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Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

I wish all readers of this blog, a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year - 2019.

Lucky (Blog Administrator)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Greetings from Razaque

Razaque had sent this with a special request to post it on the blog. Considering the special circumstances that our good old friend (unable to get about etc.) is in, I had no hesitation in doing so.

raz.ahamat@yahoo.co.uk

01:06 (7 hours ago)
to me
Merry Christmas to all our Batch Mates where ever you are.
Wish you all a very happy  New Year and a very successful 2019.
,"Nava vasare oba samatama Kiri Ithirewa"

Now a. Seasonal joke.:
What will  Trump do at Christmas when he "Pulls a Cracker"???

He will PAY THEM OFF..... 130000 dollars each.!!!!!.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Browsing through the Sunday newspapers, I found two well written articles by two members of our batch. One is by Chanaka Wijesekara and the other by Nihal Amerasekera whose latest article was on "Writing is on the wall". I share today with blog viewers an Appreciation by Chanaka about our former teacher Dr. Rienzie Peiris. It will be followed by ND's article.

DR RIENZIE PEIRIS – Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr Rienzie Peiris , Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, passed away on December 12, 2018.

An Appreciation

 

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My association with Rienzie goes back to January 1972 when I assumed duties as Senior House Officer, in his unit at the General Hospital, Colombo. At that time, Rienzie was the Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. He was at the peak of his professional life. As an Orthopaedic Surgeon, he had no equal and, his reputation had spread island wide. His clinical judgment was flawless; his ability to decide when to undertake surgical treatment was near perfect. The timing of surgical treatment was of paramount importance in the management of children suffering from the effects of poliomyelitis, a very common problem at that time in Sri Lanka. He was a surgeon with exceptional skill. On many occasions he would modify an established surgical procedure to suit the needs of a particular patient. In the operating theatre he was meticulous; he was neat and showed an abundance of natural flair. On numerous occasions he indicated to his junior staff that a surgical operation should not only be effective, it must in addition be pleasing to the eye of an observer.

Rienzie Peiris was an outstanding teacher, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His assessment of patients was based mainly on deductions arrived at from first principles, an attribute he acquired during his overseas training at the Mecca of Orthopaedic Surgery in Liverpool, UK. He combined his vast experience, with clarity of thought and presented Orthopaedics in an uncomplicated format to the student. He did lucidly describe the mechanics of fracture treatment based on general principles. As a result, his unit at the General Hospital in Colombo was much sought after by surgeons in training. There are scores of Sri Lankan Surgeons worldwide who have trained under Dr Rienzie Peiris. These numbers alone stand testimony to his skill as a teacher.

As a colleague, he commanded enormous respect from both senior and junior members of the profession. He did not hesitate to share his expertise with his juniors. Rienzie never stopped learning. He did not sit back and be complacent. He kept abreast of the current trends in the specialty, carefully reading through the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (which was the only recognized journal in Orthopaedic Surgery at that time). He was easily accessible, and was always ready to offer advice to sort out a difficult problem in Orthopaedics.

Another facet to Rienzie’s life was his leadership qualities. As President of the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) he exhibited this quality in abundance. During his tenure as leader of the AMS he gained many privileges for the profession. None obtained by the threat of trade union action, but by repeated negotiations and effective lobbying. Rienzie’s finest hour as President of the AMS would undoubtedly be, when after a prolonged period of negotiations he succeeded in obtaining the right for consultants in the government sector to engage in private practice. All medical specialists in government hospitals today practicing their specialty in the private sector should be eternally grateful to him.

After retirement, he continued to practice as an Orthopaedic Surgeon in the private sector. A while later he took on an entirely different role. At the request of the then President of the country Mr J.R. Jayewardene, Rienzie took to administration. He was appointed as the first Chairman of the newly established Sri Jayawardene Hospital in Kotte. His influence on the board did much to guide the hospital during its early years, enabling it to achieve the current status as a centre of excellence.

Rienzie was the ultimate family man. He loved and protected his family unequivocally and selflessly. I have no doubt that his wife Celia, daughters Dinali and Sharmini and the other members of the immediate family will miss him.

Rienzie Peiris stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries. He was one in a generation, the likes of whom we will rarely see again. He was indeed a remarkable person.

"His life was gentle, and the elements

so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world.

This was a man!"

Chanaka Wijesekera

Thursday, December 20, 2018

University cricket team 1962/63 and beyond

I am not sure how many viewers are ardent cricket fans like me. When we were medical students, 1963 was an unforgettable year because the University of Ceylon cricket team created history by winning the Saravanamuttu Trophy that was awarded to the winners of the premier league in club cricket that year. We had quite a few members of our batch in that team. Among them were Lareef Idroos, Cyril Ernest, Harsha Samarajiva and Kiththa Wimalaratne. That alone was reason enough to band ourselves together as a cheer squad supporting our team. Thus, almost every weekend during the cricket season, we were either in the pavilion or on Thurstan Road under those massive shady trees watching the matches from the sidelines. The climax was the decisive final match where the winners had to be decided after a nail biting finish and some mathematical calculations creeping in.

We all know Cyril Ernest as a very modest person who never tried to flaunt his achievements. But having identified him as the most suitable person among those four cricketers to recount the events of the year 1963, I was able to persuade a most reluctant Cyril to write to the blog about 1963. This then is the result of my persistent efforts.

Lucky

University cricket team 1962/63 and beyond

By Cyril Ernest

It is over 50 years since the Varsity team of 62/63 achieved a feat unparalleled in the annals of the history of our hallowed institution - never before or ever since - the feat of becoming champions in the National cricket tournament of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). We were all a bunch of talented youngsters just out of high school who came together under the erstwhile leadership of Carlyle Perera, a no nonsense leader, to achieve what has now been recognized as a legendary feat. Being in the University, our first and foremost duty was to achieve success in our studies. The fact that we were able to combine the two - sports and studies - was a wonderful feat.

Our team was composed of - Carlyle Perera - skipper; Buddy Reid - Vice Captain;URP Goonetilleke , Nihal Gurusinghe, Mohanlal Fernando, Lareef Idroos, Cyril Ernest, Harsha Samarajiva, Mano Ponniah, NJS De Mel, V. Sivanandan , Kingsley Fernando, Kiththa Wimalaratne, Nanda Senanayake, Merril Gooneratne. The core of the team comprised of 10 players while others chipped in when the core team players were not available due to exams or injuries.

In our youthful exuberance, we were always confident of winning - no matter what great players the opponents teams comprised of. Our key to success was the brilliant fielding outfit that Carlyle was able to mold us into and also the never say die attitude he instilled in us all. At different times in the tournament, we had one or two players come to the fore to rescue in times of adversity and to achieve the success. It is difficult to attribute the very success of our team to individual players - but the fact is that each and every one of them contributed their mite at the right time. Our team was always a happy one and everyone pulled their weight together and dissent was never a factor.

We had the solid support of the University staff - especially Dr. EHC Alles , Mr. PAS Perera, Prof. EOE Perera, Dr. SR Kottegoda and would you believe it even Prof.Rajasuriya was an avid spectator at our matches - sorry if I missed out some names.

To make a long story short - we became champions by the barest of margins of less than one point and the next year too we would have been champs had it not been to one missed catch. We were rewarded for our efforts of becoming champions with a tour to Singapore and Malaysia - all expenses paid. We indeed had a great time on the tour and did Ceylon proud by our exemplary behavior on and off the field and excelling in the matches.
Our team comprised of so many multitalented individuals who excelled in other sports as well and also were musicians.6 of our players eventually gained representative honors playing for Ceylon.

Sadly we do lament the loss of Kiththa Wimalaratne and URP Goonetilleke. All the individual players are now scattered far and wide - in England, Australia, USA, Wales and in Sri Lanka. All our players have achieved success in their chosen fields and are all well recognized as Internists, Nephrologists, Engineers, Cardiologists, Surgeons, Architects, Psychiatrists and in other chosen fields.

I did not go into details of individual performances as it would have been quite a chore delving into such feats. I also forgot to mention that New Zealand is one of the countries our team mates have been domiciled in.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dr. Sunil Fernando An appreciation by Kumar Gunawardene



A perfect gentleman and a distinguished professional Dr Sunil Nihal Fernando (Sn)

 

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I was deeply saddened by the demise recently of my classmate and good friend SN. We had been close at STC Mt Lavinia and renewed our friendship during my periodic visits to SriLanka. His passing away in October 2018 climaxed my own "annus horribilis"

Andrew Marvell’s immortal words , slightly modified could have been written for SN.

‘He did nothing common or mean upon his memorable life ; a life of academic brilliance and professional excellence- but most importantly a life of pure and simple goodness.

We first met in the hallowed classrooms of the ‘school by the sea’. He had moved from the Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, and joined us in the College Form (GCE advanced level). Having been at STC from the second standard, I had my own circle of friends , but we bonded immediately; he struck a chord with his quiet but friendly demeanour and charming smile.

At Prince of Wales he epitomized the truism that the child is the father of the man; he was first in every class and achieved double promotions and also a first division in the GCE ordinary level.

An outstanding student at STC too he won prizes for chemistry, botany and zoology and was awarded the coveted Warden Stone memorial scholarship in recognition of his general performance at school. He also excelled in Athletics and Cadetting and represented his alma mater in both.

SN was altruistic to his mates. While  some us either dozed in the class  lulled by the gentle sea breezes or were mesmerized by the ambidextrous artistry or booming tones of our zoology teacher, Brooke D’ Silva, he would painstakingly  take down notes. These he would share with us later. Always a loyal Thomian, he would attend ,old boys’ functions and revel in the company of his contemporaries. One of his cherished possessions was a photograph of him with four other Thomians who were Presidents of their respective professional Colleges in the same year; ( Drs D.N.Athukorale, L.R.Amarasekare, Ranjan Fernando and Dayasiri Fernando); perhaps an unparalleled attainment .It was dubbed the year of the Thomians. This picture was prominently displayed in his consulting room.

Five of our class got the nod for the viva voce examination for entry to medical school. He was undoubtedly the best amongst this motley lot. But for some unknown reason, he was offered dentistry. Deeply disappointed he was determined to sit the University entrance examination again. Our sagacious physics teacher, Mr S.J.Anandanayagam, however persuaded him otherwise. What an astute decision it was. For SN had a meteoric rise to the top of his profession.

He quickly made a mark in dental school amongst teachers and students, and qualified BDS from the University of Peradeniya in 1966. Fellowship was obtained in 1972.Subsequently important experience was gained, as a prelude to an illustrious career, in august London institutions, including St Bartholomew’s,  Guys and  the Institute of Dental Surgery of the University of London and later at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Amongst his prestigious mentors was Professor R.A.Cawson of the Guy’s hospital.

Returning to Sri Lanka he served as a consultant at the General Hospitals of Ratnapura, Kandy, Galle, Colombo South and finally the National Hospital Colombo.

In addition to his onerous duties he was a Wing Commander (Volunteer) of the SL Air Force and a medical board panel member of the SriLankan Airlines.

I’m personally aware that he was held in high esteem by his peers, juniors and other staff. I was an indirect beneficiary of this whenever he referred me to a colleague. I was treated with utmost courtesy and care. He would always preface his referral letters with "Kumar is a good friend of mine since our days at the school by the sea."

His passions outside of work were first and foremost the family, the church, advancement of dentistry in Sri Lanka and postgraduate dental education.

His wife of 48 years, Malkanthi, was a great source of strength to him in all matters, but particularly in fulfilling his professional commitments. She was abundantly living proof of the adage that behind every successful man is a wise and accomplished wife. She was of great help to me in writing this.

They were blessed with two affectionate daughters, Shehani and Shanika, and two equally affectionate sons in law, Rohantha Seneviratne and Malik de Soysa. In fact they were always referred to as sons. Malik, a cardio-thoracic surgeon supervised the management of SN’s final illness.

His greatest delight in later years was his grandchildren Ranukshi Sarita and the two children of Shanika and Malik. I have seen his face light up when any of them wandered into the consulting room. His features would be an amalgam of love, joy and pride. Their paintings adorned the walls of his office conspicuously.

Malkanthi told me that she would often notice lights burning in his office well into the night. Being the dutiful spouse she was, she would go to check whether he had fallen asleep. He was wide awake perusing the children’s books and home work to teach them the next day.

A deeply religious man he was a warden in his church, St Paul’s Milagiriya and would lead the services on a roster basis.

His endeavours in furthering the cause of excellence in dentistry are almost too numerous to mention but nevertheless must be recorded.

In the Sri Lanka Dental Association he was the chair at its 16th anniversary. This coincided with the first ever South Asian Dental Congress of which he presided over the organizing committee. He was also the chair of the annual scientific sessions of the SLDA 1991-1993 and also in 1996 and 1997. In recognition of this he was awarded a Honorary Fellowship of the International College of Continuing Dental Education.

He was, along with Dr Asoka Ratnayake, the first joint secretary of the college of dentistry and stomatology from 1994 to 1996; and subsequently the president 1998 to 1999.

Along with Professor M.T.M. Jiffrey he organized the first officially recognized course in basic sciences for the part one masters course (MS) in dental surgery.

In the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine  he was a member of the board of study ,

in dental surgery from its inception up to the late 1990s.

He was an examiner for the MS parts one and two for several years and also an external examiner for the BDS for a number of years.

In the Sri Lankan Association of Aesthetic and Cosmetic Dentistry, he was a member of the board of governors from its inception in 2004 and actively participated in its annual scientific sessions.

A most notable characteristic of SN was his generosity to his friends and I’m sure many others. I would visit him for professional services, each time I returned. He was always very caring and scrupulous but would refuse to accept a fee. I had to repeat to him that I too was in private practice and knew how heavy the overheads were.

Finally I would leave cash on his desk and run out of the room before he had a chance to catch me. Our antics were a great source of amusement to his loyal and longstanding nurse assistant Indrani. Like the chief, she  was very kind to me and would somehow get an appointment convenient to me.

SN was an exceptional human being

"A good  heart has stopped beating; a good soul has ascended to heaven.

May he Rest In Peace.

May the Good Earth lie softly on him"

Kumar Gunawardane

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Treasured

By Rohini Anandaraja


Just names we were in years gone by, 
In a batch of one fifty- it was no surprise.
Aiming to be doctors- or at least to try- 
We entered a faculty- innocent, naive and shy.

There were hurdles to jump and trials with ‘rags’
In survival mode we did as we were bade.
Rude labels our seniors stuck on our backs,
‘Twas a nightmarish start- of tyranny it smacked.

Many in our batch we didn’t come to know,
Nor any of their talents and genius in store.
T’was a time to stay apart- our culture said so-
What a chance we missed our batchmates to know!

Through all of five years we rushed around,
Not daring to glance above the ground !
With books and bones and thoughts profound-
T’was no time nor place to fool around.

Some worked hard while others cruised
In worlds of their own with not a clue
As to how their efforts would bear their fruit
Or where in the world they’d put down roots.

We learned of maladies of the human race , 
To treat the afflicted with compassion and grace.
To tread our paths in Hippocratic ways- 
“To cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.”

Soon we farewelled our student days
To follow our paths in diverse ways-
To nurture our families so they didn’t stray
In foreign lands from home far away.

‘Twas a hard task indeed as one would know
With strangers around and to go it alone-
Though thankfully the kindness these strangers showed
Blossomed into friendships for years to forge.

The days were long,  there was much to do
Life was too busy to say ‘how do you do’
To batchmates unknown- let alone those one knew,
T’was a roller-coaster ride- so challenging and new.

Years disappeared in the quicksands of time
Children grew up , their own paths to find.
Then surfaced from our homeland isle,
The ‘Guy of the blog’ with new friends on line !

T’was a joy to ‘see’ our ‘missed’ batch-mates-
Their magic with words, music, photos and paints !
The botanists, humorists and sportsmen of fame
Who extended their friendships via cyberspace.

I’ve cherished you all and the efforts you’ve made 
To brighten my days in amazing ways-
The generosity of your friendships will always remain
Treasured in my heart till the end of my days.

With appreciation and thanks for wonderful friendships made and renewed through the blog, specially those who have “broken the walls” (borrowed from Cyril’s post) to extend their friendship to me.
Wishing you all a wonderful festive season, and happiness always.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Dr Boyd Tilak Batuwitage



OBITUARY

From 10/01/1940
To 09/12/2018

Boyd, better known as “Batu” to his friends and “Chula” to his family, was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka where he spent his formative years living in Park Avenue near Campbell Park, Borella. He was the youngest of six brothers and identical twin to Brian Batuwitage. Boyd was schooled at Royal College where he was a keen cricketer. He went on to study medicine at Colombo Medical School in 1962, graduating with the batch of 1967. Soon after graduating he joined his brother, the late Dr Tissa Batuwitage, in Matale as a general practitioner. In 1972, he married Geetha Shriyani Wickramaratchi in Kandy and continued to work in Matale before moving to the United Kingdom in the mid seventies. He undertook further training in geriatrics and psychiatry in the UK before turning to his true passion of general practice. He was appointed  Principal General Practitioner at the Treharris Primary Care Health Centre in South Wales and served the local community for over 20 years. Boyd had three children, Surakshi, Larukshi and Thushila who went on to have respective careers in psychology, finance and medicine (anaesthesia). With his support, his wife Shriyani completed postgraduate qualifications, to become a ceramic artist and teacher. 

Boyd enjoyed watching cricket and snooker. He was a great fan of David Attenborough, watching his programmes and collecting his books. He was an avid reader and enjoyed travelling, which he did for many years with his wife before his illness progressed. He was a committed Buddhist and undertook several pilgrimages to Buddhist sites around the world. Boyd was keen to help those in need, he supported several charities and sponsored young children from deprived parts of Sri Lanka, enabling them to have the opportunity to attend university. He retired from general practice and moved to Guildford in 2012 where he enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren, Aishwari, Tejini, Kashika and Aanya. 

Boyd peacefully passed away from Alzheimer’s Dementia surrounded by his loving family on the 9th of December 2018. Boyd will be deeply missed. He was a gentle, kind and private man, whose patience and compassion was greatly respected amongst his family and close friends.

Sent by his loving son with this message:

I’ve also attached details of the date of the funeral service and some pictures of my father.

Many thanks 

Dr Bisanth Thushila Batuwitage

Dr Bisanth Batuwitage
Consultant Anaesthetist
Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Tel: +44 (0)7985196994





Grandchildren


The family 


Twins (Batu on the left)




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nostalgic memories of home of Lankan doctor living in the UK


December 8, 2018, 7:16 pm



by Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

My head gets clouded with images of the past as I write this in the fading twilight of a winter’s day in England. I left the comfort and sanctuary of my home in Sri Lanka for the bright lights of London exactly 44 years ago. Bringing up children and building up a career has taken much time and effort. Now that too seems a distant memory.

Retirement provides the time and the space to rummage deep into my childhood. Those memories seem to fade and wane as the years pass. I am married to a non-Sri Lankan.  Hence our lives do not revolve around my home country, culture or its cuisine. Our friends belong to many different continents. I have tried hard to retain my birth-tongue but disuse has made it hard even to construct a coherent sentence. The huge changes that have taken place in the Sinhala language in my own country makes it doubly difficult. Nowadays I cannot understand much of the Sinhala Radio and TV programmes. I thought YAHAPALANAYA was something about Jaffna until I realized the context was different. My precious Sinhala writing skills have gone with the wind. What has remained with me are the few swear words I was not allowed to use either at school or home.

I am not a regular visitor to Sri Lanka. Despite my deep and lasting roots there, I feel so much like a tourist in the country of my birth. Colombo now is a bustling city fizzing with energy. There are eating houses and restaurants in every street corner and they all seem packed to the rafters with people. On every visit I find the roads increasingly clogged up with vehicles spewing acrid fumes. It is a sign of progress and also one of regress as the infrastructure has not kept up with the times. Even the genteel Nugegoda of my childhood is a cauldron of vehicles and humanity.  The known landmarks of my childhood are all gone, demolished or obscured by the growth of new and bigger buildings and the appearance of new highways and byways. I feel disorientated in the city searching for those last remaining vestiges of my lost world.

I grew up in a peaceful Ceylon just released from the clutches of the British Empire.  In my childhood the days and nights were quiet beyond belief. Fireflies lit up the dark corners of our garden. There were so few cars on the road. Sundays were particularly tranquil. The morning ritual was to read the Sunday newspapers. Sunday lunch was special, a sumptuous meal with the family, ending with curd and kitul treacle. A brief siesta was broken by the start of Sunday choice at 2pm with that unmistakable signature tune "For each his own" sung by the Ink Spots.

In my retirement, when awake at night, there are always the inescapable journeys to the past. Despite the passage of years I still miss my school friends. There was no shortage of friends in the school boarding. We played cricket in the blistering sun and football in the monsoon rains. Wesley College had a huge Burgher population who brought much fun to life at school. Many of them emigrated to Australia and sadly, reaching them isn’t easy. Holidays were spent in the peaceful countryside where my father was stationed, far away from Colombo. There I made new friends with whom there were new adventures. We went fishing in fast flowing streams and swam in murky ponds. Unlike modern kids who feel imprisoned at home we had the freedom to roam the fields on our bare feet. Sadly, many of the friends have now departed this world. Their youthful faces and friendly smiles still linger in my thoughts. I remember most fondly the closeness that developed in those years, the little tiffs that ensued, the laughter and the pleasures we enjoyed. The sense of loss of those years and those friendships seem indelible.

In those days at lunch, at bars and when meeting friends everyone talked politics. Now politics seem out of bounds not wanting to be on the wrong side and disappear into a white van. My knowledge of SL politics are frozen in time in the 60’s and 70’s. I still remember the Bandaranaikes, NM Perera, Colvin R de Silva and before that D.S and Dudley Senanayake, and John Kotelawala. OEG pulled the strings as Governor General. None of them are around now. I know nothing of the new breed of politicians or which party is in power. The Presidential form of democracy which we have adopted has changed the old order bringing a new dimension to politics. It will always be debated if this was ever necessary.

Before television arrived, it was the wireless that gave us the news and provided entertainment. I recall the Pye radio we owned. It had a green magic eye for easy tuning. Despite the hiss and the crackle we had decent reception at least when the sun was shining. Livy Wijemanne, Vernon Corea, Vijaya Corea, Eardley Peiris and Jimmy Barucha are names I still remember of the announcers who flooded the airwaves. They became celebrities and household names. Now, Radio and TV worldwide are cram-full of advertisements. I cannot fault their news coverage and excellent entertainment. But I still miss the elegance and the charm of the old-fashioned radio which embodied the values of a bygone era of politeness, affability and civility. Perhaps a sign of my age!!

Cricket has been my passion since childhood. At every opportunity I played cricket in some back street, broke windows and got scolded. From then on cricket ran in my blood. My strictly limited talent for playing meant I would be forever a spectator. I am still a supporter of our national team and have spent many happy hours watching the team at Lords. My countrymen have given me immense pleasure over the years. I do wish we could come out of the doldrums back to those winning ways. Speaking with Sri Lankans I get a myriad of reasons for our failures but it worries me not to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I love Sinhala music. Whenever we had visitors, it was a family ritual for us kids to sing those popular songs of Sunil Santha. Those of my vintage tend to stick with the songs of our youth. I followed closely the local music scene until I left Sri Lanka. Since then my Sinhala music repertoire had remained static. I was brought up with the Sinhala cinema of Eddie Jayamanne and Rukmani Devi and those touching scenic tales of village life. Then came the magnetism and brilliance of Henry Jayasena and Gamini Fonseka.The talented producers D.B Nihalsinghe and Lester James Peiris transformed the industry. I still recall their haunting film music and the rags to riches stories. I never saw any Sinhala films after leaving home. Contemporary Sinhala music has retained its links to the past but I’m told the cinema has moved in leaps and bounds to portray real life more closely. The last Sinhala story book I read was Rathu Rosa Mal, a brilliant short story by Gunadasa Amarasekera, written in such elegant prose. I have lost much of my rich culture and heritage but have broadened my horizons and gained enormously from my adopted home.

I am still mesmerised by the beauty and the history of our ancient cities. Kandy is particularly atmospheric in August during the ‘Esala Perahera’. Sri Lanka’s delicious food and breath-taking landscapes has long been talked about. Those living in Sri Lanka take for granted the exquisite beauty of the green terraced paddy fields, blue mountains of the central hills, the shimmering turquoise ocean and the golden sandy beaches that surround us. I miss visiting such places which brought me great joy while growing up. Now they seem so distant.

Marriage must still be a good topic of conversation in Sri Lanka. I have often wondered if the old caste system still prevails. In the old days there was a tug of war between the Karawa and the Govigama castes as to who was superior. One of my school mates who belonged to the Karawa (fisher-caste) said with great conviction "when we eat rice we put the fish on top of the rice". Has the influence of caste declined with greater urbanisation and secular education? Is the caste still a major factor in marriages or have we moved with the times and accepted all humanity are born equal? Does money even out the discrepancies?  I wonder if dowries are still in vogue and are considered important in marriages. I assume there are many more marriages now which are not formally arranged. Is there ever a belief in the age old aphorism Amor Vincit Omnia (love conquers everything)? Perhaps, the old days of the "kapuwa" and the arranged meetings of the couple are stories for the Sinhala cinema. In the UK the internet plays a huge part in introducing couples for marriage. The next partner may be just a few clicks of the rodent away.

At the time of independence the population of Ceylon was eight million. The majority lived in villages. There was a powerful aristocracy that ruled us. The Bandaranaike’s, Senanayake’s, Molamure’s are a few of the names that come to mind.  The ruling elite lived in the lap of luxury in their mansions with a retinue of servants. The middle class was small and mostly worked for the government. The wind of change blew across our island in the mid 1950’s bringing with it a new dawn, the era of the common man. That was true democracy at work. Thereafter the villagers were better represented in government. I wonder if the aristocracy still exists or has it now merged with the ever-widening middle class.

When I left Sri Lanka there were economic hardships but the country was at peace. Then began the long and destructive ethnic conflict.This shattered the peace and destroyed the lives of our people. Now peace has returned at last. As they rebuild the fractured links I hope they relearn the art of peace. It is my sincere wish we will never again return to those perilous times again.

I have missed my family in Sri Lanka enormously and have paid a heavy price for my desire to live and work abroad. I wasn’t present for the births, weddings and deaths of those most dear to me. I am now a stranger to the new generation born during my absence. I feel a foreigner in the country of my birth as Sri Lanka has moved forward despite the destructive forces of a long ethnic conflict. Although I live happily in England I have left my heart in that beautiful island of my birth and the land of my fore-fathers. Writing about my loss is cathartic and is a perfect way to empty my mind and feel at peace.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sad News - Batuwitage


Pram had sent a text message that Chula Batuwitage had passed away. Batu was our batch colleague and they were domiciled in UK. Details are not known right now. 

I have never met Batuwitage since our graduation in 1967. Pram and some of our colleagues had met him at the recent London Reunion. Perhaps some of Batu's friends in London might know more details.

PS. Since posting the above, I have received an e-mail from Batu's son Dr. Bisanth Batuwitage. Batu's first names were
Boyd Tilak. I am not sure whether he was also called "Chula".

An e-mail sent out to the batch a little while ago.

I have had many e-mails saying that they are unable to place Batu as a batch colleague. Perhaps the following photograph will help them. The link to our batch blog is also given below. When looking at the batch blog, please read ND's article about the London Reunion of 2017 in "Older posts".





The link:

11.12.18 (4.40 pm Sri Lanka time)
Speedy has sent three more pictures.




  *****************************************************************************************************************

Dr.R.S.Jayatilake

Tue, 11 Dec, 14:31 (1 day ago)
to me
Thanks Lucky
I am unable to recollect who  he is , only the name is familiar

***********************************************************************************

Batuwitage Geetha Shriyani


to me
Hi Dr Abey

We have just received your email. I am Dr Boyd Tilak Batuwitage’s son and I am replying from my mothers
email address. Please contact me if you would further details about my father.

My email address is: batu@doctors.org.uk

Dr Bisanth Batuwitage
Consultant anaesthetist

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McCormick, Malkanthie                                                                                                           


to me
Thank you for the information.
Please convey our heartfelt condolences to the family.
Blessings

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Ranjith Dambawinna


Sad news indeed!
My sympathies to his family. Ranjith.

from Dr. Ranjith Dambawinna
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Dawala Ruberu



to me
dear lucky
thanks for the information.
batu came for one of our batch get togethers. i cant remember which one. i dint recognise him but he came
and spoke to me
regards
kusuma
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Thanks, Lucky! It is so sad that we spend all those years together in Med school and the 

next we hear is of the demise of a person. So good of you to inform us. I will breathe a 
prayer for the family as that's the main way I can mark the occasion.
What a blessing our Blog is! Thanks for all you do.

Regards,


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Re: Sad news - Batuwitage.