04 May 2015

Kolombians know how to eat, alright?

Kolombians are a distinct people from Colombo who know much -- so much that they are wont to think that others don't know and can't think. They have things to say.  A lot of things to say.  The entire country can learn from them. This is the twenty sixth in a series published in 'The Nation' under the title 'Notes of an Unrepentant Kolombian'.  Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Rice tastes better on a plantain leaf, this is something the Kolombians know.  That’s why we eat lamprais.  That was a blessing, really.  If not for lamprais we would have had to forego the flavor-delights that the plantain leaf breathes into a packet of rice.  Yes, you wouldn’t catch us opening a lunch packet that looks like something Sirisena’s wife cooked for him so he could take it to work all the way from Ambalangoda to Colombo.  Kolombians are a breed apart and we intend to interpret that literally. 

Sometimes some of us have to eat humble pie.  Politicians, for example.  They have to pretend that they are of and for the common people.  Ranil, for instance.  Poor man, he has to sit with the riff raff now and then.  I suppose he would have had to swallow a lot of pride to treat Maithripala Sirisena as an equal.  He’s done a good job of that, one must admit.  After all Maithri was No 1 and even after the 19th Amendment remains No 1.  Ranil has carried on as though Maithripala is an equal.  Smart.  When he treats Maithripala as an equal Maithripala is dragged down to his level or to put it another way Ranil moves up.  Clever. 

It must be gutting for him although he hides it well.  That’s politics, though.  Eminently sufferable.  After all, we all had to treat Mahinda as though he was king and we were slaves for nine years, even though he was looking after our interests primarily.  One gets used to such things. 

The problem for Ranil is that there are times he has to play ‘commoner’ outside wherever he chit-chats with Maithripala.  Just the other day he had to sit on a bench (ugh!) along with the riff-raff.  Sagala was there smiling bravely through the discomfort of holding a nelum kole in one hand while gamely picking at the kiribath.  That might have given Ranil some comfort, we don’t know. 

But our man Ranil is a Kolombian through and through and for all my misgivings about him I applaud him for asserting the fact.  He didn’t let the side down.  He got someone to place a paper plate on the nelum kole and have the kiribath served on to the plate and not the leaf.  Talk about ingenuity.  He’s played the required politics without compromising identity.  He redeemed himself with this deft move, in my book!

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