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Sunday, September 30, 2018

An afternoon with Rajan and Queelan in London

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

Amigos para Siempre – friends for life. How very true. Since Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras sang this at the closing ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics its haunting melody and the poignant lyrics has stayed with us forever. None of us can imagine a life without friends and friendships. It is human nature to want to meet to reminisce, to recall and to share our thoughts. Our gathering today bears testimony to that special closeness and bond that began way back in 1962. Although Faculty life was tough we had that youthful resilience. None of us were scarred by the place despite the torrents of ‘verbal abuse’. Even at the worst of times, there was a bit of sparkle. There are so many fond memories which we have archived forever.

Since those days our lives have diverged beyond belief. In my long winding journey through life, I have seen the forking paths. I made my own choices. You may think you can make your own luck, but you can’t. I just call it destiny for want of a better word. Perhaps our moral compass is struggling to keep pace with science!! Thankfully life has turned out well for all who have gathered here to recount and reminisce.

We started in the quiet upholstered comfort of Satay House at Paddington, a veritable magnet for Asian foodies. There was a characteristic disregard for decorum as we arrived in our civvies. After the shocking weather we’ve had recently, there was some respite. The sun shone brightly despite a cold north wind.

After the hugs, we sat down to the real business of a chat and lunch. Patas’s wife Queelan, is a lovely Malaysian girl who joined in our light-hearted banter despite our constant drift into those raucous times at the faculty. Soon it became a lively, happy and noisy chat. Each of us delved deep into the archives of our memory for those enthralling stories of old. There is never an end to the anecdotes that emerge. I saw RajanRatnesar last in the posh lobby of the Cinnamon Grand in August 2012. PriyaGuneratne whisked him away for afternoon tea. They both pleaded with me to join them, but alas! I had another engagement.  I remember Patas from the faculty days for his wit and humour and for his dignity and decency. It was lovely to see Joe and Zita. They arrived as usual like Royalty in a plush chauffeur driven limousine all the way from Southend-On-Sea. Joe is one of life’s gentlemen, kind, considerate and fun to be with. Zita is a live wire and ever-present at our gatherings. As always, she is wonderful company. Mahen and Patas are the instigators of this precious meeting. Mahen doesn’t look a day older than when I saw him walk into the Anatomy dissecting rooms in 1962. He is a tremendous supporter of our batch events and blog.

Now we had an expert in Queelan for guidance in selecting our Malaysian meal. The food was glorious. The starters were as sumptuous and filling as the mains. Singapore noodles, KwayTeowGoreng and MeeGoreng delighted our taste buds as did the Roti Chennai. Patas requested the extra fire-power of Chinese chilly-sauce which is truly a winner, every time. Interestingly booze that was an integral part of our social lives in our youth never was needed nor was it considered. How times have changed!!

This was a brief encounter. Time did fly. Meetings like this are just the tonic to overcome the transience of life. The world is never still and our lives are a series of beginnings and endings. The photo-call ushered in the beginning of the end. Unlike in the old days, no one bothered to adjust the hair or dress, for the photos. As Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet, ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’. ‘Sweet’ because it makes us think of the next time we will see each other. We all had arrangements for the afternoon and parted company with the usual promise to keep in touch. Although Doris Day sang it way back in 1956, those poignant lyrics still ring true:
"Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be;
The future's not ours to see.
Que sera, sera.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Creative Spot Quiz 3 - Answer

The answer: It's an Orchid. 

This is an ORCHID, and unusual for its class as a climber. Most orchids we see are not climbers. The flower becomes a POD , the famous VANILLA BEAN. Vanilla is as expensive as silver these days and the best comes from north eastern Madagascar. The demand for vanilla is so high (most of it used in vanilla ice cream) that  it has led to a lot of criminal activity in Madagascar such as theft etc.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Pramilla Senanayake in New York City

Pram is in NY these days. She met with Indra Anandasabapathy who is in Staten Island. Indra has sent me a few pictures.

Pramilla at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is front of the columns and lamps from Louis Comfort Tiffany's home, in Long island, NY. The columns were moved to the Met. after the Laurelton home fire. 

Pram in front of American painter Thomas Sully's painting of queen Victoria ascending the throne. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY) The painting is in oil on canvas.

Pram at the Met. Monets Rouen Cathedral is hanging on the wall.


                       The church's influence on FASHIONS

Monday, September 24, 2018

Creative Spot Quiz 3 by Indra Anandasabapathy

Can any viewer identify this? 

Correct answer will be given in a week's time. Be on the lookout like last time. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Nostalgia? A fine collection of Sri Lankan Photos

In case you have not seen this.

Sri Lanka Photos, Captioned Pictures, Travel Gallery Images

Introduction to Sri Lanka

The pictures here begin with Colombo , move south to Galle, north to the high country, farther north to Kandy and its environs, and farther north still to the country's great archaeological sites.
For more on the status of highland paddy, see 
Continuity and Change in the Paddy Lands of the Kandy District.

Colombo (64 pictures) 
Colombo 2 (20 pictures) 
Galle (44 pictures) 
Nuwara Eliya (48 pictures) 
Tea Country (48 pictures) 
Highland Subsistence (19 pictures) 
Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth (27 pictures) 
Kandy: Palaces and Medamahanuwara (11 pictures) 
Kandy: Traditional Houses (9 pictures) 
Kandy: British Infrastructure (10 pictures) 
Kandy: Colonist Life (25 pictures) 
Kandy: British Institutions (23 pictures) 
Kandy: Christian Cemeteries (20 pictures) 
Kandy: Now (17 pictures) 
Hantane (27 pictures) 
Talatu Oya (12 pictures) 
Peradeniya (19 pictures) 
Paingamuwa (17 pictures) 
Mahaweli Ferry (6 pictures) 
Lankatilaka (27 pictures) 
Gadaladeniya (17 pictures) 
Embekke (17 pictures) 
Kadugannawa and Balana (14 pictures) 
Gampola (15 pictures) 
Atabage (5 pictures) 
Loolecondera (10 pictures) 
Gurugal Oya (12 pictures) 
Minipe (13 pictures) 
Lamesuriyagama (39 pictures) 
Elephant Power (12 pictures) 
Town and Country (39 pictures) 
Anuradhapura (37 pictures) 
Polonnuwara (26 pictures) 
Sigiriya (18 pictures) 
Trincomalee (13 pictures) 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Creative Spot Quiz 2 - Answer

It's Aristolochia fimbriata

Indra had known the name already having looked up and learnt about in High School (Botany) - a subject for which he has had a partiality and something that came very easily. He had seen it long before High School while attending a school at Arethusa Lane in Wellawatte as a tiny tot.  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Mesmerizing leg spin, googly bowler - Lareef Idroos

Mesmerizing leg spin, googly bowler

Batsmen feared LAREEF IDROOS
MOHAMED LAREEF IDROOS was a born match winner. How else would I describe the guy who was my friend but nemesis as well. For starters he joined a rare band of bowlers who had captured all ten wickets. That was against Prince of Wales College playing for STCML. Two hat tricks in SARA' cricket against Bloomfield and Moratuwa and being crowned 'Best All rounder 'SARA' trophy cricketer in 1965. Amazing.
As our careers unwound, we were destined to lead our two schools in 1960.Playing against him he had a match haul of 10 wickets to spin the Thomians to victory at Kotahena under Michael Tissera and the Bens under Neville Casie Chetty in 1958. That outstanding cricket writer of that era Christie Seneviratne who played for Wesley College writing in the ‘DAILY NEWS’ headlined his copy – BENEDICTINES COULD NOT COPE WITH IDROOS’ SPIN – and the Strapline read - THOMIANS FOUND RODRIGOPULLE UNPLAYABLE. Memories are made of these.
And today's 'Sports Legend' MOHAMED LAREEF IDROOS mesmerized most schoolboy batsmen during his glittering school career.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s there were a plethora of leg spin/ googly bowlers who were masters of their chosen field in bowling the most difficult variety that bowling of that art required. Leg spin bowling to reiterate is the most difficult art, unlike an off spinner. Leg spin bowlers are born and not easily made. To master the variety in this art – the leg spin, googly, slider, top spinner and the floater requires many hours of sweat and toil at the nets and could be heart breaking at times.
But once these intricacies are mastered, the leg spin bowler can be a match winner. With a well concealed googly bowled with a leg break action, the spinner can make the best of batsmen look ordinary, not being able to read which way the ball will turn after pitching.
Embarrassing to the gloveman
Unless a sign is made before delivering the googly, it can make even the wicket keeper go the wrong way which could be embarrassing to the gloveman. Once a leg spinner strikes a length and on a wicket that is spin friendly, he can run through any batting line up.
And so here are but few of the spells that the IDROOS cast and I marveled at: 6 for 48 against St. Peter’s College and in which game he bowled the burly Lakshman Serasinghe round his legs. Then against St.Joseph’s College he had a match bag of 10 for 83.
To quote what the master class leg spinner IDROOS has to say in the art of specializing in leg spin bowling: ’Bowling leg breaks is a tough art. Then to bowl googlies, you need to work really hard and practice a lot’.
Keep hitting the coin
Reminds me of the days I was practicing to bowl leg spin. My coaches from under 12 would place a coin at a particular spot on the matting and urge me to keep hitting that coin. It was frustrating and hard going but once mastered and when you get among wickets the joy and ecstasy is immense.
IDROOS after graduating from junior level played for the school by the sea from 1957 to 1960. His captains were the mercurial Michael Tissera ’57 and ’58. Dennis Ferdinands who was then the fastest schoolboy bowler in ’59 and he captained in 1960.
His coaches were L.S.Gauder who was master-in-charge and the year he captained it was that legend F.C. de Saram who was a household name in the 1940s in England and Sri Lanka also captaining the country.
Wealth of knowledge
IDROOS, when he was captain, learnt a lot from Gauder because he had a wealth of knowledge and was a skillful master. IDROOS used to go to his place every Thursday to discuss match tactics.
With apologies for what may seem self-serving, permit this writer to go down memory lane and reminisce, in the years 1958/’59 and ’60 in school cricket.
IDROOS and the writer were tagged' the most successful schoolboy bowlers in this art. In fact in 1958 IDROOS and the writer were vying for the Best Bowler’s prize with me leading at the half way stage. But like in horse racing parlance IDROOS pulled away and richly won the Best Bowler’s award.
In the 1958 inter-school game, and in that era crowds used to fill the ground one hour before play starts at 12 noon. In the Benedictine – Thomian game of 1958 , the writer captured 6 for 45 in the first innings.
Match haul of 10 wickets
IDROOS also took 5 for 43 in the second innings against St.Benedict’s at Mount Lavinia in 1957 which game STCML lost. SBC was led by that amazing all round sportsman and arguably the best Bens sportsman LOVELLY RAYEN who played six sports for his school Cricket, Football, Athletics, hockey, table tennis and basketball. That year the Bens emerged unofficial cricket champs for the first time in their history. The writer as the baby of the team (15 years) was a part of that history.
Harvest of wickets
IDROOS who captured a harvest of wickets in inter-school cricket would regret that he could not get among the wickets in the prestigious Royal-Thomian in the years 1957, ’58 and ’59. But this never-say-die spinner IDROOS broke the hoodoo in the 1960 game. He ran riot and took 5 for 47 and 2 for 54.
IDROOS captured two hat tricks in ‘Sara’ Trophy cricket. On leaving school he played or Moors, SSC and Saracens. He was picked for Sri Lanka on the tour of India under Michael Tissera but failed to play in the unofficial Test which was a travesty of justice where the country scored a historic victory against India led by Mansur Ali Pataudi. Sri Lanka with that win served notice of its prowess in the game.
IDROOS was born in Hultsdorf and moved to Kollupitiya. His father Taufeeque was a keen cricket fan and would be present in every game his son played. On leaving school he entered University to follow medicine. He played for the University from 1961 and the UNI created history being the first side to win the ‘Sara’ trophy in the ‘62/’63 season under Josephian Carlyle Perera.
Missed by a whisker
IDROOS recalls how the UNI missed by a whisker of winning the ‘Sara’ again in the ’63,’64 season. IDROOS once recalled those moments thus: ‘We met Bloomfield in the final. Bloomfield was 8 wickets down and they required another 80 odd runs. I bowled to Norton Fredrick who going for a big slog miscued and Carlyle got under it. But he could not believe as the easy catch was grassed.
‘Then with about 15 minutes to stumps it started to rain and the umpires called off play. The match was drawn and Bloomfield won the ‘Sara’ with a difference of 0.04 points. He recalls that UNI team with glee.
The UNI team- Carlyle Perera (C), Buddy Reid (vc), Lareed Idroos, Mano Ponniah, Nihal Gurusinghe, U.R.P. Gunetilleke, Harsha Samarajeewa, Nanda Senanayake, N.J.S de Mel, K. Wimalaratne, Merril Guneratne, Adiel Anghie, Cyril Ernest, Mohanlal Fernando, Kingsley Fernando and that great wicket keeper from Jaffna V.Sivanandan, cream of schoolboy cricketers of that golden era.
Played in the Gopalan Trophy
IDROOS also played in the Gopalan trophy games and toured Pakistan in ‘63/’65. He played for the Board President’s X1 against Pakistan at the Colombo Oval. He graduated from Medical School in 1967 and two years later left for USA in ’71.
IDROOS continued playing cricket in USA and represented the country along with Cyril Ernest and Balakrishnan in the annual encounter against Canada.
After having a stint in New York he moved to California where he specialized in Nephrology and became a Nephrologist. Such classy players and leaders with sports and academia rolled into one are rare to find these days. Rarer still are gentleman of IDROOS' class.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Creative Spot Quiz (2) by Indra Anandasabapathy

Can any viewer identify this flower? Indra himself had come across it after many years (last seen it in childhood in Wellawatte, while going to Arethusa school as a tot).

Correct answer will be given in a week's time. Be on the lookout like last time. No prizes are on offer, but please give it a try.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

CoMSAA Get-together 2018

The annual CoMSAA Get-together was held at the Vivanta Taj Bentota last weekend. Only Sanath Lama, Pram and myself from our batch attended. A few selected pictures appear below.

Simple inauguration of the Academic Sessions. Former Dean Prof. Harsha Seneviratne was the Chief Guest. Present Dean and 2018 President of CoMSAA Prof. Jennifer Perera is at extreme left in the foreground. Joint Secretary Dr. Anoma Tissera is lighting the lamp. 

Looking on (in long sleeved shirt) is Dr. Sarath Gamini de Silva, 2017 President of CoMSAA and former Consultant Physician NHSL. 

Dr. Pramilla Senanayake and 2011 Inaugural Year President of CoMSAA Prof. A.H. Sheriffdeen  who chaired first session

Guest Speakers Dr. Mahanama Gunasekara, Consultant Surgeon NHSL ("Introduction to bird watching and interesting behavioural  patterns of birds"), Prof. Priyanjali de Zoysa, Professor in Psychology, Colombo Medical Faculty ("Being Present"), and Dr. Ranil Jayawardene, Senior Lecturer in Physiology, Colombo Medical Faculty ("Do you read food labels?") 

Pram with the Fourth Year Medical student Mr. Thilina Egodage (Magician/Participant in the MTV TV Reality Show "Sri Lanka got Talent") who presented a Rubik's cube performance.

Only three who represented our batch!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Creative Spot by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale has sent in this short but sweet illustrated poem.

Who am I ?

“I” am encased in a prism
Being observed from every facet
What is observed is not absolute
Just a complex interpretation
Of sensory interactions
Between the observers and “I”
Changing every moment
And every moment is a multiplicity
Of moments experienced
By those who “see” me.