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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Payday in Sri Lanka


This is a sad story, but unfortunately, a very common one. Wages are very low in Sri Lanka. Jobs are of the low income variety with much of the economy based on farming. In this particular area it was farming of tea leaves. But this story is common throughout the world regardless of the profession. It just seems more predominant in the lower income areas where there is little hope.


I was on a Sri Lanka adventure. I hired a driver to take me into the heart of the country. At the time you could hire a driver and a car for the entire day in the $40 range. The driver would take you to a hotel where you could stay in the hotel, and the driver was given separate complimentary accommodations by the hotel to share with other drivers. It was a good deal for the hotel as well because the drivers brought them business they wouldn’t otherwise have. So the drivers had free basic accommodations that they shared with other drivers.

But their daily wages had to be extremely small. Because out of that $40 per day, they paid for the gas and the maintenance of the vehicles. I really have no idea how they could possibly be any money left over after that.

Regardless onto the story at hand:


During the drive through one of the villages I encountered this scene:



Masses of Sri Lankan men lined up at a kiosk. Curious, I asked the driver to stop as I wanted to photograph this odd event. I exited the car and began taking pictures.


I asked the driver what they were doing and he said (in his broken English way) they had just received their pay for working in the tea fields and they were there to buy some liquor. This seemed quite astonishing to me.


But then the driver escorted me through the crowd to the front. I didn’t know what he was doing it for, but I assumed he was trying to get me in position for a better photo op. I followed him as he yelled to the crowd that an American was coming through. For whatever reason, they parted and the vendor motioned me forward, I found the whole event quite embarrassing, but I followed his lead.


I then realized the driver and vendor thought I was there to buy liquor. I think they waved me through because it was assumed I might spend some bigger money on their top end booze (if that even existed there). I shook my head no and the vendor politely dismissed me and returned to the chaos.


And it was chaos! All these workers shouting and holding their money as if they were on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange! It was pure madness! I never saw so many people so eager to get drunk.



Unfortunately, this is the life of many in these areas of the world where little hope exists for improved lives. It’s pretty much booze, smoke, and lottery tickets as a means of temporary escape. So much of their small earnings wasted on a moment’s relief.


I left them to their devices, but that moment always stuck with me. Another travel story I would just as soon forget

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
30 apr
Valutazione 5 stelle su 5.

I totally agree glad I was truly frugal about those types of extra curricular activities

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
29 apr
Valutazione 5 stelle su 5.

What a way of life that the husband's take the money and spend it on insodentials. The wife and kids suffer from this . It is a story that needs to be told but it is sad

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Kirk
Kirk
29 apr
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I’m glad we never wasted money on such things…..

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