Colombo will always be the best part of any journey...
Someone in his great wisdom and understanding once said that the best part of going anywhere is coming back home. It is the truth with most people and certainly with me. Recently I left this fair island for a few days but it's truly amazing how quickly humans find themselves wrapped up in a new environment. I suppose it's a form of survival for us when we are dumped in the deep end. Especially since I was travelling alone for the first time, I believed that all my steps would be well calculated but instead I found myself throwing caution to the wind to explore the city with a friend. Once I found my wings I later walked around the city quite freely on my own but only to find myself longing for one thing: Colombo.
Here I was in a city with no security threats, no armed military personnel at every corner, better public transport and a far superior infrastructure. There were no random bombs killing innocent civilians, no frantic traffic jams and no financially frustrated policemen. In fact I never saw one policeman during my entire stay. The roads were so clean that you could lick them without the slightest fear of a health hazard. I mean there wasn't much to dislike, in fact life here would be better planned, safer and more comfortable than in Sri Lanka. It was all Colombo was not, and everything Colombo aspired to be, but it wasn't home.
As I walked along the streets of this seemingly unknown country I looked around thinking what Colombo would be like now, if the civil war was non-existent.
Would traffic flow consistently with no one even considering running a red light or turn up a one way? Would pedestrians cross the roads on the designated crossings while patiently waiting for the red man to turn green? Would Colombo even be recognisable to me? I sternly told myself that the day when Colombo becomes like this is the day I would move.
As fast and convenient life was in the comparatively large city, I found that life was too robotic for me to ever live there. Everything seemed to move according to a pre-destined pattern or a subconsciously premeditated schedule while everyone seemed detached and unwilling to 'get involved.' Sure, if you asked someone for directions, after the initial suspicion they would grant you a quick answer but there was a surprising aura of distrust in the air especially for a country with negligible crime rates.
I then remembered that all these emotions would have sprouted as a result of simply being alone and insignificant in such an overwhelming city. However, when I returned to my simple but comfortable home in Colombo I realised that what I missed the most was neither the comfort of my own bed nor the familiarity of my hall and garden but simply being in Colombo. Breathing the thick, smoky and polluted air of the city and riding on a crowded, cramped bus at 2 pm with school just out. I missed the oily foods and the tedious military checkpoints every 20 metres. I actually missed the uncertainty of life itself.
It was not knowing what would happen the next morning or what my schedule would be throughout the day. It's one of the many reasons why I chose such a profession as journalism in the first place and I now understand how complementary the city of Colombo is to my lifestyle. Colombo is my lifestyle.
I didn't spend very much time away from this city but in my short time abroad I knew that being in Colombo or being a true Colombite (as 'Colombian' has its rights reserved) was not only feeling at home in Colombo but it was in fact the way you lived in Colombo.
Despite all the chaos around us we still live our lives untainted by the harsh reality we see day in day out. It's not that we don't care but that we don't allow it to change us. We may be more hardened than before but we still enjoy life without losing its spontaneity.
I experienced the sensation of returning home from the pinnacle of development to the insecurity of a war-torn country but nothing was to change my mind about one thing; the truth. The truth was corny but then so is every universally accepted truth; Colombo will always be the best part of any journey.