Hooray! No pot holes.
I'd imagined Sri Lanka to be a country similar to ours. In many ways it is; but then, if you've lived in Bangalore long enough as I have, there are pot-holed roads coming out of your ears, not to mention the chaotic traffic and a total lack of driving sense. In our civil society, as we like to call it, words like 'orderly', discipline' have lost meaning.
The entire stretch was well illuminated with sodium vapour lamps, the roads silken smooth, devoid of much traffic but for cars mostly coming in from the airport, a dozen-odd bikes and a few autos (called 'tuk-tuks in Lanka). Had the place been spruced up for the recently concluded SAARC summit, I wondered?
In the days to come I'd realize I was wrong. But we'll keep that for later.
Amith dropped of us at the hotel just past midnight. I signed his bill, tipped him and he bid us goodbye with a broad smile, broader than what it was earlier. I was told later, that 100 Sri Lankan rupees (equivalent to INR Rs. 50/-) is by any standard considered to be a pretty generous tip.
We checked-in (they swiped my credit card for 35,000 Sri Lankan Rupees as advance), and went up the lift to room 706C. It was small, but nice and clean, centrally air conditioned, looked comfortable with a nice view. The sound of waves meant the sea was just a stone's throw away. The mini-fridge had two bottles of water; but by tomorrow it'd be filled up with sodas and soft drinks. The bathroom was spic and span and all accessories like soap, shampoo, towels, toilet paper neatly in place.
Now, this is something I'm very fussy about in any hotel that I stay in. My theory is that the condition of toilets reflects a hotel's attitude. Stained washbasins and commodes, leaking taps, distorted mirrors, broken cloth hangers etc, are all suggestive of a management that doesn't understand the word 'hospitality'.
There was just one minor drawback, though. The room had neither chair nor table. I made a mental note to mention this to the manager next morning and have them provided. For the moment, the mini-fridge top would double-up as a table.
At USD 64 a night, Hotel Global Lanka Towers had my vote; so far at least.
There was this gnawing hunger in our bellies and I in particular, was desperately thirsty. Unpacking was put off for tomorrow. Room service was pretty quick with the sodas and ice. It was well past midnight and no time to waste. I pulled out The Old Grouse, poured in a couple of stiff ones (one for me and the other for the wife, who needed one as bad as I did), plonked lots of ice into the glass, topped it with soda, and I was on my way.
The food arrived – Fish Curry and Rice. Yummy! Precisely why we'd come to Sri Lanka.
Next: Day One is a Lovely Morning