Our original plan was to pass through Kandy without spending too much time in the hill town itself. It reminded me too much of Ooty. A cleaner version of Ooty no less, but with that same crowded, busy, commercial energy. We wanted to skip it entirely and proceed further onward to Sigiriya or Dambulla, to something of historic or geographic significance. But when our hosts at Colombo insisted we spend some time in Kandy we gave it a thought, imagining that Sri Lankans can’t possibly go wrong with something so basic.
A whole day of roaming around Kandy I was convinced we wouldn’t have missed much if we had skipped it and moved on as originally planned. But I’m on holiday with a geek whose sole mission is to find the next best location with a dramatic view (preferably with a fantastic foreground). So with optimism brimming we wandered around some more. Sipping chai in a mountain view cafe called Slightly Chilled we spotted the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue atop the hill in the distance, across the lake we had just walked around.
Let’s go there, my geek said. And because end of day redemption with sunsets throwing promising parting shots, leaving us breathless, seems to be a thing with us, I agreed.
The confidence with which the tuktuk guys agree to navigate the steep hill slopes makes you want to believe them with all your heart. But a look around shakes that confidence just as easily. A swift Sindhi-style negotiation later, we put our faith in a newly befriended tuktuk walla and began a rather winding ride up, that seriously made me reconsider my estimations of what a mere auto rickshaw is capable of.
Finally on top, at the feet of the Big Buddha, all 88 feet of it, with splendid views of Kandy all around I was overwhelmed. How does one take it all in? So many sights, so much pretty light, such beautifully oversaturated colours, stark puffy clouds dense and overpowering. And the mighty Buddha seated in such serenity.
And because we’re as different as chalk and cheese, I wanted to take big gulps of it all. Hurried, greedy, big gulps to get it all, and as much of it as I could. While of course VC was more interested in the little things.
A bush with bendy flowery swaying gently in the wind, squinting at the sky to see if the clouds were moving fast enough to set up for a time lapse, rows of prayer flags that seemed to go on for miles — all the little nuances that in my haste, I had missed completely.
But I digress. Massively.
The point of this post was to tell you about end of day redemption. Which to me came in the form of this little critter.
Little, flea ridden, skinny girl who seemed more interested in me than I was in her. At first.
Surprisingly, she showed zero signs of fear at my feet stomping and vehement shoo-shooing, as she playfully yapped at my ankles and chases after me, right at my heels, completely oblivious to the big moves I was making to get away from her.
It became evident that sign language and random noises were not going to work. So I had a chat with her. Girl to girl.
And she stood around listening intently. Nothing perturbed her. Oddly unafraid of being admonished, she placed her fuzzy chin on my knees looking at me with goop-filled puppy dog eyes that said But why won’t you just play with me?
She seemed determined to make friends with me. Circling me, following me and trying endlessly to get to know me. Looking and behaving uncannily like the black puppy we lost last year.
Maybe it is her, VC said, looking away from the sunset that had made his day. And that, right there, my day too, was made.