May has turned out to be the month that has taught me what the cabin crew life is really all about. With all its ups and downs. I have spent good three weeks turning around India and Pakistan and coming back to Dubai for just the minimum required rest that pretty much only allowed enough time to wash my uniform, get some sleep and head to the airport again. It’s not as much fun as it sounds. Although there are some advantages of being able to sleep in your own bed every night(day), work out in your gym and make plans with friends that are UAE based.
However – as my first layover of the month approached I couldn’t help but feel relieved and excited. I had no idea what to expect from my 24 hours in Sri Lanka apart from drinking their famous tea. But I have long ago given up on trying to make plans beforehand.
Well- I was too damn right about the tea. It’s delicious!! The Earl Grey quite literally changed my life! Not to mention the Masala Chai…! I have since developed a brand new morning routine of having a very strong turkish coffee (or a shot of crude oil as some people oblivious to all things good call it) AND a cuppa black tea- otherwise I can’t function properly. I don’t think my body is able to recognise caffeine and theine as stimulants anymore. It has become a pure necessity.
Colombo – or at least what I saw of it- is wonderful. Full of colours, smells and cars. And food – oh the food! Don’t even get me started! As I walked the dusty streets, snapping pictures of the local life and trying to take it all in I have noticed I was raising quite a bit of attention. I guess the locals are not quite used to redheads- some of them even looked like they have never seen auburn hair before judging by their surprised faces and gestures towards my head. At first I found it amusing but after some time I became a bit too self conscious and wished I could get some peace and quiet. And because lately all of my wishes have the wonderful habit of coming true- I did…
Sri Lanka is ranked as 3rd most religious country in the wolrd. More than 70% of the population are Buddhists and about 8% declare themselves as Christians. Then there are also Muslims and Hindis. All living peacefully side by side. I come from a country that’s arguably the least religious in the world. In the last census more than 40% of Czech un-declared their religious views, 34% declared to be non-religious and about 15.000 people have chosen Jedi Knights as their religious beliefs. 15k may not sound as much -however i did make it a whole 0.14% of the population – and that’s in a society whose’s strongest religion- Roman Catholicism- reaches only mere 10%.
My religious views are very typically Czech. I like to believe that there is a Force or a Purpose to life but I choose not to name that force. Still – I find different religions intriguing. I love letting people talk about their God to me. It’s always a pleasure to listen to somebody who believes. To watch them pray. Or even just to observe how they practise their religion in everyday life. Sometimes I wonder if one day when I come across the right one I will choose a religion of my own…
So as I was saying… I was wishing for a quiet place to reflect upon Sri Lanka when I randomly took a wrong turn and found myself at a gate of a beautiful shrine. I decided to give it a go and entered… and was immediately overwhelmed by the spirituality of the whole place. It was so serene it felt as if the time has stopped here ages ago and nothing outside of its walls matter anymore. It was a vast complex of gardens and chapels and I walked alongside a grassy path following the arrows that took me thru sculptured Last Journey of Christ.
It was beautiful. I felt so calm and uplifted no hair-pointing or whistling in the world could have taken me down from there on. One would have thought that was enough sacredness for one day but no – as I got back to the crew hotel a wedding party was just about to start their reception. I gather it must have been a Hindu wedding since all the women were wearing their wonderful saris. I watched them from a afar for a while and then approached the bride and asked nicely whether I could take a picture. It must have been a massive honour to be asked that because everybody looked very pleased with themselves..
I politely declined the invite to the wedding, then listened to the whole love story of the couple narrated by one of the mothers-in-law and finally retired to my room an hour later.
I had absolutely no expectations of my Sri Lankan layover but they got exceeded regardless. Sri Lanka rocked.