When I woke up to the sound of Fur Elise on my first morning in Colombo, my first thought was that the Indian teacher in the room next door (now known as Nidhi) had very poor taste in her alarm tone.
The last thing I expected the source of the music to be was the daily bread tuk-tuk (yes, tuk-tuk, not a van, not a truck) that makes its way around the neighborhood selling its assortment of freshly baked bread and buns around the neighbourhood…starting at 5 A.M.
There is a certain charm to the whole thing: sounds that you hear in an unfamiliar country that remind you of the differences in lifestyle, even with something as simple as buying bread. However, when I first started this post, three weeks into my teaching stint at SVS, it was charming. Now, almost two months in, and I have to say, the daily dose of Beethoven isn’t as endearing…
I digress, however. While Fur Elise is certainly one of the key features of living here, it’s not the only one. Our large house is situated in a quiet (sans the bread tuk-tuk) neighborhood in Kotte, in the suburbs of Colombo, about a 15-minute drive away from the school.I like that the house is a little “far” from the school by some standards so that we can get away from the bustling energy of Colombo and have a change in environmental pace after a long day of teaching.
What’s especially nice is that there are beautiful walking trails and a wetland park located just a five minute walk from the house. It’s ideal for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride, giving me time to enjoy the scenery and relax in the scenic peace and quiet.
The house itself is quite something, especially compared to the average accommodation in Sri Lanka. I have my own room, as do all the teachers, and we each share a bathroom with one other teacher. I find that the house allows for the perfect balance of privacy and camaraderie. We all eat meals together (courtesy of one of our talented housekeepers Lazar) every evening and hang out in the living room to watch TV together while also having the individual spaces in our rooms to review lesson plans, call friends and family, and unwind.
Frankly, I have always enjoyed living with other people having lived with multiple people through college. Being able to live with other teachers who are going through the same challenging yet exciting experience eases the initial feelings of loneliness and homesickness. In fact, since the day I arrived, I have hardly felt like an outsider or like I was meeting a group of strangers. It didn’t take long at all for a feeling of family and community to develop within the group.We live together, teach together, make fun of each other, get frustrated with each other and, above all, always look out for each other.
And I can understand why, because the familial atmosphere of the house is one that is intrinsic to SVS. It’s the ethos of the entire school. Teachers and students… together we’re all part of the SVS family. And we all have to suffer through our daily dose of Fur Elise.