Sri Lankan take-away

Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hans's apartment

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

As planned in Kandy, for our last night in Sri Lanka we had dinner at Ifthikar's place in Colombo. His wife prepared a tasty Sri Lankan meal according to his instructions—not spicy, among other things. We had lots to talk about, and chief among our topics was work stress. Students and their parents without work-life boundaries kept Ifthikar’s phone playing its tune throughout the evening, providing an appropriate musical theme to the conversation. I realized by stark contrast how relaxed and stress-free I feel right now. In my travelling life I have no responsibilities beyond finding the next room and meal, and more than that, as an introvert, I have the perfect daily energy recharger: time to reflect and write. Also, in my role as a traveller open to any new experience, I have daily encounters like one that Ifthikar described from his time in Vancouver last June. He got on a public bus and sat behind the driver. The driver, unlike Sri Lankan bus drivers, pulled away from the bus stop with sedate care, settled on a moderate speed, and then engaged the astonished Ifthikar in friendly conversation. A traveler often finds an otherwise unremarkable event an occasion for wonder. And wonder is good for your health, I think.

Besides my good health, I take away some good memories of Sri Lanka. My most prominent impression is the easy grace of the Sri Lankan smile. My experience was that if I made eye-contact and smiled, I was 99% assured of a smile in return. This is what I miss most about Sri Lanka already. (The 1% non-smilers were mostly small children overcome by fascination.)

I also take away two observations about travelling in 2012. One is the wired nature of travel today—it seems easier than it ever has been to find Wi-Fi when we want it. I like this development. The other is that boomers are out seeing the world in force. We felt like the youngsters in the travelling set, and wondered where the 20-somethings are. Perhaps we’ll find them in India, where, experienced travellers say, travelling costs are much lower (Sri Lanka, for later comparison, has cost us about $40/day/person). In any case, I found our travel mates inspiring, from the 60-something cycling Dutch sisters to the retirees on their three-month retreats from winters in Canada. They show us what we have to look forward to.

Sri Lanka’s palm trees thick on the ground became like toy trees and then disappeared altogether as our plane took us and these thoughts toward India.

And that is another story . . .
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Ant on


I fondly remember living on $30 a day exactly 20 years ago as I hopped from one island to another in Greece. I'm happy to see that great experiences can be had for not much more. Here's to getting a 99% plus smiles in India!

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