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Sunday, October 23, 2016

I turned 75 yesterday.....

I turned 75 yesterday. We had dinner with a few friends and close relatives at our Battaramulla home. Some selected pictures from last night.

Immunisation: Experts urge concerted action to build on Lanka’s success story

Click on the following link. Then click on News. Read Sanath Lama's keynote address at the Vaccine Forum

Immunisation: Experts urge concerted action to build on Lanka’s success story

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Creative Spot by Indra Anandasabapathy

An Amateur Horticulturist cum Photographer writes:


They were outdoors from late spring till a few days ago. They will remain here through the winter, till next spring. The solarium is kept at 55 degrees F at night, the temperature rising to 90 F often in the day from the sun's heat. So, artificial heat is required only at night on a really cold night (latter half of December, January, February, March) only. Why 55 degrees? The plants, mostly tropical, have over the years adapted to the lower temperature at night. Years ago, the curry leaf plants would shed their leaves by February. I thought they would not make it alive by spring. They did develop new leaves  by spring and they do not shed anymore. I had to get them used to the lower temperatures at night to keep the heating bill down. It is still an expensive hobby and needs work.The plants get watered well twice a week and manured/fertilized once a month. Pruning keeps the curry leaf plants at the current height of about 6 feet.In winter, the vents are all closed and the humidity causes condensation which is good for the orchids .

 The potted plants are indoors as the weather changes in fall





Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why I think Ragging should be banned

By  Mahendra Gonsalkorale

I can distinctly recall the anxiety and fear I experienced as the first week of my life as a Medical student approached. I was just 18 years old and fearful of the big jump from A level student to Medical Student. But more than anything, I was worried about the indignities I may have to suffer in the name of Ragging.

Ragging was purported to be a welcome for the freshers organised by the seniors. It was meant to ‘educate’ them on what is expected from them in terms of behaviour and discipline as new entrants. Sadly, it was nothing of the kind and was a forum for sadistic inadequate students with untamed cruel streaks to impart humiliation and physical and mental discomfort in an organised way. Unfortunately, teachers and Administrators often turned a blind eye for reasons which are unclear to me. Some spoke of upholding tradition, and that is laudable if the traditions are worth upholding.

Ragging can vary from relatively minor teasing to more overt forms of unacceptable behaviour including the use of physical violence and sexual harassment.  Ragging has led to major psychological trauma and in extreme cases, even to suicide.

I did not and still cannot see even an iota of sense in allowing this sort of behaviour to continue. Some refer to it in glowing terms as a way of helping new entrants to become more mature and as a catalyst to forming lasting friendships between the raggers and the ragged. In some instances, it was a case of the seniors taking the Law into their own hands and meting out punishment to badly behaved juniors, as happened to our Batch after the infamous Castle Street invasion affair at the Law-Medical cricket match.

In a free society which upholds the principle of protection for all citizens, there is absolutely no justification for allowing ragging to take place. If a citizen behaved in this manner towards another in any other setting, he would be charged and punished.

Ragging is unjust, immoral, and inhuman and has no place in a civilised society and should be strictly banned and the ban strictly implemented.

I would be very interested to know the views of colleagues. Have your views changed or do you still hold the same view, for or against.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

E-mail from Indra Ana

From Indra to ND, but others too can read and enjoy.

Nihal, since you have given much thought to LIFE as such  you may want to read this remarkable book.

re writing the Ten Commandments for the twentyfirst century




It is only 178 pages. Beautifully written & thought provoking. I have read it .

Nihal, Like you I have thought about death, something one does not dwell upon in one's youth. Like you, I arrived at the conclusion that once one has finished his/her responsibilities. what matters is the way we go.
Only two years ago, my wife's uncle-passed away suddenly in Sydney, falling in a car park walking back with his attorney friend, after a RUGBY TEST BETWEEN AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND. THE MATCH WAS A DRAW. USUALLY AUSTRALIA TAKES A HIDING LIKE THEY DID AT THE WORLD CUP FINAL AT WEMBLY. The family was very upset naturally. I was saddened too as he was a wonderful man who had helped a lot of people in need  & a lot of fun to be with. But I then thought he could not have scripted a better exit from this life. That thought was part of my eulogy, at the well attended service.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Cricket 'loverly' Cricket" and "Ball Games"

By Razaque Ahamat

Recently a lot has been written about this great Gentlemen's Game in our Blog. It appears to some that this game in Ceylon/ Sri Lanka (SL) is played only in Colombo & it is the epi-centre or the centre of the universe for this game in SL!!!. One forgets that by far the most number of Internationally recognized & renowned players from SL, the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vas & Muthiayah Mularatheran to name just a few, all have been nurtured and nursed in the cricketing nurseries of schools from 'out in the sticks'. Let us take our very own from our Golden Batch, Lareef Idroos & Cyril Ernest for instance, they are from the cricketing nurseries of Mt. Lavania and Meegomuwa (Negombo)!!!.
So, it is not all Colombo.
Now, my pedigree in cricket begins with our namesake A.C. Ahamat was the very first non-European Cricket Captain of the then Ceylon. My Dad, Hajirin Ahamat was the Captain of Wesley College, Colombo and went on to Captain the Combined Schools in the 20's. His brother M.S.Ahamat  played for Royal and was better known as Ruggerite and athlete. Was in the team that broke the Public Schools 110x4 relay record. One of the members of that team was Dr. H.S.R. Gunawardene, the former Director of Physical Education and more importantly father or our very own Dr. Karmini (Gunawardene) Ferdinando, presently in NZ. I had the privilege of meeting her at a Conference in NZ at a place called Whakatane (pronounced in Maori as "Fxxk-a-ta-naye"). At the end of the Conference I took her and her mates out to dinner and had a very pleasant  evening along with our 'regular' hosts Dr. Desmond Collins & his wife Dr.(Mrs.) Puvi Collins --- both from one of our junior batches.
As for my exploits in this great game--- I played at every level (Under 14, Under 16 & First Team) for my school as an opening batsman and wicket-keeper, donning gloves to protect my fingers / hand and also pads for my shins & upper thigh. In them days we did not have the benefit of helmets and arm protection. Also, most of all I had have protection for my 'bottom $' or shall I say my 'family jewels' almost all day in view of my position in the team. This brings me to the "Billion $ question of the of the Bottom $ / Family Jewels" in Ladies Cricket??. Do they too wear protection for that part of the anatomy as they, I believe do not have 'bottom & & nor family jewels'!! This has been a conundrum to me as I do not know the answer!  Can somebody please, ladies in particular,  enlighten me??.
Now as you all know Gentlemen & Ladies play all manner of ball games. In Cricket ladies are very good in the field as they can hold on to & catch the balls.  Also can really belt the ball just as in Field Hockey. In Football, boy oh boy, can't they kick the balls around?? All in all Ladies do play far more ball games than men -- poor men!!! Take for instance Netball..... not only are they good at catching the ball, they even put it through hoops!!!
I rest my case. 

(Note by the Blog Administrator: This article by Razaque was sent in a few days ago. I regret very much that I have not had the time to edit it. As I have quite a few contributions waiting in line, and since there was a spate of articles on sport lately, I have published the unedited article)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Indra and Navam

The following picture of Indra Anandasabapathy and Navam Chinniah had been taken at M. Satchithananthan's 
(former MSU President who was in our junior batch) 75th birthday party in Danbury, CT.

Creative Spot by Indra Anandasabapathy

In bloom now

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My window on the world

 By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

Que Sera Sera - Whatever will be will be.  Since Doris Day sang this song in the Alfred Hitchcock film of 1956  ”The Man who knew too much”  its poignant lyrics have stayed with us for its glaring honesty of the uncertainties of life.

At the very outset I must make it clear that these are not the notes of a sad and depressive septuagenarian but of a happy, pragmatic retired professional enjoying life to the full. Destiny has been kind to me so far and I have had a wonderful life.

This has been a tough year for me and the family. After my reprieve from the ‘death sentence’ a brand new life has unfolded.  It is one of acceptance that this will be a ride into the sunset with ups and downs. As a septuagenarian I have no career, the children have left home.  The purpose in life is to enjoy everyday as it comes. Seeing the children prosper in their careers and life are blissful pleasures beyond measure. Being a grandparent is a delightful experience. We now live in a world that adores youth and all its pleasures but there is no shame in being old. Everyone can have a sense of purpose.

Although many feel lost and depressed at the mere thought of retirement, it is certainly not the end of life but the beginning of a new era. There are many of us “oldies” around than ever before who are incredibly determined to make the best of the new life. With our wisdom we are a benefit and not a burden to society. These are my twilight years and I am determined to make the best of it.

Longevity with good mental and physical health is a gift that has to be earned. Although there are never any guarantees the world is full of advice on how to do it. The internet is a repository of such information. Despite all that there comes a time for each for one of us to call it a day.

There are many things one can give up. I have given up ambition, winning the argument, rivalry and stress.  Just allow someone else to be the winner. I put fewer demands on myself these days. I hate gardening and have moved into a flat with no garden. Living next to Regent’s Park  it  is my 395 acre  garden which is beautifully landscaped and managed by a fine team of horticulturalists. There are benches to sit and enjoy the vibrant colours and the exquisite scent of the many different types of flowers. It is indeed a delightful and sublime experience to sit in the rose garden on a warm summers day. The many trees and shrubs are a paradise for migrating birds that fly south for the winter sun.

There are many things I have wanted to do and didn’t have the time. Well now is the time for it.  This ranges from books to read and places to visit. As the world has got smaller with easier and cheaper travel there is the ability to go to the far corners of the earth. I want to experience the wonders of nature and see the art galleries and the museums. I started on this on my retirement and grateful I was able to do so much so far. Now I realise that with every passing year there is a certain loss of energy which makes travel and all it entails that much harder.

You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.

Bob Hope

Surprisingly some inner wisdom has allowed me to accept that I am a senior citizen now. Silver hair and furrows on my face have its benefits. I am offered a seat in public transport. I don’t blush anymore before accepting such kind offers.  I get a transport pass to travel free on the underground, busses and trains. Having given up my cars this is a Godsend. My personal vehicle would be a burden now as parking is at a premium in the city.  I live within ten minutes walk from the essential amenities

Nostalgia is an overwhelming emotion. The volume of archived memories increase with age as is the desire to reach them. When awake at night there are always the inescapable journeys to the past. The happy times spent with my parents and extended family are priceless. Those special joys of my schooldays bring such great pleasure. Medical School had its unique brand of youthful fun and humour despite the hard grind.  Building a career and bringing up a family brought its own enjoyment and heartaches. Delving into the past can also bring sadness, bitterness and grief. Regret is the demon you don’t want to carry with you into the future.  

We all have stories of breaking windows playing soft ball cricket in the garden. The love of cricket is for life. It is hard to put into words the joy it brings at any age. My strictly limited talent for playing meant I would be forever a spectator. As I now watch cricket at Lords or the Oval I reflect on my years watching school cricket under those spreading  trees in old Ceylon from Campbell Park to Reid Avenue and the Galle Esplanade to Asgiriya. For the visiting teams the breezy wicket at Mt Lavinia was a batsmens’ graveyard.

Although more and more people are aware of the prerequisites to live longer and healthier
finding a good doctor is crucial. They are rare as gold dust. The doctor is my physician and confidante who will guide me through life’s health issues by preventing the avoidable and treating the possible. There are also the inevitable ‘running repairs’ and the ubiquitous “athey paye rudhawa”. The Annual check-ups although a bind are essential to keep the human engine in good shape. We are what we eat and have to do so sensibly.

Since Roman times we have known the importance of exercise – “Men sana incorpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body". A brisk walk for 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week is one that is widely recommended. Losing one’s balance is a common problem of ageing for which there are special but simple exercises.

We all know that the brain needs exercise to keep dementia at bay. I stepped on life’s treadmill at the GCE O’Levels and stepped off on my retirement.  In the intervening years the neurones and transmitters were buzzing non-stop retaining, recalling, analysing and using information. Now life is much calmer. I like to do my daily Sudoku and maintain the school website. This is a task that requires thought and tact both of which are taxing.

By now we all have realised happiness can be an elusive dream. Wealth, power and status may help to achieve it but often with limited success. For many it is just a mirage.  In the troubled world we live in there are many who need our care. Helping the less fortunate, poor and the disabled will bring lasting happiness. There is much work available in the voluntary sector to help the sick and the suffering.

There is no better time to make peace if you have rifts in the family. It is easier than you think and time is running out.  Once this is done the climate at family gatherings improves tremendously. Joining a group, community centre or a club is useful to meet people of a similar age and outlook. Good friends are the greatest source of pleasure and support in later years.  I feel much happier in some ways than in my younger days. Now that I don’t see the need to prove myself. I am able to control my emotions so much better and am less prone to anger even when others say things that are upsetting.

Reading newspapers from home online is my daily ritual. Still it gives me a shock and a pang to read the names of friends and relatives in the obituaries. Then a plethora of memories cloud my mind bringing sorrow and grief. I must accept this will be the pattern in the months and years to come. The sooner I acknowledge this, easier my life will become.

It is a fact of life that my wife or I will depart this world first leaving the other a life full of memories together and to suffer the intense grief of this great loss. No one can prepare adequately for this except by being aware. Then, in our home every room will tell a story and every picture and piece of furniture will be laden with memories. If at all it will be our children and grandchildren who can soften the blow. Time as they say is a great healer.

As someone clever said “Death is hereditary”. I have accepted and trained my mind that none of us are here forever. Our turn will come to depart this world. From Biblical times humans have been taught of heaven and hell. I was immensely comforted by a graffiti on a London wall “HELL IS EMPTY,  ALL THE DEMONS ARE HERE ON EARTH”. Nevertheless it is important to lead a good and useful life. For this, one doesn’t need a religion but if you have one hold on to it. It is wonderful to have someone superior to help and guide you when times are hard. Amazingly I do not fear the end but the way I will exit the world concerns me at times. The dream is to to have a quick and painless conclusion to life.  We have no control over many things in life and death. Finally, we are all at the mercy of the awesome force of destiny.

I will end as I started with the fine lyrics of yet another poignant Doris Day song which was a hit in 1950 and took the world by storm

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
 Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as you wink

 Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ananda’s Cricketing Intelligentsia

(This is a modified version of an article that was submitted for publication in the souvenir for the third Annual East Coast Invitational Cricket Festival 2008 which was held on June 14th at the Tall Timbers Park, South Brunswick, New Jersey, USA. The event was organised by the Ananda College Old Boys Association East Coast Chapter. The article is being republished on this blog as we are presently carrying news, pictures and articles on the subject of sports personalities who excelled in their chosen professions.)

By Dr. Lakshman Abeyagunawardene
South Carolina, USA

Schoolboy cricketers who excelled in sports and studies alike were hard to come by, even in years gone by. Today, with professionalism creeping into the sport, they are virtually unheard of. But it is gratifying to note that there are the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Jehan Mubarak who still have the ability to do this balancing act with some degree of success in today’s competitive world. One can only imagine how much more these two gifted cricketers with precious brains would have achieved had they chosen to concentrate on one, either cricket or their academic pursuits.

In the years gone by, we had cricketers of the calibre of Doctors C.H. Gunasekara, Barney Gunasekara, Darrell Weinman, H.I.K. Fernando, Ranjit de Silva, Brendon Gooneratne, Buddy Reid, Carlyle Perera, Lareef Idroos, Nihal Gurusinghe, U.R.P. Gunatilake, C. Balakrishnan, V. Sivananthan, Cyril Ernest, Harsha Samarajiwa, Sarath Seneviratne, Adiel Anghie, and Michael Roberts, Bradman Weerakoon, George Rajapaksa, Malsiri Kurululasuriya, Maurice Wanigaratne, Ranjit Dorenagama to name a few in the non-medical category.

Among the leading boys’ schools in Sri Lanka, Ananda College had her own fair share of such “All-Rounders.” Arguably, the most outstanding of this rare breed is Professor Tissa (U.T.) Vitarana – cricketer, scientist, and politician. Today, he is best known as the Minister of Science and Technology in the present Government and Chairman of the All Party Representatives Committee. As an eleven year-old schoolboy at Ananda College in the early fifties, I remember “big boy” Tissa Vitarana as a slim, moustached, bespectacled cricketer - a batsman who opened the innings. He was a regular in the Ananda cricket eleven of 1952 that was captained by Bonnie (D.B.) Wijesinghe.

After qualifying as a medical doctor in the late fifties and earning a string of post graduate degrees including a PhD, he soon established himself as a Microbiologist of international repute. During his long professional career spread out over five decades, Prof. Vitarana has served as Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI), Adviser to the Minister of Science and Technology, Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, and even had a stint with the world famous Pasteur Institute in France, before being appointed a Cabinet Minister. The author of many scientific papers, he is considered to be an authority on viral diseases and more particularly HIV / AIDS and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF).

Prof. Vitarana is remarkably versatile. Whether playing cricket donning his all-white cricketing gear, marching through Colombo streets in a May Day procession with other red-shirted, slogan-shouting comrades of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, or addressing an international conference dressed in his trade mark long sleeved tunic, he has been equally at ease. He has followed in the footsteps of his maternal uncle the late Dr. N.M. Perera, himself another past Ananda cricketer who achieved academic distinction in earning a double doctorate in Economics and reached the pinnacle of his political career by ending up as Minister of Finance in the Sirima Bandaranaike Cabinet of 1970.

With all these achievements under his belt, Professor Tissa Vitarana has retained his quiet, unassuming, humble nature to this day. Having associated with him professionally over a number of years, I can vouch for the above characteristics in the man. I found him to be the perfect team man when I had the opportunity to work closely with him in 1990 in producing the well-known booklet entitled “What Doctors Need to Know about Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever”. He co-authored the booklet with Professor Priyani Soysa under a project that was funded by UNICEF where I myself was a staff member at that time and coordinator of the said project.

As I mentioned before, Professor Tissa Vitarana is not the only Anandian cricketer to achieve success in the academic and professional fields. But he simply had to be singled out for special mention, not only because of his present eminent position, but also because of his versatility and reputation as an internationally known scientist.

Of the older generation, Dr. Nandadeva Wijesekara (former Commissioner of Official Languages) and P.M. Jayatillake (former Principal of Ibbagamuwa Central and Thurstan Colleges) and A.R. Molligoda (Architect) need to be mentioned. Among Professor Vitarana’s own contemporaries at Ananda and teammates in 1952, were M.C.T. (Cecil) Fonseka (former Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education) and Dr. Milinda Amarasinghe who qualified as a doctor and later joined the Sri Lanka Navy. Both of them have departed this world and it was just a couple of weeks ago that I read Cecil’s obituary notice in the Ceylon Daily News.

My own classmate K.M. Ariyaratne (now known as Ari Dassanayake) is a highly qualified Attorney-at-Law and Criminologist in Toronto, Canada. He played first eleven cricket in the late fifties. A.P. Jayasinghe, D.D. Somasiri, D.S.B. (Dhammika) Ratnayake, A.G. Perera, Duminda Siriwardene, Sanjeeva Senanayake (grandson of a former Ananda Principal S. Kularatne and son of former IGP Stanley Senanayake) qualified as Engineers. Other former Ananda cricketers who took to the medical profession include S. (Mahinda) Jayasinghe (now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana), late Kumar de Silva, Mohanlal Fernando (now in UK), Sarath Wimalaratne (now in Sydney, Australia), Gamini Karunanayake (who too passed away last month), N. Samahin, Nihal de Silva (presently in New Jersey), and G. Ambepitiya.  Mithra Wettimuny and Lakshman Hewagama are Accountants. Former teacher at Ananda, Ragunath Weerasuriya, Army Officer S.P. Ekanayake (science graduate) and in more recent times, Priyanka Seneviratne, Priyal Perera and former BOI Chairman and MD of Forbes and Walker Thilan Wijesinghe have also excelled in both cricket and studies. The last named Thilan and Dr. Mohanlal are accomplished musicians to boot!

In conclusion, I must admit that I have written this article without researching the subject and without any reference to records or archived documents. It is for the simple reason that such facilities were not available to me at the time of writing. The names, dates and other information contained herein have been drawn entirely from my own memory. The chances are that I may have made errors and left out some who deserve to be in this company. Therefore, I wish to extend my humble apologies for any such errors and especially to anyone whom I may have inadvertently omitted in compiling this article.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Creative Spot by Indra Anandasabapathy


Mandeville rose

Anthurium - smaller flowers

Bird of paradise

Anthurium , the mid size red

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Creative Spot - Green green grass of home (original by Tom Jones), sung here by Joe Subasinghe wit...

E-mail from Zita and my reply.

Dear Lucky,

The following is a you tube link where Joe sings Green green grass of home by Tom Jones to my playing.
It's got a lot of mistakes but I have put it on the you tube.

If you consider it ok for creative spot, please use it. But you know I am quite happy whatever the decision.

Green green grass of home

Dear Zita,

Many thanks. The amateur in me didn't notice any mistakes. It certainly deserves to go on our blog.