As I write this, a deep clap of thunder reverberates through my very being and for a brief moment I savour the vibrations within my body, before a bright quick flash of lightening is let loose. There is a momentary stillness before the next quick thwack of thunder … a warning that soon the deluge will be unleashed to pound into the now sodden ground, and overflowing drains.
It’s not monsoon don’t you know. The whole island has had a week of hammering rain, the worst in over 3 years I am told. Along the East coast where I was just a day ago, I was grateful to be travelling in a truck tall enough to wade through some 2.5 feet of flooded water over roads that are low-lying in the first place. The road side was only visible by the scattering of small wooden fishing boats tethered to the road signs.
The local fresh-water prawn farms were frantically pumping out water to prevent a slew of Jacques the French-accented prawns of Finding Nemo fame, from making a life-changing break for freedom. I suspect they would not last very long in the searing sun, once the water recedes! Would make for some tasty fish paste though.
There’s not one that is complaining about the torrential rain though. That’s because of the drought in the last couple of years, a drought that has severely impacted the bi-annual paddy harvests. So this rain is seen as a lifesaver, giving hope to farmers of two decent harvests that they can count on over the coming year.
But enough of the rain!
It’s heartening to feel some things haven’t changed, but there are more things that have changed. It was good to take in the moistened heat and night-time smells of a sleepy city as I stepped out from the air-conditioned airport en route to my first home away from home – the downtown hotel. The city skyline is filled with cranes and construction sites, much of which is funded by China. The land being reclaimed from the sea at Galle Face Green as part of the controversial City Port (now known as the Colombo International Financial City), is near completion … a few years behind schedule but getting there I guess.
Traffic is still crazy and three-wheeler rides are as manic as ever, especially when your face is at the same height of the exhaust of a neighbouring bus!
It was great to catch up with the ladies and gents of the BIZ+ office and reconnect with old friends. It was lovely actually, and they make my return back to Sri Lanka all the more worthwhile. But it wasn’t all about chillin’. The BIZ+ project ends June 2019 so there is much work to do with the investment partners before then: business coaching in human resources matters, process improvements and general management themes. It is the same the world over! In just a week, I have already traveled the length and breadth of the country, with business meetings in Matara, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, a small island near Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa. Definitely thrown into the deep end alright.
Personally, I will be working with a slew of the more mature businesses, helping them prepare for Great Place to Work certification (GPTW). This is a worldwide certification with it’s genesis in the US, where a measure of the employees contentment level and the organization’s culture is taken. An international independent committee reviews each application and awards certification, or not. There’s high hopes for some of these business to receive certification once I am done with this – let’s hope I do not let anyone down!
So sin an sceil for my first week. Access to wifi has been intermittent hence no photos but I move to my ‘permanent’ home in Matara at the weekend. This should see me with a kitchen from which to cook, a place to hang up my clothes and what is hopefully, consistent wifi connection! Tis the simple things, isn’t it.
The good thing about being on the road in Sri Lanka, is how many elephants you see along the roadside!