Feeling good! That’s how Kussi Amma Sera (KAS) felt on this Thursday morning as she caught up with her neighbour and comrade-in-arms Serapina to exchange more than a week of gossip and goofing around during their spare time. “Mata hari santhosai,” said KAS happily. “Eh … aie?” asked Serapina. “Apey lamayata russawak hambuna. Honda teaching [...]

Business Times

Feeling good, feeling groovy


Feeling good! That’s how Kussi Amma Sera (KAS) felt on this Thursday morning as she caught up with her neighbour and comrade-in-arms Serapina to exchange more than a week of gossip and goofing around during their spare time.

“Mata hari santhosai,” said KAS happily. “Eh … aie?” asked Serapina. “Apey lamayata russawak hambuna. Honda teaching post ekak. Apey anith putha grama sevaka training walata yanawa,” KAS responds. “Jeevithe hondai (Life’s good)”.

Lots to talk about and all feel-good news for ‘apey’ Kussi Amma Sera, having returned after several days from the village. Like their employers, domestic aides too, occasionally need a long vacation to recharge their batteries for another year of work.

The feel-good factor rubbed off on me too after reading an interesting piece in the National Geographic’s November 2017 edition on the most-happiest places in the world.

The article titled, ‘The search for HAPPINESS’ picked Denmark, Costa Rica and Singapore as among the happiest places on earth where residents are far more contented than any other cities.

The Oxford dictionary (I wonder how many people still refer the dictionary to check correct spelling, etc) describes ‘feel-good’ as “a quality in something that makes people feel happy and positive about their lives, a product, the economy, etc”.

This is also best described in the ‘59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)’ song by legendary American duo Simon and Garfunkel.

The lyrics of that song go like this: “Slow down, you move too fast//You got to make the morning last//Kicking down the cobblestones//Looking for fun and feeling groovy//”.
“I got no deeds to do//No promises to keep//I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep//Let the morning time drop all its petals on me//Life, I love you//Feeling groovy//”.
What do Denmark, Costa Rica and Singapore have in common? Nat Geo says “their people feel secure, have a sense of purpose, and enjoy lives that minimise stress and maximize joy”.

It said researchers who publish the annual World Happiness Report found that about three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: Strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These factors don’t materialise by chance; they are intimately related to a country’s government and its cultural values. In other words the happiest places incubate happiness for their people, the article noted.

So why are we talking about feeling good, feeling groovy? Well Sri Lanka and the world is not all about being negative. Most people in the village amidst their daily routine and hand-to-mouth sustenance (existence) are happy and contented unlike city folk where whatever you get is not enough and stretching the rupee is unthinkable these days. In the village, however, the rupee is stretched just like that ‘saying’ about the “rubber-mile”. This is a reference to a villager who sincerely gives you directions (when asked for a particular location), points and says “it’s not very far and just around the corner”. On the contrary, you find it takes a couple of kilometres before you reach your destination resulting in the “rubber-mile” anecdote.

In fact, the happiest people you’d find are in the village. Even though they are considered low income or poor, poverty is only in the acquisition of goods but in everything else – kindness, happiness, being compassionate and contented — they are the happiest particularly when in the village, not surrounded by the trappings of consumerism, costly entertainment, fast food and other costly, city distractions.

Having said that, if one wants to hear some feel-bad news, then our latest Business Times-Second Curve poll this week is the one to read. It’s a never-ending diet of bad news, complaints, distrust and disenchantment. People are disappointed with their leaders, their role models, politicians and generally fed up with politics and society. Some serious, bad-news stuff.

However, amidst those rumblings are some good-news thoughts. Here is a selection:

“The media has to encourage the best and brightest in our country to enter politics. We should be looking for a Sri Lankan Lee Kuan Yew.”
“We are looking forward to political and economic stability, less promises and more delivery and ethnic harmony.”
“The (February) local government poll would be peaceful with women participation.”
“The new election system will provide residents in an electoral ward someone who truly represents them.”
“25 per cent allocation to women representation is a good move.”
“The new election system that puts a stop to the preferential vote (Manapaya) will create a better atmosphere for the local election.”

Unfortunately, Sri Lankans are dogged with bad news. For instance, glancing through one news web last week, I found 22 headlines of the 36 stories on the page were bad or negative news stories. Here is a sample:

“Doctors threaten strike on Jan. 10//Immigration and Emigration officers agitate to win demands//Subject minister in the dark about SriLankan Board’s decision to resign//Chief Athletics Selector messing up//Colombo could be like Delhi (fog) soon//What exactly is the GMOA fighting for?”

So for starters in the year 2018 lets have more feel-good news rather than feel-bad news just like the announcement from the Central Bank on Thursday that a new traffic lights system will be in place as a pre-warning to any potential collapse of a finance company. This system will alert the Central Bank to any unusual activity or process that could lead a finance company downhill, so that preventive steps could be taken. Nice thought for thousands of depositors who depend on higher interest rates and monthly earning from private finance companies.

Traffic lights also seem to be the way forward following an earlier red, amber and green signal for carbonated drinks on sugar content.

At this point Serapina butts into the conversation, I mean my ‘thoughts’ on the computer, as she is heard telling Kussi Amma Sera that she was petrified hearing the song, ‘Mama bohoma baya wuna mage pana epa wuna//Raa dolahata holmanakata mawa asuwuna//” on an oldies radio station. “Mama hariyata bayawuna,” she told Kussi Amma Sera while both were sweeping their respective gardens on a somewhat chilly morning, referring to this Maxwell Mendis 1970s hit about a ghost. Some ghostly thoughts to end this conversation.

Maybe the soothsayers have something better to say about the upcoming local government polls and who will win. From newspaper reports and rumblings in political camps, who will end up in third place appears to be the main discussion point and focus nowadays.

More good news? Well … the Central Bank Governor says there are hopes of achieving US$10 billion in reserves next year while today’s Business Times-Second Curve opinion poll reveals that most Sri Lankans don’t want to part with their national carrier, only hand it over to foreign management.

On a winding up note for 2017, we repeat our parting shot in the end December 2017 Kussi Amma Sera column “….… all you need is some common sense, a little intelligence and a bit of singer Sunil Perera’s ‘Koththamalli’, not only to soothe the nerves but predict with unnerving accuracy what would happen (next year)”. As our economist Sirimal Abeyratne says “the best is to come in 2018”. Feeling good, feeling groovy!

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