Try to connect with real people too - Kumar de Silva | Sunday Observer
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Try to connect with real people too - Kumar de Silva

26 September, 2021

Reflecting on the eras of the world as life was simple, fun and adventurous. The 60s, 70s and 80s, a time of carefree and free love. Looking back at life and sharing one’s experience and memory. To the younger self with love and happiness. To the younger generations giving advice and knowledge.

Media personality and corporate etiquette trainer Kumar de Silva answers a few questions on the present and past eras.

Q: What do you want to tell your younger self?

A: Funny you ask me this question. I am a perfectionist and, in fact, my worst critic. Believe me, that’s a crazy place to be in. Over the years, and even now, I always revisit myself and tell myself… this could have been done better and that could have been done better.

So what do I say to my younger self? Could have been done better!

Q: Regrets in life?

A: Yes, of course. Don’t we all have regrets in life? I’m not one of those bitterly overly ambitious people so I’m generally content with what I have achieved in life.

I have not gone wrong either. But looking back I wish I had learnt a third foreign language in addition to French and German. I also wish I spoke my ‘parental languages’ - Sinhala and Tamil - far more fluently than I do now. And looking back again I regret that I have still not got the opportunity to play a Buddhist monk in a Sinhala film.

This has been my dream since childhood.

Q: The best times of your life?

A: Oh, plenty from dizzy and exhilarating to crazy and risqué… and far too numerous to list out. My pleasures in life are very simple dancing in the autumn rain during the wine festival at Montmartre in Paris, enthusiastically going on two consecutive full days to Disneyland Paris, binging on my favourite pol rottis at wayside kadés, sitting in a wood cabin up in the thick, snow-covered Vosges mountains at the Franco-German border and listening to the deafening sound of silence, etc etc etc … and I must add that every day of my fifteen years with Bonsoir was memorable.

Q: What did your generation have that this generation doesn’t?

A: Every generation is of an era and so there are both the pluses and the minuses. I guess our generation had the time to enjoy and savour the simple and ‘simpler’ pleasures of life, bereft of electronic gadgetry. We listened to radio plays and got into that world, mealtime was around a table where we talked to each other, etc. There was more human contact and physical/manual work in the daily routine. Here again, I need to add that all this was era-based and era-oriented so one cannot say that one was better than the other. But, but, but I do bemoan the fact that the human element is missing today.

Q: What does this generation have that your generation didn’t?

A: Greater, in fact, instant, access to information and technology. Everything is at their fingertips. I remember going to the British Council when it was located next to the Colombo Swimming Club armed with a pencil and tracing paper. I sat for hours painstakingly tracing, in detail, images of the Egyptian and Greek and Roman civilizations off those encyclopedias and back home to trace them back into the project work I was doing for school. All you need today is a mobile phone and printer and hey presto you’re done. Today’s generation has a lot of opportunities in terms of education, careers, jobs, geographical mobility etc which I think is wonderful.

Q: Your advice to the current generation?

A: My advice is three-pointed:

Learn all the time. Never stop learning. Knowledge is your strength and your weapon.

Learn at least one foreign language. Sri Lanka is not an island anymore. We are an intrinsic part of the global community. Fluency in a foreign language opens innumerable doors.

In this cyber world, try to connect with real living breathing human beings too.