Getting in to the work routine

Posted Thursday January 22, 2015 by Hazel Durbridge

Batticaloa Dutch Fort  – The Fort is located east of Puliantivu about 800 metres from the heart of the town and covers over one acre of land. First built in 1627, it is known as the “Dutch Fort”. It was declared an archaeological reserve and is currently under the Department of Archaeology. Many government departments such as the Kachcheri, Cultural Museum, and Central Environmental Authority etc. are located in the fort premises. The Hindu Kovilis is an important building found within the fort.


The work is going fine and initial drafts outlining our approach have been in front of the GA who is like the Queen here and Director of Planning. Some provincial elite is coming on Saturday and I have been asked to join the meeting. Next week my work colleague is going on a training programme for 2 weeks and so I am taking the opportunity to go back to Colombo for 4 nights and get my Jap encep B jab. They refused to give me the one I brought with me at the hospital here so that was a lot of wasted effort for nothing. They said the cold chain had been broken.

Today I started my interviews. There are about 30+ over the next few weeks apart from when I go back to Colombo. I have my colleague’s pregnant team mate who couldn’t go on the course to translate for me.

As all government positions are jobs for life, and often political favours, there is a great deal of unchallenged under performance. I have already heard indirectly who the underperformers are and these interviews are to get to the bottom of what they don’t like or can’t do and to try and find ways round it like getting consultants in. It has to be a carrot approach. I am going to have to concentrate hard on this a – because of the language issue and b – because I don’t know about roads, electricity, irrigation, sanitation etc.


I haven’t told you that I have lots of geckos and a mummy bat and baby bat in the house. Mummy bat flies around the house at night, but they tell me at work that they are harmless. It was May Day holiday on Wednesday and I found the main beach which is huge, amazing and deserted.

The second week in Batticaloa has been about consolidation and routine. I get up at first light every morning which is about 6am. I have my breakfast, shower and then cycle to work at the fort for 8.30am picking up my ‘short eats’ from my Muslim friend on the way. The day starts with piped orchestral music and then they all stand for the national anthem at 8.45 then work until 12.30, lunch till 2 when I either do emails or go and sit under a tree for a while and eat my picnic, work till 4.30pm. Then I cycle home via the shops to pick up any items I need. At home I swing in the hammock for a while until the mosquitoes start to bite. It is dark at 6pm. Then I eat, shower again, write emails, read and go to bed about 9pm. I talk to the guys at work a bit, (they have been great about helping me with my IT problems) or I talk to shopkeepers or I talk to myself – A LOT.

There is more work here and it is more interesting than in Cameroon. They really do need me to write the plan, but it is not as full on as when I worked in a council before as obviously I just have the plan to write not other management tasks and I am dependent on being given the necessary documentation or having an interpreter with me.

I am going brown but it’s a bit piecemeal at the moment according to what I wear. I am having to be more careful than Africa as the sun seems especially fierce.

Sunday I will probably take a book and go to the main beach which is a bit longer to cycle to than the one nearer home with the lighthouse, but people seem to stare less on the bigger beach. I wear my sunglasses and concentrate on looking very unapproachable when I go to the other beach to swim.

I’m chilled really – not thinking about much in particular, enjoying the environment, writing a lot, still not boozing. I don’t think this is going to take much beyond 6 months – just to warn you I may be back sooner than you think!

The strategy aims to consolidate a legacy for future generations by focusing on what all have identified as the main challenges for the area – water management and flood mitigation, the development of rural areas (livelihoods, roads and schools), maximising on tourist development and a convergence of working practice amongst all professionals working in the relevant areas.

Batticaloa District Development Plan DRAFT 2013

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