18. Kochi’s Twin Brother

@Negombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

This town 37 km north of Colombo and closeer to the Bandaranaike International Airport than Colombo was where we had our lunch after having another lunch in the airplane. It was the first place where we felt Sri Lanka and it’s taste. As it was the time when I was clearly or purely non vegetarian, I found a wonderful world in it’s taste. Chicken was what I concentrated in; it has been so on most of the occasions at home upto an extent that KFC would have bowed down and worshipped me if I hadn’t turned vegetarian. I always hated Chicking though; it didn’t even have Krushers and they gave the feeling of inferior chicken to me. But where we had our lunch at Negombo was a simple, but still a good resort with almost all the facilities including a swimming pool and extremely clean beach on it’s side. The beach was so tidy that I wondered how they managed that; may be they had that sense of goodness and that love for keeping their country clean which automatically comes into their soul. Or may be this was an exception, but this beach was so clean and not crowded; it started our journey on a positive note with the wonderful body of salt water which made us wonder about the geography of Sri Lanka.

It was not any Koh Phi Phi, where Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen wandered around away from the regular lands of civilization in what they called the parallel world; even as a trip to Thailand would always interest me; to be frank, there is rarely a foreign trip which wouldn’t interest me, even being in the middle of a war has it’s own advantage other than being declared suicidal; there has to be a meaning for everything, even as something happens for no reason at all, and that is left for us to find out. If I was a free bird, an eagle which I would prefer to be, I would have been everywhere now; if I was not bound my restrictions, I would have made my presence felt at every corner of Earth and my hard disc would have been full with photos taken by camer which would have died by that time due to overuse. But other than the few countries I visited, I would let that desire to rest and think about Negombo as well as do the right thing before the world ends. The one beach I was talking about is more of the absence of a few loathed things than the presence of something. The beach remained the perfect structure of sand and salt water. What became more interesting at that moment was people in matrimony dresses at the beach. It seemed as if they came after the wedding; it was as if they were taking videos for a future wedding disc. That would add to the similarities we noticed.

The food was buffet and therefore we had the option of eating a lot, but I controlled myself to eat not that much, but the food was so tasty that I was attracted for more; I controlled that feeling by eating the tasty chicken which I can do no more. I was worried about having strange food in the initial stages, but the food there was just like tea; it was the same, but kind of tastier on most of the occasions. My feeling that foreign tourists would be limited to the major cities and hill stations took a back seat at Negombo as there were people of different ethnicities and they looked so pleased to be around. To be honest, Negombo looks more Indian, especially Keralite than any other place in Sri Lanka; the twist is that it is not with the greenery as there are so many places in Sri Lanka which looks like Kerala with it’s heavy greenery. Around the Negombo Lagoon, the place mostly looked like some inner areas of Cochin, with it’s old fishing boats and the beaches which seemed to invite the ball of fire, the fire-starter they called the sun, for a party. There was no rain as we feared; no trace of the monsoon in Kerala which would have made the place more of a twin of Cochin rather than being a distant relative which it proved to be.

Negombo, a name is said to have come from a much more difficult name for me to pronounce, Migamuva; it would clearly leave me clueless if they change back to that name and I am glad that it is still Negombo. The place actually showed more signs of a former Portuguese and Dutch colonialisation rather than British. There were so many churches around and most of them were not British; St. Sebastian’s Church being the one that caught the eyes the quickest. As the cinnamon industry in Negombo was started by the Portuguese, I would guess that was how it was to be; the Dutch only came later and finally the British. This history and the beaches seems to attract so many tourists; it becomes the next reason after being the closest and easiest place to stay so that one can reach the international airport very quickly. It can also be visited on the way to the airport on the journey to and from most of the bigger tourist centres of the island nation. Even as it was far away from the tea plantations, it still had the tea with good taste; seafood is not the only thing which will interest your stomach in a coastal town; if you think so, that would be like taking a bad guess when the right option is so clear; choosing ‘all of the above’ is a good option when you are in Sri Lanka.

I actually managed to choose the right option; it was about everything, the option which comes last or second last; ‘all of the above’ is what you get in Sri Lanka; it has something of Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim tradition; it has both Sinhalese and Tamil influence, but the spirituality there has been beyond religion for me. Negombo being away from the spiritual and historic centres like Kandy and Anuradhapura, did seem a little less spiritual for me, but the soul remained the same, and it was proved when we saw a number of monks walking around; it was a festival and there were so many processions around with people in white dresses; it was mainly related to the full moon as the guide explained. As it was a Ramayana tour, Buddhist customs and practices were not that much explained to us except for some few facts. I loved the Buddhist flag; it looked special and I couldn’t really stop myself from buying one and also a model of the pagoda on my way back home. Collecting souvenirs was always among the major things to do, but in the case of Sri Lanka, it happened late; a problem which is much expected during a conducted tour. The journey through Negombo was not even something they really considered; the place just had the opportunity to grace my camera because of it’s proximity to the airport; not because of the beaches, churches or temples.

Negombo was supposed to be the first place to re-visit in a future trip to Sri Lanka which would be a voyage through the Indian ocean if that trip is supposed to happen. As I know about the trains and the roads which are so unlike our roads due to the absense of gutters and other varieties of deformities, the next one was to be a random tour whch was planned by me and not a conducted tour which always sticked to the plan. Whatever remained of the Dutch Fort and all those Portuguese and Dutch legacy had to be covered at some point of time, and that season would be quite far away for me as it stands now; as we all know “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”; my next season of Sri Lanka will come; it will arrive for sure, not like certainty of the Twilight vampires, but like the moon and the sun which never fails and the certainty of the tide; I would be the eagle, the bird of glory which would fly above the wrinkled sea; the water body shall crawl, but I shall fly above it as I am supposed to be; to my destination, the land which sent that invitation through my dreams; that land of beauty, that place where the heart is; as they say home is where the heart is; so I wonder where my home should be.

Diving out —>