Dear friends, I’m posting this here just for your information. This is the story of what happened to me and 7 of my friends this year at the Galle Lit Fest. It was our first ever experience of the festival so we were a bit clueless as to how things worked and how to get info on the events! All we wanted was to have a good meal but unfortunately we arrived an hour late to the dinner we had bought tickets to. The way we were spoken to by the Festival Director – one Kishani de Silva, was beyond rude and quite despicable! Please have a read… this is the mail I wrote to the Festival Founder – Geoffrey Dobbs, giving him an account of our side of the story.
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Dear Mr. Dobbs, just to recap my points from our phone conversation earlier….
- Our late arrival to the dinner was not intentional nor meant to cause any insult to the host or the guest Chef. We were truly unaware of how things worked at the Galle Lit Fest as it was our first time attending any event of the same. We had no idea it was a 5 course sit down dinner and since we had not checked online we didn’t know what time it started. We assumed it was more like a cocktail party with dinner being served in a buffet style.
- When we realised the nature of the event and was told we were late and that the owner of the hotel didn’t want to let us in, we apologized for being late and asked Kishani to excuse us as we had never attended any of the events before and since a time nor any other details were specified on the ticket we had no idea. All she kept saying was – how could you not check and “this has never happened before”. Our point was that since it had happened now and since there were 8 of us who had paid Rs.6000 each, the least she could do was go back in and try and talk to the owner of the hotel on our behalf. She was not at all willing to do this. She continued to speak to us in a very rude and condescending manner which upset us immensely. As I told you in our phone conversation, at one point she actually said the words “Why do you want to come in where you’re not wanted?”. At another instance when asked how she could talk to us like this when she is in the hospitality business she asked my friend who actually runs her family owned hotels – “what do you know about the hospitality industry?”. In fact, we were told by a family friend she had spoken to the next day at another event, that she had referred to us as “spoilt brats from Colombo” who knew nothing about literature and thought we could just show up anytime we wanted. – I want you to know that this was not our attitude at all. Just for the record, we come from good families, studied in good schools and have not been brought up to behave as ‘brats’.
- When Kishani went back inside to get a pen to write down her number for us so we could call her about the refunding of our money, the owner had somehow decided he’d now let us in (she made it quite clear to us at that point that it was indeed a loss to the lit fest and that the money would have to be refunded to us). Kishani came back to the main door of the Hotel and proceeded to call out to us (who were standing out in the street) in the most disgusting tone of voice with the words “Ok, ok, come in, come in!” – this was infuriating to say the least and after having being asked why we want to come in where we ‘were not wanted’ – that was the last thing we were going to do! This is why we decided not to go in but leave in the knowledge that we were going to be given a refund.. which was what we were led to believe even as we were leaving.
Mr. Dobbs, our point is this… we admit we were wrong to have not checked online for a starting time but the way the situation was handled by the Galle Lit Fest director was outrageous! The was she spoke to her guests who had collectively spent a lot of money to attend her event was unacceptable. Trust you have a good account of our side of the story now. We hope at least you will treat us decently in this matter and see to it that nobody who attends your festival will ever be spoken to or be treated this way again.
Thanks and kind regards,
ps: we are yet to receive the refund of Rs.48,000 that we were promised when we were turned away!
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