In a hopeless crisis, Sri Lankan students and the entire nation runs on brave patience alone. Anger and bitterness over corruption of the elite is matched by ingenuity and generosity alone.

The lines are ubiquitous - and orderly. To get five liters of gasoline - 1.3 gallons - auto rickshaw drivers wait calmly for as long as five days. People have lining up for cooking gas, milk powder and meals at spupkitches without fights or friction.

Each day, essential workers in hospitals, sanitation, post offices and banks tolerate cramming into buses, one of the few means of transportation with an assured supply of fuel.

''Without hanging? It's 10 people,'' said M.P.L.K Saman, a 32-year-old bus driver, regarding the number of passengers he packs in for a 15-mile-journey between Colombo and Dompe in the east. ''With hanging? 150 people.''

The country is running on patience, while its political and economic crisis deepens and intensifies.

The former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, went into hiding after protesters stormed his residence and office, and then he fled the country on a military plane. This week, Parliament elected Ranil Wickremesighe, formerly the prime minister, to replace him in a triumph of establishment politics over a social movement calling for wholesale change.

A fuel shortage, rising global food prices and the shock of erratic climate patterns, compounded by crushing policy mistakes and the coronavirus pandemic, have created a crisis with no easy solution.

''Look no further than Sri Lanka as a warning sign,'' said Kristilina Georogieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. ''Countries with high debt levels and limited policy space will face additional strains.''

But Sri Lanka might be unique in one thing : The rage at the failure and corruption of a ruling elite has been matched by generosity and ingenuity in preventing collapse and anarchy.

Hospitals still function. Sanitation trucks still travel the city's neat streets, even if less often. The three-hour power cuts are announced in detailed schedules a day in advance.

Last week, thousands stormed the president's mansion and several other government buildings. But soon afterward, Sri Lankans went back to lines, patiently waiting outside the palaces for their turn to get a peek.

The country increasingly depends on the generosity of others - donors, lenders, really any person or institution with the funds to help.

To bridge gaps in medical supplies, hospital administrators often put out lists of needed supplies and then mobilize donations.

At the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, where the country's sickest children come for open-heart surgeries, kidney transplants and other complicated procedures, 40 percent of the essential medicine and surgical equipment are from donors abroad.

Every week, the hospital posts a list of needed items on its website and a link to its charity account. Dr. G. Wijesurija, the hospital's top administrator, said that the hospital had not lost any patients in the 1,600 bed facility because of the country's shortages.

''But if the donors were not here, we would have to compromise our services,'' he said.

The government itself is scrounging for what it needs. Sumila Wanaguru, an economist at Sri Lanks's central bank, analyzes cash flow each day to determine what can be spared.

Tourism and remittances - Sri Lank's main sources of foreign currency - have largely evaporated. When the government ran out of money to import essentials last spring, it tapped the central bank's reserves, which in recent months have hovered around zero.

Dr. Wanaguru, director of the international operations department, and others at the central bank have had to plead for lines of credit, debt deferments and currency swaps to get the hundreds of millions of dollars needed every month to import the bare minimum to keep the country afloat.

Sri Lankans endure crisis with patience, dignity and resolve.

The Publishing  continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Mujib Mashal, Emily Schmall and Gunasekara.


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