We have just come back from another holiday. I feel a bit awkward to even say it, because we only just had the summer away, and suddenly going off again on another break, but the truth, in more detail is as follows:
- One drunken night, we agreed with compound friends that we should go together and once committed, we stuck to the promise, which was a great way to actually go, and not just plan as we usually do, and cancel later on, due to money issues or pure laziness. If you never materialise your travel to exotic destinations plans, I recommend this method; the same way as exercising or dieting with someone else. Get drunk, say cool, this sounds awesome! and then book tickets.
- We had second Eid here, in Doha, and it was still awfully hot, so it was a great time to escape- one more time.
- Always thought to make effort and go to one of those interesting counties that are nearer while we live in Qatar; and we have been here for five years and still have not done it.
Anyway, that’s how we ended up finally visiting Sri-Lanka.
The very first question pretty much everyone asks me after this trip is: Oh, wasn’t it amazing? Was it, like, THE most beautiful place you have ever seen?
Well, parts of it definitely were very beautiful. And I really liked it. And, I had a fantastic time.
Was it the most beautiful place I have ever visited? Well….no, it wasn't.
I have only one explanation in my head, why to me, it was not the most beautiful place. The reason is very simple. Sri Lanka, despite its ocean views, is very much a proper third world country.
So? You might ask. I can feel you all bristle at this. You are ready to tell me off for being snobbish or thinking I was somehow superior to normal people. But hey, before you judge, just remember there is one little, but important detail here; the detail that shapes my humble opinion, and gives me a certain right to it, like a black person allowed to make racist jokes. What you mustn’t forget is that, as opposed to Husband, or our Irish co-travelling friends, who all grew up in the Western world, I actually come from a third world country.
Dirt and poverty are not exotic to me; they are just dirty and poor.
If you grew up in a place where, walking into an elevator you had to pinch your nose and stand at the very edge to avoid stepping into urine puddles; if you felt like throwing up every time you got on a crowded bus because fellow passengers reeked as if they had never even seen a shower in their lives…If you had spent years suffering from awful stomach pains only to find out later in life you had been infected with Helicobacter Pylori…Ah, wait. Sorry. You might not know what that is. I shall tell you. That is an infection that is quite common in third world countries; and you get it mainly from getting exposed to water or food contaminated with feces. You are welcome.
Anyway, you get the picture. If you had spent years as a child growing up in a developing country, you might be a little affected by that for the rest of your life, in a way that makes it a little difficult to see the inner beauty of the third world.
But, forget all that. The villa where we stayed was in the whole galaxy far, far away, literally and figuratively, from all the third-worldliness, being a beautifully designed place with stunning ocean views.
And that ocean…It took me a little while to get used to the noise. The rest of our company all thought it was funny that I did not find the ocean noise relaxing. But come on!
You see, that ocean...It is not like any other seaside I have been to- and I know what I am saying, I have actually seen a lot of sea in my life, been quite fortunate that way. I had heard and seen waves before but not like these. You know how you hear warnings that the sea can be deceptive, that it might look really calm and inviting but can actually kill you? Well, not the Indian ocean. It does not pretend, or try to appear calm and inviting. It is proudly, in your face, menacing. Yes, it says, I can kill you in a second if I decide to. And it is absolutely stunning, in a bewitching, threatening, mysterious kind of way. I could sit there for hours just looking at those waves crashing against the rocks, absolutely mesmerised, in awe. It is amazing, it is beautiful, it is just impossible to forget. But relaxing? Never.
So, if you asked me now, not whether Sri Lanka was the most beautiful place I have even been to, but what was the most beautiful memory I have taken away from there, I would say the ocean. Even right now, a week later, if I shut my eyes I can see those waves; and I would go back again, just to see and hear them. That ocean, without a doubt, is the most amazing thing about Sri Lanka. And the best part was that it was just everywhere. Wherever we went, however long we drove, it was always nearby. Remember how insignificant and fragile and perishable you are, it said. Remember that and enjoy every moment of your life. And try and visit somewhere with an ocean.