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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Creative Spot by Indra Anandasabapathy

An Amateur Horticulturist cum Photographer writes:


They were outdoors from late spring till a few days ago. They will remain here through the winter, till next spring. The solarium is kept at 55 degrees F at night, the temperature rising to 90 F often in the day from the sun's heat. So, artificial heat is required only at night on a really cold night (latter half of December, January, February, March) only. Why 55 degrees? The plants, mostly tropical, have over the years adapted to the lower temperature at night. Years ago, the curry leaf plants would shed their leaves by February. I thought they would not make it alive by spring. They did develop new leaves  by spring and they do not shed anymore. I had to get them used to the lower temperatures at night to keep the heating bill down. It is still an expensive hobby and needs work.The plants get watered well twice a week and manured/fertilized once a month. Pruning keeps the curry leaf plants at the current height of about 6 feet.In winter, the vents are all closed and the humidity causes condensation which is good for the orchids .

 The potted plants are indoors as the weather changes in fall




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why I think Ragging should be banned

By  Mahendra Gonsalkorale

I can distinctly recall the anxiety and fear I experienced as the first week of my life as a Medical student approached. I was just 18 years old and fearful of the big jump from A level student to Medical Student. But more than anything, I was worried about the indignities I may have to suffer in the name of Ragging.

Ragging was purported to be a welcome for the freshers organised by the seniors. It was meant to ‘educate’ them on what is expected from them in terms of behaviour and discipline as new entrants. Sadly, it was nothing of the kind and was a forum for sadistic inadequate students with untamed cruel streaks to impart humiliation and physical and mental discomfort in an organised way. Unfortunately, teachers and Administrators often turned a blind eye for reasons which are unclear to me. Some spoke of upholding tradition, and that is laudable if the traditions are worth upholding.

Ragging can vary from relatively minor teasing to more overt forms of unacceptable behaviour including the use of physical violence and sexual harassment.  Ragging has led to major psychological trauma and in extreme cases, even to suicide.

I did not and still cannot see even an iota of sense in allowing this sort of behaviour to continue. Some refer to it in glowing terms as a way of helping new entrants to become more mature and as a catalyst to forming lasting friendships between the raggers and the ragged. In some instances, it was a case of the seniors taking the Law into their own hands and meting out punishment to badly behaved juniors, as happened to our Batch after the infamous Castle Street invasion affair at the Law-Medical cricket match.

In a free society which upholds the principle of protection for all citizens, there is absolutely no justification for allowing ragging to take place. If a citizen behaved in this manner towards another in any other setting, he would be charged and punished.

Ragging is unjust, immoral, and inhuman and has no place in a civilised society and should be strictly banned and the ban strictly implemented.

I would be very interested to know the views of colleagues. Have your views changed or do you still hold the same view, for or against.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

E-mail from Indra Ana

From Indra to ND, but others too can read and enjoy.

Nihal, since you have given much thought to LIFE as such  you may want to read this remarkable book.

re writing the Ten Commandments for the twentyfirst century




It is only 178 pages. Beautifully written & thought provoking. I have read it .

Nihal, Like you I have thought about death, something one does not dwell upon in one's youth. Like you, I arrived at the conclusion that once one has finished his/her responsibilities. what matters is the way we go.
Only two years ago, my wife's uncle-passed away suddenly in Sydney, falling in a car park walking back with his attorney friend, after a RUGBY TEST BETWEEN AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND. THE MATCH WAS A DRAW. USUALLY AUSTRALIA TAKES A HIDING LIKE THEY DID AT THE WORLD CUP FINAL AT WEMBLY. The family was very upset naturally. I was saddened too as he was a wonderful man who had helped a lot of people in need  & a lot of fun to be with. But I then thought he could not have scripted a better exit from this life. That thought was part of my eulogy, at the well attended service.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Cricket 'loverly' Cricket" and "Ball Games"

By Razaque Ahamat

Recently a lot has been written about this great Gentlemen's Game in our Blog. It appears to some that this game in Ceylon/ Sri Lanka (SL) is played only in Colombo & it is the epi-centre or the centre of the universe for this game in SL!!!. One forgets that by far the most number of Internationally recognized & renowned players from SL, the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vas & Muthiayah Mularatheran to name just a few, all have been nurtured and nursed in the cricketing nurseries of schools from 'out in the sticks'. Let us take our very own from our Golden Batch, Lareef Idroos & Cyril Ernest for instance, they are from the cricketing nurseries of Mt. Lavania and Meegomuwa (Negombo)!!!.
So, it is not all Colombo.
Now, my pedigree in cricket begins with our namesake A.C. Ahamat was the very first non-European Cricket Captain of the then Ceylon. My Dad, Hajirin Ahamat was the Captain of Wesley College, Colombo and went on to Captain the Combined Schools in the 20's. His brother M.S.Ahamat  played for Royal and was better known as Ruggerite and athlete. Was in the team that broke the Public Schools 110x4 relay record. One of the members of that team was Dr. H.S.R. Gunawardene, the former Director of Physical Education and more importantly father or our very own Dr. Karmini (Gunawardene) Ferdinando, presently in NZ. I had the privilege of meeting her at a Conference in NZ at a place called Whakatane (pronounced in Maori as "Fxxk-a-ta-naye"). At the end of the Conference I took her and her mates out to dinner and had a very pleasant  evening along with our 'regular' hosts Dr. Desmond Collins & his wife Dr.(Mrs.) Puvi Collins --- both from one of our junior batches.
As for my exploits in this great game--- I played at every level (Under 14, Under 16 & First Team) for my school as an opening batsman and wicket-keeper, donning gloves to protect my fingers / hand and also pads for my shins & upper thigh. In them days we did not have the benefit of helmets and arm protection. Also, most of all I had have protection for my 'bottom $' or shall I say my 'family jewels' almost all day in view of my position in the team. This brings me to the "Billion $ question of the of the Bottom $ / Family Jewels" in Ladies Cricket??. Do they too wear protection for that part of the anatomy as they, I believe do not have 'bottom & & nor family jewels'!! This has been a conundrum to me as I do not know the answer!  Can somebody please, ladies in particular,  enlighten me??.
Now as you all know Gentlemen & Ladies play all manner of ball games. In Cricket ladies are very good in the field as they can hold on to & catch the balls.  Also can really belt the ball just as in Field Hockey. In Football, boy oh boy, can't they kick the balls around?? All in all Ladies do play far more ball games than men -- poor men!!! Take for instance Netball..... not only are they good at catching the ball, they even put it through hoops!!!
I rest my case. 

(Note by the Blog Administrator: This article by Razaque was sent in a few days ago. I regret very much that I have not had the time to edit it. As I have quite a few contributions waiting in line, and since there was a spate of articles on sport lately, I have published the unedited article)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Indra and Navam

The following picture of Indra Anandasabapathy and Navam Chinniah had been taken at M. Satchithananthan's 
(former MSU President who was in our junior batch) 75th birthday party in Danbury, CT.

Creative Spot by Indra Anandasabapathy

In bloom now

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My window on the world

 By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

Que Sera Sera - Whatever will be will be.  Since Doris Day sang this song in the Alfred Hitchcock film of 1956  ”The Man who knew too much”  its poignant lyrics have stayed with us for its glaring honesty of the uncertainties of life.

At the very outset I must make it clear that these are not the notes of a sad and depressive septuagenarian but of a happy, pragmatic retired professional enjoying life to the full. Destiny has been kind to me so far and I have had a wonderful life.

This has been a tough year for me and the family. After my reprieve from the ‘death sentence’ a brand new life has unfolded.  It is one of acceptance that this will be a ride into the sunset with ups and downs. As a septuagenarian I have no career, the children have left home.  The purpose in life is to enjoy everyday as it comes. Seeing the children prosper in their careers and life are blissful pleasures beyond measure. Being a grandparent is a delightful experience. We now live in a world that adores youth and all its pleasures but there is no shame in being old. Everyone can have a sense of purpose.

Although many feel lost and depressed at the mere thought of retirement, it is certainly not the end of life but the beginning of a new era. There are many of us “oldies” around than ever before who are incredibly determined to make the best of the new life. With our wisdom we are a benefit and not a burden to society. These are my twilight years and I am determined to make the best of it.

Longevity with good mental and physical health is a gift that has to be earned. Although there are never any guarantees the world is full of advice on how to do it. The internet is a repository of such information. Despite all that there comes a time for each for one of us to call it a day.

There are many things one can give up. I have given up ambition, winning the argument, rivalry and stress.  Just allow someone else to be the winner. I put fewer demands on myself these days. I hate gardening and have moved into a flat with no garden. Living next to Regent’s Park  it  is my 395 acre  garden which is beautifully landscaped and managed by a fine team of horticulturalists. There are benches to sit and enjoy the vibrant colours and the exquisite scent of the many different types of flowers. It is indeed a delightful and sublime experience to sit in the rose garden on a warm summers day. The many trees and shrubs are a paradise for migrating birds that fly south for the winter sun.

There are many things I have wanted to do and didn’t have the time. Well now is the time for it.  This ranges from books to read and places to visit. As the world has got smaller with easier and cheaper travel there is the ability to go to the far corners of the earth. I want to experience the wonders of nature and see the art galleries and the museums. I started on this on my retirement and grateful I was able to do so much so far. Now I realise that with every passing year there is a certain loss of energy which makes travel and all it entails that much harder.

You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.

Bob Hope

Surprisingly some inner wisdom has allowed me to accept that I am a senior citizen now. Silver hair and furrows on my face have its benefits. I am offered a seat in public transport. I don’t blush anymore before accepting such kind offers.  I get a transport pass to travel free on the underground, busses and trains. Having given up my cars this is a Godsend. My personal vehicle would be a burden now as parking is at a premium in the city.  I live within ten minutes walk from the essential amenities

Nostalgia is an overwhelming emotion. The volume of archived memories increase with age as is the desire to reach them. When awake at night there are always the inescapable journeys to the past. The happy times spent with my parents and extended family are priceless. Those special joys of my schooldays bring such great pleasure. Medical School had its unique brand of youthful fun and humour despite the hard grind.  Building a career and bringing up a family brought its own enjoyment and heartaches. Delving into the past can also bring sadness, bitterness and grief. Regret is the demon you don’t want to carry with you into the future.  

We all have stories of breaking windows playing soft ball cricket in the garden. The love of cricket is for life. It is hard to put into words the joy it brings at any age. My strictly limited talent for playing meant I would be forever a spectator. As I now watch cricket at Lords or the Oval I reflect on my years watching school cricket under those spreading  trees in old Ceylon from Campbell Park to Reid Avenue and the Galle Esplanade to Asgiriya. For the visiting teams the breezy wicket at Mt Lavinia was a batsmens’ graveyard.

Although more and more people are aware of the prerequisites to live longer and healthier
finding a good doctor is crucial. They are rare as gold dust. The doctor is my physician and confidante who will guide me through life’s health issues by preventing the avoidable and treating the possible. There are also the inevitable ‘running repairs’ and the ubiquitous “athey paye rudhawa”. The Annual check-ups although a bind are essential to keep the human engine in good shape. We are what we eat and have to do so sensibly.

Since Roman times we have known the importance of exercise – “Men sana incorpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body". A brisk walk for 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week is one that is widely recommended. Losing one’s balance is a common problem of ageing for which there are special but simple exercises.

We all know that the brain needs exercise to keep dementia at bay. I stepped on life’s treadmill at the GCE O’Levels and stepped off on my retirement.  In the intervening years the neurones and transmitters were buzzing non-stop retaining, recalling, analysing and using information. Now life is much calmer. I like to do my daily Sudoku and maintain the school website. This is a task that requires thought and tact both of which are taxing.

By now we all have realised happiness can be an elusive dream. Wealth, power and status may help to achieve it but often with limited success. For many it is just a mirage.  In the troubled world we live in there are many who need our care. Helping the less fortunate, poor and the disabled will bring lasting happiness. There is much work available in the voluntary sector to help the sick and the suffering.

There is no better time to make peace if you have rifts in the family. It is easier than you think and time is running out.  Once this is done the climate at family gatherings improves tremendously. Joining a group, community centre or a club is useful to meet people of a similar age and outlook. Good friends are the greatest source of pleasure and support in later years.  I feel much happier in some ways than in my younger days. Now that I don’t see the need to prove myself. I am able to control my emotions so much better and am less prone to anger even when others say things that are upsetting.

Reading newspapers from home online is my daily ritual. Still it gives me a shock and a pang to read the names of friends and relatives in the obituaries. Then a plethora of memories cloud my mind bringing sorrow and grief. I must accept this will be the pattern in the months and years to come. The sooner I acknowledge this, easier my life will become.

It is a fact of life that my wife or I will depart this world first leaving the other a life full of memories together and to suffer the intense grief of this great loss. No one can prepare adequately for this except by being aware. Then, in our home every room will tell a story and every picture and piece of furniture will be laden with memories. If at all it will be our children and grandchildren who can soften the blow. Time as they say is a great healer.

As someone clever said “Death is hereditary”. I have accepted and trained my mind that none of us are here forever. Our turn will come to depart this world. From Biblical times humans have been taught of heaven and hell. I was immensely comforted by a graffiti on a London wall “HELL IS EMPTY,  ALL THE DEMONS ARE HERE ON EARTH”. Nevertheless it is important to lead a good and useful life. For this, one doesn’t need a religion but if you have one hold on to it. It is wonderful to have someone superior to help and guide you when times are hard. Amazingly I do not fear the end but the way I will exit the world concerns me at times. The dream is to to have a quick and painless conclusion to life.  We have no control over many things in life and death. Finally, we are all at the mercy of the awesome force of destiny.

I will end as I started with the fine lyrics of yet another poignant Doris Day song which was a hit in 1950 and took the world by storm

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
 Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as you wink

 Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think