Travel, Humor, Life

Everything you know if you’re a young person in Colombo

Home of short eats, short-cuts, and short fuses.

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.

A blonde woman wearing black sunglasses walks down the aisle of an airplane. She is swinging her shoulders and is obviously tipsy.
[Image description: A blonde woman wearing black sunglasses walks down the aisle of an airplane. She is swinging her shoulders and is obviously tipsy.] Via Giphy.

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.

American politician Bernie Sanders speaks into a mic, punctuating each word by stabbing his finger into the air. He says emphatically, "Diversity is one of our greatest strengths!"
[Image description: American politician Bernie Sanders speaks into a mic, punctuating each word by stabbing his finger into the air. He says emphatically, “Diversity is one of our greatest strengths!”] Via Giphy.

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.

A white cat with ginger spots turns to look at the camera while wearing black sunglasses. The text above its head says 'Too cool for school.'
[Image description: A white cat with ginger spots turns to look at the camera while wearing black sunglasses. The text above its head says ‘Too cool for school.’] Via Giphy.

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.

A blonde woman takes a big bite into a burger she is holding, dramatically rolling her eyes back in pleasure.
[Image description: A blonde woman takes a big bite into a burger she is holding, dramatically rolling her eyes back in pleasure.] Via Giphy.

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.

A young black man smiles before picking up a drink and sipping it with a straw, saying, "Straight up delicious."
[Image description: A young black man smiles before picking up a drink and sipping it with a straw, saying, “Straight up delicious.”] Via Giphy.

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.

Rihanna, wearing her black hair straight with a fringe and a short, powder-blue coat, brushes her thumbs against her fingers on both hands, making the universal sign for 'money'.
[Image description: Rihanna, wearing her black hair straight with a fringe and a short, powder-blue coat, brushes her thumbs against her fingers on both hands, making the universal sign for ‘money’.] Via Giphy.

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.

A young man wearing his hat backwards and holding a red solo cup purses his lips and and side-eyes the camera doubtfully. A group of his friends stand behind him, looking skeptical.
[Image description: A young man wearing his hat backwards and holding a red solo cup purses his lips and and side-eyes the camera doubtfully. A group of his friends stand behind him, looking skeptical.] Via Giphy.

Duplication Road will always be Duplication Road.

8. Your GP is either part of your family or a family friend.

A middle-aged doctor stands in a room full of medical equipment and dabs with a straight face.
[Image description: A middle-aged doctor stands in a room full of medical equipment and dabs with a straight face.] Via Giphy.

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.

A set of traffic lights with the green and red lights flashing alternatively at a very quick pace.
[Image description: A set of traffic lights with the green and red lights flashing alternatively at a very quick pace.] Via Giphy.

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?

An unseen figure sits on a bench, struggling to hold up an excessively large newspaper that keeps crumpling up. The entire scene is in black-and-white.
[Image description: An unseen figure sits on a bench, struggling to hold up an excessively large newspaper that keeps crumpling up. The entire scene is in black-and-white.] Via Giphy.

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.

A little girl with dark hair in a pink swimsuit crawls onto some sand and says, 'I take a nap right here.'
[Image description: A little girl with dark hair in a pink swimsuit crawls onto some sand and says, ‘I take a nap right here.’] Via Giphy.

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.

A man and a woman sit at a bar. The man enthusiastically yells, 'Pills, baby!,' to which the woman asks, 'Why are you like this?'
[Image description: A man and a woman sit at a bar. The man enthusiastically yells, ‘Pills, baby!,’ to which the woman asks, ‘Why are you like this?’] Via Giphy.

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.

An Indian woman in a champagne-coloured lehenga walks across the screen. Behind her, a large number of female dancers perform in bejewelled bikinis and feathered headpieces.
[Image description: An Indian woman in a champagne-coloured lehenga walks across the screen. Behind her, a large number of female dancers perform in bejewelled bikinis and feathered headpieces.] Via Giphy.

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.

A grey cat looks into the camera with a disgruntled expression on its face, while wearing a green-coloured coconut shell on its head as a helmet.
[Image description: A grey cat looks into the camera with a disgruntled expression on its face, while wearing a green-coloured coconut shell on its head as a helmet.] Via Giphy.

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.

A group of 4 young women enthusiastically exclaim, 'Shopping!' while throwing their heads back and smiling wide.
[Image description: A group of 4 young women enthusiastically exclaim, ‘Shopping!’ while throwing their heads back and smiling wide.] Via Giphy.

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.

A young woman with dark hair wearing a white tank top stands up to take a photo of her food with her phone before accidentally dropping her phone into the food.
[Image description: A young woman with dark hair wearing a white tank top stands up to take a photo of her food with her phone before accidentally dropping her phone into the food.] Via Giphy.

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.

A Bengali woman wearing a green hijab and striped sweater urgently whisks a yellow substance in a clear bowl while looking frustrated.
[Image description: A Bengali woman wearing a green hijab and striped sweater urgently whisks a yellow substance in a clear bowl while looking frustrated.] Via Giphy.

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.

A bearded Indian man stands in a woman's doorway and holds up a platter of food while wiggling his eyebrows and smiling suggestively.
[Image description: A bearded Indian man stands in a woman’s doorway and holds up a platter of food while wiggling his eyebrows and smiling suggestively.] Via Giphy.

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.

A middle-aged Indian woman in a bright pink sari holds a teacup in her left hand and gestures expressively with the other.
[Image description: A middle-aged Indian woman in a bright pink sari holds a teacup in her left hand and gestures expressively with the other.] Via Giphy.

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).

An older Indian woman with a white shawl on her head holds her hand to the side of her head and closes her eyes as if she is feeling ill.
[Image description: An older Indian woman with a white shawl on her head holds her hand to the side of her head and closes her eyes as if she is feeling ill.] Via Giphy.

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.

A woman with wavy brown hair says confidently into the camera, 'I was born for politics. I have great hair, and I love lying.'
[Image description: A woman with wavy brown hair says confidently into the camera, ‘I was born for politics. I have great hair, and I love lying.’] Via Giphy.

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).

A man with a beard wears a blonde wig and looks into the camera with a pair of binoculars while smirking.
[Image description: A man with a beard wears a blonde wig and looks into the camera with a pair of binoculars while smirking.] Via Giphy.

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.