To Colombo then. Inauspicious start with discovery of head cold attributed to over-eager air conditioning and total unavailability of breakfast thanks to hotel restaurant not opening until 11am on a Sunday. Settle for bottle of water and cup of coffee instead. Even hotter and muggier than yesterday. Murran brings own car to take me to airport - an Ambassador with windows that open, a clutch that works, and seats and ceilings he upholstered himself with his old living room carpet. Only problem is that to sit in back of this car, you need to be under 5 feet 9, or 5 feet 7 if you take account of the upholstery. Spend thirty minute drive leaning into the front seats.
Get on plane after more yo-yoing between check in and immigration than should ever be needed and am upgraded for troubles. However, the difference between Executive and Economy class appears to be slightly more leg room and a cup of unidentifiable fruit juice. For all the priority tags on my luggage, it still takes 20 minutes to arrive. Of course, the stickers mean that my luggage is a priority case for the baggage handlers to rummage through before passing on, so it’s to be expected. In the interim, wonder why Colin Powell’s name is pronounced Coh-lin rather than Colin, as he deserves.
Hotel is 50km from airport past the Sri Lankan army guarding the airport from Tamil Tiger terrorists and through Colombo which mostly looks like London suburbia did circa the unemployment crisis of the late 1980’s. Air condition overachieving again, but clientele almost totally western, access to the Indian Ocean, pools, cocktail bar and so on. Entertainment aimed at Westerners too - dreadful karaoke evening involving many drinks and an unfortunate rendition of Love Me Tender, but the less said about that, the better.Posted on February 25, 2001 #India