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Sunday in Colombo

October 3, 2008

I am a traveling salesman ( a marketing manager to add some respectability). My work takes me to different places in Asia Pacific . Last Sunday I happened to be in Colombo. Sri Lanka is a very beautiful place very similar to my native, Kerala, but the war has taken its toll. Security people everywhere, checking your vehicle,checking your passport (it doesn’t help to have Ramachandran as surname and a photo on the passport, which resembles the wanted list in the local police station). In all fairness, foreigners,especially Indians are treated with lot of respect. The common question as you fish out your Indian passport is “From Bombay?”. I thought it had something to do with me resembling SRK but found out later that all Indians are asked the same question. (now you know why I have not uploaded my photo on my profile.)

The scenic Galle Face road is cordoned off and deserted, there are unannounced road blocks (and sometimes unannounced bomb blasts too,there was one near the hotel during my stay), traffic pile-ups and detours. All these dampens one’s adventurous streak to discover the city.(The picture on top shows the Galle road much before the present imbroglio.)

So what does one do to while away the whole of Sunday. The fact that I have planned a trip to Sabarimala means no liquor, no cigarettes and no ‘ahem-ahem’ (hope you catch the drift).

Sunday morning I got up late (you cannot be very late lest you miss the complimentary breakfast,as the restaurant closes by 10), went down to breakfast. There was not much of a crowd. Tried to drag as much time as the stewards would allow me to. They had to arrange the tables for lunch and tried everything they had learnt in their catering colleges to oust the lone diner,me. Back in the room, the only option is TV. Internet is very expensive in the hotel and besides as you are browsing,chances are that a picture of a girl skimpily dressed will pop out suddenly with a legend ‘Cynthia,23, is waiting for you in Colombo’. I cannot deal with such temptations (remember Sabarimala) swaying between spirituality and sexuality.
So it has to be TV. There are 15 channels 3 Sinhalese, 1 Buddhist channel, 2 Tamil (airing rehashes of old Sun TV programs), 1Hindi (Hindi movies are very popular), ESPN, Star Sports,HBO, Zee Cafe, BBC, CNN (who urge you to stay in a CNN partner hotel so that you can spend 24 hrs learning how the Americans are spoiling this unique planet), HNK ( a Korean channel) and FTV (ruled out as Sabarimala comes into play again). My choice gets narrowed down to the 2 movie channels HBO and Zee Cafe. Since Zee Cafe plays some obscure stuff dug out from King Tut’s tomb, the only hope left is HBO.But alas HBO screens movies that I have seen a thousand times. What a cruel world!!!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. abhishek permalink
    October 5, 2008 21:50

    Good read. keep it going

  2. Salil permalink
    October 7, 2008 05:59

    Hi PRG,Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon, ahem ahem.. Keep them coming.Cheers,

  3. Snoopy permalink
    October 7, 2008 12:26

    Good show!I too began a blog, but nobody could understand my high blown philosophy. I am a Roman, while most others are Philistines.More success to you!Gaurav

  4. PRG permalink
    October 7, 2008 23:04

    Salil: Thanks for passing by. I hope I will be able to give you more reasons to come backGaurav: Thanks.Continue to be a Roman.All the very best

  5. Snoopy permalink
    October 8, 2008 12:31

    Sri Lanka evokes a few unpleasant memories. My two sisters-in-law had married Sri Lankan Indians, one a famous doctor and the other, an automobile engineer, who had his own workshop. Unfortunately they were caught in the crossfire between the Sinhalese and the LTTE, and had to come over to India. Now their families are well settled mostly in the U.S. and Canada. They did not face any discrimination by the Sri Lankan government or others before the civil war started in 1983. Now the situation must be very different.In my next blog I will write about the various discriminations we encounter.Snoopy

  6. Vijay permalink
    October 8, 2008 19:27

    Well …. “its about time”

  7. Snoopy permalink
    October 16, 2008 12:58

    I was in Kolkata (then called Calcutta) for a few years. Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal and Assam, even more important than Deepavali in other parts of India. Sadly, Kerala misses out on these festivals,the most important festival there being Onam. Deepavali is celebrated in Bengal as Kali Puja. But what i liked most in Calcutta was Christmas. We used to attend the Midnight Mass in St. Paul’s Cathedral on the Maidan, which is the “lung” of the city. We would be well dressed in woolen suits, the winter being a most pleasant time there. And later moving on to Park Street and Chowringhee, the glamourous part of the city and having a few drinks and whatnot. Those days are gone for ever! Now if you go out in the dark night, you would be mugged and robbed, if not stabbed to death. This is the progress we have made in the last fifty years.

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