Search This Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I wish all readers of this blog, a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year - 2017

Monday, December 19, 2016

Creative Spot by Zita Perera Subasinghe

From Zita( believe it or not)

OK, what’s going on here? Well, I had all these sayings written down at different times having heard on the radio or tv or at medical meetings (yes that’s right!) I love cliche’s and things you see. And as I was looking for something to send to the Blog at the end of the year I thought why not put it all together. Sounds mad? well it is! Thanks for reading it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dr. Sunanda (Jimmy) Wickramasinghe - sent in by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale


Mahendra Gonsalkorale

17:49 (2 hours ago)
to me
Dear Lucky,

Just a correction about Jimmy. Thanks for publishing it but as I said in my email, it appeared in a Blog (and was not written by Jimmy).

Jimmy forwarded an article about him that appeared in a Blog called "Bolder". 

Bolder was launched in March 2015, with a mission to champion people casting aside age stereotypes and doing inspirational and interesting things as they grow older. The blog is run by friends and former colleagues Helen Cathcart and Dominique Afacan, a photographer and writer respectively.

If possible,may be you can add the bit about Bolder and say it was about Jimmy and not by Jimmy.



Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale had sent an article written on Jimmy Wickramasinghe. I acknowledged receipt of Speedy's e-mail thus:

Dear Speedy,

Thank you so much for sending the article on Jimmy and for attending to formalities like getting his consent for the publication. As you know, I don't publish anything without the publisher's consent. This is one way you can rope in others to participate. I have read through it and will be posted without any delay. My own discipline being Public Health, I tend to find articles like Jimmy's very interesting and easy to understand - a far cry from the highly technical articles from the medical field!

I wish to thank Jimmy as well. Hope you will be a regular visitor to our batch blog in future. I don't think Jimmy knew that I had contact with his father the late Dr. W.G. Wickramasinghe in the early seventies. In fact, he presented to me a book that he had written (his autobiography). How this contact began is a long story. But in a nutshell, when I was the MOH at Matara, I was going through the much thumbed Visitors Book and came across an entry that Dr. Wickramasinghe had made. He had visited the Matara MOH office for an inspection when he was on "circuit" as the Director of Health Services. As he had mentioned that he too had served as the MOH, Matara many years before my stint, and we had many topics of common interest, I just dropped a line (by snail mail) to which he replied. He had invited me to drop in at his Bullers Lane home on my next visit to Colombo. I did so and that's how he presented me a copy of his book which for years was occupying a place on the bookshelf of my small library at home. But one day, I mentioned to my wife's aunt Mrs. Leela Basnayake (wife of former Attorney General and Chief Justice Hema Basnayake) that her name was also mentioned in Dr. Wickramasinghe's book. She had not seen it and as such, requested me to lend it to her for a week or so. As often happens, I never got it back and unfortunately, she passed away shortly thereafter.

During the time I had contact with his father, Jimmy was out of the country. Ironically, I hardly had any contact with Jimmy during our medical student days. One reason was that we never worked in any group together because I am an Abey with an "A" and he is a Wick with a "W", two letters that are far apart in the English alphabet!



Dr.Wickremesinghe, 75
Dr. Wickremesinghe, known as ‘Jimmy Wickers’ to his patients, qualified in medicine in Sri Lanka, before continuing his training in the UK. He currently works as a GP at his practice in Stockwell, and up until 2006, also worked as a breast cancer surgeon and an endoscopist.
“I think medicine has always been in my blood; the majority of my family members are in the medical profession and my Dad was awarded an OBE and CMG by the Queen in the 50s for his contribution to eradicating malaria in Sri Lanka, where we grew up. I moved to the UK once I’d qualified. It wasn’t a culture shock; as a British colony I feel we were bought up to be more English than the English in a way! 
I met my wife at the Mayday hospital in Croydon in the mid 70s; she was a nurse there at the time and we’ve lived in Dulwich Village since 1980. The house is halfway between the hospital I worked at up to the age of 65 and the surgery where I still practice today. I’ve been at the NHS for 49 years so next year will be a bit of a landmark. I have seen families grow, relatives pass and new babies being born which creates a special bond as a doctor. As a cancer surgeon; I didn’t have that type of long-term bond with my patients, although from a purely technical and medical perspective that was perhaps when I felt most inspired by my work.
I have a brother who is a cardiologist in Australia and if I had my time again, I think I would live over there; the work balance is much better and it’s more conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Having said that, I do believe that life has a path and things tend to work out and settle as they should so I tend to try and avoid regrets when I can. It’s a waste of valuable energy. I was also invited to work over in America but I’m pleased I didn’t go. The medical system there is very fractured and it’s more of a commercial proposition. I work in quite a deprived area and I think it’s important that patients get the treatment required irrespective of their ability to pay. 
I know it sounds strange for a doctor but I’m a bit lazy when it comes to exercise and find it hard to stick to a regime. I like swimming but I don’t like the pools in England, the water is too cold – so I just do a bit of walking and sometimes play tennis. I am blessed that every day I come back to a home-cooked meal from my wife Kath. She eats quite healthily so as a result I do too. I probably drink a bit too much; a couple of glasses of wine every evening, and the occasional gin and tonic, but I gave up smoking about 15 years ago. I was a heavy smoker, but I only started in my 30s. I used to bring duty free cigarettes back from my travels for my friends then eventually I started myself! 
I haven’t really noticed ageism. We don’t go by chronological age in my profession; biological age is more important. There are 60 year olds who are quite ill, while there are 90 year olds who are very fit, playing golf and living the life of Riley. As far as my work goes, patients tend to associate age with experience – at least that’s my impression, so in practice it can even be a positive thing. One thing I do notice is loneliness. I have a lot of patients in their 80s or 90s living isolated in tower blocks, lots of them with no family or with children who can’t be bothered to visit. This is a growing problem in England. There is no community cohesion. In Asian culture, older people are more respected and integrated into everyday family life. I think we can learn from this in the Western world. 
The most important lesson I’ve learnt is to act with honesty, integrity and fairness with everyone you meet in life. And always be kind. My job has taught me that you never know what people are going through behind closed doors. I also think family is key. I always encourage big get-togethers at our home. Our two children, Nick and Katy, live in Battersea, so we are lucky to see them a lot – now we’re just waiting for some grandchildren! All our contemporaries have them and we are very envious.
My life motto? Health is wealth. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kangen Water

This was sent in by Sanath Lamabadusuriya.

A friend of mine introduced me to Kangen Water. It is alkaline and consumed extensively in Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy.

For the last month all of us at home have been drinking Kangen Water. I started drinking at a pH of 8.0 and now I am drinking water with a pH of 9.0.Since then, my blood sugars and blood pressure are better (on the same medications), I have lost 3 Kg in weight. I had the first scan for the prostate gland on the 4th of March 2010 and it measured 18 ml. Since then I have had scans annually. On the 15th of March 2015 it measured 27 ml. On the 10th of December 2016 it measured 16 ml.

I get a free supply from a friend of mine who has a machine to produce it. Tap water is fed in to it and it produces 4 kinds of water including alkaline and acid waters. In Japan, the acid water is used to disinfect floors in the operating theatres in hospitals and to wash vegetables etc. prior to cooking. It is also used extensively for wound care and a variety of dermatological diseases.

I thought these facts may be of interest to you all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Opinions and judgements – a purely personal view.

By Mahendra Gonsalkorale

I was tempted to write this personal view on how we form opinions and sometimes make judgements on our fellow human beings, after reading an article written by one of our teachers for whom I have the greatest of respect. The paragraph which triggered me to write is this. "Without malice a forethought I have deliberately weeded out of my memory the international stars like Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran among my former pupils not because I love them less but because they defected from our nation and devoted their brilliant talents to serve "them" and not "us". The tribal brain tends to delete "defectors" from our conscious memories".
I must admit that I was somewhat surprised that a man like him held such views. Interestingly he indirectly apologises (‘tribal brain’), which makes me think that he himself is not totally happy with his own notion, which seems to spring from cultural instinct rather than reason. It is a relief that he “does not love them less”! Being a Rationalist myself, and an advocate of free speech,my view is that we are entitled to have opinions but they must be based as far as possible,on verifiable facts.
To judge a person on one criterion, important as it may seem, without recognising that Human Behaviour is very complex and that judgements cannot be reasonable or justifiable unless they take account of other vital operative factors such as context. Context is essentially the prevailing Societal norms, operative personal and family factors, the time period when it happened, the culture we live in, and our own moral standards, just to name a few.
Let me give some examples. Having more than one wife would be considered wrong and Immoral in one Society (He is “bad”) but is the norm in another (“He is good”). A man guilty of bribing an official might be considered in a more sympathetic way if it comes to pass that he desperately needed the money for medical care for his seriously ill son to save him from certain death and had failed to do so after making several honest attempts (a “bad” man in fact was a “good” man). A generous man gave a huge donation to a Charity only to find that he did so to obtain a Knighthood (a “good” man became a “bad” man). The native practitioner who prescribed a medicine which killed the patient may be seen in a different light if it comes to pass that he had an impeccable record of treating patients and that his intention without any doubt was to cure the patient but he had got the diagnosis wrong and gave what proved to be a fatal medicine. All pretty obvious you might say, but if so why make judgments like those I refer to below?

To return to the subject I am concerning myself at the moment, I would propose that any judgement made on the morality (“good” or “bad”) of a Doctor trained in Sri Lanka in terms of “patriotism”(a subject in itself!) solely based on whether he/she chose to remain or leave the country is open to question and palpably unjust. The circumstances which led to that decision must be taken into account before arriving at any sort of conclusion. Was he driven purely by self-interest, or were there genuine circumstances which made that the best decision? On the other hand, did the person who stayed behind also do so for self-interest? I know colleagues in England who support their families financially in a way they could not do if they were “back home”. I know colleagues who stayed back for the same reason, i.e., support aging parents, often being the only child. It is clear to me that we must consider the philosophical and moral context in which the person made a decision. What sort of personal, family, societal factors were there? Is it wrong to not just think of country, but have a much wider perspective of serving humanity irrespective of where they are? We all rationalise and justify our behaviour because that is the way we survive in this harsh world. Of course I realise that most of the debate arises because of the uncontestable fact that many of us wouldn’t be doctors if not for the free education we received and I would wholeheartedly agree that our behaviour must reflect acknowledgement of that fact. There are many ways to do so and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be done only by living and serving in Sri Lanka.

To conclude that a doctor who chose to serve in Sri Lanka is "better" than one who left based purely on that one factor is wrong. To conclude that all those who stayed back are patriotic (“us”) and those who left (“them”), are not, is equally wrong. It is difficult to admire people who claim to be patriotic and pat themselves on the back when in many instances, the determining factor had nothing to do with love for the country. Don’t get me wrong, I do admire and respect those who for whatever reason, decided to stay back and do exemplary work, especially those who had the opportunity to further themselves abroad but chose to stay behind because they were strongly motivated to do so for sound moral reasons. Equally, I admire those who while not living in Sri Lanka, have done such a lot for the profession and for their country of birth.

On achievements and serving humanity, we could cite many outstanding examples of those who remained and also among those who left, and Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran who was dismissed as one of “them” by the learned Professor, is a shining example of a person who left but has conducted himself with distinction and brought a lot of glory to the Profession and to Sri Lanka.

It is with some sadness that I state this as I, and many of us who chose to live abroad, have faced this uncomfortable feeling of being regarded as some kind of traitor. Some who return and help in ways they can have been accused of doing so because they have “a guilty conscience”. It may be so but when somebody offers to help you, is it not best to accept it and be gracious?
Let us judge people (if indeed we must), by considering all the facts and not jump to unfair conclusions. There is no "us" and "them". We are all one family. Within this short time we inhabit Planet Earth, we move along, making easy decisions, hard decisions, at times what seems like impossible decisions, decisions concerned with ourselves, our families, our country, our world, our people, our humanity and ultimately what matters is how you led that life, hopefully with respect, concern for all human beings (and preferably also for animal life, but that is a personal view) and with magnanimity, graciousness and generosity to all. If you are proud of your achievements, do be proud but don’t fall into the trap of believing that “if you are a proud elephant in a forest, all those who are not elephants are lesser beings.

Creative Spot by Joe Subasinghe (Zita's husband)

Sinhala and English lyrics

 (An English version of Mahagal Ruwani)

An Ode to Maidens of Sigiri Frescoes.

Beautiful Rock Maidens
Sigiri fame laden
Living in quiet loneliness
In this rock fortress
In this great wilderness
Lonely in sad tenderness

Birds of the blue skies
Listening to your sighs
Fly by in quiet loneliness
Creatures of wilderness
Rushing out of hidden nests
Serenade you in quiet happiness

Beautiful Rock maidens
Nestling in your rocky Eden
Your thoughts, I wonder of what kind?
Belles of this Rocky throne
Your ageless beauty’s thrown
A sense of calm on my mind

Girls of this Rocky Home
Time for us to part has come
As on my ramblings I go
May this wilderness sunny
Ever keep you company
Day by day and forever more

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Another message from Farouk's wife Najma

Dr. Farouk Mahmoud

15:33 (16 hours ago)
to me
Dear Lucky,

Thank you for informing farooks batch.a lot of his friends wrote and I realised how well liked he was....he certainly he was a great human being and I'll miss him immensely and I'm sure he'll have that half smile on his face when he realises how many remembered him.

Once again thank you.

Have a great get together,


Sent from my iPad

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Music and Dance in my life

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

We were fortunate to have spent our childhood in an independent Ceylon out of the shackles of colonial rule. One hundred and forty six years of British rule had left an indelible mark on Ceylonese society. We emulated the British and their ways infiltrated every aspect of the lives of the middle and upper classes.

When I was growing up what I saw around me had a tremendous and lasting effect on my life. I have fond memories of seeing the British way of life in my home town in Kegalle. Although the country was independent there were many British “up country” Planters still around. Those were the lazy hazy days of the immediate post Colonial Ceylon. There were bridge parties in the afternoon and all-women tennis fours at the Kegalle Planters Club. The Club was the hub for all social events in the district. This was the watering hole for the British planters and for our own Brown Sahibs. They drank whisky and played billiards. Those were the days of proper ballroom dancing of fox trots, quick steps and waltzes to the music of Victor Sylvester or Joe Loss Orchestra. Cricket matches at weekends and dancing in the evenings kept the members entertained. These close encounters fuelled by the booze often became a hotbed of gossip and innuendo. Our former British rulers believed we’ve never had it so good. Perhaps they were right!!

My early childhood was spent in rural Nugegoda with my grandparents. My father was serving in the “outstation” as a government  servant. I grew up with several cousins who lived in the same house, schooling with me. Then my aunts played the guitar and made us sing the Sinhala music of the day and also the popular operatic arias like Santa Lucia. We enjoyed entertaining the visitors and loved the applause and the sweets that followed.

I must not underestimate the part played by Radio Ceylon and its commercial arm in popularising both Sri Lankan and Western music. Lama Pitiya is one of my earliest recollections of a childrens program with stories and music. Siri Aiya, Karu Aiya and artistes like Indrani Wijebandara and Chandra Cabraal produced wonderful entertainment for children. There were many guests attendees like Rukmani Devi and GSB Rani Perera who enlivened and enhanced the reputation of this marvellous program. The Radio Ceylon English service too had some fine presenters and announcers who brought the music of that era to life. Hit Parade and Sunday Choice had an enormous following. We were glued to the radio when those programs were on. The passage of years has dimmed my memory of those tremendously exciting times which captivated and enraptured us during those heady days of our youth.

As I was boarded at Wesley College my love of music prevailed. I joined the choir. Then much of it was Church music.  It was Hymns during Sundays and special songs for the period of Lent. Carols services during Christmas were a colourful event. Singing together as a group was great fun and had enormous camaraderie. We formed barbershop quartets singing in four part harmony and also took part in Operettas. Those were immensely exciting times.

Our generation became part of the music revolution in the mid 1950’s.  The slow music of the crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como gave way to the intoxicating rhythm and the stirring beat of Bill Haley and the Comets. I well remember seeing Rock Around the Clock at the Savoy when the Bambalawatte boys danced unashamedly in the aisles of the cinema to the rousing and electrifying music. I was in the school boarding then and could only watch in awe and amazement the craze unfold amongst teenagers in Colombo.

It was not until I entered the Faculty of Medicine that I saw freedom. The permissive society had reached our shores with the hippie culture and the contraceptive pill. The excitement and the pleasure of dancing has no equal. The pounding rhythms drove us all into a frenzy. Being so close to female company in such subdued lighting heightened our sexual desires and sent our pulse racing. It was at University I learnt to combine the rhythmic music and the twirl and swirl of the gyratory dancing. The combination was awe inspiring, truly magical and immensely exciting. The University calendar had many dances held at its halls in Reid Avenue. It was here the students showed off their wares, girl friends, boy friends and their ability to dance. Alcohol gave them the confidence and lubricated the joints while the hormones did the rest. Live music of Harold Seneviratne Combo or Sam the Man provided the music putting us in the mood. There was the inevitable Baila session to end the night. Those were wonderfully exciting years.
When Duke Ellington visited Ceylon in 1955 he played in an airport hangar in Ratmalana. The school decided it wasn’t to be missed and we were taken for that thrilling performance. I still remember him play that simply magical piece “syncopated clock”. But it was in 1956 the film “High Society” with Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra . that brought jazz into my life giving it a new dimension.  Dixieland Jazz began in New Orleans. It was characterised by improvisations. I loved the sound of the brass and woodwind instruments and the strumming of the banjos. Radio Ceylon often played the piece called “Ice Cream” by the Dutch Swing College Band and this got me hooked on Dixie. I recall our batchmate  M.H Cassim was a fan of Dixieland music too and invited me to his home in Colpetty to listen to the Dutch Swing College Band and Eddy Peabody on his superb HiFi system in full stereo.

Exams came and went with monotonous regularity until it was all over. We were all doctors now and the rapid dispersal began. Internship was a baptism of fire. Onerous on-calls and busy schedules filled our days and nights. I was then working in Kurunegala. There were social gatherings and dances at the Upper and Lower Clubs. Those were a magnet for the hardworking interns. With my two left feet I was never going to set the dance floor on fire but enjoyed the drink and the camaraderie of those lavish events. Many parties were held in the House Officers Quarters with much singing and dancing. By 1968  the beat had died down to the music of the Beatles- now more subdued, Englebert Humperdink and Tom Jones.

After emigrating to the UK, family and career took precedence and dancing went on the back-burner. There were parties and dances in hospital during Christmas and on special occasions when it was mostly sedate and proper. However my love of music remained strong as ever. With the passage of years classical music became my first love. London is the Mecca for music lovers. Now I live 20 minutes walk from the Royal Academy of Music and easy striking distance of the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. These venues have classical music events everyday. Music now fills my life and I have no words to describe the peace and contentment I feel.

Since its origins in 15th Century Italy, Ballet has captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. Breath-taking choreography and graceful movements make it so pleasing to watch. I see most ballets on TV but see some of them live in London. Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn are recognised as the best dances of the 20th century. Much has been written about their sad lives and their tragic deaths away from the spotlight.

The Opera is not for everyone. Much of the old operas are in Italian and the stories are hard to follow. They require much homework to read up about the story. Operas of Puccini and Verdi are popular for their fine music. Georges Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” is set in ancient Ceylon. Although not as famous as “Carmen” which he wrote 10 years later I like it for its connection to my homeland. 

Retirement gave me the time to travel the world. One of the best trips was to South America. Watching the Tango danced by professionals in El Viejo AlmacĂ©n in Buenos Aires was simply a magical experience. The Tango is a mesmerizingly beautiful dance. Its elaborate movements relate a story. The tango music is a mix of Spanish, African and South American rhythms that became popular in the 19th century. This music and the dance initially began in brothels and its movements show the titillations of the ladies and the fire in the belly of their clients. Soon the Tango caught the imaginations of the people and  began to be accepted by high society in Buenos Aires.

Despite the 42 years in exile my love for Sri Lankan music hasn’t left me. Listening to the old music from back home is always an emotional journey and a reminder of those places and the people. The music of Sunil Santha, Chitra and Somapala from my childood days in Nugegoda.  CT Fernando, Sanath Nandasiri, Amaradeva and Victor Ratnayake from those later years will always be with me. How can I ever forget the ubiquitous Hindi music that was ever present in the  tea boutiques and shops all over Colombo. I still own a fine collection of Lata Mangheskar, Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle songs to remind me of those years in Sri Lanka.  I was an avid filmgoer in my youth and saw many of the Sinhala films right from the old BAW Jayamanne’s “Broken Promise” and “Kela Handa” to the later films of Lester James Peiris. Their music have a special appeal and a place in my memory. Rukmani Devi and Mohideen Beig featured prominently in those films with their memorable songs. Their haunting melodies and the poignant lyrics will always remain with me. Many of the old favourites have been revived by younger singers with a faster beat and modern instruments. I love these new versions which have instilled life into the old.

 Baila entered our mainstream culture when the likes of Wally Bastian, Patrick Denipitiya, MS Fernando and others made it popular by their live performances on stage and on radio. This music had tremendous appeal with its pulsating beat which is an invitation to dance. The love for baila with the lively music and the rhythmic dancing is a constant reminder of my medical student days. In the Faculty there were events held in the Common Room in the evenings when the booze flowed freely and music filled the air. I recall JC Fernando singing and playing his guitar with students dancing around him. RL Thambirajah singing “Come and see the wild west show” was a regular feature and was so well received. The final year trip was a journey full of wonderful memories and the final fling of an incredible 5 years.

Music and dance have been a large part of my life. It has given me immense pleasure and continues to do so today.

Sent in by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

AN UPDATE ON THE BLOG - an ABC Guide for all skills
There are some added new features worth pointing out.

Navigation Tabs
You have of course noticed that Navigation is a bit easier now The Tabs at the top are like Tabs in a filing system and by (L)clicking your mouse on the Tab, you will be taken where you want to go. Example, if you click on “Useful links”, a page will open with links to Websites of relevance, e.g, SLMA. You will note that the Tabs are still there with the “Useful links” now grey, showing that this the active tab now,  and you can easily return to the main Home page by clicking on the Home Tab. Check Latest news now and again for any important news updates, such as the Reunion.

On the Right hand, you will see “Most comments”. This shows the top ten commented posts with the number of comments. This is continually updated. If you hover your mouse over which ever you chose, it will turn Red and also indicate more details about the Post.

To access the Post, just (L) click on it and a new page will appear on your Browser with the Post you wanted. To get back, you can click Home again or go the Original Medgrad Tab on your Browser. (The common Browsers in use are Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari- Safari is the Apple version for those with Macs).

Follow by Email
The next feature is “Follow by email” seen below the “Most Common” and is a way by which you can register to receive automatic email updates direct to your IN BOX, whenever a new post appears in the Blog. You will NOT receive a notice whenever a comment is made and ONLY if a new post is made.  All you need to do is to type in your preferred email address in the white email address area and then click on submit. This will trigger opening a little window where you will be asked to fill some random letters/numbers shown to you, into a confirm box. This is to make sure that you are real and not a robot generated y malicious people. Once that is done, you will receive an email into your IN BOX asking  you to click on a link and confirm that you want to receive notifications. After a few days, you will begin to receive a notification whenever there is a new post. The sender of the post will appear as “Colombo Medgrads 1962”. The notification will give you the post and a link to click to take you to our website.

Contact Form
The Final one is right at the bottom and is called “Contact Form”. You can use this to contact Lucky. If you enter your name,  email and message, Lucky will receive your message. If you are having difficulties in entering a comment, you can use this to send a comment to Lucky but of course it is a bit of additional work for him then to copy your comment to the Blog.

I hope this has been of use to you and let us hope we see many more users.