7. The Soul of Colombo

@Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

The largest city and the commerical capital of the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka; this was the crystal clear description of the city. But as we were entering a nation destroyed by civil wars and ethnic conflicts the expectation was not that high. But the point we missed was that it was a city with a soul, with the power to regain it’s lost paradise; a nation which was slowly but steadily getting back to the track. Colombo was surely on the rise; it was a wonderful city with he right mixture of it’s colonial past and the booming present which could be seen from the roads, traffic and the upcoming tall buildings, some of them close to being future skyscrappers. The city was surely miles ahead in development compared to the other cities of Sri Lanka we visited.

Ever since the capital was shifted to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo hasn’t been in our news papers much. But it’s significance as the first capital of the island nation after independence from the British will stay. Colombo has always been a grand port and is still majestic, as we can still see it from some of the hotels on the sea shore. The selection of Kandy as a capital for the former kings might have been only to prevent the destruction of royal palaces by some random invading power or raiders who might take over the port and have full control of the magnificient island. Kandy might be cooler, but Colombo has always been easily accessible and thus a favourite trade and commerce centre which would have boosted the controlling dynasty for centuries.

Now Colombo is back in the news with the resumption of the long lost ferry service connecting India and Sri Lanka. It is from Tuticorin to Colombo, but as Sri Lanka has stopped visa on arrival for Indians or is at least planning to do it, the journey would be through some troubled waters. The ship is quite a good one with affordable ticket costs, but considering the ethnic problems still got some roots in people’s mind, we have to wonder if it will cancelled too. When we travelled to Colombo, there was no ship at all; so it was an easy choice. The Kingfisher Airlines we boarded took us to Chennai from Kochi and then to Colombo and vice versa. The travel was awesome even before it started. A delayed flight and mysteries surrounded it.

On 26 July 2010, Kingfisher Airlines Flight IT 2482, detected smoke. Leakage from packets of boric acid powder & liquid detergent, packed together, resulted in the chemical reactions causing heavy smoke. It was found that there was a security lapse among the cargo security staff. There were 36 passengers on board. This explains our situation in that flight. It could have been found out when the flight was in the air, but it was not to be. Thus reaching Colombo itself was by God’s grace; it was not just any journey, it was spiritual; it had only the best of intentions and thus it had to go right. From the moment I saw the Lord Buddha statue in the airport, I knew this journey was going to be more spiritual than anything and this is the kind of statue we would see quite often.

The sad part is that there is a restriction on photography in most parts of Colombo. Even shops closed too early as if to show the effect of wars. Taking the photographs of most of the big buildings in the restricted area had to be avoided; the same had to happen with the port of Colombo. But the restricted area was limited; and we always had the option of taking pictures until a point. What is left by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English will always infatuate you. But our time at Colombo finished very quickly as we reached there late and their time table for the trip was so wrong. There were still some places uncovered and it calls for another trip of Sri Lanka. Who knows if Ceylon will be my destination again? I thought about that at the Bandaranaike International Airport and I told myself “I will be back”; not like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I had to be back there.

My desire to travel around Sri Lanka was never finished. I went to the island and was back quickly; my visit of Colombo was like Flash the Scarlet Speedster or may be I just teleported to that place and back like Nightcrawler or Azazel. I have my post cards and photos, but they soon became entities without much value. I even wanted to do Master of Arts in Drama and Theater at the University of Kelaniya which was the second option after the University of Colombo due to it’s proximity to the commercial capital. But it was not something which could be done easily; it had formalities and I didn’t know any. I could just wish that I was back in Sri Lanka this time with years to wander there, but it was left in my soul. But still I say that I am not finished and I shall be back. This is not going to be a tour; this is going to be an exploration, a journey which will be guided by my spirit and soul, not by any travel agency.

Diving out —>

TeNy