On my way back from New Zealand in 2007, I stopped off in Sri Lanka. There were two main reasons for this: 1) I used to go out with an half-Sri Lankan girl who raved about how gorgeous the country was; 2) My good friend Si Cotton was going to work in a school in Sri Lanka for a year. So, in anticipation of a fantastic trip, I booked Sri Lanka in as a stop-over on the million-hour flight back from New Zealand. However, by the time my I boarded my flight I had long broken up with the girl and Si hadn’t responded to a dozen emails. So I arrived in Sri Lanka somewhat unsure of why I’d gone there.
Turning up in a tropical paradise with a pair of ski boots hanging around my neck to avoid any excess weight charges didn’t bode well for my planning, but after off-loading my winter gear at the airport, I headed up to Kandy. After another day of having my tourist-spotting drenched by the monsoon, I took refuge in “The English Pub” (about as English as public displays of affection!) on the main road. And here didst occur the mightiest coincidence I have encountered in my 27 years on Earth.
I heard the sound of feet pattering up the steps to balcony from which I was observing the road evolving into a river. A head popped up and exclaimed; “BHARDWAJ!” My eyes found it difficult to convince my brain that the face in front of them was Si Cotton’s, but there he was! Apparently he was not in Colombo, as I had anticipated, but in a small village outside Kandy. He would have taken a different road home today had it not been for the rains, but he did and as he swerved to avoid a meandering cow, his gaze had fallen on the balcony of The English Pub, where I only happened to be because of the rain.
So, whilst dozens of emails couldn’t find Master Cotton, heavy precipitation and bovine wandering did! After that, my time in Sri Lanka was a hoot. I stayed with Si, partied with politicians sons’, taught rugby to Sri Lankans, hiked up mountains, swam in oceans and had an amazing couple of weeks.
It was a great re-introduction to the habits of travelling in the sub-continent and a reminder of the traditions and habits that make it such a great part of the world to explore.