Friday, January 30, 2015
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The obituary in today's Ceylon Daily News is as follows:
PROFESSOR A. STANLEY DISSANAIKE (Former Dean of Faculty of the Medicine and Emeritus Professor, Head of the Department of Parasitology in Sri Lanka & Malaysia, Ex WHO, Geneva). Beloved husband of the late Ellerine, father of Surini, Niranthi, Eoma and Gerarde, father-in-law of Shanthi, Viktor & Caroline, darling papa of Rajiv, Ruwani, Kevin, Renuka, Glenn, Fiona, Jonathan, Christina and Lindsay, great grandfather of Keirys, son of the late Edmund & Adelaide, brother of the late Ben, Professor George, Bernice, Estelle and Joyce, brother-in-law of June, Vije, Cubby and Nuala Wijetunge. Service at residence No. 28, Welikadawatte, Nawala Road, Rajagiriya at 1.30 p.m. on Thursday 29th January. Cortege leaves thereafter to General Cemetery, Borella for cremation at 3.00 p.m. 013930 - See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=obituaries#sthash.r4jZ8mtZ.dpuf
A member of our batch Manel Ratnavibhushana Wijesundera had written a nice tribute to our late teacher and it appeared in the Ceylon Medical Journal in 2004. It is reproduced below.
Ceylon Medical Journal › Vol 49, No 4 (2004)
Click here for the CMJ article by Manel
Monday, January 26, 2015
Smyczek's incredible moment of sportsmanship against Nadal
This could quite possibly be the greatest moment of sportsmanship we see all
year. And with so much talk of the death of the gentleman in sport it was refreshing
to witness this beautiful moment on Rod Laver Arena last night.
First, a moment of scene setting.
Unknown American qualifier Tim Smyczek is in the match of his life. He is on
centre court at a major against one of the greatest players the game has
ever seen, Rafael Nadal.
They have been battling for four hours in oppressive heat. Smyczek was long
odds to even get a set off Rafa but they are 6-5 in the fifth, the crowd is
on the edge of their seats. A huge upset is not too far away.
Imagine what is going through Smyczek's head. Playing against one of his
idols, going toe to toe with one of the greats. The pressure is intense.
At 30-0 with Nadal serving to win the match he throws the ball up and an
idiot in the crowd screams out during the ball toss. Rafa faults.
Instead of sniffing an opportunity for a shot at a second serve to get back
into the match Smyczek tells Rafa to replay the point, have his first serve
It was an incredible moment during the most intense game of the American
The crowd responded warmly and he received a standing ovation when he left
the court after finally succumbing to Nadal.
Rafa summed it up best when, in his post match interview, he said,"Firstly I
want to congratulate Tim, he is a real gentleman. What he did in the last
game was not a lot of people would do something like this at 6-5 in the
fifth after four hours."
This from one of the true gentlemen and champions of the game.
Friday, January 23, 2015
My Dancing Debut
More than five decades ago
when we were young schoolboys, we didn't give much
thought to ballroom dancing. But
give much thought to ballroom dancing. Buton leaving school and entering medical college, we soon discovered that learning to dance is a must, if one were to advance socially. At least that is what was drilled into us by our all-knowing seniors. I remember the day in the early sixties when one evening, I myself walked in gingerly with three of my medical student buddies, to Vivil de Kauwe’s Dance Studios in Kollupitiya. The urgent desire to grasp the fundamentals was that the biggest social event in a medical student's calendar, the annual Block Dance, was just around the corner.
Transport was at hand and it was just a quick trip to the "Bloem" for a bath and scrub.
It was only the next morning that I found to my utter dismay, that I had not been able to make it to the Dance after all. Some time after our great block concert performance, I had “passed out”. The rest of it was only a dream.
Author's note: What I have written above is partly fiction. I remember very well that I did make it to the Dance after all. To put the record straight, I must confess that in my lifetime, it was only on one occasion that I had “passed out” after overstepping the mark. Or to give it straight, drinking excessively. More about that memorable drinking episode later.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
3:12 AM (5 hours ago)
Sent from my iPad
On 16 Jan 2015, at 8:19 am, Lucky Abey <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Vasantha,Let me first offer my condolences on the loss of your beloved father.Many thanks for sending me his photograph. I have already posted it on our batch blog, alongside the appreciation written by Dr. Nihal Amerasekera. All of us including your father, were in the same batch that entered the Colombo Medical Faculty in June 1962.When you have time, please visit the blog by clicking on:
Sincerely,Dr. Lakshman Abeyagunawardene
Saturday, January 17, 2015
By Nihal D Amarasekera
I was born in Kandy that splendid city nestling in the central hills of Ceylon. In 1942 the World War was raging and peace must have seemed far away. It was Douglas Walbeoff Jansz who severed my umbilical chord and slapped my back to help take my first breath in an unsettled world. My grandma was eagerly waiting with her watch to time the birth to cast my horoscope but had forgotten to do so in the confusion of the delivery room. By some strange coincidence Jansz was a Lecturer in Physiology during my time at Medical College. Despite its magic and charm Kandy was never to be my home. Even after all these years when I visit this idyllic city my past connections remain a magnet for my soul.
My earliest recollections are of Bogowantalawa at the foot of the Kotiyagala range. It was in the middle of tea country with many European Planters rushing on their motor bikes. Everyone wore mufflers and sweaters and rain was never far away. Then we moved to Kadugannawa near the Dawson column living sandwiched between two railway lines. The steam trains huffed and puffed at all hours and how we slept amidst that mayhem still remains a mystery to me.
In 1947 my parents decided I was of a ripe old age for schooling. My grandparents then lived in a large house at 56, Church Street, Nugegoda just beside St. John’s Girls School. There I spent three uneventful years but for a slight mishap when my mother in her enthusiasm sent me to school after a heavy dose of laxative. We lived opposite the Anglican Church and witnessed the baptisms ,weddings and funerals- the full gamut of Christian life. The Reverend T. A. M. Jayawardene and his elderly loyal servant became our family friends.
I still recall our independence from British rule in 1948. Although I was too young to realise its importance I remember the joy and happiness in the faces of the people. They were now released from the shackles of bondage that held them down for nearly 500 years. With freedom comes the responsibility to unite and strengthen our country with hard work. We were swept by a wave of nationalism. There was an overwhelming desire for change and the British and Dutch street names became the first casualty. Overnight the well known landmarks in Colombo lost their links with the past. It disorientated the older folk and disillusioned the young. Many still asks themselves whether this was ever necessary. The cost of this exercise was borne by our sagging economy.
The early 1950’s was a time of idyllic splendour and tranquillity in Ceylon. As a nation it was our age of innocence. The Galle Face Hotel, The Queens Hotel, Kandy, and The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, were the only hotels with any star quality. The affluent and the not so wealthy indulged in a weekend flutter on the horses at the Race Course in Reid Avenue. The Parliament was by the sea and the breeze helped the politicians to think rationally and clearly - or so it seemed. During April the rich went "upcountry" to Nuwara Eliya to escape the Colombo heat. Galle Face Green on a Sunday was packed with people licking Aleric`s ice cream cones.
Colombo in the 1950’s was a city of contrasts with the beauty of prestigious estates with pleasant houses in some areas and slums, shanties and tenements in others. The poor with large families lived in a single room in screaming poverty. The falling plaster, broken windows and fences, corrugated iron roofs were the hall marks of the poverty we saw. It is a scene straight from the annals of our urban life of that era. For many the new found political independence did little to give them home or hope.
For me real life began when I started at Wesley College at the bottom of the pile. The journey to school on the narrow gauge Kelani Valley train with friends was exciting. I felt grown up carrying the money to buy my own ticket. All Railway Stations had that special smell of steam and coal which hung on to our clothes for days. My father was in Government Service and had to move from town to town every 3 years, what was then euphemistically called "transfers". In their wisdom my parents decided to send me to the boarding, at great cost to themselves. It was to give me a stable life and teach me the social skills and discipline. I achieved their goals only to lose them in the rough and tumble of university life.
Memories of life in the boarding can fill a book. I was lucky to belong to a generation inspired contemporaneously by great teachers and principals. They gave us lofty ideas, great inspiration, self respect , firm discipline and anchorage. It was a sublime experience. The first day at the boarding was full of tears specially when wishing the parents good-bye. Nothing could have prepared me adequately for this trauma. It was the large frame of Mrs. Hindle, the matron, who welcomed us. The loneliness and bewilderment was overpowering at times. All our possessions were crammed into a large metal trunk and the clothes had our name tags. In the first term they all called me "new boy", a strict reminder of the pecking order.
Needless to say there was no television, no computers, and no mobile phones. We made our own entertainment and amused ourselves. Despite the hustle and bustle of life and the regimentation we had time to put our arms round our pals and share in their joys and sorrows. We shared our secrets and exchanged stories about our parents, brothers and sisters. There was a certain closeness which was rarely seen in friendships later on in life. We talked about our dreams and aspirations for the future and assumed we will always be friends. It fills my heart with sadness to think many of us will never meet again. It is a horrible reminder of our own mortality when we read or hear of the death of school friends who played, laughed, sang and fought with us all those years ago. For me they will always remain fifteen, healthy and smiling. It is hard to believe they will not be playing those elegant cover drives ever again or be ready for a pillow fight.
Unlike at present the students had no voice at all. Parents took decisions for us at home and the teachers did so at school. On looking back we believed teachers wielded immense power and perhaps they did. But law enforcement was done with knowing restraint influenced mostly by their faith. Others depended firmly on the swish of the cane. Punishments at school were a necessity to keep the riff-raff on the straight and narrow. The types of punishments were brought to Wesley by the British principals from English Public Schools like Eton, Rugby and Harrow. They were harsh and on looking back unnecessary. There were times when I raged at the injustice of punishments. In this 21st Century of human rights, corporal punishment is looked down upon as demeaning and humiliating for which there is no real need. Reading the reminiscences from the first half of the last century we get a glimpse of those hard times. It would be a mistake to apply the liberal values of this modern age to life at school 50 years ago.
Sports dominated my life at school. Cricket in those days was played by gentleman. Umpires word was law. We congratulated the opponents achievements in the field. We walked away when we felt it was out though the umpires did not see . The spectators’ dissent and applause was confined to areas beyond the boundary. No streakers, foul language or efforts to intimidate the batsman at the crease. When we lost, though crest fallen and frustrated, clapped the opponents back to the pavilion. Those injured in the heat of the battle were comforted by the captain of the opposite side. My generation grew up with peace. This gentlemanly behaviour on the pitch merely reflected the peaceful and chivalrous times of our youth. In the 21st century these seem rather tame as the cricketers have given up being gentleman for the high stakes they play for.
The enchantment of the cricket matches of my childhood still haunts me. At school cricket was not only a game but a way of life. My lasting memory of cricket at Campbell Park is the sight of the setting sun behind All Saints Church and its lengthening shadows. The church bell rang at 6.00 o’clock. As the bails were lifted we all departed discussing the ups and downs of the days play. Losing a match in those days was like the end of the world but we always bounced back. It was certainly a good training to face the peaks and troughs of our own lives. The songs we sang and the friends I made are etched deeply in my memory. After leaving school I went for some matches in the following year. The magic and the aura of this extraordinary spectacle seem to have gone not being an integral part of it any more. Thereafter life got too complicated building my own career.
In common with the development of road transport worldwide, bus operation in Ceylon was pioneered by private enterprise. Private entrepreneurs like South Western Bus Company, Ebert Silva, High Level Bus Company and Ceylon Tours provided the service with many other companies whose names I cannot now recall. Demand continued to increase with population growth and the private companies found it difficult to change, invest and improve. The service began to crumble. The Government Nationalised bus transport in 1958 and the Ceylon Transport Board was born. The red reliable British Leyland single and double decker buses then were a part of the Colombo scene. Quickshaw Taxis competed for business with the Morris Minor Cabs. Rickshaws in the 50’s were confined to Fort and Pettah. Trolley buses were popular for a decade in the 1950’s running between Borella and Pettah. Bullock carts were seen on the roads well into the 1970’s.
1955 saw the emergence of rock ‘n roll music. The first Rock ‘n’ Roll record to achieve national popularity was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets . I queued for hours in the heat of the day to see the film at the Savoy. Bill Haley succeeded in creating a music that appealed to youth because of its exciting back beat, its urgent call to dance, and the action of its lyrics. The booming base and the twang of electric guitars produced a foot tapping sound. Haley abruptly ended the ascendancy of the bland and sentimental ballads of the crooners popular in the 1940s and early 50s. I was then in the boarding, singing, clicking my fingers and gyrating to the music coming through the Rediffusion set in the hostel common room. Music of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard and the Shadows was all consuming to us teenagers. The Colgate Hit-parade on Tuesdays was as good as watching cricket on a Saturday. I cannot believe nearly 50 years have passed since those exciting times in our youth.
1956 saw the beginnings of the political decline of our country. We moved away from the Westminster style gentlemanly politics into an abyss. The jingoism and the ultra-nationalism was a recipe for division and disaster. It was Albert Einstein who said that nationalism is an infantile disease and is the measles of mankind. The rapid abolition of English as the state language drove many educated people away from the country. The Burghers who formed a colourful community and contributed immensely to the welfare of the island emigrated in their thousands to Australia, England and Canada. They had a tremendous love for life which they showed in the way they lived . I remember the sad goodbyes when my friends left. The first Dutch Burghers came to Ceylon four centuries ago, when the maritime provinces of the island came under the Dutch East India Company. They joined the legal, medical and teaching professions and played a major role in the fight for independence. During my time at school the Burghers ran the CGR and did so most efficiently. The time keeping of the Ceylon Government Railways was second to none. Their departure coincided with the economic and political decline and saw the beginning of the ethnic divisions which ravaged the Island. The politics of the country was in crisis and our coffers were empty. The many upheavals, disunity and the workers strikes had brought the country to its knees.
1958 - I remember it well as the year when the sport of kings - horse racing that began in 1922 was banned in Ceylon. I am no punter and it had no effect on me personally but a Saturday ritual of many, rich and poor, was suddenly taken away. The bookmakers and the customers went underground and business flourished. The beautiful Reid Avenue Grand Stand and its spacious turf was left to decay and wither. 1958 also saw the race riots, a tragedy which remained to haunt and destroy us until the end of the 20th Century.
The 6th form years at Wesley were some of the best of my life. It is indeed a wonderful experience to look back on one’s life 50 years after leaving school. I was 18 then, life was beautiful and saw the world in vivid technicolor. Disagreements, disappointments and the heartaches seem to be all forgotten. All I can remember now are the pleasant memories of happy times. I recall the sunshine and the warmth and not the monsoon rains. Anecdotes and images appear at random. The innocence of the fifties gave way to the cynical and raucous sixties. Beatles and Elvis Presley were still riding high in the Hit Parade. The hippy culture of sex, drugs and rock and roll were making the headlines and setting the pace. When I started in the 6th Form Mr. P. H. Nonis was the Principal. He gave the sixth formers the freedom to walk in and out of school at will. At last we were treated like adults. I cannot remember any gross misuse of this privilege.
At Wesley we had the large expanse of the Welikada Prison just opposite our front gate. Every morning the prisoners wearing white were taken along Baseline Road by the guards in khaki shorts. Being so close to the prison for over a decade I had often let my mind wander about the life of those in jail. For many of us, even now, prison is almost an unknown place and very few knew what happened behind those grim gates that swallowed the convicts. We imagined that its inhabitants were desperate people and dangerous criminals. In our minds the place was associated with isolation, humiliation and suffering which were all part of the punishment. Sometimes the sheer lack of privacy and at other times the loneliness of solitary confinement must be soul destroying. Time then is not a luxury but a burden to endure. A few had the benefit of work and exercise. I would hate to think of what food they received and of the many who walked out free how they faced the world again.
In those days for anyone studying the sciences the choice was rather limited, being confined to medicine, biological sciences, agriculture and engineering. There was a belief that entry into Medical College was a passport to Nirvana. That was just an illusion which for a few turned out to be a nightmare. It was only the beginning of a long struggle with busy days and sleepless nights. I hope this popular misconception has now been properly addressed. If I am allowed to be cynical - it is no more a noble profession but a kind of business. As I look around the various professions, their nobility has been eroded by the pressures of modern living. As a sixth former in the sixties I wasn�t to know all that.
A professional career with its disruptive routines and untold strain on my time and leisure has invariably taken its toll. I now look forward to the rest of my life with the same excitement as its beginning. As a sixth former at school I would never have imagined life would turn out this way. Call it destiny or the will of God, good fortune has been on my side most of the way.
I dedicate these memoirs firstly to my parents, who provided the encouragement and paid the bills, secondly to my teachers who educated me beyond the call of duty and thirdly to my mates at school and beyond who by their friendship enriched my life.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
|L - R: Senani (SD) Wickramasinghe (of our junior batch) from Canada, Nalin Nanayakkara (from California), myself, Suren Iyer (from England) and Nihal Goonetilake (from England)|
|Suren with the ladies|
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I am very grateful to Speedy who lost no time in sending the following set of instructions for the benefit of viewers. We are doing all this to make this blog more interactive.
I have helped Lucky to make some changes to the Colombo Medgrads Web Blog to make it easier to post comments.
There are several ways of doing this but the two most popular methods will be covered. I suspect most of you will be using Method 1 and I shall deal with it first. I have made it as simple as possible, not because I doubt the intelligence of users but to suit all types of computer familiarity.
At the end of every posting by Lucky (e.g., Tilak Dayatane or English Countryside), you will see this:- Posted by Lucky Abey (and time. e.g., 1:20am) followed by No comment if there are no comments or as 1 comment or 2 comments etc according to number of comments.
1.Now move your mouse cursor over the light blue "no comment. or 2 comments etc" area and left click the mouse button.
You should now see "Post a comment " , with a boxed window where it says -"Enter your comment". Below that you will see- Comment as and a small window which says - select your profile.(with small arrows to choose options on its right side)
2. Type your comment in the box.
3. From Comment as: Select your profile, choose Anonymous from the pick list which appears when you click on the little arrows by the side of the select profile box.
4. Make sure you give your name at the end of your comment as it will appear as an anonymous post.
5. If you like to correct anything before it gets into the system or just like to preview it, click on preview. This will take you to a window where your comment is there and there will be a light blue "edit" area on which you should click if you want to edit.
6. Once you are happy, just click on Publish (again always with your Left mouse button), And that's it!
For those who have a Gmail address or Google address, after writing a comment as before, from Comment as:- choose Google from list. Then you will be taken to the Google login screen where you enter your email address and password. Then your comment will be seen in the window and you will need to click on Publish. If you choose this method, your comment will appear with your chosen Google name (and image if you have added a photo) and not as Anonymous.
Hope everything is clear now and let us see more and more people contributing with comments-
Monday, January 12, 2015
Our batch colleague Wasantha (Owitigala) Jayasuriya's husband Karu Jayasuriya is the new Minister of Public Administration, Democratic Governance and Buddha Sasana. Wasantha's son-in-law Naveen Dissanayake is the new Minister of Tourism. The latter is a son of the late Minister Gamini Dissanayake.
Our congratulations go out to Wasantha and her family.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Click on: Current Issue - January 2015
Walter Patrick’s Contribution Toward Public Health Education in Sri Lanka
Friday, January 9, 2015
(Author's note: This article appeared in The Island newspaper nearly 2 decades ago).
Thursday, January 8, 2015
It is in the months of December and January that most expats usually spend a holiday in their motherland. Thus we who are permanently in Sri Lanka, get the opportunity to meet and greet old friends, some of whom we have not met for ages. A grand lunch organised by Pram who by now has earned a reputation as a magnanimous and gracious hostess, was one such occasion. The venue was the poolside on the Mezzanine floor of her Hyde Park Residencies. The date was January 7th, the day before Sri Lanka's latest Presidential Election. Pram had invited her Methodist College classmates and medical school colleagues (mostly visiting expats on holiday).
I have selected a few pictures to give viewers an idea of what took place.
|From our senior batch|
L to R: Lalitha Mendis, Narada Wijayatilake, Nalin Perera, Nilani Sugathapala Gajawira, Sam de Zoysa
Pram's Methodist College group with Bunter, Gitanjali (Sidath Jayanetti's wife), Chandra Silva and Shirani Thenabadu
|Pram on extreme right. Standing in the background are Nihal Thenabadu (our senior) and Chris Simithrarachchi (our junior)|
|Rohini Abhayaratne & Anton Ambrose|
|Pram with Charmian Wijayatilake (Narada's wife) and Mangala (my wife)|