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Saturday, June 2, 2018

More on Birthdays

What prompted me to write this brief article was the series of comments following the publication of Sarva's official Obituary.

When I compiled the Batch Directory, I had to leave out the dates of birth for obvious reasons. Firstly, you will recall that I got your consent before placing the information in the public domain. Some gave their consent and some did not. That explains why there are so many gaps, missing information etc. Moreover, I had to restrict such information to a bare minimum due to lack of space.
But it is a pity that all members are not making use of it. I get so many e-mails and telephone calls to get members' contact information. That is okay and I always oblige. But what you can do is to archive the document for future reference. I always try to update it whenever new information comes in. In fact, I will shortly post the updated Directory on this blog's "Latest News" section. All you have to do then will be to look it up on the blog.

Going back to the subject proper now that it has been opened up (particularly the discussion on who the youngest in the batch is) I shall try to write a few words. I must confess at the outset that this information may not be accurate and I am recalling from memory what I know. As in any medical batch, we had members whose dates of birth ranged from 1936 to 1944. Those who were born in 1944 are obviously the youngest. I can count them based purely on information that falls into my lap: Mahendra Gonsalkorale, Suriyakanthi Karunaratne Amarasekera, Srianee Dias Fernando, Virginia Swan de Vos, Manohari Navaratnarajah Shanmuganathan, Ravi Nadarajah, Padmini Karunanayake Wijeratne. I doubt very much that Vedavanam was born in 1944. I think it was 1943.

In my opinion, I must also add that being born in the 1930s is nothing to be ashamed of. It shows their perseverance, dedication and determination to enter the medical profession. I know of some who had no choice but to seek employment for a short period prior to embarking on a medical career because their families simply could not afford to put them through medical school. On the contrary, such individuals should be admired and cheered all the way.

I was born at the tail end of 1941 and I wish to explain very briefly why I happen to belong to the middle categories. I had already lost three solid years when I finally entered the Medical Faculty along with you all in June 1962. Until December 1956, I had breezed through all exams. But I failed to get five credits at one and the same examination which was the December 1956 Senior School Certificate (SSC) exam. That was also the last batch of students whose medium of instruction in all schools was compulsorily English. We had to do mathematics, all science subjects and even Buddhism in English.

According to prevailing rules, students could still continue in the bio stream (or incorrectly termed "medicine") if he or she managed to get four credits and get the fifth at a subsequent exam. I got the required five credits at the very next exam which was held in July 1957, but by then, I had already lost an year. Thus, I ended up in the HSC (Lower VI) in January 1958 to prepare for the University Entrance exam in December 1959. Further disaster was to follow because I got passes only in Botany and Zoology. Another year was lost! I repeated the exam in December 1960, but only to follow the so called 6 months course at the Science Faculty starting June 1961. Incidentally, the six months course that we followed was to be the last. All successful candidates  were admitted "Direct" to the Medical Faculty from June 1963. By that time I had lost three years. Had I passed all examinations in one shot, I would have graduated in March 1964.

During our time as medical students from 1962 to 1967, there were many 21st birthday parties, especially those of females. Carefully screened "boys" were invited  to some of these parties, but they were attended mainly by close friends of the birthday girl concerned. Although I did not attend any of these parties, my bosom pal Sunil Abeysuriya used to give me a ball by ball commentary of the event because his sister Sura attended most of them. That way, I was always kept updated with the latest gossip and so called inside stories circulating in the batch.

Now dear friends, I have a feeling that you have been itching to say something while reading through the above article. So, now you have the opportunity to make unlimited comments in the appropriate place.


  1. Thanks Lucky for your thoughtful posting. I totally agree with your comments of the both ends of the age groups of our batch. It does mot matter jot. Circumstances and events in one's life play a great part in the final out come of every path they take with ups & downs of life. What is most important is to enjoy the fact that the hand of fate has brought us together into one group , one family ie. OUR BATCH @ MED.SCHOOL. Like all families siblings vary in age... having said that we have a set of twins!!
    Lucky, you and I had our very early education at St. Anthony's, Wattala. We parted company as your family had to move away due to circumstances at the time. That's what happens to all Govt. Civil Servants in the then Ceylon.... a Nomadic existence. Just then Bernard R. joined me. I went through all my schooling at St.A and was the first ever to enter into the Ist.MB course in Chemistry where we met again -- seated next to each other at lectures!! ("What goes round comes round"!!!). My education mirrored yours losing 3 years due my enthusiasm & love of Cricket and of course affairs of the heart!! That nemesis followed me throughout Med. School & was very detrimental to my studies and alas at the end futile?? Up to then I breezed through my exam passing SSC with Credit passes in all subjects & 'A' grades in Physics, Mathematics, Applied Maths., Trigonometry... WHY OH WHY did I opt to do medicine??? --- God only knows!! I suppose the hand of fate had something to do with it too??
    Just as well, lest I would not have the good fortune to be this this great Batch of 1962. As for the Blog may it flourish till the 'Last mate standing-- irrespective of AGE'

  2. Lucky, I have had a quick glance through the recent posts in the blog. Your position as the blog administrator is not one to be envied! Thanks for being clear as to what is acceptable in the blog and what is not.
    As to the post above, a need for you to explain why you were not the youngest in our batch did not exist. As you’ve said, and as Razaque has said,
    age at entry to med school varied for each of us owing to any number of reasons, and it is of no consequence whatsoever. There were some of us who were even kept back in the lower classes for being “too young and too playful” - which made us old crocks in later years! This would not happen in this day and age! We have all done things in our own time and in our own ways, and no reasonable batchmate would expect us to justify why we were not the youngest in the batch! In our 7th decade of life, why are we wasting our time with such trivia ? Thanks for the post anyway. Cheers
    Razaque- Nice to see you back !

    1. Hi Rohini I was one who was considered "too young and too immature" to sit for my A Levels in 1960. The University rejected my application and I had to mark time for one year till December 1961 to sit for the exam. Thank God I got thro and became one of our wonderful Batch of 62 !

    2. Rohini
      I agree with you entirely. Who is the youngest and the who is the oldest and what grades we received are trivia now. Those are things we revelled in and mocked and gossiped about when we were in primary school.

    3. I totally agree with you Rohini.
      Thank the Lord that got US in to the Great & Grand '62 Batch withad all those wonderfulcaring & superb Batch Mates.
      As for Lucky's efforts we all should be most grateful for his diligence , grittiness & our good fortune to have him as our 'The Blog Controller'.
      As for you Rohini, thank you for welcoming me back to the Blog and for those wonderful caring & concerned messages you sent me in the past when at times I had gone AWOL before!!.
      Take care & keep well, we need you.
      Best wishes to your Family.
      Razaque, the other R.A!!

      By the way Rohini, thank you for welcoming back to the Blog and of course all all those caring & warm messages you sent me when I had gone AWOL previously.
      Take care & wish you well.
      Razaque the other R.A!!

    4. Thank you Razaque - We want you to keep well and stay with us too. Do take care - With love to Farina and all the family.

  3. Thank you Raz and Rohini for understanding my predicament as the blog administrator. I value your appreciation of what I am doing and that is sufficient for me. In retirement, I have all the time in the world, to do what I like. Yes, I spend a lot of time at the computer!

  4. Absolutely agree worth what has been said. Speaking for myself I do not in any manner or form consider myself any better or worse because I was relatively young due to circumstances. My answer to the question of who was young was just that-an answer to a question. I hope none of my esteemed and valued colleagues interpreted that as some form of boast. I am certainly proud of some of my achievements but entering med school young isn't one of them!

    1. Speedy,
      You were lucky to be born to a middle class family and to live closer to good schools.
      One,has to have born talents and financial backings,in order to reach higher education.
      I,am not shy to say that had neither of those in my schooling days.I am well aware that ,Lucky knows my back ground well.
      There are several mature students in UK Universities and they are proud of it.
      Rasaque!I do not want to end up in Paradise after my death.I wish to be reborn,in order to become a doctor and serve humanity.My wish is that Almighty should not take a long time to decide on my future.Certainly not hell with fire.


    2. Hi Sumathi,
      After death I do not want to linger for eternity in Paradise nor Hell. Like you I would really like to have a "repeat performance".... reborn to the same Great Batch with the same batch mates... warts and all!! So till we 'meet' again Maty.. Insha-allah.
      Do you think that I am a glutton for punishment???..... I wonder??

    3. Hi Razaque,
      Not at all.Al-hamdu l illa!Wish our friends,already departed from us will wait in Barzakh(Sheo'l)until we meet them.


  5. Hi Lucky as we get older our age is not something to hide but a thing to be proud of. I am very proud that I will be reaching the grand old age of 74 ( God willing ) in July this year. I think you have to add Swyrie's name to the list of 1944.
    Fortunately or unfortunately I have the honour of being the youngest in the batch. ( though only by a few months to Speedy ) I remember being called the Brat of the Batch ! though I am not sure who started it ... probably JC

    1. Inshallah,we are fortunate live longer than a few of our colleagues,who have passed away.
      We have entirely forgotten about that very shy Philomela Thiraviem(Thiruviam) to the list of 1944.She sat next to Virginia,another 1944 group.

    2. you are absolutely right about Virg. She was definitely born in 1944 .

    3. Hi Suri,
      As for me I do not look at the two peripheral age groups of our batch pejoratively as I am in the majority/ middle group('39-'42).... right plumb centre.
      For me just as 'size does not matter', age does not matter a JOT.
      I shall toast your 74th with special malt 'barley water' saying 'slanji-va'--- Gaelic for 'Good Health' till the 'Big' next year!!.
      Enjoy and keep well.

    4. Thank you Razaque for your early wishes for my birthday. Sorry my response is so belated.. I have had a rather hectic time with 5 of my grand babies coming down with a wretched gastric flu that has been raging in Sri Lanka. The 3 year old twins kept us really worried particularly as one of them has a congenital Renal problem and has been on prophylactic antibiotics to prevent UTI from day one of her life . Thank God they are all OK now . Visiting the Blog was the last of my priorities in the past 12 days or so .

      I still have this clear memory of you acting as a female patient in a skit at one of our Reunions. It was hilarious . Please take care of your self . Affectionately Suri

  6. Suri, Iam sorry I missed the comment you addressed to me on the 4th .
    You did well !
    I knew all along that a little diligence could work wonders, but youthful exuberance had a way of winning over good sense !!

  7. Mahen, Lucky and you have spent precious time and energy providing our batch with this blog where colleagues can speak about their achievements and showcase their talents. It has been wonderful to learn of them and I have admired them.
    I know that the conversation about birthdays did not commence with intent to
    boast. In the same token my comment was not “sour grapes” as some could construe, admitting that I have nothing to boast about!
    The prompt was that I felt our colleagues needed to feel they are equally respected and valued irrespective of what they achieved or did not, and whatever their circumstances. Cheers

    1. Totally and absolutely agree with you Rohini