Whether you’re from Colombo, live there now, or lived there at some point in your early adulthood, you know that everything about it inspires equal amounts of fondness and frustration. It redeems itself, however, in its familiarity – there’s so much comfort in knowing that, no matter what’s happening in the world, there will always be traffic on Baseline Road.
1. You will never go to a club and not see a family member there.
Clubs are small, families are big. Smack on a huge smile every time you pass your cousin’s fiancé while in the middle of a human chain wriggling its way to the girl’s room and pray they can’t tell how wasted you are.
2. You’re very grateful for the city’s multiculturalism.
Yes, different ethnicities and religions coming together is beautiful. But so is getting the day off for Poya, Thai Pongal, Eid, and Christmas.
3. ‘What school did you go to?’ is a loaded question, the answer to which tells you much more about a person than their quality of education.
It’s the first question you ask someone because it tells you everything you need to know: what they’re like, who they know, and how hard they party.
4. Short-eats are Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret, and not all short-eats places are created equal.
You probably have your own rankings of The Big Three (Fab, Perera & Sons and Sponge), but we can all agree that they are almost always worth the indigestion.
5. The Milo that comes pre-packaged tastes so much better than anything you could make at home with the powder.
Something (read: the excessive sugar) in pre-packaged Milo revives you, while the Milo you make at home is subpar at best. The Iced Milo at Pilawoos trumps both.
6. You gauge the state of the economy based off of rising school canteen prices.
You don’t realize how lucky you were with your 70 Rupee sausage pastry until your younger siblings have to spend double the price on one.
7. The official changing of road names is totally ignored.
Duplication Road will always be Duplication Road.
8. Your GP is either part of your family or a family friend.
Nearly everyone you know is either already a doctor, in the process of becoming a doctor, or being told by their parents that they won’t amount to anything unless they become a doctor.
9. You don’t get on the road between 5pm and 7pm unless absolutely necessary.
Unless you’re on your way home from work and/or school, there really is no reason to put yourself through the hell that is 5pm traffic. Stay home, stay sane.
10. If your dad doesn’t spend all of Sunday morning reading The Sunday Times and making disapproving noises, is he even your dad?
While you graduated from the Funday Times to the Sunday Magazine and stayed there, your dad must read the full paper back-to-back, including the Hit Ads. He’s not looking to buy 7 pure-bred, vaccinated Alsatian puppies, but he sure as hell needs to know about them.
11. Every long weekend that you’re not ‘going down South’ is a long weekend wasted.
Colombo during long weekends is a ghost town. Everyone’s somewhere off the Southern Expressway, chilling on a beach and getting white-girl-wasted in the daytime.
12. The cure to any and all sicknesses is 2 Panadols.
What apple cider vinegar is to white people, Panadol is to Sri Lankans.
13. All your friends understand when you go off the grid for 2 weeks during a family wedding.
Texts unanswered, calls missed, and yet you’re posting Instagram stories captioned #FromDeSilvaToGold? Not a problem, we all know it’s impossible to text back between your sixth sari blouse fitting and wrapping Jordan almonds in silk pouches.
14. Thambili is the best of all the coconut waters.
The only coconut water I am yet to find pre-packaged by a brand with a name like ‘Tropicoco’ abroad, the King Coconut fully lives up to its name.
15. No matter how many malls come up, Pettah is still the greatest shopping experience in the city.
Ah, Pettah. Where everyone goes to take a black-and-white photo of a street vendor for their photography Instagram. Pettah is the ultimate: variety, value for money, top-notch faluda – it’s all there.
16. Everyone either is or knows a food blogger.
I will never not make fun of your photos of an overpriced pol sambol grilled-cheese next to a small cactus and a pair of sunglasses, but thanks for letting me know if that one cafe was worth going all the way to Mount Lavinia for. I owe you, really.
17. Everyone that’s not a food blogger is a home baker.
Someone please fund a Great Lankan Bake Off soon so I don’t have to try 27 different carrot cakes to find the best one.
18. You expect your friends to come through with all their ethnic foods during each of their respective festivals.
Don’t even mention biriyani at Eid unless you sent me a tray of kokis and kavum for Avurudu.
19. All adults are ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunty’ no matter what.
On the plus side, you never have to remember anyone’s name.
20. Everyone over the age of 50 has back pain (and needs you to know about it).
Old people only want to talk about 2 things: what parts of their body hurt, and when you’re getting married.
21. Small talk is just complaining about politicians.
If you read only the front page of a newspaper once a week, you will be well equipped for all family functions, first dates and hospital waiting rooms.
22. You feel watched (because you are).
Everyone knows everyone, so someone’s always going to be telling on you. But someone’s also always going to be looking out for you, so it evens out.