I was brought up here in England, by Sri Lankan parents. So, my life has been a mixture of Sri Lankan traditions and customs and British ones too.
One of the truly great Sri Lankan things that I have got used to is "dropping in". I suspect that hardly anyone who reads this will have any problem in understanding exactly what I'm talking about. My childhood was full of visits and visitors.
At a moment's notice the family would pile into a car to go and drop in on some, usually Sri Lankan, Uncle and Aunty. It was always a pleasure for them to see us. We'd turn up, kids would play, drinks and food would be served then we'd wander off home. The next weekend there was every chance that the Uncle and Aunty would turn up wholly unannounced at our place and the hospitality would be returned. There'd be no phone calls to prearrange things, no formal invitations and certainly no planning or worries about "what if they're not there?" The answer to the last question was a simple detour to go and drop in on someone else.
It's a concept that the average Englishman finds hard to handle. It only really happens between great friends among the English. An Englishman's home being his castle and all whereas a Sri Lankan's home is everyone else's too. With the English it tends to be the norm that one has to be invited, then the invitation is accepted, or declined, and you arrive within four nanoseconds of the allocated time.
A Sri Lankan, like my Dad, gets invited somewhere, then forgets about it anyway. Then he remembers, invariably after he has double booked for the night. Then he will turn up at the venue, anytime from half an hour to six months late.
This dropping in is extended to people staying too. I can remember a vast array of people that would be regular guests at the family home when I was a kid. They would arrive, we'd be shoved into another room somewhere and all would be quite happy about it. I was talking to a Sri Lankan friend who was brought up in the UK recently and she said that it was the same for her childhood, it was more than likely to have been many of the same people too!
At my parents' house now it's common for me to turn up and find any one, or two or three, of their friends there, who have dropped in. This can even be Brits, those that have known my Mum and Dad for years and understand the whole dropping in concept.
Frankly I love the whole idea. It's a wonderful example of Sri Lankan hospitality and warmth. The one thing I'm unsure of is whether it's a concept that other nationalites do, or is it uniquely Sri Lankan?
What do you reckon?
3 weeks ago