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Friday, March 17, 2017

The Mini Reunion in St John’s Wood, London 13th March 2017

From Nihal D Amerasekera



From the dying embers of the great reunion in Negombo, Pramilla brought with her a spark and a bit of magic to gather together a few friends in London and fire-up our memories for a trip down memory lane. Pramilla spent a short 6 days in London during which she executed her idea with a series of emails, Viber, phone calls and text messages. She who planned the idea became the architect the builder and the financier. We have no words to thank her enough for her efforts, patience and kindness to bring us all together when at this stage of our lives time is of the essence and everyday is a bonus.

It was bright and sunny spring day. The reunion was held at Richoux, an iconic French eatery, in a leafy part of London in the shadow of the Lords Cricket Grounds. We started the proceedings at 4pm with a short “Do you know” contest  to see if we could identify our friends who spent 5 long years with us in Medical School until we dispersed 55 years ago. That was a disaster as many faltered badly. Failure to recognise one another brought peals of laughter as each tried to prompt the other’s recollection. I may have been the worst culprit not having attended any of the Reunions since the one in London in the last century.

One would have imagined everyone would recognise Rohini Abhayaratne (Daughter of the then Dean of the Faculty of Medicine) – not true. I took an unusually long time and Sunil missed the boat completely. I met Rohini after many decades. She most certainly hasn’t changed very much, it is just our memories have withered with time. Indrani Subramanium was a lot more tricky for some of us but I had forgotten her name and called her Yankee Bala’s sister. I met her last at Bobby Somasuderam’s reunion in Cheshire.  It was a delight to see her daughter and grandchildren. We all missed recognising B.T Batuwitage. Even after his name was mentioned Rohini completely failed to place him. It was wonderful to see “Batu” who was visibly unwell and remained rather subdued all through. C’est la vie. He was a GP in Wales, greatly loved and respected by the large community he served. We must thank his wife Geetha for bringing him to meet us all the way from Guilford. Zita Perera-Subasinghe came to us from Southend-on-sea which is a good long way and had to stay in a hotel for the night. She was in fine fettle with jokes and stories showing off the photos of her first grandchild born a few days previously. Sunil Abeysuriya and I endured the perils and the torment of signatures, revisals, examinations and clinical appointments together, being an “A” like myself. I was seeing him after nearly 55 years. As always Sunil wasn’t short of stories of his colourful life in the trouble spots of this world. It was indeed a great pleasure to meet his wife, Sirima. She too grew up in the village of my forefathers which I knew and loved.

There was a lavish spread of cakes, sandwiches, chocolate éclairs, muffins, scones and clotted cream. The finest blended English afternoon tea helped us to wash it all down. The child in us surfaced to look at them wide eyed and with great interest. The enormous appetite we all enjoyed in our youth is now a distant memory. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and we failed to finish the food laid out before us.

The days in the faculty was a slice of our common past. The institution molded a part of our character. We flew out into the wider world to carve up a career and care for our families. We have all closed the chapter on our professional lives. Now calmness prevails as we embark on the final laps of our journey.

There was a wonderful buzz of excitement as we shared reminiscences and riotous exchange of jokes. Despite the passage of time the closeness was palpable. The years seemed to slip away as we exchanged memories. Time passed too quickly as we enjoyed ourselves and soon it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes making fervent vows to meet again in the summer. Once again I must thank Pramilla for being such a fine hostess and organising such a wonderful reunion at such short notice. In the confusion of nostalgia let us not forget our teachers, lecturers and professors who taught us beyond the call of duty to become useful citizens of this wonderful world.


This is not goodbye but au revoir – until we meet again.

9 comments:

  1. I am so glad that this materialized and sad to miss it as I would have be there if I was in the UK. Well, we can't do everything I suppose. Well done Pram for organizing and executing it.

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  2. After the resume' of a rare once in a 50 years' meeting on a fine Spring afternoon in London I can only say 'hear hear' to all that Nihal has said about Pramilla's well rewarded effort to get a few of us together. She is a fine hostess, organiser, batch mate and friend. This world needs more people like you! And Nihal, have you thought of a second mini career as a fine dining reporter, book reviewer, author, judge or screen writer? You have a unique talent and can do any such things you put your mind to. Yes, It was a meeting to remember. Thanks! from Zita

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  3. Zita as always is very kind. It is just a note of what happened on a sunny afternoon in London and nothing more.

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  4. Nihal, Thank you for the enchanting "note of what happened on a sunny afternoon in London" and the nice photos with our friends identified!
    As for Pram- she has had great organizing skills ever since I've known her, and Iam so pleased you had such an enjoyable tea party- RohiniAna

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    1. Rohini, Thank you. Wish you were there with us to hear your amusing anecdotes of those happy times together in the Faculty.

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  5. Nihal, Thank you for sharing the details of your reunion with your friends in London. Your description of the sandwiches, éclairs, scones etc. made me hungry! Pram is so great at getting people together, whether she is in Sri Lanka, UK or USA. She is a social catalyst! I am so glad that she was able to transport some of the good vibes and genuine warmth that we experienced in Negombo to London. It is amusing that you had a hard time recognizing each other. We missed all of you in Negombo. I hope you will meet again before too long, it is important to stay in touch. I'm sorry to hear that Batu is not well. I remember chatting with him and Geetha at the Habarana reunion.
    I just returned from spending some time with JC, Sura and Speedy at Sura and JC's new digs. We had a lot of fun reminiscing. Lunch included prawns that JC had "caught in the Beira Lake" and cooked to perfection. Of course, we didn't believe the part about him catching the prawns. It was delightful to just hang out and talk.

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  6. Srianee
    Thanks for the comment. Yes that food made my mouth water although I felt the clotted cream fur up my coronaries. But all for a good cause!! If you can Do please pass on my good wishes to JC and Sura in their new home. May it be a happy home for them for many years to come. JC did look most distinguished in the photos with his expensive pipe. He certainly didnt look like a person who would dirty his feet in the Beira. Take care

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  7. A very thoughtful gesture Pram to have organized this event. It is wonderful indeed to have a genuine friend like you. Enjoyed reading ND's delightful account of the mouth-watering high tea
    best regards to all- Manel

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    1. Manel
      Thank you for you kind comment. Pram is truly a magician to organise the event so quickly. It was truly a wonderful reunion. Now that you are a fellow blogger after the tutorial we hope to see more from you Manel.

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