Almost nothing. That was my honest answer when a perplexed friend has questioned my decision to come to Sri Lanka: – But what do you know about that place?
Since I’m passionate about photography, the first reference about Sri Lanka that came into my mind was this iconic Steve McCurry’s image. Indeed, I’ve started researching at that point…
Currently, local fishermen are paid to climb those sticks… by people with selfie sticks. The country is experiencing a healthy growth in tourism, after recovering from the 2004 Tsunami effects and a Civil War that I can hardly understand how it could happen. I ‘m telling this because Sri Lankans seem to be ultra tolerant and have been colonised by other people before (Portuguese, English and Dutch) while domestic ethnic groups vied for power.
Due to the different cultural influences, it’s fairly easy to find people speaking good English and having afternoon tea or to coming across buildings and channeled rivers in Dutch style. Also, some very popular Portuguese surnames, such as Silva and Perera, can be seen on street signs and shops.
The period Sri Lanka have remained under Portugal’s rule is also marked by the conversion of many people to the Catholicism. There were (and still are) so many churches in Negombo that the city became to be called Little Rome. On the other hand, many Tamil and Hindu have kept their faith and rituals, as well as the Bhuddist – so one can only think about religious tolerance when bumping into churches, mosques and Buddhist temples almost side-by-side in many cities.
Now Australian, Indian, Chinese, Americans, Europeans, in general – and Brazilian like me – are the new explorers in Sri Lanka. The fact that the country is an island makes it easy to the tourists accessing the beaches and national parks, enjoying the abundant nature and observing wild animals. There are also several interesting points to discover in the urban areas. Even the simplest activities have a peculiar charm here, like taking a local bus (super cheap) and being greeted with lots of genuine smiles.
Not to mention how fun it is to check the customized décor and enjoy the loud music on board. It feels like being an extra on a Bollywood movie, due to the similar sonority to the Indian music and the views of many people wearing Sarees and Bindis – resonating with the “imported” reference.
Remember that quirk head movement seem in many Indian movies’ choreography? Sri Lankas also do that all the time. And their accent seems very much like Raj’s – the Indian character on The Big Bang Theory sitcom 🙂
Did you liked this appetizer? Keep following Pratserie to find out more about the culture, style and curiosities of Sri Lanka… and my other destinations!