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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Meeting Pram in London

By Nihal D Amerasekera

After the mass dispersal in 1967 meeting batch-mates have mostly been confined to infrequent reunions and occasional get-togethers. For those of us who are separated by the oceans or the vast expanse of land or both, these meetings are rare occurrences. Despite the passage of years, there exists within us a desire to meet and reconnect those years spent together in the Medical Faculty at Kynsey Road. So much has changed in the half a century that has passed since those heady days of our youth. Social media and smartphones have brought us closer together and it is so wonderful to be in contact with friends at the click of a button. But they can never replace that intimacy and the warmth of a face to face chat.

I must refer the reader to the wonderful and searching dialogue on the blog, over a coffee, between Mahen and Pram. This with the follow-up comments will help one create an accurate profile of one of the great achievers in our batch who has given so much in return to the world both professionally and as an individual.

Pram who lived in the posh end of London for many decades is now a summer migrant to this great city from her plush pad in Colombo. Wherever she is, Pram loves to meet and greet people. On her visits she has made the annual batch reunion ‘a must attend’ in London.The very first London reunion was held on the 13th of March 2017 and was at ‘The Richoux’  an iconic French eatery, in a leafy part of London in the shadow of the Lords Cricket Grounds. Since then, the venue has changed to Satay House near Paddington Station for travel convenience. The reunion for 2019 was well attended and a great success.The London Reunion is a wonderful tribute to Pram and her perseverance and tenacity.

I was delighted to accept the offer to meet Pram before her departure from London. We decided to meet at midday opposite Boots store next to Bond Street underground station. Sharp on time, I saw the slim figure standing on Oxford Street. She is a sprightly lady, fit as a fiddle. As always, Pram was very well dressed in a fine Tom Ford jacket, the cynosure of elegance and style. After the hugs and pleasantries we decided to have lunch at the iconic seat of medical education in London, the Royal Society of Medicine in Wimpole Street. This venue of such prestige, repute and status was opened in 1910 by King George V and Queen Mary. The elegance and grandeur of its many lounges, restaurants and bars are breath-taking. We would have been hard pushed to find a better setting for a meal in this locale.

At this stage of our lives none of us are big-eaters. I wish I had these opportunities when I was a hungry boarder in my old school. We went for a lavish 2 course meal as we chatted about life and our times. All through our conversation what struck me was her simplicity and humility. In the 50 years that have elapsed, without exception, we have all been through the rapids. We have all matured immeasurably. As for the past and present, Pram speaks no evil, sees no evil and hears no evil and has a remarkably positive attitude to life. Pram is confident and self-assured and certainly no push-over.  It is a great gift to be able to stand-up for what one believes while remaining calm. She speaks very frankly, modestly and briefly about her many charities and helpful service to humanity but never of the glitz and the glamour of her peripatetic existence travelling the world for her work. We spoke about her generous hospitality at her lavish parties, music and dancing at her home at the Hyde Park residencies and her delight in seeing the guests enjoy themselves. We spoke of our mutual friends, JC and Sura, RSJ, Sanath Lama, Asoka Wijeyekoon, Rohini Abhay, Lucky Abey and many more too numerous to mention as some of them were in batches senior. It is so lovely to receive news of friends. Indeed it is a small world and we realised we had many mutual friends who were not in the medical profession. Pram is a committed Christian and leads a good life quite unlike me, a prodigal son. She is a cheerful person and seamlessly articulate which makes a chat most entertaining. A conversation is never complete without touching on cricket which is built into our Sri Lankan psyche. It was a stimulating conversation of the rise and fall of our national team.

The 2 hours flew past and it was time for us to say goodbye. Pram had a full program lined up for the rest of the day. We bade goodbye with a hug and a thank you promising to stay in contact until me meet again. We were so engrossed in our chat we completely forgot to take a photo for the blog.

The World Cup in England brought many lovers of the game to the home of cricket. Lareef Idroos was here and the customary get-together was hurriedly arranged by Pram. Summer is a busy time for all and many of us including Mahen G and myself couldn’t make it. I am told it was a great success and a wonderful reunion. Rohini Abhayaratna, Manel Hettiaratchi, Haris (better known as Bora) and Harshi Boralessa and Indrani Subramanium attended the function with Pram.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Cricket World Cup — a post-mortem

From the Island newspaper of 18 July 2019.

The overthrow that fetched six runs

I eagerly followed this event which concluded last Sunday with a flourish. However, I would like to make the following observations.

1. As there were no reserve days for the league matches, Sri Lanka lost two potential points which may have prevented us from securing a place in the semi-finals. England is notorious for its inclement weather and as they have sufficient resources (grounds, etc.) there should have been reserve days for the league matches. If necessary, two matches could have been played on a single day as was done over week-ends.

2. The final result although extremely exciting for the spectators, was a disaster for the losing side. As ICC umpire Simon Taufel has pointed out, only five runs should have been awarded and not six runs for the overthrow in the final over. The relevant law states that at the time of throwing the ball by a fielder which results in an overthrow, the two batsmen should have crossed each other for a run to be awarded. It was clear from TV replays, that it was not so; in which case Stokes would have been at the bowling end for the rest of the over.

3. Instead of counting boundaries, a second super over should have been bowled.

4. Considering these important facts, England should be gracious enough to share the World Cup with New Zealand, as, after all, cricket is considered to be a gentleman’s game, invented by the English!

Professor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The two years that changed my life

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

In 1958 my father moved to Kolonnawa. We could see the Government Factory from our verandah. The factory chimneys spewed smoke all day and all night. We lived constantly under this cloud of pollutants. At the edge of our property was a tall perimeter fence of the Kolonnawa Oil Installation. For 3 years we lived next to this ‘time bomb’ which could ignite any minute with devastating consequences. In those days we believed the Government was trustworthy and worked for the benefit of the people. We’ve been let down so many times.

After 10 long years at school I had reached the top of the pile. I was now a 6th former and a prefect with all its trappings of prestige and privileges. On a cold January morning I climbed the wooden stairs by the Physics lab. At the top there was the unmistakable pungent smell of acids and alkalis wafting from the Chemistry lab. Down 2 steps and I was on the corridor leading to the Biology lab where the acrid smell of formalin greeted me. This was to be my domain for a formidable and forbidding 2 years.

The time between 1960 and 1962 was a crucial period in my life when I was engulfed by darkness and despair. It is a weird experience to allow those years to flash before my eyes.Then I was a pimple faced, self-conscious teenager with raging hormones chasing my dream to become a doctor. Soon after I had overcome the challenges of a plethora of subjects at the O-levels, I was thrust into the 6th form to sit for the most competitive exam of my life. During those 2 years all I saw were the laboratories, classrooms and the fragile landscape of the 4 walls of my bedroom.This also became my study. I have often worked deep into the night going on until I heard a lone cockerel heralding the dawn.

I grew up in a loving family. In the best traditions of good parenthood they made me eminently aware of the struggles of life. They also impressed on me that my future lay in my own hands.There was no huge inheritance to receive. I recall their advice with genuine and touching affection. I embarked on my perilous journey with the acquired stoicism of my father’s tough upbringing and the inherited steely competitiveness of my mother’s Kandyan ancestry. The great and the good persuaded me that the hardships endured to pursue a career in medicine was a worthwhile goal with rich rewards.

I embarked on my journey mindful of the tough times ahead.On looking back I couldn’t describe my feelings better than Charles Dickens in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

I offered Botany, Zoology, Physics and Chemistry for the examination. The syllabuses were huge and the task simply monumental. Each of the subjects had a theory paper and a practical examination conducted by the University of Ceylon. The examination was held at the end of the year with the results posted to the candidates around April time the following year. The successful candidates were called for a Viva Voce examination held at the University at Reid Avenue. There was a Medical School in Colombo and another at Peradeniya. The total intake was 300 students per year. To say the entry into the medical schools was fiercely competitive is a gross understatement.

The examination papers were the same for all the students but the practical exam was a lottery when some had an easier time than others. The teaching and the facilities provided by the schools varied immensely.Hence the examination was not on a level playing field. This resulted in a thriving private tuition industry. Tuition soon became regarded as a vital prerequisite for a successful outcome. Teaching students at weekends and evenings the tutors became widely known, respected and revered. They earned a small fortune on tuition. Although I would have benefited enormously from private tuition,with my demanding and strenuous regime of study I just couldn’t find the hours in the day to fit them in. This indeed dented my confidence somewhat. I took every opportunity to speak with those who had been successful in previous years to learn the shrewd tricks and the essential do’s and don’ts.

My bedroom had a large window. As I pored over my books this was my only contact with the outside world. I could hear the birds sing all day. The sun came streaming in the evening. The noise of the children playing at the bottom of the road brought some life into my soul.  Buxom ladies gossiped and sang while having a bath at the communal well. I was loathed to shut the window even as the monsoon rains lashed the glass pane not wanting to lose my world beyond.

Meanwhile, outside my bubble, there was a vibrant world of teenage fun. It was indeed the swinging sixties. There were parties at weekends with the luxury of drinks and dancing. Mini-skirts were the craze and we all craved for the company of girls. Some went on trips to the beach and visited the cinema. The fun continued at a furious pace by those studying the arts and sciences and also by a few bold aspiring medics. I’ve always been an avid follower of school cricket but sadly this wasn’t possible now. I loved music and listened to the radio in short bursts while my collection of 45 RPM vinyl records gathered dust. These pleasures were sacrificed hoping for better times ahead. I was eminently aware of the wisdom of the age-old proverb “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip”.

I worked tremendously hard in those two years to give it my best shot. The examination came and went like a tornado. I was never one to be satisfied of my performance at examinations, but was delighted that it was all over at least for now. I slowly slipped back in to the calm and lazy life I was used to enjoying school cricket at weekends, visiting family and friends and going to the cinema. Once again loud music filled our home.

Time soon passed. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from the University asking me to present myself for the Viva Voce examination.This was held at the Senate Room of the University. It was a nerve-wracking experience. Seated around a polished wooden table in a poorly lit room were half a dozen grumpy elderly academics. As I walked in they observed me intently and fired a barrage of questions. They were polite but poker faced all through my ordeal. I was so pleased to be released into the afternoon sun.

My debut performance was a success. By the end of the challenge I was physically and mentally exhausted. I found this a most remarkable achievement against all the odds. I thank my parents for their encouragement, love and wise counsel. This wouldn’t have been ever possible without the dedication of my teachers and the inclusive all-round education at Wesley College, Colombo.

I recall most vividly the euphoria on being a doctor in 1967. I dreamed it was a passport to fame and fortune. There was such a great sense of myopic optimism, I lost myself in the adulation. Life always has ways to bring us back to reality!!

I spent a marathon of 40 years in medicine. Time did pass swiftly and relentlessly. Then I looked forward to retirement with the same excitement and euphoria as to the beginning of my career. It is devastating to give up the profession knowing how hard I’ve worked to achieve my youthful aspiration. I left the medical profession with a heavy heart but also happy to be free again. Life is better without the night calls and the onerous routines of a hospital doctor. The long years of toil has taken its toll but I have emerged more philosophical, having witnessed the spectrum of human life from cradle to grave.

In the calm of my retirement I continue to embrace all that life has to offer: family, my passion for sport, music and support for my burgeoning interest in technology. Still there is a part of me that harks back to the times passed. Despite the good life I’ve enjoyed thus far, there is a vague sense of yearning for those two teenage years lost when I was in solitary confinement, burning the midnight oil and being a prisoner of conscience to those grandiose and extravagant ambitions of my youth. As I convey my sense of disillusion of those years, I now wonder how on earth I coped with it all so young. It also gives me a tremendous sense of achievement and accomplishment.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Our "substantial" friend

Our "substantial" friend in happier times. A term coined by Speedy, but let's adopt it. I think this picture was posted on the blog on an earlier occasion, but Srianee (Bunter) had requested me to republish it.

Two "substantial' friends. I think the other person with Razaque is another colleague, the late Somasunderam.

I have edited the introduction. I apologise for the error.

These pics were sent by Srianee (Bunter) and Swyrie.

At the Hikkaduwa Reunion.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Razaque Ahamat - An Appreciation

Razaque Ahamat – A life remembered by Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

The news of the demise of my friend Razaque Ahamat brings great sadness as I recall our time together since we started med school in 1962. Razaque was educated at St Anthony’s College Wattala. He came from a sporting family where his father captained the 1st XI Cricket Team at Wesley College in 1926 and his elder brother was a boxer and an athlete. Razaque opened the batting for his school.

Because of our surnames “A” we sat together at lectures, weathered the storms of the signatures and revisals and endured the hardships of those clinical appointments. We both lived in Wattala and travelled daily by train from Hunupitiya to Maradana in the carriages packed like sardines. During those years, what stands out is his helpful kindness, his great sense of humour and charming convivial nature. All through those years in the Faculty he enjoyed life to the full. He joined in the many dances, Colours Night and Block Nights that brightened up our lives. Razaque was often one of the last of the stragglers to leave the King George’s Hall at the break of dawn.

At the Faculty, Razaque was often seen in the Men’s Common Room with a “tea-punt”. Hard study was alien to his nature. He was a keen bridge player and a fine raconteur. He had many stories to tell which he related with a slight lisp which enhanced the narrative. He said, with a murky smile, he descended from the Royal family in Penang. Fact or fiction, we will never know just like the other hilarious stories in his repertoire. Razaque brought happiness to our lives at the Faculty when the atmosphere was stuffy and toxic.

Razaque was always self-confident and forthright. What struck me most about him was his unusual mix of intelligence, courage and humility. He always had time for the less fortunate and the less able and a desire to treat everyone fairly and with dignity. He was generous with his affection, encouragement, and kindness, giving freely of his time. He was strong in his convictions and self-assured, yet docile and gentle in his interactions. This self-effacing modesty, combined with an utterly unstuffy attitude to fellow students in particular and life in general, was one of Razaque ’s trademarks.

After the Final Year Examination came the great dispersal. Razaque had a stint in Moneragala as DMO. Then we met again at the Central Blood Bank in Colombo in 1971. There we started where we left off and resumed enjoying those evenings at our favourite watering hole at the Health Department Sports Club. Razaque was appointed as the M.O Blood Bank in Kandy where he worked for several years and we continued to meet in Kandy and Colombo. We both emigrated to the UK around 1974. He was a registrar and then a Senior Registrar at the Prestigious Haematology Department at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London.

After his training and post-graduate examinations, Razaque was appointed Consultant Haematologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Dundee in Scotland. He served the hospital with distinction and took early retirement after which he worked as a Director of the Transfusion Services in New Zealand. He was greatly respected for his work in the antipodes. His work included much air travel visiting hospitals in the North and South Island. After several years in New Zealand, Razaque returned to Dundee to be with his close family. He and his wife Farina created a wonderful garden and enjoyed looking after his plants. We spoke often on the phone reliving those happy days in the Faculty, of mutual friends and of studies together. Razaque had many cardiovascular problems that needed prolonged care and supervision. He accepted the privations and hardship gracefully and without complaint. We were fortunate to experience his wonderful self-deprecating humour on the blog for several years.He took a liberal and cosmopolitan view of life. When speaking about religion or life, often, it was so hard to make out if he was joking or serious. 

Those who attended the London Batch Reunion in the 1990’s will remember Razaque proudly wearing the Scottish kilt with knee-length skirt and long thick stockings. This costume suited the big man to a tee.

Razaque brought joy to our lives. He will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his loving wife Farina and their children Melati, Dr. Haji, Dr. Binthan & Dr. Bulang. We send our condolences to the family at this most difficult time.

May he find Eternal Peace

Inna LillahiVa Inna IlaihiRajioon
From Him do we come and unto Him do we return"

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Razaque Ahamat

One of my oldest friends has passed away. Of course, we didn't know it then. But it was only when we met on the very first day of commencing the 6 months course in Chemistry (1st MB) in the Science Faculty at Thurstan Road in June 1961 (where we sat next to each other in the lecture theatre), that we were able to renew our friendship. On comparing notes, we realised that we had been classmates in 1948 in the Third Standard (Grade III) at St. Anthony's College, Wattala. Since that meeting, we were together for 5 years in Medical College. That visit to my home some time in the early nineties, with his beloved wife Farina, was destined to be my last meeting with Razaque. He ended up in Scotland and I finally settled down in Sri Lanka. Although we were in touch by snail mail followed by e-mail later since then, I never saw my friend Razaque again. This morning, I read his obituary in the Sunday Observer.

May he Rest in Peace.

AHAMAT – DR. RAZAQUE AHAMAT. Son of late Mr. & Mrs. Hajireen Ahamat,​ son-in-law of late Mr. & Mrs. M.A. Sariman,​ beloved husband of Farina,​ loving father of Melati,​ Dr. Haji,​ Dr. Binthan & Dr. Bulang,​ brother of late Shafi,​ late Firoze,​ late Hussain,​ Rene Ismail & Chumbley,​ brother-in-law of late Jeff Ismail,​ expired on the 7th July 2019 and Janaza took place on 8th July 2019 in Dundee,​ Scotland. No 3,​ Johanwood Terrace,​ West End,​ Dundee DD2-1NR Scotland.067905

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Max Koral Korner - P 2

Post P2 -  My Pet hates 

By Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

Hello! It is me, Max Koral. Here I am again! As I said, I am not unique. I am not perfect, but I am entertaining.  When you get to know me better after reading my regular posts in this column, you might even like me!

Today I like to share my thoughts on things that annoy me. Don't get me wrong, I love human beings, and I am decidedly not intolerant.  However, the situations that I am about to describe does give me the goat.

Take traffic lights, for example. I note there are two lanes as I come up to the lights. The left is long, but the right has a shorter queue and allows cars to turn right or go 'straight' (even if you are dishonest). That is the beauty of it. You can be the biggest gangster in the World, but you can go straight. Where was I? Oh yes, I decided to draw behind the car on the right as to all intents and purposes, it was going straight as the indicator light was not on. The lights change to orange and soon to green, and I get ready for taking off and lo and behold, the car in front now shows indicator light turning right! He or she had all this time and waits till the last moment to indicate, and I have a nasty suspicion that this person is a sadist and derives great pleasure from the suffering of others, most probably a politician or a lawyer.

One more pet hate if you don't mind. Even if you do mind, here it is. I know, I know, you had enough, but please do bear with me. It is about walking in long corridors, such as hospital corridors. Here I am trying to get to the clinic on time and can I go past these three rather large people who extend more from East to West than from North to South, chatting to each other? No is the answer as they occupy much precious space and have the habit of just ambling along slowly like snails in distress and intermittently stop without much warning to enjoy a joke with loud guffaws. Just as you see a chance to squeeze past on the right flank, the person on the right extreme decides to wander off to the right and block my passage. I try a few 'excuse me's, but they fall on deaf ears. They could be deaf, of course.

There are more, such as those who never use indicator lights on their cars, the ladies who have long chats with the supermarket checkout girl holding up all behind them. Then there is the lady who loads her supermarket trolley and when payment is requested starts rummaging through a rather large handbag desperately looking for her credit card and after what seems like hours declares triumphantly that she had it in her pocket all the time and grins inanely at you.

Why not share your pet hates with me. Bye for now.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A new idea from Speedy - The Max Koral Korner

This week’s post – P1

Hello! My name is Max Koral. I am not unique. I am not perfect, but I am entertaining.  I used to be a doctor, now I need one!When you get to know me better after reading my regular posts in this column, you might even like me!

I want to start by stating that I like observing human nature and love causing consternation with the manipulation of words. Let me give you an example. I was enjoying a meal with friends at a restaurant, and I chose beef chorizo as my starter. I thought it was delicious, but as I was cutting into it with my knife, I dropped a sizeable piece on the floor near my feet.  Of course, I couldn't eat it anymore, but I was anxious not to leave it on the floor as the floor was so clean and tidy. I called the little waitress with a big smile and announced that I wanted to bring to her notice something important. She stood at the head of the table, and as I spoke, her cheery face began to display a worried expression. This, I thought, was because she was anticipating a complaint. She noticed that I was holding a fork aloft with a piece of chorizo stuck in it. I started speaking with no particular expression but with clarity, which I hoped would impress her.

My dear girl, I said. What is perching at the end of my fork is a piece of chorizo which came from a much larger one you were kind enough to place before me on this small white plate you can observe on the table. You probably noted that the plate is now empty and I can state without any ambiguity that the reason for this emptiness is because I ate the contents on it apart from this piece I am now showing you on my fork. You may well ask why I have not consumed the piece I am showing you. Why has this piece of chorizo not been sent to its rightful place which is to my stomach? Is there some deficiency which prevented this small piece of rather sorry looking cooked chorizo not been given its rightful place in the World, which is my stomach? Was it not cooked properly? Did it offend me in some way? Have I developed a sudden unexplained aversion for chorizo? Am I planning to take it home and eat it later? Am I saving it for a loved one at home who has a particular liking for chorizo? The answer dear girl is none of these you will be pleased to hear.

The facts are as follows to the best of my recollection. As only a little time has passed, I can assure you that the facts I now recall are correct and an accurate description of what transpired. As I was cutting this chorizo, which I expected to be as delicious as the fellow chorizos I consumed only a minute ago, this piece which I am holding in my fork, fell to the ground and stood close to my feet on the clean carpet. It was a sorry sight, and if a piece of chorizo could speak, it would have said something like "Why have you discarded me?" If chorizo could comprehend speech, I would have said "Of course not dear chorizo. It was just an accident. You can call me clumsy if you like".  I may not be the brightest but I know for sure that chorizo cannot hear and I did not say anything at all, apart from something like “oh dear”. The question now arises. What do I do now? Pretend it never happened? Push it away under the next table? Pick it up and eat it and risk food poisoning? None of these appealed to me because although I am not perfect as stated at the beginning of this discourse, I am honest and entertaining. I, therefore, plucked up courage and decided to make a clean breast of it and face the consequences. Dear girl, will it offend you if I do not eat this and merely place it on this clean plate now that you know that my not eating it does not in any way indicate that the chorizo was not cooked properly or cooked inadequately. No offence meant and no need to inform the chef that a customer did not appreciate the chorizo.

The girl looked somewhat puzzled and merely said "What?"

I mean to say, so much for honesty and appreciation of food!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

My Memories of the London Reunion 2019

By Nihal D Amerasekera

Medical School wasn’t a bed of roses. I still feel a flicker of nerves when I think about it. We said our goodbyes in the Faculty 52 years ago. That is indeed a veritable lifetime.Then we went our separate ways to face an uncertain future in a rapidly changing world. Now all of us are septuagenarians,forever uncertain of what tomorrow may bring.

The long awaited London Batch Reunion finally arrived on the 12th of June 2019. Twenty three from our batch including spouses gathered in the splendid surroundings of Satay House in Sale Place, to reminisce and reconnect those great moments. After the hugs and the handshakes, we caught-upon the ‘lost years’.Those gruelling years spent while making a career and bringing up children. Old bonds were renewed despite the memory lapses and failure to recognise old friends. Some had arrived from far afield as Colombo, Manchester, Kent and Hertfordshire. The incessant rain held up the cricket World Cup but didn’t dampen the spirits of our friends.

The ladies in their glamour swept into the room with their youthful elegance.It was hard to believe many of them were grandmothers. The men in their dapper summer attire(grandfathers) looked only a day older than when we were bohemian medical students with stethoscopes round our necks and walking the long corridors of the GHC. The gradual crescendo of the noise level reached its peak a few minutes after we gathered. There was a second peak after the liquid refreshments.Anecdotes from the past flooded the hall with peals of laughter. We jogged each others memories and prompted the names that had disappeared into the fog of time. We did remember absent friends who are now scattered round the globe. As we were a small group there was huge enthusiasm to mix freely and meet everyone, and we all did.

It brought us immense pleasure to see the spouses of our batch friends. Sunil’s wife Sirima, NeelanganiDambawinna, Mr.Francis (Edwis’ husband), DhushyanthiVedavanam, Joe Subasinghe(Zita’s husband) and Sakuntala (Balakumar’s wife). They were welcomed to our midst with open arms of friendship and affection. We thank them for their presence.

We had a sumptuous Malaysian meal amidst the friendly gestures and reminiscences. The aromatic beef rendang and rice was a plateful of sensory overload.  It was topped up with some delicious ice cream. Wine and conversation continued to flow freely. We had amazingly sharp recollections of events of 50 years ago.As ’Koch and Bull’ stories and ‘tall tales’ filled the air they still seem enduring, ageless and timeless. Now more than ever there is a tendency for the topics of conversation to converge more on the present. We spokemore of our children, grandchildren and our own health and well-being. With the passage of time our youthful arrogance has given way to serenity andhumility. Ouraspirations, aims and ambitions too have evolved and changed significantly. Those pretentious and boastful comments on wealth, professional status and the letters after one’s name,now seem out of place.They are not mentioned even in jest. That is the good sense and sensibility that comes with growing older as we now revel in the freedom of retirement.

The master of ceremonies, MahendraGonsalkorale, proposed a vote of thanks to Pram. It was most appropriate that we stood for a minute in silence for the many who lost their lives in the most recent tragedy in Sri Lanka. In silence we also remembered all our friends who endured the agony and the ecstasy of Faculty life with us and have now departed this world. We took time to commend and salute Prof SanathLamabadusuriyafor the tremendous work done by him for Paediatrics and Medical Education in Sri Lanka.

After months of planning, everything came together beautifully. The feedback for the function has been excellent, and the expectation is that we must make this a regular event.The success of the reunion was due to the goodwill and support of all who attended. Whenever there was a reunion or a gathering, large or small wherever in the world, it wouldn’t happen without the energy, genuine warmth and passion of,PramillaKannangara. Her self-effacing modesty astounds me.Pram does all of this work in the background away from the limelight. The success of this event is a tribute to her hard work. I wish to thank Pram on behalf of everyone who attended this event.

The London Reunion 2019 was a fabulous event of friendship of our batch and all our friends who joined us.We will forever remember the happiness and the laughter that filled the dining-hall on that soggy afternoon. May we have the good fortune to meet again.


EDWIS FRANCIS and husband

Edwis, LPJM and Siva Selvadurai (from the "Sig Book")

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

If You Had $500,000.00 Would You Go?

   By Srianee (Bunter) Fernando Dias                        

It is very possible that within our lifetime rockets to Mars will take along some brave astronauts.  SpaceX, the company whose founder and CEO is Elon Musk, is funding and developing a series of cargo flights to Mars on powerful rockets named Starship and Super Heavy which may begin in 2022.  These Big Falcon Rockets (BFRs) will transport and assemble methane/oxygen propellants before crewed flights begin as early as 2024. That is their goal. Other companies that are investing in similar ventures are Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. 

Before we travel to Mars the planet has to be able to support human life.  I believe water has been detected on the Red Planet, but the atmospheric air on Mars is mostly CO2.  The pioneer astronauts who land on the planet would have to walk around in space suits all the time.

Will there be commercial flights to Mars?  SpaceX’s president and COO, Gwyneth Shotwell says that in 10 years or so they hope to take people to Mars.  Elon Musk says one can possibly purchase a ride on one of these rockets for $500,000.00.  But when?  Of course, for those of us over 75 years, one can merely fantasize.  We are unlikely to qualify for the physical and mental challenge of a trip that could take 150 to 300 days, depending on the speed of the launch and the travel path of the rocket.

Who would be likely to take a trip to Mars? 
Do you think it is necessary to spend billions of dollars on space explorations?
Do you believe that there are life forms on planets beyond our solar system?

Note:  Much of this information has been gleaned from internet sites.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

MediVision 2020 – Medical Exhibition

The Faculty of Medicine Colombo celebrates its 150th anniversary in the year 2020.  As the pioneer seat of learning the art and science of medicine in Sri Lanka, our faculty has numerous facets to celebrate, spanning three centuries. Many events have been organized to celebrate our 150th year including a medical exhibition “MediVision 2020” for the general public, prioritizing school children with the hope of inspiring the future generations.  The exhibition will be held within the Faculty premises from 27th March to 4th April 2020 under the theme “The Glory of a Medical School”.

A Raffle Draw with an exciting array of prizes has been organized to commemorate our Faculty’s 150th birthday and raise funds for the anniversary celebrations. The draw will be held on 26th July 2019 at the faculty premises. Raffle tickets are priced at Rs 100 each and each raffle ticket book contains 10 tickets (Rs. 1000/- per book).  

We invite our alumni to join us in celebrating the 150th anniversary of our faculty and would be extremely grateful if you could help us in raising funds for this event by extending your support towards the sale of raffle tickets. Ticket books are available in the faculty premises. If you are able to help by the sale raffle tickets or any other means please contact:
Mr. Lakshan Dharshana - +94 112695 300 ext 293, +94 773524235,
We look forward to your maximum support. 
Thank you
MediVision Organizing Committee

Colombo Medical School Alumni Association
Faculty of Medicine
University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Friday, June 7, 2019

Felicitation Ceremony for Prof. Sanath Lamabadusuriya

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, 6th of June 2019, the Faculty of Medicine, Sabaragamuwa University organised a felicitation ceremony for me for completing 50 years of academic paediatrics  on the 1st of April, 2019). The felicitation address was delivered by Professor Deepthi Samarage. I have attached her speech as well as the power point presentation.

Kind regards,


Click on the following link.

Felicitation Ceremony for Prof. Sanath Lamabadusuriya

Tribute to 50 years of career – Prof S.P Lamabadusuriya

The Vice Chancellor, University of Sabaragamuwa , Deans of the faculties of, Director &Consultants of the Ratnapura Teaching  Hospital, Academic & Non Academic Staff of FOM & students
It is indeed with great pleasure thatI present glimpse of a 50  longyears of professional life  of this unique personality and a  legendary academic  in  the field of Paediatrics.
A baby boy was born on 30thDecember  1942 to Late Mr Alexander Sirisena Lamabadusuriya& Late Mrs Frances BeatricsWickramasuriya  at De Souza Maternity Home in Colombo . He was named SanathPunsiriLamabadusuriya . This cute little boy grew uphighest standards of moral valuesinculcated on him in a peaceful family environment.He being the youngest of a family of four received ample attention not only from his parents butalso from his 3 elder sisters.
He attained his primary education from Royal College Colombo. Master Sanath was a brilliant scholar in school and was recipient of many memorial prizes at the college prize giving. Fulfilling a burning ambition, this youngboy from Royal College gained admission to the  Faculty of Medicine , University of Colombo  in year 1962.
He continued to flourish his extraordinary achievements during hisyears medical school. He graduated with first-class honors in 1967 rankingfirst not only among the graduates Colombo but alsoin the combined merit list with Peradeniya medical faculty
DrSanath   was groomed by many  reputed medical giants in that era  such as  Professor K Rajasuriya and DrDr.P R Anthonis.

This young doctor soon became conscious of his talents for treating children and proceeded to United Kingdom for his postgraduate studies in Paediatrics

He commenced his illustrious career 5 decades ago  withhis training as a  Research Fellow and an Honorary Registrarat the Premier children’s hospital ,   Institute of Child Health, University of London and Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street.United Kingdom .

He returned to Sri Lanka in year 1975 to join the Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo as a young senior lecturer  in Pediatrics.

DrSanathhad an admirable passion for his continuing professional development and made use of every opportunity to progress in his carrier while serving at as aConsultantPaediatricianat Professorial Paediatric Unit at Lady Ridway Hospital .

 His research interests were wide in the field of Paediatricsand this young academic was the recipient of the manyawards for the best paper at scientific congresses.

Reading for a PhD is an integral part of an academic carrier progression in most  disciplines. However in the field of medicine among clinicians  obtaining  a research degree is not obligatory and was not the culture to do so .

With his unrivalled abilityand keen interest in research  DrSanathLamabadusuriya was the very first to do a research degree among Clinicians in Sri Lanka . Many more clinicians have followed his footsteps thereafter.

It took no time for this young senior lecturer to climb up the ladder. Making the predictions of an astrologer that  he would  became a Professor by the age of 40 he was appointed as the founder Professor of Paediatrics Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle.

His pioneering efforts in establishing the FOM Galle is well known all in the medical fraternity. Large number of graduatesfrom this  medical faculty who  have excelled in their career and are leading consultants  in the country today are a testimony of a dedicated and committed teacher .
In his academic career flashbacks of the years he spent in Galle are thefondest memorieshe cherish in his mind  giving him utmost  satisfaction even to date.
In the year  1991 he was appointed  Senior Professor & Head, Dept. of Paediatrics,
Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. And later In year 2002  he assumed duties as the Dean, of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and served in this capacity until year 2005

Prof Lamabadusiriya’sscientific accomplishments over past 50 years are too numerous for me to spell out completely. .However I seek your indulgence to mention at least few of them.
He was the recipient of many national and international awards & fellowships and has heldmany prestigious positions. To name some of them

1) Child Health Foundation Fellowship (Prize) for Social Paediatrics, awarded by the
W.H.O. and International Paediatric Association (IPA) - 1987/88.
2) Elected as Honorary Member of British Paediatric Association
3)  Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics& Child Health
4) Appointed as an examiner for MRCP(UK) Part II by Royal College of Physicians, London
5) Appointed as Overseas Adviser by the Royal College of Physicians, London 1993 – 2008.
6)  Awarded “Outstanding Paediatrician for Asia”  at the 9th Asian Congress of Paediatrics

7) Elected as Fellow of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 1997.
8) Appointed as an examiner for FCPS – II Examination in Paediatrics by College of Physicians & Surgeons, Pakistan
9 )Member of Expert Group on Child Health & Development- WHO/SEARO.2008

A Special emphasis has to be made for the honour he has received from
 Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, 1991 as  aMember of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire ( MBE ) for his work carried out in Galle for the Cleft palate project . He is the only Sri Lankan who is domiciled in Sri Lanka to receive this singular honourfromHer Majesty the Queen.

He has delivered several invited lectures, plenary lectures and presented many research papers atlocal and international conferences .
He has delivered prestigious
Professor Darrel Wijeratne Memorial Oration
Professor CC de Silva Memorial Oration
Dr. E M Wijerama Endowment Lecture
He has served
·         Chairman of the Board of Study in Paediatrics, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo
·         Chief Examiner at MD (Paediatrics) and DCH examinations
·         Member of Standing Committee of International Paediatric Association 2007- 2011
·         Member of many National Committees convened by Ministry of Health and Ministry of Higher Education
·         Member of National Committee for Communicable Diseases
·         Member of Sri Lanka Medical Council-2002-2008
·         Member of Immunisation Practices Advisory Committee (IPAC) of WHO 2009 -2011
        (IPAG) WHO (SEARO) 2015 –to date
·         Member of CSO committee of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)

He has held Presidency  of many professional organization

·         Galle Medical Association 1990.
·         Sri Lanka Paediatric Association- 1993
·         President of Sri Lanka Medical Association 2011.
·         Founder President Vaccine Forum of Sri Lanka-2009

He has 136 publications in International and National  peertevivewed journals
He is an outstanding clinician with sharp and accurate clinical judgement
He gave of his very best to all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or wealth. There are several generations of little patients and their parents   who have reaped incomparable diagnostic and therapeutic benefits from him and some of them are seated in this audience today as medical students of Ratnapura

To hold a formal  farewell for Professor Lamabadusuriya was obviously would have been  an emotionally painful endeavor for his colleagues and staff at   Lady Ridgway Hospital and Faculty of Medicine Colombo .
Upon his retirement Prof. SanathLamabadusuriyawas conferred  the title of  Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics from  the University of Colombo.
Although his official retirement occurred in ----  he continued to offer  his valuable services and expertise in the  field of paediatrics and to the other medical schools in the country 

He is currently  the visiting Professor of Paediatrics for the University of Rajarataa position he holds  since 2015. Many of you may not be aware that he travel in the train to Anuradhapura to teach medical students and his noble services has enabled Rajarata medical graduates to raise  their average of common MCQ  mark in pediatrics significantly  since he commenced teaching them .
He extended his services to the University of Sabaragamuwasince 2017 and serving in the capacity as a Consultant for establishment of the new medical faculty and continue to serve in this position to date.

Havingbadly  missed the opportunities to learn or work under Prof Lamabadusuriya I was still  fortunate enough to be closely associated with him through many  activities of Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians . He was a senior paediatrician that many of us  lookedup to and his opinion was much sought in many difficult encounters. Every successive Presidents of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricianshad a seat reserved for Prof Lamabadusooriya in their respective councils.

Few years back  we were both  resource persons for a regional meeting of the College of Paediatrcians. We  were housed in a hotel with a beautiful  garden by the sponsors of the meeting. In the morning I saw someone taking photographs of a lady standing in the middle of flowers . For a  moment I thought  probable it  is a newly wedded couple. To my surprise It was Prof Lamabadusuiya taking photos of her beloved wife DrBuddika.

Prof Lamabadusooriya was happily married to Buddika. They  were blessed with three lovely and equally brilliant children who are all doctors and all of them are  qualified as Consultants.
Unfortunately Buddika had to leave this world leaving a vacuum in Prof Lamabadusooriyaslife .BuddikaLamabadusuriya was devoted Buddhist and I have no doubt that the merit she had accrued would assist in attaining Nirvana

Glimpse of the outstanding carrier of Professor Lamabdusoriyawould undoubtedlybe agreat inspiration for the young medical students who are present in this audience  today
As a practicing paediatrician, he strode the world of paediatrics in our country to greater heights.  His  academic brilliance, attention to detail, splendid diagnostic skills and unwavering commitment to excellence are  indeed legendary.
I fervently  hope that I have managed to do the justice to the profile of this  spectacular academic 
Thank you Prof Lamabadusuriya
 wish you good health and many more years of life to continue your invaluable  services for another generation of medical students and little kids