The wait at Chennai airport was quite bad. I got out of the arrival terminal, thinking I will bum around a while outside before meeting marinha at the arrival gate. But once outside, I was greeted by this searing heat that effectively chased me back inside. Since most international airports I have been to have been well equipped to deal with transit passengers, I firmly believed that Chennai airport wouldn’t be far behind. Bombay and Bangalore airports have just had a facelift and surely, Chennai would have had one to. I was in for a shock.
Save for a few scattered chairs, there was little comfort inside. I was starving and there were no cafés or restaurants. There was one stall where I had some stale sandwich. But that was that. Let us not talk of toilets! I waited patiently, trying to keep my mind off the dingy airport, reading Half of a Yellow Sun. Thankfully, Marinha arrived by 9.15. We must have created quite a spectacle as the 5 foot nothing me raised myself on tiptoes to hug the 5’11” Marinha who was bent at the waist almost 90 degrees! It had been months since I had seen her and we had both started off on new corporate jobs. From sporadic conversations on the telephone, we both realized we had a lot to talk about. What better way to spend the time while we wait for the third, Deepa.
Deepa arrived soon after, dressed in a colourful floral dress as if to remind us that were on a relaxing beach holiday. We checked in, and went up to security check. I was hoping there was a restaurant up there at least. But no! The international airport in Chennai does not have a restaurant anywhere in the vicinity (period). Assuaging our sharp hunger pangs with gulps of pepsi/ coke, we were now well on our way to Lanka.
Colombo airport was more like how an international airport ought to be. We collected our luggage from the conveyor belt and wheeled all of it to the exit, looking for Malinda, our friend and guide through Colombo. Malinda was Cherie’s friend and she put us on to him. He was kind enough to help us arrange for travel to Galle. But before we take off to galle, he suggested that we take a turn in his car so that he can show us around Colombo. So there we were at 2.30 in the afternoon, with the sun blazing on our car and reflecting the heat into our faces; we were being driven around and shown the new parliament, the old parliament (colonial building), the Galle sea face ( which, incidentally, is also called Marine Drive)and other landmarks in Colombo. Malinda was also thoughtful enough to get us our own SIM card for the duration of our stay in Srilanka.