Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sri Lanka day 2. Getting organized and catching up

For several years, now, I have treated myself to a business class ticket on the London-Colombo leg of my flights to and from Sri Lanka. In contrast to the outrageous prices for Trans-Atlantic flights, the cost seems reasonable, it adds only about $2,000 to the price of the ticket. This transforms 22 to 24 hours in the air from an endurance trial to a sybaritic oasis, at least semi-detached from the cares of the world.

All went smoothly at check-in, in the air and on arrival. Previous readers will be familiar with my comments on Sri Lankans’ basic civility and honesty. One encounters this first when securing a taxi for the drive into Colombo. My driver, Mr. Premasiri, was a former schoolteacher, 50 years old, with a wife and 3 children. He drove cautiously, sloping for bumps and potholes to protect his vehicle. Drivers’ major income, when available comes not from trips to and from the airports, but form tourist tours around the island, when they not only drive but book hotels and sightseeing. But resurgent conflict has taken its toll on this aspect of Sri Lankan life as on others. Even though March is towards the end of ‘high season’ the plane was nearly half empty. The one touristic looking middle-aged couple in business class refused the offer of a Sri Lankan newspaper. Almost certainly, they were transiting to the Maldives.

Despite numerous obligations during this brief visit, I am trying to pace myself. After arriving at #100/5 Horton Gardens at 4 AM, I slept in until nine, ate breakfast, unpacked and took lunch with my hostess before walking to the International Centre for Ethnic studies offices about 3:00. Afterwards, there were a series of meetings lasting until after 10 PM, so despite a leisurely morning, I could feel that the day had been productive.


Post a Comment

<< Home