We Sri Lankans are very much people of the land. We are islanders through and through. You can take us out of Sri Lanka, but you can’t take Sri Lanka out of us, and this is quite obvious when we travel abroad. And there are quite a few of us who live abroad. Wikipedia says that Sri Lankan diaspora number around 3 million. If you are not willing to accept Wikipedia as absolute fact (you monster!) UNESCAP has a 2010 estimate of 1.7 million migrants working abroad. Which means we are spread across the world like marmite on a piece of roast paan, and are just as flavourful.
Here are a few things that we always seem to do when we go abroad. Well, at least some of us do. Some of them are endearing. Some, much less so. How many do you recognize?
1. Airport Accents
Sri Lankans have this remarkable ability to adopt accents. It is uncanny. If someone is going to Australia, they start acquiring the accent the moment the step into the BIA. By the time they hit the Land Down Under, they are well under way to sounding like someone who was born in Australia. A week later, they sound like Crocodile Dundee. This talent works in almost every country that has white people in it. Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to work in other Asian or African countries.
2. Overstayed Visas
Sri Lankans are extremely hospitable, extremely polite people. It takes us forever to say our goodbyes when we leave a friend’s house. So it makes sense that it takes us forever to say goodbye when it’s time to leave a country. It’s not like we are overstaying on purpose. It’s just one long goodbye.
3. Curry Smuggling
Inhabitants of our island simply cannot function abroad without our own curries, spices, and condiments. How do you expect our refined palates to be satisfied with the blandness of mere sandwiches and barely-cooked vegetables? No. We must have our pol sambols, ambul thiyals, mojus, and seeni sambol. Who cares if the oil leaks all over your nice new clothes, and your bags smell like a post-wedding buffet table –- pol sambol is life.
4. We Get Confused With Indians
Ok, so this is not really our fault, but it must be strongly stated that we are not Indians. We may be tailgating India geographically, but we are really very different, and we get pretty annoyed to be mistaken for them. We eat thosai, and not dosas, and buriyani instead of biriyani. Also our cricket team is much, much better. This confusion really shouldn’t be happening.
5. Converting Everything To Rupees
No matter where we are, we convert all prices to rupees, just to compare it to how much it would have cost back home. This way you can either complain about how expensive things are abroad, or how expensive they were back home. Either way, you get to complain. It’s a win-win situation.