A Love Letter to Home
I live in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The capital of heavy traffic, betel-red spit stains and noisy construction sites. In 8 months, we have gone through two floods, one drought, and most recently a bad Northeast monsoon. It’s not always the sunkissed paradise people imagine.
I have become fond of my daily bus commute to work, an experience that even locals despise. I have got addicted to my sugar-heavy afternoon tea prepared with so much powdered milk that it came as a surprise to me one day that I had in fact been drinking coffee all along. I have loved the fact that there is a holiday each month and my habitual 5-minute lateness is seen as timeliness.
But at some point, the everyday reality stops feeling exotic. When that happens, one is left standing in a dirty street, sweating through their thinnest clothes, with their eyes down as a myriad of gramatically flawed cat calls echoes in their ears. With hunched shoulders and sunburnt face, they go in search of comfort. That is when the realization dawns.
In Colombo, comfort is a luxury not many can afford. Whether it’s a 6 dollar cappuccino or glass of wine you crave, an average Sri Lankan salary could only pay for about twenty of them. Eating anything but rice and curry morning to night gets expensive and so does getting around. Most people here, especially females with their cousin’s vivid story of being oggled, groped and insulted on the bus, choose to travel by tuk tuks, avoiding the considerably more affordable public transport at all costs.
But even with a decent income, comfort remains a luxury. Things I miss the most in Sri Lanka are the ones that money can’t buy. Food that cannot be bought or made with the available ingredients. A stable, cosy temperature instead of the freezing AC vs. outside heat struggle. The sensation of a soft carpet under my feet, fluffy bathrobe around my body or plush blanket drawn all the way up to my nose. Do you think you can light a candle under a whirring fan? Keep a plate of cookies around without eating ants?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve met some amazing people here and made good friends. The city is cosy small and roads easy to navigate once you get a hold of them. I have my favourite places to go. But sometimes, it’s just okay to miss home.
This is my love letter to blankets, carpets, slippers, candles, antless cookies, wine and snow. To flowery meadows in spring, beer gardens in summer and bright coloured leaves in fall. To cold feet, trench coats, galleries, salads and soups. To quiet train rides and silent nights. To museums, pubs, squares and riversides. To good coffee and IKEA. To Europe.
To all the things I love and miss.