Life in Taprobane
Twelve years is a long time. Making up my mind to return wasn't difficult. Once that's done, the rest was easy. Most of my friends, here and abroad, thought that I was nuts. Perhaps, to an onlooker it might have seemed that way. Leaving behind a Grand Cherokee for a Nissan Sunny or a Honda City, and a modern cosmopolitan city for a city like Colombo wouldn't seem to be a fair deal. Anyway, I'm glad that I'm back. My soul needed to return to base.
Sri Lanka is a fascinating country. It has changed in many ways. In many ways it hasn't at all. The roads are still the same - not even an inch wider. There are humvees and shiny beemers on streets that are also frequented by stray cattle. That's the capital - Colombo. Strange, but true.
And the women. I remember the female students of Colombo Campus. They very rarely wore jeans. There were 'baila' songs making fun of women wearing "men's clothes" 12 years ago. It's the opposite now. It's refreshing to see fashionable women. But, still, I think this country has no sense of fashion or there is a significant lack of it. There are some gorgeous women, but shy to show-off their curves - wearing loose pants. Why? There are some designers trying to capitalise on the "exotic oriental" roots we have and trying to bring about a local fashion-scene, but unfortunately, the country seems to be embracing Levi's and Diesel. "Barefoot" has almost single-handedly made the sarong fashionable. Cool. We should have had more of those.
Most annoying thing at the beginning for me was the early shutting down of the city. There's hardly anything one could do in the evening. No paying bills, no grocery-shopping. Not a single bookshop is open after 6 pm. Why? Oh why? Do I have to leave the office early if I have to buy a pencil from a bookshop in Unity Plaza (Colombo 04)? A pencil isn't worth a short-leave; so I have to wait till the weekend. Lovely. Same goes for take-away food, salons, and everything else.
Then, you discover that there's one supermarket that's open till 11pm (if you don't mind the drive), and some of the gas-station mini-marts are open till late. Hallelujah. At least there's beer in my life. One could survive on a liquid diet, I suppose.
I keep discovering ways to address my needs. I'm slowly changing in to an 10-hours-a-day person. 12 would be a push. I'm used to an 18-hour day, and now there is so much time left in my hands. No more buying vegetables at 1 O'clock in the morning. No more cruising the city in the night. This is Sri Lanka. Buy vegetables every Sunday; and don't go cruising in the night.
But, there is a constant smile on everyone's face.
Why, i wonder.