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.


Anonymous said...

This is a great idea!

So can your blog readers drop in on Tuesdays?

Rajaratarala said...

some of my blog readers have already attended, so please one of you who came please write a comment of your own about what you felt about it

Rajaratarala said...

yesterday's open house drop ins included, Ranjan, Jith, Janaka, Navin, Akhtar, Bunchy, Fuzzy, Naf, Gina, Melanie, Kemal, Bharatha

Niroshan Kumarasiri said...

I was so mesmerized by your blog that I read more than 75% of it in one day!I am also an accountant working in the middle east and my hope and dream is also to do an agri-business one day when I come back.With this in mind I found your writings so informational,refreshing and interesting that I cannot put it into words like you so eloquently do.I even thought of coming back and offering you my help to run your business by taking care of your sales rounds and your farm in Godagama even though my knowledge in agriculture is next to zero.But I cannot since I have a family living in Colombo, two kids going to international school, a vehicle to maintain and a rented house in Nugegeoda!How could I just come back and get into what you're doing anywhere in the near future!?But I applaud you for your courage and determination and especially the efforts you are putting into documenting your experiences and thoughts.May be when come to Colombo for a vacation next time I will get to meet you and perhaps spend a day at your Ratmale lodge with my family.I wish you all the very best and assure you that you have one more loyal and avid reader to count.

Offthebeatentrack said...

Whoops...catching up on your blog after some time and just saw this. Just wanted to say when I dropped in a few weeks ago I had a very interesting evening with a gracious host:) Hope to catch up soon. N