Tales from Ceylon
So I’m in Sri Lanka, although I keep calling it Ceylon because my parents still live the imperial dream. Thanks Dad. This post is about how white, pretentious young things, a bit like me really, like the idea of getting with a ‘local guy’ as a way of seeing the real Sri Lanka.
For more tales from Ceylon, have a look here.
A tourist never identifies with the label ‘tourist.’
In our minds, we’re a local. Well if we’re not quite locals, we’re at least Experienced Travellers. We know the real country. We’re not one of those tourists. Not one of the burned and blubbery masses, drinking imported beer on the beach.
To convince ourselves we hear the real beating heart of the country, we experiment with ways of being local. I discovered the funniest manifestation of this: the Sri Lankan beach boy/rich white women coupling.
White, pretentious young things like me always want to get with foreign guys when we travel. It makes us feel like we’re really experiencing local culture. Plus it’s exotic! Refreshing! Culturally sensitive!
We probably shouldn’t do it. But we do. And it’s hilarious to watch.
I’m in a beach town at the moment. It’s a place full of white women in ethnic prints, and mandatory French fries with every meal. I like it though. It’s an urban safari where my Sri Lankan friends point out the beach boy phenomenon.
The beach boy is a manifestation of the ‘getting local’ game.
Sri Lankan friends explained its’ a running Lankan joke about foreigners. What happens is that women of independent means, as Austen would say, come on holiday here. To continue ‘getting local’ game, they hook up with beach combing Sri Lankan guys.
The girls think they’re getting with a Real Local…But, as my friend put it real locals don’t live in places that advertise 10 gelato flavours.
The guys get women with cash, libido and interest in them. I can see why they’d do it.
Admittedly this is a jokey stereotype, and I’m sure a number of these couplings are true love. But today I’ve seen three 50 ish spherical white women making out with a gorgeous Sri Lankan twenty somethings.
Some sly voice in my head, that sounds uncannily like my Dad, says she’s there for the exoticism, he’s in it for the Mastercard.
Now I don’t care who hooks up with who. But it’s funny the extremes we white girls go to.
We buy apparently Sri Lankan things, which we show to our non Sri Lankan friends, as proof that we have experienced the real Sri Lanka. (Can I just ask how many actual Lankans you see wearing anklets and elephant print purple harem pants?)
The local guy is the next thing we collect as proof that we’ve done Sri Lanka, man.
And watching myself, and people like me, with our silly games and exotic fantasies is hilarious. No wonder Sri Lankans are so happy and friendly; they’re laughing at the comedy of White Woman on Exotic Holiday.