The first impression that you get of someone, comes not just from their physical appearance, but comes more from their expressions. In other words whether they smile or not. In Sri Lanka, there are very few people who don’t smile.
We had been told about this before hand, but it was even more true than I ever imagined…
A little less than 3 weeks before, we were in Mendoza in Argentina. We wanted to discover the town’s nightlife, and that night there was the friendship festival where all friends come together to celebrate. Arriving the night before in the town, we hadn’t had the time to make friends. So we organised our own little party on a social networking Internet site and invited dozens of people from the area.
One person replied, but that person counted for 10 people. Carlos who is a eye specialist doctor had also only just arrived, and spent very little time in Mendoza. He’d been travelling around Asia treating children and locals. At 35 years old, his life had already been extremely fulfilled.
He spoke to us about his first experiences in India: “I went there to treat people who often don’t have access to care. I was also looking for a sense of meaning and of escapism. I never thought that I would come back so transformed: a better person, more open… and with a smile”.
A smile which remains printed on his face.
He explained the advantages:
“People smiled at me all the time. I ended up returning their smiles back at them. For the first time, people told me that my smile was amazing, dazzling, radiant! From there, other people starting to say it to me too… and looked at me in a new way… it was true, I had changed, and for the better.”
We had a negative image of India because of the inequalities and lack of women’s rights we’d heard about. That does exist… but however, not as often as that.
In Sri Lanka, even though it’s not quite actually India, the geographical proximity and history that the 2 countries have in common, has given them the same culture of smiling.
Sri-Lankans smile, they politely nod their heads, they are naturally courteous… they made us feel good, and also made us smile 🙂