Monday, January 28, 2013

Tea with the Sri Lankan Ambassador, dinner with the Indians, and Karen Carpenter's song "You"

We're all set for Sri Lanka....

Saturday was a pretty busy day. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, together with the Travelife Magazine readers and friends who are coming along with me to Sri Lanka next month.

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THE JOYS OF A TRAVELIFE

We had a very animated discussion on Sri Lanka and on the joys of a Travelife.

I'm so excited to be going on this trip, especially as lots of friends I've already traveled with somewhere in the world are coming along as well.



LIKE ANGKOR WAT, 20 YEARS AGO

We're also headed for a beautiful and under-the-radar destination that's just starting to open up. Think Angkor Wat 20 years ago, and that's Sri Lanka today.

I used to go to Angkor Wat 20 years ago, and I can tell you that there was absolutely no decent hotel to stay in; so most of the adventurous travelers who had first dibs on the Angkor Wat in those days came in on the morning flight and left by the afternoon flight.



I did this a couple of times. And the upside is that I was privy to an amazing experience of Angkor Wat without crowds -- and actually, without people.

On many trips, I had the monuments all to myself. This can never be the case anymore.

A SWEET SPOT RIGHT NOW



Sri Lanka is sort of in this same place at the moment -- and this is why I wanted to take some readers and friends there right now.

Within its Cultural Triangle, it has some of the most amazing ancient monuments in the world.

On my first trip about two years ago, five guys and I literally had the monuments to ourselves. I still remember how we'd sat on the brick wall surrounding one of the famous stupa in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Anuradhapura, watching the sunset put on a show on the walls of the stupa.

And we were completely alone.



CHANGING FASTER THAN WE HOPE

Sri Lanka has changed much in two years, but it's still pretty much an isolated place so you still don't have the crowds that ordinarily would come to see such fantastic sites.

But it's not going to be this way for long....



Anyway, meeting everyone on Saturday afternoon -- some people, for the very first time -- got me really happy and excited for this trip.

And the meeting had gone much longer than expected.

Both the Ambassador of Sri Lanka and I were attending the official reception nearby for India's National Day, and I'd planned to return home for a few minutes to change into a saree for the occasion.

But our Travelife group's excited discussions had put an end to any plans of a saree. I was wearing a long Sri Lankan black batik dress, and I decided to attend India's National Day in this outfit.



A VERY RELAXING DIPLOMATIC PARTY

Most diplomatic functions are held between Monday to Thursday, and it's very rare for a function to be on a Saturday. But how enjoyable this was, as a result.

People were relaxed, and there was none of this rushing about to go from one event to another since it was a weekend rather than a busy workday.



In fact, I enjoyed myself so much at the party that I ended up staying till the very end.

I had time to talk to friends and I even had time to have two servings of lamb curry. That lamb curry on Saturday night was very good, by the way.

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THEY'RE PLAYING MY SONG

And as I was waiting for my car in the hotel lobby, another friend who was on his way out passed by me.

He said: "You're doing the smart thing, by waiting for your driver in the lobby. Standing out in a hotel driveway with a canopy is probably equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes."

I never thought of it this way. I'd actually stayed inside as I'd heard a very nice song from the singer in the lobby, as I walked past.

She was singing "You" by Karen Carpenter, and I really like the words of this song; and when I heard it on Saturday night, I remembered someone.



And that's why I was standing in the lobby waiting for my car, instead of in the driveway.

Never one to mince words or thoughts, I replied: "I'm actually in the lobby because I liked the song that the singer was singing earlier."

I guess my answer surprised him. But it was the truth. And that's part of a never-endingly eventful Travelife for you.






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