This weekend I went to Colombo to pick up my visa, shop for my new apartment, and eat real cheese. Kandy is a lovely city with many fine qualities, but there is a serious lack of delicious cheeses. There are three types of food in Kandy, Sri Lankan, Indian, and Chinese. None of these are cheese-based. Colombo is a huge city and fairly cosmopolitan so there are restaurants that serve Italian food, bagels, and other non-Asian foodstuffs.
On Monday night I went out to dinner with two of the other Fulbrighters, Lea and John, to an Italian resataurant in Colombo called the Bayleaf. It had been raining for about two hours when we decided to walk from their house to the restaurant. Their street was flooded and by the time we got to the main road the water was up to our knees. Cars going by created waves that rippled down the street. We braved a few blocks of deep water before making it onto dry sidewalks and finally the restaurant. The Bayleaf Restaurant is in a big old Colombo house with a big garden out front. The inside of the restaurant smells like cloves. We sat out on the porch and watched the birds and gigantic bats fly by. The food, pumpkin ravioli, tasted especially good after our trek through flooded streets and my one month without cheese.
My other Colombo adventure was visiting House of Fashions, a store that is like a gigantic TJ Maxx. The store is stocked with leftovers from Sri Lanka’s garment industry from brands like Gap and Calvin Klein. I spent about an hour there, in awe of all the clothes and stuff. There are no changing rooms, so I had to sneak behind a rack and try on pants underneath my skirt like the Sri Lankan ladies were doing. In the end. after an hour of searching, I found two nice button down shirts and a good pair of lightweight pants and paid about $10 for all of this.
Now I am back in Kandy where it is much quieter, much cooler, and tomorrow I will move into my new apartment.