Monday, March 18, 2013

Roaming to Lanka

Time travels and stalls when flying through the night.  I'm at Tuesday morning in Colombo having arrived in Lanka at 2am local time.
As is the way with travel, people have appeared with stories and offerings.  AJ took a seat next to me to Singapore: he is a dual citizen returning to Colombo to kick-start a travel company.  His advice about traveling to Lanka was welcome - and he has provided me with a list of must-see destinations and helpful contacts. A cool friendly guy.  A nice chance meeting.
The steamy heat in Colombo at 2am was confronting.  Cool towels and water on hand welcome.
It has been eerily quiet at all ports: Melbourne airport quiet and empty; Singapore deserted and Colombo asleep and peaceful.  The ten white-goods outlets at duty free in Colombo were open, however, in case I had forgotten my washing machine or refrigerator.
AJ pointed to the picture of the President under which we passed.  "You will hear stories," he said.  His cheerful smile suggested that I shouldn't be concerned.  He asked if I was a writer. "No. A mum," is an easier reply.
The road from airport to town is never a city's best side.  But it is often an indication of the underbelly of a region.  It was clear from the trip that there is a wide gulf in Lanka between wealthy and poor.  In a country in which the population of Australia lives in an area akin to Tasmania (check?), and which has undergone prolonged periods of civil war, this can't be surprising.
On the flight I had read commentary in the Times regarding (why is a brass band suddenly playing beneath my window?  Must find out) Obama's next four year projects.  The writer's view was that Obama needs to find the fault-line that divides two increasingly entrenched classes in the US.  But looking around at this ancient civilization that has passed through so many periods of leadership, it must be that entrenched class division is the trajectory of civil society.  Who is Obama to try to change it.
Out I go into the heat and noise of Colombo.  Brass band still going - could be musical cars honking - hard to tell.

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