Tuesday, August 14, 2012

54. Tongue Twister Family.

We’ve inherited so much from our imperialistic invaders, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Some of us aren’t even aware that kamisa (shirt), sapaththu (shoes), paan (bread) isthoappuva (verandah), aren’t even Sinhalese words. They’ve run so deep and are comfortably localized and naturalized.

I’m sure you are so much familiar with Silvas,  Pereras , Fernandos and Fonsekas.

But ever heard of Padidilians

Well, I once knew a whole family of them. I met Umesh Padidilian for the first time at the Pre Service Teacher Training at the Teachers’ College at Peradheniya in  Kandy.  Umesh is a handsome dude who reminded one of Ranjan Madugalle, the cricketer.

Oh what a time it was!! 

After the pre service, to the immense relief of both of us, both Umesh and I were appointed to the same area for the compulsory difficult area service. Our schools were in the city and within a few minutes’ walk from each other.
This compulsory difficult area service for all government employees is generally regarded as ‘going to hell alive’. And everyone was dreaming about coming back home as soon as possible from those God forsaken places. We were no exceptions. And today, though it may seem strange, I feel so much nostalgic about those years.

Okay, back to the Padidilians.  

The first impression you get about the Padidilians is their talkativeness. They have a way of talking themselves out of any situation. They were rich in vocabulary and knew how to use it to the best effect. I was never bored of listening to their spicy tales with that unique Padidilian accent in eloquent English or Sinhala. Even the way their mouths worked was something to gawk at.  They had the talent of narrating even the most boring story in the most appealing way possible. 

To get to Ampara, where we were appointed, you have to pass Kandy, then those famous 18 hairpin bends, Mahiyangana and Padhiyathalava. And more than normal CTB buses, there were those small minivans like Isuzu Elf Route Vans, Toyota Hiace and Nissan Caravans. 

And there were military check points on the way!

One such day, at a check point either at Mahaoya, or Padhiyathalava, I can’t remember which, they were stopped for inspection. If you aren’t familiar with the routine. First, you are stopped at the barrier with a stop sign. Then the driver switches off the engine and waits. The conductor reports to the temporary office with documents. The passengers take their bags and get off to form a line with IDs in hand to be scrutinized , patted down, questioned and then walk through the barrier under the vigilant eyes of soldiers with T56 automatic rifles. Once cleared the passengers flock on the other side waiting for the vehicle which would be searched and released before crossing the barrier. 

Once the vehicle arrives, the passengers retrieve their original seats with mixed success and wait for the others who are still going through the inspection process to arrive.

That day, there was unusual delay for the van to resume the journey. When the passengers peeked through the dusty rear window, all they saw was one passenger being grilled by the soldiers who were now gathered around. The other passengers were growing furious as the temperature and the humidity inside the jam packed small van was rising. After a lengthy delay of sweating and cursing in the sweltering heat, the detained passenger arrived red faced and furious at the uniforms. 

Then, to make the matters worse, passengers started grilling him.

“Why did it take so long, sir?”

“Oh, that was because my name was a bit unfamiliar. They were suspicious.”

“Why? Aren’t you Sinhalese?” Passengers asked with growing suspicion.

“I am Sinhala alright, dude!” This was said a bit harshly.

“Then, what’s wrong?” One dude asked.

“Ok, ok, What is your name sir?” A bit more sensible passenger asked.

“Umesh Padidilian”

Everybody gawked with jaws dropping.

“Paddy..what?” There was a murmer while everyone was trying to pronounce the unpronounceable.

“Padidilian,” Umesh said with his patience wearing thin.

“What the hell kind of a name is that sir?”

“Dude, My great great-great-grandfather was Spanish!” Umesh explained.

“What the f***** Hell, sir,” one passenger yelled, “Why the hell don’t you have a pronounceable name like the rest of us without wasting everyone’s time?”

By the time he told us this story at dinner, he was back in his normal jovial mood.

Click here for part 2 of the Series, "Veggie Remedy For The Guilty Feeling"

If you want to read the original Sinhala version of this post 



  1. Sure we are all familiar with Silvas, Pereras , Fernandos and Fonsekas for different reasons..

    1. Yeah, some of them have become the definitions of the name. And Pereras and Silvas were once the typical Sri Lankan names in School Text books, especially English Language.

  2. How to pronounce it in Sinhala?


    1. OOhh.. I just found this article in your Sinhala blog?

    2. Haree the Sherlock Holmes. So I guess you got the pronunciation. It’s පැඩිඩිලියන්.

  3. hikz.... That sure is a funny name.... But when foreign announcers pronounce sinhala and tamil surnames are funnier ... mostly during cricket matches......

    1. If you won’t mind me saying so, your English is marvelous, Hiru. And about the pronunciation of foreign sounding names, we also do the same to some of them, you know.

  4. It is text book racial profiling.I wonder what would they do if he was a tamil

    1. Mister Hide. Welcome to my humble adobe! In spite of all the security, the Aranthalava massacre took place a little beyond.

  5. ගොඩක් ලිපි කියෙව්වා(පින්තූර)
    මරු බ්ලොග් එක

    1. මෙන්න මේ කතාව සිංහලෙන්..


    2. Atampahura, Welcome. DUDE, YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU REALLY WANT. Seriously!!!

    3. Thank you Hari. Atam is joking. He CAN read this. Anyways reading in both languages will really help to improve anyone’s language skills

  6. He may troubled much because of that name na.
    Even it gives what ever sound we should never mock on a name. Because how we know how much our names are strenge or sounds weird to other nationalaties.
    That name was gifted from his ancestors. What ever we think he may love that, because it is a blood bond property. We should respect that na.

    1. Giman, almost all the nations have this phobia of the unknown, more or less. They have a vast collection of tales about the funny incidents that took place because of the name Padidilian, I remember.

  7. while reading this i was trying to imagine how the Padidilians would have narrated this. you really did a fine job crating the perfect image of the story, it was awesome. nice drawing too... :D

    1. Paddidilians are great story tellers, of course. :)

    2. You can bet on it brother.. as Im one of them :)

  8. That sure is a funny name.

    Reminded me of a story I've heard.

    Back in the day, the Portuguese were handing out names to people who were willing to change their surname.

    Apparently there was such a big demand that they ran out of names after a while.

    Therefore they informed the unfortunate latecomers that they didn't have any more names to give out. The story goes that the way you say 'No more names' in Portuguese is 'Koo Ray'

    That's why we have a lot of people named Cooray in Sri Lanka today. :P

    No idea whether this is true or not. :D

    1. Pasan, Dude that’s a funny story. It reminded me again of the way Kangaroo and Negambo were named. Are you very busy these days?

  9. I have heard the name Padma paddiliyan. I don't know if she is related to them.

    My name is also a bit unfamiliar (even to me), it's not peculiar though. Because of that , I face in to the problem of repeating it, when it comes to tell some one my name.
    "What's your name please?"
    "beg your pardon?"
    "I'm sorry. How do you spell that?"

    This is tiring sometimes. One day, One of my consultants exclaimed "what kind of a name is that? Is that sinhala?" Then I had to explain him about the meaning (which is "the ocean" ),of it. Since then, he use to call me "the girl from the ocean"

    Only very few remember that my name has something to do with one of famous songs sung by maestro Amaradewa.

    Oh my second name.... I don't even like to remember it which is very similar to a name of a boy.

    1. Actually I don’t know they are related.

      Sindhu, the first letter of my name can’t be pronounced in German, Russian and Spanish. I don’t know how many more. Oops I was trying to make a few wild guesses your second name and stopped myself in time. I’d rather have you as a friend, than an enemy.:D

  10. Dude,

    As u have named it, it's indeed a tongue twister!!
    I wonder when he was a kid if his school mates had addressed him as Padi, Pada , Pado or Padiyo, and what a verbal war he would have had with his peers just because of this surname of his. :(

    1. DeeJay, even if you have a pronounceable name classmates make nicknames outta that. It’s fun, isn’t it?

  11. Dude, watch this when you have time.

    1. Thanks, Dude. I will. Anything to do with a Padidilian? :)

  12. oh god..that is so hilarious..once I saw a surname when I was in Gampaha..she is a teacher.. the surname is "Patikiriaarachchi": :D..

  13. Funny! But,Poor Umesh :( :(

  14. Well, my study for this name came with this result. Padidilians are only in Sri Lanka. I dont know how he linked it with Spain.




And now you can SPICE’EM UP, too. :)

Wanna escape HTML?

This is how to insert a link:
<a href="LINK HERE"> WORDS HERE</a>

Video: Youtube video link

Images: [im]...........................[/im]

scrolling effect: [ma].....................[/ma]

font size: [en="2"]..............[/en]

font color: [co="red"].........................[/co]

centralize the text: [ce]..................[/ce]

scrolling effect in right side: [ma+]......................[/ma+]

box the comment: [box]....................[/box]

mark the comment: [mark].................[/mark]

background effect: [card="blue"].....................[/card]

image to fit the column(100%): [im#]...........................[/im]

Highlight the words: [hi="yellow"].........................[/hi]