Perhaps it’s the allure of hearing a foreigner, a Caucasian at that, speaking in our own tongue, albeit falteringly. The Sinhala profanity coming from this staggering, sarong-clad ‘sudda’ in the short video ‘Bar Wahala’ is quite hilarious. His adaptation ‘Sudda Dance’, which involves him attempting to dance like a drunken Sri Lankan, did the Facebook rounds as soon as it was uploaded. His heavy accent coupled with, at times comic presentation no doubt strikes a chord, no pun intended, with his Sri Lankan fans
He had a recurring dream, of speaking an exotic foreign language. But he couldn’t quite put his finger on what language it was. Having an innate curiosity for foreign languages Garry made a habit of talking to foreigners in his neighbourhood, 18 miles off London. It was a chance encounter with the owner of a local restaurant that helped him unravel the mystery behind this persistent dream.
Having been previously told that the owner of the restaurant, Garry gets take out from, is Sinhala, Garry asked his newly acquired acquaintance to, “say something in Sinhala.” When Garry heard him speak, all the pieces fell into place. He realised that he had been speaking Sinhala in his dreams.
Seeing his enthusiasm his friend at the restaurant steered Garry’s attention to Sinhala music. He made Garry listen to Ashawari and he was so taken by the song that he just had to learn to play it. “He gave me a link to the song with the guitar chords,” says Garry speaking to the Nation from UK. After learning the song he played it to his friend, who suggested that he upload it on YouTube. It was this same friend who suggested the name Sudda, white man in Sinhala.
Sudda Garry, as he likes to identify himself now, started uploading cover versions of Sinhala songs five months ago. His cover of Ashawari was viewed 35,897 times. “I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not the world’s best singer or guitarist as you can see,” says Garry who has over 2K subscribers on YouTube and a 19,776 strong Facebook following.
Perhaps it’s the allure of hearing a foreigner, a Caucasian at that, speaking in our own tongue, albeit falteringly. The Sinhala profanity coming from this staggering, sarong-clad ‘sudda’ in the short video ‘Bar Wahala’ is quite hilarious. His adaptation ‘Sudda Dance’, which involves him attempting to dance like a drunken Sri Lankan, did the Facebook rounds as soon as it was uploaded. His heavy accent coupled with, at times comic presentation no doubt strikes a chord, no pun intended, with his Sri Lankan fans.
“I don’t like to refer to them as fans, they are rather my friends,” says Garry. He says he always tries to make time to reply to the Facebook messages he receives by the thousands. “I don’t have many UK fans. In fact, my UK friends simply don’t get why I listen to Sri Lankan music. But there’s something very very special about it,” confides Garry.
When asked, having dreamt about speaking a language he hardly knew existed, whether he believed he was a reincarnation of a Sri Lankan. Garry admitted that learning to sing Sinhala songs was not that difficult. “In fact, Ashawari came extremely easy. People kept asking me how I do it,” says Garry. “I can’t be 100 per cent certain, but there can’t be a better explanation than reincarnation.”
When asked whether there are any negative comments for his uploads, Garry informs that there are only two negative comments from over a thousand positive comments. “I read all the comments and some of them are really touching and encouraging.”
Garry is intent on honing his Sinhala language skills with a little help from his Sri Lankan ‘fan-friends’. “I have to look for translations on the internet and refer YouTube tutorials to teach myself Sinhala. And my Sri Lankan friends who message me are very helpful. In fact, I have a group of friends who teach me Sinhala. I learn something new every day.”
‘Sudda’ is a one-man show says Garry. “People keep asking me whether some Sri Lankan is guiding me through all this. But there’s no Sri Lankan telling me what to do from behind the scenes.”
Garry has not yet visited Sri Lanka and hopes to visit by the end of the year. He speaks of his plans to visit Sri Lanka enthusiastically. “Some people have even invited me into their homes. Others have invited me to dine at their restaurants. This is what excites me about Sri Lanka,” says Garry. He confides that he doesn’t particularly like the English lifestyle. “It’s very unfriendly at times. English people hardly have any time for other people. They don’t even acknowledge each other let alone great each other. They are very selfish.”
Garry notes that English women in particular, with their drinking, loudness and nightlife, have little self-respect. “I am a quiet and reserved person.”