single-serving friendships

One of the most unique and wonderful things about the expat life is this idea that was first planted in my head by a movie – you know, that one we don’t talk about. The narrator, for some reason, traveled a lot for work. Right at the beginning, when the narrator meets the antagonist, he makes a bad joke about how everywhere he goes, things are provided to him in single portions – one meal at a restaurant, only having enough shampoo in the bottle to wash your hair one time, being given a tube of toothpaste so small you can only get…

om shanti shanti shanti

I’ve only been able to touch my toes a few times in my life: when I was young, briefly, and then this past summer when I attended yoga classes several times a week with my best friend. For most of my life, I’ve been able to get close but not quite reach. It’s just not a natural ability for me. This entire placement so far has been a struggle to reach my toes. I came here pretending I had no expectations, but of course I did, and my experiences haven’t met my expectations on any count. This isn’t to say I’m…

how the light gets in

Despite my best efforts, I find myself often comparing my Sri Lankan life with my Canadian life. Comparisons can be dangerous; they take you away from your current context and inevitably lead to disappointment as you discover that things are usually different and sometimes weird and never what you’re used to. It’s so easy and so natural to separate the world into “us” and “them” and this mindset is what prolongs culture shock and prevents integration into this new world I find myself in. My life in Canada and my life here are incomparable. My whole context has changed. I am part…

all by myself

I had the privilege of video chatting with a good friend the other day, the first time we’ve really talked since August. Our long conversation, made longer by dodgy internet connections, covered everything that’s happened in the weeks since we last saw each other, mostly, of course, focusing on our personal adjustments to life abroad, our mandates, and being alone. I learned a lot about how I’m feeling about life because she asked me questions other people haven’t and I said things out loud that I haven’t said before. I did an okay job of preparing myself to be here,…

ob-la-di, ob-la-da (life goes on)

Well, I’ve been here for a number of weeks (a month?), and not a single one of my questions has been answered. In an ideal world, I’d have things sort of figured out by now, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Right now, I’m kind of just making things up until something works. As far as I can tell, that’s what everyone else is doing too. I think this is what they call “adulting”. So, despite the uncertainty surrounding everything I do, life keeps moving forward, and I really don’t have much choice but to go with it….

cardboard boats and a city in the hills

I recently started listening to a podcast called “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People”, or “Beautiful/Anonymous” for short (x). It’s a simple premise: the host, Chris Gethard, accepts a phone call, and he and this anonymous caller just talk for an hour. Chris and his callers have kept me company in the last couple of weeks, on long car rides and nights when I feel lonely. I haven’t listened to every episode yet, but all of the ones I have heard have stuck with me in one way or another, coming back up as I experience new things. Last week, the Uniterra team took…