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Living the Lankan way

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The other day I was shopping with my wife at Odel – that’s where I do most of my clothes buying; not because I want to be fashionable but simply because they’ve got the right sizes in shapes that fit me!

I was about to buy another of my usual T-shirts when my wife made an observation, that what I was about to buy was similar to the T-shirts I already had. Well in fact it was the same brand and the same colour, which prompted her to say that everyone would think I owned only one T-shirt.

Hmmm! I thought to myself.....so what? I was certainly not that metrosexual male who considered good looks as a part of my image – not that anyone can blame me, with a waist size that crosses 40 inches and being amply built around the torso.

 When I buy a T-shirt it might be exclusive by nature (even if it is only by size) and I am a guy, not spoilt for choice.

Come to think of it I am a little old-fashioned; the nowadays people would categorise me as ‘retro’. And talking of retro, one would think I am the guy who would enjoy the movie Avengers (for those who are not aware of what I am talking of, it is the 3D movie showing at the Savoy).

It is not that I am against the concept of Avengers – I grew up on Marvel comics (remember the time we did not have TV?) but when I see these guys on the screen they somehow don’t seem real. Give me a Dirty Harry movie any day. It’s so real…

Yes, I hear some of you scoff at me. But my question is, how does a movie become more real because it is 3D? Is it because it gives us the illusion that we are closer to the subject than we really are? So not for me the 3D marvels; give me Dirty Harry saying, “Go ahead make my day…”

Now I am rambling; so let me get to the point. In another time, well into the seventies when I was in school, and owning a T-shirt was something of a prestige (I had one that said Green Bay Packers), we had the Avengers in a few Marvel comics; and if we saw a movie it was just the once since there were no reruns or DVDs.

Today the rate at which we are getting bombarded by Western commercialisation, it is almost putting our lifestyles out of joint... It is not that what comes from the West is essentially bad, but it is important for us to figure out the paradigm in which we live, which also means setting the parameters within which we operate in an Asian country.

If you take the stock market for instance, one should be glad that we don’t have the derivative instruments, as we know what kind of chaos it can create. If you take our lifestyle, we must be thankful that we don’t have the spring, summer, autumn and winter seasons, as we know what kind of need it would create in terms of clothing, not to mention the need that would arise for excessive energy resources to heat our homes during sub zero temperatures. Therefore, as much as we try to ape them, we are as dissimilar to the West as we could possibly be.

Today every child I know above the age of 15 wants to study in the Western world; and I include Australia and New Zealand in this package too. Isn’t it time we started looking for universities closer to home? How about India for example, or Malaysia, Singapore or even the Middle East?

The point I’m trying to make here is not that trading in the stock market is bad, or that wearing apparel made for Western countries is unacceptable. Nor am I saying that wanting a Western style education is wrong or right or that leveraging our borrowings is something to be frowned at. Or watching a 3D movie for that matter!

The West has indeed given us many good things (even though I may not relate to all of them), for example the standards they expect us to keep in the area of human rights is nothing short of great – even if they themselves have found it difficult to keep to their own standards.

And I am not trying to dissect Western standards and see if they can keep to them or not! It is my view that us Sri Lankans should stop trying to get on the Western bandwagon and instead figure out our own parameters (boundaries). That would help us discover the true Sri Lankan way of life!

(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)

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