04 November 2014

You name it, the Kolombians own it!

Pic Courtesy www.tour.lk
Everyone takes note.  Some keep notes.  Some in diaries and journals.  Some in their minds and hears.  Some of these are shared via email or on Facebook or blog; some are not.  Among these people are Kolombians, people from Colombo who know much -- so much that they are wont to think that others don't know and can't think.  This is the fourth in a series published in 'The Nation' under the title 'Notes of an Unrepentant Kolombian'.

Kolombians, some people mistakenly believe, are born, live and die in Colombo.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Which community (outside of people in the Survey Department) has been to every corner of the island, West to East, South to North, and all over the central hills?  Why, it’s us, the Kolombians! 

Ask around.  Most Kolombians, especially of an earlier generation, would have visited every single national park, spent sun-drenched days in every exotic beach resort, visited Nuwara Eliya during ‘The Season’ multiple times and done the major archaeological sites as well.  The hot wells, waterfalls, World’s End, the hummaanaya, the botanical gardens, Galle Fort restaurants for lunch on lazy Saturdays, the boutique hotels that have mushroomed after May 2009, you name it, we own it!  Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. 

This is why we firmly believe that this country belongs to us and no one else.  This is why we firmly believe that it should be one of us running the country.  And this is why I am upset about the Government rebuilding the Northern Railway Track.  Yes, it will enable the industrial northern farmer’s produce to reach our parts quickly.  It might even bring down vegetable prices.  The fact remains that we don’t really care.  We spend less than 0.1% of our average incomes on vegetables.  What’s insufferable is that the Government thought the railway line was more important than the Northern Highway.  Stupid! 

We are happy about the Southern Expressway.  We are glad that the Colombo-Kandy Expressway is coming up.  You won’t find us thanking Mahinda or Basil or anyone else in the Government though.  This is as it should be.  It’s our birthright.  We don’t have to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for such things.  It’s the same with the road to Jaffna.  Birthright.

The problem with railways is that it makes sightseeing even more affordable.  Since the end of the war I’ve seen vanloads of people from all parts of the country lined up outside the Yala gates.  I’ve seen dozens of safari jeeps in Minneriya and Kaudulla.  There are busloads of people visiting the Jaffna Peninsula on a daily basis.  These are not people I can recognize.  They look like us but they don’t have even a strain of Kolombian blood in them, I am willing to wager.  They know how to give high-fives, they say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’, they can give a thumbs-up sign or make a ‘V’ sign, they all have smart phones, but that’s not what makes a Kolombian.  It’s the English.  No, English spoken well.  

There will be thousands of yakkos hopping on the Yal Devi. They’ll be tweeting about it.  They’ll post pictures on Facebook.  They’ll be hopping off at relevant places so they can visit places only we’ve visited.  And it will be all over social media. 

Deep down I know that however hard they try to mimic us, they can never become Kolombians.  My problem is that they won’t know that.  They’ll think they too are Kolombians.  My worst nightmare is that one of these yakkos will one day come up to me wearing a Kolombian expression and talk down to me. 

The President and the Government is not helping.  They are not affirming my birthright.  They have to understand that Kolombian identity is about exclusivity.  Kolombians are Kolombians and will be to the exclusion of all others.   We own this island.  Others may live here, but they can’t be us, they can’t be like us, they can’t do ‘Kolombian Things’. 

We could do a Kolombian version of Prabhakaran’s UDI, i.e. unilaterally declare the independence of Kolombia, except that part of our identity is about the ownership of the entire island or at least appearing to do so.  Restrict us to Colombo and all the fun is gone.