Colombo is a city where the reminders of the civil war still persist. The Galle Road is the main road running beside the sea front, with hotels and embassies on either side and ending off with the famous Galle Face Green, a big open space right by the beach. The Presidential Palace is on this road and further down, the former Parliament building. The Presidential palace and most of the embassies are heavily secured, like mini-fortresses. My friend was working in Sri Lanka for a number of years during the war. She pointed out buildings which had been damaged by the bombing raids of the Tamil Tigers, and explained to us that whilst the war was going on, the entire beachfront had been hoarded up, presumably to deter a sea landing by the rebels. The former Parliament House further down the road was no longer in use for that purpose. Parliament had shifted to a more secure location. We passed it the next day - further inland, on an island in the middle of a lake, reached only via a narrow causeway with tight security at the entry point. It was also surrounded by open spaces and there were watch towers at strategic points on the perimeter.
|Kites above Galle Fort Green|
We went to our resort in Galle after one day shopping in Colombo. A new highway has opened, cutting down the journey time considerably, we were told. Still, it took us almost two hours with the end part of the journey travelling through small towns on a narrow road. Here I learnt about Sri Lankan driving etiquette. Honk when you overtake. Overtake when you can. Our driver, I have to admit, was quite good but I had a lot of more nervous moments.
was up the entire visit) a pleasant little pool. We enjoyed our stay here (a little bout of "Sri Lankan belly" not withstanding). But on our way back, our driver stopped to show us a monument along the road. It was a monment to the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day Asian Tsunami. Near that spot, a train had waited, following warnings that there was danger up ahead. Unfortunately, the "danger" proved to be the forceful tsunami which swept the entire coast, washing away the train and killing over 1,200 people who were on board.
Our driver told us that his family lived some way inland. Hence, most of them were safe. But, his brother had been out that day. He never returned home.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, with a rich history and beautiful scenery, and generous natural resources. Now recovering from the ravages of civil war, I do hope that they can address some of the schisms of the past to create a society and nation where all in this multi cultural, multi religious, country can live harmoniously together.