101 Reasons to Carry an Umbrella in Sri Lanka

Here is an attempt at humor. Anyone with experience in Sri Lanka should feel free to add more reasons by submitting a comment:

The reason to carry an umbrella with you at all times in Sri Lanka is that:

1. …it might rain. I do not know if it rains “cats and dogs” in Sri Lanka or not, because it rains so hard here that adding an occasional cat or dog to the mix would not be noticible. As we have come to learn, rain is a real force of nature here. In fact, amazingly, it can rain buckets here without any evidence of a storm, as such. There can be no wind, for example, and yet water fills the air, falling absolutely straight down. Which makes it easy to decide which way to point ones umbrella.

2. …it might be sunny. An umbrella used as a parasol is actually cooler than wearing a hat. Looks really cute if you are a woman. Looks really odd if you are a man.

3. …the fruit bats might decide to see what their cousins think is so great about vampirism. A cricket bat would be more effective in this application, but wouldn’t you feel funny carrying a cricket bat with you all the time? Oh, wait! This is Sri Lanka! No one would notice.

4. …you might be attacked by wild dogs. Oh, wait! This posting was supposed to be funny, not true to life.

5. …you might want to investigate something on the ground, but not actually want to touch it. I was walking to work a few days ago and saw what looked like a scorpion. I looked closely. Classical scorpion shape, crab-like claws in miniature, long thick tail. But it was a plastic-ky deep green-blue color all over. So, I poked it a few times with the tip of my umbrella. Felt kind of rubbery. So, I concluded it must have been a kid’s plastic insect. Walked by the same spot the next day. Ants were feeding on the carcass. Hmmm. Not plastic! Glad I didn’t touch it.

6. …you might want to maintain some personal space. Sri Lankans do not have the same sense of personal space as Americans. This can be a problem while standing in line for two reasons. The first is that Sri Lankans don’t believe in standing in lines and the second is that they are happy to use what you think of as your personal space to cut in front of you. I’ve found that holding my umbrella horizontally, midpoint at my side, the tip therefore rearward a foot or so, and then making sudden quick rotations about a vertical axis at random times helps keep my place in line.

7. …monkeys hang out in the trees over the paths on my way to work at the university. Enough said.

8. …Sri Lanka is a bird-lover’s paradise and the birds hang out in the trees over the paths on my way to work at the university. Enough said.

9. …you might want to get off a bus that you were silly enough to get on in the first place. Remember that part about personal space? It is amazing how many people they can get on a bus in Sri Lanka. If you need to get off the bus, there will not be enough room for you to get by. However, if you force the tip of your umbrella between two people and move the handle vigorously from side to side, you can get by. Seeing the high density of matter in a Sri Lankan bus has made me wonder if Pauli’s Exclusion Principle is actually Pauli’s Exclusion Suggestion in Sri Lanka.

Gee, if I could come up with one more I could have a top-ten list for Leno. Anyone have any more?




  1. Sam said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    What about sitting it out on the beachfront and sharing “personal space”. Umbrellas dot the beach, Tim!

  2. Tim said,

    November 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for the reminder! For those not so familiar with Sri Lanka, it is a common sight to see young Sri Lankan lovers sharing an umbrella and their mutual “personal space.” The umbrella is used more to shield the lovers from the prying eyes of others than as shield against rain or sun. The practice is famous at the old, stone, Galle Fort where the tryst-ers sit in the gun ports overlooking the Indian Ocean, which has to be one of the world’s most romantic viewpoints.

    Let’s see if we can re-cast Sam’s idea into the format of our list:

    10. …you might want to explore “sharing your personal space” with a (special) Sri Lankan (friend) without anyone seeing the experiment in progress.

  3. Tim said,

    November 28, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Regarding the crowded buses, a new colleague of mine in the Physics Department at Peradeniya had an observation. She believes that it is not a coincidence that Pauli, whose name adorns the Exclusion Principle was from the West, while Bose, whose name is associated with pretty much the opposite phenomena, is from India.

    Another colleague chimed in to say that if I thought the buses are crowded in Sri Lanka, I should wait until I see the buses in India. He reports that it is not at all unusual to see bus passengers riding on the roof in India!

  4. November 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    […] I use my umbrella and our basket of groceries to (successfully) maintain my place in line (see 101 Reasons to Carry an Umbrella in Sri Lanka Reason #6). And we are […]

  5. June 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

    […] to her voice commands. In fact, this bad dog was one of the reasons why item number four in “101 Reasons to Carry an Umbrella in Sri Lanka” was noted as true and not […]

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