Thursday, March 17, 2011
Kynsey Road Entrance to the General Hospital (now the National Hospital of Sri Lanka)
During our medical student days, there was a middle-aged woman dressed in saree who was peddling multi-coloured medicinal oils in tiny bottles near the hospital gate. Just before visiting hours, she had a captive audience of patients' visitors and she waxed eloquent about the healing powers of the oils (kokatath thailaya). During the freshers' rag of June 1962, I was ordered by our honourable seniors to buy a tea bun from the milk booth near the clock tower, stuff it in my mouth (with half of it jutting out) and stand beside the woman with my hands behind my back. It must have been some sight to see a young man dressed in a white satin drill suit, wearing one tennis shoe and one black shoe with not only a shoeflower in the coat buttonhole, but also a brinjal round the neck, standing side by side with the woman while she was doing her sales talk. When the saleswoman chased me away uttering some choice words after tolerating me for some time, I was quite relieved!