I get off the bed, treat myself with a shower and start dressing up. I hear a faint "Good Morning" from a soul still comfortably covered in warm a bed sheet. My roommate is still half asleep. I dress up, pack my bag, wave goodbye to whoever awake at that time and climb down the staircase to the ground floor of our building. My landlady is usually found having her breakfast and her cat runs around asking for more food or probably more attention. In a second, a door opens and you hear a gate latch adds its mark to the morning choir of sounds.
I’m out in the lane. Cars, mothers, kids and even the dogs are seen running towards the A1. I join the race too. Survival in Colombo depends on how fast you adapt to the race.
The city has already woken up. I see a motionless line of vehicles towards Colombo and an empty road towards Kandy. A bus to Kandy passes by slowly and my mind rushes back to the city where my heart lies. School children are already in the road and the pre-school gate is already surrounded by cars, parents and children. Note my friend, time is still 6.30am and the pre-school kids are already at their school. Memories of my childhood pass through my mind, just like a movie in slow motion. I used to walk to the pre-school with my mother & around 9'O Clock in the morning.
I cross the road and wait for a 138. The sun is up, shining harshly. It is right above the bus and the bus board is invisible due to the bright light. I wait till the bus comes close, put my hand to summon it to stop. Bus is already crowded. People are sweating, conductor is shouting and those who are lucky enough to get a seat listen to music or enjoy the wayside life that passes by. If it was Kandy, 6.30 would be still cold and dark enough to make you sleep like a cat. Colombo is so different. It is filled with life that has no “life”. Or at least that is what most of the people who have moved to Colombo from other parts of the country say.
A guy stares at a girl, a school child struggles to pass through the crowd with his enormous bag, a pervert tries to satisfy his fancies and the bus arrives at Fort. I get down and walk to the office. A man sits in the pavement with a weighing scale and another sits looking down at his artificial leg. I spend a moment at the latter to give him a little of my money. The road is crossed twice and another walk is needed to get my already tired self to the office.
A cool breeze that comes from the sea passes through the buildings and a cool gust of wind treats me as I enter the building of 38 floors. The second good morning of my day is well received by the security personnel of the big office complex. One of the shops located in the ground floor steals a considerable amount (compared to the money spent at a university canteen for breakfast) of my hard earned money. Two elevators are ridden, a number of fashionably dressed ladies passed and I arrive at the lift. A VISA office is located in my part of the building and in some mornings, the VISA office results in gathering an interesting lot of people at the lift. If there is no VISA crowd, it is the same old work crowd.
The lift bell rings, door opens and as the door closes, another person is seen running towards the already closing door. Someone at the controlling panel signals the lift to stop and one makes a dramatic entrance with a big satisfying sigh. The sigh is sometimes followed by a “Thank You” or a smile.
The lift stops at several floors before it arrives at the floor in which my office is located. Till the lift slowly moves up, I tweet or steal a glance at the people around me. After all, people watching in Colombo is always an interesting activity.
As I was typing the post, it just occurred to me how simple my life was. I used to wake up around 7.30 and go to work at 8.00 after the "Operation Saree" was abandoned after few months of teaching at the ELTU. It is just a fifteen minute bus journey or my dad would simply drop me there on his way to work. I used to walk about 15 minutes each day passing green trees, golden sun rays and students hurrying to their lectures. There was no rush, no elevators nor aluminium in hands when I reached my work place then. I envy that life. Peradeniya is a place missed by everyone who has left it.
|"Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya"|
I do not know who took this photo. It has been going around Facebook for sometime now.