Home > Personal > The Roads of Colombo

The Roads of Colombo

A topic that many people who visit Sri Lanka enjoy discussing with friends back home is the roads of Sri Lanka namely the drivers and incidences. Many tourists are now considering a necessity to travel in a three-wheeler down Galle road. The zig-zag method of the trishaw drivers through the traffic is as much exhilarating to the passengers as it is a cause of frustration to the drivers around. Yet little do we realise that it is something that is quickly becoming considered an attribute to the Sri Lanka and the way in which we combine the fast paced nature of city life with the laid back attitude of a Sri Lankan. The trishaw weaves its way through traffic often going at speeds people would not think possible of the small contraption. Yet flying past cars coming in the opposite direction fail to draw even a facial twitch from the drivers. They are more than ready to strike up a conversation with their passengers while looking for the quickest route even if it means creeping past cars that are already pasted together. The traffic lights provide the passengers an opportunity to catch their breath and the drivers a chance to spit out their beetle leaf. Similar to a start of the grand prix the changing of the lights signal the driver to prepare to once again to shoot out of the blocks. It is almost like the calm before a storm. Finally you have reached your destination and in true three wheeler driver fashion he will creep into the smallest parking spot closest to the building.

A friend once told me that my road rage was embarrassing to her when she traveled with me in the car. Yet the aggressive nature of driving on our roads has become part and parcel of an effective driver in Sri Lanka. Today I was proven wrong. I got into the car today a quiet and rainy Sunday morning for what I expected to be a quiet, relaxed drive. Instead I was faced with the annoyance of the slow and unconcerned drivers that are gradually  beginning to inhabit the roads. Given the choice of sitting behind this slow paced driver or else swiftly overtaking him I chose the latter. Finally the road was open and i had the pleasure of speeding down Ward Place. It then struck me that Colombo is a completely different place on a Sunday. No longer is there the incessant horning of the buses, the pedestrians crossing every hundred meters. The ghost-town nature of the city  helped me realise that Colombo has grown to a size previously unimagined. The roads on this dreary Sunday morning are in complete contrast to what we will experience tomorrow morning on our way to work. Gone will be the smooth fast paced drive, instead replaced with a stop start, constantly horning and worrying about being clipped by motorcyclists, drive.

This contrast shows us that within Colombo there are two worlds divided by our daily lives. On the one hand we have a life that is fast paced constantly moving us from one spot to the next. On the other hand is the world that emerges when everything comes to a standstill. Sundays see the brief lull in the city, people choose to remain stationary in their homes recharging for the week ahead of themselves. It is almost as though the nature of a ride in a three wheeler reflects what our lives in the growing city has become. The weekdays are the weaving through traffic trying at all costs to get ahead of the next person. The weekend then represents the traffic lights where for that brief moment in time we are given a chance to catch our breath and prepare for yet another hectic race through the week.

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Categories: Personal
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