Thursday, July 09, 2009

Touch down

Arrived safely and have been welcomed by folk at the college. Internet access is good and plentiful at the moment. So, here's an account of my trip....

Uneventful departure from a wet heathrow. Good if noisy flight to Doha. Lots of extended middle eastern families running riot in economy. Food OK. Service good. Watched 2001: a space odyssey and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Lion. Both good – seen them before, of course but not for a long time. Did a little reading.

Not much time at Doha because our flight was slightly late. Rushing to get through the door to the bus and the Qatar Airways man asked me to wait. I asked him why and he replied it was because I was flying Business Class to Colombo. Woohoo! I’ve never been upgraded before.

Anyway I couldn’t travel on the coach that was there because it wasn’t a Business Class coach. When that arrived, it had seats rather than making everyone stand.

I’m not sure it’s worth the money, but the service and food and the space, the acres of space after being crammed between large people on the first leg of the journey, was just fabulous.

So I had a glass or two of nicely chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, served with a selection of salted nuts. Followed by my appetizer of mezee (however you spell it!!) and an entre of chicken and green beans and a desert of custard tart and fresh fruit. The coffee wasn’t very good but the chocolate and extra glass or two of sauvignon blanc were just the ticket.

Then I slept for a couple of hours on a seat that went flat at the touch of a button. Who could ask for more?!

Met at a rainy Colombo airport by Chrishnan, the LBC administrator for a long drive to the college through Colombo’s riotous traffic. A melee of vehicles compete for space on the roads, no one gives way and no one waits and seemingly no one gets killed.

Lots of soldiers with Kalashnikov’s, lots of checkpoints – more than last time. That added to the congestion with trishaws being pulled over and passengers asked for papers, lorries being searched and some buses being stopped, all the passengers told to get off while it was searched and they were questioned. One gets a slight impression of needless oppression.

There are lots of pictures of the PM, smiling and waving, with slogans in Sinhalese that I can’t read no doubt lauding him as a hero, victor in the nation’s 25 year civil war.

And now I’m here at the LBC campus in Dehiwala in a well-appointed, if basic, air-conditioned room with a veranda that has a view of the sea in the distance over the roof tops. The sun is shining and, despite my kip in business class, I’m feeling a bit knackered - but very pleased to be here. There’s just the small detail of a course to teach next week!

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