This is my third (or possibly forth) transcontinental move. Upgraded my cattle class ticket to business with frequent flyer points and went home in style. The space and the treatment were quite grand; the food – quite yummy. In the lounge I realised that they do give out free booze rather generously with all that Vodka and Whiskey lying around. But everyone was serious and civilised.
Some things haven’t changed from my cattle class days. The flight to Colombo is at its usual gate at the end of the terminal. With a smaller aircraft that operates to third world backwaters. There’s a line of familiar looking brown faces, a Buddhist monk and a sprinkling of tourists lining up for the security ritual. In business class there are only four of us.
The night time decent to Colombo airport has lost none of its magic. The area around the flight path is covered with trees with the houses lit by greenish white fluorescent lights. They twinkle through the trees like diamonds. The carelessly flung gold chains of the Sodium lamped streets cut their way through the dark trees. South (or is it the north?) of the approach path is the gleaming mound of gold and silver of Fort looking very much a treasure chest dumped by looters.
Then we are over the perimeter fence and scrunching on the runaway. Lately the air force has kept their side of the airport prudently in the dark. We turn onto the apron and there’s the inevitable Antonov sulking in the corner. It seems that it’s a requirement for every third world airport one.
Lately things have improved. The gleaming new terminal building I must admit creates an involuntary sense of pride. Those bloody doors that you had to smash through to get out of the customs area are thankfully gone. No matter what they say about this loony island at least there are people who manage to pull off miracles. At the last resort we are better off than the Congo or Somalia. For now.