We are truly blessed. Photo from The Pettah, Colombo
This year has seen the first really positive stories about Sri Lanka, in the western media. For my whole life there’s always been an asterisk after Sri Lanka. ‘Oh, you’re from Sri Lanka. I’ve heard it’s great, but…’ and then you get into the war and the intractable situation and it sucks. It’s been like dating a beautiful girl with an ax in her head. The amount of times I’ve had that war conversation is legion and it’s not like we ever figured anything out. I’d rather talk about the beaches, or my family. Now we can.
Vikas Bajaj is the business chappy from the Times and he was down here a month ago. He’s got a story about tea, Dilmah tea specifically. I used to bring Dilmah back for my friends in Canada and they loved it. That’s a cool thing about Sri Lanka, and it’s nice to talk about it. I like tea, you like tea, hey. I think the story kinda glosses over how desperately poor and exploited the tea workers are, though it does close with how people don’t actually want this job for their children. I’m not sure that ‘small, rundown houses’ really describes the squalor of line houses. However, better business is, I suppose, a way out.
What I like about the article is that it looks at a Sri Lankan business making good.
His company’s story symbolizes the path that other Sri Lankan businesses and industries have had to follow to compete with the likes of China and India, which have lower costs of production and the advantage of size. To attract business, Sri Lankan companies have become specialists and producers of affordable yet exclusive products. In apparel, for instance, producers here have established themselves as a go-to source for lingerie and sportswear so they do not have to compete on cheaper clothes directly with low-cost mass producers like Bangladesh and China.
And nary a caveat in sight! There’s no ‘but, this war has been going on for thirty years and how sad and it will never end but look at this moment of poignant humanity’. It’s about a country which is pretty cool and has got problems but is overall moving forward. Which Sri Lanka is.
Another great Times article is 31 places to go in 2010. Sri Lanka is number one. I really think Sri Lanka deserves this. Travelling around Sri Lanka is so much fun, so easy, so cheap, and so beautiful. You can get so many places in one day and there are still so many untouched places to discover. People are super nice, you can get a smattering of English anywhere and it’s pretty safe. The food is good, the water is nice, the sunset and sunrise are amazing. What else could you want. MIA was freaking out on Twitter and posting pictures of dead babies and stuff, but I think this kinda attention is good for Sri Lanka. At least the people that actually live in Sri Lanka.
I came back here years ago cause I thought the country was too inherently awesome not to boom, and I thought the war stuff was under control. It ended up being five years of tsunami and death and war and heartbreak and hustle, but I can see that future again. I mean, I guess I always did. Sri Lanka’s a great place to visit and a great place to be. Here’s hoping for more good news.