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Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

This letter addressed to Speedy by ND was originally meant to be a comment under one of ND's recent posts. However, he has changed his mind and thought that all members of our batch should read this. Therefore, it is now being published as an open letter.

Dear Mahen,
You have always been most kind asking me to write my memoirs. I have been overwhelmed by the generous comments of my batchmates. I wish I can sing like Mahen, play the piano like Zita , paint like Lucky W and Bunter and manage the Blog so well like Lucky Abey. 

No one really will want to know about my drab life.  I was a scraggy kid born in a distant hamlet in a deep valley in Kegalle.  We were surrounded by tall mountains. Every morning when I opened my bedroom window I saw Utuwankanda, the home of the infamous bandit Saradiel (1832-64).  He had a profound influence on my young life. Even now when I pass a jewellery shop  those powerful primal instincts resurface.  The only reason why I haven’t yielded to temptation is because I don’t want to lose my GMC registration.

In my youth I lived close to nature.  The eco-friendly existence amidst its great benefits has its hazards too.  The spacing and the direction of the feet in the squatting plates left a lot to be desired. I am well aware these are minor issues during such emergencies.  

For me this was a time of great spirituality.  I provided free food and lodging to numerous friends who were totally dependent on my generosity like , Ascaris lumbricoides, Taenia solium, ‎Ancylostoma duodenale, Strongyloides stercoralis. Enterobius vermicularis and Entamoeba histolytica. Some have specifically asked me not to name them and I have acceded to their request reluctantly. They have also made a plea not to call them parasites.  They say it is a misnomer. It is just their livelihood. We maintained an open house. My generosity extended to stragglers and occasional visitors Cimex lectularius, Pediculus humanus capitis, and Sarcoptes scabiei. There were  those who flew in for a meal like Culex fatigans, Anopheles and  Aedes aegypti.  I have had a love-hate relationship with Wuchereria bancrofti, and Brugia malayi.  The rest have now been friends for life.  So far I have escaped the medical consequences of the unrelenting demands of my unusual  friends. Despite the many close-encounters by day and night I have never invited Phthirus pubis. I know that must surprise many of you!! 

 I have lead an altruistic life.  As a septuagenarian I always have one eye on my next life.  I hope my un-selfishness, hospitality and benevolence will give me enough Brownie points to achieve that Ultimate Bliss of Nirvana. 


I am deeply indebted to Prof AS Dissanaike. I drew much inspiration from his lectures and life. To teach to remember for over 50 + years the names of those ‘unwanted guests’ is a minor miracle. May he find Eternal Peace. 

For whom the Bell Tolls:

  • Mahen for his support, enthusiasm and CPR for the Blog to keep it alive.
  • The few who contribute and comment without whom the Blog will perish.
Warm regards 

Nihal D Amerasekera


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Twentieth Century Memories of Kurana - Katunayake

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera 

In 1956  Kurana  was a small fishing hamlet and just a speck in the map below Negombo.  It was as far away from the cares of ‘modern’ life as one could hope to get. The tropical heat and the sea breeze induced an agreeable form of torpor on its people. No one seemed to be in a hurry.  

My father worked for the Government and was transferred every 4 years. Despite the rigors of this nomadic life we had the opportunity to see the country.  As I realized much later, when working for the Government one is sandwiched between the whims of politicians and the demands of the public. The upheaval of moving house is said to be comparable to a divorce. We as a family with ‘no fixed abode’ has survived its emotions and heartaches remarkably well. My reward for this childhood ‘trauma’ has been the ability to live for 30 years in a house which I now call home. Old habits die hard and there are times I get itchy feet to move on!! 

I recall the post independence wave of ultra-nationalism that spread throughout the land. Everything foreign was hated and despised. Politicians of every hue went along with this mass hysteria. The greed for power was overwhelming. We needed a statesman to guide the people into a new era of peace and prosperity. Without leadership we turned against our own people and the dark clouds of ethnic conflict gathered in the horizon. The war decimated our country.  It altered our idyllic lifestyle and changed our international profile forever. 

Katunayake was then a small leafy middle class town far from the madding crowd. It was a strong Methodist enclave with profound prevailing attitudes about religion.  There were 2 churches, Methodist and Anglican, to serve its small community. Sunday was the day for worship and they all flocked to the Churches for spiritual help. I was then a free spirit and sent kites and played cricket on Sundays. The churchgoers often looked at me quizzically as if to say “you should be punished, young man”.  The muddy cricket ball occasionally spoilt their Sunday best with red faces all round. There are many profound conflicts between the demands of reason and the call of faith. During my youth reason triumphed over faith. With the passage of years I give equal credence to both.  

Katunayake was already well known for its Royal Air Force Base and its small airport called the ‘Aerodrome’. It was built by the British in 1942  and was used to supply equipment and personnel for their interests in the  Far East. The Base was handed over to the Royal Ceylon Air Force in 1956. Then our main airport was at Ratmalana.  Good main road access to Colombo and a fine rail link to the capital made Katunayake an ideal commuter town. The Royal Air Force Base had its own electricity generator but the rest of the town had no electricity. My father had the envious task of ‘electrifying’ the town. As I look back what I remember most is the contempt Britishers had for the “natives”. Having lived in England for 40+ years the British living in the British Isles have a greater sense of tolerance, justice and fair play. Tolerance perhaps doesn’t travel too well!!  

I remember as if it were yesterday stepping  into an old elegant house by the lagoon at Kurana Katunayake.  It had a deep verandah with elegant pillar and arches that stretched all around the house. This became our cricket pitch on rainy days.  The house faced the noise and fumes of the Colombo - Negombo road. It had an elegant front lawn and a few steps to enter the house. At its rear was a large coconut plantation stretching as far back as the lagoon. At the edge of the property was the blue waters of the lagoon and the mangroves with its pungent smell and bubbling black mud. There was a  stunning view of the palm trees and the water  from our lounge which took my breath away.  Across  the lagoon was the palm fringed beach of Pitipana. The 3000 hectares of Negombo lagoon was a storehouse of fish, crabs and prawns.  It provided a livelihood to many hundreds of fishermen and food for its inhabitants. The lagoon  has been heavily silted for many decades and plans are underway to dredge and clean up. Hopefully the relevant authority will safeguard its unique habitat, mangroves and the estuary. They were there before us and we owe it to the future generations to preserve it. 

The nights were exceptionally dark. I have watched the moon wax and wane and the stars move majestically along. This was well before the days of televisions and transistor radios. With the darkness came the silence and a feeling of utter loneliness. Crickets and frogs provided the background noise until morning. The fishermen went out to the lagoon at night and their flickering lights could be seen into the far distance. During the monsoon season the howling winds and the storms kept us awake. When the sun shone it was closer to heaven than any place else I know. 

The De Silva’s were our neighbours. They lived in a quaint 100 year old house with decaying beams and leaning walls. Percy had an illustrious school career at Richmond College Galle winning the prestigious Darrell Prize.  After his degree from University College Colombo he worked in the metropolis. Percy was a kindly, cultured man and a voracious reader. He encouraged me to take books from his vast collection which I did during the school holidays. Often we spent the evening with them listening to his vast repertoire of 78 RPM records played on the HMV gramophone with that unmistakable picture of a dog listening to His Master’s Voice. Percy and Gladys had an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes and they had few rivals as raconteurs. They both made interesting company. Their son later joined my school and we both were in the boarding together for many years. Percy sadly died in 1960 aged 49 after we had left Katunayake. Gladys passed away following a road traffic accident in the new millennium. I remember them both with much affection. 

My other neighbour was an elderly spinster living in an old dilapidated house at the end of a narrow twisting road. The garden was overgrown with weeds. The house was surrounded by tall shrubs and there were grasshoppers as big as humming birds. She lead a reclusive life and spoke little except to her dog that barked and howled all day. For her, life seemed a burden to endure. Loneliness born of circumstance and inertia seem to engulf her completely. Her mango trees bore fruit in plenty which were for the birds and the bees and the bats at night. She had no visitors and no one cared. I have often seen her seated in the garden wrapped in her own thoughts. She looked the type that could fly around on a broomstick. My only contact with her was when the cricket ball went to her garden. She threw it back with a grin and a growl. As the words tumbled out of her mouth I shrugged my shoulders as if to say ‘I couldn’t help it’. It was a sad life and  I hope she has found peace in a world that knows no sorrow. 

There were several young lads and lasses living nearby. I recall the happy times playing cricket in the front garden. Kanthi was a pretty girl and a good cricketer too. Despite our wily bowling she managed a straight bat dispatching any loose deliveries over the mango tree and across the road. Rajah came home to play with my chemistry set. We made the most volatile, effervescent  and colourful mixtures, thankfully, without causing any explosions. Those were happy and carefree days of our youth. Sometimes we rented bikes and cycled from Seeduwa to Andiambalama visiting school friends. The road passed through wide acres of green paddy fields and long stretches of  shade of the coconut plantations. The bikes on offer were far too big for us. As we rode we polished the seat and bruised our buttocks. We loved the lagoon  and swam in its warm waters. Often we did some fishing too and caught prawns. I recall the warm sunshine and the blistering heat and less of the punishing storms. My friends in Katunayake came to our house daily. We played from dawn to dusk and time passed rapidly and relentlessly.  

In the evenings I went with my parents to the beach by the New Rest House in Negombo.  It was a fine old Colonial building, a relic from the days of the British Raj. With its bright white exterior, high ceiling and elegant antique furnishings I felt it was fit for Royalty.  On its side was the raging turquoise sea. There was a long stretch of broad white sand. The enchantment of sitting by the rocks watching the waves roll in was therapeutic. As an only child I enjoyed and appreciated solitude. I still remember the sun wobbling before dipping into the sea. Hundreds of brown crabs frolicked on the sand creeping into their burrows at high tide. On moonlit nights we often took our stringhoppers for a beach party. Its calmness and serenity was a magnet for courting couples walking hand in hand. 

I was fourteen then. Those were days filled with beauty and enchantment. I appreciated the world so completely. I was fascinated by the changing scene in music with its fast rhythms and the irresistible beat. I loved to emulate the film stars and their styles and mannerisms. The love of cricket was all consuming.  I followed the school cricket and the Sara Trophy games with much enthusiasm.  Reading was a part of me. I bought and borrowed  books and newspapers and whatever else I could find. At school the public examinations were drawing ever closer. My mind was set on performing well.  I wanted to be a doctor knowing well its narrow and tortuous course and also its rich rewards. Little did I know of its onerous routines, sleepless nights and the fierce competition. 

The place was rich in bird life. Of the many hundreds of species seen about a third were winter visitors or migrants. Kingfishers, golden orioles and blue jays were seen in great abundance. The most ubiquitous were the house sparrows. The lagoon attracted many types of water birds.  It was a haven for herons, egrets, cormorants, teals, and waders.  

It took a good 2 years to electrify the town. The electricity transformed Katunayake and entered the 20th century. There was widespread jubilation with meetings and carnivals. We were on the move again this time to Kolonnawa leaving behind our numerous friends and many happy memories. 

In 1995 I stayed in a hotel in Katunayake and tried to locate my old haunts. The entire landscape has changed beyond recognition and the place has been seduced by the material world. Our house and that of our neighbours have been demolished and replaced with posh apartments, curio shops and hotels. The countryside is peppered with exclusive developments and the place pulsated with  rich tourists spending their Dollars. Prosperity has arrived there too and the vibe is certainly different. The suffocating feudal air that strangled the poor has been replaced by a wider new middle class. Many had televisions in their homes and cars in their porches.  They dressed well and spoke with the confidence that came with affluence. As I walked to the waters edge I saw a young man watching the sun go down. I was curious to get some information about the place but he was an economic migrant from the deep south and knew only his own patch. I returned to my hotel room saddened by the loss of my old haunts engulfed in a myriad of memories. 

It is now the home to a busy International Airport. All around is a massive industrial estate supporting the Airport with its own network of roads and traffic. The Colombo - Negombo road is a busy dual carriageway. Life in Katunayake is hectic, noisy and stressful. Despite its changes Kurana is still a place of astonishing beauty. I wish to remember it as it was when I was young, an idyllic tropical paradise. 

I often think of my neighbour of 60 years ago, Percy De Silva. He possessed an unusual mix of intelligence, empathy and humility. He was a socialist and a good one. His friendly avuncular manner and self-deprecating charm made him a popular figure in town. I will always remember his sardonic humour directed towards the opposite sex in general and his wife in particular. She often replied with equal zest and vigour. This friendly banter amused us no end. Percy had much to offer and was sorely missed when he left this world so young.

May his Soul Rest in Peace. 

As I have done so often I reach for the wisdom of the Rubaiyat

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

--Omar Khayyam


Monday, February 23, 2015

E-mail from Razaque Ahamat

It's been a long time since we last heard from Razaque. Although I have as a rule refrained from publicising one's personal problems, particularly health issues, Razaque himself has insisted that I post his e-mail on our blog so that his colleagues will get to know what he has gone through.You will see that Razaque has taken all his recent woes in his stride and written the e-mail with much humour. We must admire the man.

Dr. Razaque Ahamat

11:51 PM (16 hours ago)
Dear Lucky,
Sorry I have not been in contact with you for some time now.
We have had real roller-coaster year in 2014 and it has spilled over
to 2015 as well!!
Farina has had a few problems since her AVR & By-pass ops by way of
dizzy turns and unsteady on her feet. The 'plumbing' seemed OK, but
the "electrics" were playing 'silly buggers'!!! So had a Pacemaker fitted
in December. Now guess what...... she wants to go dancing &... at that....
Kandiyan  Devil,,Belly and Pole dancing!!!!! I am going to have a problem
keeping up!!!.........  Any ideas???
As you are aware my son had abdominal surgery for Diverticulosis and
had reversal of the Colostomy. Operation went well in December but has a
 few issues following repair at the same time of a minor Abdo hernia post
As for me, I had a lot of problems my Asthma throughout the year and had
a bad attack of the Flu despite the vaccine. To cap it all, in January I had been
to the Gym after about 4eeks layoff  and as a 'limber-upper' I did a few minutes
 on the Thread-mill, Rowing machine, Exercise-Bike and the Cross-trainer
---- less than half of what  I would do at peak times. Came home and had lunch 
& siesta as usual &.woke up with a vague chest pain. rushed to hospital and found
to have had a so called "Cardiac Event"  After all the investigations was sent home
after 4 days with only continuation of my present therapy with addition of an anti platelet
medication and no interventios. Have lived to tell the tale ....... AGAIN!!!!
Missed out on God's flight---- still lingering in the 'His' Waiting Room / /Departure lounge!!!
There was an incident that happened while I was being "Angiogrammed"!!
While I was being transferred from the trolley to the 'operating table' my fingers
of my left hand were wedged between the railings of the trolley and one the female
nurse's..... CROTCH !!! Her pubic bone pressing on my fingers..... no thrills for me, but. 
not sure about the nurse!! It was intensely painful. I instantly withdrew my hand
saying "Ouch" She said "Sorry  what happened" while I was clutching my fingers with my
right hand and said "Only checking if I had lost any fingers!!! She retorted " We don't grow
any TEETH down there.... you know"!!! I replied " I am relieved at that as I do not want
a repeat performance as I still bear the scars from my childhood as a little Muslim boy!!!"
On hearing this a Medical student in the team said " Feelings and experiences are mutual
....... I was a little Jewish Boy"!!! We all had a good laugh and calmed everybody. The
procedure went well ..... not needing any interventions (Stents/ Bypasses)------ Thank God..
Once again missed God's flight only to linger in "His Waiting Room / Departure Lounge"
a little longer!!!.  
I had a few 'postings' in mind, but now they are 'past its Best-by-Date / past its "Sell-by-Date'.
If you think this item is suitable for "public consumption", please post this in the Batch Blog.
I shall try and post a few that I still have in mind.... of course time & circumstances
Wish you all Every Happiness, Good Health, and Success in the future. I wish I could meet
you all again............ at least one more time.
Good Luck,
Razaque Ahamat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pope's visit to Sri Lanka in pictures

The following e-mail from Virginia shows that our blog is not only being viewed silently by many, but some are inclined to make contributions from time to time. Members of our batch are scattered in many parts of the world. But this is one way in which we can keep in touch with each other.

E-mail from Virginia Swan De Vos.


3:34 AM (4 hours ago)
to me

Hi Lucky
I am sending you this link of the Pope's visit in case you want to put it into the batch blog.  It shows how the people of Sri Lanka are now reuniting.

Click here:

Pope's visit to Sri Lanka

Monday, February 16, 2015

E-mail from Lucky Weerasooriya

I am publishing this e-mail from Lucky Weerasooriya as a separate post (unedited) as it deserves more prominence and also because it was quite some time ago that Lucky W's last Creative Spot was published. As you will see, it is intended to be an acknowledgement of the comments that appeared under his previous Creative Spot posts.

Hi Lucky, My computer uses safari so I was unable to  reply .This is a reply to  ND, Mahendra, and Rita who wrote gracious  and encouraging  comments.
ND ,Thanks for renewing contact after this many years  and for the appreciation of my pics. I have enjoyed your writings very much.
Mahendra ,     I started painting  after retirement in 2002. Our son Viraine gave my wife and me a series of art classes. I did  a course in water colors  . My wife Ruvini being an advanced artist did a separate course. I started doing portraits off photos and they strangely appeared quite presentable . I used to work late into the night and complete a piece and wake up Ruvini early morning for her comments. My paintings were also surprisingly drawing favorable comments. I had affinity for birds since the early days .Florida is a haven for Bird photography. I did a lot after retirement .During this period  I did some wood carving but had to cut it short due wood dust irritating my sinuses  I have given you a short description of my Hobbies  Additionally I play a few instruments  including Piano Violin Piano Accordion  etc.  Age is taking its toll on how much I do.
Re the Blue heron they are confined to lower half of the states mostly in the warmer areas . They breed in Fla during the spring. A similar bird theSandhill crane also is seen in Fla. They are seen in large numbers in the cooler areas of Canada and north America  migrate to warm climates in winter. Some of them have adapted live and breed in Fla . They are seen frequently in golf courses. I had the fortune to observe from a distance the whole process of nesting and hatching of the young and the initial parenting 
Rita , thanks for the comments  appreciate it.will continue to give some information on the subjects. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ancient Books

By Srianee (Bunter) Fernando Dias

                                       Ancient Books

Some of you know that I have been hunting for my father’s collection of P.G. Wodehouse books in Colombo.  Sadly, the trail came to a dead end when I found out that one of my brothers had lent several of the Penguin editions to a friend who never returned them.  The friend subsequently emigrated to the UK, and my brother lost track of him. (Perhaps I should put Speedy on the quest to track him down.) 

While searching for these gems, I stumbled across a very old edition of a collection of fourteen selected short stories by Aldous Huxley entitled “Twice Seven” published by the Reprint Society in 1944.  They are mostly deliciously satirical stories about late 19th Century British society. There are philosophical digressions here and there, and I found them to be quite entertaining. Huxley wrote these at a time when he didn’t have to worry about being “politically correct.”  Women were thought to be “old” after age thirty. (It reminded me of Professor Sinnathamby predicting that all of us female medical students would be “Elderly Primaes”)  I thought I would share this amusing passage from a story entitled “Young Archimedes” describing an Italian woman.

“Her vitality, if you could have harnessed it and made it do some useful work, would have supplied a whole town with electric light.  The physicists talk of deriving energy from the atom; they would be more profitably employed nearer home – in discovering some way of tapping those enormous stores of vital energy which accumulate in unemployed women of sanguine temperament and which, in the present imperfect state of social and scientific organization, vent themselves in ways that are generally so deplorable: in interfering with other people’s affairs, in working up emotional scenes, in thinking about love and making it, and in bothering men till they cannot get on with their work.”




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Has an 8-year old girl found a cancer cure?

Sent in by Rohini Senaratne Anandaraja

Please read the comments at the end of the article. Rohini has also sent a journal link to scientifically substantiate the article. Form your own opinion!

I thought it's best to edit the original post and add the link right here.

New Zealand Herald article as follows:

Has an 8-year-old girl found a cancer cure?

7:25 AM Saturday Jan 31, 2015
In most families, dinner table conversation is restricted to what happened at school or whether homework has been completed.
But Michael Lisanti asked his eight-year-old daughter how she would cure cancer, and it seems she may have got it right.
Camilla Lisanti suggested using antibiotics, "like when I have a sore throat".
Her parents, a husband-wife cancer research team were sceptical at first but tested out her theory in their Manchester University lab. And to their surprise, several cheap and widely-used antibiotics killed the most dangerous cancer cells.
The antibiotics fought seven of the most common cancers - including breast, prostate, lung and hard-to-treat brain tumours.
One antibiotic, doxycycline, is widely used to treat acne and is thought to be particularly promising.
It costs as little as 10-cents a day. In contrast, some of the latest cancer drugs cost hundreds of dollars a day.
Cancer charities said the research shows that the answers to some of the biggest questions are right in front of our eyes.
Professor Lisanti and his wife, Federica Sotgia, were discussing their research over dinner one evening when they decided to ask their daughter for her opinion.
The professor said: "She has heard us talk about cancer a lot and we thought it would be fun to ask her what she thought about cancer therapy.
"We asked her how she would cure cancer and she said 'Mum and Dad, I would just use an antibiotic, like when I have a sore throat.'
Rather than completely dismissing the answer, the professor did a DIY experiment, rubbing an antibiotic cream on a small growth on his face.
When the growth disappeared, he did some reading that confirmed that Camilla may have been on to something.
Unknown to Camilla, a bubbly bilingual child who wants to be a teacher, some antibiotics stop cell from making mitochondria, the tiny engine rooms that supply them with energy.
Camilla's parents showed that cancer stem cells - the deadly "mother cells" that give birth to tumours, keep them alive and ease their spread around the body - have particularly high numbers of mitochondria.
They also showed that four common antibiotics killed these stem cells in samples taken from breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, skin and brain cancers.
Importantly, healthy cells were not harmed.
The experiments on cells in a dish suggest that antibiotics could be used to stop cancer in its tracks and prevent it from spreading through the body - the main way it kills.
Professor Lisanti says that antibiotics could prove to be an inexpensive and safe one-size-fits-all treatment for cancer.
He now needs funding to test his theory on people, including women with breast cancer.
If they are shown to fight the disease, they could potentially also be used to prevent the cancer in those at high risk of developing it.
Several previous studies support Camilla's idea.
This includes one in which lung cancer patients lived longer after being given an antibiotic to treat an infection they had.
Some 75 per cent lived for at least a year - up from the usual 45 per cent.
In another study, tumours completely disappeared after just three weeks of taking doxycycline for an infection.
Cancer Research UK cautioned that Professor Lisanti's work was done in the lab and doesn't tell us whether antibiotics will work on people with cancer.
But Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which helped fund the research, is much more optimistic
Dr Matthew Lam, the charity's senior research officer, said: "The conclusions the researchers have drawn, while just hypotheses at this stage, are certainly interesting.
"Antibiotics are cheap and readily available and if in time the link between their use and the eradication of cancer stem cells can be proved, this work may be the first step towards a new avenue for cancer treatment.
"This is a perfect example of why it is so important to continue to invest in scientific research.
"Sometimes there are answers to some of the biggest questions right in front of us. But without ongoing commitment to the search for these answers, we'd never find them."
Camilla's parents have acknowledged her contribution to their research by naming her as an author of their study, which is published in the journal Oncotarget.
Her father said the story emphasises the importance of listening to what your children say.
Professor Lisanti said: "I thought it was very naïve to think you could cure cancer with antibiotics but at the end of the day Camilla was right.
"She usually is right about things. She always has a snappy answer that makes sense.
"I think she will become a diplomat or a lawyer, someone who has to think on their feet."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bless Our Land - Sri Lanka

Yet another gem sent in by Shanthy Nalliah Edwards.

Please click on the following link ("Bless Our Land"). Have your speakers on.

Bless Our Land

Julie Andrews at 79

Sent in by Shanthy Nalliah Edwards

Julie Andrews at 79.  Enjoy! I am only sending this to friends who are old enough to know who she is.
Julie Andrews Turning 79 - this is hysterical!

To commemorate her birthday, actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan 's Radio City Music Hall for a benefit. One of the musical numbers she performed was 'My Favorite Things' from the legendary movie 'Sound Of Music'.
Here are the lyrics she used:
(Sing It!) - If you sing it, its especially hysterical!!!

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses, Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,  When the knees go bad,
simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.

Please share Ms. Andrews' clever wit and humor with others who would appreciate it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Creative Spot - Zita's Snippet

Accompanying e-mail from Zita:

Dear friends and batch mates,
Since we left medical school all those years ago, like most of you, I have been on my travels.
Some places stayed in my imagination, almost as though I visited the Wonderland of Alice.
So fact or fiction, I hope you like my account of my travels.
With all good wishes,
from your friend and batch mate,
Zita Perera Subasinghe

Please click on the link below for Zita's Snippet

Zita's Snippet

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lighter Side of a Medico's Life

By Lakshman Abeyagunawardene

After a long break of thirteen years, I was able to attend the Annual Academic Sessions of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) soon after I had returned to my home country on a permanent basis in 2009. In the long past, two important social events used to be interspersed among the annual orations, presentations and guest lectures during the  academic sessions. They were the SLMA Banquet and the Doctors’ Concert and Musical Evening.

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

One of the items put up by my batch in 1962 was an African tribal dance with an all-male cast that included my partner on stage – former Thomian cricketer Lareef Idroos, Lucky Weerasooriya, Vishve, Rajan (Patas), Mahesan, Yoga, Ganesh to name a few. We were scantily dressed in skirts made of straw and a “thana patiya” tied around the upper torso with padding underneath in the right places. Both the scantily dressed “females” and their male partners were liberally daubed with a mixture of oil and charcoal to make them look like dark-skinned Africans. I still remember that it was Speedy as the chief make-up man backstage, who prepared and applied the sooty mixture on our bodies. The "women" dancers also had human bones to hold their hair in place much like a “Konda Koora” that women in a bygone era used. They wore necklaces in which the “beads” were actually human teeth and smaller rounded carpal bones. In preparation for the big event, we were trained and put through our paces by film actress and professional dancer Beulah Dias Karunaratne. On the day we staged the concert, I recollect vaguely how the high-spirited actors jumped down from the stage at the conclusion of their act and walked right through the aisle in the New Arts Theatre at Thurstan Road. It was like cutting through butter with a hot knife when well-dressed guests in the audience including Faculty Staff, scrambled to get out of the way to avoid getting the greasy black stuff on their own clothing.

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! 

Grand Finale

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

The lighter side of a Medico’s life is as important as burning the midnight oil immersed in books. I dare say that it is far, far better for anyone to go through such experiences as a care-free student in one’s youth, rather than indulging in such diversions in later life. I know of at least two medical colleagues who never touched a drop of the stuff and shunned all these fun events as medical students. However, for reasons best known to them, they turned out to be full blown alcoholics in later life and died early. As the liquor advertisements say, “Drink responsibly” if you must, but never overstep the mark. It’s only experiences such as what I have described above that will prevent one from doing so. Since “passing out” (graduating) from Medical College in March 1967 and regaining a “respectable” status in life, I have never ever come even close to exceeding the limit of permissible alcohol intake (what is called social drinking), let alone “passing out” or ending up in a stupor as a drunken moron.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

History of the Colombo Medical College

This article by the Late Prof.  Nandadasa Kodagoda on "The History of the Colombo Medical College" appeared in our 40th Anniversary Souvenir of the Class of 1962. The Reunion was held at The Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana from 13th - 15th July, 2007. The article has been sent in by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale.

History of the Colombo Medical College

As it happens, the Colombo Medical School owes its existence to the "prevalence of an obstinate and loathsome disease" in the Island in the 1860's which caused much misery and suffering to the natives and led to an alarming depopulation of the Wanni districts. In 1867, the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Hereykes Robinson, ordered an enquiry into the causes of the depopulation of the Wanni districts in the Northern Province. On the recommendations of Dr. W. P. Charsley, Principal Civil Medical Officer (PCMO), this enquiry was entrusted to Dr. James Loos, Colonial Surgeon, Northern Province. Dr. Loos performed this task so admirably that he earned the special thanks of the Government. One of Dr Loos’s recommendations for improving the general sanitary state of the Country was the adoption of a plan of medical education in the Island. This recommendation was accepted by the Government. On the 1st of June, 1870 when the Governor, Sir Hereykes Robinson, opened the Colombo Medical School, Dr James Loos became its first Principal. 

Speaking metaphorically, the Colombo Medical School was born -appropriately enough -in the Female Surgical Wards ofthe General Hospital of that time. Ifhome is where one starts from, that ward must be regarded as the true home of the Colombo Medical School. Dropping metaphor, the ground on which the Colombo Medical School now stands, was gifted to the Government in 1875 by public benefactor and philanthropist, Mudaliyar of the Governor's Gate, Samson Wijegoonaratna De AbrewRajapakse, Justice of the Peace for the Island of Ceylon. 

The buildings which made up the School in its early days exist no more. Changes have altered the landscape of the school several times in the course of its hundred years of existence. All that remains of the early landmarks is the Koch Memorial Clock Tower erected in 1881 to perpetuate the memory of Dr. Edwin Lawson Koch, the second Principal of the School. It is recorded that he "was a bold surgeon, successful Physician and an expert Obstetrician". 

The institution which began as "An Elementary School” in 1870 was raised to the dignity of a "College" ten years later by the Acting Governor, Sir John Douglas. 

In 1920 the Colombo Medical School was 50 years old. The Jubilee was celebrated by an "At Home" and the distribution of prizes and diplomas by the College President, His Excellency Sir William Henry Manning, Governor of Ceylon. 

In 1926 as the result of persistent representations by the Medical College Council and successive Registrars, a committee appointed by the Governor inspected the buildings of the College. The committee recommended a scheme for rebuilding the college and in due course the present physiology and pathology blocks came into being. 

A Dental school was added to the college in 1938. The first lecturer in Dental surgery was .Dr. W. Balendra. The first dental students were really six qualified doctors. 

In 1945 the school celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a grand medical exhibition. The celebrationsbeganonthe 1stDecember,withaceremonialprocession,afterwhichtheoldestalumnus of the School, Dr. Andreas Nell, made a speech welcoming the guests. 

When the Colombo Medical School acquired university status it had only six departments of study with five Professors. 

In 1962 the University of Ceylon set up a Medical School in its Peradeniya Campus. The staff for the Peradeniya Medical School was initially drawn from the Colombo Medical School and, in fact, the Peradeniya School was largely controlled by the Colombo School. In October 1967, the two medical schools were completely separated from each other by the creation of two independent Universities, one at Colombo and the other at Peradeniya. 

After it acquired University status the Colombo Medical School began to grant postgraduate degree and diplomas -MD, MS, MOG, DTM & H, TDD, DCH, DO, DA and DM & S. 

On the 1st June 1970 the Colombo Medical School celebrated its hundredth birthday. As always, the Head of the State was there to grace the occasion and to wish the school well. In his message, His Excellency the Governor General, William Gopallawa said, "We are aware that from very modest beginnings this Institution has grown into one of the foremost Institutions of its kind, in this part of the world" and it celebrated the 125th Anniversary in July 1995 as an International Event.