6 July, 2022

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Sinhala Ostentation – From The Island To Toronto 

By Natale Dankotuwage

Natale Dankotuwage

Sinhalese Immigrants from Colombo who have migrated to Toronto are an interesting phenomenon. I’m going to concentrate on this very specific segment of society because I am, by the fate of birth, one of them. Or so that’s what I’ve been told and raised to believe. But sometimes I feel nothing like them. Mostly because as a human rights advocate their prejudice disturbs me. 

The prejudice is evident in the selective ways they engage with others in Toronto. Judging others based on the neighbourhoods they grew up in, the schools they attended, and the last names they carry from an Island they left. 

From carrying over the Royal College dinner dances and cricket ceremonies. To prizing their fair skin babies. Sinhalese folks have subtle ways of garnering a sense of worth on foreign land. 

At a young age I would learn that certain last names were more reputable than others. And that certain last names married other last names everyone had heard of and learned to value. Though historically speaking, the Sinhalese never exactly kept last names. You’d either take on your father’s name as your last name or name yourself after the locality you originated from. Last names were something the colonialists taught us.  

I would also learn that my father had not attended the “best” school on the Island. He went to a “mediocre” school called “Prince College” in Kotehana. To a little child who admired her father a great deal the name of the school sounded quite prestigious enough.  And yet for some reason my father had learned somewhere – along the way – that his school wasn’t good enough. And he’d teach me the same. 

My father would tell me that when he was old enough to know better, he’d tell his mother to send his brother to “Ananda”. For he had grown to learn that it was a far better school. And as a result, till today my Father’s youngest brother attends all the annual cricket ceremonies in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Sometimes I’d look at my father as a mother looks at a child. And wonder, who had taught him to devalue these things. Where had he learned this? Nevertheless, from these stories I learned of the things that were of merit and the things that were not. 

My father left all of that behind in the 1980’s. To build a life in a place where the school and locality he was from wouldn’t entrench him with a certain social standard. My father went on to become quite a successful entrepreneur in Canada. 

I was born in Toronto. Raised in Uptown Toronto. In one of the wealthiest areas in the city. And then to middle school and high school in Richmond Hill another Upper Middle Class neighbourhood. When I look back at much of my upbringing, I realized how hard my father worked to provide us an Elite upbringing. Carefully selecting the neighbourhoods, we would grow up in. Even if it meant moving far away from the inner circle of Sri Lankan community boroughs unfolding in Brampton and Scarborough. 

As he moved up the social ranks, he opened various businesses and continued to keep company with all sorts of people. Regardless of their class or place in the world. Uncles I loved dearly, the father of the son I dated, spent their lifetime working in factories or as carpenters. They were dinner guests. Because from all the things my father taught me. The one thing he failed to teach me was something called “discrimination”. 

Because of the things my father taught me. The one thing he failed to teach me was something called “discrimination”. 

As time has passed a lot of these families have begun to progress.  Their children superseding their parents in social standard. And it errs, to say the least, to see the perpetuation in the prejudice that was susceptible in Colombo repeated here in Canada. In the way these family friends and their children choose social circles and even lovers. 

The very people who once congregated our homes when they were of a lower-income. Today of a higher standard now circulate with new friends. The Vaisakha’s, the royal college – the whatever other institutional bigotry. 

Even subtle acts of Shadeism are evident. Shadeism being the pedigree of prizing those of fairer skin more than those of a darker skin tone. Evident in how they slowly replace their friends of darker skin tones – with those who are of a fairer skin tone. It is all quite disturbing. 

As the Toyotas become Lexus’s. The houses grow bigger. So too the social circles have begun to change. And what is most fascinating being that they are perpetuating the social standards they learned in an Island that they disowned. 

But what is most painful, is that those we were willing to show respect, honor and dignity to when they were nobodies have decided to turn their backs on us once they became somebodies.

Why discrimination and prejudice perpetuates in our communities disturbs a part of me that has always sought to maintain the integrity of equality in my actions and thoughts. Not because I do not have the intelligence to discern, but rather because having the intelligence to choose one’s actions or thoughts; I choose humanity over and over again. Rather than choosing transitory social symbols that garner a false sense of superiority over another. 

*Natale Dankotuwage is a graduate of a Master’s Degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation. She works in Digital Innovation with the Federal Government of Canada. 

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    Natali: I do not know how you were when you came to Toronto. That society is very secretative and unbelievably sinister. So, what you talk may affect you too. In Sinhala buddhist society or hor that matter among those who grew up with simlar ideals, hospitality and treating others with sincearity. Even for me DISCRIMINATION becane falilier the same way. Here, another thing I learned is, you have money but yu lose humility and humanity in your heart. I hear, even in Sri lanka, now the community does not know humility, humane feeling, hospitality etc., It is all the money that is worth. But, tht does not bring happiness, self worth. Sri lanka did not know what Mental STRESS is. It is because in this material world, you think, THE LIFE IS NOT THAT WORTH BUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THE RAT RACE AND THEY DO NOT WANT TO LOSE IT. IF THEY LOSE IT, THEY COMMIT SUICIDE. tHOSE WHO WAKE UP EVERY MOURNING SHOULD REMEMBER TO GET UP EVERY MOURNING IS THE most precious. Even the PRINCE SIddhartha lived happily under a tree. So, if you lose everything today, Sri lanka is warm, people are kind not discriminating as here vert democratic people. We can throw everything aside and live a happy life.

  • 16
    0

    Most of the aspects she has mentioned are applicable to Toronto Tamils as well.

  • 9
    1

    So, its upto you to begin making the changes you desire to see amongst the “Sinhalese” of Toronto! But you will see that the peculiarities you mention is not uncommon in other ethnicities, in Toronto and elsewhere!!

  • 6
    8

    Oh Natale,

    So learned, yet so much to learn.

    Don’t let the pukkah Sinhalese bother you. They are an abomination wherever they go. They move in ever decreasing circles. They try to infect their children with their ‘disease’ old school and ge name, but no one in their adopted lands bother to take one blind bit of notice.

    Remember what the old man down Peterson lane said once upon a time “knowing people know who we are”.

    • 9
      4

      Spring Koha

      “Don’t let the pukkah Sinhalese bother you. They are an abomination wherever they go. “
      Therefore I suggest all of them should be deported back to where their forefathers came from, Tamil Nadu, preferably close to where Actor/Director windbag Seeman lives or near the foul mouth BJP politician H. Raja.

      • 0
        2

        Now you talk like a pukkah Sinhalese. Keep it up, bro!

  • 2
    0

    The very first comprehensive sociological study on Sri Lankans in Canada was released in 2008. Its title is Inventing the Sri lankans- Construction of Ethnic Identity by Immigrants to Ontario. . You may access this via internet or going to the Universality of Toronto Library-Dissertation room. S.C

  • 11
    1

    What a breath of fresh air. What Natale writes about is also very much in evidence in places I have lived in – Melbourne, Sydney and London. When running into another Sri Lankan I have often been asked – and without any decent interval to become familiar – as to what locality I lived in, or what car I drive [a 15-year old Holden kept in tip-top condition by a Sri Lankan mechanic]. I come away from such encounters with a typical Sri Lankan expression, ‘Sin aney’.

  • 15
    2

    This is a courageous exposure of the feudalist thinking of the majority of our expatriates. Nice to know there are young people like you capable of rising above the pettiness of mind that afflicts many of us.

    The feudalist thinking our country is wallowing in is on dramatic display since October 26, when the President replaced the existing semi feudalist government with a fully feudalist one.

  • 12
    3

    What you report is nothing.
    Check on my community, namely, your Tamil brothers and sisters. I know that our parents even have kovils that match the “castes” of the people, and they don’t have “lower caste” people to dinner
    or associate with them. Of course, the high class people have all gone to the good schools and have “–pillai” like names.
    There have been even some honour beatings or somethings near to killing because some girls dated outside their caste, or with white boys etc. Also, when girls have their first menstruation, they have to face some problems and being isolated because it is claimed to be a type of pollution. Girls and women are definitely inferior in status. Then there is also the highly westernized parents and then it is not bad for the children, except that they move in just that circle.
    I will not say too much more here – every one knows about these things, but you are not supposed to say it as it brings down the “honour” of the community. It is all based on honour and lineage (caste pride).

    • 8
      2

      Manoharan

      Thanks for your observation from Mavittapuram, still living and breathing at the foot of 1970s breeze flowing from the Kandaswamy temple Vimana, you must be dreaming of life outside your own home grown outlook. There is a difference between ought to be and reality.

      You should leave your village, house, your own mental prison, …………. at least for once and visit foreign country, or maybe you ought to spend some time in Colombo.
      By any chance you are related to Lal loo, ….sach, HDL M, Shenali, …?

      • 8
        4

        LOL I strongly suspect this Manoharan and many others with so called Tamil identities, posting that it is worst amongst the Tamils are all Sinhalese.

      • 0
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

      • 1
        7

        Regarding honour killings in our community in Toronto, people don’t believe it when you say about it, and try to diffuse it saying it is slander by some one from a different community trying to shame the Tamils.
        But the facts are clear.
        But here is a report from an actual case in Canada:
        EXTRACT FROM law report:
        R. v. Kailayapillai , [2009] O.J. No. 1145 (QL) (S.C.J.)

        …members of the Tamil community, a community that Ms. Sivanantham [the
        victim’s sister] describes as holding, “some very rigid and traditional values and
        norms when it comes to women”, have suggested that Ms. Subramanian was
        murdered because she was of bad character. This has brought shame to the family,
        10 and causes its members, particularly Kanagama [the victim’s mother], to feel isolated from their community. They worry that Ms. Subramaniam’s children will be ostracized.

        In November 2009, Sugirthanraj Kailayapillai was sentenced to life imprisonment
        without parole eligibil ity for 14 years.
        The person jailed had a “—pillai” ranking signalling his high caste. Unfortunately, even Christian tamils respect this pecking order.

        • 3
          0

          When somebody suggested that you are not a Tamil, I thought they may be correct, but I was not sure. Now you proved it beyond doubt. I should credit them for being sharp enough to pick it correctly from your earlier writing with very few clues.
          After reading the above, my suggestions:
          1). You are not Tamil.
          2).You are not in Toronto (Probably other than some vocational visits you may never been living outside of Lankawe). You are living in Lankawe.
          3). You are an employed person to achieve some objectives.
          4).Your backups are not providing the relevant cases and giving you betrayals only. You are finding yourself not being able to establish your point with those case examples.
          5).The case you provided has nothing to do with the essay and your earlier comment. Essay is mainly dealing with culturally adopted false prides, internal division and other cultural stagnations. Your case is dealing exclusively some criminal activities. There is no cultural norm whatsoever established within Ceylon Tamils in Honor killing, Sati, Selling female children to prostitution or donating to temples as devadasi…..or many other Northern Indian based cultures. Some of those may have had come up to TN. But they never came to Ceylon.
          6).You did not establish why the parents were involved in the daughter’s murder. You never established what the opinion of parents about prostitution was, even if it were not the reason for the murder.

        • 5
          0

          Manoharan

          What would you do if your wife/partner had amorous intentions towards her work colleague(s)?
          I assume you have a wife/partner.
          I also assume despite your behaviour she willingly stayed with you.
          I also assume despite your unattractive habits she shared a bed with you.


          I also assume you were not surprised by her amorous intentions towards others.
          I also assume she is insured.
          I also assume she does not have any brothers or an uncle.

  • 11
    0

    More power to you. You writes with conviction , gentle observation in a voice of truth. Please keep writing to CT.

  • 8
    0

    This phenomenon is not unique to those in Canada only but quite prevalent in UK/Australia and other countries where large number of Srilankan expatriates reside. At least we should be happy to note the younger generation is beginning to see matters in the correct perspective

  • 7
    0

    Dear Natale
    Thank you for writing about me.
    I emailed the link to all my friends in Canada, Australia, NZ and in rest of the world.
    I addressed them like this
    “Friends, Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and Countrymen
    Lend me your ears
    My daughter is telling about me”
    Sisira Weragoda

  • 13
    0

    “I choose humanity over and over again. Rather than choosing transitory social symbols that garner a false sense of superiority over another.”

    Well said, Natale.

    What you have experienced in Toronto, is not entirely different from what many of us continue to experience in Australia.

    Despite many flaws in the legislation and the criticisms leveled by certain fundamentalist elements in Australia and perhaps in Canada, anti-discrimination legislation has, in many instances, helped immigrants like us to overcome the open discrimination we experience in public life.

    Despite the positive influence such legislation has had in our lives in the countries we have migrated to, it is unfortunate that our own people as individuals and communities adopting discriminatory practices among themselves.

    There are many things we can learn and practice for our own benefit and advancement, from the highly diverse yet highly cohesive societies we live in and from the attitudes of tolerance that continue to assist up keeping the unity in diversity of such societies.

  • 13
    0

    Natale, Oh,this is so true. I am not a well educated person. I cannot write like you. Please excuse any grammatical errors. After living in most of the provinces here in Canada for almost five decades, I know exactly what you are taking about. I came here as a skilled independent landed immigrant. I was not sponsored by anyone nor did I have any friends or family here. I know what discrimination is. Its not from the Canadians. Its our own Sri Lankans. As you say, they separate you by your caste, then the schools you went to, then your religion, your political affiliation, then how much square meters your house is etc. When I came here I was in my twenties. Didn’t know much about life and its adventures. Once I was invited to a BBQ by a Sri Lankan elder and I had to build his deck for the whole day for a few BBQ chicken thighs. As a young man I was naive and ignorant. As a single bachelor living alone I welcomed a plate of rice & curry. For that plate of rice I had to do their plumbing, fix electrical fixtures, fix their cars etc. It took along time to learn these cunning ways of our senior Sri Lankans. Oh man, I feel sorry for the poor, genuine refugees who come here.These religious establishments, temples, churches and Kovils, old boy associations, cricket clubs, social clubs take advantage of these poor souls till they get their permanent statuses.
    Bunch of AWOLed Army officers, senior managements of Air Lanka and Bank manager came here as refugees and with this crowd they brought most of the bad habits. None of these people had the skills or the experience to come to Canada. They would have never got a Visa. Canada is a wonderful country with so much facilities which are also abused by our people.

  • 3
    7

    A superb, original and progressive perspectival piece by a young activist, Natale Dankotuwage! Bravo!

    • 5
      0

      Here is another ostentatious Dayan ostentation “A superb, original and progressive perspectival piece by a young activist, Natale Dankotuwage!”
      and a ” Bravo!” to boot.
      .
      Natale has a sharp mind Dayan.

    • 0
      5

      Is there no difference between Natale Dankotuwage and Sara Dissanayake? There may be some rights and wrongs in the words, but how could anyone measure them with the same yardstick?

      If humanity, self-respect, philosophical ideals, science… are going to direct and guide the human life, now in which cesspit do we bury the pride stories Grandma told us about Atula & Dutugamunu? What are we going to with smart patriotism we learned from French Napoleons? Can Natale Dankotuwage make an open request to CT remove them completely from CT database and apologize to readers for having ever published those in their web? How CT can publish, when it publishes young Natale Dankotuwage, with the same hand the diatribes of senile masculinity men who have only to tell the family ups.

      Rotten cases, time to time, attempts resurrection for them by lifting their heads from the dirt they swim and try to breathe the fresh air, but then soon return back into that.

      Hopefully one of these days Natale Dankotuwage may write another essay about how the low living communists narcissists are destroying the societies with their begging bowls for champagne and vodka, long after USSR dismantled and Castro died.

      • 4
        0

        This is because CT is a space for diverse ideas, ideologies, values and viewpoints.

        • 4
          0

          Yes Shyam,
          CT is a Space for the Display of Diversity of Opinion, for Evaluation by those who can Think for Themselves!

      • 1
        2

        Seems like you have looked up the dictionary, picked a few hard words, and then thrown it at the comments section — did you even read what you wrote. Makes no sense whatsoever. It is better to write a sensible sentence with simple words than to show off sophisticated words that don’t string together in any sensible manner.

    • 5
      0

      Hmm. I think she is talking about you as well, “DR”

    • 11
      0

      Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      “A superb, original and progressive perspectival piece by a young activist, Natale Dankotuwage! Bravo!”

      It’s high time you learned some lessons from her on how to think, speak and act like a human being with dignity.

    • 1
      0

      I gave a thumbs down for dj’s hypocrisy here!

  • 6
    9

    Natale Dankotuwage,

    “Uncles I loved dearly, the father of the son I dated, spent their lifetime working in factories or as carpenters. They were dinner guests. “
    =
    Nangi, even when you blame and criticize the “pada” attitudes of lazy Sinhalese who are little exposed to realities, the world has to offer best, you couldn’t still control or hide that in-born “pada” talks of typical Sinhalese, despite being born and brought up in a developed country. I have no right to judge you with an article – But it says, “You are a Fake!”
    =
    Thank you for diverting our attention from these constitution craps

  • 10
    0

    I am a Sri Lankan Muslim. My spouse and I speak Sinhala and Tamil both in the public sometimes. Whenever I hear someone speak in Sinhala I am overjoyed and smile at them and ask you are SRI Lankan only to be frowned back. Even when you speak to them in Sinhala they never do. It seemed to me like it was a lowly thing to speak in Sinhala but if you speak to a Tamil they will gladly speak to you in Tamil. I call it IGNORANCE

    • 3
      0

      Shehana,

      When they enter an air-conditioned public place in Lanka, they forget their Sinhala, and in a public restaurants they forget their fingers and act like suddas – What you expect when they are in a develop country?
      =
      Muslims will speak back in any language you prefer, no matter. But be careful, by end of your conversation they would have sold you or taken a good advantage out of you.

  • 10
    1

    This so true and applicable to most of the sinhalas living in the U.S. as well. They only move with their kind of sinhala buddhist chauvinists and they are mostly racists. Go to the Buddhist temples and monks in the temples are racists too. They nakedly promote MR, Gotabhaya et al. They have now rallied around them and promoting the purported government installed by Gamarala.

  • 5
    0

    Dear Natale: I admire your forthrightness and thoughtfulness. Many things that you have told us here are valid for many many Sinhalese and Tamil groups who migrated from 1970 onward. In the 1980s, very rarely they spoke in Sinhalese language and conversation always began in English language. It was considered a symbol of cultural acculturation. In the 1991 Canadian census, it was found that many Sinhalese people had given English as their first language. There was also a divisive attitude promoted by the early settlers between the “Refugees” and the Others. Now the language issue has changed and many people speak in Sinhala. I think we need to promote both Sinhala and English languages. As you may know well, parents talk to their children in Sinhala and their children respond to them in English. The Tamil groups are an exception. They love to keep their language intact. There was a time that every woman who lived in Toronto was a “Visakian” simply because that was the only way a middle class women could develop some friends. As you say clearly, the second generation has gone far ahead of the first generation in terms of culture, worldview and skills. It is high time that we do a study of the second generation. Not to forget that struggles they undergo to maintain two different cultures-one at home and one at school or work. It is not feasible to see unity among different Sinhalese groups. Musicians are not ready to work with other musicians. Dancers want to keep their groups above all others. Very few associations function well with proper leadership and management.
    One of the problems we see is the inadequate knowledge that the first generation develops regarding the Western culture.

  • 6
    0

    People in general, immigrants in particular, peep at the backyard of ‘others’ and sneer, sneer……sneer.
    .
    Natale Dankotuwage here gives a very short description of ~ “Sinhala Ostentation – From The Island To Toronto”.
    Brilliant. She aimed at and has succeeded in getting Lankan origin immigrants all over the world to report about their backyards. There will be the foul-mouths.
    .
    We, in Lanka, must look at our own backyards. We have lots of junk to dispose!

  • 11
    0

    Nathale Duwa

    “In an Island they disowned” you say – as one of Lankan Sinhala origin. Are you aware multiple thousands of Sinhalese have fled, legally and illegally the Island in the last quarter century to Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Canada, the UK and other places against their wishes, in tears, leaving behind their near and dear ones. They voluntarily “disowned” the country of their birth, the country that they dearly loved and hated to leave. Who sent them away? How about the million Tamils whom the Sinhala State, in a multitude of ways – criminally, violently and in a warped sense legally -disowned while the world watched? The “system” you might be inclined to say. Some would say it was the religious Rasputins and politikkas who ruined the country. Yes and No.

    Your father has given you the gift of a sound education – living in a free country dedicated to the Laws, free society and spared you of the “discrimination” of a myriad ways. Education is not 90% literacy but quality learning. You have gained that. Education is knowledge, learning, wisdom, culture, humanity. These features you are endowed with equip you to challenge and dismantle discrimination. It is discrimination that divided and destroyed Sri Lanka. It is discrimination that forced a million Tamils to flee – involuntarily – their lands and possessions stolen often at the instance of men in uniform in the employ of the State..

    In the GTA you have a chance to reverse this discrimination. A quarter of a million Tamils and about 10,000 (?) Sinhalese now live there – separately – looking at each other with suspicion – a replica of what is happening at home. You can plant the seeds of enabling a change. With your young age, quality learning and liberal attitude you are well placed to bring the two communities together – in peace and friendship. Will you?

    R. Varathan

    • 10
      0

      I am a Sri Lankan of 85 years, now living in Australia. Left the Sri Lanka in 1976, due to Political Interference in my chosen professional Field.

      R Varathan, your Comment to Natale, which I have copied below, reflects exactly the Ceylon I knew, growing up and going to a School which did not encourage Discrimination by Race, Religion or Caste!

      “Your father has given you the gift of a sound education – living in a free country dedicated to the Laws, free society and spared you of the “discrimination” of a myriad ways. Education is not 90% literacy but quality learning. You have gained that. Education is knowledge, learning, wisdom, culture, humanity. These features you are endowed with equip you to challenge and dismantle discrimination.”

      When did we start to change? It was the Sinhala only, and Tamil also Policy of the Bandaranaike Era that brought about the Downfall of Sri Lanka, dividing us Sri Lankans into Ghettoes, with the attendant ills of Discrimination in all Walks of Life!
      .

    • 1
      0

      Correction – Education is not 90% literacy Sri Lankans often boast of
      Ad Nauseum but quality learning……

      R. Varathan

  • 15
    2

    Dear Natale,
    Well-said!
    Most sinhalas in the U.S. are pretty much against racism and prejudice in the U.S. but most of them are all for that in Sri Lanka. Most of them are sinhala-buddhist chauvinists and organized in Temples here against giving an inch to minority rights in SL. The most laughable thing I have seen is that some of them also visit Hindu temples around here and worship Hindu Gods but very anti-Tamil in their talks and actions.

  • 4
    0

    Natale,
    I think the whole thing boils down to the excess baggage we (I mean people who were born in and had lived in Sri Lanka for sometime) bring with us to countries like Australia or Canada when we choose to migrate for whatever reason. Sri Lanka’s whole education system is flawed to the core- for example no one is taught that everyone is equal- or law must be respected and environment must be protected – even in school. They don’t even teach in school and kids spend more time taking tuition which is money spinning industry. Buddhism has a special place and people blindly follow it thinking that the stupid ass-like illogical unscientific immoral and insulting concepts such as karma is the absolute truth. You are encourage to do any discriminatory act and say that you are protecting Buddhism. Can keep writing on and on- my only advice to you – don’t take that scallywag Dayan Jayatilaka, the hypocrite- into confidence.- Frustrated Johnny

  • 7
    2

    I sense that the author has a deep sense of under-privilege which she has taken over to Canada. She must remember that she is in Canada to be a Canadian (assuming that she is now a Canadian citizen) and not to continue being a Sri Lankan. If she adopts that attitude her whole life will change for the better. She has used the opportunity that Canada has given her to get a good education and a good job.

    Reflecting on the elitism of other citizens of Sri Lankan origin shows a real inferiority complex in her own personna. Get over it. There is nothing she can do about it. It won’t change. That’s life. I live in Melbourne and there are some of Sri Lankan origin who do like to show off their wealth. I see that as a manifestation of low-intellect. It must be remembered that wherever one lives and to whatever ethnicity you belong many people seek to better themselves, buy big houses, German cars and generally show off. That’s called capitalism. You get it in Canada as you do in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t make those people any better as human beings.

    So Natale, in a nutshell, focus on your life, your family, your aspirations and do good as a Canadian. Don’t bother about what other Sri Lankans are doing.

  • 0
    1

    I sense that the author has a deep sense of under-privilege which she has taken over to Canada. She must remember that she is in Canada to be a Canadian (assuming that she is now a Canadian citizen) and not to continue being a Sri Lankan. If she adopts that attitude her whole life will change for the better. She has used the opportunity that Canada has given her to get a good education and a good job.

    Reflecting on the elitism of other citizens of Sri Lankan origin shows a real inferiority complex in her own personna. Get over it. There is nothing she can do about it. It won’t change. That’s life. I live in Melbourne and there are some of Sri Lankan origin who do like to show off their wealth. I see that as a manifestation of low-intellect. It must be remembered that wherever one lives and to whatever ethnicity you belong many people seek to better themselves, buy big houses, German cars and generally show off. That’s called capitalism. You get it in Canada as you do in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t make those people any better as human beings.

  • 7
    1

    This is one of the most provocative pieces – and I use the term at its most complimentary – I have ever read in CT.

    Bravo!

    Thanks so much, madam, for that wonderfully honest and sincere expression of a decency which has provoked so many positive remarks from so many people with differently-held beliefs.

    The only sour note is that monumental hypocrite, Dayan Jayatilleke, trying to jump onto your noble bandwagon! That, I am afraid is one of the “down-sides” of the freedom of expression that his ilk has sought to undermine for so long and so consistently. Oh, well, I suppose “it’s a free country” or at least until he and his friends return!

    • 2
      0

      To Emil Van,
      May I quote this before you write your next comment or article:
      “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
      This quote attributed to Voltaire (French philosopher) is supposed to be the principle of freedom of speech.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Natalie,

    It is a pity your father did not teach you ‘discrimination’. Millions of Sri Lankans suffer discrimination in their own mother country due to ethnicity, caste, religion and/or social status. The fact that it is reflected abroad among ex-pats is only natural. I have 4 sisters and numerous nephews and nieces – most of whom live in the GTA. My sisters have lived in Canada for over 40 years; my nephews and nieces were born and raised there. Their experience is very different to yours but that does not prove anything except that it is dangerous to draw general conclusions from particular experiences. The comments above from CT readers offer ample proof of my contention.

  • 4
    0

    The problem lies elsewhere. Why do people leave Srilanka a country like no other a good place to live.People leave for better life. To do better than their relation friend colleague and neighbor. That rotten idea makes them sick and continue in their new found land. Competition is fierce. They consider their motherland as a cemetery when in their last will request their remains be buried in Srilanka.

    • 1
      0

      Upali
      We did not leave Sri Lanka ‘to do better than our relatives and friends’!

      We left because of Political Interference in our Professions, and Refusal to accept Bribes, to act Illegally!

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    Yes, Humanity is to be yard stick to measure humans. But, discrimnation is seen across the globe based on on area, school, money etc., etc and is a social disease across the world. It is predominantly seen among people from some countries, irrespective of race or nationality .

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    Very interesting generalizations but lovely refreshingly different opinion. I think first generation emigrants of all races or nationalities display a lot of very interesting traits you describe; one of it being showing off wealth. Hell one guy who ran porn stores in NYC is a proud rich person with a chauffeur driven limousine now.
    I am a first generation what you might call a KGB American. We live modest middle class lives with a mortgage and other payments and we all strive to do well by our kids and our lives are in an interracial union. But I also came across many different American born kids from Vietnamese families etc when I was a lecturer in a state which (due to christian largesse) accepted a lot of boat people after the war in ‘nam ended. There too we can see a stunning cultural difference between the original immigrants who struggle to even put 2 sentences of English together, to those who worked really hard to become successful entrepreneurs and provide for their kids. Kids have attitudes and show flash and fancy cars. Parents are still racist and also rude when you run into them at Vietnamese grocery stores like first generation Chinese/ But they all display wealth when they can with fur coats and Benz cars! one of my favorite students from Taiwan has conservative parents who worked hard to provide for him. I am proud to say he is doing really well at a global European IT company and was in India recently on work as well. When he was in my classes, he was a fascinating kid. He talked about how his parents got him different cars to show off how well they have done since migrating.(we on the other hand can only afford a second hand Hyundai for our daughter!!). Good for them.

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    I have met pretentious Sri Lankans who are Sinhala and Tamil both. Skin colour ? this is a huge hang up in South Asia. Where do you think the skin tone lightener creams come from ?India….In India it is a huge issue even in Bollywood.

    But I also met some incredible accomplished, dedicated successful Sri Lankan Americans: both Tamil and Sinhala. They do not have those fur coat , “My car is bigger than yours” hang ups and are in the professional academic field/ Then I have met false snobs and those who forget they were products of FREE education including FREE medical education in Sri Lanka before they made it good in US.

    I will always be grateful and thankful to the first Sri Lankan family who befriended me and other “fresh off the boat” students in the town I went to school. They were simple and warm and candid. If I misbehaved after a few drinks, they told me to cool it! Their basement was our second home. No they were not from English speaking or elite schools/. They were products of post 1957 education revolution that enabled them to go to Uni in Sri Lanka. They had real values and worked hard; they did not engage in showing off; the proof is in t he success of their incredible sons; one a brilliant doctor and one a great activist lawyer. They still call us “Mano Aiya” etc. Not bad values.

    Then there are those who want to cling to old school ties and look down on people if they are not from the same school. This is true of Tamils and Sinhala successful professionals too. So much I can say and so little space. Thanks for a lovely article

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      “Then there are those who want to cling to old school ties and look down on people if they are not from the same school.”

      I had some young cousins who were yanked out and transplanted in America mid-school-year ………. they were going around in the backwoods of Oregon telling any American who would listen “we are Trinitians.” Most Americans don’t know where Sri Lanka is; let alone Trinity! I don’t know where Lankans get such pride about their schools.

      When people have no outstanding achievements they have to resort/cling to some minor crap to separate themselves from others. ……… No one knows what school good ol’ Al Einstein went to!

      In the end …… it boils down to the utter meaningless of existence. …….. Anyone read Camus’ L’Étranger? That gives meaning to the meaningless we all feel, from time to time. :))

      “second hand Hyundai”

      btw Hyundai is a damn good car; they have come a long way ………. drove a rental recently and was quite impressed

      Good piece Natale; keep on writing. Take all the praise and criticism in stride ……… with maturity/age and more life-experience you will turn into a wonderful writer.

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      “meaningless” —> meaninglessness

      Shouldn’t pass on bad habits ………. of not proof-reading to young Natale

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        Nathale

        It is time you made your response to the many in the Comments section. Keep the discussion going.

        Chris P. Bacon

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