It’s 4.00pm. We are in Clock Inn Colombo. Gobbling up two packets of instant noodles brought here by Nathan’s cousins all the way from Canada. They thought Sri Lanka wouldn’t have a packet of instant noodles. Or peanut butter. While we sip a cuppa, two wannabe indians laugh at a next level hilarious South Indian movie. An English, in his sixties, look at them with amaze. Despite being an old fella in Colombo’s fast-growing backpacking culture, Clock Inn Colombo still has life in it. Fifteen minutes ago, Zin sat in the cornerst table. Quiet. The table where she once sat and glorified Younis Khan. The table where Z first saw Nathan and Nathan, Z. The hostel where they met, kissed and fell in love. (Also read: One year and a little more.) While Z tries to memorize the old colour palette the hostel had, Nathan brings her a hot cup of noodles, instant but with soup. Two years ago, in the same table, he stole Z’s cup of ceylon tea. We all now think that was how Nathan planned to stole her heart. Or was it?
Our whole life, together, paints a picture in front of our eyes. One that fades away in two minutes and ten seconds. We sit quiet, trying to realise why we travel despite the chaos.
What you see on our Instagram is a picture of one beautiful morning in the hills where pink bougainvillea smile in full bloom and old colonial railways are in their late glory. What you don’t see is that we had the most tedious journey behind it.
We love instagram for giving a platform to share a tiny part of life. And for Nathan, it motivates him to take better photos. And experiment with his gear. But hey, it’s not all fun and glory always. What we see on Instagram are, people, in flowy maxis, sipping a king coconut in an isolated beach while the tiny caption says: life in paradise. Or a tropical fruit basket overlooking an infinity pool where it says: how breakfast in an island looks like.
The same morning, we had a heavy breakfast and bade farewell to The Weir House. One place that stole our heart when we traveled. We boarded the train to kandy. One that stops in every tiny station and railway halt. Nathan sat beside Zin and talked about how much he loved quiet train journeys. Very much like this. A few people. Many stops. An Isso vadai uncle per compartment and central highlands in lush green. He wanted the next train to Colombo to be the exact same.
(Also read: Why train is the best way to travel)
But it wasn’t exactly the same.
When we boarded the next train to Colombo one hour later from Peradeniya Junction, we sort of had an idea about how tedious our journey would be. It was, to the date, the most crowded train we’ve ever taken. We were sandwiched. Squashed, almost! The train stopped at many stations it wasn’t even supposed to stop at. That, too, twice, for more than 20 minutes. And all thanks to humidity, our clothes smelled “we need perfume. A lot! Bottles!” After 3 and a half hours barely standing on a train and being shouted at to move where there is ‘space,’ when there was none at all, we made it to Maradana. You’d think we finally made it and went home to a nice hot bath and a good cuppa! Or Nathan would make Zin a glass of chocolate mixed with vanilla ice cream and kahlua.
As soon as we are out, we met one of the manny May Day parades. And so we walked. Along with the rally, along with those who thank the politicians for the ‘glorious version of Sri Lanka’ now we have. We walked until we found a tuk. A tuk in which the meter is ‘broken’ and the driver charged 250 extra for a Rs.150 trip to the hostel.
And here, we sit in the corner table of Clock Inn Colombo, sipping an instant noodle soup. Talking about all the memorable moments we had despite the chaos. About how we’d never see and walk on an old iron bridge if we never made the tedious journey. About those Dua Lipa moments we had in the train. Those moments where everyone thought Nathan was Indian. And Chennai was much ‘worse.’ And even if we’ve to stand on a train for six long hours and eat vadai for one whole day with no chili, we’d never trade the feeling of travel for anything else. And in travel, the joy lies in the journey. Not quite with the destination.
PS: We’d talk more about how different Instagram travel v real life travel and traveling as a local couple around Sri Lanka in our next posts. Stick around!
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