BUYING the Sunday Papers in Sri Lanka is a rite of passage. The street-side vendor stalls groan with the weight of newsprint and huddles of customers cut across each other to grab papers from an astonishing bundle of titles. Many are in the majority Sinhala language and others are in Tamil.

To make sense of the hallucinogenic graphics is like wrestling with Timothy Leary at the height of an LSD trip. Layered among the titles is the English-language press, the Sunday Observer, The Island, The Sunday Times and a welcome new edition to the fray, the modern and elegant Sunday Morning. I grab what I can get and head home in a local tuk tuk, its axle buckling under the weight of newspapers that make Scotland’s sullen titles seem parochial and emaciated.

Sri Lanka is a multilingual society with one of Asia’s highest rates of literacy – 92.5% of the population read regularly. The people around me were in the main well-informed and engaged in democratic argument, whilst I wandered around in a tourist bubble.

It has taken me 20 years to make any real sense of the Sri Lankan media, having spent my first two years making the dunderhead mistake of imagining that the society lacks the sophistication of the Western media. It was ignorance with not even the thinnest veneer of bliss.

Since then I have married a Sri Lankan, bought an apartment on Kinross Beach, which took its name for one of the major Scottish owned teafields.

I devour the press daily and often buy my papers on a stretch of road that carries heavy hints of Scottish colonialism, Boswell Street to my left, Buchannan Street, Alexandria Street and St Kilda Street to my right. My application for dual citizenship is being prepared and if that succeeds I intend to deepen my mission of self-improvement, not through Ayurvedic medicine or getting blitzed on coconut Arrak but by trying to truly understand another nation in all its complexities This week Colombo’s major newspapers carried stories that would have been a welcome addition to many Scottish titles. One of the saddest byproducts of the decline in the press at home is the retreat from international news and its replacement with more readily available opinion columns.

This week the Sri Lankan press ran with several stories that would interest readers in Scotland. One is the grisly excavations of bones from a mass grave beneath an old public building in the town of Mannar. It has all the hallmarks of Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, a novel that uses forensics to detect the presence of mass murder.

The Mannar skeletal remains, which have already exposed the rusted residue of what may have been manacles or ankle chains, are about to be flown under high security to an analytical laboratory in Florida, where they may yet be proven to be the dark remains of Sri Lanka’s brutal and fratricidal civil war.

Sri Lanka’s biggest circulation English-language paper, the Sunday Observer, carried another fascinating story, a dramatic hunger strike among estate workers who have travelled to the busy heartlands of Colombo from remote tea estates, where they work in scandalous conditions.

Their aim is to bring their strike to the political centre and remind the press and politicians of their plight. The estate workers are hoping to double their current wages of 500 rupees per day, roughly £2.20, which would not buy you a pot of their tea at a tourist hotel. Those who follow the nuances of industrial action, will be charmed to know that the tea-estate workers’ strike is supported by Sri Lanka’s major teachers’ union, whose leader is the ominously named Joseph Stalin.

The Sunday Morning, the new kid on the block, places a fresh-faced emphasis on national innovation and especially those stories that look forward to a new Sri Lanka rather than a dark past.

One remarkable story stood out for me, a joint venture by the Sri Lankan Airforce and a local innovation company Mas Holdings, who in their day job manufacture knickers for Marks and Spencer.

The concept is known as seed-bombing and seeks to increase Sri Lanka’s economically and ecologically vital green density.

AGAIN the war is context. In the sustained last few months of the war, as a battle hardened brigade of the LTTE, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, better known in Europe as the Tamil Tigers, fought a last stand with heavily armed battalions of the Sri Lankan army. The war and its brutal climax destroyed whole swathes of jungle cover, village farmlands and paddy fields.

Seed-bombing is the post-war solution. Eco-scientists have identified three key species of seeds – wee, karanda and kumbuk – which are then loosely bound into mud balls. The bombs are dropped by military helicopter across the charred war-zones and the vegetation is returning at a pace unthinkable by conventional human effort.

All newspapers obsess about the weather and relish its extremes. This week alone three microclimates have made the news, the intense heat at the beach cooled by sudden storms at night; a series of flash floods in the north where over 45,000 people were made homeless and shifted to temporary shelter. Up country in the wonderful, Scottish-influenced town of Nuwara Eliya, where the local St Andrews Hotel is still a beacon of the old days, the land is frosty, frozen and snowflakes often carpet the lush grounds.

Despite these historic connections, I am generally reluctant to look for similarities with the polarisations back home in Scotland, as it usually leads to blind alleys or to facile understandings of unique historic conditions. Every nation is gloriously different and so it should be.

One man that has been a Sherpa of sorts is a local media innovator Dilith Jayaweera, who owns one of Sri Lanka’s top advertising companies the Triad Agency.

He is a pioneer in the new media business of data analysis, digital sentience, market segmentation, drone advertising technologies and social media.

Dilith is also chairman of Sri Lanka’s oldest Scottish firm, George Steuart and Co, a mercantile institution which provides insurance and legal services to colonial traders, including the major Scottish tea lords, Andrew Lipton of Glasgow and James Taylor of Kincardine. The company’s old offices in Colombo’s historic Dutch Hospital area is Sri Lanka’s major Scottish themed hotel and bar. Every day, Scotland seems so near and yet so far away. A few years ago, I cracked another mystery unfolding in Colombo, the rise of high-quality care in IVF and women and children’s natal care. It began when I was travelling along Fife Road and saw adverts for a new private hospital rising up like a stone-white luxury hotel in the suburbs of Colombo 5.

It was the early days of the now well- established Ninewells Hospital, a centre of excellence in gynaecological procedures. The hospital is the brainchild of two Sri Lankan doctors who trained at Dundee University and owed a debt of graduate to the first hospital they ever worked in ... Tayside’s Ninewells.

It is this woven and sometimes knotted interconnectivity that brings me back to the media.

Migration remains the main difference between newspapers in Sri Lanka and the UK. We have grown up with sour stories of overcrowding, criminality and Brexit paranoia, whereas the Sri Lankan press is enriched by those that leave and those that return, devoting pages of stories to the success of Sri Lankans abroad.

I am convinced I have found Scotland’s superconfident sister and if we win control of our nation’s immigration policy, one of the most compelling reasons that Scotland needs its independence, I will batter down the doors of Bute House until they listen to my masterplan.