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Monday, August 24, 2015

A Brief Rendezvous

 By Nihal D Amerasekera



We chose the hottest day of the year to meet at the Côte Brasserie, Soho, Wardour Street,  London on the 22nd of August 2015. As Mahendra Gonsalkorale, Zita Perera Subasinghe and her husband Joe sat in the restaurant we could feel the warm air waft across the large open window by the pavement. After the usual pleasantries, we started our chat. We accepted gratefully that none of us have changed much since those days.  The furrows and marks on our faces are an acknowledgment of the knocks as well as the joys that life has brought us. We reminisced, remembered and recounted those happy times of long ago.

All four of us were born during ravages of World War II and grew up in the aftermath. We were kids in a fledgling democracy as Sri Lanka was finding its feet. We were teenagers in the hedonistic 60’s of sex, drugs and rock and roll and survived it all to step on the treadmill at the GCE only to get off on retirement when we were 65 or thereabouts. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least.

It took us back to the tall grim building called the Block  and the very first time we met in June 1962.  The silent human torsos lying on those porcelain slabs and the strong pungent smell of formalin ushered in our careers in medicine. We had all our lives before us. Its been a long journey since. Zita I met last when we gathered in the lobby of the faculty to say goodbye in March 1967. Mahendra  and I met at the Royal College of Physicians in London while sitting for the MRCP in 1975. How time has flown. The stress of building a career and raising a family has invariably taken its toll.

Our families took pride of place as we discussed their part in our world. Each one of us outlined our passage through the various stages in our careers up until retirement. We never knew Zita has had a remarkable career as an Ophthalmologist at the Sri Jayawardenepura hospital where she started the Laser service. Her photo adorns the department to remember her contribution to ophthalmology in Sri Lanka. Joe is the man from Raybans, that famous upmarket optometrists back home.

We discussed our hobbies and how we spent our days at leisure. Mahendra and Zita are fine musicians. The many songs that are on the Blog by them show their talent and also their love and commitment to music. I personally have some of them in my iTunes, a reminder of my roots.

The topic of religion and after life or the lack of it featured prominently. Although we had differing religious backgrounds that didn’t seem to hinder a rational discussion trying our best to remain scientific and logical. That is never easy discussing a topic so etherial. I am a great believer in the awesome force of destiny when the unpreventable happens. This aroused much interest and a lively debate. Suddenly, I noted a change in Mahen’s expression, a slight widening of the eyes, and a smile to indicate he has reservations.  We have all had our share of misfortune in this long and tortuous journey through life. Despite this it is heartening to note the four of us are still having such a marvelous time as we grow old gracefully.

We mentioned the gradual but inevitable decline since being septuagenarians and the importance to maintain a sense of purpose minus the driving ambition and rivalry. I should have mentioned in the same vein that it is vital to get rid of the baggage we all carry called “regret”.

There is always time to discuss mutual friends on such occasions, and we did. The mention of names always brings back loads of memories of those younger days and more recent meetings. We remembered most fondly those who have since departed this world and their part in our lives. These are reminders of our own mortality and the primal fear of exit from this world.  It is a world which we have come to love and also despise.

Our Blog has been our unifying force thanks to Lucky Abey and we discussed ways to improve and also expand so that it will remain viable for longer. I am sure these will require further thought before they see the light of day.

This was a memorable meeting which we all enjoyed immensely. The food was exquisite, service was brilliant and the ambience most appropriate.  We must meet again. Joe as treasurer is irreplaceable. I sincerely hope we see each other before long as time is fast catching up. We thank Zita’s daughter - Nisha for her recommendation of  the Venue in London which served us so well.

Good and reliable friends are worth their weight in gold.  They are the greatest source of pleasure and support in later years with whom you can laugh at the travails of youth.

Take care - until we meet again. 






13 comments:

  1. Looking at the pictures, I noticed that Speedy has put on a couple of pounds in weight since I last saw him. That's the only difference, he has not aged at all! Zita and ND look the same. I met them three years ago in 2012. First time I saw Zita's husband Joe. Hi Joe!

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  2. Lucky
    Thanks for the excellent service and the kind comments. Having a chat together we realise how much has changed in our lives despite the 'unchanged' physical appearance. Life has treated us well so far. As for the future it is left to the awesome force of destiny.
    ND

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  3. ND has said it all in his own unique style. It was a memorable day and I hope we do it more often. I would like to see more news of our colleagues or anything that is of common interest in our Blog. May I wish every reader a very happy September!

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  4. ALL YOU NICE PEOPLE,
    Nice to see you guys as you are now!! Who is the 'pretty' one then??? The ROSE amongst the thorns!! Or shall I say the BEAUTY amidst the BEASTS??
    If the cap fits put it on -- there is only one cap that fits only one person!!!!

    Recently there have been MINI-Meetings, like, VPHR & Mrs. with Ananadasabapathy family in the US, Zita with Malkanthi's Family...etc. It is great to get together in this manner as opposed to the grand Reunions of yester years!! May there be many more of all formats
    Being a hot day you guys would have avoided the 'Barley Water', but may have indulged in some of the 'HOPS' -- hope nobody was "hopping about". Did Joe break into song ??-- as I remember him for that after 2007!!
    Our only wish is that we were somewhere closer to have joined in-- we could have had a good old POW-WOW!!!
    Anyway I an sure you all would have enjoyed the occasion greatly.
    Wish you all WELL with GOOD HEALTH.

    Till we meet again -- MAY GODS (of all persuasion) BE WITH YOU or at least NEAR-BY,

    Razaque.



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    1. Thank you HRH Razaque for your comments.Long may you reign (Not rain as the monsoons are still faraway) over Penang.
      ND

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  5. I forgot to mention that Speedy and Zita looked a bit "fuller", ND seemed to have the same old "hungry look" and joe - vwould not have recognised even if I 'had bumped into him in the street'!!!
    SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SPECSAVERS!!!
    Maybe NOT ..... should have gone to "RAYBANS" or to Jayawardene Pura, Hospital!!!!!.................. Razaque

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  6. Tummy is getting a bit out of control, in spite of golf and passing a lot of wind Razaque! Any advice? what'll happen in large quantities?

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    1. A "PORRAPAY" will do nicely!!
      Then 'WHAT'LLHAPPEN' ....... is that....it will go off like a Champaign Cork!!!! With a BANG.... and an eruption --- like a volcano....onlookers and bystanders..... beware of the ..LAVA!!!.
      Razaque

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    2. Sorry, missed out on the PYROPLASTIC FLOW that precedes the LAVA !!!
      It is -- SMELLY, IRRITATING,, HOT, LOUD, & FAST-- cannot outrun it as it is SPEEDY.....S folks beware!!!!!
      Razaque

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  7. Mahen

    It's that infamous trio - colic and wind before the rain

    ND

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  8. ND, Thank you for your lovely account of your mini gathering. You must get together as often as possible. You are correct, we should not waste our time on "regrets." Enjoy! And I'm not going to make any comments on weight gain!

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  9. Srianee
    Welcome to our fold again after a short absence. It is lovely to hear your profound comments and support for the Blog. As you gathered it was wonderful to meet with Zita and Mahen and I am sure we will meet again.
    ND

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  10. Thanks, ND. I will try to stay in touch a little bit more. I was struck by the fact that so many people said how sorry they were that they didn't stay in touch with Veda. That spurred me on to send out a few emails to old friends.
    Srianee.

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