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Monday, June 19, 2006

Bizarre Night

Last Friday night was wierd. It started innocently at the Gall Face Inn hotel bar, where Renuka and I went to catch the Netherlands-Cote D'Ivoire match on their big screen. It was around 10:30pm when we were hanging out at the bar drinking coffee and watching Ruud Van Nistelrooy put the Dutch ahead 2-0. At halftime I got a text from Rajitha saying that she just got an email from Accenture Global Asset Protection ordering us to move out of our hotel, Global Towers, immediately and move into the Holiday Inn Colombo or the Taj Samudra. The reason for the sudden move was that GAP had received reports (from where I'm not sure) that Global Towers may have some sort of connection to the LTTE. Rajitha called Shri, out friendly travel agent at GT, to let him know the situation and that we'd be out by the next day. GAP did mention in their email that they were being overly cautious about the whole thing, and though it was just one report they received they didn't want to take chances with us.

Given this news, Renuka and I took off in a tuk-tuk and headed off to Global Towers to pack up. On the way down Galle Road, we were stopped by a police officer at a checkpoint. Since the bus bombing earlier in the week security has been beefed up all around Colombo so such a stop wasn't out of the ordinary. The officer asked for ID as usual, but when I produced my Virginia driver's license (like I usually do - photo ID) the officer began hassling me about not having my passport. I told him calmly that if he wanted to see my passport we could go to the hotel. He said I need a visa to be in Sri Lanka. I responded by saying that was checked at the airport upon arrival. We sorta sat there for 10 minutes as the officer, in broken English, tried to threaten to arrest us. At one point he said something like "You arrest me no visa." That would've been sweet if I actually did arrest him. Anyway, the tuk-tuk driver did help out and told him we're just tourists from the USA and eventually he let us go, bitter about not receiving a bribe I'm sure.

The whole sequence was bizarre given the fact that we just got orders to move out, and this was the first time anyone hassled me for my passport. Henceforth though I'll be carrying a copy of my passport and visa around Sri Lanka.


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