Thursday, March 03, 2005

Ayubuwan... Back from Sri Lanka

I spent past couple of days at Sri Lanka; to be precise I was at Colombo. All I knew about SL before landing is that, it is a land shattered by war for more than a decade, but very rich in flora and fauna, and had a very debasing destruction by recent Tsunami.But, there were more surprises awaiting me.

The Travel duration was just 55 Minutes from Chennai, and the very first sight I saw momentarily after the flight hit the runway was, 5 7 Military Tanks, Radars, Bunkers with loaded guns(Big ones),loads of weapons and a small battalion marching within the airport...
Oh Boy! Remember where you are...!! Behave yourself....!!
Frankly, Ive never seen military in action; except during the 1997-Feb-14 Coimbatore Bomb blasts (I was there at the vicinity amidst the chaos!!). My encounter with military is only atthe movies :) The Colombo airport appeared as if it was always ready for the war!

The island speaks 2 major languages: 1. Singalam 2. Tamil
Singalam, I was amazed at the speed they speak. Guess there are no syllables in their language :-) Also, I observed linguistic imperialism in SL i.e. most of the Tamils can speak both Tamil and Singalam, but 90% of singalese speak only singalam.

The biggest surprise of all was the TAMIL Language...

Think about a situation where you wake up in the morning, open up and read a Tamil news paper (and Tamil being your mother tongue). Now, your brain is capable of reading those blocks of words, but your brain dosent understand the meaning of any of those words...blip...!! Man... This happened to me, After reading a paragraph I realized that I did not understood anything, and I had to read it thrice making assumptions all along the paragraph...

I Was very puzzled, and during the initial days I thought they speak a different accent of tamil, but slowly I happened to learn that, they speak *Pure* Tamil and all I knew/speak for past 25 years is a bit impure/damaged Tamil !! There are lots of words in tamil which Ive never heard off... for example Avenue is written as Avenue in tamil e.g. Besant Nagar 4th avenue, but in SL they translate it as MaavathaiSimilarly, a Lane is translated as Olungai and a passport is translated to Kadavu Cheetu ( I remember the word kadavu in one of those AgaNaanooru/PuraNaanooru prose !!) , and No Parking = Tharital Koodathu

So What has gone wrong!! [I always curse chennaites for their improper use of tamil (these guys speak the language without Past/Present/Future tense.] Did my teachers taught me impure Tamil....?!I would definitely not call this as Accent leakage, but I would say here in India Tamil was influenced by hindi, English and other languages, and changed a lot these days.

While discussing these with Krishnan, he muttered Madurai was near Sri Lanka and 1st and 2nd Tamil Sangam was conducted at this madurai, later Madurai was shifted to the current place which is between Coimbatore and Tirunelveli.

This puzzled me and a quick research revealed me that was true!! Check out this map of India in 30,000 B.C and the Lemuria Continent

In the map you can locate Taen Madurai at the Submerged Tamilnadu area. And this is where 2 tamil sangams have been conducted consecutively.

Therefore, the purest form of Tamil language should have originated from here, and the Ceylon tamil should be the closest to that pure ancient tamil, among all other dialects of tamil.

More links on these are at




But what worries me is that, Ive learnt in-depth history of French revolution, American Revolution et al., but my school history did not teach me my own countrys history or did I forgot those history already ?!!! Gosh! Think about a whole mass of land which connects India and Australia is submerged, and is under water now ?!!

Incidentally, while I was at Temple bay resorts(Mahabalipuram) last month, we went for a catamaran ride and after 2-3 kms inside the sea, the fishermen showed me a top of a temple, which Ilater found that was one of those 7 pagodas. Out of those 7 temples, today we could see only 1 which is on the shore, and I happened to see something that humans have not seen for hundreds of years. This is termed as Lost Cityand here is a quote from BBC

The myths speak of six temples submerged beneath the waves with the seventh temple still standing on the seashore.
The myths also state that a large city which once stood on the site was so beautiful the gods became jealous and sent a flood that swallowed it up entirely in a single day.

And here are some links @ BBC


Fishermen added, this was the 1st time theyve seen this new temple, and during the Tsunami attack the sea water at mahabalipuram was taken back for almost 3 kms, and these guys have seen these ancient lands. Phew...! I traveled on top of the Lost city... a lost civilization.
Power of Nature !!

Coming Back to the topic, Definitely Sri Lankans speak pure Tamil, and I bow to their love for the language and maintaining it as an un-adulterated language.

Apart from these, Colombo Streets are flooded with imported Toyotas, Mitsubishis and Nissans. Every second car you encounter is a Toyota. Roads are pretty clean. Probably Colombo is the only city that wears fashionable looks, and houses all international establishments like McDonalds, KFC, Hilton, Holiday Inn et al. Also it houses lots of malls with food court with in it. I didnt miss my chance to hog at different cuisines...Sri Lankan (usually a spicy menu, with unpolished rice and string hoppers [a.k.a Idiappams :), I loved Pol Sambal and Hari Kori. Also hogged at Greek, Lebanese, Korean, Mexican, Malay, McDs and KFCs

1 Rupee almost does not have any value there, and autowalas (they call it as taxis) looks at you like peanuts if you offer 50 Rupees :) 1 SL Rupee equals 40 Paise INR. If you earn in dollars you can hit the list of Rich & Royal very soon. 1 USD = 100 SL Rupees.

And I found sri lankans pretty cool and very friendly, and interacted well with strangers. unfortunately in India, most of the ppl tend to ignore/avoid/exploit strangers, but sri lankans were quite cool and they get more close to you, when you say you are from India and especially from Tamil nadu. But they are always worried about the wars.

Apart from Colombo, the other parts of the island resembles Kerala, with lots of coconut trees, tiled houses, kerala style houses...

On the Work front, I was there to get trained and kick start my new project which is a direct competitor for Analysis Server of MSFT SQL Server(wat !?!!) and implements a similar architecture of Microsofts Indigo (??!!!!!!!), and this time my development team fully consists of srilankans. should be pretty interesting to work with. Virtusa has its offices at WTC and TransAsia buildings. Here are some pics.

I would work from my Hyderabad office for about 3 months, starting March 7th

posted by Logu Krishnan : 4:55 AM

Hi Logu,

It is prety Interesting. U r corect we forgot to learn or remember our own history and lovable tamil.

Senthil Kumar Ramachandran


I wonder why u missed out blogging de important thing/person you met] during ur short trip. me pretty disappointed :-(


It was very informative and gave an experience of a trip to SL

Hi Logu,

Your experience with Lankan Tamil was interesting. I would certainly love to call Avenue as Maveethi. Regarding Lemuria, I'm kinda sceptical on some aspects. There are enough evidence to support the existence of Lemuria and the existence of the Muthal and Idai sangams in Then Madurai. But was Thenmadurai situated in Lemuria? By any estimate the Muthal and Idai sangam could not have existed more than 3000 years or so. I beleive Thirukural was supposed to have been read at the Moonram Tamil Sangam in present day Madurai either in the first or fifth century AD. Now if the Tamil sangam's were in Then Madurai, did Lemuria sunk only 3000 years back? How come there is no mention of this in any literature we have heard of? If we argue that the first two sangams were much older than 3000 years, why was such a huge gap between these Sangams? Our history seems to be very hazy before the Sangam period (500 BC to 700 AD). Hope more info comes into light about this. Not to disagree with you... but I think Thenmadurai should have been somewhere in Kanniyakumari district or nearby rather than in such a big landmass like Lemuria. (Note: There is also a thought that Thiruvalluvar lived in Kanniyakumari district and not Mayilai. For all we know, he might have presented the Kural at Thenmadurai!!)


Interesting observation balaji :-) somehow I'm still surprised why this piece of history is still unexplored!! either the evidences would have been destroyed in time, or nobody is interested in exploring this! Remember, Poompuhar-Kannagi-Kovalan Story, this could have probably occured at the original thenmadurai.
anyways, shall try to research a bit on this :) and post if anything is interesting.

Dear Logu,
I was taught during my school days that muthal and idai sangams were in then Madurai which was situated in Leumaria. I dont know how u missed it.Of course it was long back (1953-1963). I have also read that Agasthya Rishi had written Taml grammer.
It will be really interesting to conduct research on the location of Then Madurai.But one has to search for it under the water. You can imagine the cost involved.I dont know who can provide the technology required.
I am surprised how u got the map of Lemuria continent.

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