Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Excitement, Brixton Beach and the Motherland

That countdown has begun, the one that all of us diasporic Lankans are familiar with; the countdown until I hit the motherland. I booked a ticket the other day. It felt good.

I'll be ticking off the days in these coming weeks as the big one gets closer. There are gigs, meetings, rehearsals and all sorts of things to happen before then, including A's sixteenth birthday. I want to enjoy every single event, to savour and lap up each moment as it happens without wishing it away so tomorrow arrives sooner.

I'll also be hoping that the Icelandic volcano doesn't scupper my travel plans with a further eruption. If only it was a man I'd know that there was no chance. It would have turned over and gone to sleep and all would be safe.

And lately I've been thinking about the world, about how small it is compared to "those days". Flights are relatively cheap and technology has made physical distance so much less of a barrier than it used to be. We have the net and it gives us Skype, Facebook, Twitter and those things that some chaps write called blogs or something.

On Saturday night I was being talked at by in conversation with my Mum. She was telling me about the book she's currently reading, Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne, one I haven't read yet but definitely plan to. I actually gave it to her as a birthday present and was keen to find out her impressions. I asked, she told.

She told me that a lot of the story centres around events in Sri Lanka during the 1970s, in the build up to '83. There's background about the formation of the LTTE, of the treatment of different races in Colombo and Lanka during that time. (if you've read the book and I'm incorrect in what I say, please excuse me, it's what my Maternal parental unit led me to believe about the novel more than anything else)

Then the surprising revelation sprang up, like a rabbit after jumping into a field of slinkys. She told me that she's found the information, the retelling of history in the 1970s, if that's what it is, as highly educational and enlightening. I hadn't expected this. I was fully aware that my parents had been in England then, but thought that they were well up on Lankan happenings from then.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because things were very different back then." she replied.

"We had no internet, we didn't have access to the Sri Lankan newspapers and had no daily contact with people and events there like we do now. We were far less aware of what was going on."

So true, I thought, in my best Spandau Ballet voice. I remember those days quite well, for I'm older that you think. My parents' knowledge of Sri Lankan current affairs was made from a phone call to that Uncle who'd just returned from Lanka, from that copy of a newspaper that someone had brought back for them which was way out of date anyhow, or from the words in a prohibitively expensive phone call to someone in Serendib.

My Dad would go home once every couple of years or so, finances permitting, to see his mother and family, my Mum not so much as her family were scattered elsewhere. And of course we had those regular Sri Lankan gatherings at weekends at someone's house where all would trade tales from home, like Chinese whispers only Sri Lankan ones.

These days I can go online whenever I want. I can read the papers, the blogs and the Tweets. They give me a real time snapshot of things in Sri Lanka, albeit only from people and sources that are computer literate and able to afford the hardware. But that's becoming pretty much most people anyway, so is less of a barrier to be considered.

It's a hugely different world today, smaller and more accessible to all. As small as it has become, as easy as it is to talk to each other and interact, there's no substitute for the real thing.

That's why I get excited each time I book a flight back. That's why I can't wait to stare out of the window as we land, to watch the trucks and the street activity, to see the greens and the browns and the hustle and the bustle.

Even if the world gets smaller, if somehow Sri Lanka gets even closer, I hope I always feel the same sense of excitement, exhilaration and eagerness. It's cool.

1 comment:

Dev Wijewardane said...

I Couldn't agree with you more. Each time I touch down in SL it feels very very different to touching down elsewhere. SL has a vibe all of its own and it is one I seem to be addicted to.