Ever since 2009, I have made it a point to attend the Concert and Musical Evening of doctors and their families without a break. It is still a regular event on the opening day of the annual academic sessions. However, I am not so sure about the other fun events of our time as medical students. Besides the Block Concert and Dance, we had the Law - Medical cricket match, Block Seniors versus Staff cricket match, the 2nd MB and final year trips, and the celebrations following the annual MSU elections. Contrary to popular belief, medical students at least of my generation, were not poring over books all the time.
In the social calendar of a medical student, what took pride of place was the Block Concert and Dance. The concert preceded the dance, and traditionally, it was the freshers who not only took the lead in organising the event, but in acting on the stage as well.
Whenever I sit there in the audience at the SLMA Concert and Musical Evening now in the evening of my life, my mind always goes back to the time when I too was on stage entertaining others. In 1994, when the SLMA presented the musical evening of doctors and their families at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, I played the role of “Mrs. Perera”, a flighty middle-aged patient in an item for which Chrissie Aloysius had written the script. The setting was a doctor’s clinic with others in the cast being Chrissie’s husband Dr. Dennis Aloysius (doctor), SLMA President of that year Dr. J.B. Pieris (nurse), the late Dr. Nalin Rodrigo (patient), the late Dr. B.A.V. Perera (patient’s husband) and Dr. Preethi Wijegoonewardene (patient). When I continued to take part in the annual Doctors’ Concert and musical evening even in late middle age, I was only repeating what I used to do on stage as a young medical student.
Block Concert of 1962
The Law -Medical Match
As "Block Juniors", we were never interested in what went on during the match proper. Having paraded the streets of Colombo in open trucks all day, dressed in black shirts with the skull and cross bones emblem in white, we returned to our own match venue (the Oval cricket grounds) in time for the poster parade. The numerous scrapes we got into earlier that day, were never taken seriously, at least at that time. While doing the rounds in open trucks in the city, we had invaded the playing fields at ongoing school cricket matches at Reid Avenue and in Bambalapitiya. We had also paid a courtesy call on the girls at Castle Street Girls School which landed us in serious trouble in the weeks to follow. But that is another story!
The proceedings of a hectic day ended with the final sing song and baila dance session that took place at the foot of the Lighthouse at Chaitya Road near Galle Face. The few sober colleagues who were eye witnesses, later described the scene when around midnight, black shirted revelers who had taken one too many, were virtually thrown into the back of a truck much like dead bodies. I remember waking up groggily with a splitting headache the next day. Looking around, I realised that I was in bed (or was it a bunk?) with three others (who were still sleeping) dressed in soiled black shirts. Other beds in the room were similarly over-occupied. As my mind cleared, I was able to put two and two together. The many casualties from the previous night had been unceremoniously transported to a well-known men’s medical hostel in Colombo by colleagues who managed to stay relatively sober. It was a fitting end to the Law-Medical match of 1963.
Conclusion and Lessons Learned