Tuesday, February 23, 2010
the limited friendships in our society
When I returned to SL after a three decade absence, save for fleeting visits for a week or two, I realized that my complete circle in Sri Lanka was limited to my immediate relatives with whom I was close, and did not feel the need to extend my friendships any further. On reflection of that feeling I realized that it was quite insular and it was hard to extend this range unless one actively went out socializing, by joining a club or organization such as lions or rotary.
I also noticed that most people I knew only socialized with a very limited range of friends, either from school days or from their workplace. How was I going to increase the scope of potential friends? My solution was to start a weekly open house at my place and starting with people I knew, I asked them to bring drop in if they were free with a friend for a drink and a chat.
Within three months of this, I was able to suddenly broaden my base of friends to about 100 with whom I had regular contacts with and my acquaintance base by a similar figure with whom I was on nodding terms and be able to call on and chat with if I was at a social occasion.
This was a couple of years ago, when I came for a short stint in Sri Lanka. So when I returned to Sri Lanka and moved out of the regular social scene, I had no occasion to
renew my friendships after a long absence. It was easy to live out in the boonies and not be in touch with those who I knew as I was busy making new contacts as if I were in a new country far away from friends and family.
I was however for financial necessity forced into coming back into the commercial world in order to supplement my income as I was having a hard time making ends meet living a hand to mouth existence. At this instant I had to find digs in Colombo in order to fulfill my task for a few days of the week, and I decided to renew my friendships and so re-commenced my open house system. I was told that it is similar tot he at home that people used to have in days gone by where people would let it be known that they were available to meet friends at home on certain days of the week or month. This meant that in the days when few had phones or means of transport, they could arrange to make the trek to meet a friend or relative on a particular day knowing they would be home.
This then was the seed of the idea of people in SL dropping in at homes unannounced, a familiar aspect of society until recently where it has changed as people are now living busier lives and are able to use mobile phones to communicate and call before dropping in so that no time would be wasted, making unnecessary trips.
I have now set up a regular open house arrangement on Tuesdays, the day I am usually in Colombo for work in an office a 32nd floor of the World Trade Center, with a stunning view of Galle Face. Quite an array have dropped in mostly unannounced and these sessions have ranged from 2 to 42 people. The latter could still be accommodated, due to the unique layout of my bachelor pad which while built on a mere 2 perches is nevertheless in a tower with 4 levels, including a roof terrace to accommodate the young and restless in overflow mode.
I recommend opening your doors as you don't know who you will meet, you may be surprised.