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Friday, October 31, 2014

E - Mail from Zita

30 11 2014 
Dear Lucky,  
Please allow me a chance to speak to our batch members through the medium of our blog on two points of interest. First is something that can be ‘medical advice’  

 A close relative of mine who is aged 42 years is now in hospital having just undergone coronary angiography insertion of a balloon  and stenting of the anterior descending artery. He merely experienced chest pain, which radiated to the jaw, while walking the dog.  ECG revealed a mild myocardial infarction. What is interesting is that he is a non-smoker and never has been one, and has never been seriously ill before. There is no family history of heart disease but he has a ‘high powered’ job with a lot of stress. 

I thought it would help to alert our younger generation to take note.  

The second point I want to make is really of credit to you. I always noticed that you gave me good advice on important points in articles I submitted for inclusion on our blog and in the recent one I appreciate your meticulous care to get things just right and I accept that your aim is that our blog has a high standard in all aspects, including subject, presentation, illustration and general appeal so we maintain a high standard. I am sure many of our subscribers would agree and I look forward to reading more contributions from our members. By the way, the Creative Spot is a great idea. 

With kind regards, 

Zita (Perera Subasinghe)


Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever

                                                             Ebola virus 

Ebola is a deadly virus causing Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever. It was first discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a young patient who died of a viral illness. It has been rearing its ugly head over the past 40 years but in the outbreak in 2013/2014 it has caused over 4000 deaths in Liberia, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, and Nigeria. The WHO has now declared Nigeria Ebola- free.

                                           Affected areas in West Africa 

 Chimpanzees and other monkeys and bats carry the virus. Bats are eaten as delicacies in parts of Africa. The virus is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of an affected person entering the buccal mucosa or conjunctiva of a contact but aerial spread is not possible.

                                  Fruit bat, which carries Ebola 

The virus enters the human cell, takes over the ‘machinery’ and replicates itself.  New copies of the virus are produced and released into the blood stream.

Patients have fever, haemorrhage, muscle-pain and exhibit dehydration. Death occurs in 50 to 90 percent of cases. There is no known cure although the drug IMAP has been tried. One or two who received this may have recovered due the supportive therapy of fluid replacement and other measures. Isolation of patients is very important. And caregivers have to barrier- nurse the patient. Careful disposal of dead bodies is mandatory to stop spread.

Important points in the Management of Ebola:


  * Treatment of patients within closed units by caregivers              

     using barrier methods

  *Dialysis when needed

  * Education of people about Ebola

  *Contact management (screening up to 21 days)

  * Safe burial of the dead in sealed containers and carried

     away by trained staff.

In these days of freedom to travel, countries have adopted a policy of screening visitors from affected areas arriving at airports of Ebola- free countries. 21 day monitoring of returning staff, establishment of contact phone lines for answering questions of those concerned about exposure, are other measures.

How does screening at airports work? 

Passengers are asked:

  • Have you been with a patient with severe illness or who died of an unknown cause?

  • Have you been vomiting or been generally unwell?

  • Have you had contact with a dead body or been to a funeral?

  • Have you taken a patient with Ebola to a hospital?

                                                              Screening at airports 

In the UK, passengers at high risk but no symptoms may be contacted daily. Travelers are told to phone and what to do if they become unwell.

Medicines Sans Frontiers  (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) have been closely involved in treatment and the volume of work has been so large that the system is in danger of breaking down unless more help arrives.

In affected areas, over crowding is proving a problem. In the past the outbreaks occurred in rural areas but this epidemic has been in the urban setting thus explaining the rapid spread.

Why has Ebola not been ‘taken seriously’ over 40years?

One can only say, it has never proved to be a problem of the present scale up to now. The countries concerned have not had the resources to study the condition or develop drugs or a vaccine. But with this outbreak new machinery has sprung into action, not least due to care givers from the US, UK and Spain being affected and been treated in their home countries.

Glaxo Smith Kline is working on a vaccine and the projection is that it will be available in late 2015. 


Put together by Zita Perera Subasinghe from articles appearing in the BBC I-player and BBC news of the past few months.

Staying Young

Rohini (Anandaraja) writes.........

Since writing about growing old, the blog seems to have been lulled into inactivity! Not even Sriani Snippets 4 has appeared!
I thought an antidote might be to make "old age" the past and "staying young" the future! After all, in spite of our chronological age, I am sure most of us are still very young at heart!

To start the ball rolling, I quote Lucille Ball most would have heard sometime -

"The  secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age"!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Growing Old Gracefully

Rohini Anandaraja

The topic of growing old has been in the air recently. Many years ago, about the time I was beginning to see "silver threads among the black!", my family and I were planning a trip to Sri Lanka - not having managed the get-away for about 12 years.

My mother who was with me in New Zealand at the time, was chatting with me one day while making some early preparations for the trip, when suddenly she came up with "Rohini, you can't go to Sri Lanka with silver streaks in your hair - no one has grey hair in Sri Lanka". Of course  all I did at the time was laugh and her suggestion that I have my "silver" touched up was not heeded.  However some years later, of my own accord I decided it was time to start the cover-up! This done, and with some very good genes from my parents who looked young to a ripe old age, perhaps also helped by my small stature, I probably gave people the impression of being "spring chicken" for a good number of years - to the extent that the question was asked from time to time by some of my older patients " Are you old enough to be my doctor?"!

In one instance when I was verging on 60 years of age, a patient of mine in his late 70s whom I referred for surgery, happened to see a good family friend of ours as anaesthetist. When asked who his GP was - the patient had said "Dr. Anandaraja - she is very young - too young to be a doctor" and my friend's reply was " I don't know about that - she even has a daughter who is a doctor"! ( verbatim from the anaesthetist)!
With friends like these who needs enemies!

My patient's first comment when he next saw me was "You DO keep your age well"! So it was then!

In recent times however, on the slippery slope with furrowed brow and sans hair-colour (fortunately not sans everything yet) the frequently asked question has changed to "Do you have grand children"?!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Memories of Radio Ceylon - Remember Nimal Mendis

Remember Nimal Mendis - Udarata Menike
Nimal Mendis - dared to dream 
Recently, I got in touch with Nimal Mendis, a veteran composer of hits such as Master Sir, Nim Him Sewva and Ganga Addara.
He has been living in Britain for many decades travelling to and from Sri Lanka to write those hits that have proved extremely popular. 
When I emailed him I received the following reply.
"Thank you very much for your email. Unfortunately or may be fortunately I am now in Sri Lanka.
We came over three months ago and have been busy settling down here in Malabe.
Hoping to be here now with an occasional visit back to London.
Our son worked for the BBC (TV Centre White City) for seven years as a sound/video editor and he too is now here with us.
There is outstanding talent in Sri Lanka, especially in some of the young musicians and singers here today and we are quite amazed that they have not got on to the world stage as yet.
One thing we are determined to accomplish is to try and do our best to help these young artists."
This is the man, as a young lad from Sri Lanka who dared to dream that he was good enough to perform with the best in the West.
An impossible dream at the time!
He would swim along the coastline at "Bambalawatte" (Bambalapitiya) as it was called then, gazing at the sky on his back dreaming his dream. Just out of school at Royal College he filled in his music ambitions playing the piano for the Harold Seneviratne Combo.
He said that they used to be paid Rs 10 a night and Rs 15 for an all-night gig at the 'Pigalle' night club in Colpetty.
He came from a family that viewed the world with an Anglicised professionalism and the house was filled with the atmosphere of western classical music, art and literature, although it was also infused with everything Sri Lankan, especially in the world of art philosophy and politics.
There were discussions of Ghandian and Nehru values.
His mother was the first author in Sri Lanka to write in English and her first book was published in London in 1929.
His father was an inventor - inventor of the now famous brand of "Mendis Special" that reached great heights through its development by his brother, Walter M Mendis.
The Mendis family was a set of liberals, five children making their mark in different spheres and the youngest Nimal, who dared to dream a tall dream into the entertainment world.
Nimal said, "It must have been the `gene jewels' we inherited from my father and mother."
The liberalism of his parents is what enabled the young Nimal to convince his parents to send him to England, initially to study accountancy.
However, there was a manipulation that took place because after an year of accountancy studies in London he was playing the piano in sophisticated restaurants and writing songs and composing music.
The seeds were sown of the dream he dared to dream.

Big break
His first big break came when he was playing the piano at the Ceylon Students Centre.
He had formed a group called, `The Kandyans'.
Mano Chanmugam on piano accordian, Anura on Kandyan drums, and Subra de Silva as the singer in the group.
Nimal played piano and also sang.
The piano was in the restaurant and after meals the manageress allowed them to practice there while Sri Lankan students and their guests drank coffee or tea.
While they were practicing one of Nimal's songs a young woman came up to them an inquired about the song.
She was Mary Marshall an up and coming English singer.
The song was "Kiss Kiss Kiss" and it went on to be a huge hit in Sri Lanka played regularly over the airwaves by the late Vernon Corea, Livy Wijemane and Jimmy Bharucha, the veteran broadcasters of then Radio Ceylon.
It did well in England too but soon after Mary married a successful agent in the entertainment industry, she left England and went to live in the Channel Islands.
After 40 years Mary is in contact with Nimal again.
Her daughter had seen some of his work on Sinhala Juke Box on the Internet and emailed him.
Although Mary had faded out from the music scene in London she was involved in a lot of charity work in the Channel Islands.
Mary always kept her interest of 'Ceylon' and when the tsunami occurred collected funds for an organisation dealing with the victims of the tsunami.
"Kiss Kiss Kiss" has still an occasional play on the SLBC.

String of hits

A string of hits followed when Nimal came back to Sri Lanka for a short spell.
Kandyan Express, Butterfly in the rain, Cherry Blossom Tree, Champagne Blues, Oh My Lover and Goodnight Kisses, all with the Harold Seneviratne Combo and singers such as Ciff Foenander, Sandra Edema and the Jay Brothers.
The dream beckoned him back to the bright lights of London and Nimal became a successful musician of the sixties in London.

Although he did not share the fame of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones he held his own as a Sri Lankan with his singing partner Sandra Edema who was now also searching stardom in London.
They teamed up and were on' Top of the Pops", the famous British TV show at the time and "Beat Club" and even the more successful TV show in Germany that was viewed by millions on the continent of Europe. Nimal Mendis is one of the two Sri Lankan artistes to sing on BBC Top of the Pops.
The other singer is Bill Forbes who lives in Yorkshire.
Nimal said that he was searching for over 30 years to get a clip of the performance on "Beat Club" and there it was two weeks ago on the Internet.
He managed to get a copy which is of good quality and is hoping that a TV company in Sri Lanka will pick it up for airing.
It is certainly a clip that is worth seeing by all our young people of a lad who dared to dream. They will be inspired and they too will dream. To dream the dream is the first step of fulfilment.
Unfortunately, but as Nimal said, "What looks like misfortune at first, if accepted and you do not `Cave in could lead to fortune once more."
He was in a race attack in the late sixties and decided to come back to Sri Lanka.
He got 10 acres of land in Norton Bridge and farmed for five years.
While doing this he experienced first hand all kinds of negative values.
This was what led him to write " Master Sir".
His good friend Manik Sandrasagara said, "You are not a farmer, you are a composer. Stop burying yourself here. I am making a film and you must write the music for it."
Doing the music for Kalu Diya Dahara was the beginning of Nimal's entry to the Sinhala film Music scene.
Lester and Sumitra Peries and Manik used his talents to write several scores and songs.
Every song that Nimal wrote for a Sinhala film was a hit with our people. Master Sir, Ganga Addara, Nim Him Sewva, Upul Nuwan, Gehenu Lamai, Viyo Gee and Obey Adare are household name songs.
From the dream of the western entertainment stage Nimal was now conquering the Sinhala music scene with his songs and composing.
This is a career that should be followed by our youngsters as an inspiration.
Here is this veteran come back to his motherland.
Come on - make use of him - meet him - get his experience and storm the world stage with the amazing talent that exists today in Sri Lanka. 

Nimal Mendis

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creative Spot - "Wake Up" by Mahendra Gonsalkorala


Wake up!

I am tired of your witticisms
Annoyed by your criticisms
Fed up with your constant nit picking
Angry with your persistent heckling

Have you no heart or feelings
Are you made of stone or iron filings
Does the rain just bounce off you
Are you not calmed by the morning dew

Is the warm sunshine lost on you 
Does the cool breeze not caress you 
Do not the chirping of birds delight you
Wake up ! Wake up!
Be engulfed by the beauty around you 

Donations to CoMSAA by Sujatha Maligaspe Lena

Suji has made a generous donation of 5000 Canadian Dollars to CoMSAA to be utilised under the "Stethoscope and Book Project for Colombo Medical Students". She has pledged to donate a further 50 Canadian Dollars for the same project in memory of the late Priya, her friend, colleague and schoolmate at Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo.

This news item is posted on the blog to encourage all members of our batch who have not yet joined CoMSAA to do so and to invite those colleagues who have joined CoMSAA already, to consider making a donation towards this worthy cause in memory of any of our batch colleagues or family members who have "passed on".

Monday, October 20, 2014

Golden Rules for Aging Gracefully

I received this e-mail from Srianee (Bunter) and thought of posting it on the blog as all of us in our batch are about the age when the main contents of  the message are applicable.

Hello Lucky,
I got this from a cousin in Sri Lanka and it really “hit the spot.” This is attributed to Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a Japanese physician who is 97 years old.  Do you think this may be a good item for the blog, since we are all on that path?
All the best,


Jaffna Railway Station & Yal Devi

The ‘Yal Devi’ Train arrived in Jaffna on 13 October, 2014 after a period of 24 years. This is a pictorial record of the Jaffna Railaway Station with its  "new look" and the arrival of Yal Devi at the station. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sriani Snippets 3

The drama of attending three wrong funerals
Sriani Basnayake 

There may be many of you who have accidentally gone to one funeral house by mistake, but I think I hold the record for going to three wrong funerals in one evening. 

This happened many years ago when my dear mother was alive. A lady who had done secretarial work for her had just lost her father, and mum asked me to take her to the funeral house  in the outskirts of Colombo. We knew the road, but not the exact address, and as it was a small side road, I was sure that there would be some flags strung across the road indicating the venue. We got to that road, and sure enough there were the customary flags leading to the house. We made our way to the entrance, and solemnly shook hands with a few people who looked like the chief mourners, offered our condolences, and were then ushered into the hall where the body was laid out. Mum thought she should strike up a conversation with the lady seated by her, and inquired as to how he died. We were horrified to listen to a ball by ball account of the gory details of a street fight, where the dead man and the leader of a rival gang had repeatedly stabbed each other, until this man had fallen unconscious in a pool of blood. She took great pains to assure us that before he died, he had managed to lop off his assailant’s ear, and bury his knife in that fellow’s abdomen. Mum could not believe her ears, and whispered to me,…..” I thought Mary’s ( not her real name) family were God fearing respectable people, who were pillars of the Church etc…etc….and Mary does not look the type that has a father who will go wielding a knife on the road.” No comment from me. I too inwardly shared the same opinion. While the narrator of the murder episode continued to add more juicy, gory details which had hitherto been omitted, a tray of concentrated Passiona was brought around, and mum, thinking it impolite to refuse the drink, helped herself to a glass. After about fifteen minutes, I suggested that we look for Mary, for we had come to sympathise with her, and did not know any of her relatives. We kept asking for Mary, and no one seemed to have heard of Mary. I thought I would simplify matters by asking for Mary, the daughter of the dead man. Imagine the shock we got when we were informed that the dead man had no daughters. We were definitely at the wrong funeral house. Unfortunately, we did not know Mary’s maiden name, and hence could not ask anyone for directions. 

Since this was not a very long road, I was sure that the house we were looking for would not be far off. We drove a few yards further, and sure enough another flag indicated a funeral house. We made our way down a narrow footpath, relieved that our faith in Mary’s family background was not shaken, and that her father was not a common criminal who died in a street fight.  

Before we knew what was happening, we were kissed profusely by a host of people and ushered to the area where the coffin was placed in the sitting room. We came up to the coffin, bowed reverently, and then nearly died of shock, for inside the coffin was the body of a lady………wrong number again.  What could I do? Beat a hasty retreat? Meanwhile we were being offered a seat, and mum whispered something about it being rude to back off immediately, and that we should wait there for a “respectable” period of time. I was about to warn my mum that on no account should she inquire about the cause of death, and that she should not take another drink, when some lady squeezed herself between mum and myself. Both my fears were realized in the next few minutes, for I could hear someone giving mum the details of the suspected heart attack that the poor lady was supposed to have had, while mummy sipped her second drink. I ground my teeth as mummy added her contribution as to the possible cause of death, instead of beating a hasty retreat from the second wrong funeral. 

It was getting dark as we drove along the winding road, and I kept wondering what the odds were to have three funerals down one small road. I was soon relieved to see a flag across the road, and a crowd of people emerging from a steep alley. At long last (I thought) we had finally reached our destination. I had just finished shaking hands and condoling with half a dozen unknown characters, when to my shock and surprise I saw a string of mango leaves threaded across the doorway…….and the ladies were in brightly coloured sarees. It was a Hindu funeral, and Mary’s family were Sinhala Christians. Oh dear! ….could this happen to us again?  As fate would have it, mother had said her little prayer for his soul, bowed to the body in the coffin, and was settling down to listen to the cause of death. I just couldn’t take any more of this. In a flash, I rushed up to mum, grabbed her by the arm, told her that I was about to faint, and fled from the place. It was an ordeal climbing up the steep incline, and after depositing mummy safely in the car, I sped back home, saying that three funerals were enough, and that I had given up on locating where Mary’s father’s mortal remains lay hidden. 

The following day I discovered that the funeral house we missed was just a few yards away from our third ‘wrong number’. 

Can anyone beat this record?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remembering Arul Sivaguru Balasubramaniam

Arul, my dear friend....

Rohini Anandaraja

Arul my dear friend of med school days
So gentle, thoughtful and caring in her ways
Her quiet wisdom, her beauty, her grace
Stay etched in my memory for ever unerased

'Tis sad our paths never crossed again,
 With the best of intentions it was too late -
Yet from our brief encounter there was much I gained
From compassion, empathy, sharing - a few to name
To all of the goodness that ran in her veins.

My life was enriched by having known her-My love and sympathy to all her family


Creative Spot - Malala by Mahendra Gonsalkorala


A tear in her eye
she dared to defy
haughty disdain
from harm refrain 

Driven by her belief
seeking just relief
oppression no remedy
put her life in jeopardy

A mere girl she is
mature beyond belief
stood for all that’s fair
a breath of fresh air

Took on the unjust
strong and focused
she touched every heart
set Conscience alight 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Arul Sivaguru Balasubramaniam

With profound sadness, I wish to inform you that yet another member of our batch has passed away. Arul Sivaguru (Uncle Bala's wife) is the latest to depart this world. You may recall that Arul and Bala (N. Balasubramaniam) were both members of our batch. May she rest in peace.
Please see forwarded message from Lakshmy Chellappah Ganeswaran.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Thirunavukarasu Ganesvaran <>
Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 3:36 AM
Subject: Arul

Dear Lucky,
This is to let you know that Dr Arul.Balasubramaniam{nee Miss Arul Sivaguru} passed away in her home in Schenectady,NY.She had been ill for about an year .She leaves behind her loving husband  and two doctor sons.You may convey this to others.Rajalakshmy Ganesvaran.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sriani Snippets 2

The closest I came to being a grandmother……..
                                ….. my Tara had pups
Sriani Basnayake
I have waited patiently for years to experience the joy of being a grandmother, but may be as retribution for having worked at the Family Planning Association for over 30 years, the stork has definitely given me a black mark, and avoided my neighbourhood altogether! However, I came very close to that dream, when Tara, my Labrador, finally had two pups. 
Now Tara, who lives with us, is owned jointly by the two of us, and by my dear daughter
(hereafter referred to as DD) and son-in-law (SIL) who live next door. Tara had not experienced the joy of “motherhood” for five long years, as it was near impossible to find a ‘mate’ that would satisfy my DD. She had to screen all eligible males, and only a fitting Prince Charming would be allowed to cross her Tara Girl. One such doggie was located two years ago, but despite their efforts (and ours) it was “no go”. It was put down to both being novices. I thought that members of the animal kingdom knew what to do and did not need any coaching or sex education, but so be it. 
After having lectured on sexual and reproductive health, and the reproductive rights of women for 30 years, I felt that it was cruel to relegate Tara to a life of single blessedness, and felt that members of the canine species must also have their sexual needs fulfilled. Hubby scoffed at the idea and washed his hands off such an exercise. 

When Tara got into heat this year, we were out of the country, and returned bang in the middle of her fertile period. I was determined that Tara’s ‘sexual rights’ had to be considered, and as there was insufficient time for DD to comb the country for a suitable stud, I suddenly hit upon the idea of ‘soliciting the services’ of the handsome Alsatian next door. Her honeymoon was brief, just two encounters of ten minutes each, and the rest was left to luck. From then on DD, son-in-law, hubby and self were anxiously waiting for visible signs of a pregnancy. As Tara was already fat, it was difficult to notice an increase in girth of her abdomen. DD suggested sending her urine for a pregnancy test, and was trying to work out the logistics of how such a sample could be collected. This mad idea was shot down by me. The interest in Tara’s possible pregnancy spread to my other neighbours, my sister-in-law, nephews, aunts and cousins living round our house. Someone suggested ‘squeezing her tits’ for evidence of milk, and poor Tara was at times given a squeeze several times a day by DD, SIL, Caesi and hubby, each of whom was not aware that she had been squeezed and checked out by the others! DD’s little bitch Daisy had gone through a pseudo pregnancy with accompanying lactation etc, and both DD and SIL kept raising doubts about such a possibility. Our doubts were finally laid to rest when hubby took Tara to the Vet, who confirmed a pregnancy. Hubby had checked with the Vet about my theories pertaining to the sex life of dogs, and was informed that my theories were baseless. Dogs are fertile for only about ten days each year, and are quite content living ‘asexual’ lives. So much for my campaigning for Tara’s sexual rights! 

The expected date of delivery was drawing near, and hubby left everything in my hands, believing that my medical knowledge would see Tara safely through her delivery. Little did he know that I was approaching panic stations, as I had last performed a delivery forty years ago. The fact that my sister-in-law next door kept phoning hubby daily and saying “you should get the Vet to stand by…..after all Sriani is not a proper doctor” did not help the situation. Even though I thought that Tara would be ‘doing the what comes naturally”, I thought that I should be prepared for any eventuality. I turned to the Internet for help regarding canine reproduction, and downloaded pages of information and instructions pertaining to the “whelping” (delivery) process. I was both puzzled and amazed as to what I read, for I was supposed to have gloves, sterile forceps and scissors, dental floss for tying the cord, and a host of other items to assist in the delivery. I had always thought that dogs knew what had to be done, and did not need the services of a midwife. As I read that pregnant bitches needed special diets, I rang the Vet, who prescribed “Stress Tablets” among other things. I was under such stress that it would have been better if I had been given the Stress Tablets instead of Tara. Just when I had convinced myself that Mother Nature would take care of Tara during the whelping, DD sent my blood pressure soaring by relating the sordid details of what happened to her GM’s dog during its delivery. GM has had a nerve-wracking experience, where the pups got stuck during delivery. The poor bitch had been screaming in pain, and GM had to perform a manual extraction accompanied by extensive tissue damage and profuse bleeding. This upset hubby, who then imagined that our Tara was destined to a similar fate. From that day onwards I was treated to remarks such as “you and your sexual and reproductive rights of dogs. If anything happens to our Tara, it will be entirely your fault”. 

I was tense and nervous. Would I (or Tara) be able to cope? How could I have the Vet standing by when Tara has no way of informing me that she was going into labour? What if she went into labour when I was alone at home? I begged of DD to take leave for one day if Tara displayed any of the signs mentioned in the Internet document, that whelping was imminent. DD was adamant that her GM would never authorize leave for a trivial reason like a dog having pups. To me it was not trivial, it was an impending catastrophe, and I swore to myself that I would take it up with GM if the need arose. Nephew Caesar who lives next door came to my rescue. He offered his services any time of the day or night, and even offered to stay up with the dog on the expected date of delivery. Tara was relaxed and happy taking her Stress Tablets, and I was a bundle of nerves, studying the Internet instructions, dosing myself with Valium, waiting for D-Day. 

The expected date of delivery finally dawned. At 5.30 am I rushed out to check on any visible signs of whelping. Tara vomited, and then began digging a large pit behind some bushes. She sat in that and would not budge. This was a sure sign, and I flew into DD’s house, woke DD and SIL, and announced that Tara was delivering in a pit in the garden. In a flash they came across, and found Tara playing with a ball! SIL kept telling me that this was probably a phantom pregnancy, and that their Daisy also went through a similar experience. I was advised to calm down and relax, and forget about Tara having pups. 24 hours passed during which Tara was her usual self. I was getting about my household chores when I heard some unusual sounds from under the writing desk. I casually looked in that direction, and there was Tara licking a little newborn pup. A second one followed soon after and my Tara had gone through the reproductive process according to nature, without human assistance. 

That evening the scene at home was similar to that following the birth of a baby. All our relatives living close by turned up to see the new arrivals, and celebrate with us.
I was a proud grandmother at last!


By H.N. Wickramasinghe

(Captain of Royal College Hockey - 1959)



Royal College Hockey Team 1959

Standing ( L to R ) S D Jayaratne, N Senanayake, M Jaimon, L Senanayake, D B Gunasekara, K Sivathondan, N Mendis, K N Wimalaratne. Seated ( L to R ) Mr C Marikkar, S S Wickremasinghe, Mr Dudley de Silva ( Principal ), H N Wickramasinghe (Captain), Mr Lennie de Silva, N S Kodituwakku, Mr C Kathiresan. Absent – Michael Loos

Having entered the portals of Royal College, Colombo, I was interested in taking part in sports as any other teenager would do. The pride of place naturally went to cricket as it was even then. My achievement in Cricket at Royal College was to captain the 2nd XI team and during this period in late 50s hockey was a very popular game at club and national level.
Having seen the game introduced to the school by Lennie de Silva and watched stalwarts such as Lionel Almeida (Captain 1955 - center half), Harry Rasiah (Captain 1956 - full back), Godwin Daniel (Captain 1957 - center forward), K. Thillakan (left half), L. Ramanathan (Captain 1958 - right inside). I was very interested in the game and took it with much enthusiasm. Since I was playing cricket as well which was played in the first term most cricketers during that time opted playing hockey in the second term.
Having represented the game at 1st XI in the previous two years, I was elected to captain the side in 1959. I was extremely fortunate in having a star studded side and had the pleasure of leading this side as well.
The team comprised of:- Michael Loos (goal keeper), Lalith Senanayake (right back), M.P.C. Jaimon (left back), Nihal Mendis (right half), H.N. Wickramasinghe (Captain - center half), D.B. Gunasekara (left half), S.D. Jayaratna (right extreme), S.S. Wickramasinghe (right inside), N.S. Koddituwakku (Vice Captain - center forward), Nanda Senanayake (left inside) and K.N. Wimalaratne (left extreme).
This was one of the best sides produced by Royal during this period and we had a very successful season having won most of our fixtures including winning over powerful sides of the day such as St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena and Kingswood College, Kandy.
We went into the Royal-Thomian fixture with much confidence although our arch rivals possessed a very strong team led by Gamini Marapana. Amidst a large gathering at Mount Lavinia, the game was played at a furious pace and Royal led 1:0 at lemons with S.D. Jayaratne scoring the first ever goal against S. Thomas’.
After half time the pace of the game continued and Royal had the better of the exchanges but alas the Thomians scored two goals in the dying stages of the game and won the match. The game was well fought and played in the best of spirits and traditions.
At the end of the season three of us were selected to play in the combined schools side at the Ceylon Hockey Nationals. Those selected were myself, been selected Vice Captain of the side, S.S. Wickramasinghe and Nanda Senanayake.
The success of our team attributed not only to the very talented and dedicated players but largely due to the interest, untiring efforts, valuable advise and guidance given by our coach Chandi Chanmugam and the Master-In-Charge Lennie de Silva.
In conclusion I wish to give my best wishes to the present and future Royal College Hockey Teams and I trust they will play the game in the spirit of true sportsmanship and uphold the traditions of Royal College.

From the Sunday Island of 12 October 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Tribute to Priya (Gunaratna) de Silva

Priya's funeral took place at the General Cemetery, Kanatte this evening in the presence of a large gathering. I thought this is a good time to post the following Appreciation written by ND.

By Nihal Amerasekera 

Priya entered the Faculty of Medicine in Colombo in September 1962.  She was educated at Visakha Vidyalaya, Bambalapitiya the institution that has produced ladies who have contributed much to Sri Lankan society since it was founded in 1917.  

In the Faculty many of us were mesmerised by her graceful ways and stylish good looks. Like the rest of us Priya suffered the ‘indignities’ of rags, signatures and the revisals  in the “Block” and took it all in her stride. All through those gruelling years in the Faculty she conducted herself with dignity and was well liked by everyone. In all those years her thoughtful kindness and simplicity shone through. 

In 1967 we met again in Kurunegala doing those arduous tasks of internship. We worked together in the Childrens Ward  with the Paediatrician Dr Chandra de S Wijesundera (who later married our batchmate Manel Ratnavibhushana). There I got to know Priya more closely sharing the on-calls and other onerous tasks of a busy unit. While at work she had the great ability to remain calm and in control.  She showed tremendous kindness, courtesy and patience towards the children in her care and also to their worried parents.  I recall Priya had great empathy for the poor simple rural folk of the wanni who sought our help. She remained a reliable, unpretentious and hardworking colleague throughout.  The passion integrity and professionalism Priya showed during the internship was a beacon for us all.  She was indeed a very special person. 

Priya was witty and warm and had a tremendous sense of humour. Despite the hard work we shared amusing anecdotes of day to day life in the house officer’s quarters and laughed a lot. What was most striking about Priya was that she never had a harsh word for anyone. 

We said our goodbyes in June 1968 and parted. She left Kurunegala for a job in Colombo and finally found her niche in Family Planning.  There again she showed her professional skill, expertise and attention to duty. Until her retirement she became one of the king-pins and driving forces of that organisation.
Interns at GH, Kurunegala - Seated 3rd from left is Priya 
      Author is standing 5th from left          

Priya married Chula De Silva , an Engineer, and had two daughters Sharini & Anjali.  Her extended family gave her tremendous joy and satisfaction. At this time of grief our heart-felt sympathies go out to her immediate family and friends. 

Priya showed much enthusiasm for the batch reunions and get-togethers.  She took it upon herself to organise such events and remained a live wire throughout those proceedings. 

I never saw Priya for many decades until we met by sheer chance in the lobby of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in September 2012. She had come to take ‘Patas’ Ratnesar for tea to her own home. We had a bear hug and a long chat about old times. She called me to join them for tea but sadly I had another engagement. Then she looked lovely and charming as ever.  When we said goodbye I somehow felt this would be for the last time and I was overcome by emotion. At the time I knew about her long battle with cancer which she had accepted with characteristic grace. Priya endured her final illness with much courage and great dignity. I feel greatly privileged to have known her and worked with her. 

May she find the ultimate Bliss of Nirvana



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Priya (Gunaratna) de Silva

As informed earlier by e-mail, our dear friend (and class mate in Medical School) Priya passed away in the late hours of October 8th. Her demise is recorded here with much sadness. Funeral will take place at the General Cemetery Kanatta at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, 2014 (obituary notice shown below).

DE SILVA - DR PRIYA - Loving wife of Chula (LCR), doting mother to Sharini & Anjali, mother-in-law of Janaka Withana & Mathisha Nihalsingha, adoring grandmother to Gamunu, Kavya, Anagi & Vinod, daughter of the late C.R. Gunaratna PC & the late Monica Gunaratna, loving and loved sister/sister-in-law of the late Janaki & Andy de Silva, Rani & Dr. Parakrama Weerasekera, Rohini & Nihal Abeysekera, Rohantha & Charmaine Gunaratna, Srini & Rohan Karunaratne and Mithila & Shiranee Gunaratna. Cortege leaves 22/2, Nandimitra Place, Colombo 6 at 4 p.m. for Cremation at the General Cemetery Kanatta at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, 2014. (No flowers by request).

From the time I sent out the e-mail I have been receiving messages from members of our batch. I have reproduced below, those that have been received so far.


Mahendra Gonsalkorale

Lucky, I am so sorry to hear this. I knew she was not well but her demise is still a shock. She was a truly brave and wonderful person and I am so glad that I was able to meet her last year and at the 50th. Could you provide me with email address of family so  that I can send my condolences. She was an exceptional and lovely person. 



Nihal Amerasekera


Thank you for being in contact
I am absolutely devastated by the sad news. We did our internship together in Kurunegala and shared our on calls in Paediatrics. I will write a tribute soon.




McCormick, Malkanthie

Thank you for letting us know. I am so glad I came for the re union and was able to re connect with Priya. I am grateful for those memories. I still hear her spontaneous laughter and the positives attitude she had.

Please convey our thoughts and prayers to her family.


Ranjith Dambawinne

Dear Lucky, 

Many thanks for sending me this sad information.

She was always a kind and considerate person. I did gather she was ailing for sometime. 

I shall be very grateful to you, if you could pass on our  sympathies to her family.

from Dr. Ranjith &Neelangani Dambawinna


Sunanda Wickremesinghe

thanks for letting me know



appu sumathipala 

Hi ,Lucky

Thank you lucky for sending the sad news.Priya was not a close friend of mine.

there is no wonder why,as were not in the same group during the ANATOMY Block days and subsequent clinical attachements.

it makes no difference,I share the same sorrow of other batch mates. 



C A de Silva - Director Engineering, Maga Eng.(Pvt) Ltd


Dear Lucky,

Many thanks for your message regarding Priya. In fact, I herad about her passing away from my brother, whose son is married to Priyas daughter. I am presently in USA on holiday and will not be able to attend the funeral. I shall convey my condolences to the family. 
I met Priya at my brother's place about a month ago, before  I left Sri Lanka, and she looked quite fit. 
Kind regards
Swarna de Silva (nee Withana)

Manel Pedris <>

Dear Lucky

I was very sad to receive from you  news that my dear friend Priya (Gunaratne) de Silva had passed away. Thank you for informing me . I am at present abroad and therefore I will not be able to attend the funeral on Sat 11 Oct 2014.

I would be very grateful if it is possible for you to send me the telephone number and email address of Chula de Silve.
Thank you,





Lakshman Jayasinghe

Dear Lucky

Jecintha and I are very sad to hear the passing away of Priya.

It was so nice to have had breakfast etc with her at the last reunion.

Please convey our condolences to Chula and family.

Lakshman J

Sanath de Tissera


Hi Lucky

Thank you for letting me know. It is very sad news indded. I worked with Priya during internship under "Uncle" (Paediatrician). Pleasant memories. We had no contact since.




Antony Ernest

Dear Lucky,
Please convey our deepest sympathies to Priya's family.We were aware of her serious medical problems.No matter what,it is never easy to lose someone near and dear to you.
Cyril and Indranie Ernest.



I heard about this with great sadness. I want to add my voice to those of all others. All I can think of is how lucky we were all, to meet her at the Reunion in 2012. Thanks for keeping us informed.



Batuwitage Geetha Shriyani


Dear all

Our deepest sympathy on sad loss of a colleague,our thoughts are with the family & colleagues.

Batu & family


Lakshman Weerasooriya

Dear Lucky,


Thanks for letting me know Re Priya's Passing away. She had mentioned she was not well at the last re union. I am glad I was able to meet her then. Her older brother was my classmate at Royal.Am deeply sorry . Please convey our sympathies to her family


Lucky and Ruvini Weerasooriya

Dr. Razaque Ahamat


It is with deep sense of sadness that Farina and I received the news of the passing away

of our most dear friend. To me she was more than a friend or a batch mate..... in the recent

years---- a soul mate. We have been in contact albeit irregularly-regularly via e-mail in the

 recent years. I shall be contacting Chula soon on the same e-mail address presuming it 

is a shared one.

I shall be writing a longer appreciation in due course.


Razaque and Farina

Chitta Thiagarajah

I am really sorry hear Priya's demise. Please convey my condolence to the family

Chitha Thiagarajah


R. Nadarajah
Dear Lucky
Sorry to hear the sad news about Prya.It is shocking to hear that another batchmate has left us.She was a good hearted pleasant girl.
Please convey my deepest sympathies to the entire family
Sincerely ,
Ravi Nadaraja . MD.FACS