As the Srilankan airlines flight from Bangalore took off, I could imagine my soul detaching itself from the confines imposed by the body and rising high above; it was unsure for a while, albeit, a few moments perhaps, then, with increasing conviction, it transfigured itself into a light feather and took flight through the windows of the airbus. I sat composed, unperturbed by this fanciful imagination. My eyelids drooped and I drifted into a state of semi sleep; followed the feather in its adventurous flight. It kissed the clouds, flitted in and out of the window. A few times, I even shuddered at how careless it was...the overwhelming feeling was something akin to relief after putting down a heavy baggage.
|On arrival, just outside the Colombo airport|
At the Bandaranayake international airport, the procedure to get the basic 30 day tourist visa was hassle-free. To be spotted by a beaming Aditi made for a sweet welcome to the island. After completing the formalities, we (myself, Aditi, Arpit and Harish) headed towards the taxi. The driver turned out to be a cricket fan whose favorite player was Lasith Malinga. The brief drive to Blue Horizon guest house at Negombo perhaps helped smoothen our excited nerves. We could immediately sense the clean, well paved, pothole-free smooth road and the clear signboards lining the road, every kilometer or so.
The guest house was basic and neat. We chatted without any direction for some time. It reminded me of college days, when agendas did not drive discussions... It must have been well past midnight when we stepped out in the dark to see if we can get something to eat. We returned when the silence became eerie.
Surabhi arrived early in the morning, and as a small group, we were all set to explore what the pearl of the Indian Ocean had to offer. Breakfast was tasty, elaborate and had an English flavor to it. Mr. Dinuk, our travel agent met and wished us. We set out in the spacious Toyota Hiace with Ajanthaji (Arpit first used the north Indian suffix ‘ji’ to refer to our guide Mr. Ajantha) toward Kandy. The road was lined on either side with lush greenery and the weather, just about pleasant for the drive. We had just started to gather speed and already I wanted a rewind to last night at Colombo airport; isn't time a cruel destroyer of fantasy?
We reached Pinnawala elephant orphanage at Kegalle, on a slight detour from the Colombo- Kandy road. The elephant is an animal that defies contemporary definitions of beauty with its girth and trunk. Yet, when a herd sauntered down towards us, it was a majestic view to behold. While most of them were let free to roam, a few big ones were tethered.
|Lunch on the way to Kandy|
For lunch, we stopped at a picturesque location overlooking the road leading to Kandy and just beyond it, on a rising terrain, was the railway line. Our happiness at 1 USD fetching nearly 125 SL rupees soon disappeared looking at the menu card. Though expensive, the food tasted very good, especially the fish curry with rice that we had ordered.