Home sweet home
LMD’s Sri Lankan writers living overseas have their say
As an expatriate who’s lived in the Middle East for 15 years, I was asked what I miss most about home.
I miss the lush greenery visible from the air as the aircraft begins descending; the immigration officer’s warm smile as he stamps my passport; and the scenic route on the long drive home…
It’s been a seven hour flight but I don’t feel tired.
Despite the humidity, even the air smells different – if that’s possible. The phrases ‘comfort zone’ and ‘happy place’ spring to mind… because that’s what being home means.
Sri Lankan food tastes different overseas so I miss the way my tastebuds explode as I take a slice of an egg hopper from a street kade in Colombo.
I miss the drives on the Southern Expressway, which transport me to the Galle Fort. The sea breeze messes up my hair but that’s a small price to pay for the luxury of being able to eat kangkung and fresh crabs by the beach.
Sri Lankan hospitality is ever present upon checking into a resort – you can call room service or housekeeping a dozen times, and they’ll still greet you with a friendly tone and answer to your every whim.
We’re always treated better in our home country…
What do I miss the most about home? My friends and family; my dad’s energy, wit and humour; and my mom’s cooking, loving hugs and beautiful, playful, black eyes.
They tell me Sri Lanka is where I’m loved the most.
Dr. Sanjiva Wijesinha
As a Sri Lankan living overseas who has been writing a regular monthly column for LMD for the past 15 years, I was very pleased to learn that the talented team at Media Services has decided to take an international edition of this popular magazine to a broader global audience.
LMD’s high quality of production is complemented by its comprehensive reporting and in-depth analyses – not only about local matters but also of the world view from Sri Lanka – which augurs well for its success in the international sphere.
This edition will provide a much needed link to the home country for Sri Lankans living overseas who have changed ‘their sky, not their souls.’
From Melbourne in Australia, I send you my best wishes. May LMD become as popular with international readers as it has with its extensive Sri Lankan readership.
I left Sri Lanka for the second time due to a family member’s medical needs. And although I left 20 years ago, my yearning for the country and all things Sri Lankan hasn’t ebbed.
What I miss is too numerous to list here but the following come to mind easily: meeting friends and extended family, and Sunday swims at the rustic Surf Club in Dehiwela-Mount Lavinia in the sea that’s warm year-round. This was followed by a cold beer and topped off with a takeaway lunch of lamprais or yellow rice from Pagoda Tea Room.
My evenings were spent on the lawns of the Ceylonese Rugby & Football Club (CR & FC), swapping yarns and exchanging gossip about (supposed to be) confidential news about the latest bribe and political skulduggery – while eating devilled pork and boiled kadale, and washing them down with Old Arrack. In Sri Lanka, nothing is confidential.
I miss the scenic beauty and paddy fields of my village – Batapola; travelling to Maskeliya, Yala and Wilpattu national parks, and Talawakelle; watching the sunset from the beach in Kalutara; enjoying bonda and masala thosai full of potato and onion from Saraswathi Lodge in Bambalapitiya; and 2 a.m. suppers of egg hoppers and umbalakada sambol at Appa Kade in Kollupitiya on the bonnet.
New Zealand is a wonderful place to live but a little more Sri Lankan hustle and bustle, and devilled pork at the pubs, could see beer sales rocket.
However, I don’t miss the rampant bribery, corruption, religious bigotry and violence that have sadly affected Sri Lanka.
On reflection, my nomad-like life abroad for well-nigh 15 years wasn’t all that rosy.
Often, I dreamt of the awesome blue whales, leviathans of the southern coast; majestic herds of pachyderms, elephants in Minneriya National Park; and the apex predator, the elusive leopard of Yala National Park; and enjoying a trek through the biodiverse Sinharaja Forest Reserve – all in a matter of hours.
And not to forget the gorgeous beaches and misty mountains with tea plantations, birthing cascading picturesque waterfalls.
Lingering nostalgia craves for Sri Lankan society’s envious and comparatively stress free, diverse lifestyles, influenced by a rich cultural heritage.
‘Away from home’ meant missing bonding with close-knit and extended family, and dear friends – many from childhood. The unique and multispiced Sri Lankan cuisine was sought-after but hard to find.
ESPNcricinfo’s Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal once said: “[Sri Lanka] play an interesting, engaging and endearing brand of cricket. Their style is a triumph of natural flair and individual spirit… Even if you’re neutral, Sri Lanka are a team whose success makes you feel good.”
Having passionately watched Sri Lanka winning the Cricket World Cup twice, being in four other finals, and one semi-final in ODI and T20 cricket, my biggest regret is missing out on watching international cricket at the grounds back home.
Who wouldn’t mind sipping beer while enjoying the endearing papare music, opening up rapturous vocal cords and energising plenty of dancing shoes in the aisles?
In addition to the beauty of its natural surroundings, delicious food and fresh well water; and of course, the passion for cricket, the warmth and friendliness, and most of all, smiles of our Sri Lankans all wrapped up in a rich culture make Sri Lanka unique – and ‘home’ will always be missed.
No matter where you are, home will always be home!
It is an honour to be involved in this new venture and I am excited to continue collaborating with Team LMD, a group of some of the sharpest and most creative and wonderful people I’ve ever met!
I believe this is a great step in the right direction – and it certainly adds another layer of excitement!
Let’s toast to a new beginning!
Though I’ve been away from Sri Lanka since 2011, I always want to return and spend time with my dearest and nearest at least twice a year.
Hailing from Pinnawala, I still treasure the beautiful memories of serene country life that I truly enjoyed as a youngster. And despite living and working in an economically and technologically sophisticated country, I miss the simplicity of the stress free Sri Lankan lifestyle.
Apart from this, what I really miss about Sri Lanka is the mouth-watering hot and spicy Sri Lankan cuisine. Spicy meals have always been a part of my regular diet whenever I’m in my apartment.
Whenever I travel in Japan or to any other country, my instinctive trigger is to find a Sri Lankan restaurant through Google Maps to satisfy my tastebuds, coupled with a few shots of coconut arrack or glasses of stout.
Still, ordinary Sri Lankan cuisine is my fine dining and more valuable to me than a full course meal in a seven-star hotel.
There’s no doubt that Sri Lanka is one of the best travel destinations for wildlife lovers around the world. When I visit the island, I travel to wildlife parks to savour the flora and fauna. Leopards and elephants are my favourites.
Being away from my motherland, there’s a huge void in my heart to be repeatedly filled with these memories that I’m really missing.