Sunday, 27 May 2007

I love the country, I hate the place.

Recently, in the course of conversation I asked a foreigner what he thought of Sri Lanka. He replied "I love the country, I hate the place". I can't remember who the man was, but these words are etched in my mind and eerily haunt me.

When I asked him to elaborate, he told me that Sri Lanka is no doubt a country to love, and for all the right reasons too, but then it's such a difficult place to live in for many more reasons than one. You know what? He could not have been more spot on.

Everyone knows we live on a gold mine of opportunity. But everyone has known that for the last 50 years. We can keep blaming the war, but that's not just it. I have my own reasons as to why we are what we are. They centre mainly around you and I and everyone else. Instead of digging out the gold, we've done well to take out the rocks and then gloat over our accomplishments, sit back over a nice rice and curry, and fatten ourselves just before dozing off for our afternoon siesta.

Living life here is a struggle, and the people, our people, don't make it any easier. To me, the mentality of the public is the main reason for our shortfall, and we don't seem to know how to cut our losses. I'm limiting myself to a few things that irk me as I don't want to be typing this post till stupid-o-clock in the morning 3 days from now.

I can't stand the fact that we lack pro activeness. Ok granted we're not go getters by nature and we love to blame it partly on our island culture, but that's a load of bollocks. What i'm talking about here is we'd rather sit back and sip our plain tea if we can have someone else do the dirty work for us. To use simple examples, how many times have you felt like you wanted a drink but you were too lazy to go to the fridge so you shouted for someone else to get you one? If you wanted something from a store, how many times have you asked someone to get it for you on their way, never wanting to go out of your way to get what you need? It's frustrating to see people just sit and ask others to do their dirty work. It's even more frustrating when the people who help you don't get their due share. Peons, drivers and maids come cheap but are also used like cheap whores. Paid almost next to nothing and then treated like dirt, just so that we wouldn't have to sweat that extra drop to fulfil our very own needs. If only we were just that much more proactive in our own lives, we'd frustrate ourselves and others less, which can only be a good thing.

It's a dog eat dog world out there, and Sri Lankans are real bitches. We're marketed as a friendly nation, but how much of that is true? We wouldn't give the time of day to others with a smile on our face, let alone their right of way. We couldn't care much for the success of others. A simple compliment is something you have to slave for. Respect is never heard of, especially from the top of the social ladder towards the bottom since everyone expects the smaller folk to kiss their bums with the wettest of lips at every turn. We'd always be the first to talk shit about others, always looking for misgivings rather than achievements. "my god do you know what that girl is doing?", "that bugger is making so much money, what an arse hole", "do you know that she has put on so much of weight?". If only we'd be nicer to people, they'd be nicer to us. But then again, us being as un-proactive as we are, we're always waiting for the other to make the first move eh? A little humility would go a long way. But that's too much to ask. A little respect, well, that's unheard of.

Sri Lanka is beautiful. It's home. But it's increasingly frustrating to live here and I blame the people. Sri Lanka has the potential to be great. But we, as it's people, just have no direction. I love my country, I just hate the place.

3 musings:

Buddhika said...

Sad but true. Exactly my sentiments about Sri Lanka and especially Colombo ... If not for the two-faced nature of the people this would be a great place to live in. But I find that the place is infested with pretentious people who have low values (although we seem to be harping on our high Asian morals). Also we seem to have confused identity ...

N said...

and where are people not two-faced and dog-eat-dog? What we have in sL is a situation where institutions are weak and lack transparency and the issue is a lot more complex than just saying the people are useless...

confab said...

buddhika, i dont think having a confused identity is a problem...values are generally subjective, and i've learnt not to judge ppl on what they believe in...but my issue is with the mindset of the ppl when it comes to everyday life and living it. narrow minded, lack of proactiveness and unproductiveness are my main issues.

N, well everywhere its a dog eat dog world. but unfortunately more so in good ol SL. we can't blame the weak institutions and lack of transparency for our own misgivings, for example our manners on the roads. indeed the issues are a lot more complex than straightforward. but then dealing with the smaller issues could help push the country towards solving the bigger issue. think abt it...