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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It's 56 years and counting!

30 May 1962 was a red letter day for 166 of us who embarked on a new journey in life. Although we started attending lectures on 4 June 1962, we had to register ourselves as medical students on 30 May. So, our professional careers in medicine really began that day.

Forget for a moment, the ceremony arranged by our honourable seniors to welcome us, and it was indeed an unforgettable day when young men and women from all parts of Sri Lanka converged on the Colombo Medical Faculty for registration as medical students. Although we had never met each other before (except those who entered from the same school), we lost no time in making new friends while at the same time, it was an occasion to meet old school friends whom we had not met for a long time.

As we approach this date, three of us (ND, Speedy and myself) have been working behind the scenes, planning to commemorate the event and pay tribute to our departed colleagues in a fitting manner. We encountered some difficulties initially as all planning had to be done while on travel, but thanks to modern communication technology, we successfully overcame whatever problems we faced. I am on holiday in the United States, Speedy was touring New Zealand and Australia and ND was in Bangkok. No wonder the blog looks empty right now! Access to the Internet and working with new equipment in unfamiliar territory were some of the problems. In the end, we have come out with the final product and we hope our batch colleagues in particular, will like what we have come up with.


A short note from Speedy:

Dear Friends,

As you read this special post, you will find that ND and Lucky have said what has to be said in their own inimitable styles. Suffice to say that this project was most worthwhile and yet again shows the value of the Blog which Lucky initiated. I find it hard to believe that it is over 50 years since we began this incredible journey.
Good luck and very best wishes,


In Memoriam

Remembrance Day - 30th May 2018
By Nihal (ND) Amerasekera MBBS(Cey) FRCP(UK) FRCR(London)

It was the Swinging Sixties. Memories of amber nectar, tall tales and late nights whizz around my head as I recall those years of long ago. Entry into the Faculty of Medicine was the culmination of years of preparation and sacrifice. We still had the security of home and our parents paid the bills. We dreamed it was a passport to fame and fortune. There was such a great sense of myopic optimism, we lost ourselves in the adulation. Life always has ways to bring us back to reality!!

The dreaded ‘rag’ began as we assembled at the Faculty for the registration on that fateful 30th day in May 1962. We were warned of this ordeal and arrived here in a fatalistic mood. Psychopaths and masochists rode the thermals, like vultures, blocking off the entrances and exits for us ‘hapless freshers’. Life in medicine for the one hundred and fifty students began on the 4th of June 1962.  The rag continued for a further two weeks as we commenced our course and there was more of it after the ‘Law-Medical’. After a sheltered life thus far, I watched with numbed disbelief this man’s inhumanity to man. Life at the ‘Block’ was a baptism of fire. Signatures, revisals and study filled our days and nights. The threat of having to ‘repeat’ generated a toxic atmosphere and furred up our coronaries. Dr SS Panditharatne expected much from us. Fortunately, Prof M.J Waas brought some anatomical humour to brighten up our lives. How can we ever forget what passes through the foramen magnum, apart from food!!Dr. Lester Jayawardene earned our respect as a great teacher and an encouraging mentor. Thankfully, such intensely stressful teaching methods and the ‘fanatical’  study of anatomy have now been consigned to history. Prof. A. A Hoover was a kind and dedicated teacher who showed us the ‘delights’ of the Krebs cycle.  Biochemistry had to be memorised. What was retained when we climbed down the stairs from the lectures evaporated  before we reached Kynsey Road. Prof A.C.E Koch and his colleagues gave us a good grounding with their fine lectures and tutorials. The acoustics of the Physiology lecture theatre were particularly resonant and the stamping that went on to appreciate the jokes brought jollity to our lives. Dr Carlo Fonseka did much to help us understand human physiology. Dr Valentine Basnayake was a kind man. His useful tutorials were held in a darkened room with all the curtains drawn. I’m unsure if this was due to his migraine or his desire for cave living in the 20th Century. It was simply too soporific!!

In the third and fourth years there was a plethora of subjects. These required hard study and a keen memory. All through the final 3 years, clinical work took precedence with endless clinical appointments and ward classes. We were such a diverse lot of scholars, saints and sinners. Despite the stress and the mayhem, Cupid stretched his bow and shot his arrows in the Faculty. There were many fizzing romances that bloomed and flourished whilst others faded and perished before our eyes. The trauma and hardship of the course brought us closer. Little groups and cliques formed within our batch. Some were from the same school, some lived near to each other and others studied together. Bloemfontein, Jeewaka and ‘Hopper house’ provided safe lodgings. Academics, sportsmen, musicians and the jolly types all mingled well to become friends. Friendships were made and firmed in the canteen and common room which was the social hub of the Faculty where laughter was endemic.

Although renowned for their la dolce vita and bohemian lifestyle, medical students’ life wasn’t a bed of roses. At home or hostel, trapped in solitary confinement, books remained our constant companion. Our bedrooms were cluttered with slips of paper, stacks of notes and piles of books. For the first 2 years, Cunningham’s Manuals became my pillow at night. They had muscle fibres stuck to them and some pages were glazed with human fat from the dissections. Samson Wright’s text book looked pristine but needed a degree in English to understand. Textbook of Physiology and Biochemistry by Bell, Davidson and Scarborough was a good door stopper. Muir’s textbook of Pathology required time and patience to comprehend of which I had neither. The late great Prof. G.H Cooray was meticulous. He had an air of gravitas that commanded respect. His comprehensive notes became the bedrock of my knowledge of Pathology. His mantra of rubor, calor, dolor, tumor and functio laesa will resonate in that lecture theatre forever. With their fine teaching, Prof S.R Kottegoda and Dr N.D.W Lionel had the remarkable ability to make that huge mass of knowledge interesting. But with the ravages of time what remains now is just anorexia, nausea and vomiting. We had a superbly written text book by D.R Laurence which was studded with laconic British humour to lighten the load. Forensic Medicine had tremendous appeal giving us hope to solve gruesome murders, like Sherlock Holmes. The textbook by Sydney Smith gave us a glimpse of the cloak and dagger world outside. The subject was well presented by the lectures of Prof HVJ Fernando and Dr Nandadasa Kodagoda. Such great emphasis was placed on McNaughten's rules of 1840. Although we appreciate its convoluted logic none of us ever used it in our working lives. Prof Dissanayake’s enthusiasm for Parasitology was infectious. We had a room full of students itching and scratching during those lectures. His superior knowledge, eloquent delivery and superb notes didn’t require any further reading. With his monotonous drone, the enigmatic Prof Terence Chapman taught an important but dull subject. Those who fell asleep in the warmth of the lecture theatre had to read Fairbrother's Textbook of Bacteriology. Dr JPT Jayasundera from the Medical Research Institute who had a Hitleresque moustache and a ‘distinguished’ limp supervised our laboratory work. I am reminded of those bacteriology practicals when the soups at home looked like Robertson’s cooked meat medium. Public Health lectures by Prof O.E.R Abhayaratne were light entertainment in memorable English prose laced with rhyming poetry. His cyclostyled notes (including all his jokes) were available for Rs.5.00 courtesy of the ‘Marker’. The Dean, with his large frame was naturally imposing and filled any room he entered. His kind avuncular manner endeared him to his students. His daughter, Rohini, was in our batch. Despite her high profile, she had no airs and graces and soon became one of us. Prof Earle De Fonseka inspired a generation of musicians as the Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka. But his lectures on statistics was no music to my ears. It just got in through one ear and left through the other, not much sticking in between. Prof Milroy Paul was a legend. His excellent common-sense approach to surgery made it all look so easy until I started reading Bailey & Love's Short Practice of Surgery. The book is an encyclopaedia that requires a crane to lift and an accessory brain to remember. Fortunately, Prof R.A Navaratne introduced us to the manageable Text Book of Surgery by Macfarlane and Thomas. He was a brilliant surgeon with a logical mind but his lectures were a prolonged mumble. The good Prof treated us with dignity, a rare commodity in those days. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine remained our Bible with practical help from the Clinical Methods by Hutchison and Hunter. Prof K.Rajasuriya was a dedicated teacher and an excellent clinician. He was a complex person of whom we knew so little except he was unpredictable and had a volcanic temper. I will also remember him for his compassion towards his patients and his succinct wit during that eventful two-month appointment. Obstetrics and Gynaecology certainly needed more than the proverbial two fingers. Prof D.A Ranasinghe was rather fastidious and impatient, making his appointment demanding. It was hard to fathom if his ‘side kick’ of a registrar was a help or a hindrance as I survived with unease and anxiety. The Professor’s teaching, Dr T. Viswanathan’s lectures and Ten Teachers textbook gave us a sound grounding to clear the hurdle of the Finals. The Faculty Library with its unmistakable smell of wisdom was the last resort to find those pearls of knowledge that had eluded me thus far. By some quirk of fate those yawning gaps in my knowledge had the remarkable ability to appear in the examinations.

The pernicious environment of medical education of the time was not for the faint-hearted. Insults, humiliation and verbal abuse that were doled out required a thick skin and broad shoulders. We tread cautiously and endured the arrogance and conceit in silence in the hope of better times. I will let you to imagine the consequences if any of us protested against the treatment we received. The monolithic establishment and the Faculty’s corridors of power conveniently turned a blind eye. With the passage of time, recriminations have disappeared and what remains is loyalty and respect. Despite the hardships and the privations, ours was the golden age of medical education. I still consider our Professors, lecturers and clinical tutors as some of the best in the world. They were dedicated teachers and were keen to impart their knowledge. I marvel at their clinical skills and recoil at their egotistical arrogance. We remember them all with gratitude. To me personally, Drs Wickrema Wijenaike, Ernie Peiris, D.J Attygalla and R.S Thanabalasundrum stood out as brilliant teachers of clinical medicine. Prof R.P Jayawardene with his effervescent personality made learning lively and fun. The ward classes of Dr Darell Weinman and George Ratnavale were rousing, motivational and pure theatre. They taught us the intricate logic of Neurology and the crisp craft of case presentation. I remember less of the surgeons but recall the brilliant ward classes of Drs PR Anthonis, K.G Jayasekera, LDC Austin, DF DeS Gunawardene and NAJ Niles. Being a brilliant comedian, on his ward rounds, Dr Niles’ side-splitting jokes brightened up our days. At the new Lady Ridgway Hospital Prof CC De Silva and Dr WJ Gomes introduced us to Paediatrics with courtesy and grace. Drs A.M Mendis and T. Viswanathan were excellent teachers. Their brilliant ward rounds and classes at the De Soysa Maternity Hospital were a pleasure minus that all too familiar culture of fear. Ours was a comprehensive training that included Ophthalmology, ENT, OPD and Orthopaedics. Haematology was brilliantly taught by Drs Willie Ratnavale from the Glass House and Doris Peiris from the GHC. Training in Venereal Diseases was done in a seedy corner of a dark alley near the GHC. It was conducted by Dr C.S Ratnatunge and Mrs. Indrani Jayawardene. They taught us everything we needed to know of the carnal desires and the heavy price of indiscretions. Chancres and chancroid grew like flowers on the offending organs. Perhaps it encouraged a generation of students to avoid those illicit pleasures of the flesh.

Away from the books and the Faculty bubble, there were many events and social functions. They helped us to bond. We started with the infamous Law-Medical match whose legend still lives on. Our Block Concert was an epic with unbridled erotic humour and sensational performances which have now entered the folklore of the Faculty. There was a large gathering of medical students at the Health Department Sports Club to listen to Prof. HVJ Fernando and Dr WDL Fernando, sing in forensic detail, the grim and grisly tale of  “the officers daughter who hanged and died”. Some of our clinical teachers gave us memorable dinners at the end of the appointments. One such dinner by Dr Oliver Medonza is fondly remembered for the sumptuous meal, plentiful booze and the spontaneous song by the late Tilak Dayaratne. This raised eyebrows and plenty of smiles inevitably livening up the occasion. Then there were the Public Health field trips to the Labugama reservoir and the smelly sewage works at Mattakkuliya. There were visits to the Mental Hospital at Angoda and also to the Infectious Diseases Hospital. Travelling together in groups was such great fun. We sang and danced at the memorable and raucous evening booze-ups in the Men’s Common Room. At these events, with his strumming guitar, The Dark Knight, JCF sang in graphic detail the itchy tale of “the dance of the phthirus pubis”. There was a Dance with greater elegance and grace held annually at the King George’s Hall of the University’s Science Faculty at Reid Avenue. We called it the Colours night. Amidst the glitz and the glamour, the compulsive beat of the Harold Seneviratne Combo lit up our amorphous yearnings!! It was that kind of night. We kept to the Faculty tradition of a Final Year Trip. As our coach was whining up the twists and bends of the central hills, Lucky Abey sang his own sensuous satirical version of the Seekers favourite “The Carnival is over”. It was a parody par excellence. We gathered in the Badulla HO’s quarters (called “The Igloo” which I am told has since been demolished). There, Lubber’s memorable performance took centre stage.  In the chill night-air he wore just his tie and nil else. When asked who he was, he said “I am Argyle Robertson’s pupil”. Even now, this legendary moment never fails to raise a smile. That was a fitting farewell which none of us will ever forget.

Although in the Faculty and in our own batch females were well represented, it was not so in the previous generations. The Faculty then was a Gentlemen’s Club and was changing, all but slowly. Despite the new-found freedom, hippie culture and the prevalent permissive society, compared to nowadays, the girls and boys lead separate lives. They cherished the old-fashioned concept of modesty. There were some gallant lads and liberal lasses who mixed freely. Many of the lads could just about pluck up courage for a wolf whistle from afar. The girls would have brought elegance, charm and glamour to the Men’s Common Room, the Law-Medical, “Block Nite” and the Final Year Trip. Their presence would have prevented the embarrassing excesses. When we were students, there were very few female consultants and senior lecturers. I recall just a few who were brilliant in their own fields - Drs Priyani Soysa, Stella de Silva, Rajeswary Rajakariar, Doris Peiris, Dr Mrs Yoganathan and Daphne Attygalla. We salute their intellectual brilliance, tenacity and courage.

Thus far, endless examinations and revisions had usurped our youth. After a gruelling five years we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. But there was a problem. We had to pass the demanding Final Year examination. The ‘Finals’ hit us like a typhoon. Its trauma was soon forgotten as we emerged as doctors in 1967. When the results were published, that was a defining moment. As the sunset on our student days, there was a new dawn of a career in Medicine. Although we left the Faculty it never really left us. After the brief year of internship we went our separate ways. While some remained in our motherland, others moved to the far corners of the globe. Then events intervened and the grim reality of getting on with life took over. Our careers, marriage and bringing up families usurped our energies. It gave us great satisfaction to see our own batch-mates reach the dizzy heights in their selected fields. The spotlight of success brought its own challenges. Time ticked on and decades passed swiftly.  Then our children flew the family nest. But we overcame that emptiness by immersing ourselves in the profession. After a lifetime in Medicine, retirement appeared in the horizon. The fateful day came all too soon. We bade a sad goodbye to our professional life for which we had worked so hard for so long. That was never easy.

Life and times and the profession has changed enormously. Laborious history taking is now a lost art. Pharmaceuticals, laboratory medicine and diagnostic imaging have made tremendous strides. Patient’s’ rights have come to the forefront. During our working lives despite the ructions caused by the human failings of greed, avarice and selfishness, thankfully, some of the niceties of doctoring has survived. We are now at the receiving end of healthcare. In our sunset years it is the friendships, family and medicines that sustain us. We are grateful for every hour of everyday. Time has stolen the life and the energy we possessed in our youth. Now our every action is taken over by gravity. We all have changed so much. The many reunions have brought us together giving us tremendous joy. Each reunion now is also a farewell for some. Those years in the Faculty have changed the course of our lives and helped make us who we are today.

Considering the quirks and achievements, our batch was unique. It was a phenomenon. The academic accomplishments and the professional success we see as we look around speaks for itself. Our cricketers have represented our country and have made an immense contribution to win the coveted Saravanamuttu Trophy during those glorious years in the Faculty.

Our unity was our great strength. Sadly, we have lost many friends along the way. Even now as we think of them, their faces, laughter and mannerisms come easily to mind. Those memories of our lives together in the Faculty will remain with us, always. Amidst others, we will continue to associate their memory with the iconic buildings of the Faculty of Medicine, the airy charm of the wards and the busy long corridors of the General Hospital, Colombo. The batch has decided to honour, salute and celebrate the lives of our ‘batch-mates’ who have now passed on. For this remembrance we have chosen when we first met officially at the registration on the 30th of May, 1962. Let the ‘Remembrance Day’ be a batch tradition and a date in our Calendar. It is our wish to publish a write-up, a poem or a piece of music with a list of friends who have gone before us. They are gone but will never be forgotten. We will remember them with dignity and respect, despite the years. Our hearts go out to their families who must live with the loss. We thank them for their contribution to life in the Faculty and for their services to their communities where they lived and worked. May they all find Eternal Peace.

Despite life’s vain tumults, none of us is here forever. Our time will come. This list below is an expanding catalogue and a work in progress. Now we are in the grip of events much of it beyond our control. Meanwhile, we must enjoy life, family and friends. Farewells, Reunions and Get-togethers are invaluable. Do make every attempt to keep in touch. Let this be a reminder to the last of our batch to leave this planet to switch off the lights and shut the door behind!!

''If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life,
your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

In Memoriam
  1. S.R. (Sunil) de Silva
  2. A.R.K. (Russel) Paul
  3. Dawne de Silva Paul
  4. Bernard Randeniya
  5. Niriella Chandrasiri
  6. V. Ganeson
  7. L.G.D.K. (Irwin) Herath
  8. V.Kunasingham
  9. B.L. Perera
  10. B. Somasunderam
  11. N.C.D.M. Gunasekara
  12. K.Sunderampillai
  13. Tudor Wickramarachchi
  14. K.N. (Kiththa) Wimalaratne
  15. Anna Ponnambalam Sathiagnanan
  16. A. Satchitananda
  17. N. Sivakumar
  18. T.A. Dayaratne
  19. Sidath Jayanetti
  20. N. Balakumar
  21. Kamali Nimalasuriya de Silva
  22. K. Sri Kantha – 15.9.13
  23. P. Lucien Perera – 14.6.14
  24. Priya (Gunaratna) de Silva – 8.10.14
  25. Arul (Sivaguru) Balasubramaniam – 15.10.14
  26. W. Punsiri Fernando – 15.11.14
  27. W. Rajasooriyar – 6.1.15
  28. M.P.C. Jaimon – 26.3.15
  29. S. Vedavanam – 1.7.15
  30. Farouk Mahmoud – 27.11.16
  31. Janaka (JG) Wijetunga – 13.03.17
  32. Manohari Navaratnarajah Shanmuganathan – 22.03.17
  33. D. B. Mahendra Collure – 31.05.17
  34. Suren Iyer – 13.10.17
  35. Sardha Jayatilake Wijeratne


  1. Dear Lucky speedy & ND what a brilliant idea to do a special piece to commemorate the 30th May. Indeed Each piece is superb and well thought through NDs piece is specially worthy of mention because he goes in to details graphic and otherwise reminding us of our teachers some better forgotten others remaining in our memories for ever.
    To think that many of our friends young and healthy ones have left this world is sad. That is th way of life
    Any way well done Lucky Speedy and ND truly enjoyed your writings
    Keep up the good work


    1. Pram
      How lovely to hear from you and to see you in the Blog. Please be a regular and make your valued comments. Look forward to seeing you in London. Thank you for your kind comments on our combines effort.

    2. Thanks Pram. It is lovely to see you on the Blog. Sadly,I shall miss you in London in JUne as I am away buy I hope some of us here in the UK will meet you.

  2. Three cheers for the brilliant literary masterpiece.It bring back the vivid memories of the arduous medical journey.Enjoy your holidays,folks and come back with more articles of interest.

    1. Sumathi
      Great to hear from you. We must meet sometime soon and like to hear your Brummy accent having being in Birmingham so long. Take care my friend until we meet again.

    2. Thank you very much ND for the very comprehensive memoriam. Thank you Lucky and Mahendra for initiating it. During our Final Year trip ,it was in Kurunegala that Lubber performed as Dr. Argyll Robertson. I should know as I was his pupil!

    3. Hi,Lama,
      Have you forgotten,your venture in search of a Wedamahattaya,for a cure for your tummy ache,and insearch of "BADU",following a bout of drinking.Did n't you end up running for your life.Good old friend Maheswaran bears witness to that event.I,well remember resuscitating Colla from his alcoholic intoxication.I was as sober as always been.

  3. Sanath
    I take your word for it. Ravages of time and the gallons and gallons of booze have taken its toll.

  4. So glad to see early comments and thank you. ND as always, produces literary gems. My role was to produce the photo montage with material I had and also provided by Lucky.

    Lama must be correct about Lubber as he was there in Kurunegala. Just shows how memories could be deceptive. I thought this happened in Matale! There is nothing really to add to ND's recollections but I must mention the Lady surgeon with the rather unfortunate initial, and name, C.Phyllis Costa, a female surgical pioneer. As a matter of interest, does anybody know the names of lady surgeons in our Batch? I know that Chirasri is an eye surgeon but any more?

    A bit of fantasy now. I would love to be given the opportunity of going back in time to perhaps the second year and sit for a lecture in the Physiology lecture theatre by Prof Koch! And..also, be at a Ward Class conducted by Wickrema Wijenaike.

    How the curriculum has changed over the years but we must not forget that the practice of Medicine has also changed vastly, as well as public perception and expectation and it was necessary to respond appropriately. Responding to change is a sine qua non.

    One other person I remember is Prof Fernando, our Forensic expert. He always reminded me of a Judge more than a Doctor. He had that disinterested "holy" look!

    ND spoke of Prof Navaratne as one who treated us with dignity and he is absolutely right. I found some of our past esteemed Teachers lacking in this and often felt that we were treated like errant school boys. I was very fond of Oliver Pieris as he treated us "with dignity". I have heard it said that some of us needed that sort of treatment and arr "grateful" to some of these Hitlerian Dictators but I beg to disagree, that is not the way to treat a budding doctor.

    Those were the days...............

  5. Mahendra
    Thanks pal. You’ve done a marvellous photo montage. It Brings back fond memories of our dear departed friends. Just can’t believe they are no more with us.

  6. Going back to old times and commenting on some of the comments, I don't think our Final Year trip took us to Matale. I remember visiting Kegalle, Ratnapura, Hatton, Kurunegala, Badulla. There may have been more, but I wouldn't have been in my senses!

    I don't think there were general surgeons, but I know that Chitra Perera is an OBGYN in Staten Island.

    As for for former teachers, I saw Dr. H.D. Weerasinghe's obituary recently. I am not sure whether you all remember him. He did Nutrition lectures and was in Public Health. He was a close relative of V.A. Hettiarachchi (Wal Hettiya) who was a GP in Dankotuwa. I tried but failed to contact him just before the last Reunion. As far as I know, only Professors Carlo Fonseka and Priyani Soysa are still living.

    I know that ND now takes only wine. We used at drink together on occasions, but didn't know that he consumed the stuff by the gallon!
    I remember at least two such occasions when we were students. One at Hikkaduwa and another at Tissera's uncle's place in Watapuluwa, Kandy.

    By the way, Nalin Nana must be in Toronto. One of his closest friends - SD Wickramasinghe who was in our junior batch, lost his wife a couple of days ago.

    1. Hi,Lucky,
      You were absolutely,right,We did not go far as Matale,in our final trip.Sorry to hear about DR>H>D>Weerasinghe's death.I remember Dr Weerasinghe's lecture on nutritional value of various food items,The lectures must have bored some of the students,but the substance stands true to-date.
      About ND's wine consumption,I wonder whether he is consuming red wine as it is know to be cardio-protective.I remember Prof Carlo Fonseka used to mention that beer is for gulping and wine is for sipping.I,still recollecting the events of our good old days in the Medical school.

    2. Lucky and Sumathi
      I wish I was a teetotaller as alcohol doesn't seem to do me any good anymore. The side effects outweigh the benefits. But still I drink a glass or 2 at the very most of white wine to keep company. Red wine despite its so called benefits profoundly discolours my teeth and gives me the hangover vulgaris. Lucky is right I never drank by the gallon ever and it was merely an exaggeration to stress a point. Enough said about my drinking - I am a bit surprised that this whole project is a remembrance of our departed friends and not many have commented on any of them although I'm certain there are many many happy anecdotes and memories.

  7. I think Ivy Fonseka (Microbiologist and HL de Silva's sister) is still around.

  8. Lucky, Mahen and ND- I appreciate the time and effort you have devoted to making this great idea come to fruition.Thank you.
    ND’s comprehensive synopsis of an adventure we embarked on while in our late teens reminds me of all the trials, joys and sorrows we have endured along the way as a batch. Let’s hope that those of us who are still around can keep in touch with each other through this blog that Lucky and Mahen have worked tirelessly to maintain.

    1. Rohini
      Thank you for the kind words and commenting despite your busy schedule

  9. As the Remembrance Day nears I must pay a tribute to my friend and confidante Bernard Randeniya alias Claude Bernard. I got to know him when I lived in Wattala and he in Averiwatte Road a short distance away. Bernard, Razaque and I travelled daily from Hunupitiya to Maradana by train that was packed to the roof. We also studied together. Bernard had a skirmish with the establishment very early on during his medical examination by Dr Alles in the darkened room of the Faculty’s Medical Officer. He wriggled and laughed out loud when his scrotum was examined. This annoyed Dr Alles and kicked him out of the room ending the examination abruptly. Bernard had that remarkable desire to laugh at the wrong moment, at lectures, ward classes and even during Prof Rajasuriya’s appoint. This brought him untold grief at times. We kept in touch after we qualified. I visited him when he was DMO Rattota, Near the Minneriya Tank in Public Health, Superintendent of Kalutara Hospital and Director of the Maharagama Cancer Institute. He and his wife Ranganee were wonderful host at all times and I was so pleased to have him in my home in Letchworth in Hertfordshire. His early demise and his wife’s death soon after were a sad loss. I still think of him often. Memories of our time together will always remain with me. Bernard’s loud gaffaw must still reverberate in the ether of the corridors of the faculty and the places where he worked and made a difference. I know his daughter is a doctor and would be grateful if anyone knew her contact details.
    May his Soul Rest In Peace.

  10. Nihal,
    I,too like to associate myself with your kind words about our good old fried "Claude".I still remember his laugh and sense humour.

    I,met him at his quarters,when he was posted to Sooriyawewa?Ambilipitiya as a regional Medical Officer-Anti-Malaria campaign.I am sure,I related this meeting on a previous blog.He told me his experience during a short spell of training in the far East(highly personnel)
    I,wondered whether his alcohol addiction took his life away.
    I,too wish him a happy afterlife.

  11. Sorry,Nihal,I have made two mistakes in the my comment.word friend has been entered as fried,personal has been typed as personnel.It was too late to delete or to correct before,publishing.This has been a problem with Google Account,certainly at times


    1. Sumathi
      Not to worry about trivia at this stage of our lives. Bernard was a fine doctor and a genuine friend. Glad you too remember him so fondly

    2. Hi,Nihal,
      Thank you for your comment.Do not fail to meet me at Edgbaston,before my Brummy accent disappear from my speech centre.I,have been in Birmingham from July 1979.Mosely was the first stop before moving onto Edgbaston.Cricket ground is only a mile away.I have been to cricket ground on few occasions,but not to watch cricket.I watch matches on telly.

  12. Dear Lucky, Speedy and Nihal a very Big Thank you for the effort you have made to create Remembrance day. I must confess that my eyes kept filling with tears as looked at the faces of our departed friends and fond memories kept flooding back.
    Dawne with her serene smile and Rapunzel like hair
    Kamali with her infectious laugh, super intelligence and humility never trying to show off.
    Priya with her sense of fun and sportsmanship. How well I remember the Table Tennis Tournament we had with Indian University Teams in Pera, culminating in the glamorous Colours Nite, Both of us were awarded All Varsity Colours. I got close to Priya as we were both enthusiastic members of the Organizing Committee our batch Reunions. What fun we had !
    Anna was my school mate so I knew her rather well. She was so unfortunate to contact some rare infection in Africa.
    Man and Arul both sweet and rather shy but warm in their friendship.
    There are several batchmates that I miss very much Ganesh with whom I had a special bond who made our reunions so enjoyable. I was so happy to be able to help his daughter at the Act 16 exam and later to select her as a Junior Doctor to Jayawardanepura Hospital
    Suren who I was so glad to meet at our last reunion. He was dancing non stop that night . It is hard to believe that he has left us
    Kunasingham with his shy smile who sat next to me for 2 years during physiology lectures
    Russel who was such a lovel person
    Jaimon, Sidath and Farook Mohamed who were in the same Clinical Group with me for many appointments
    The one and only "Claude " Bernard
    Chandrasiri Niriella with whom I was in touch as his son was a junior doctor at SJGH
    Herath who joined J pura and was trained in Anaesthesia by me. I had the privilege of being his Referee when he applied for a job abroad
    Punsiri with his gentle ways, Lucian a competant and caring Surgeon I used to refer patients to him when he was
    at Col South Teaching Hospital.
    J G who I managed to persuade to join my table for several SLMA dances

    Tudor Vedavanam and Kittha were also my friends though sitting so far from me we did not get much chance to interact.
    Their friendship enriched my life and I have so many fond memories of shared good times.

    1. Suri, thank you for these memories of our departed friends. I have added my own memories in a rather lengthy comment further down this post. I had to do it in two parts!

  13. Suri
    Thank you for remembering and writing about everyone who has gone before us. What I have written is just the preamble to our main business to remember our friends. Your contribution is worth it’s weight in gold

  14. ND. Thanks for appreciation of my art work producing the montage of departed colleague. As you know, I love doing this type of creative thing. It supplements your lovely remembrance article and Lucky's introductory comments. Glad to know that Sura and JC emailed you. Might I suggest that you email them back and ask them to post a comment!

    1. Mahen, Your photo montage did impress me . It certainly completed the post. Many thanks.

  15. I was so touched and impressed that Lucky, ND and Speedy have taken so much trouble and put in so much effort to organise this event to remember their dear colleagues who are no more.

    My congratulations to all three of you for this very thoughtful and considerate idea.

    Lucky thank for organising such an interesting blog.
    FSpeedy for the beautifully presented photographs of your departed colleagues.
    Last but not least ND for your brilliant piece of writing. It was a pleasure to read such a well formulated article covering all ground.

    My sincere thanks to all three of you for your valiant efforts.

    Warm Regards
    Dhushyanthi Vedavanam

    ND I hope I get to see you in the UK. My children too would like to meet you. They are both in the medical field and doing well.

    Sivakumar (Veda)must be smiling and and appreciating and thanking the three of you for the good work you have done. He was always a happy and contented person. He must be in a better place. We will be having his third almsgiving on the Poya day end of June. We always feel his presence with us on this occasion.
    Thank you again.

    1. Dear Dhushyanthi, I was deeply touched by your kind thoughts and reminded of my cheerful and cheeky colleague who never failed to see the funny side of things. I am so pleased to hear that your children are doing well. You must join us when we next have a mini reunion in London. Take care

    2. Dushyanthi
      Thank you for your kind comments and for being a part of our community. Veda was my friend all through medical school and then for 4 years in the Central Blood Bank Colombo. Despite his intelligence, education and wisdom he retained his childhood innocence which we all loved and respected. He was a wonderful friend to me during a period of turmoil in my life for which I am so very thankful. I have such fond memories of Veda enjoying a drink together in the Health Department Sports Club in Castle Street when we put the world to right. I wish we remained in touch in the UK but sadly that was not to be as we worked on our careers and brought up our children many hundred miles apart.
      It would indeed be a pleasure and a privilege to meet you and the children. I do have your email. Even as I write I see his smiling face.
      Take care

  16. ND, thank you very much again for the well written memoriam.
    Of those departed ,I woulld never ever forget Russell Paul. I have written about him earlier but please excuse me if I repeat myself. Although we were from the same school and same batch I really came to know him very closely when we shared a room for one whole year at Main Quarters during our internship at GHC, when we were co -interns with Prof. Rajasuriya. Post internship ,we were together again at the Chest Hospital, Welisara. When I joined LRH, he came to GHC to work with Prof. Rajasuriya. We studied together for the MRCP Part 1. His final words when he emmigrated was that his parents were living in a rented apartment at Duplication Road, although his father had been an academic all his life and that he did not want to do the same. JG was my bestman and I remember him for his eccentricities.

    1. I feel that I have not said enough about Russel . He was such an amazing person Such a brilliant mind. He topped the batch at the 2nd MBBS and was if I remember right was beaten only by Lama at the finals. But more than his cleverness ( always knowing the right answers at Ward Classes etc ) I remember him to be one who was always ready to give a helping hand. I remember how whenever I asked him to explain something to me he would put his books aside and take the trouble to patiently go thro the subject that I wanted even though he was studying something completely different .
      I also realized that I had not mentioned Sardha with her broad smile and kind ways. We were both Bride's maids for Kusuma's wedding. I used to be in touch with her till she tragically lost her teen age son from a spontanoeus ICH. She was the Chief Medical Officer at the Tyre Coopertatin at that time. She withdrew her contact from us, changed her address and though I did try hard failed to finf her new contact details. It is so sad that we were not even aware of her departure from this world.

    2. I agree Suri. He was a thorough gentleman. An intelligent and sensitive person. He also showed that getting in "first shy"to the Med Fac was not that important as a measure of success. He didn't, but what a great success he was! And Dawne- I always recall and associate her with Roshnara in the Block days. Sweet and elegant and well perfumed! Lovely person and so sad to hear how they both departed.

  17. I thought I must say something about Punsiri. I regained contact with him during his final years on Planet Earth and visited him at his home. He told me how much he missed his wife who sadly passed away a few years earlier. My visits were concerned with handing him stamps for his big collection. I used to post them to him but one lot went missing and the next time I physically handed them to him. He was with may of my "appointments" and "signatures" and had his well known unique sense of humour. May tales have been told including how he meekly raised his hand when "Lord" Burhan asked whether any of us knew the chief constituent of gas gangrene vaccine. The Lord said "I am glad that at lest one of your donkeys know the answer" and looking at Punsiri,he said "yes?". Punsiri replied "It is water sir, more than 90% water". This left Lord B speechless for a few moments. The secret of Punsiri humour was the deadpan delivery.
    Of course he went on to reach high professional heights as Director of the Anti-Malaria campaign.

  18. Ever wondered why Red-Letter day is so called? I thought Readers may find this excerpt from Wikipedia useful.

    A red letter day or called scarlet day in academia) is any day of special significance or opportunity. Its roots are in classical antiquity; for instance, important days are indicated in red in a calendar dating from the Roman Republic (509–27 BC).[In medieval manuscripts, initial capitals and highlighted words (known as rubrics) were written in red ink. The practice was continued after the invention of the printing press, including in Catholic liturgical books. The practice did not originate, as is often assumed, from Medieval church calendars or a requirement that important holy days be marked in red from First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, as has widely been claimed.
    On red letter days, judges of the English High Court (Queen's Bench Division) wear, at sittings of the Court of Law, their scarlet robes ). Also in the United Kingdom, other civil dates have been added to the original religious dates. These include anniversaries of the Monarch's birthday, official birthday, accession and coronation. In the universities of the UK, scarlet days are when doctors may wear their scarlet 'festal' or full dress gowns instead of their undress ('black') gown.
    In the medieval times, when the Church was very powerful, one of the ways in which the Christian festivals was asked to be highlighted in the calendars in the red colour. This started the process of marking events on calendars and seems to have begun from Europe and UK In Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong and South Korea and some Latin American countries, a public holiday is sometimes referred to as "red day" (rød dag, röd dag, as it is printed in red in calendars

  19. I have entirely forgotten about my friend and close mate,during the block days.Sundarampillai was on my right and Indrani Subramanium was on my left.We two were the dissection duo.He was a very reserved person,had occasional word or two with Yoga.Sundaram knew well about Yoga's family.As far as,dissections were concerned,I did the dissections almost all the time,he was the observer.I have been to his house,which was very closer the the Girls hostel and the nurses quarter,walking distance to the Faculty.I heard that Anton and a group of batch-mates invaded his home,on the Law-Medical match day.I,am not sure whether,the Alsatian-the guard dog suffered death on that occasion.We lost contact with each other,after our finals.He got referred at 2nd MB and lagged behind us.Later,on a visit to Colombo,I gathered,he was in General Practice in Kotahena area,ended his life after a tragic accident(collapse of the roof of the consultation room).He was successful in obtaining that prestigious Post-Grad degree-MRCP.
    Born,Hindu,I believe,he will attain Nirvana,slight different version of Buddhist-Nirvana.


  20. There are so many pleasant memories of our dear departed. Remember Satchy for his serious demeanour playing chess in the common room. He fell ill rather early and it was a prolonged illness. He lived his later years in Florida when we kept in touch discussing our common interest in Apple Computers and Classical music. Bobby Somasunderam organised a fine reunion at his home in UK in the 1990's. It was a fine boozy party that went on to the wee hours of the morning. Tilak Dayaratne often gave me a lift home to Nugegoda on his Moto Guzzi. On those occasions he rode very fast and I had to recite those prayers to St Christopher for a safe journey. He was a kind and generous person. DBM Collure lived on Pagoda Road Nugegoda and he too offered me lifts home in his Vespa. He was a quiet person with a dry sense of humour. We kept in touch for awhile when he was an anaesthetist in Gisbourne NZ but gradually the communications dried up. Priya Gunaratne, Rajasooriyar and Tudor Wickramaaratchi were with me in Kurunegala. Priya and I worked in Paediatrics together. She loved her work and was a fine colleague. I have such wonderful memories of her kind and gentle ways. Rajasooriyar was with me in the same HO's Quarters. Although a teetotaller He always kept some Paracetamol to treat our hangovers. I remember Tudor W for our lively evening parties when he sang those CT Fernando songs. He was a force of nature!! We met a few times in London and he was a Pathologist in Bristol.

  21. I must congratulate you Nihal on your comprehensive and beautifully written article. I remembered the time you worked at King's College , Denmark Hill. I was working as a Junior Registrar in Anaesthetics though I already had my Fellowship as I realized that was the only way to secure a Senior Registrar Post. My gamble payed off and I secured an SR post 9 months later. I remember one day one my collegues told me we met your husband working in the Radiology Dept. I said impossible he is a Lawyer.They could not believe that both of us were not linked having the same Sur name ! By a coincidence Mahendra also studied at Wesley College I think one year junior to you.

    I would like to add to your list of our teachers
    Prof Chammugam who had no idea who was in his Signature Group . We used to answer in a chorus and he signed any book that was thrust at him

    "Sweetie " Gunawardane also in the Anatomy Dept. I remember how boys who normally slink into the back row fight to sit in front and gaze at her mesmerised ,during her Tuturials.

    I remember the unforgettable Therapeutic Lectures given to us by Dr Wickrama Wijenaika.He was a brilliant Clinical Teacher as well.

    Dr E V Pieris with his subtle sense of humour. I recall how he remarked this patient has the Chelsea Flower Sign during a ward round. We were all puzzled cos we had never heard of it. While walking to the next bed he said You can grow all the flowers in the Chelsea Flower show in his umbilicus ! !

    Dr Wilson was a unique character. He used to do a ward round and auscultate patients, sometimes forgetting to pot the ear pieces in to his ears. When his House Officer timidly pointed this out, he scathingly remarked " I say what my neck hears today, your ears won't hear for a hundred years ! !

    Remember Dr Niles and his Classic Ward Classes. How he used to enact a Court Scene where the young doctor is called to give evidence in a fatal stab wound of the abdomen. He used to act the part of the defending Counsel and keep asking " doctor did you probe the wound ?' when you admit that you had the Counsel addresses the Bench and says " my Lord my Client is innocent . It is this young doctor who converted the non penetrating wound to a penetrating wound and he is the one who igguilty of murder !!!" Dr Niles went on to say that the accused was declared not guilty and the doctor charged for murder !!!. Its a lesson we never forgot

    I like to share an experience that the 4 girls securing direct entry to Medical College , had on that fateful fay 30th May 1962. Pram used to drive her own Peugeot suggsted taht we all go together in her car. So Malkanthie, Chandra and Myself joind her. She drove to Kynsey Rd and happily parked her car near the Clock Tower. We went in to regiter ourselves. Luckily for us Nalin Perera ( who was in the Senior Batch and one of Pram's friends) warned us that all 4 tyres of the car had been deflated , and some of Prams dresses that were in the car were being paraded by Blom Senior who were waiting to catch these Cheeky freshers who had the audacity to drive to college ! We escaped by sneaking out of the back door to Punci Borella !

  22. Suri
    Thank you for your kind comment. I don't know if it is telepathy or pure chance, I was planning to write in my next comment that we both worked at King's College and how surprised I was to see you walking those long corridors on a winters day. A greater surprise was when an anaesthetist who had come to the Radiology Department told me she knows my wife who is working with her. When I told her we were from the same year in the same medical school this seemed too much for her to take and she had to sit down. She was curious. "Is Amerasekera a common name". I said it is rare as hens' teeth!! (I was just joking). Unfortunately her bleep sounded and had to leave. I joined Kings in February 1977. It was a long journey for me from Wood Green in North London and wanted a move. I was fortunate to get a SR post at University College Hospital in 1979. The rest as they say is history. Dr MVP Peiris was a well known surgeon just before our time in the Faculty. His daughter was an SR in Dermatology at Kings.
    I remember Mahendra at school but know him only by sight.
    I am so pleased that you have decided to comment and contribute to our blog. One of my daily rituals is to read the Sri Lankan papers mostly the headlines. You have contributed to the newspapers some brilliant pieces of writing including some heart warming appreciations. One that stood out was your tribute to Randy Corea for his services to humanity and there was a flattering comment about his dancing. I can't recall if it was his baila gyrations or ballroom dancing.
    I too was sad to hear that Sardha had passed away and none of us knew for 3 years and she lost her teenage son. Parents never recover from the loss a child.


  23. Hi Nihal
    Yes I do remember Sandra who was a Dermatology SR at King's It was surely rare for 3 Sri Lankans to be at such a prestigious institution at the same time.

    I had commented about Randunna's Baila .His beautiful wife Nalini danced so well there was no beating them at the Baila Competition though Mahendra and I gave them a good fight. We have even copied one of Randunna's more provacative moves which we have dubbed the Randunna step !

    I wonder if you read what I wrote about Dr E V Pieris and our own dear Ganesh.

    I am trying to visit the blog on a regular basis time permitting . Having 6 grandchildren and being involved in their transport to school and supervising homework as well as still practicing anaesthesia certainly keeps me busy

    1. Suri
      I read your warm tributes to EVP and Ganesh
      Despite the 40+ years since the days at Kings College those memories are still fresh in my mind of sleepless nights, endless study and hard work. The World renowned Liver unit had that charismatic Roger Williams who didn't suffer fools gladly. The Director of Radiology was the President of the Royal College of Radiologists. The large dining hall served boiled cabbage, potatoes and carrots which reminds me of the chemistry book description of oxygen - tasteless and odourless and perhaps colourless too. There was a another Sri Lankan much senior to us who was in Public Health. We often chatted over lunch. I cannot now recall his name.
      It amazes me how swiftly time has passed!!
      Enjoy your school runs and anaesthesia.

    2. I too remember Prof PK Chanmugam. He was Emeritus Prof then and taught us embryology. It was a soporific subject. I am still ignorant of the subject. He often said "and it goes in that direction" Thats all I remember of the subject!! As for the man he was wonderful and kind.

    3. Oh yes I do remember the terrible food at King's Cottage Hospital ( as it was affectionatey dubbed). I also remember that they served Fish and Chips on Friday. I used to wear a sari as I helped Dr Charlie James to run the Pain Clinic and didn't have to change to theater scrubs. I remember Mr John Keats ( the Cardiothorasic Surgeon ) commenting you can tell its Friday beacuse " Kanti " is in a sari and they are seving fish and chips in the dining room.

      Can you remember the " bear pit) with the concealed door leading to the on call rooms ? The first night I was on duty I had run out to answer a "Crash Call" early hours of the morning and couldn't find my way back to the rest room ! Yes I do remember Roger Williams a rather awe inspiring person. Luckily I had very little to edo with him.

    4. I do remember John Keats and also the fish and chips on Fridays, a welcome change from the usual. We didnt use the on-call rooms. On Wednesdays the junior Radiology registrars had to collect the money to provide some wine and sandwiches for the rest of the radiology fraternity. How times have changed - having alcohol while at work!! Kings served me well. Although I hated the hierarchy I enjoyed the support and camaraderie. I was fortunate to have been spared the indignities of overt racism although there were issues that could have been dealt with better. Kings was considered one of the best places for radiology training and I was fortunate to be there. I couldn't have had better training. I'm sure you feel the same about your training.

    5. Yes I do consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been trained at King's. The guy at the main entrance thought I was Indian and remarked " we had a very pretty doctor from your country working here " He was referring to Rita Faria who was Miss World and given the opportunity to complete her Medical studies at Kings. I did have a couple of bad experiences .. One that stood out was how a patient refused to be treated by me when the Pain Team was visiting the wards. The Consultant Charlie James told her " She is the 2nd in command in my team if you don't want her to treat you sorry we cannot help you !! " I was rather touched by his stance and I told him " Its OK Sir, I will keep away " but he didn't change his decision. Another incident springs to mind. A junior registrar in Surgery was closing up an emergency laparotomy when the scrub nurse informed him that the swab count did not tally. He ignored her and continued to stitch. I told him to re open and check for swabs. He rudely told me to mind my own buisiness and said I know what I am doing! I told him very politely to at least take an X ray post op . He glared at me muttering about coloured 3rd world doctors ! Next day I found out that he had not taken an X ray and I used my clout as an SR to get it done .. which proved that a swab had been left behind !

    6. Damn good,Suri,you made him to eat his humble pie.In seventy&eighty,almost all the British(White)were very arrogant and never listen to what we have to say.They,thought were were there to listen and learn from them.I remember my own boss at Ratnapura telling me an incidence,while he was working in Edinburgh for his Membership.
      WAS.Silva was my boss.He had diagnosed an amoebic abscess in a patient and gave the diagnosis to his Medical Registrar.Registrar paid no heed and went onto do a scan.Scan confirmed an abscess.I,have no idea whether the Registrar had to eat his own pie.


  24. I came to know Randunne when I spent sabbatical leave in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s. I remember their twin daughters and son Gemunu very well. One of the girls married JG Wijetunge's brother's son ,and they reside in England.I am in touch with Nalini.

    1. Sanath
      I remember Randy Corea as a Thomian preparing for the medical entrance, through my family connections but never met him after. I know he was in the first batch at Peradeniya. When I did locums in Jeddah I was told he too was in the Kingdom.

      Lubber is pleased to have made contact with Yourself and Nana. We have agreed to meet in London when he visits this Summer. Watch this space!!

      I too remember fondly Russell Paul who was a gentle person and ever so helpful and kind. Dawne was with me for the appointments and ward classes all through the 5 years. She was always so elegantly dressed and always so friendly. Dawne arrived daily in a chauffeur driven blue Holden car. I feel such sadness for their tragic deaths. May they find eternal peace.

      JG was my relative. I met him in the UK too just by chance. A thorough gentleman, always. I met him once at Revo's when we had lunch together with Manik De Silva (Sunna's brother) JG was too nice a person to leave us as he did.

    2. Randy was my colleague in the OPD at Colombo South Hospital around 1969. He owned a light blue Austin Healey Sprite at that time. His fiancee was Nalini Hope whose brothers were well know boxers at St. Sylvester's, Kandy. Nalini used to work at Walter Jayasinghe's surgery at Allan Avenue. It was because of Walter's friendship with Randy that got Nalini employment there.

      After Randy returned from Saudi, he was Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at SJH Kotte and had a reputation for spinal surgery. It is a pity that he passed away so early in life.

    3. Hi Lucky, Randunna really wanted to return to Sri Lanka , and work and as his special interest was spinal surgery .He wanted to set up a spinal unit with a link to UK so that we could have the benefit of visiting experts. But he was asked to sit for the MS Part II exam !!!. He declined and volunteered his services free gratis . He got permission from the President to initiate corrective surgery for Scoliosis .These were done at Sri Jayawardanepura . I was his anaesthetist. Dr D D Ranasingha gave permission to admit the patients to his ward. Most of the surgery was done out of normal working hours. I remember our first patient a pretty teenager from Wellawatta. We performed over 100 surgeries for Scoliosis but it took a long time as they were done only when Randunna came home for holidays frojm Saudi. He also did other complex ortho surgery. I really enjoyed working with him he was always so meticulous and his fund of jokes kept us amused.

      He also had a passion for farming and loved his coconut estate in Marawila and would often gift us with the subsidiary crops of Papaya and Mangoes.

  25. Thank you ND for your feedback with which I agree totally. Please keep in touch .

  26. (Part 1) Thank you Lucky, Nihal and Mahen for coming up with this “Remembrance Day” idea to honor our friends, colleagues and teachers, who have left us. Nihal, I am impressed at your accurate recollection of names and places. Thank you for your beautiful essay. Mahen, thank you, for the artistic photomontage! You have inspired me to write a long comment.
    I have fond memories of most of our teachers in Medical College. They had a certain stature that may not exist among the faculty today. The clinical skills taught by the likes of Dr. Wijenaike and Ernie Pieris will never be forgotten.
    Reading about our departed classmates was sad but also brought back some very fond memories. I had only minimal contact with some – just a hello in the hallways between lectures and perhaps longer conversations at our reunions. I do want to share some memories of those who were my friends in Medical College and those with whom I had the good fortune to maintain contact after Medical College.
    I had the best sidekick (literally) in V. Ganesan, who sat next to me during all our lectures. He was always cheerful and funny and added some well-needed levity during our more dreary lectures. He also took on the role of my protector, on the rare occasion when I needed one! I met him on several occasions after we graduated, at JC and Sura’s as well as at some of our reunions. It was a complete shock to me when I heard of his death because I had no idea that he had been sick.
    I enjoyed Tilak Dayaratne’s and Suren Iyer’s jokes in Medical College, but sadly lost touch with Tilak after we graduated. I met Suren a few times at reunions including the very last one that he attended in 2017. I am glad that I was able to spend time with him and Srini at that very enjoyable reunion.
    Kamali Nimalasuriya was another person whose company I enjoyed in Medical College. She left for Australia and I left for the U.S. and we lost contact. I was delighted to see her again in at our reunion in 2012. Sadly, a few months after that, she was gone.
    I didn’t know Anna Ponnambalam very well in Medical College, but got to know her a bit when I sat beside her on a bus ride at one of our reunions. She told me a little bit about her time in Africa and how she was volunteering at a clinic in Colombo.
    JG and Collure were among our classmates who were with me in Ratnapura. They were fun to have around in the house-officers’ quarters. I had known JG’s family for a long time because of my friendship with his sister, and was saddened to learn of his long incapacitating illness.
    I had an unexpected reconnection with Sardha Jayatilleke at her sister’s home in Massachusetts, USA, many years ago. I had known her sister Ranee prior to that for a long time, but had no idea that she was Sardha’s sister. I was so sorry to hear of her son’s death and also to learn of Sardha’s own death of which we had been unaware.
    Manohari was a gentle soul who had also been my classmate at Ladies’ College. She was reserved, dignified and quiet. Unfortunately, we lost contact with each other after we graduated and ended up in two different countries.
    Priya Gunaratne was a shining star in my eyes! She had that radiant smile that lit up her face. She coped with her illness in a very matter of fact manner for many years, and never complained. She was in the 2012 Reunion Committee and kept busy until her final downward turn. I felt fortunate to have had time with her during those last years.
    (to be continued...) Srianee Dias

    1. Sardha had been a wrecked person after she lost her only son. I didn't know her that well but heard that she is a brother of singer Badhraji Jayatilake who lives in LA but appears on SL TV when in SL. I also heard that she worked at the Tyre Corporation some years ago.

      I have to make this comment about Priya. She fought with her illness bravely for a long time. It was after the Habarana Reunion in 2007 in which she and Swyrie were in the forefront in organising, that I took over her job. Despite her illness, she served in the Org Com when we worked on the Hikkaduwa Reunion in 2012. We missed her during our 50th Anniversary Reunion held in Negombo.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts about Sardha and Priya. I am sorry that Sardha withdrew and was not even in touch with her friend Kusuma after she lost her son. Priya will always be missed when we get together. I am glad that her husband Chula stays in touch with some of the friends.

  27. continuing...(Part 2)
    Sunna (Sunil de Silva), Kiththa Wimalaratne, Satchithanandan and Sidath Jayanetti were among the many who ended up in the U.S, with me. I met Sidath on many occasions after Medical College and Ratnapura, because he and his wife often came to events in the New York City area.
    Sunna kept in close touch until he moved away from the northeastern U.S. Once, on a busy day during my residency, I got a call from Sunna who was on his way home to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he was working at the time. He had stopped at Norwalk Hospital, in Connecticut, where I was working, and was calling me from the coffee shop downstairs! Of course, I stopped whatever I was doing and dashed down to have coffee with him. I still remember vividly the night I got the news that he had been killed in an accident. There was a frightening thunderstorm adding to my distress and I was unable to get any sleep that night. I think Kiththa’s death also occurred very soon after Sunna’s. It was a very sad time for us.
    Satchi was very helpful when my older daughter was diagnosed with a congenital renal pyelo-pelvic obstruction. She was about 2 years old. He arranged for us to consult one of the best pediatric urologists in the area, Dr. Keith Waterhouse, who repaired the obstruction successfully. The day before she was admitted for surgery I was terrified (I think at the time I thought that she was going to have a nephrectomy!) I remember speaking on the phone with Dawn who had just arrived in NYC with Russell Paul and was staying with Lucky and Ruvini Weerasooriya. I was telling her about the impending surgery and burst into tears! Dawn, in her unique gentle way comforted me. It was sad that when Dawn and Russell were going through their own difficulties that they didn’t reach out to anyone.
    As I am writing this I realize how important friends are, especially as we grow older. Again, many thanks to those who make valiant efforts to keep us connected, keep the Blog afloat and organize reunions. Some of them (like Swyrie) don’t make comments on the Blog. Nevertheless, we are grateful to all of you, for your efforts.
    Srianee Dias

  28. Sriani
    I need a moment of quiet reflection to take in what you have written with such great feeling, warmth and emotion. The sheer uncertainty of life, at any age, reminds me that life is but a candle in the wind. It is not sadness that overcomes me now but of the awesome force of destiny that has touched our lives so randomly. I am ever so grateful for the many friends who have been in my life. They too have contributed to make me who I am today.
    The time for grief is now long past. On Remembrance Day I will celebrate the lives of those who have left us spending sometime seated in the flower gardens of Regent's Park, now in full bloom, listening to the piano music of one of my favourite composers, Debussy. Mahendra's Photomontage will be a great reminder of all whom we have lost.
    May they find Eternal Peace.

  29. Thanks Nihal, I agree with everything that you have said. I shall also find a quiet, beautiful place on Remembrance Day to think about our friends. I'm thinking of Elizabeth Park nearby, where I sometimes go for walks. In the US, Memorial Day is the last Monday in May. It is often a day when war memorials are visited and wreaths are laid on graves and so on. It is also a day when we traditionally welcome summer. No signs of that yet! Is Remembrance Day a British holiday?

  30. Sriani
    Remembrance Day for the war dead in the UK is the 11th day of the eleventh month. It is not a public holiday but we are expected to observe a minutes silence at 11am. It helps to collect our thoughts and pay our respects for the ultimate sacrifice they have made so that we could be free.

  31. Lucky, I applaud your relentless efforts to keep the Blog going. I am guilty of not having contributed to the Blog, but, I try to read most of the postings. I have lost contact with most of my colleagues, since leaving for US. Life got in the way and that prevented me from attending some of the reunions. However, I was able to follow them through the photos that you posted on the Blog.
    I certainly appreciate you, Speedy and ND for creating the Remembrance Day - May, 30. 1962. Speedy, the photo montage was spot on. This certainly brings back memories of our departed colleagues. ‘Claude’ Bernhard was a good friend and I enjoyed his sense of humor and the mystical smile. I was saddened by his early departure. Farouk is the other person I was close to and I remember Farouk, Indra and Lalantha joining me in cramming for the finals. Farouk was alway a gentleman and I miss him.
    Punsiri joined a bunch of of us in the second year recess to do some hitch hiking up country and we enjoyed his professorial look with his wry humor. One that stands out is that at a family wedding he could not accommodate all the attendees in the box camera viewer and he came up with an idea that if all the people moved from left to right in unison while he was clicking the camera. This is one of many such jokes I remember. May his soul Rest In Peace.
    Ganeson was an iternal compromiser and the last time I met him was in California in 1987 reunion. I learned about his heart issues. Soma was a long time friend of mine and he was a happy go lucky gentleman who loved partying. I learned of his departure from my sister, Indrani. Tudor was in Kurunagale during internship and I remember the ‘wild’ parties. He was genuinely a good hearted person. As for Veda, I could not agree more with ND. He certainly had a sense of innocence
    ND, you deserve a special commendation for your in depth compilation of events during our medical sojourn. Thank you for recapping all our ‘Tutors’ and their idiosyncrasies

    1. Bala, it was indeed a most pleasant surprise to see you commenting on the Blog. It reinforced my feeling that many of our colleagues do access the blog without commenting. I am told that our Blog is one of the most visited and commented batch blogs. I look forward to more comments in the future and once again I offer my services to anybody who would like to comment or post articles. Just send me an email with whatever observations or points you have and I shall make it into a post which I will first send back to the person for approval and then send to Lucky for posting.

    2. Hi Bala
      How wonderful to hear from you and thank you for the kind words. I do remember those days of wine and roses at Kurunegala and the raucous parties late into the night. There always were the little niggles between the Ambaruk Sevana and the other HO's Quarters but it never amounted to much. I recall with great nostalgia Tudor W, Derrick De Silva and Sidath Jayanetti and the many others who made it more than a home for us.
      Bala, please try and communicate with us through the blog in these last few laps of our journey. Meanwhile take care and enjoy life.

    3. Hi Nihal, I worked at at Kurunegala as a Junior anaesthetist in 1972 Long after you lot gad departed. I dubbed the quarters " Nari Ruk Sevana" because they used to whistle and cat call when ever I walked past it on my way to the hospital from the house I was boarded in down Jayanthipura Mawata.( I was boarded with the Buells who had a Play School) I was not scared of them as I was senior to most , and whenever I stopped to try to identify who was making the racket they used to duck behind the half wall on the verandah ! Kurunegala was a lovely station to work in , people all so friendly , and any excuse for a party !

  32. Please access today's Sunday Island Newspaper. There is a news item regarding this posting

  33. This is the link to Lucky's article in the Sunday Island.

  34. Having read all the comments so far, I wish to make one more comment.

    I agree with Speedy that many viewers do visit the blog but rarely if ever comment on a post due to a variety of reasons. I already knew that Bala is very familiar with computers but comments selectively. Thank you Speedy for offering to assistothers who wish to comment but are unable to do so probably because they don't know how to.

    As expected, this particular post has generated a record number of comments (59) and that our blog has been bombarded with a record number of "hits" (1,056,969).

    ND should be mindful that we have two Sriyanis (or Srianees)- Fernando and Dissanayake who are both regular blog enthusiasts.

    Let us all continue this as long as possible.

    1. Hi,Lucky,
      In the 21st century,almost all of us should know how to send and reply to emails.I learn the hard way to contribute to the blog column.Friends in the States should do better than us.I,am sure the two Srianees are having a break.


    2. Sumathi. One Srianee (the Bunter variety), is not as she has contributed (you need to scroll upwards). The other Sriani does comment from time to time and indeed has posted also.

      My own feeling is that as time passes and the "river of life" flows over increasingly new areas, the desire to look back at old territory gets less and less. "Moving on", as they say, and interest dwindles down from interest in all Batch colleagues to only those with whom you are in contact either through friendship or through geographical proximity.I think this is very natural.

  35. UK, USA and SriLanka (in that order) are leading the race in the number of pageviews right now. With 63 comments, this post is now leading the field in the Most Popular Post".

  36. I missed my chance of paying tribute to some of my friends and batch mates who left this world prematurely.
    JG,was not only a batch-mate,but also a bridge player during our Medical student days.Sirry,JG and myself played bridge at Sirry's(Cassim) and JG place on several occasions.He was my room-mate during our intern period at Ratnapura.Among a contingent of 12(first largest group)in the history of Group of doctors in the history of Ratnapura,General,were,late,Colla,Lucien and Sidat. .Kithsiri,Jaima were,late arrivals.JG,alone with Ranjith Dambawinna,visited me at Birmingham,when JG was working in Wolverhampton.Soma(Bobby),was in my Anatomy signature group.He used to rattle off non stop to all the questions thrown at him by the Demontraters.It was a surprise,when he got referred at the 2nd MB.Since departing after the finals,I encountered Soma at Malaria training course,at Kurunegala.
    I gathered,subsequently,he was enrolled in higher training in Psychiatry.He,later got a job in Leighton hospital in Cheshire.He came with his family to offer alms in memory of 1st son's tragic death.He stayed overnight with us on that occasion.I also remember meeting him at Susil Attale's house prior to his visit to Birmingham.
    BL,known to some as BAL,was close friend during Medical school.I met his after we have graduated,once in Nugegoda.I was taken to his wife's home at Nugegoda and enjoyed a meal.
    I,met him again when he was working as a GP in Birmingham.We visited each others homes on several occasions.He and his family left West Bromwich,where his house was; and settled down in Scotland,when his health had deteriorated and succumb to ultimate death.
    Colla,I met after our internship in early 1980,at Medical school canteen.He had return after his fellowship and was working in Colombo general.I have contacted him,via email about an year ago,before his death.
    Lucien,had been a close friend during Medical student days and also during our internship.I met him on a later occasion,when he was a Surgeon at Colombo South hospital.
    Sidat,I never met after our intern period.Jaima and KIthsiri joined us later at Ratnapura.They were close friends during the Medical student days.
    Srikantha,was a contemporary Bloemite and also in the same Anatomy signature group.He was a joker and did not do well at signatures.I had the opportunity of meeting him again in Birmingham,when he was an SR in Anaesthesia.I,still remember his speech at the 25th Anniversary,held in London.
    Didn't he do well in America(failures are pillars of success.Booby(Soma),too was in the same boat and was an Examiner for Membership in Psychiatry.
    May,all of them,enjoy afterlife.


    1. Hi Sumathi
      You are so right about Srikantha I think we all remember his classic answers at Signatures.... When asked how much Potassium is there in the body he put he put his thumb and fore finger together and said "this much sir ! " and again at an anatomy Signature when asked to trace the course of the Ulnar nerve ... he said "it comes up to here and then it goes that way "... when the demonstrator looked horrified he said "no no it goes this way! !" He really had a great sense of humour. I wasn't aware that he too had specialised in Anaesthesia. Suri

    2. Hi,Suri,
      I am glad that you have read my blog.Our good old mate,Srikantha had two nicknames,Cossack and Norman.
      His appearance and the behaviour was bit similar to Norman Wisdom.How,he got the nickname Cossack,heaven only knows.He had a companion,called Sivarajasingham-Senior to us.Both them used to come late at night and after finishing the dinner,went on a spree of smashing the plates.Prof.Ranaya was our warden at that time.Srikantha and his cham got away scot free.No one had the courage to take them for their misbehaviour.Sivarajasingham was big lad but. he was a very gentle soul,when sober.
      We,had very enjoyable time,in spite of silly behaviours of a few lads.I,later heard that Sivarajasingham became a teetotaller after his marriage.Srikantha,married a sister of another good friend of mine.He,told me that Srikantha too followed suit.
      This information is no disrespect to two colleagues I have known for years.I,certainly was good friend of both during three years in Bloem hostel.


  37. Hello to all my colleagues. If you have any special poems, sayings, quotes, pictures or photos suitable for Remembrance day, please send them to me and I shall compile them and send to Lucky for posting. Suri has already sent me a lovely poem, two in fact!

    1. Thanks Speedy for posting what I sent in. Whatever our religious beliefs may be, we all believe that death is not the end of the road but a new beginning. We defer in what what we believe what form that existence will be. I hope you will post the Tagore poem I sent in as well. I think that is so beautiful Suri

    2. Suri, this is just right for the times we live in. I have added a picture and sent to Lucky who no doubt will post it.

    3. hi Sppedy Thank you for posting the Tagore Poem I sent in You take so much trouble to make the presentation artistic.
      I just love this poem in fact I have told Manique and Shaan ( much to their consternation) that if they ever have a Memorial service for me, to get it printed.

    4. Sorry for mis spelling your name Speedy Please forgive me

  38. Suri,
    Your choice of the Tagore poem is amazing . Thank you.
    Srikantha, trained in anesthesia in the UK and then chronic pain management, before crossing the big pond to the USA. He practiced in New Jersey, the state adjacent to New York so I had the opportunity to meet him several times. He had to be one of the earliest to get into chronic pain management. I believe his daughter is in the same field too.
    He became quite a serious man in his years in the US staying focused on work and finances.
    As for Russel he was an exceptional person, always fair, clear headed, exceptional student.
    How he was failed in zoology and had to go through the six months course is difficult fathom. Somehow I have no faith in the essay type of questions and answers we had at that time. It is an effort to go through each and every answer and how can the examiner be fair minded and remember the answers read a week or two ago in comparison with one that is read today.
    I really got to know Lucien during internship. Nice man.
    I had Soma's son ( interested in psychiatry ) for a couple of weeks in NY, visiting Coney island hospital at that time.
    Again Mahendra Collure I really got to know well as an intern, he had a subtle sense of humor, an ability to design things decorative.
    There was one year he came visiting in Colombo,when i happened to be there, having just returned from the UK with his Fellowship and appointed to the NSU, at GHC.
    We visited him in Gisbourne, NZ several years later where he and his wife were great hosts.


  39. Hi Everybody I am sure most of us spent some time on the 30th May thinking of our dear departed batch mates remembering the good and bad times we shared.

    I read Nihal's article for the second time and it was really great going down memory lane . Hats off to you Nihal on your heart warming masterpiece.
    However I want to point out that your comment on the lack of participation of the girls in some events like the Law Medical and Block Nite is not quite accurate. We did attend the Law Medical ( though of course we did not get drunk)

    To digress I remember Prof Koch giving a lecture on the 7 "D" s of drinking complete with slides that morning . Someone released a white cock bird from the back in the Physiology Lecture Theater and Prof was NOT amused! I have been trying to recall the 7 stages and only been able to come up with Devilish and Delightful, ....... and Disgusting , and the last one Dead Drunk. I even contacted Prof Colvin Gunaratne , but he too could not remember .

    I distinctly remember that we had to wear a Black blouse and a White Sari for the match and the Law girls wore Red blouses and white Sari's. The poster parade was very entertaining with the censored posters being cheekily displayed.

    I remember our first "Block Nite"very vividly. I even remember the sari I wore. We were sitting outside the boys common room when I heard the sound of a familiar song I innocently remarked "They are singing a song I really like ". Every body sitting in our circle gave me strange looks. It was only then I listened to the words and realized to my horror that the version of Sweet Violets was extremely naughty !


    1. Suri, you have a good memory of all the stupid things we were "forced" to do! I remember wearing a mismatched sari and blouse (blue and green, I think) with tennis shoes, during rag-week. I came by bus from Wellawatte wearing this! I think we also had to wear a flower in our hair, but I don't think I wore that on the bus.
      Now about the Seven D's of alcohol ingestion, I found it somewhere and have it posted on my fridge! Here it goes, with the blood alcohol percentages:
      Dull and Dignified (< 0.03)
      Dashing and Debonair (0.05)
      Dangerous and Devilish (0.10)
      Dizzy and Disturbing (0.20)
      Disgusting and Disheveled (0.25)
      Dead Drunk (0.35)
      DEAD (0.60)
      My granddaughter saw this and asked "Can you really die?" I guess I got my message across to one person!

    2. Thanks Bunter for filling the blanks but I think Prof had changed it a bit.
      I too remember the green sari an blue blouse we had to wear for the rag.I remember feeling very shy to wear mismatching colours, using public transport. The funny thing is that this combination is very fashionable now . In fact I have a couple of saris teaming Vishnu blue and emerald green !

    3. Hi,Suri,
      The batch-mate who brought and released the white cock was no one but our own Yoga.I saw with my own eyes the whole scene.I was in the last row in the lecture theatre.Yoga was last one in the row.
      Good old memories will never fade easily.


  40. I've been reading all your comments and reminiscences about our departed friends, and our time together so long ago. On May 30th I did find a quiet spot in a park nearby to think about them. My thoughts kept going back to Sunna, and remembered visiting him with my family when he was in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I remembered that he played an album (LP!) for us by a singer named Buffy Sainte Marie. She is Native American and her songs have anti-war themes. I thought I should listen to something sung by her in honor of Sunna. I was pleasantly surprised when I found some on Apple Music and was able to listen right there in the park! Oh, the magic of technology, and I have been knocking it quite a bit! I particularly like one that is titled "Universal Soldier." Some of you might enjoy it.

  41. SORRY guys I had gone AWOL for awhile. Nothing serious, I am still alive and.... just about well.
    Now that I have bounced back, promise not to go AWOL again.... till the next time!!
    Suri, the poem by Tajore is something that we all should be aware as "life is such"!!We are never gone,only still imprinted in our memories indelibly.
    As for all mates who have passed on I was closest to Russell since our 6Month Course days. We have had some very jolly times at my place along with several of our then mates playing Bridge consuming toddy and enjoying my Mum's cooking. R & I used to go to Gampaha to visit Waidyaratne, (went to Pera.) and now in NZ where I moved very closely. Going to Wadya's, was on RUS.'S lambretta... me on the pillion!!... what a sight that was??
    Right through my school days I knew Bernard very well indeed. What ND has said I shall not repeat.
    As for all those departed batchmates may I say Rest in Peace -- till we meet again in our afterlife. That will be something to look forward to.