When I was seven my parents had saved up, and I was given the opportunity to fly for the first time. I boarded a flight to my mothers birth country, Sri Lanka.
I had grown up tasting my grandma’s delicious curries and had been immersed in the Sri Lankan culture to a small extent, but getting off that Air Lanka flight and stepping onto the stairs to walk down to the tarmac is a vivid memory that will stick with me forever. The air was so hot and thick, all I could compare it with was something I was familiar with, the butterfly cage at the Melbourne Zoo. There was a smell in the air, a little similar to my grandmas kitchen, but mixed with incense and coconut aroma’s.
That was just the beginning… Once inside the airport, the hustle and bustle of an asian country immersed my senses. The language, the colourful saris. I could see a glass wall with hundreds of people behind it. A fair lady with long skinny limbs waved her arms around frantically and had a huge smile that went from ear to ear. We walked on through into arrivals and the lady with the smile wrapped her arms around me and I instantly felt comforted. I felt so at home in a place I had never been and in absolute awe of what was happening. A driver was waiting for us in a white van and we drove off into the night. I looked out the window and I couldn’t believe the confronting sights, people sleeping on concrete shop fronts, tin sheds that were unfinished or broken and made up majority of the infrastructure, dusty roads, piles of rubbish, and cows wandering around on the roads.
We then arrived at Swarna Road, Colombo 6 where my extended family lived. In the month that followed I made friends for life in that street and I was exposed to an amazing experience being part of that community. I guess that was the beginning in Sri Lanka, where my passion for international travel grew.