Private Reasons – Alive And Well
Having long graduated from the ‘Tebbit Test’ it would be appropriate to start with that famous policy framework invoked by British Prime Minister John Major who complained that ‘family values’ had fallen by the wayside in Britain.
It caused no end of embarrassment for the then Conservative government especially when a number of government members including Ministers were exposed for their extra-marital affairs.
In Sri Lanka in spite of the strength and influence of ecclesiastical leaders, be they Buddhist, Christian or Muslim and any others, a whole new road of moral values is doing very well thank you.
A guest house in Mount Lavinia – the resort of all resorts – does a brisk business providing bed and breakfast accommodation. Except rarely do their guests ask for breakfast. They clearly have other pursuits in mind.
One of their clients when making a booking – clearly perhaps for the first time – enquired delicately if it was ‘all right’ that he was booking the room for ‘Private Reasons’.
My immediate thought was that he was a gofer for a film production but he was assured that he could have the room for whatever caught his fancy provided of course that it was legal. Whether it was morally legal was left to the Client(s) to deliberate upon in the privacy of their room. Then there’s the couple – just past the 18 year mark – who arrive at the crack of dawn. He is from Bandarawela and she is from Amparai. Mount Lavinia is where they spend quality time together. By 3 pm they are off. The guest house loves them: they clean the room, take their rubbish and leave it ready for the next user.
The ‘Innkeeper’ says he is reminded of the sign on aircraft toilets that says, ‘as a courtesy to the next user please wipe the basin clean’. This couple is so regular they walk right in and stand by the room of their choice and fill in the all important register from the cosiness of their room.
Because they are Frequent Residents they get to pay a full Rs. 100 less than the others. For the same reason they have disclosed that in the netherworld of their family homes, they are both in Colombo for ‘Classes’. In ‘Private Reasons’ perhaps. Their parents are clearly not privy to this sort of ‘living in sin trial’ thing. They are probably the sort who will definitely be arranging for the ‘Dhoby’ to be present the morning after the marriage.
Hopefully for the girl she will know exactly how to handle ‘Dhoby’ or else know the number of the nearest Doctor on call for when her mother and mother-in-law realise how pristine the sheets are. Or she may want to have some valium tablets to hand.
As I keep saying, Sri Lanka is the epitome of diversity – it truly is. There’s the same-sex couple from Galle. One looks like a dead ringer for Osama bin Laden and the other a bearded youth looking like a novice cleric who probably would have a name like Abu Hamza.
Like clockwork they arrive at the guest house twice a month. They stay the night and never leave the room after checking in.
They order food and non-alcoholic drinks. Whether they use the coke as a mixer is unknown. The bed is used and the Innkeeper does change the linen when they leave the following morning.
For security measures the room has been checked after they leave. No evidence of TNT or drugs has been found. Says our ‘Innkeeper’: ‘let’s just say they believe in protection.’ The dustbin bears testimony to that.
The dustbin though does not always tell the real tale: there are some who arrive and it would appear they do not believe in ‘protection’ which is entirely and perfectly their right to indulge in.
However when the cistern was blocked and maintenance Gamini was called in, he found the answer: the used condoms were placed in the cistern tank. Clearly these people probably thought their parents would be told. In the absence of CCTV cameras the innkeeper was unable to establish the culprits.
This innkeeper is unlikely to have CCTV installed: a fellow Innkeeper not 200 yards away did have them but was found murdered not long ago. The local three-wheel park spoke of selective recordings that had surfaced. Then there’s the Stud. Easily the platinum-card holder of Frequent Residents. Each week he arrives with company that changes each time. Whether he believes in the ‘rotation’ system is unknown as the Innkeeper says he has never noticed any one lady who returns again with the Stud.
The innkeeper and his staff pointedly do not refer to him by name just in case he has not disclosed that to the visiting girl. At least Discretion Is the Better Part of Valour is alive and well.
Of course the mattresses would tell the best tales: but the mattresses – and the cleaning staff – could not have expected to have found one couple who decided that the attached bathroom was not quite enough and decided to relieve themselves bang in the middle of the mattress. It cost as much as the mattress – nearly – to clean up. Needless to say the young man and his paramour have been placed on the ‘blacklist’ of persons not welcome in future. So not only ‘Private Reasons’ but alternative practices are alive and well. But the Innkeeper says he is a very happy man: not only because he makes a half decent living and employs three staff, two dogs and – two hens who he says like the government ‘do not deliver’.
In their case he is clearly talking of eggs. Happy because a growing number of guests answer his advertisement on the net and a magazine and keep coming month after month.
Not all of course arrive for ‘Private Reasons’: Some come for classes, to attend a near by College, to the Court House, for weddings at nearby hotels and in the case of one woman who arrived from Australia to reclaim her long lost property. She asked for special permission to have her Piano in the room. Granted on condition she only played it when the other rooms had no guests. The number of ‘Private Reason’ guests however far outnumber the other users, indicating that Sri Lanka is growing up and have graduated from the umbrella brigade of yesteryear to be able to afford booking a room where they can have privacy, safety and possibly a good time. As for John Major, the architect of the ‘family values’ programme in Britain: long after he left Downing Street it was revealed that he had an ‘affaire de Coeur’ with Edwina Currie, a fellow member of the Cabinet. So much for hypocrisy.