It was close to midnight. and I had returned to my hotel room just a few minutes earlier, after attending a concert by Mohit Chauhan in Colombo.
The conference I had come to attend was over and my flight was late afternoon the next day.
As I was wondering how i can spend the time in the morning – with rain in the forecast – it occurred to me that I could possibly try to trace an old pen pal.
We were pen pals during my school days. A common interest of DXing or SWLing [Short wave long distance listening] brought us in contact through the Radio Malaysia.
We used to write to each other fairly regularly for a few years. Even after I moved from Chennai to Bangalore for my studies and a little later on getting into the job, we were in touch, but much less frequently.
That was about 30+ years ago. All I could remember were:
- his name
- his town [Mount Lavinia]
- and that he used to play cricket for his club there
It was a wild shot, but i wanted to still give it one.
After a few attempts, i seemed to get some search results that seemed to reinforce the identity.
still nothing concrete.
then, one site that catered to SWLs - with some details of QSL cards [the acknowledgement that SWLs get when their reception is confirmed by the broadcasting radio station], had the name i was looking for – and, an address. and a phone number.
i could not confirm the date of the entry.
but, i thought it was worth an attempt. anyway, as some of the locals explained earlier in the evening, there was not much to do / see in Colombo other than the museum, zoo etc which would take time – except shopping, as any other activity / visit would need more time than the couple of hours I had.
I decided to take a chance and told the cab driver to take me to the address. on the way, he wanted to confirm the directions and called the number.
to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be the right number – though my friend was not very sure who i was.
after navigating fairly narrow roads in a hilly terrain – and missing the house a couple of times, we finally made it!
then, from memory, we recalled a few points that we had exchanged – i do not know how I suddenly remembered some of those trivia! – and could pretty much catch up on the lost years.
we then went to the Mount Lavinia beach and he showed me the hall where he got married etc.
it was then time for me to head back to the hotel, after a little shopping – to return.
i will cherish this meeting as the most memorable reunion.
p.s. while getting to know each other’s families, i came to know of the tragic demise of their son last year, due to cancer. i saw his picture – a charming and pleasant boy. he was also a cricket player, who was playing for his college and very well regarded by his teachers and friends. my prayers for his soul to rest in peace. and to give my friend and family the strength to tide over this irreplaceable loss.
while some of the online stalking techniques helped me reconnect with my friend, in keeping with the principle of online privacy, i have avoided mentioning names or other personally identifiable information of known people to be shared in public channels.