Friday, September 23, 2011

271 Thimbirigasyaya Road

I know, I know, it's been a while since my last post and...well...I really don't have a good excuse to be quite honest.  I guess we've been a bit pre-occupied with moving our stuff into our new home.  It sure has felt like an eternity since I last posted, but believe me when I say, it has taken every minute of the last few weeks to get settled.

If I remember correctly, I spit out my last post right around the time our shipping container arrived in country.  Shari and I were getting excited about not having to live out of one suit case anymore and we were taking daily trips to our empty home to see if we had everything we needed to make our move as smooth as possible.

On September 7th, Ihsan called us with the great news that the ship carrying our entire lives had indeed docked safe and sound-I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear that!  The long part of transporting our personal items was over-it seemed that it would only be a matter of a few days before we were all moved in.....

Well, things didn't quite work out that way, but I am happy to report that I am typing this post at our dining room table over our own Internet connection at our new home.  We still have some sorting out to do, but all in all, things have fallen into place quite well even if they did in an unconventional way....

If I do not take anything else away from our time here, I will undoubtedly learn patience.  I did not realize how little patience I had until going through the process of moving into a new home in a third world country.  All I can say is thank God for Shari and our friends here-without them, I would not even know where to start.

Growing up in the US, I've grown accustom to getting what I want or need in about 10 to 20 minutes.  All one has to do in the states is jump on the Internet or drive down to the nearest super store to find the goods or services one needs.  Not so here.  You must know someone who knows someone who does what you need or can find what you are looking for.  The someone who knows someone should preferably be a local who can get you the best price for the goods or services you desire-if not, get ready to pay the foreigner rate (two to three times what you should).

Before we get into all of that, let's back up to the time of my last post.  The night before our stuff arrived, Shari and I went to a roof top restaurant close by the home we had been staying at for a wonderful evening meal.  The joint is run by the well known Chef Koluu whom we first heard about on "No Reservations", one of our favorite US food travel shows.  It was a nice evening out, so we managed to snap some nice pics.  Check out the website if you're interested in learning more about this place:

Lamb skewers and prawns
Looking at restaurant from the lounge area
Looking at the lounge area from the restaurant
The next day, we drove to a clearing agent office to pay them the required fee to process our release paperwork.  Not cheap, but everything was in order-the only hitch was that they said we should have shipped the container in Shari's name (we shipped it in Ihsan's name).  We were initially advised not to ship our goods this way because Shari is not a Sri Lankan citizen and so it was assumed that our duty taxes would be through the roof.  This was lesson one in patience for me.  Even though there are processes here, there are always five hundred different ways to do something depending on who you talk to.  As a person who needs to know how things work down to the detail, I found it extremely frustrating not to know what was going on behind the scenes.

Not to worry though, we were in good hands with Ihsan.  Being a life long native and business man, Ihsan knows how to get things done in this country, even when the first, second, third and fourth option don't work out the way they should.  After a bit of a delay, our stuff was released on Thursday, September 15th.

Prior to our stuff being released, we got a ton of things done inside of the home, including repainting some rooms in the house, relocating the kitchen sink and counter top, getting an air condition unit installed in the master bedroom, purchasing an antique outdoor teak table and chair set, getting extra electrical outlets installed and looking for storage furniture piece.  Each job we completed came with its own set of challenges.  Especially confounding was the complete absence of closets and cabinets and the availability of only one electrical outlet per room!  Because of the tropical climate, homes built in Sri Lanka are build out of brick and concrete-perhaps this is the reason closets are not normally included and may be the reason for so few electrical outlets since it is much harder to run electrical conduit through brick than it is through the hollow walls of a wooden or metal studded home.

BEFORE moving in, we walked the home and documented all of the issues we could spot so that we could prove the pre-move in condition of the house.  Important since there were many issues that we do not want to get stuck paying for when we end up moving out.  For the most part, the house will be a very nice and comfortable place for Shari and I over the next few years.
Before pic of the front porch and yard area
Before pic of the new kitchen area-check out our TINY stove!
Atrium-great light and nice in the rain
Before pic of the living and dinning area
Before pic of the master bedroom with NEW accent wall color
We are going to turn this into a make shift walk-in closet. 
Future gym room
Future office room
Fast forward to September 15th at about 5:30 P.M. as the truck with our stuff pulled up to the front of our house.  The road in front of our home will be widened soon, so there is quite a bit of work going on right now.  Rush hour is pretty brutal and the truck pulled up, you guessed it, right in the middle of rush hour.  On top of the traffic, the truck was unable to clear some low hanging utility wires, which resulted in a massive traffic jam until one of the crazy unloading crew members jumped up on the truck barefoot, wielding a broom to push the wires high enough to allow the truck to back under them.  Thankfully, the wires were phone lines, not electrical, but I do not think the worker cared either way!
Rush hour on Thimbirigasyaya Road
Now THAT looks familiar
Are you $@%#%@ kidding me???? 
Our stuff...YAY!
With our stuff finally unloaded, we spent the next couple of days unpacking and storing things.  We still don't have a few of our cabinets, so it is difficult to put everything away, but we are making progress-check out the pics of the pad 80% complete:
Outdoor seating area 
Living and dinning area
Seating and atrium
Makeshift kitchen
Guestroom-who will be the first to stay here? 
Dinning area-need to buy a few more chairs-lost two to breakage
Master bedroom
Although it didn't take us long to arrange our stuff, we had to wait until the right day and time to move in for good.  In Sri Lankan culture, there are certain days and times that are best for doing certain things.  For us, Thursday at 10:00 AM was the best day and time to move into our new home.  When moving into a home for the first time, there is an important ritual of boiling milk in the center of the home while facing north, then making milk rice (called Kiri Bath) to share with family members and visitors.  The milk is put in a clay pot then a fire is built under the pot where the milk is heated until it boils over.  It took me 39 minutes to get milk to boil over-I guess my fire building skills need a bit of work.
OK-here we go-piece of cake...
I think it just needs some oxygen....blow....blow...what the #$@%!
Ah, some much needed help from Shari's parent's driver
After boiling the milk, we had a nice lunch with Shari's parents, then entertained some other visitors before retiring to spend our first night in our new home.  Unfortunately, I've been dealing with a little bit of an upset stomach, but I am starting to feel better and I must say it is great being in our own place.  I do want to thank all of our friends from London to Sri Lanka, who have been more than hospitable to us over the course of the last month.

Now that we are settled, we are going to start taking some trips out of Colombo in addition to trying to find jobs so stay tuned for future posts and check out:

to see all of the pictures from the last few weeks....

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