Sometimes it helps to find a moment to appreciate the simple things in life.
I am blessed to be here. It feels like a friendship-circle, except, I haven’t met any of my fellow bloggers in real life. They sound like a bunch of really nice people, I’m sure they are. And yes, that includes you too.
Sabby wrote a pensive post on leaving the island and I commented saying that she would find some comfort right here, in the Lankanosphere. I know that, because I do. Without realising, everyone of you who write from home, or about home, keep us so close to home. A random picture, a little story, stuff on tuk-tuks or rice and curry, or even a post on a silly dog, keeps my memories of home alive. And for that, I thank you.
Life overseas wasn’t like that before kottu was born. Nineties were lonely here.
Having lived only three of the last twenty years in paradise, I know I have missed out a lot. I’ve missed out on the kind of stuff that Sach cleverly puts in to words in one of his recent posts.
I miss Sri Lanka. I miss the chaos, I miss the madness.
Most of all, I miss the “islander attitude” towards life and its wonderful people.
Sometimes we get caught in the rat-race, keep climbing the corporate ladder trying to beat our own shadow. We forget the simple joys in life: like drinking a kurumba by the roadside.
At 23, I held 24% shares of one of the most successful SMB’s in the island. I was lucky. But I walked out of that business empty handed, after signing a set of documents handing over everything for free.
I was relieved. I was happy that I had nothing to lose.
That afternoon, the mug of beer at the Echelon Pub tasted the best. With that beer, I landed my next job.
Ten years later, I was the head of creative in an international agency in Dubai. We ran regional brands for the Middle East and North Africa region.
When I was contemplating of leaving, my CEO offered me a blank piece of paper with his signature to list-down whatever I wished for, if I were to stay with them till my retirement. He was ready to offer me anything, even if I wanted a house in the south of France.
I gently pushed back the Mont Blanc and the paper to the other side of the big mahogany table. As he lit his next fine cigar, I told him that I wanted only three things in my life the day I would turn 55. A roof above my head, food on the table, and my grand-kids running around the house. I also told him that the first two wouldn’t be a problem, and the third would be just a matter of time.
A couple of months after that conversation, fate had me left with two kids – and no woman by my side. Life ahead of me was very clear at that moment: there’s absolutely nothing else that I would cherish more than my two kids. They were just three and five, but their entire life was in my hands.
So I walked out of the corporate world, moved back to Sri Lanka, and raised my kids as a single dad in Colombo. The change drove me crazy. It irritated me to know that I couldn’t do my grocery shopping at 1 O’clock in the morning.
But, that was the best period of my life. Life in Sri Lanka was magical, and beautiful.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the island again. C’est la vie.
Today, I work to live, not live to work. I’m happy. I have a wonderful woman by my side, and I’m in love.
I help people. Because I will never forget how horrible it is to feel helpless.
I travel. And I have realised that discovering the cultural wheel is far better than climbing the corporate ladder.
Come to think of it, the three years I spent in Sri Lanka has made me realise how wonderful, and magical, every little thing in life is. Hearing a bird chirp, or walking in the rain, sipping a beer while watching the Buba sunset, waking up to a good cup of tea in the hill country... or a simple rice and curry meal. Yes, you lot take all those for granted, but there are some of us who miss all those everyday joys in life.
You have absolutely no idea what you are missing, until you leave home that we call Sri Lanka.