I go to the Hindu temple with its high tower of tumbling figures, once bright, now faded, but it doesn’t move me like the ones in India. An old woman squats outside in a sort of metal cage preparing coconuts for offerings. When I retrieve my shoes the guard in uniform drops the shoes on the floor instead of handing them to me, but still expects a tip. He is the first person not to be friendly and eager to please. Walking out of town, I have a moment with the boy with pale blue eyeliner and sad eyes. We recognise the ‘other’. His life will not be so happy in a land of marriage and children. School girls wave at me from the pedestrian bridge above and wait so that they can wave to me again on the other side. Being in parts of Sri Lanka is like being a film star. I start to love being driven around in the comfort of an air-conditioned car rather than braving the trains or buses, waving to people as we pass or get stuck in traffic; so many people smiling and waving as though we really are a novelty and I suppose in some places we are. I love that we can order a pot of tea brought to our room whenever we want because it costs less than a pound and actually tastes like tea – so civilised with the cups and saucers, milk jug and sugar bowl. The first morning in Colombo we opened the door to a group of photographers with big lenses – they were waiting at the wrong door for the couple who had married in the hotel the night before, but it was a sort of foretelling of things to come. Other times, we are invisible, nobody notices our presence.

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