14 April 2019
Whether it is North or South, tourism is an important source of work for Sri Lankans. I was rather upset when I read this morning the report on an Airbnb facility in Labookellie, Nuwara Eliya, in Sri Lanka. As an Airbnb host I feel upset on behalf of all hosts and guests. My experiences through Airbnb have been very positive here in Coogee, NSW, Australia. This morning I shared an experience as follows:
[Susan is our Airbnb customer for the weekend. Susan’s checkout time is 10 o’clock. Since my husband and I go out after our weekly telephone conference around 11 a.m., with our son who lives in Melbourne, I am fairly firm on this check out time being adhered to. But after sitting down with our guests and sharing experiences – which they wanted to – and learning that Susan was participating in the swimming race this morning, I felt inclined to accommodate a late check out. But it was important that I did not compromise on family time in doing this. Susan outlined her plan to check out early - before the race and park her car outside. I did not agree or disagree. But I said to my husband that Susan could check herself out at a later time because we are not having another guest today. Susan needed the keys and the sensor to follow the above – but not to walk out of the main entrance. This morning Susan received a call from her brother informing her that there was no parking available outside. When I then explained to her that she could do as I had planned – she was so very happy. I was able to do that because Susan was a caring customer and this meant that our common experience was lifted to the level of trusting each other. Those who trust would not hurt the person they trust. Susan is already talking about recommending others to our place. To me it is that elevated sharing of higher values that bring us what we need when we need it. THAT is how I get my customers – especially the ones who would elevate the common experience.]
I shared the above with Jetwing staff who have shown special care in providing services. One of the main aspects that I value about Jetwing is the feeling of security. This became important after our cottage in Thunaivi was stoned by youth who were upset that I reported a security breach to the Vaddukoddai police. Such attacks may be ‘normal’ to the folks in that area. But to me they were disrespectful of my true status there. We donated land for a development secretariat which building was constructed out of development funds. At the time we were informed that the Post Office and the Grama Sevakar (Government’s representative at village level) would move into that building. But this did not happen. In the meantime we also built a 2 bedroomed cottage to facilitate our services through the School of Human Values. But gradually we learnt that the folks were not ready to learn from us due to them having enjoyed ‘freedom’ as a toddy tapper community. They had difficulty appreciating the order that I expected them to maintain around the temple.
If we find that we cannot improve law and order beyond a certain point – by coexisting we could share our good order energy merely by caring for them as if they were a part of us. But the stoning meant that the young ones were rejecting me and hence the risk of other breaches was high. My investment in ‘security’ was genuine and since I did not take any return nor revenge – that comes with me wherever I go. It’s the protecting energy that guides me when I make decisions.
As per the above mentioned report headed ‘Indian businessman’s ‘gruelling experience’ in SL: Cash, jewelery and passports stolen’ the Indian businessman seems to have gone through my parallel of our cottage being stoned. People in an area who are ‘free’ and to whom you do not feel connected – make that place unsafe for tourism. A person who cares about them would know intuitively and that is the ultimate value of our genuine service. It’s win win situation in the sense – you take your service value to a more deserving area and your investment in visibly abandoned buildings confirms to the would be tourist to beware of the cultural variations of the People of that area. Eventually self-governance means not desiring the resources of those who have sacrificed more for law and order without respecting them. Equal status taken without using the common measure leads to such disasters. Northern province has the challenge of overriding caste related issues in multi-caste areas. Caste when used as per our work – determines our status hierarchy. When we flatten the system prematurely there is disaster.
In his political speech at (https://www.facebook.com/sumanthiransuma/videos/vb.100034950223427/113511536490520/?type=2&theater)
Politician Sumanthiran praises the extraordinary combat skills of the militants. But he failed to highlight why they failed to achieve their goal of separation – as per his calculation. What would Mr Sumanthiran say to Velupillai Prabhakaran in this regard? First of all would Mr Sumanthiran take a position above Prabhakaran or below him as his junior? If neither then the separation has happened internally – between citizens who follow the law and militants who are a law unto themselves and would not be told by others. Every leader who ‘uses’ the outcomes of militants – as their own – is regrouping her/his own leadership.
Like in tourism, wise administrators are needed to make up for the failure of politicians who promise policy and practice fallacy.