A conversation to remember.
I sometimes wonder, why I blog but it is to often to tell myself a story. Time erodes your memories and you just have big events in your brain, but sometimes it is the small things that happen to you which you enjoy.
So today I republish a post of mine from 2009. I was an intern at Freie Universität in the great city of Berlin.
A couple of days ago I met a Sri Lankan man at the bus stand as it is my habit nowadays to speak to all people who look Indian. We got a bit chatty and we had a lively discussion, and the conversation quickly veered towards LTTE and Sri Lanka. This man a Tamil himself, he told me that his grandfather was a Chettiar from Tamil Nadu who had moved down to Sri Lanka to set up a business, surprised me by stating that he did not sympathize with the LTTE one bit. As the conversation began to get more and more intense he said that LTTE kidnapped kids and brainwashed them and trained them to wage the Elam’s war. It hit me that this was no different than Taliban or any other Muslim military outfit. He explained that the situation was grim back in Ceylon ( interestingly he reffered Sri Lanka as Ceylon always) and the LTTE used to kill people even Tamils who did not see eye to eye with their cause. He said that his family moved out of Sri Lanka in the 70s to Canada and Germany.
At this juncture I asked him what about Prabhakaran, he plainly said Prabhakaran has escaped with his close group of supporters and claims by the Lankan Army reports are nothing but propaganda. I pushed him a bit more on how can he be confident on the fact that Prabhakaran is alive, and he gave me a quick grin and said that he knew a lot of people in Lanka and no one believes he is dead, well I was surprised that Vellupillai Prabhakaran had such an indefatigable image in the minds of the people.
I asked him does he not sympathize with the Tamilians of Sri Lanka, and he said that the Tamils were big headed people (he himself was a tamil), who do not respect the other people. He gave me an example saying that in the small Sri Lankan community in Berlin, Tamils never spoke to any Non Tamils whereas the Singhalese (the other ethnic group of Sri Lanka) people spoke to everyone and were very accommodating. He himself while growing up in Sri Lanka had a lot of Singhalese friends and not many Tamil friends.
As the conversation headed towards India, and I explained to him saying that India is growing economy and a very vibrant place ( I have got used to doing this as the Europeans have a portrait of India as a very poor third world country where millions starve without food). He just slashed me down by saying in India the things are fast and fun, in the west (he referred to Europe) the things are slow but effective.
Our conversation got more and more lively but I had to get down at my bus stop and wished him good bye may be for ever, as I do not have his name or contact.
I was delighted to know a lot about my neighboring country what the people think there, how they feel about India. I got to know that you get a better picture of the nation by speaking to some one from there than from some news articles. I was surprised to meet a Sri Lankan who did not sympathize with the LTTE, who did not like the attitude of the Tamils, who thought Prabhakaran was a terrorist and is still alive.
I guess this is a post for me to remember this conversation.