Of the few things miss since I came back to Sri Lanka, I have to say etiquette takes the cake. Sri Lanka, when it used to be Ceylon under British rule, was actually a very decent country. People were well-mannered (even those unexposed to the Western variety of etiquette) and a lot of social responsibility was taught early to children.
Of course, that all started changing around the mid 70′s. Everyone started going about their own interests, public good be damned, there were clashes among Tamil and Sinhalese citizens — prelude to the full on civil war starting in ’84 (I was 2 years old) — and of course manners went the way of the dinosaur. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were just Sinhalese people (my ethnicity) since if there’s one thing Sinhalese people do well, it’s complaining of other Sinhalese people.
I’m seeing a chronic lack of “Excuse me” or “Sorry” or “Thank You” or “You’re welcome” across the board among all races and ages in addition to an increase in petty vandalism to epidemic proportions. The list goes on into a more disturbing territory.
Loudly burping, sneezing into mid-air (or worse, into hands and then touching everything including children), coughing up both lungs into someone’s face, farting with all the delicacy of a tornado hitting a sewage treatment plant and a systemic prevalence of laziness. And of course the proverbial disrespect of elders in a land that used to worship them. Sri Lanka is in trouble.
And I didn’t know these were a thing…
I’m tempted to print up brochures depicting proper etiquette in Sinhalese, Tamil and English and start disseminating them to everyone, but I’m sure the idiot brigade would require more stern persuasion. I wonder if I can borrow Room 101 for a bit.
Did I mention Sinhalese people like to complain?