Just thought I’d update you all on a few random and pretty much useless facts I’ve learned about Sri Lanka along the way.
1) They have the loudest thunder in the world. Not sure of the reason for this or if it’s actually backed by statistics, but this is what I’m told.
2) Sri Lankans call “flip flops”, “slippers”. Most people have several pairs of slippers including “house slippers”, “bathroom slippers” and “out and about doing whatnot slippers”. Okay I made up the name of the last pair.
3) They had the first female prime minister in the world – Mrs. Bandaranaike. She became the prime minister following her husband’s (the prime minister at the time) assassination in 1960. After his death, she inherited the leadership of the ruling party and served three terms.
4) Tone and body language are VERY important considerations when talking to a Sri Lankan. “Yes” could really mean “no” based on the way it is said. You start to pick up on this gradually when people say “yes” to things that never get done. The most frustrating example of this is when three-wheel drivers say they know where you want to go, but they really have no clue. This all has to do with saving face or protecting one’s prestige or honour. It is a concept that is deeply rooted in many Asian cultures of which our direct, North American communication style can sometimes be in conflict.
5) Toronto and greater area has the highest Tamil population outside of Sri Lanka and India.
6) The horn is just as important as the engine for driving in Colombo. It is like they’ve developed a whole method of communication via the horn depending on the duration, volume and number of honks. To a Canadian, the roads seem like utter chaos, but somehow it all works.
7) Sri Lanka has the most deaths by snake bite of any country (6/100,000). This is due partially to the remote areas in which the most venomous snakes are. There are 96 species of snakes – 50% of which are venomous. Advice we’ve been given if bitten by a snake is to take immediately cut of the snake’s head and take it into the hospital with you to be treated with the appropriate anti-venom. I’m sure that will be the first thing I’ll thing of if I’m attacked by a snake. So far, I’ve only seen one snake (a six foot long python) crossing a trail about a meter ahead of me and that’s about as close of an encounter as I wish to have. I’ve included a link below on the snakes of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Snakes
8. It is illegal to have a child out of wedlock.
9) Finishing your plate of food at dinner means you are still hungry and your host will keep piling the food on. This can be a little awkward when you come from a household where you’ve been taught to “clean your plate.” At our landlord’s house, we literally had to shield our plates to avoid getting more food.
That’s all I can think of for now. I’m going to head out for a bike ride on my new wheels. I just got a sweet bike complete with a banana seat, basket and bell – all I’m missing are the spokey dokies and I’d be ready for a Bourne Street block party bike parade. Ironically, it feels like I’m on parade when I bomb around on my bike with all the stares I get. It is impossible to blend in when you are big, white and sweaty!