As the plane touched down the airstrip in Colombo, my mind took wings on the thought of going to visit and live a few days of my life in Vavuniya, Killinochi, Jaffna, Nainatheevu as well as the last yet brave battle zones of Pudukudiyirupu, Mullaitheevu and Mullivaykal situated in the Northern parts of Srilanka passionately called Eelam. This for centuries has been, is and will be, the cultural homeland to the Tamil community around the globe. My journey, also included the heritage and historical sites in Trincomalee and around Kandy, Nuwara elliya, Ella, in Central Srilanka, the forests of Yala, the religious site of Kadirgrama in the south as well as the beaches of Matara, Mirisa, Galle and Bentota in the West coast before touching the finish line in Colombo.
The trip was by road and the distance to be covered was approximately 1900 Kilometres and its duration was preset to be concluded in nine days. My rests were pre booked in homestays which provided three star comfort which included air conditioned stay with free wi fi and carpark. This was in the range of about $20-25 USD and the tour budget cost was about 1000 Euros inclusive of enteance tickets at the monuments and tour sites. This was the most expensive part of the budget and I guess for tourists other than South East Asians the budget could be another 33% on the higher side.
On arrival I picked up gifts for my friends, the quota of a litre of fine scotch and a pack of canned beer from the duty free shops at the airport. I was greeted by my friend Vijaikumar who runs an agency hiring cars, trucks as well as vans for individuals and group tours. He helped me with the luggage and having put them in the boot of the car, we were of on a half day drive around Colombo. It was nostalgic and the feeling of familiarity with the streets, shops and landmarks was akin to the sense of happiness one enjoys when meeting a friend after a long time.
We drove to my home stay “White Villa ” at Dehiwala about 9 Kilometers away from Colombo, which I now consider as my another home and freshened up before leaving to meet some known families and friends. We exchanged gifts, shared time remembering the past and got together to sip on a couple of beers on the white sandy beach at Vellavatta. We then went around the small clothing stores in the market at Pettah and I enjoyed bargaining hard before picking up a few exquisite boutique cotton clothing as gifts to take back home. The landmark Independance Square looked golden that day and so was the evening. We drank to friendship, good luck, good times, good health, prosperity and peace. Well that counted six reasons and six rounds of fine scotch and we were all as drunk as Lords and it was fun trying to be as sober as judges. We remembered the days at college and the many events that helped us through troubled times as well as the fun and frolic on happy occasions. It was fun and laughter while we chatted as we dined. Vijaikumar the only man who missed out on the drinks except for the beer, drove us back home and shaking hands we broke the night which was so very eventful.
It was a pleasant night with my wonderful friends. They, I think are Gods gift given to one, to help each other, forget worries, troubles, and share moments that could be cherished only with them. This was the first of the eight nights that I intended to spend upon the island and on that night, I remembered reading some one, somewhere “never abandon a friend, for you will never find one who can take his place and and also because friendship makes memories and the heart preserves them”.
I said good night to myself and as sleep took over I sure felt the good dose friendship, whiskey and the fine food for thought.