Fruits and Nuts

December 8, 2006

To start with a bad pun, the color orange stems from the fruit. This is because Englishmen have orange oranges. Be this as it may, in the Old Days, all we Sri Lankans knew about our oranges was the fact that they were, most definitey, green. Hence, when the first Englishman, in the throes of the first British small-talk attempted on the Island, ventured to say “…that thing with the color of an orange, what?”, we intitially believed them to mean green.

Most unfortunately, the Sinhalese word for the color orange also stems from a fruit, because although our oranges were green, we had coconuts that were orange. All, however that Englishmen knew about coconuts was the fact that theirs were decidedly green. And thus when the first Ceylonese that the above Englishman made small talk to, casually mentioned that something or the other was the color of ‘thambili’, the visitor naturally assumed that the host meant something green.

And so came about a period of blissful ignorance where both parties actually meant to say orange but were understood to mean green.

Things went swimmingly until the first Temperate Orange (fruit) arrived.

Then the Ceylonese clustered around this wonder, and with one accord, chorused “Thambili!” (colour), much to the consternation of the Englishmen, who worried whether the sun was finally getting the better of them.

“You silly chaps! This is not a coconut (thambili)! This is here is an Orange (fruit)!”

This, being said to a race recently persuaded to believe that orange meant green, elicited instant dissent:

“Nae, Nae! Thambili (colour)!”

To shorten a painful story, the worried natives brought their guests (whose judgment they had already begun to deeply mistrust) to the nearest king-coconut grove, and directed their attention to the first orange (colour) coconut that a White Man had seen. And the Englishmen, in their haste to make amends, said exactly the wrong thing to a race of people whom they had previously led to believe that orange, the colour, means green.

“Mehe thambili orange paatai neda!”

Thus were sown the first seeds of discord. After a man has tried to tell you that green is actually orange, apologizes, and then says what he really meant to say was that orange is actually green, you  realize that you will never be able to trust him. You begin question his judgment and motives. You openly call him a liar.

We all know where this ended. The mistrust that took root that day eventually bore fruit in 1948, when we finally saw the back of the biggest breakdown in communication since the naming of the Kangaroo.

Thus ended this sad tale of human blunder. However, lest the future forget the lessons of its past, lest past mistakes be repeated in future folly, an Emblem was created by the Fathers of The Nation bearing the seal of a Brave and Unified Land, Standing Guard Forever over the Distinction that Green and Orange are Separate Things.

– – –

n.b. A friend has suggested on reading this that the whole issue with Britain and Oranges has been a universal picking-bone, and not merely confined to Lanka, citing the Orange Men of Ireland and their struggle to obtain Home Rule as an example… inferences are not compulsory.

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6 Responses to “Fruits and Nuts”

  1. Manshark Says:

    I love how you’ve turned the when-they-say-orange-is-it-the-same-thing-as-what-we-call-orange in to something that’s so topical 🙂

    PS>> can there be a part II to this next week about the man who wanted to paint? Plz? 🙂

  2. Nanda Says:

    Yeah, when the rest of the flag is black, it DOES look like the lion is going to try and carve up those orange and green strips with his butterknife…Never noticed that before.

  3. jokerman Says:

    hm. maybe i can get this posted on a conspiracy page.

  4. vor Says:

    bloody good article, what?

  5. Na Says:

    very very very kewl!


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