Jan 31, 2009

Hellu bibi! (the Sri Lankan version)

One more thing to love about Sri Lanka: we had initially thought it was a bit odd that everywhere we went, at every hotel, every restaurant, and by every pool guy, gardener, or tuk-tuk driver, Bella would be referred to, universally, as "the baby": "Will you need a cot for the baby?" "Would the baby like to hold a baby turtle?" and, music to Bella's ears: "Would the baby like to have some sweets while you wait for supper?" This, despite the fact that she walks, talks, and complains like a person most definitely, if only recently, out of babyhood. Especially if you ask her opinion on the matter ("Nononono, Mama, Bella's a BIG girl").

We later found out that the supremely child-doting Sri Lankans refer to any child short of adolescence as a baby. I'm formulating a theory that links the friendliness of a country's inhabitants to the length of time they refer to a child as "baby." Or, in the case of the middle part of the Philippines, "bibi".