Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Travelling to Jaffna: Bus Eke

I was reading a blog post I came across, about discrimination against Tamils at the Omanthai check point.

It reminded me of my own experience travelling to Jaffna on the bus.

I was asleep. Woken up as the bus slowed down. I have an NIC card. I don't know what I look like. Or sound like. Especially around 2am, groggy and tired.

I get down from the bus and people are asked to go through the check point.  A farce of a check really, just carry your stuff and go through the line up. Like a military ruling state, which is, I remind myself, what we are. How sheltered we live in our little bubbles. How it must feel like to actually be a Tamil speaking person, and be looked upon suspiciously.

I was sleepy. I am walking through the line. Three women, huddled together. In Army uniform.

I hand over my id. They open my hand bag and start looking inside. They look over my id. Ask me a question. I forget what it was. I believe, something to the effect of "ah oya sinhalada" and astonishment and giggle almost. I am too tired and sleepy to comprehend. One nudges the other and says "meya sinhala." I am a sinhalese. It says so on my NIC. "Ah hari hari, yanna." They don't even bother with my bag after that. Free to go on account of being a the majority type. As if there were no accounts of the sinhala terrorists who helped the LTTE. How funny.

I am dazed.

I will let you do the commentary. True story. One of I wonder how so many. How ashamed I felt because I know the people behind me heard. How awful it must be, to be treated second class citizens by a bunch of very badly trained security personnel. How I shudder to think how professional these army women were. Imagine these people on a battle field. With guns. In uniform.

No, post war Sri Lanka is beautiful and we are truly the tear drop of the indian ocean.

4 comments:

  1. Please, your NIC does not say Sinhalese or Tamil. You make educated guesses based on name and place of birth.

    I am Tamil with a very Tamil middle name and and last name ending in "singhe" and born in Galle.

    Bus trip to Jaffna stopped at Murugandi, Tea Break and check point. I walked toward the then brand new spanky, plate glass restaurant and took some photos and "inadvertently" took a few photos of the Army point right there. Anyway got questioned, looked at the ID and was asked to run back to bus as the check line was almost over.

    Get to the line and the Army guys ask "Sinhala da Demale da". I reply Demale. Wanted to know where I went etc courteous and friendly.

    Them out pops this guy in civvies and starts asking me questions in tamil, very rude. I can manage some Tamil, but was not going to oblige this guy with rude attitude. I Replied and said I dont understand Tamil. The guy started getting all agitated. The Army guys smiled and said "Mahathaya, yanna, bus ekata naginna".

    Later on describing the situ, the thought was that the rude guy was EDP.

    ReplyDelete
  2. .Please, your NIC does not say Sinhalese or Tamil. You make educated guesses based on name and place of birth.

    I am Tamil with a very Tamil middle name and and last name ending in "singhe" and born in Galle.

    Bus trip to Jaffna stopped at Murugandi, Tea Break and check point. I walked toward the then brand new spanky, plate glass restaurant and took some photos and "inadvertently" took a few photos of the Army point right there. Anyway got questioned, looked at the ID and was asked to run back to bus as the check line was almost over.

    Get to the line and the Army guys ask "Sinhala da Demale da". I reply Demale. Wanted to know where I went etc courteous and friendly. Them out pops this guy in civvies and starts asking me questions in tamil, very rude attitude. I Replied and said I dont understand Tamil. The guy started getting all agitated. The Army guys smiled and said "Mahathaya, yanna, bus ekata naginna".

    Later on describing the situ, the thought was that the rude guy was EDP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey! The NIC may not specifically state it, but it might as well, coupled with the name and where you come from. I guess being from the south makes one less susceptible? I just feel it is so ridiculous. If they need to check for security, why not check everyone the same way.

      It is just so frustrating. How incompetent and stupid and hurtful it is to normal people just going about their business. It just continues to fuel the almost irreversible damage done to our country. You would think they could at least do something about it now. But no, people who are not affected remain oblivious to the discrimination. Apathy simply fuels it.

      Love your blog by the way. Very excited to browse the travel posts.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Delete
  3. People are so narrow minded.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for dropping by. Would love to hear your thoughts.