The other day we were returning home in a hired van from a shopping trip to Kandy. Our driver pulled out to overtake a stationary bus which was taking on passengers – he tooted the horn. But the bus just pulled out in front of us as buses tend to (bus drivers think there are no other vehicles on the road). Our driver managed to stop but as the rear of the bus swung out it clipped our van causing minor damage. No-one injured. But naturally our driver wanted to sort things out with the bus driver so he again overtook and pulled up to talk to him. The bus driver got angry and the police turned up. Despite this being a minor incident they arrested both drivers and impounded both vehicles for the rest of the day and most of the next day. We offered to be witnesses in support of our driver but the police told us to go away and wait in the van, which at their insistence was illegally parked. Whereupon another police officer came along and slapped us with a parking ticket despite our explanations. Eventually we were invited into the main Kandy police station which was an eye-opening experience. It felt like being on the set of ‘Life on Mars’ – lots of shouting, officers tapping away on ancient typewriters (not a computer in sight), rusting and twisted metal desks dating from the 1960s by the look of them. The senior officer present managed the trick of being both hard cop and soft cop by turns (presumably they’re short-staffed). We were invited to write witness statements – and encouraged to collude to ensure we were both saying the same thing! Then allowed to go and find a tuk-tuk into which to cram ourselves and our many purchases to struggle back up the mountain to Jungle Tide.
Not a terrible experience I grant you, but taken along with much worse horror stories we’ve heard from friends here it’s more or less decided us that we don’t intend to buy or lease a vehicle and drive ourselves around but will continue to hire.
Yesterday we had an altogether nicer legal experience when we had to go and see a solicitor who a friend had recommended in connection with the lease for Noni’s house. Mr Zair is a very pleasant man whose office is in a tiny, ancient building near the Temple of the Tooth, part of a whole row of legal folks with titles like ‘Notary Public’ and signs drawn back in colonial times by the look of them. Quaint doesn’t begin to describe it, such a contrast to the smart offices of most solicitors in the UK.