Paper boat, beach near Batticaloa
At Refresh Colombo (next Thursday) it’s a mixed crowd debating about Windows 7 vs. Android. Choice of programming language is often more important than the language you speak. But that’s a crowd of Colombo professional. That’s why I was chuffed to see a post from Sandya Salgado (of the World Bank) on Net Cafes in Batticaloa.
The ‘South Boundary Road’ was literary ‘the boundary’ of the two towns where the two communities lived. The Muslims and the Tamils of these three towns hardly ever mingled, except in the Net Café which was housed along the Boundary Road which seemed to be an ‘all man’s land’.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Tamils and the Muslims who lived on the Boundary Road in fact lived quite harmoniously! The Net Café on South Boundary Road was special. It is a modest and basic ‘shed’ with just five computers, nothing fancy and appealing. It obviously lacked the usual hi-tech trappings found in a café in the city. But this was a common ground, a meeting place, a kind of an oasis where kids from both communities came together in perfect harmony. It was an open house to shed their differences and open their minds to a wider world. Races didn’t seem to matter here. Differences didn’t seem to exist. They were all coming in to experience something fun and exciting – the virtual world! (blogs.worldbank.org)
Tech is cool and tech gives me hope. It also give me an identity somewhat removed from ethnicity, politics, work, etc, that gives me greater ability to contribute to all of the above. I was able to discover a whole new world through the Internet, and it’s great that kids in Batti and Jaffna and Anuradhapura and Inginiyagala are able to connect and get access to the potentially infinite information and opportunity. It’s also important to note that this isn’t coming from government nanaselas (Internet centers) or even schools but cheap, mobile broadband (cell phone and dongle) and Net Cafes like this one.
I think I may have been to this Batticaloa Net Cafe btw, if it’s the one near the hair salon that looks like a kovil. Incidentally, they give a really good shave. At that point one of my sites was infected by evil and I spent an unpleasant two hours fixing it. Good times. Anyways. Here’s to Batticaloa Geeks.