The original Dhivehi article was published on Vaguthu.mv website on 18th March 2018.
The following is a loose translation:
By definition one becomes a Maldivian if they have a Maldivian mother or a father. If they speak the language. For us Maldivians, it is not new to see a foreigner speak fluent Dhivehi (Maldivian language). Foreigners learn Dhivehi very easily. The reason being that the neighbouring countries’ language and the Maldivian language comes from the same ‘family’.
What I am trying to talk here is not about the Maldivian language. What I am trying to talk here is about ‘Maldivians’ who have never seen the Maldives, and who had never had the opportunity to go to the Maldives. Maldivians who are born in neighbouring Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan citizens by birth, but who adore Maldivians extremely and who speaks Dhivehi, fluently.
For a Maldivian travelling to Sri Lanka or India, a rickshaw driver speaking Dhivehi to them isn’t anything new. Also, a shop salesman speaking Dhivehi is also nothing new.
However, Maldivians who travel to those countries, engaging in a conversation with them in Dhivehi is not which they do commonly.
Looking back, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have had a long-standing friendly relationship that had lasted for centuries. This relationship had dated back to the 12th century. High profile Sri Lankans has had married to Maldivians and had lived in the Maldives. Maldivians had also got married to Sri Lankans and lived in Sri Lanka. This connection is still there.
Looking at the business relationship between the Maldives and Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Galle used to be Maldivians main business harbour. Looking at the recent history, until 1970, 65% of goods imported to the Maldives was from Sri Lanka.
Looking at all these we can see that the between the Maldives and Sri Lanka always was a heart to heart relationship.
In the past 10 years, Maldivians who had visited Sri Lanka had increased. For the Sri Lankan drivers, businessman and real estate agents, Maldivians is a big market. Therefore, to develop a good relationship with a Maldivian is something every Sri Lankan citizen wants to do. It could be the reason that Sri Lankans maintain a special relationship with Maldivians.
In the trip we took to Sri Lanka, all arrangements were made by Anjana Vijay Shankar. Anjana who we have met earlier on several times in Sri Lanka, speaks fluent Dhivehi.
Anjana, who is a van driver said he had never been to the Maldives. And that he learnt to speak Dhivehi while chauffeuring. It has been several since he learnt to speak Dhivehi while chauffeuring. He has also learnt how to send text messages in Dhivehi.
We have spoken to a rickshaw driver near Majestic City (MC), a popular hangout among the Maldivians visiting Sri Lanka. Vikram, the driver also spoke in fluent Dhivehi.
‘It is 13 years since I have started speaking Dhivehi. I am friends with many Maldivians. They come here and they would call me,’ he said.
When a young sales girl we met from a Sri Lankan shopping mall, spoke Dhivehi to us, it got us enticed to make a conversation with her. Since she didn’t speak much, I spoke to her in English.
Dulani said she is gathering information about the Maldives and found that Maldivians are very kind.
‘Everyone is always smiling. I am now saving money to go to the Maldives next year for the honeymoon after getting married. Although I can’t save up to stay at an expensive resort, I intend to go next year to the Maldives to stay in a guesthouse,’ she said.
The other thing which we noted is that Sri Lankans do know a lot about the Maldives. Sri Lankan rickshaw drivers and salesman are well aware of the most recent happenings in the Maldives politics and of the political leaders who are active.
However, most of them had not been lucky enough to see the country with their own eyes.
While there are thousands of Maldivians travelling and living in Sri Lanka, Maldivians must avoid jeopardizing the special place Sri Lankans hold towards Maldivians. We must keep it in mind that to earn respect, you must also respect the other. Every Maldivian who is living abroad must know that they are representing the whole country. The good and bad name is something that is received by the whole country. Therefore while representing the whole country, please keep away from bad behaviour.
‘Vaguthu’ staff trip to Sri Lanka was sponsored by Ace Aviation. Ace Aviation is SriLankan Airlines’ general sale agent. From Ace Aviation you can purchase tickets to 53 destinations around the world.