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How To Enjoy Your Vacation To A Country That Says It Won The War

By Gowri Koneswaran

★        While planning your journey, accept that ethics are not included in the price of your ticket;

★        Tell yourself your currency is helping the country;

★        Do not question government control of the tourism industry;

★        When researching your destination, skip the sections on families in camps,
            book a tour even if the army will not give them back their land;

★        Never ask why killing fields have been converted into resorts run by the military;

★        Learn the dominant language, which translates war criminals into heroes;

★        Make eye contact with soldiers and police in the North-East;

★        Inhale island steam from export quality tea, exhale
            torture, sexual violence, and surveillance as ongoing strategies;

★        Speak freely in public in your accent of opportunity;

★        When talking about the people, identify them all as Sri Lankans;

★        Do not stare too long at the survivors of genocide;

★        Do not use that word at all;

★        Gaze into the sea that greets occupied Tamil homeland and name it paradise;

★        Collect souvenirs celebrating elephants so your friends envision beauty,
            not mass atrocities;

★        Define tourist as none of this involves me;

★        Take photos of every sunset;

★        Always have your passport handy;

★        Keep your conscience secure in the hotel safe.

Added: Wednesday, December 14, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Gowri Koneswaran
Photo by Fid Thompson.

Gowri Koneswaran is a queer Tamil American writer, performing artist, teacher, and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, environmental protection, the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused in the US, and justice and accountability in Sri Lanka. She is poetry coordinator at the nonprofit arts organization BloomBars and a fellow of the Asian American literary organization Kundiman. Previously, she was a poetry events host at Busboys and Poets, senior poetry editor at Jaggery, and associate editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

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