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Monday, April 30, 2012

E-mail from Priya

9:16 AM (16 minutes ago)

Hi Lucky,

What a refreshing and uplifting message from Speedy! Having a name beginning with a G myself, we found ourselves very closely linked at College. I remember him as one of the best - a true companion in our five year journey. It was indeed a privilege to have been a batch mate of his.
His sentiments are greatly valued and his efforts at fostering goodwill among our batch mates most salutary.

Thank YOU for being the catalyst and the rallying point for all this. 

Warm regards,

E-mail from Rajan (Patas) Ratnesar 4:14 AM (3 hours ago)

Hi Lucky,

I enjoyed my study partner speedy's reasons for attending the reunion. As you know I have tried to attend all the reunions but missed one, though i had booked my flights etc, but had to cancel because of the said to be situation in Sri  Lanka. But as Speedy mentioned this could be the last time we may see some of our dear friends that we spent 5 happy years with.

Just as one incident that has been in my memory following the last reunion 5 years ago. I met Anna ponnambalam after 40 years and she recounted her days in Zimbabwe and her final exit from that country after her husband had passed away. Alas she is no more and if I had not been at the last reunion, I would not have not known the hardships, dear Anna went through. I am sure there are many stories that we can relate to, through our days in Medical school to present time, and to see each other and share a drink and a joke is worth the tresure.

Let me know if I can help to contact more of our batchmates to encourage them to come. I am working on Vish, and hopefully he will be there.

Best to you and your wife

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why should we attend the Reunion? Why am I coming?

This is a question I have asked myself many times before as in many ways, it may appear at first sight to be not that important or worth the time, money and effort.

Our Medical Faculty days are a distant memory and soon the Reunion will also become one. Many things have happened in the last 50 years and life is such that we have moved on and made new friends, maintained contact with some colleagues on a regular basis, some on an occasional basis while some have been totally confined to history. This is not unusual and would apply to any group. I think it would be true to say that we have some memories we treasure and some we would rather forget! One of the problems with Batch reunions is that some of the unwanted memories become rekindled and then it becomes uncomfortable and unenjoyable. Some of us, without any malice whatsoever, but may be without sufficient sensitivity, recall humorous events concerning our colleagues which make us laugh but make them squirm. I think it is very important for us to remember this and be sensitive about the feelings of others.  This may even extend to seemingly innocuous things like nick names. Just imagine that one of us was known as "godaya" because he was thought to be unsophisticated and backward at the time. The last thing such a person wants to be called at a reunion is "godaya" unless of course he finds it a sign of affection to be remembered thus. (This is a totally hypothetical situation). In my own case, I am perfectly happy to be called Speedy by the way! Then there were batch romances which didn't work out as anticipated and it is not particularly pleasant to be reminded of this.

All this sounds very negative but is stated so that we retain some awareness and sensitivity when we meet. But why bother when you have your own circle of friends and acquaintances and have moved on in life. Well, I suppose the answer is very individual and I can only speak for myself. I regard at least 3 phases of my life as important and worth remembering with gratitude. The first phase is my childhood, growing up in a family and being carefully nurtured to be able to face the World into which I was born and the most important influence for that period were my parents. The second is the all important period in school and I owe so much to Royal College as I am sure all of you do to your respective schools. The third is my medical faculty days and I owe so much for being fortunate enough to have some of the best teachers in the World and to grow and mature within a group of batch mates each of whom contributed in some way or the other to enable me to qualify as a doctor in a supportive atmosphere. It was like a multicellular organism (the batch) with each and everyone a contributory cell (batch mate). When I joined the Faculty I had just turned 18 and I was frightened in general at the tremendous jump from school boy to medical student and terrified at the prospect of being ragged. It was a steep learning curve in so many ways. I was so naive and unsophisticated that I had never heard of deodorants till UVA de Silva introduced me to Odorono in a very kind and understanding way to help him socialise with him without having to pinch his nose! I had never been to a "9.30 show" till JC got me permission from my father to be taken and delivered back safely on the pillion of his Honda 50. I had never consumed alcohol and or been anywhere near a girl! I could go on and mention so many people who helped me to "grow up". Add to this the memory of all the brilliant teachers we had and it adds up to a most crucial period of my life. I will be 68 soon and already we have lost many of our colleagues and the plimsoll line of our batch is rising all the time inexorably as is the nature of things till all of us will become history. Time is valuable and who knows how many of us would be able to attend the next significant reunion which I presume could be in 5years time to celebrate "passing out" as doctors.

I am coming because I would love to meet as much of you as possible and recall the good days we had, of which there were many and far outnumbered the bad ones. I would love to meet so many of  you whose company I enjoyed and sadly have lost contact with. I like to share your successes, not necessarily academic but in whatever way you feel that you have made a success of your life. I like to empathise with any of you  who haven't had the best of times. It is chastening to be reminded of our mortality and the impermanent nature of this existence. In other words, I would love to mingle with my batch mates and their families in a most convivial atmosphere and enjoy exchanging joyful memories and take back fresh memories with me when I return.

I do hope that a lot of you would feel this way and make the effort to join this celebration and make it a great success, never to be forgotten. Once again, I like to thank the Organising committee for all the hard work.


(Mahendra Gonsalkorala)

Crossword Solution

A promise is a promise! Here's the solution to the Medgrads1962 crossword puzzle designed and created by Mahendra Gonsalkorala (Speedy). For an enlarged clearer image, click on the puzzle.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Prof. Malcolm Fernando

Prof. Malcolm Fernando was one of the first Faculty staff members to make contact with us when we first entered the Colombo Medical Faculty in June 1962. He recruited some of us as investigators in a mental health survey that he was conducting up in Peradeniya. That was a memorable trip by train and we were accommodated in James Peiris Hall. However, even by that time, he had moved to Peradeniya to teach Public Health to our counterparts in the Peradeniya Medical School leaving us in the capable hands of Prof. Abhayaratne and his team. I came to know Prof. Fernando more closely much later when he was Chairman of the PGIM Board of Study in Community Medicine of which I too was a member.

May he Rest in Peace.

FERNANDO - PROF. MALCOLM. (Former Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya). Dearly beloved husband of Donita, loving father of Dialanthi Perera, Ayomal, Romali Abayasekara (HNB) & Charith, Dr Dinesh (Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya) & Sandra, darling grand dad of Dylan Perera, Julianne (Jilly) and Senaka Peiris, Duchenne and Shandel, brother of Naomi (Goldi) and late Delia Ponnamperuma and late Leo Fernando. Cortege leaves residence 38 A, Senaviratne / Hekitta Cross Road, Hendala, Wattala on Tuesday the 17th at 3.30 p.m. for burial at the R.C. Section, General Cemetery, Borella at 4.30 p.m. Tel: 077-2991193. 097529

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dr. Stella de Silva

Yet another of our revered teachers has passed away.

DE SILVA - DR. STELLA - Much loved sister of late C.P. De Silva, Gladys, Merryl, A.H. and Dr. L.B.; sister-in-law of late R.T. De Silva, Esme, Elsie and of Dr. Vineetha; loving aunt of Chinta, Kanthi, Chanaka, Anoma, Jayapriya, Premalal, Sunil, Dr. Nilendra, Sepalika, Dr. Rajiva, Needra, Nilanthi and Amendra, passed away peacefully. Cortege leaves residence 100/9, Horton Gardens, off Horton Place, Colombo 7 on Sunday 15th April 2012 at 4.00 p.m. Cremation at General Cemetery, Borella at 5 p.m. (Entrance from the Main Gate).

Message from Razaque Ahamat





E-mail from Eugene Anandappa

Dear Lucky,
It was great to hear from you regularly about various subjects of interest from Srli Lanka and our class mates. I was aware of your regular correspondance with Satchie who is no more with us. It is a tragic loss of a unique and absolutely genuine human being. Bertie Nanayakkara informed me a week ago of his plans to attend the reunion. At the moment I cannot commit myself to it. Conditions might change and if one of my children can accompany me, I will certainly contact you. I would have been thrilled to meet so many after a life time. 50 years is a long time and and who would have then predicted that the majority of us who grew up within fifty mile radius will end up somewhere in the four corners of this world. Please tell all you are in contact with that I would like to see them if ever they visit Chicago and my doors are open to them and their children. Good luck and hats-off for the wonderful work you are doing.
My personal email PHONE : 708 7719391(home) ; 708 9322104 (cell)
1446 Franklin Avenue
River Forest, IL. 60305.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Gentle Giant in the Grey Suit - Dr. W. Wijenaike

It was on April 3rd, 2001 that our revered teacher Dr. Wickrama Wijenaike passed away. To commemmorate his 11th death anniversary, Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorala has sent in this appreciation which I am pleased to post on our blog.

The Gentle Giant in the Grey Suit- Dr W.Wijenaike
By Mahendra Gonsalkorala
Whenever doctors in the UK of a certain vintage who graduated from Sri Lanka meet, they recall with gratitude the excellent training they were so privileged to have received as medical students. Views on training doctors have changed a lot and will continue to change, as it indeed should. There are many aspects to the excellent education and training our batch received but I want to dwell briefly on the clinical training we received while being "attached" to Consultants and from attending "Ward Classes". The range of clinical medicine we saw was nothing short of amazing. I remember scouring the wards of General Hospital for "interesting cases" and in one day we would listen to all the possible cardiac murmurs, palpate a handful of spleens and livers, listen to crackles, crepitations and rhonchi of all kinds and see neurological patients from Parkinsons' to paraplegia. Clinicians in that era needed sharp clinical skills as we did not have the range of specialised  investigations  which is common place now. The sheer volume of patients made it also necessary to be skillful in rapidly assessing patients with a high degree of heuristic analysis.

There are many Consultant Physicians I can think of and names like Drs Wickrema Wijenaike, Ernie Pieris, RS Thanabalasunderam, DJ Attygalle, GS Ratnavale spring to mind. In this article, I want to focus on Dr Wickrema Wijenaike, instantly recognisable as a tall figure in his characteristic grey suit and tinted glasses. I had the pleasure of learning from him during my 3 month medical attachment and from attending his Ward Classes and finally, the ultimate honour of working as his HO with the delightful, vivacious and beautiful Srimathie Fernando as my co-HO. The bespectacled and benign Dr Harold Perera was our most helpful and supportive SHO.

Dr WW had amazing listening skills and the ability to arrive at a diagnosis with a few pointed questions after listening to the history presented by the HO (without looking at the notes), followed by skillful clinical examination. He taught me many good clinical practices which I never forgot and did my best to pass on to junior doctors working with me after I became a Consultant. These are too numerous to mention but I will just refer to a set of guidelines he gave us to follow after "clerking" a patient and formulating a management plan. "Do not order any investigations unless you can explain exactly why you asked for them and show me how the results would help". "You are not allowed to prescribe a medicine unless you can explain clearly the indication and show me  that you are aware of the common side effects. The dose need not be known by memory as you can always refer to the Formulary". How relevant these words are in these days of ordering "shot gun" tests with the hope that the results may throw some light, with resultant waste of valuable resources and dulling of analytical skills.

He was a gentle man, extremely kind to patients and relatives and never had a harsh word for anybody.  He was very honest and never gave any special privileges to patients who had consulted him privately. I recall a ward round when he found a patient occupying a bed when there were far more needy ones on the "floor". He was told by the nurse that he was one of his private patients and Dr Wijenaike immediately asked him to be shown the floor and requested a very ill floor patient to take his place. This impressed me so much that I remember it to date. It accorded with my personal view that unfair financial gain should be an anathema to good medical practice. Sadly, he is no more but  I am sure that all those who were privileged to have known him in any capacity, will recall him with fondness and admiration.