Day -17  - 3-Jan-2016 (I continue From Here  

This looks like just another morning in this travel but it is not, it is my last day in the country. I reach Viharamahadevi park by bus at around 8 AM It is peaceful here. People are taking a morning walk, some are bicycling and it reminds me of Lalbagh botanical garden back at home except that there are much less people here.

I am here to mainly see the Sunday morning exhibits from local artists on one of the streets hugging the park. When I reach here, some artists are already setting up their works. I talk to them and learn that what looks like oil paintings are actually all acrylic on canvas. They are very kind and humble like so many other Sri Lankans I have met so far. While talking to one of the artists, he tells me that oil paint is expensive and they cannot to afford to buy the paint. But I am so glad that it has not stopped them from being creative. My faith in art is always uplifted by such stories and experiences.

On my way back, I meet this old lady, who asks me to click her pictures. We converse in languages unknown to one another and we do just fine. I capture some of the best portraits and expressions thanks to this volunteer. 

I pick a nice spot in the park and sit there to pen down my journal and reflect upon what I have experienced. The mid morning breeze is soothing. I click a few pictures when an army man from far away politely signals me not to. I am surprised to see them guard a park. Earlier, I saw them guard historical monuments. Army or military is I think, one profession that people would not mind being redundant. That would mean that we are constructing a better united world without fear of one another and at last man has found some mutual respect and tolerance. 

I wish this country will overcome its differences. During my conversations with some Sinhalese, I noticed that they referred to the LTTE as terrorists who were defeated by the Army. That pride and arrogance is dangerous too when you know that a significant chunk of the citizens think otherwise. Some Sinhalese would ask me particularly why I chose to go to Jaffna first which was a surprising question for me. I also see the Tamils less connected to their own country which is again a threat to national integrity. Plantation Tamils, on the other hand are still fearing to voice their opinion. Every country has its own problems, India too has several such issues that it has been constantly fighting and I feel that educating a society towards an universal acceptance is very important so that we do not carry the hatred of the past to the future. 

This country may not be as rich as several other countries in the world but that has not stopped these people from being Polite, well cultured, modest and creative. I will always wish that this country will maintain this culture as it develops. 

I return back to my hostel and chat with the traveler from Finland who is flying out today as well. At noon, I checkout; leave my bag at the store and walk out. I feel a need to pamper myself in this very impressive and expensive looking tea shop called "T" which is popular for the variety of teas it offers. I enjoy an italian tea that has almond flavour to it along with a cheese cake. 

Funny, I walk to the next door local restaurant and grab my much less expensive lunch. Here the server greets me with a familiar smile and serves me the usual. Another server speaks to me learning that I am an Indian. He asks me to show him an Indian currency. I pull out Rs 10 note and he holds it before saying - "It is so thick and stiff unlike our currencies." He asks me if he could keep it. I agree.

The bus station is at a walkable distance from the hostel. I board a bus to the airport and reach there within an hour. Many tourists are returning back to their home. I shop more tea and souvenirs at the airport. 

At the gate, while waiting to board, I watch a proper sunset behind a Srilankan air aeroplane. It is also the best time to pen down my last journal entry in the country. 

I am filled with mixed emotions. This has been an incredible journey. I have learnt a lot through these experiences. I think of all my friends. Tadashi must be in Bangkok now settling down with a beer; Roc and Lidia must be in a bus to Colombo; Arathy and Kavan perhaps are back to their regular life in Colombo; Sunny and Gamini attending more tourists; Zaharan probably walking by the beach, J from Jaffna probably ending his another tiring day at work; Lal, my favourite homestay owner I hope is demonstrating his generous hospitality upon another guest. With this sunset, I see everything retiring to a state of reflection; into a moment to summarise everything and find random connections between events; a time to package neatly and arrange everything beautiful that has been experienced in the cabinets of memory that can be opened when wished. And as time flies, they shall enrich themselves further like the packs of Ceylon tea I am carrying. The black tea, Green tea, White tea, the peckoes and the BOPs, all those flavours waiting to be released on an evening full of memories and nostalgia.

Route - > Colombo -> Bangalore