Badulla was the first location in which no other foreigners were encountered; hence, curious stares just came naturally. Either through walks around the city, farm visitations or local interactions, the population knew I wasn’t from there. Within the week period, it never felt as though I wasn’t welcomed. On the contrary, Sri Lankans are warm-hearted people, and such hospitality was even greater in the Badulla region.
The everyday fuel came from the people; they kept me within tracks. The greatest difference among previous experiences regards the involvement of the community. Usually one-on-one interviews are guaranteed ways to obtain answers. However, in Badulla and surrounding regions, most of the community wanted to participate. One person would often act as a mediator and talk on behalf of the population, which would then gather around the person as though his/her words represented their communal thoughts.
Sleepless nights: another motive that contributed to such gloomy sensation. From the very first day, the organization provided housing; simple, yet comfortable. One full size bed, toilet and cold showers were in fact superior to previous experiences. Yet, previous experiences did not come with the neighbor’s dog. It wasn’t just a dog; it was the single most obnoxious dog I have ever encountered. Night after night, from early evening until sunrays broke through the clouds, it would not discontinue barking. And by continuity, I mean non-stop ear penetrating, louder than earphones, bed turning barking. I never wished bad for any living thing, but I surely envisioned lightning strikes, vocal cords rupture, and even sketched out sleeping-pills-filled-food plans.
A twelve-hour train ride transports me back to Colombo. Just exactly a week ago, the same reverse trajectory brought me to Badulla; except a shorter bus ride was then opted. From the interior of my first-class carriage, with a decoration reminiscent of the Victorian period (lost after years of use), diversified plantations add layers to the surrounding hills. My seat faces the last wall of the train, one gigantic window, which provides a backwards view of the landscape. As the train moves forward, a clear notion of departure moves away, leaving behind impressions of one memorable week.