It was a favourite cheapie: fish and chips on the sea terrace of the Mt. Lavinia. We’d pick up friends along the way, arriving at the grand old hotel just before dark. This evening, a farewell of sorts for dear friends returning to Chilly England, I had my camera with me and, struck as always by the speed of nightfall, I crept in the dark to the end of the terrace.
Attracted by the flash of the Matara train picking up speed for its final dash toward the city, I looked down through the trees to the little bay below. There, the lights of the “new” wing’s ocean-facing rooms, like a massive lantern in the nighttime, splash onto the lazy waves, sheening the sand.
Back with my friends, our drinks have arrived. Deep velvet night envelops us from the sea, alienating us from the string of lights along the shoreline, swallowing them up before Wellawatte.
At some point, I notice, conversations peter out. Eyes close, meditation-like, as we luxuriate to the touch of the breeze as it ruffles our hair, fanning our backs and ankles as neither fans nor air conditioning ever do. Almost as one, it seems, deep breaths greedily catch a whiff of frangipani and sea spice, and a palpable sense of calm and plenitude spreads grateful smiles across our radiant faces.