I describe here my first journeys with a car and a driver from home, though before very long both these arrangements had to be aborted. The pictures are of the memorable Tangalle Bay and the Polhena Reef hotels, and then of Nihal Fernando.

New travel arrangements

I had by then trained one of the boys at home, Jayantha, to drive and my mother thought it best to make use of the Renault, for which I paid her the same rate as I did Codipilly. On this first trip I also took a Codipilly driver, Palitha, who was one of the best of a rotating group, and he said he thought Jayantha could manage. So I went on with just him that evening to Moneragala, to stay at the Resthouse and then check on ten schools next morning, before a few more in the afternoon. Next morning I saw a couple more and went on to Rahangala to meet the Director and the staff, getting back after that to Colombo in time for a Liberal Party meeting.

After some work at Nirmali’s next morning I went to the Asia Foundation to collect their first cheque, and had dinner that night with Jennifer and Anu Fernando, daughter of Nihal and Dodo who had first put me in touch with her. Next day I had meetings at USJP and then the NIE, and that evening saw David who was not quite sure what would happen next since his current contract was ending.

On the Saturday I did some work on the poetry of Jean Arasanayagam who needed to be better known, but I also wanted criticism available for students since I had prescribed her for the courses I had devised. Jeevan came to see me that day, for he had got an assignment in Cambodia, and I was able to advise him about where to stay and whom to contact.

I had lunch next day with Andre, and in the evening I set off with David to Matara, where we stayed at the Polhena Reef Hotel. We both had programmes the next day in Matara and Tangalle, and spent the next night at the Tangalle Bay hotel which was designed like a plane on a promontory, with a lovely beach from which we swam before drinks and dinner.

We had several more meetings next day, including at Weligama where a new RESC was being set up, and then returned to Colombo, with lunch on the way at the Monis establishment which had long been famous for its rusks.

Wednesday was duller, with meetings at the NIE and USJP before work at Nirmali’s after lunch. Next day we took delivery of books from both Pau and Printpack, and that evening I went to Aluwihare, to set off next morning with a cupboard that had had to be repaired. Early next morning I set off in her van with her driver Karim, and delivered the cupboard and saw several schools, taking a class at one of them. But I got back that evening to Aluwihare, via Polonnaruwa, for the last schools had been far north in the Amparai District.