one for recreation and sports, and another for sports, one for probation and child care, and another for child development and women's empowerment…), halving mandates possibly in an attempt to make sure everybody gets a ministerial brief. And so on and so forth...

But one thing that they do not do in halves here in Sri Lanka is credit lines; I was issued my Visa debit card yesterday and noticed this morning that its expiry date was 2018. No middle ground there – now how’s that for full on trust?!

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