Getting to know the Sri Lankans at HKU

May 29, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

Getting to know the Sri Lankans at HKU

If your first thought when you saw the title was “Oh my gosh! There are Sri Lankans at HKU?!?!!”, I’ll let you know – you aren’t alone. We are clearly at the top of our game in camouflaging. But if you knew of our existence, congratulate yourself because its almost like you found Waldo!

Well, no matter what camp you belong to, here’s a bunch of ways you can get to know us a bit better.

1. We absolutely LOVE spicy food.

We don’t really call it spicy food because everything we eat is “spiced” up with chilli, salt and pepper. This is includes normal meals as well as snacks and fruits. It’ll be a rare opportunity if you see a Sri Lankan eat a mango just by itself. So if you spot anyone opting for the spiciest of food, it will be your first clue to recognizing us.


2. We believe in Samahan

If you know what this is I know you’re laughing a little inside. Samahan is a Sri Lankan miracle-in-a-packet. We usually have a good stock of it because this is what saves our souls from whatever plague that comes about. Despite the clearly labelled instructions on when it should be used, we use it for all forms of “illness” varying from slight runny noses, tummy aches and headaches to flus and fevers.

If you happen to be sick, ask a Sri Lankan for a Samahan. You’ll know the difference.

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3. We LOVE cricket.

Cricket is an important part of the day to Sri Lankans as tea is to the British. Cricket is more than a game. It is a belief, a way of life, a topic of conversation at any time and hours of entertainment. To be sure, you might consider asking around about the ‘96 World Cup and you may become an honorary member of our community.


4. Ceylon Tea

The small but popular carton of tea sold in many small shops, 7-Elevens, Circle Ks and vending machines called Ceylon, surprisingly gets little attention. Ceylon was one of many former names given to Sri Lanka and Ceylon Tea, undoubtedly is one of the best in the world. Much like the British, anytime is tea time to Sri Lankans as well, but of course, the British must import it from Sri Lanka first.


5. Our Names

When you ask a Sri Lankan for their name they will tell you different versions of it depending on who is asking. This is purely based on the difficulty of pronunciation and your ability to handle the gravity of the names. Comedian Russell Peters was not just joking when he said that Sri Lankan names are so long that name tags can even go around our body. We can easily beat Rumpelstiltskin at his game. Technically a typical Sri Lankan name would consist of the following components:

[Ancestral/House Surname] [First Name] [Middle Name(s)] [Surname]

The “Ancestral/House Surname” brings a lot of confusion. However, it is simply part of our surname which has been passed down across generations and indicates the house or family to which you belong. As primal and discriminatory as that sounds, I must emphasise, it really isn’t.

My surname on the other hand, causes even more confusion as it may have been a name assigned by colonial powers several generations ago (possibly Dutch or Portuguese – I have not confirmed yet).

6. Cooking exotic food

The Sri Lankans at HKU tend to gather quite often to cook fancy exotic meals which we eat by hand. Many have questioned the need to avoid cutlery at these gatherings more often than expected. Our meals usually include spicy curries deliciously made with thick creamy coconut milk. This means that our meals provide an optimum taste when it involves mixing the food with our own hands. This basic connection with the food is essential as opposed to usage of metal cutlery (or even worse, plastic!).

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It is quite a difficult job to summarise our fabulously peculiar community here at HKU to a few characteristics but these should be sufficient to find us and discover the rest. If these aren’t reasons enough to befriend us, I am hoping the the exotic food and brilliant tea should be sufficient.

See you soon!

by Vimukthi Caldera

[Image Source: Google Images]