2017 May 8
Colonialism and westernisation haven’t hindered our originality, that much. Okay we have some sense of uniqueness at least in how we feel about things, here are some emotions that you would only feel if you’ve been born and raised in the land of tea and coconuts:
This is quintessentially Sri Lankan and is perhaps the most frequent; over the years ‘aiyo’ has transformed from an interjection that transcends borders to an emotion in itself. It’s a combination of frustration, surprise and even anger, just overall bloody irritation I tell you. When your friend messes it up with a girl, there’s too much salt in the curry, there’s too much parippu and not enough roast paan, when you see an aunty approaching or amma tells you to take malli with you tonight, ‘aiyo’ is where we go.
This is a feeling that’s without a doubt specific to Sri Lanka – win or lose, we go home as winners. There is seldom an event which we have lost and we haven’t accepted it with a smile, a hearty cheer for the victors and a ‘machang we had fun noh, that’s all that matters.’ Be it cricket on a national scale, or you and I in school or on the playground, or with life in general, when Sri Lankans win, we win with pride and humility (of course we won’t stop talking about that one time in ’96) and when we lose, we accept defeat with our heads held high and come back even stronger next time.
A friend in need is a machang indeed
This is perhaps an emotion that every Sri Lankan has, all the time, and is also the most important one. The unrelenting desire to help; compassion is our forté. Whether it’s little gestures like sending your last 10 rupees of credit to your friend, sharing a buth packet because rations are limited, or things in the grander scheme where 20 million Sri Lankans joined hands overnight to provide relief to tsunami victims or flood victims. Sri Lankans are helpful by nature, compassion is in our blood and the strings of our hearts play whenever we see someone less fortunate than us. This is an emotion that is undeniably Sri Lankan and undoubtedly heartwarming.
Tea-time, all the time
The Russians have their vodka, the Australians have their steak but none can compare to the attachment we have to our tea. On the days you’re out and about, or just too exhausted to make yourself a cup, the void in your belly-nope, in your heart, is unquantifiable. It is a staple, an essential, a necessity, and definitely a deal-breaker if tea is not your favourite drink.
5. Shame, shame
We’re all familiar with the tragic ‘chi chi’ in collaboration with an eyebrow lift and smirk from the aunties and uncles at family gatherings when you don’t look appropriate: lost too much weight, gained too much weight, too dark, not smiling enough, smiling too much. This only induces frustration which you must conceal with a ‘hehe yeah aunty, exams, been stress eating.’ The despair is real, you not only become self-conscious, but your parents begin to pitch in with an entire list of your several other imperfections. There, there, not to worry, we’re all in this together.
All in all, despite the rollercoaster of Sri-Lankanised emotions that your foreign friends are perhaps confused about 99% of the time, we wouldn’t be the same without them!