First of all, welcome to Sri Lanka. Don’t worry, it’s all heart and not courtesy. This country has embraced one and all. Invader, interferer, brigand, smuggler, embezzler, immigrant, condescending missionary determined to ‘save’ the heathen, marauder, city-sacker, control-freak, you name it, we got them all.
This you must know: when we say ‘friend’ we mean it. It is not diplo-speak. We don’t refer to ‘long-standing friendly relations’ even as we plot control and extraction. We don’t advocate, insist and enforce with or without the stated or unsaid ‘this is for your own good’. We recognize all this, though. We know that power lies in the ability to make others inhibit our version of their reality as Philip Gourevitch observed in his collection of essays on Rwanda, ‘We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families’.