Optimism

 Kandy and Dambulla, Sri Lanka

With extra time on my hands, thanks to still-inefficient but favorable public transport, I decided to do things a little differently. Heading into Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second-largest city, I opted to scour Couchsurfing and found a generous host in Leslie, his wife, Vasanti, and their young-teenage son, Jehan. They live in a village 12 km east of Kandy — not a terribly far distance, but with local buses, it meant being an hour out of the city. Despite the crowded buses, fellow passengers were super helpful and also a little surprised to see a foreigner on their rather untouristy bus route, making for a pleasantly peaceful experience, zooming by non-descript shops and the countryside.

Staying with a family in a decidedly normal, sub-sub-suburban neighbourhood away from general tourism was a refreshing break that provided a much clearer perspective of local life. Leslie and his family were incredibly welcoming, with Vasanti’s amazing cooking and their homegrown backyard bananas being an extra treat, and I was beyond grateful to be received as a friend, on super short notice and overlapping a night while they were hosting another couchsurfer too.

With Leslie at work, or at home helping Jehan with his math homework, and Vasanti seeming prepping food at all hours of the day (waking up at 3:30 to start a fire and make breakfast!), I busied myself reading or writing or watching TV courtesy of Leslie’s homemade satellite that I helped him install. Between all that though, we had some fascinating conversations about something that I had really wanted to learn more about, but was afraid to ask — and I didn’t even have to ask.

War and politics. Easy stuff, eh?
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