Friday, July 10, 2009

Hating My Lankan Heritage.


Because it's Sri Lankan, because I miss the motherland, because it's like a drug, one of those addictive ones, like parippu or string hopppers, the hard stuff.

The older I've got the more I've travelled and got to know Sri Lanka. The more I've got to know her, the more I've fallen in love with her. The more I've fallen in love with her the more I've travelled there. The more I've travelled the more I miss Serendib.

It's a catch 23; like a catch 22, but worse.

I wonder how many of these similar diasporic types go through the same.

I'm lucky in that I get over there at least twice a year these days, though they're often quickish trips, and I'm aware that many can't do even that. But after the joy of the last trip starts to subside I get a vague itch. Give it some time and that itch becomes constant, give it some more and it becomes an intermittent pain, like a little brother.

Then, after some more time, that intermittent pain becomes almost constant, which is my current state of play. I mope about, wanting to get over there. Everything I see, everything I hear (oooh, I almost sound like Bryan Adams there) reminds me of the little island I yearn for so.

Only on Monday I was taking A to a piano exam. It was hot and it was raining and I smelled the Colombo Kandy road, vivid and tangible. I saw the roadside greenery and felt that Lankan rain, I tasted that woody cooking smell and the fresh dampness.

I talk to people who tell me about their recent weekend in Unawatuna. I see their photos and can feel the drive out of Colombo as the city fades and gives way to the ruralness. The sea on the right changes from occasional to permanent. The smells, the sights and the sounds and tastes are with me in my head and yet so far away at the same time.

Is this one of the downsides of the ever shrinking world we inhabit? The fact that, even though things seem closer, even though we can text, email, twitter and communicate in real time with each other, we're still thousands of miles away. Of course it is, but it's one side of a coin. On the other is the positive fact that all these things are so close, that we're more connected than ever before.

Then, when I feel that I'm at breaking point, that I'm a mere impulse away from logging onto the SriLankan airlines site and booking a ticket, I see this newish blog. "Go to Sri Lanka" it's called.
I know, I know.

It talks rather smoothly of the beauty of Lanka, of Barefoot no less. There are pictures, lists of hotels and writing that's got lots of description. The hustle and bustle of walking into Barefoot off the street, of sitting there in the garden and chatting to that photographer chap, whose name I forget, dangerous type.

I hear the horning, I feel that dustiness on the Galle Road and can actually touch the brass type door handle as I walk in, you know the one. I go backwards and can see the Elasto sign at the junction, it's like a part of my upbringing that sign. Weird.

As I write this, as I think of these things I feel my heart rate speed up, the excitement builds and then crashes down as reality, or the current reality, reappears in front of me.

It's the reality of my shopping list for Tesco at lunchtime. It starts with Flash wipes and washing up liquid, pretty boring really.

But fuck it, I've added chicken to it, for tonight's going to be a rice and curry night.

Sometimes these things have to be done.

And what strikes me is that I'm content.

There's not a country in the world I'd prefer to yearn for.


surani said...

That's how we used to feel. There was always a longing. Something missing. Now that we are back (even with all the craziness that's Sri lanka) we feel content, settled...happy. I used to refresh news sites every 10 min to see updayes of SL when we were away...just to feel connected.
Nnow I just wait for the Sunday papers :o)

sashi said...

didn't think there was anyone who felt quite the same way... I guess more than anything it's home -- - the yearning has just gotten worse :( after yr post

Arkitekton said...

The ironic thing however is, that people who are away from Sri Lanka wants to come back and the ones that are here ( at least most of the people I speak with) wants to go away...

Anonymous said...

you are an attention grabbing whore. aren't you? much worse than nb. shame shame. see your title.

A Virile Nagalingam said...

I grew up in rural central Virginia and have visited SL only twice, so I can't really say that this diasporic type (or "prat," as you may prefer) is reminded of his brief trips (well two-three weeks here and there IS long for a Yank) to SL.

I can say that when I see the cracked, 30% clay 70% grade-schooler excreta rectangle that I call a sporting pitch in America, I see only an idealized and thus shimmering slope at Lord's. (the MCG is actually quite shite so I even though I've seen it, i'll not use it as a superlative.)

I've really not seen a warm place that compares in strength, vividness and diversity of experiences but a short stay in Bali can come close. After all, it is where Mervin S. does his Hindu Temple pilgrimage/tours with unsuspecting and very accommodating naturalized effectively-locals as hosts.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Surani - I understand, though am not sure if I could live there full time.

Sashi - sorry about that, I do wonder if many others feel the same.

Arkitekton - I think many Lankans, even those who live there, retain a passion and a love for their country that is somehow different to other people.

Anon - yawn, yawn, yawn. Perhaps you should do some research as to the purpose of a headline.

AVN - I'd never call you a prat! Honestly. Like I say, the more I go to SL the more I yearn for her. Perhaps, if you can find a way and if you want to go more, the same might happen for you. I've never been there but have heard some v good things about Bali too.

Rajaratarala said...

Well after 18 years in the UK I returned and this time to rural Sri Lanka, it is even more full of surprises than I could have ever imagined. I have not regretted one minute of the 4and half years I have been back.
So maybe you should consider

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Rajaratala - Yes, I read your blog regularly and feel genuinely chuffed that you'ce commented here. I'm continually considering and re thinking these things, today's decision isn't necessarily tomorrow's one.

Sam said...

//I saw the roadside greenery and felt that Lankan rain, I tasted that woody cooking smell and the fresh dampness.//
Love that line..

Rajaratarala got me thinking too..

Go to Sri Lanka said...

Hi thanks a lot for the link. Smmarising all the comments to and your post, it is obvious that all of us must;
Eating Bilal special Lump rice today for dinner. Think of me when you eat your chicken curry and I will vice a versa.

N said...

I'm leaving for home for good in less than two weeks after spending 10 years in the diaspora...nervous anticipation is the best description I believe.

Gallicissa said...

I think coming here for longish stays will work for you!

lankanyyz said...

"....because it's like a drug, one of those addictive ones, like parippu or string hopppers, the hard stuff."

CLASSIC stuff RD! Love it! -ROFL-

Anonymous said...

Sam is right, that line is a stunningly beautiful one, and took me back the moment I read it.

Music transports your soul, but when words do that, it is indeed a talent.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Go To SL - I did, see tomorrow morning's post re the Lump rice thing!

Sam, Lankanys and Anon- What can I say other than thank you for the compliments?

Amila - Yes, all I need now is a cunning plan.