I landed at Bandaranaike the first time in 2002, going there for a business trip, and I have fallen in love with the Island within minutes. Don’t know what I’ve smelled, or touched, or seen walking out from the airport, but love works that way.
Since that time, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to return to Sri Lanka for other trips, then I started working for a Company based there, and now it’s my 12th consecutive year I’m regularly traveling between Italy and Sri Lanka, alternating my life between these two “homes”.
The war was still on when my long experience started, highways weren’t there, not so many hotels were open, and I saw this Country changing a lot over these years also if not everything changed in the best, or in the right, way. We swallowed the controversial way to end a war for the sake of Peace; today driving an highway to go from Colombo to the Airport, or to Galle, we have gained time and we have lost the pleasure to look through the real life; but there are things that never changed, from the best curries still cooked as grannies do, to the culture of growing special teas, to wonderful places to visit, to people and their warmth, culture, friendship and exceptional cohabitation capability, that creates a sense of safety and a sense of home. This is what we love, I’m saying “we” thinking to all those people that in a way or another, come to Sri Lanka and understand it.
When Mari and I woke up on Easter morning and we read what happened just some hours earlier we thought we were still sleeping and trapped into a nightmare: but as soon as we realized we were awake, really awake, our heart broke. Yes, broke. It broke because it was clear from the beginning, for us but I’m sure also for all other people knows Sri Lanka well, that this was nothing related to old questions, nothing related to a religious war, nothing related to a mad person making justice by itself .. this was “something” wanting to break the strength of a Community, their unity and their quest for a peaceful life.
I felt so sad. I was safe at home in Italy, but this didn’t make me relieved. Now, just few days before leaving to Sri Lanka for my next trip, I’m in a strange feeling: there is no fear to go, but there is some worry, of course! There are restrictions and warnings from our Ministero degli Esteri about traveling, and it’s right respecting them, but I need to go, because it’s up to us defeating fears and it’s up to us helping friends and colleagues there in Sri Lanka to make sure they can resume their life, their business and their hopes, continuing supporting, working with, talking, discussing, laughing, arguing, visiting, traveling to, eating, drinking, dancing and sharing life.