I left Colombo a couple of Saturdays ago, though it feels like a couple of decades as things have been somewhat hectic since I returned. I was on that flight, the UL one that leaves at about two in the morning. The biggest problem with this flight is the confusion involved when you tell friends when you're leaving.
Technically two in the morning is actually on Sunday, but it was Saturday night that I left. Tell people you're leaving on Sunday and things get mad. In fact when I told you in the first sentence of this post that I left a couple of Saturdays ago it was, in fact, wrong. I've always liked to live dangerously though. And of course these days they have a two o'clock in the morning both on Saturdays and Sundays, in fact almost one a day. It's a total headspin it is.
On that Saturday morning I did some net perusing, reading tweets, facebook status (should that be statii?) and the like. I saw some of them written by that girl, the Bohemian Gypsy one, and she mentioned that she was flying out of the country that day. Hmmm... I thought to myself. Perhaps this was an opportunity to try to finally meet her.
I rang a few friends and managed to get hold of a number for her, no mean feat as she values her privacy and we'd never made contact before apart from comments on blogs and the like. I sent her a text, or to say it in Singlish, I sent her an SMS. It went like this:
"Hi Gypsy this is RD. Are you going to be at the airport tonight. Perhaps we could meet for a drink or something?"
"Hi RD. Sorry but I'm very protective of my privacy, as you'll write in your blog, and don't want to meet face to face. Besides I've heard you're very charming and good looking and I'm afraid I'll fall for you."
What can a chap do? Far be it from me to argue about my charm and good looks so I sent a polite response to say that it was a shame but I understood. Then I headed off with C for lunch at the Gallery Cafe. I had the prawn curry with the kankun but had been hovering dangerously on the precipice between that and the black pork curry.
In the evening, after that fairly normal Lankan confusion in finding my good friend's driver when he came to collect me from my hotel (you can imagine it; he knew my name, I knew his but we'd never met before), I found myself on route to the airport. It was about nine and things were a bit sleepy on the road.
I felt sad. I was leaving C, leaving Colombo, leaving Sri Lanka and so many friends. The journey is a long one and yet I always wish it was longer, for the moment the car turns off the airport road into the airport part I feel as if my time in Sri Lanka is over. After that it becomes just another air trip, punctuated by a few random bits of Sri Lankanness, like laughing at the Suddas who get to the passport bit to find out they need to fill out an embarkation form thing and have to go back and do one, or watching them get pissed off with the natives' lack of ability to queue properly when entering the baggage screening bit.
Once I arrived at BIA I did all the usual things, barging my way past queues of lobster pink people with rectangular Kuoni boxes of flowers and locally made brown leather bags that I knew they would have paid handsomely for, and checked in. I'm Lankan enough to jump in front of a person or two at the queue but British enough to still feel a bit bad about it, invariably apologising profusely afterwards and offering them my place.
I went through immigration and up the escalator and realised I had a lot of time to kill, even by my own anal standards I was incredibly early. I'd allowed lots of extra time because of the possibility of floods and the journey had been as clear as a bell. The result was that I was there, checked in and airside and had about three hours to kill. There was a seat outside Coffee Bean so I took it and stole some of their WiFi.
With a serious measure of reluctance I ambled into the restaurant bit, the Palm Leaf I think it's called. I hate that place, first from previous years when they'd only take foreign currency and secondly because it is just so bloody expensive that's it almost criminal. I'd seen a German eating chips near the Coffee Bean, not Sebastian Posingis though, and the ensuing hunger had got the better of me.
It almost cost me about four hundred and fifty rupees for the chips. I tell you it's exorbitant. Lady Luck was on my side and the fellow behind the till, in some moment of madness, totally messed up the whole giving me my change thing. The price was four hundred and thirty or so, I gave him a five hundred and he kindly gave me about four hundred and thirty as change. I grabbed the change and took my seat, all the time expecting to hear "Excuse me Sir".
In a twist of fate, one that almost made me believe in God, the chips then had so much salt on them that they were virtually inedible. And I say that as someone with a Sri Lankan taste in food. Had I paid the correct price I would have complained, but felt that there'd be something morally wrong in doing that. I managed to eat all except about three chips.
As I walked out of the Palm Leaf, replete with salt, I walked towards the dodgy BMW five series and the Odel with its pricing in US Dollars and I heard a loud flapping sound from behind me. I stopped, turned round and looked and saw nothing. Nothing except a really tall bird with massive feet, probably about size eleven. She was wearing a T shirt with some writing on it. The writing was in pink and a font bigger than the one containing all of human wisdom. It said:
"I am the Bohemian Gypsy. I like my privacy so stay away."
Two things went through my mind: first was that I'd never seen a T shirt with a clickable link on it before, secondly who was this mysterious girl? I felt as if I knew her. I turned back round and continued walking, the flapping sound returned and I realised it was the huge feet that were the cause.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. I spun round quickly, then noticed I'd gone too far and had spun three hundred and sixty degrees. I turned again, this time doing it much better and facing behind me, well the direction that was behind me before.
The big footed girl with the T shirt was looking at me. In a voice that was curiously deep and squeeky, sounding like she'd just swallowed a helium balloon and a bass guitarist she said:
" Excuse me, is your name RD?"
to be continued......
3 weeks ago