The well known businessman and prominent social figure of Sir Lanka Mr. Jamal is in Pakistan these days. When I came to know, I took time from him for an interview and reached Azizabad, Karachi. He is an interesting personality. He had tour over more than 70 countries. As a result of his hospitality, literature and moral eminent in Sir Lanka and Pakistan he is taken as a respectable person in business and social community. This interview will help you to have a wider knowledge about Sir Lanka.
Q: Please let me know how did you pass your life, how do you reached Sir Lanka, and what was that which impressed you by that you decided to live in Sir Lanka and also decided to set your business there?
Ans: My full name is Afzal Ahmed Jamal. But all named Jamal only because in Sir Lanka people are recognized by their sir name. We are originally from Burma. My father was a Brume but mother came from Pakistan. In 1966 our family migrated from Burma to Pakistan. I had my early education at Qureshi High School and the rest of the education was from Islamia College.
It was in the year 1978, when I was only 22 years old; I got employed in an Egyptian merchant ship. I started my journey by bus to reach Egypt. First I reached Peshawar by bus and through Afghanistan I reached Turk.
From Turk I reached Egypt by air. Having reached I started my initial job from Iskandariyah. For a long time I served on merchant ships as a chef. There after I got employed as a chef in a 5 star hotel named Galadar. So, I came to Sir Lanka.
I came here in 1981, and I impressed by Sir Lankan environment and culture. They are cool temperaments. They go to job in the morning and return in evening. It is a small country facing no problem of electricity load shedding or traffic jam. And people are also very simple minded, sincere and well behaved and therefore I felt affected to this place. A part from this there was one more reason for staying there, reason was that I happened to meet a local girl at beach in Sir Lanka and later we married and I preferred to stay there.
Q: How many countries you had occasion to visit during a service in ship? And which of the countries you found situations to be the best?
Ans: I have already visited over 70 countries so far. During my tour of different countries, in terms of the natural beauties and visions also character and modesty, culture and clothing, I found Istanbul the city of turkey to be the best of all. People are also lovely. Their meals are delicious. In Far East also there are also good countries. But I liked Indonesia. If you ever have a chance to visit Indonesia, when you land to Jakarta and go to country side the people there will be found to be very affections. Particularly when they find you are a Muslim and came from a foreign country then they entertain you with great pleasure. In Europe, I liked the France and Spain. They are opening hearted with visitors and treat you with generously. And yet I did not like the behavior of Germans, they are not so well behaved with foreigners. Now we do not know that this is their culture or it has a particular reason.
Q: Of which city are you the resident in Sir Lanka? And what trade and business you are engaged with?
Ans: I live 9 Km far from Colombo which is the capital of Sir Lanka where is a well known tourist region named Mount Lavinia. This area is similar as is Clifton in Karachi. Usually the Colombo bound tourist stay here and they enjoy this place. As for my business engagements I am now passing my retired life. I own some rooms which I ran out to tourists or businessmen or if ever chanced to have a free lancer engagement I do except it. Some of the rooms I own could be offered on daily or monthly basis. In this interview I give briefing on this so that the tourist may have estimate of the rental expenses. Those who hire rooms on daily basis, I took 1500 Sir Lankan which comes to be 13 dollars. If anyone hires room on monthly basis, I take 20,000 Sir Lankan which comes to be 165 dollars. I have all modern facilities available which includes TV, fridge, A.C and attach bath. A part from this I have small single rooms accommodations also for which I charge reasonable rent amounting to 10,000 Sir Lankan or 82 dollars. What is lacking is the facilities of TV, fridge, AC and attach bath is certain.
Those tourists who come to Sir Lanka can contact me on these email and phone no’s. firstname.lastname@example.org residential phone: 0094112726754. If any tourists or businessmen come to me I help/favor to them. Even if I do not have empty rooms I do hire rooms from guest houses which are in my neighborhood. If they chance to be inform of any group or family then I do arrangements for their pick either drop for airport. In fact, if they are in need of information, guidance or facilities I provide them my best.
Q: When did you get the nationality of Sir Lanka? And what does a Pakistani gain by this?
Ans: I got Sir Lankan nationality in 1996, in order to gain Sir Lankan nationality it is necessary to marry a Sir Lankan girl. Even then you have to wait for 5 years to get the nationality. If anyone wishes to stay in Sir Lanka or like to do business in Sir Lanka in that case nationality is very beneficial by this one can exempted from so many extract taxes.
Q: Can you speak and understand language of Sir Lanka and how long it took for you to learn it?
Ans: There are 3 spoken languages in Sir Lanka. Sinai or Singham, Tamil and English. By the grace of Allah I can speak Singham completely. But I did not learn writing. I do not know Tamil language. I learned Singham language because my wife was Signalize. And yet it took 2 years for me to learn.
Q: How is the culture and administration of Sir Lanka, the basic requirements in Sir Lanka are cheaper or costly than in Pakistan?
Ans: Sir Lankan government is very good and there is full religious freedom in Sir Lanka discriminately. The standard of education and administration is very good. This is the reason why the Sir Lanka is the only country where the rate of education is 92%. This is a neat and clean country. You cannot find garbage in nook and corners. A lot of rules are made for culture and welfare of the youth. Those youngsters who are below the age of 21 cannot buy the toxic substances like cigarette or vine. On this matter the rule is very strict at that place. You can find nightclub and gambling dens yet there environment is not that of Bangkok, there is not such an obscenity or nakedness. Completely an Asian culture. Everything is in a limit. If you go to beach there also you will find decency. You can go there without hesitation with your family.
Though it is a Tropical country yet the season is very pleasant. It is full of greenery and therefore there is no effect of heat. It is an island, so its entire border is beach. Just as the warmth sets in the nature, Sir Lanka is favored by Allah with rainfall. The highest standard of temperature is only 34 degree C. There evening hours are enjoyable due to its weather.
Now I will tell you about the culture of Sir Lanka. The majority of Sir Lankan population is Buddhist. They have their own culture and customs opposite from our culture. On the full moon night they go to temples for performing them. They call temples as ‘Tansala’ in their local language. They celebrate New Year function on 13th April. On this occasion government announces vacations for 3-4 days. But people celebrate it for 10 days. Those people, who come from far areas for their jobs, go back to their homes to spend these vacations with their families. Now I will answer the last part of your question. In Sir Lanka resident, food and other basic needs are more expensive than in Pakistan. Because Sir Lanka imports mostly thing. Same is for resident but transport is much cheaper. Difference between Pakistan and Sir Lanka currency is that 100 Pakistan rupees are equal to 134 Sir Lanka rupees. There are some Pakistani hotels in Sir Lanka. You can buy a plate of biriyani for 250 to 290 Sir Lankan rupees. If you eat local food then you can buy a plate of rice with four types of vegetables with chicken or fish curry in 120 to 150 Sir Lankan rupees. Pepsi bottle cost 40 rupees.
In Sir Lanka ways of doing business is different from Pakistan. In Sir Lanka business centers close till 8 to 9 pm. Only few supermarkets run up to 10 to 11 pm. In my point of view Pakistan traders must follow this and have to start their business early in the morning so that they can go back to their homes early in the evening and can spend time with their children’s.
Q: What does a Pakistani face when he enters first time in Sir Lanka and what is a procedure for getting the visa for Sir Lanka?
Ans: Sir Lankans are loving people. Any person who comes here for visit or business has not to face such problems. There are guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, money exchanges & all other kinds of facilities are available near tourist resort. English is the spoken language in all over the country. The only part is with their food that Sir Lankan foods have high spices. Pakistani’s cannot eat those foods. There are many Pakistani and Indians restaurant in Sir Lanka from where you can eat food. But remember shops are not open for the whole night. Therefore, if you want to buy something edible do it in time otherwise you will have to wait till morning. Transport runs till 11 to 12 pm either it is private or public. But taxis or rickshaws are available 24 hours. Sir Lanka is our friendly country. Their gout and nation give respect to Pakistani’s. If you reach Sir Lanka without visa and you have a return ticket, you can get entry visa at airport for 30 days. First it was free but from January 2012 they are charging 15 dollars for entry visa. Those people who want to come to Sir Lanka for trade and business, they must have to bring their visa from Pakistan. You can get visa from Sir Lanka embassy or consulate in just 10 dollars.
Q: What are the famous places in Sir Lanka? Where are tourist visits?
Ans: One can have a tour whole country 9 km far from Colombo there is a place mount Lavinia this is a tourist resort. I live here. A part from this beaches Aka Dua are very beautiful. You can use intercity buses as a transport. Otherwise you can hire a car. They will charge per km. Anaradha Pura is also beautiful area if you will move further there you will find gardens after name Nuurava Eliya. It is a gorgeous and peaceful place. Due to greenery you will never see sunlight in the morning. World’s best tea leaves grow in these gardens. If you will go towards north from Colombo you will find Negombo beaches. There you will also find historical place of Buddhists. Thus the whole country is worth seeing. In Sir Lanka there found to be cool and calm atmosphere as that’s of Pakistani’s Murree, Kaghan and Swat.
Natural scenes and mountainous areas composed of historical places. And you will like to prolong your stay here. If you come with a planning you can easily tour about in 15 days.
Q: How is their staple food? What kind of meals we can eat?
Ans: In common spice is excessive than others that is an abstraction for others. There is one item of meal which is rice and curry which we can eat. In this with the boil rice there are 4 vegetable curries. These vegetable are prepared in coconut milk. And chicken or fish curries are also added. In addition to this Wafer (papar), fried chili and spices of coconut is also a part. You taste it I hope you will certainly like it. Same way there is a specialized loaf of their own kind called ‘kutto roti’. This meal is prepared by slicing loafs or breads and then cook it with vegetable or curry. In our place as we eat ‘katakat’ they made it in the same way. Pakistani likes this dish very much. Another dish called Hapu. It is made up of Lentils (daal). While cooking this they add coconut milk and rice flour. It is a salt dish in which there is no chili. Whenever you get an occasion to Sir Lanka you do take their meals.
Q: Which of the habits of Sir Lankan’s you like the most?
Ans: The remarkable qualities that there is no concept of quarrels or fights. They are not sentimental, very cool in temperaments and behavior. They do not get hyper on every disputation like Pakistani. But one matter is discredit for them they are lazy. The rests are all right.
Q: During your stay there what are those unpleasant experience you had there and pleasant ones that could be retained in your lasting memory?
Ans: The only unpleasant experience is with the hotel I owned and maintained for about 5 years and the ultimately has closed down. In this enterprise I lost 7 million rupees. It was during the time 1995 to 1999. It was an adverse situation for all business in Sir Lanka. The frequent explosions by LTD proved very adverse situation in Sir Lanka. And yet thanks to Allah the situation in Sir Lanka compatibility is good. You can roam about in the night without any fear.
There are some pleasant moments but the most memorable event at beach of Sir Lanka was my first meeting with the local girl whom I married later (late).
One day while I was eating pineapple on the beach and she happened to there for exercise. She kept me on starring while passing through me. I cried, ‘are you starring for a piece of pineapple with me?’ Then she told me that this kind of cheap pineapples she do not have it. If at all you want to feed me get an apple for me. In those days there was no tradition of super markets at that place. I went Colombo next day. There was only one super market at that time. I purchase apple from there and reached the beach. Next day, when she came there for exercise, I reminded her desire to have apple yesterday. So here are the six apples. She was Signalize local girl and that was the day when we started our friendship. After few more contacts I proposed her and further we married. After marriage we came to Pakistan, we stayed here during this we had a daughter. There after we went back to Sir Lanka and since then we are there.
Q: These days Pakistan and Sir Lanka are engaged in heavy trading, What advise can you give to Pakistan traders from your vast experience?
Ans: Initially the trading of goods between Pakistan and Sir Lanka is not negligible. Everywhere you will see made in India, Indian business man arrange business exhibition almost every most and this way promote their trade. Rickshaw and motorcycles are mostly India made.70% of motorcycles running in Sir Lanka are made in India.
Whereas in Pakistan, best quality motorcycles are made by some companies. Pakistan businessman must have to visit Sir Lankan market. A part in this from Pakistan manufactures different quality equipment. As I have said before that most of the items are imported in Sir Lanka, so what is required to get that establish Pakistan business connection with Sir Lanka and they should introduce their products there. Any Pakistani businessman, who wishes to have business in Sir Lanka, he may contact with me on my phone number or email.
Q: Is there any desire in your mind which you want to fulfill?
Ans: Thanks to ALLAH life is being successful. I have visited almost all countries of the world the only wish I had to get back to my father place Burma. Due to Burma strict visa policy I had never visited Burma again and this is the only desire I have.