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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nihal (ND) Amerasekara's Contribution

Let me apologise to ND in this open Forum (and not privately) for a lapse on my part. I had mentioned in an earlier posting that Kusuma, Speedy and Zita were those who contributed regularly to this blog. I had inadvertently left out Nihal (ND) Amerasekara who in fact was one of the first contributors with his article titled "Reflections on My Retirement". This particular article was most timely and as always, very well written. It is also a reminder to all of us who have either retired or are about to hang up our surgical gloves, stethoscopes or whatever, that more and more of us should now take up the pen instead.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kusuma has her say...

Dawala Ruberu
10:08 PM (14 hours ago)
to me

dear lucky,
the girl seated next to me is primrose
the 3 standing with yoga, manel and nisha picture is myself sardha jayatilaka and manel a dental student who was with us.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Speedy in the Pharmo Dept. in 1973

I was looking for any photographs from my medical student days but unlike Lucky, I haven’t kept any, apart from the cartoon that appears in the “Signature Book”, and even if I did have at one time, they would have got lost during the course of the many relocations I had in the past 50 years. However, I did come across these photographs taken in the Department of Pharmacology in 1973 when I was a Demonstrator (as the position was called those days), which might be of interest to batchmates. It shows many people I recognise and some I do not. It was taken during some sort of celebration judging from the contents on the table. The photos have suffered the wages of time but are still good enough to rekindle memories.

From L to R. Speedy G, Prof Bull Seneviratne (standing), Prof Lionel, I think the next person is Fernando who worked in the Pharmo dept, Gunapala ( I think), Rogus, The glamorous Miss Rajakariyar, child(?), Prof Sinnathamby’s wife, Nelun (secretary) and another I can’t place.

You can observe the customary respect shown to the Doctors who are all sat down - but “they also serve those who stand and wait”.
I am sure all of you remember Rogus who was the kind of chap who is difficult to find these days, loyal, deferential and always willing to help. I remember Miss Rajakariyar not only for her beauty but the lovely fragrance which accompanied her everywhere. I think Gunapala and Fernando took part in the assassination of those unfortunate cats who were sacrificed so that we could learn about drugs affecting the cardiovascular system. I don’t think it would be allowed these days.
The next picture is the same but the diminutive Prof Kottegoda now makes an appearance at the left extreme and Bull Seneviratne has decided to sit down and you can see his “Brylcreem” combed hair at the right extreme. For some reason, they are all looking more sombre now!

Rajan (Patas) Ratnesar writes.....

11:20 AM (18 minutes ago)
to me

Hi Lucky,
I tried writing into the blog but was not successful. I can recall the final year block concert, and the guy in a sarong bared hairy upper body is his excellency " King Farrrrr---------t  of Thailand and the actor is yours truly. Behind with a moustache is my dear cousin Mahesan. I was half drunk I think( you can see I have a beer mug in my hands) and on Monday following the concert I was chastised by our beloved Dean Pachaya who unfortunately for me sat next to my father at the concert. I thought after that I would be banned from ever talking to one of my good friend in Mediacl school Rohini, but we I have lost contact in recent years with miles having seperated many of us. Hopefully the reunion will bring many of us back to recall all our happy days. As for the other Pictures, I recall our block trip to Negombo and for the late Dr. Douglas Seneviratne who entertained us. Like many I too was not at the graduation so cannot recognise faces.
I enjoyed Speedy's poem on retirement I too will be calling it a day on May first

Hopefully we will have more contributing but loking forward to August

2nd MB Trip

Some time in 1962, we had our first outing as a batch. It was the 2nd MB trip to the Gampaha Botanical Gradens. The following pictures tell the rest of the story.
 Yoga, Ganesh, Anton Ambrose, Bandula and Chanaka are easily identified.

 Dr. L.A.G. Jayasekara (Demonstrator) in action.

I can spot JG and Indrani Subramaniam (extreme right). Not sure about the others. But in the foreground facing the other way is the late B.L. Perera.

 All eyes and ears are focused on Rajan (Patas) Ratnesar who seems to be making a speech. Behind "Patas" with arms crossed is Sarva. Standing close to the tree from left to right are Pupa Sivananda, "unidentified" (in dark shirt), Wickramasekaran, Lakshman Jayasinghe, Yankee Bala, Speedy, Lameer, LPJM Wickramasinghe and Vedavanam. Among those seated on the ground, I see Gandhi Navaratnasingham and the late L.G.D.K. Herath. I am not sure whether Dr. Sobitha Paditharatne accompanied us. But the gentleman seated on the bench (just in front of Yankee Bala) looks very much like "Pandi". The little guy in shorts on the extreme right has to be an intruder!

 Nalin Nana, Bandula and Speedy. Yankee Bala could be the central figure with Chitta partly hidden behind him. Who are the other two?

 Vasantha Owitigala, Kusuma, Piyaseeli Dolawatte and Sardha Jayatilake. Who is on extereme right?

 At extreme left is Swyrie. Standing in the centre is Vasantha. Looks like Rita Silva is among those seated.
 Ganesh and Swyrie. In the background in full white is Indra Anandasabapathy.

 Among those seated are Yoga, Manel Mathew and Nisha Mallawarachchi.

 KDPR (Ranjith Dambawinne) is in the centre.

I can spot L.W. (Wimal) Perera (about the fourth from left) in this picture.

Convocation - 1967

I must confess that this is the first and only picture that I have seen of the 1967 Convocation in Peradeniya. I was not there to receive my degree certificate in person due to unavoidable circumstances. I still remember how I was almost forced to be "on call" not only for the medical wards, but to some other units as well, that particular day at Colombo South Hospital where I did my Internship. We had many Peradeniya graduates who wanted to make use of the rare opportunity to go back to Peradeniya where they had spent five years as medical students. Among them were Adiel Anghie, Chandana Bopitiya, Philomena Perera, Dayanithi Tharmakulasingham, Shanthi Karalasingham, Rita Saverimuttu. So, I reluctantly agreed not only to stay back, but to cover up for others. However, a week or so later, I went to Plate Studios and got a picture of myself dressed in full academic garb! As some of you have seen, it has a special place on the walls of my study at home.

Anyway, getting back to this picture, I think I can recognise the late Christie Karunakaran and Clement de Silva (who too graduated with us although they were in the senior batch), Yankee Bala, the late Dawne de Silva, Sura, Rajasooriyar, VPH Rajapaksa, Kusuma, Chandra Silva, Chirasri, Pram and JC. I may be wrong. Most of them are mere guesses.

Block Seniors vs Staff Cricket Match

Yet another much looked forward to traditional fun event was the Block Seniors vs Staff cricket match. In 1963, the match was played at the Wesley College grounds at Campbell Park. In the group picture below, you will see us as young girls and boys (almost half a century younger). I leave it to you to try and identify yourself, your teachers and colleagues.

This picture and a few others of the Convocation and the 2nd MB trip were sent in by Kusuma Ruberu. We should all be grateful to her for sending these pictures that are nearly half a century old. They will be published as separate postings. Here's the first one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Wheels turning rapidly
Blurred images passing by,
No time.
All too brief acquaintances
Forever catching up,
No time.
Deadlines, projects, meetings
Rushing about on wheeled things,
No time.
Finishing, only to start again,
Is this living?
Stop before it’s too late!

And now,
Slow down.
Time to pause, to reflect, to notice
Time to absorb, to learn
Time to indulge, to take, to give, to appreciate
Time to be detached,
Slow down.
Time to rediscover Nature,
The sheer peaceful beauty of trees,
The delightful sounds and sights of birds,
The living tapestry of the transforming sky
Time to treasure all things beautiful,
Slow down,
And live again.

Sent in by Mahendra Gonsalkorala

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Zita's Comments on Prof. Kottegoda Oration (in verse)

To call you Mahendra is but to address a friend who is familiar
In the guise of someone less familiar
 You do not need any introduction
And now you’ve given the 2011 Oration
Celebrating a teacher from the past
Whose work and memory will ever last
Whose work, of which you gave a smattering
And your own topical contribution
‘Ageing population’ a subject gathering
Current importance and attention
A worthy subject no doubt
It deserves a cheer and a shout
Well done Speedy! We need more
People like you and ‘Kotte’ of yore!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Batch Performance at the Block Concert

My efforts to mobilise our colleagues have not been in vain. There is lateral communication going on.
Those who read my e-mails and visit the blog have been forwarding them to their friends who are not so regular in their Internet habits.

I have posted below some pictures from the item that our batch presented at the Block Concert. They were sent to me by Visveshwara (he was one of the main actors). You can't miss Vish in these pictures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Encouraging Responses from Colleagues

From Zita Subasinghe

Dear Lucky,
You are doing a fantastic job with the our batch blog spot. I agree we the batch mates should take more interest. I am getting ready some articles to submit and will do so towards this weekend. We will try to get others in our medical fraternity into conversation. It doesn't have to be any thing literally exhaulted. I have something paranormal to submit!
Our minds are now open to all these things as we have lived in the University of the world and not just the world of medical undergrad training of the early 60s. But that's what brought us all together from various  backgrounds. And look at the result! We created batch which is unique and some of our graduates were world class. Sadly one or two such died young. But before we get too long in the tooth we have a chance to leave behind some ideas, memories, thought provoking stories and even short expressions of our own humble experiences in our chosen fields in the countries we have chosen to live in.
So lets get those rusty pens out eh?
I will keep my word and hey friends in Canada, US, Australia, Sri Lanka, we want to hear from you.
Zita S

(Lucky,if you think the above plea will get our mates writing, please put it in somewhere on the blog. I hope to fish out some of my own old photos and make  a story. I really love your photographic stories. Good on you! Z)

From Mahendra Gonsalkorala

On Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 1:57 AM, Mahendra Gonsalkorale <> wrote:

Could I add my own plea to my dear colleagues too. It would be so nice to read your stories and experiences. It is a chance to show us any new talents you have acqu ired (or old ones refined).

I added this as a comment to Lucky's blog on the Final Year trip. It would be so nice if you add a bit of your reminiscences too.

Come on !!  Go ahead!!  Don't hold back!!

Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale. Still the fastest mouse!

Amazing stuff Lucky. I remember parts of the trip but would not be able to replay the whole thing in my mind. Never realised you had so many photos, and to think that you preserved them all these years! I am afraid I don't have any. I think I have posted the story about Victor Hector Proctor but it is worth repeating in the context of your blog. Victor was a teetotaler and he was unfortunately singled out for "treatment" against this, what was regarded by some of our colleagues as a terrible condition, purely from an altruistic view of course, one does not want one's fellow medics to miss out on the joys of alcohol. He was "offered" arrack with gentle persuasion and some precautions were taken such as holding his hands behind him (in case he got too excited) and pi nching his nostrils to ensure that he would be reminded to swallow the arrack as it was poured into his mouth. Being a very sensible and pragmatic chap, he decided to swallow the stuff. An hour or so later, his facial landscape changed and he began to display an inane grin. He then staggered his way joyfully to an anthill outside the Doctor's quarters where the merriment was taking place and sitting on his haunches and peering through his thick black rimmed spectacles, began to count the ants as they emerged. I think he counted up to 789 before he passed out. While this was going on, Sunil Abey was sobbing uncontrollably as he was wont to do when he imbibed the soothing stuff and Lubber Wijekoon was strutting about wearing shoes, socks... and nothing much else apart from a tie gracefully adorning his waist and gently flowing downwards, then forwards and downwards again over his very personal possessions, calling himself "Argyle Robertson's Pupil"....... Those were  the days.......... Mahendra

From Gnanissara
Dr. S.A.P. Gnanissara
10:48 PM (12 hours ago)

Dear Lucky,

Thank you very much for posting those photographs of our final year trip.
It is amazing that you can remember most of the past events. Your identification
of all of us is excellent. If I can remember right, we too got copies of those
photographs but, unlike in your case, we can't find them.

Thank you once again for bringing us the past memories.

Warm regards.


From Vasantha (Owitigala) Jayasuriya
10:00 AM (1 hour ago)

Dear Lucky,

Thank you for your message.  Sorry we do not have any past photos, but look forward to the reunion.

Vasantha and Karu Jayasuriya

From Cyril Ernest
Antony Ernest via
10:37 AM (1 hour ago)

Dear Lucky,
                    I read with much interest your article about the final year trip of our graduating class of 1967. I remember the trip very well as I was one of the participants on that very enjoyable and memorable trip.However I am unable to recognise myself in any of the photographs you have posted. I believe I had my camera with me on the trip and I might have missed out on being in the photos as a result, while I was taking pictures of the others. I am indeed looking forward to attending the 50th anniversary reunion of our class in August/September.Keep up the good work and keep me posted of all the relevant news re the Medical School etc.
                                                                                                                                                   Regards. Cyril Ernest Jan.17th. 2011.

From Rajan (Patas) Ratnesar
10:58 AM (43 minutes ago)

Thanks Lucky for all your good work. I do check on the blog infrequently ( not recently though) and have not contributed, but as I keep reading those who have contributed especially my study partner Speedy, I believe reminescing the past would be a worthwhile pasttime inour retirement years.As for the Colombo grads alumni, I did not know there was, and I will be happy to join in any membership.
I am in the process of booking my flights for the reunion and will see you all in August.
With kind regards

From Pupa Sivananda
9:07 PM (14 hours ago)

hi lucky
thanks for the pictures
wishing you and your family a happy new year

CoMSAA Welcome Letter from Prof. Sheriffdeen

President’s Message

As Founder President of CoMSAA it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to participate in the activities of the association.

It has taken 141 years since its founding, for some members to take the initiative to conceptualize and eventually form this Association. The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son, pupil" and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish".  The medical school has indeed nourished us to what we are today, just as much as a parent would nourish the child with all the ingredients required to help develop a child into a healthy, responsible and ethical adult. The Alumni Association gives an opportunity for the alumnus to rejoin his/her medical school, revive memories and friendships and to contribute to its development and success.

Memories are rich indeed. Who of the Alumni of my vintage would forget our days in Medical School? The “block” with its pervading smell of formalin, fresh gleaming young faces of the new batch of students and the human bodies laid out for dissection, stark reminders of  life and death to come.

 We cannot forget the Department of Anatomy with Professors P.K.Chanmugam, Waas and Lester Jayawardene, the last feared by all students and yet a genial and kind man. That lovable duo in Physiology, Profesors A.C.E.Koch and K.N.Seneviratne with their legendary “Koch and Bull” stories which always drew rounds of laughter at the Block concerts! We remember Professor Baptist with his shock of white hair and Professor Hoole who tried hard to unravel the mysteries of Biochemistry to our unreceptive minds.

Who could forget Professor Chapman, white coat worn back to front talk of passage pronounced “passarge”, or Professor “Path” Cooray, the lovable Daphne Attygalle, or Professor “Mosquito” Sivalingam. Fresh in our minds are also personalities from the Department of Public Health, Professor O.E.R.

Abhayaratne, affectionately called “Pachaya” extolling the virtues of zinc sheet (takaran) roofing to toilets. As Dean, many were the anecdotes spun round him which he apparently loved to hear of! The genial Professor Earle de Fonseka who tried hard to teach us statistics, but succeeded better in conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra! The apparently stern Professor H.V.J. Fernando in Forensic Medicine and Professor Bibile in Pharmacology later replaced by Professor S.R.Kottegoda, photographer, wit and educationist who did so much for the medical school as Dean, all teachers who toiled to make us what we are. Clinical Pharmacology was later made so simple by the affable Professor N.D.W.Lionel.

Crossing the “road” to the General Hospital, oh, the expectations and hopes we carried. The extended Faculty had famous names: Drs Anthonis, Austin, Misso, S.Goonewardene and Jayasekera in Surgery, Thanbalasunderam, Medonza, Handy, Hilary Gunawardene and Ernie Pieris in Medicine, A.M.Mendis, D.A.Goonetilleke, Prins Rajaratnam, Henry Nanayakkara, Siva Sinnatamby and Panchalingam in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Grace Barr Kumarakulasingham, Stella de Silva, A.F.S.Perera, Stanley Silva and Mirando in Paediatric Medicine.
To us students however, the giants of this era were the Professors of the Clinical Departments viz Professors Milroy Paul and C.P. de Fonseka in Surgery, P. K.Rajasuriya and R.P.Jayawardene in Medicine, D.A.Ranasinghe and Visvanathan in Ob Gyn and Silva for Pediatric Medicine.
In addition to this list, the “army” of lecturers, tutors and Registrars come to mind and will no doubt be discussed in our correspondence in the years to come. Anecdotes, interactions, lifetime lessons learnt will adorn the pages of our website and newsletter all of which I look forward to with excitement.
The non academic staff: Messrs Muniyandi in Anatomy, P. Perera in Physiology (affectionately better known by his nickname!), Amarasekera, the  blood sucker and Sodali in Medicine, Dias in Surgery have helped so many of us in so many ways that they will remain in one way or another in our memories.
We cannot forget our own peers around whom so many legends and anecdotes revolve. Some are not with us but fond memories remain. The names of Drs. Jegasothy, Hubert Aloysius come readily to my mind.
However, as the years roll by the names and personalities change and younger alumni will no doubt remember teachers and colleagues of later years with the same affection and nostalgia that we have for ours.
We will remember with nostalgia those who are no more with us but who enriched our lives during the times we knew them.
In every batch year in year out, there would be the outstanding student destined to greatness and the average student, struggling for success. There would be failures and the tears. Eventually, we have all overcome the trials, the hurdles and succeeded in becoming doctors and a distinguished alumnus of the school.
The medical school in turn is proud of your achievements both in medicine and in life. Wherever you are, you have become responsible and respected citizens. Some are in the threshold of their careers, others pursuing postgraduate studies, others in senior positions in their chosen fields and others retired. Some are single, others contemplating marriage, still others parents or even grand or great grand parents! You have achieved a lot especially in the eyes of your loved ones and in the final reckoning this is what counts. A friend of mine gave me a quotation recently, which I treasure and must share with you: “it is better to be good than great!” It is this good that we want to share with other alumni of the Colombo Medical School Alumni Association, with the vast army of over 6000 good doctors that the Colombo Medical School has produced.
It gives you an opportunity to share, meet, enjoy, talk and discuss. It also gives you an opportunity to help the School and to give back to its students the chances that we had. Our teachers worked hard to help us to graduate. They loved us. Apart from time and trouble they took in the teaching and training, one example is the releasing of results of examinations within a week of its completion. Professor D.A.Ranasinghe’s widow revealed to me that the Professor would occupy a room at the Mount Lavinia Hotel for three days at his own expense to correct answer scripts undisturbed! We in the Department of Surgery would meet in Professor Navaratne’s house at 6 pm and continue up to 3 am for a few days until final assessments are done. Nobody refused to do this, no request for extra payment or overtime was made or even thought of. It was considered a sacred duty. Little wonder then that this Medical School was at one time classed as one of the top 50 in Asia.
Times however have changed. The annual intake has increased from 125 in my year to over 200. The number of students in the faculty at a given time has to almost 1000. There is little room for expansion. Those who visit the Medical School will see that there is an area bordering Maradana Road cleared for new buildings. Library space is at a premium. These are some thoughts that the Alumnus could reflect upon. We must also help. The cost of living for medical students has escalated; some even find it hard to continue with the course. They need our assistance.
However, we need to deal with first things first. We are in the process of strengthening our membership and if you could contact your colleagues/ class members and introduce them to us or to our email address, we would be ever so grateful.
The General Committee has been busy with designing a suitable logo, designing and establishing a website, creating an online letter and finding a little office space in the already overcrowded Medical Faculty premises. A corporate plan of activities for the future is being drawn up, with an events calendar for the year.
There are exciting times and events to look forward to. If you have any suggestions we would welcome them too.
I take this opportunity to send you our best wishes.
Emeritus Professor of Surgery
Founder President, CoMSAA

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Unforgettable Final Year Trip - 1966

The last important event in our calendar was the traditional Final Year Trip exclusively for the males in the batch (Oh! What the females missed!). It had to be completed and done with during our fourth year before the final examination which was due in March the following year. Let's remember with gratitude at this time, the hospitality of our respected seniors (who were well employed by that time) who so graciously hosted us in those provinces that we visited.

Okay! Let's re-live those few days (with these pictures that I have preserved to this day) when we forgot everything else and concentrated on the fun and frolic that was in store for us.

All set and ready to go.

Let's see if we can identify the young boys. Please correct me if I am wrong. Squatting in the front row from left to right (as I see them) are: Ganesan, Gnanissara, Attale, Fabian Perera, Chandrasiri ("Johnny"), Saparamadu, Drahaman, JC, Yoga, Lubber (Wjeyekoon), Lameer, Nihal (Gompa) Goonetilleke, Suren Iyer, Bandula, Sumathipala, Somasunderam, Rajan (Patas) and Vishwe. Lying down on the Kynsey Road pavement near the Koch Clock Tower, is none other than Anton Ambrose.

Standing in the back row (L to R): Lareef, Jaimon, Collure, Lucky Weerasuriya, "Yankee" Bala, Sanath Tissera, Lakshman Jayasinghe, Bertram Nanayakkara, Lalantha Amarasinghe, Lameer, Douglas Mulgirigama, Chittamparanathan ("Chitta" now known as Thiagarajah), ND Amarasekara, Sanath Lama, Maheswaran, "Thattta" Bala, Harsha, Victor (VPH) Rajapaksa, Lucky Abey, Viswanathan, Sivananda, Chanaka Wijesekara, "Speedy" Gonsalkorala, "Con" Bala" and HN Wickramasinghe.

(Missing in this first picture are Nalin Nana, Razaque Ahamat, Sarva and Tudor who probably arrived late, but were definitely with us on the trip as you will see in the other pictures).

                                                 First Stop - Planters' Club, Kegalle


Standing between Ganesh and Yoga in this picture are Drs Titus Perera and RSB Wickramasinghe who were then stationed in Kurunegala.

                                                          Singing Our Cares Away

Playing the piano accordian is Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorala. I am happy to recall here that I composed the lyrics of our theme song of the trip - "Carnival is Over". It was our own version of the song made popular by the "The Seekers" in the 1960s. If I remember right, we had a grand party in the Masonic Hall in Kurunegala where I was asked to sing this particular song over and over again especially at the request of one of our hosts - Dr. Asoka Jayaweera. Another of my compositions was to the tune of "Janwar" - a very popular Hindi song made even more popular by Jothipala with the Sinhala version. I was pleasantly surprised that when I met "Speedy" in Colombo late last year, he still remembered the unprintable words that I had inserted!


Looking out of the window with "Chitta" is Dr. Nagendra (a Demonstrator at the time) who accompanied (or rather chaperoned) us on the trip.

The old House Officers quarters in front of which this photograph was taken was called "The Igloo".
In this last picture, on extreme right is "Marker" who was in charge of the billiards table in the Men's Common Room. He would have been in his forties at the time and he travelled from Ganemulla. I don't have any information about his present whereabouts. As you all know, our colleagues Ganesh and Soma are no more. Wearing a tie and in full white is one of our hosts in Badulla - Dr. Chitsabesan.The man in sarong behind me is the driver of the CTB bus that took us around the country on this trip.
Our last stop was in Ratnapura. But unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures taken there.

That "Carnival" is over, but most of us will meet again at our 50th Anniversary Reunion which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka from August 31st to September 2nd, 2012.