We were having a good time in Sri Lanka, but just like every good thing our pleasure time also came to an end, when we realized after returning from the second visit to Colombo that it was time for us to move on to our next destination.
Had we been on a leisure trip I would had suggested to extend our stay by at least a few days more, but ours was a working tour, so everything had to be on schedule.
We asked Sri the driver to come pick us up from the hotel at 4:00 in the morning and take us to the airport, from where we were supposed to take our Sri Lankan Airlines flight to our next destination, Singapore.
Well before we could relax for the night we had those last minute things to shoot, so we availed the Silver Sands Hotel management’s hospitality and used the hotel’s premises to record our closing shots.
After that, before we would get down to packing things, we decided to go take dinner outside in the town and after dinner naturally decided to head to a local bar to have the last of our Lion Beers.
It was not very crowded out in the streets, because first of all it was a Thursday evening and secondly it was raining. So we looked around a bit and then decided to stop at a bar, which had no one in it except for the bar’s personnel.
The Beer that they brought us was the same Lion beer, but the new thing was that the chilled bottles were placed in thermopole containers. This was the first time in my life that I had seen a beer bottle served in a thermopole container. It was a great idea, because in hot places if the beer bottle stands open it quickly warms-up, I mean the chill is lost, but in the container it kept its cool.
While we were sitting there three more local guys came in and sat at the table besides us. They ordered a bottle of Araak and of course food to go with it. One of these guys reminded me of one of my friends from India, who was going through healing after an accident at that time. I told Vera that the guy at the neighbouring table reminded me of Raj, she looked arounf and asked why did I thik so? I said the way he is talking and the way he is drinking and his demeanor is exactly the same as Raj.
Well a few minutes later I went to dispose of beer and when I came back, this same guy was talking to Vera and the others. I joined in the conversation. We had all those initial “Where are you from and what do you do?” things and then the chat got a little informal. I told that guy that he reminded me of a friend of mine from Hyderabad. He asked me what was the friend’s name and I told him that my friend’s name was Raj. And now get ready for the real thing…
That guy very readily said: “You know my name is also Raj”.
I was left speechless for a few moments. I couldn’t believe that the person who looked like Raj was also Raj. Well when I recovered my ability to utter a few words, I told him that it was astonishing that two people from two different countries, having no relation to each other, could look so much alike and had the same name.
Then the Sri Lankan told that his full name was Rajesh Khana, but since in Sinhalis “UKHANA” is a very bad word, which I would refrain from writing here, he dropped it after being teased at school by everyone and shortened his name to only Raj.
Taking to Sri Rajesh Khana of Negombo I was wondering if Raj of Hyderabad would be with us and would see with his own eyes, how similar to him Raj of Negombo was.
Well getting over that astonishment we got into prolonged conversation and upon my inquiry, Raj, explained that Sri Lanka used to have one rainy season, before 2004, which started in May and prolonged to somewhere till the end of August. But since the December 2004 Tsunami, now they had two rainy seasons. The first one as I mentioned already and then the rainy season in which we were caught, which started in the end of September and continued till December.
Well the beer and the conversation both were very nice and I would had sat there till the morning having fun listening to Raj and drinking that chilled beer from a thermopole container, but once again the same early morning flight forced us to wind things up and get back to the hotel to pack-up before we could go to sleep.
We did what we had to do at the hotel, went to sleep with alarms set at 3:00 am and the time just flew by in sleep, because soon it was 3:00 am and we were all up again and the preparations to leave got into the final phase.
Sri came as planned and soon we were on our way to the Bandranayake Airport. Arriving at the international departures, we unloaded our baggage and equipment on to trolleys, said our good-byes to Sri, wished him luck and he wished us all the best, and after that we got into the building and the routine airport procedure started, with all those security checks, check-ins and passport controls. Soon we were in the waiting lounge, but before going in there, we had a cup of coffee each with sandwiches, because when we left in the morning there still was nobody at the hotel kitchen.
We boarded another nice Sri Lankan Airlines plane, tucked our hand bags into the overhead compartments, fastened our seat belts and got ready to fly, leaving behind the land, which really had the right to be called heaven.