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Flying into Delhi

Date: February 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm IST
Place: Arrivals Hall, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India

As we descended into Delhi this evening, the sun was setting. Sure, it was already down on the ground, but at our altitude it lit up the cabin of the plane in a light first the harsh yellow of the direct sun, where I could see my own shadow so sharply that I could have counted my eyelashes, then the warmer, more muted oranges and reds and pinks as the light bounced off seats and bulkheads to softly fill the plane in a beautiful glow.

It was a peaceful ending to what had been a slightly stressful day. This afternoon, I arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport to find one of those depressingly familiar Asian airline experiences playing itself out: sorry, sir, but your flight has been cancelled. Not enough people, I presume. Fortunately, I got there early enough to get a seat on the earlier flight to Delhi, the only real downside being the extra hour and a half I had to kill before being picked up.

Earlier in the day I’d set out on one of my characteristic missions to get lost in a city I don’t know very well, this time in Colombo. I succeeded a bit too well, as it turned out! After I’d been gone a while I realised that I’d left my Lonely Planet — and hence my maps — in my other backpack, which was safely back at the guest house. Ended up navigating my way back to Galle Road via the sun, then realised I was several kilometres south of the guest house and my taxi for the airport was arriving soon. Time to grab a tuk-tuk!

Colombo itself is a bit of a pastiche of places I’ve been: Singapore’s Little India with the socioeconomic state of Ulaanbaatar and road rules of Beijing, if you will.

Maybe third world cities are just starting to jade me. I hope not.

I do want to return to Sri Lanka at some point, but Colombo bores me in a way few cities other than Tallinn and Canberra have. Still, boring isn’t bad for getting over jetlag, and in Colombo House I at least had good digs. Next time I’m going to Galle and Kandy, though!

Well, that’s part of the hour and a half killed.

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